Minggu, 16 Agustus 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Church!

A Funny Thing Happened on
My Way to Church!

Dr. Kluane Spake
htttp://kluane.org spake@mindspring.com

Laughing Toward a Happy, Abundant, and Meaningful Life

In the beginning was the Word (logos, Jn. 1:1). Logos can be understood to mean "the word, speech, or conversation" such as when God SAID, "let there BE."

Another long lost implied Greek definition of "logos" in this context is that it means telling a joke! Well-- that idea makes me happy just to think about. It forces me to look at life from a different vantage. It causes me to consider how much the Lord God wants us to be happy. Even within this idea contains a hint of how life should be.
From original creation, God's cosmic laughter still resounds. Can you hear it?

 Laughing from the beginning shows that God unconditionally accepted us right off the bat. In spite of our mistakes and pratfalls. We were created for HIS pleasure (Rev. 4:11). Yes! God actually created us to freely be joyful -- that makes Him happy too! The reason we get confused about the meaning of our lives is because we forgot that God gave us a choice to be joyful WITH Him. The spiritual  flash point of creation seems to be pleasure and joy (both for God and for us).

Augustine, John Chrysostom,  and Gregory of Nyssa (early church fathers) spoke of how God played a surprise joke on the devil when He raised Jesus from the grave. Since earliest times, Protestant Easter sermons started with a joke. The Greek Orthodox Church sets aside 24 hours of continuous joking and humor because of the joke of Resurrection.

The Greek Orthodox Church named Easter laughter "Risus Paschalis" (Segal 2001, 24). Dante's most famous work was called the "Divine Comedy." Dante told about how the nearer we get to heaven the wider the smile, and the greater the laughter.

Those who followed St. Francis of Assisi were so outlandishly happy about their salvation they were compared to jesters, street comics, circus performers and were known as "le Jongleur de Dieu" or the tumblers of God.

Laughter is the first thing that babies learn to do. The quality of our abundant life depends upon being able to laugh and find joy. Learning to laugh again is a major factor of greater internal enlightenment and vitality.

Most believers take life too seriously, they have the stoic part figured out - they think they need to be aesthetes to walk in God's favor. There's kids, careers, deadlines, pressures, degrees, disappointments, relationships, and endless demands. Do you view life as abundant or a prison sentence? Many of us may need a "Laugh track" to accompany our  life -- just to recognize what is joyful.

As the saying goes, "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Frown and they think you're a Christian!"
"We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk - and the next 12 years telling them to sit down and shut up." Phyllis Diller

The first mention of  laughter in the Bible is when God told Abraham that he would be a father and Sarah, his 90 year old wife, overheard the conversation and laughed. Perhaps we know the story to well to see something else? What if the name Issac (Laughter) was chosen because Sarah's laughter was from the astonishment of the promise? What if Laughter became his name to remember that moment of discovery? Surely her gladness was unimaginable. Her conception was a miracle.

This response caused a spiritual portal of release and acceptance of the impossible promise! Then, they named their son "Isaac," and his name meant "laughter." And Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me" (Gen. 21:6).

I like to think about the conversation in that family. "If I told you once, Laughter, I've told you a thousand times., quit the rowdy laughter, Laughter. Sit down and stop laughing - be still." "Laughter, be serious."

Now, imagine taking Laughter (the child of promise and hope) to the mountain to sacrifice him. Genesis 22:5  "I and the lad (Laughter) will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you." Did he laugh all the way there?  Here, offering up Isaac (Laughter) by pulling a knife up to slay him according to God's command is called "worship."

The average Believer thinks of the Sunday morning "Worship Service" as singing music with your eyes closed and both hands in the air. But, the worship Abraham was talking about is "Shachah " which means to yield and prostrate oneself in reverence.        

It's giving everything in joy, trust,  and expectation!

All the all the fancy music, all the processional banners, all the graceful dancers, and all the preaching in the world cannot make worship happen. But willing sacrifice with laughter IS worship. There was no promise of reward, no recompense - just do it. No wonder there was a ram in the thicket! It epitomizes the response to authentic worship!

Ask the Lord to show you how to worship in the dimension of joy and laughter -  allow His Love to spill out all over you. After all, God sits on His throne and laughs (Ps. 2:4). We're sitting next to him on His right side.
Why would our latest revivals contain so much Holy Laughter? Because laughter heals us. Laughter spontaneously connects us one with another. People rarely laugh alone. it gives us a shared sense of understanding the world - the essence of the awareness of life.

