THE LORD SHALL LAUGH

There are those who picture God as humorless, with a perpetual scowl in his face.  They picture God as an angry God like Zeus with lightning bolts in his hands ready to strike any who displeases him. Yes the Bible says that God is angry with the wicked every day, but I submit that God also has a sense of humor too. The Lord laughs at the wicked (Psalm 37:13)
 
The old idea that God was a silent figure who frowned upon humor and laughter needs to go. That is not true of God; of course he has a sense of humor. Look at the creation he has made, there are animals who not only look funny but also do funny things.
 
Then what about men, laughter is universal. All men have the ability to laugh, some laugh really loud while other just chuckle, but we all laugh. Laughter is the opposite of crying, and if God made us with the ability to do both then it is because he wants us to do both.
 
Laughter is indeed universal. It seems that every culture and race has its own jokes and amusing stories. If God created men with the ability to laugh, it is because he wants them to laugh. Sarah told us that it was God who made her laugh (Genesis 21:6).
 
There is nothing wrong with laughing; there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh. (Ecclesiastes 3:4) The wisdom comes in knowing when to laugh. Only an insensitive moron would crack jokes at a funeral, or in a serious setting. There is a time when it is proper to joke, and there is a time when a joke is totally out of place.
 
The Bible itself has plenty of humor on it; we fail to see it because its humor is subdued. It doesn't say this is a joke but simply tell us stories with some amusing elements in it. Let us just take a look at some humorous incidents.
 
Balaam and his talking donkey has humor in it. The story of Dagon the Philistines god falling before the lord and the priests of Dagon no longer walking in front of it is funny. (I Samuel 5:1-5) How about the story of Lot lingering in Sodom with destruction just a few hours away. (If you knew that missiles were coming would you linger around?) How about the story Jesus told about the unjust judge and the insistent widow. One can almost pity the unjust judge, being hounded by the widow.
 
Sometimes people miss the humor in a bible story because it is in a different language. Much of the humor in the Hebrew Bible is in the form of wordplays, Double Entendres, And Puns at other times it uses irony and sarcasm. Then there is the play of people’s names, exaggeration and some other types.
 
Jewish humor is not like American humor, it is not designed to make one laugh into the ground; it is more designed to bring a smile to one's face. It is a low key humor, which is amusing without being over the top.
 
The Bible itself says that a merry heart does good like medicine. This has been proven by research. Today we have a better understanding of how laughter affects the human body.
 
1.      Reduces pain -- Our bodies produce pain-killing hormones called endorphins in response to laughter.

2.      Strengthens immune function -- A good belly laugh increases production of T-cells, interferon and immune proteins called globulins.

3.      Decreases stress -- When under stress, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter significantly lowers cortisol levels and returns the body to a more relaxed state.

4.      It is good for the brain -- It activates the limbic system in the brain, connecting the right and left sides.

5.      It is good for the stomach -- Laughter stimulates the digestive system. It massages abdominal organs, tones intestinal functioning, and strengthens the muscles that hold the abdominal organs in place.

6.       It’s good for the heart -- Laughter allows the lining of the blood vessels to relax, and to increase the blood flow. It also decreases anger, hostility and depression which are triggers that lead to heart attacks in people with heart conditions.

The other good news is that humor has a positive impact on our intellectual and emotional outlook.
 
1.      Produces endurance -- A person with a sense of humor is able to laugh at his own trials and tribulations and make them seem smaller.

2.      Defeats fear -- A sense of humor help us to overcome fear. Many Police officers like to tell jokes because it takes the fear out of their risky job.

3.      Allows for mistakes -- It takes the tension of our performance and allows us to recover from mistakes.

4.      Breaks up the tension -- a well told joke often breaks up the tension in a place; it gets everyone laughing for a moment and relaxes the group.

5.      Triggers creativity -- Humor improves creativity and problem solving. Many of the most talented Geniuses had a good sense of humor.
 
