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Monday, September 15, 2014

A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

Tuesday evening our church has the privilege of again hosting the annual banquet for our local crisis pregnancy center.  And this year the speaker is a comedian named Gordon Douglas.  I know that some folks don’t think those two mix very well.  Abortion is a serious topic, hardly the kind of thing to joke about.  And obviously the jokes won’t be about that topic in particular.  But when done right, it can be very effective for this kind of event.

Besides, humor and laughter most certainly have a place in the life of God’s people, or at least they should.   

Proverbs 17:22  A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 15:13  A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

Proverbs 15:15  All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

Charles Spurgeon was often criticized for his use of humor, and he often remarked on the general lack of “mirth” in some congregations.  For example, in this message:

I have noticed with pain the way in which people will get rid, if they can, of happy words out of their hymns. 
The hundredth Psalm for instance, runs thus:
     “All people that on earth do dwell,
      Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice,
      Him serve with — “

What? Well, they modernise it into-
     “Him serve with fear.”

But, as I believe, the older form is-
     “Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell, Come ye before him and rejoice.”

I wonder some other scribe did not cut out the word “cheerful,” and put in
     “Sing to the Lord with doleful voice.”

In this way the Psalm might have been “improved” until there would not have been a grain of worship left in it. I mean to sing it. “Him serve with mirth;” and with a glad and merry heart will I praise my God.

Or how about this one?
There is no one part of a man’s constitution, which is really a part of his manhood, which should not praise God. Ay, even the sense of humor should be sanctified to the service of the Most High! Whatever faculty God has given thee, O my soul, it has its place in the choir! Summon it to praise.
 Sermon #2121

In his collection of essays on Eccentric Preachers, Spurgeon even defends another preacher known for his humorous approach, a certain Edward Taylor:

To the pure mind, none of the powers of our manhood are common or unclean. Humor can be consecrated, and should be. We grant that it is a power difficult to manage; but when it is under proper control, it more than repays for all the labor spent upon it. Children do sad damage with gunpowder; but what a force it is when a wise man directs its energy. Mr. Taylor made men laugh that they might weep. He touched one natural chord, that he might be able to touch another; whereas, some preachers are so unnatural themselves, that the human nature of their hearers refuses to subject itself to their operations. 0 ye who are evermore decorously dull, before ye judge a man whose loving ministry conducted thousands to the skies, think how immeasurably above you all he soared, and remember that with all his violations of your wretched regulations, he was one whom the Lord delighted to honor.

So, to avoid being “decorously dull”, I’m really looking forward to what Mr. Douglas has to share.  I even get the privilege of picking him up at the airport and taking him to dinner.  So maybe I can get a preview of the fun stuff we’ll get to enjoy as we address the serious business of ministering to those who might be considering the deadly serious decision of abortion.  We appreciate your prayers for this ministry.  Here’s a little sample of what we’re looking forward to.  

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