I had a pastor friend who made me laugh. Sometimes I would fly long distances to minister for him - and he always was outlandishly funny. Laughing with that church made that place one of my favorite places to go. Laughter is a healthy response that provides us with a mini-vacation from stress and difficult emotional situations.
"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." Mark Twain

Laughter is the great communicator. It is a witness of our faith, even in hard times. You can't be unhappy and laugh at the same time. Laughter is a joy INSIDE - it is both a physical and an emotional experience. It is a magnet that draws others to us. It creates relationship bonding. It is contagious and often uncontrollable.
Great friendships are only as memorable as the history of laughs together!

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

HEALTH - Countless advantages of laughter are said to help health issues. The August issue of Ode Magazine also tells us of some of the extraordinary health benefits of laughter:
People who laugh seem to have longer attention spans.
Immune cells become more activated. It helps us fight disease.
Laughter cleanses the body of cortisol. (Cortisol is the stress hormone that deposits fat in the abdominal region of the body.) Laughter eases anxiety.
It reduces chronic pain and these are as follows:
Laughing increases blood circulation. It pushes blood and oxygen though the coronary  arteries - reducing strokes and heart attacks.
Laughing is calming. It releases an endorphin rush that produce pleasure sensations. Endorphins reduce damage to the increases pain tolerance.
It adds higher levels of melatonin to breast milk of mothers and reduces fetal eczema.
It reduces inflammation thought to be linked to heart attacks, allergies, and arthritis.
It is an escape from stress and emotional situations.
It causes better respiration function.
It invigorates hormones called "catecholamines" that raise an alertness of our present moment in tim
It keeps us from becoming bogged down with the circumstances of life. Plus it burns more calories than worry. Laughter helps control stress.
Many cancer centers use laughter (old movies, etc.) as a coping and curing mechanism. 
Gastronomical troubles are thought to be related to uncontrolled anxiety.
Stress is related to damaged endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels - arterial stiffening) that leads to heart attacks. Athens Medical School published results that confirmed the beneficial effects of laughter on arterial stiffness.
Japanese research shows that laughter helps stabilize blood sugar in diabetics.
Peter said in Acts 2:25-28:  "I saw the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad (leaps for joy) and my tongue rejoices. --You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." 

So try these experiences just for fun. Make the sounds.
EXISTENTAIL laugher: Subdued wary laugh in seemingly uncertain or inappropriate times.

GIGGLES: Contagious response.

CACKLE: Cartoon villains, comic scoundrels, and evil entities.

CONTEMPTUOUS: Scoffing ridicule at those in authority or power. Contemptuous, bullied, or scornful response to idea or person who is deemed worthless.

NERVOUS laugh: Awkward moments, nervousness.

SOCIAL laughter: General invitation to collectively relate socially.

CHUCKLE: Briefly acknowledge comprehension of joke, pun, or event

BELLY laughs: Involuntary explosive response. Guffaw, chortle, or snort.

We are told in Scripture to not be filled with foolish talk or crude joking (Eph. 5:4). While inappropriate  humor seems to be rampant these days, we want to laugh WITH God. We are told to not overly jest or mock, but it is wonderful to be happy, amused, celebrant, rejoicing, and smiling. God even laughs at the enemies of Israel (Ps. 59:8). Israel praised God for the gift of laughter (Ps. 126).

My friend, laugh joyfully at appropriate times and put your trust in the Lord  and His Word -- nd you will have abiding  joy and a leaping up of the Holy Spirit in your heart. There is certain victory in Christ that is accompanied with eternal rejoicing and laughter.

Heb. 12:2 says, " Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross." Jesus could endure with joy because God's people have the last laugh that never ends.
 Selah --
The number one problem in the Church today is that believers don't fully know our identity. Can we learn to laugh and be joyful over who God has made us to be.
My friend, the Lord says, I have called and chosen you to live in these Strategic times. The weariness is lifting off your expectations as the door of understanding opens your eyes. It's time for expansion within. It is a time of uploading and activating all that you have learned. Broader vistas await. There is a positional shifting everywhere you go, get ready to receive the true JOY of your salvation!

Great and unexpected truths of extraordinary magnitude unveil as your identity in the Lord is more firmly established. From today, your life and ministry are energized. You are released to reap the provisional harvest.

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