They called him laughter…

Sara said, “I didn’t laugh.”
[Jesus] said, “Yes, you laughed.”

When I look at paintings of Jesus, when I watch movies depicting him, many times I see a solemn, dissociated, and melancholy man who doesn’t seem to be engaged in this life.  My experience with Jesus is exactly the opposite.  He is intimately engaged in my life.  He makes jokes to me and makes me laugh.  (I know, you think I’m mentally ill).  When I lead prayer in groups I sometimes make jokes to Him, to give others the sense that Jesus is a humble, informal, brother of ours.

Hebrews 2:11 NASB95

For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

One time an unsaved spouse of someone in our Bible study was giving our group a test run.  They said years later, that they were unsure if they would come back until, when I was praying to Jesus, I made a joke to Jesus (to show this person the informal, approachable character of Jesus).  He said that hearing me joke to Jesus convinced him to stay in the Bible study.

Of course I do not disrespect Jesus.  John, in Revelation, fell on the ground frozen, in fear of the holiness of Jesus.   When Jesus confronted me with my sinfulness and I rebelled against the truth, against Him, I saw his robes of light from the thighs down, I felt His anger burn, and I was frozen in terror as well.

Revelation 1:17 NASB95

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

But just like Jesus invented reverance, He invented laughter as well.  Babies don’t need lessons in learning to laugh, giggle and smile.  We are hard-wired to have fun.  But of course laughter and fun are not an end in themselves.  Solomon tested laughter and found that laughter as an end in itself is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 NASB95

For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.

The Bible doesn’t mention Jesus’ laughter.  So how do I know that the paintings and movies didn’t get the “melancholy Jesus” right?  Dr. Charles F. Stanley observed that the little children wanted to be with Jesus.  And Jesus wanted to be with the little children.   Dr. Stanley said that children are repelled by the solemn, dissociated,  and melancholy.  They are attracted to laughter, fun and joy.  And they were attracted to Jesus.

Mark 10:13–16 NASB95

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.

And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, layinhans on them.

The real Jesus was/is a real person.  And he really laughed and he really had fun.  Just like God the Father does.  (Remember we were made in God’s image).  If you didn’t know that Jesus invented fun and laughter, if you want to experience this part of his joy,

just ask him.

He would love to love you in this way.

 

POST post-script:

The title may be misleading… or is it?  The song with the lyric “They called him laughter” refers to Abraham and Sara calling their newborn son: “Laughter” or Isaac, because the Lord had given the childless couple the gift of their son in their old age.  Sara originally laughed when [Jesus] told her she would have a son because she was over 80 years old.  She denied laughing because she was afraid.  But Jesus took the disbelieving laugh and turned it into a laughter of joy nine months later.  Jesus, I believe, is at the root of all good laughter.

 

 

 

What’s in a phrase?

Have you noticed that some people are referred to as a “person of faith”?  And when they receive something it is credited to “the power of prayer”?  As good as these phrases are, I don’t think they go far enough.  They leave someone out.  The person doing it.  God.

Our faith (trust) is in God.  Not in faith.  It is God’s choice and God’s power that answers our prayers.  Not the prayer.  And God is so much more than power.  He is unbridled love toward each one of us:  every man, woman and child on the planet.  He wants everyone to experience his love forever.

Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Or said another way, turn away from the things that hurt you and others and trust Jesus and ask him to lead your life.

Jesus wants to love you and help you love others.

Now the above message is good, but I left out something very important.  When you surrender to Jesus, satan gets very mad.  And the people who do not love God get very mad.  If you give yourself to Jesus, you now are NOT a slave to satan.  You now are a threat to satan.  You now are a child of God.  You now are able to resist satan.  You can expose him.  And you can lead others away from his control and to Jesus and his love.  Satan wants to stop you.  He wants to hurt you.  Because through your pain he hopes to hurt God.

When you become a Christian you may refuse to do something immoral and be threatened with losing your job (like I was).  You may be forced to leave your job because of a false accusation from someone influenced by satan (like I was).  And you may experience a terrifying, 20-year long, chronic crisis of raising kids who don’t respond to traditional child rearing or adult influence because you obey God* by adopting special-needs kiddos from foster care (like my wife and I did).

The idea that if you become a Christian life will be problem-free is a myth.

Though satan is more powerful than us, Jesus is infinitely more powerful than satan.  And Jesus has provided a way.  Jesus said that if we put Jesus first as Lord and Savior, he will take responsibility for feeding us and clothing us and giving us shelter.  And that is all we really need.  Therefore, we don’t have to fear what satan can do to us.  Jesus has already defeated him on the cross and Jesus will defeat him in our lives too.

Following Jesus is hard.  But it is also fun.  I would never want  to go back to being a slave of satan (And free only to do evil).  Now I am a slave of Jesus (and I am free to do good for others and myself).

Jesus chose to die rather than spend eternity without you.  And he did.  What is your choice?

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*God’s plan was to make us a family.  Satan hurt my two boys in their birth home and continues to attack them today through the residual effects of early trauma.

 

I have wanted to die…

Major depression and especially Bipolar depression is not like some think.  When you say depression they think about when their dog died and they were depressed.  They think, “Everybody gets depressed.  Just make like a rubber band and snap out of it.”  This was said to me when I was in the depths of depression.

My constant thought is that “I just wanted to get back to normal.”  Being awake or asleep was a constant, horrific nightmare that I couldn’t get out of.  Relentless pressure of psychic pain.  Everyone hated me.  I shouldn’t eat because I wasn’t working.  Guilt.  Sadness.  Loss of everything that was important to me.  People who  have no clue, giving advice as if they think they are telling me something I don’t already know.  Condemnation by everyone. Despair.  Without hope.

And satan is constantly telling me to kill myself.  He says it would be better.  Don’t think anymore about it just do it.  It would end all this suffering.

And of course satan is a liar.  His goal is my death.  To hurt God.  To hurt my family.  To hurt me.

Yet the pain is so great I actually consider it.  Like a deadly light to a moth I am attracted.  Why keep on living?  This pain is constant.  No break.  I haven’t felt anything but bad in forever.  Where is God?  Why is this happening?

With all my strength, wishing for something I do not feel is there, thinking it is not worth it, I choose to live.  Satan laughs at me telling me I have made the wrong choice.

And as I lay on the summer grass at Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital, I close my eyes, knowing that this round is over, and I go to sleep.

God loves people with mental illness.  Jesus healed them.  God goes with us in our pain and bears most of it.  God wants us to live.  He used/is using every ounce of suffering I have gone through to help others.  And helping others gives me joy that is worth all the former pain.

I am so glad I didn’t kill myself.  I would not know the joy I feel now.

Jesus had a plan for me.  He has a plan for you.  I am asking Him to help you.

Take the risk and trust Him.