One important thing is that it is important to recognize what is proper to laugh at. A sexist or ethnic joke is not a laughing matter for it makes fun of people's sex or ethnicity. There is nothing a person can do to change the way they are born. A black man is born black, he did not choose to be born black, a woman is born a woman, she cannot change that fact.
 
Then there is the other kind of jokes that relies upon foul language, or uses double entrée to make people laugh. Such language is totally improper for the minister in the pulpit or even out of the pulpit.
 
Does the existence of evil jokes make jokes evil? None at all it would be like saying that because some people sing evil songs then all songs are evil. Because some people create dirty magazines does it mean that all magazines are dirty? 
 
Of course sometimes people do not like jokes at their expense and that must be respected. A group of lawyers would frown upon lawyer jokes, not matter how funny outsiders think they are. Of course if no lawyers are present then lawyer jokes are funny.
 
We got jokes for all kinds of professions, from doctors to mechanics, to computer geeks, and even minister's jokes. Of course we also have the religious jokes about Saint Peter at the pearly gates and even jokes about the Bible.
 
There are plenty of good clean jokes available; there are plenty of funny incidents that happen in the church, in the family, at work or life in general.
 
There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling a joke in the pulpit. There is nothing sacrilegious as long as the joke is not obscene, dirty, sexist, ethnic, or is improper in other ways. Clean humor is not forbidden from being included in the sermon, or from the preacher's vocabulary.
 
Of course everything must be in moderation and good taste. Being known as the Christian's Bob Hope should not be the goal of any minister. Yes there are Christian comedians and they are funny, but they are not taken very seriously by people.
 
Humor is a nice tool to have in our preaching toolbox, yet the jokes or humor in the sermons must be appropriate and used sparingly. We can sprinkle our sermons with a funny quotation or a clean joke or two to make people remember our message, or a way to lighten the mood. Yes humor is good, but there is a certain restraint and dignity that must be preserved in the pulpit. Making the sermon a string of jokes is totally out of order.
 
Here are a few good clean jokes:
 
1.      The wrong e-mail address
 
Mr. Smith, a businessman, went on a business trip. After arriving at his destination, he immediately sent an e-mail back home to his wife, Jennifer (JenSmith@AOL.com). Unfortunately, he forgot his wife's exact e-mail address and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Smith (JSmith@AOL.com), the wife of a preacher who had just passed away. The preacher's wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted.
 
When she was finally revived by her son, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: "Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here."
 
2.      The biggest liar
 
A minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.
 
The group had surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked "What are you doing with that dog?"
 
One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we've decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog."
 
Of course, the minister was taken aback. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Don't you boys know it's a sin to lie," and ending with, "Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie."
 
There was dead silence for about a minute.  Just as the minister was beginning to think he'd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, give him the dog."
 
3.      The burglar and Acts 2:38
 
An elderly sister had just returned to her home from an evening of religious service when she was startled by an intruder. As she caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables, she yelled, "Stop - Acts 2:38!" The burglar stopped dead in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done.
 
As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, "Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was to yell a scripture at you."
 
"Scripture?" replied the burglar, "She said she had an AXE and two 38's!"
 
4.      The meeting of the board
 
"There will be a meeting of the Board immediately after the service," announced the pastor.
 
After the close of the service, the group gathered at the back of the auditorium for the announced meeting. But there was a stranger in their midst. He was a visitor who had never attended their church before.
 
"My friend," asked the pastor, did you understand that this is a meeting of the Board?"
 
"Yes," said the visitor, "and after that sermon, I'm about as bored as you can get!"
 
You can also use funny quotations from kids
 
Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark.
 
Moses went up on Mount Cynide to get the Ten Amendments.
 
Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.
 
St. Matthew who was by profession, a taximan.
 
The epistles were the wives of the apostles.
 
You can use humor in many other ways
 
There are humorous or amusing stories, funny Christian cartoons, or even real life events with a funny side.
 
Here is a cartoon that is kind of funny yet has a message.

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