Monday, August 15, 2011

The minister and the miser

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers)

I once had a church member who was a miser. To protect the guilty, I'll call him L.B.

Soon after I became pastor of a certain church in southwest Mississippi, I began to hear tall tales about L.B., a long-time inactive church member who was a miser. L.B. lived simply, but he was not poor. "He's got so much money in the bank that they had to put him on the board," one of my deacons claimed. They said he was so miserly that he drove his old pickup truck at night with the lights off to save his battery. (I didn't believe that story.) L.B. owned the land around our church. The old, rusty barbed wire fence often broke, and his cows wandered onto our church lawn.

Being the good pastor that I was, one Sunday afternoon I took my wife and went to visit L.B. We were greeted by L.B., his parents and dozens of cats. My wife sat down on the couch and noticed a live chicken in a bucket next to the couch, with chicken wire on top. L.B. and his parents rolled their own cigarettes and smoked as we talked. I talked to them about the Lord. They said they believed. I encouraged them to attend church; they made a few excuses, and we left.

I didn't see or hear from L.B. for a long time. He never came to church, and he never gave any offering. Then one Wednesday, we had the church windows raised during prayer meeting, since it was a mild autumn evening. Suddenly I heard a man's voice calling, "Ooo! Ooo!" We looked outside, and there was L.B.’s pick-up truck parked in the middle of the road in front of the church, throwing a bale of hay on the road and calling up his cows to feed. He had time to finish feeding them and leave before another car came by that way.

One night as I was driving near the church, I suddenly saw a pickup in the shadows turn on his lights. As we drove by, I saw the silhouette of L.B. in the cab of the truck. Then as he passed, the lights went off again.

Jesus warned, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

Not many Christians are as extreme as L.B., but are you, like L.B., so consumed with making money here on earth that you ignore the church and the Lord right next to you? Don't wait until you meet the Lord head-on to turn on your lights. It may be too late.

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pastor thinks he's in Popeye's Fried Chicken

I love bulletin bloopers, especially announcements that sound okay until you read them out loud. For example, an oft-quoted church bulletin blooper described a ladies group collecting used clothes. The announcement said, "The ladies of the church have cast off clothes of every kind, and they may be seen in the church basement Friday afternoon."
That blooper is funny because we know that the last thing you expect to see women do in church is "cast off" their clothes. After all, 1 Timothy 2:9 says, "the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense."
Different churches have different opinions about what is appropriate clothing in church, but most would agree with the verse above. As a Christian t-shirt says, "Modest is hottest." Unfortunately, this verse is forgotten by many churchgoers today.
A pastor in New Orleans who wants to remain anonymous (for reasons you will understand in a moment) said he was horrified at how some of the women in his church dress with so little clothing. They come in wearing these short skirts and when they sit down, the hem slides up to you-know-where. And the low necklines bothered him, too. He said, "I think sometimes I'm in Popeye's Fried Chicken because all I can see are legs and thighs and breasts."
As Hebrews 12:2 reminds us, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. Especially in church.
(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Things NOT to Give for Father's Day

In the old days before cell phones and national calling plans, telephone companies reported that the largest number of “collect” calls were made on Father’s Day. For the younger generation who don’t know what I’m talking about, that means Dad got a call and he had to pay for it!

Which caused me to wonder… what are the worst things a man could get for Father’s Day? Drum roll, please. Here it is….the Top Ten Things you should NOT give Dad for Father’s Day.

10. Necktie

9. “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug

8. “World’s Best Dad” t-shirt with a picture of Darth Vader

7. “World’s Best Dad” certificate signed by a Lazy Son or Daughter

6. The book, Fatherhood for Dummies.

5. A text message saying “Happy Father’s Day.”

4. Nose and ear hair trimmer

3. Big Mouth Billy the Bass singing fish

2. Book a cruise and charge it to Dad’s credit card.

1. Nothing.

Yep. Nothing. The worst gift of all is to forget Father’s Day and fail to call or say anything about it. Even a text message is better than nothing at all.

Having said that, what are the BEST gifts a Dad could get? From my informal survey of men, here’s my list of the Top Ten Best Gifts for Father’s Day.

10. Gear for his favorite hobby: golf clubs, fishing gear, etc.

9. Tickets to go with him to his favorite sports event

8. Spend the day with him at the beach or a park.

7. Write a letter telling your Dad why he’s the best.

6. Tell Dad “thank you” for all the things he does, and list what those things are

5. Pray for him every day and call him at least once a week and tell him you’re praying for him.

4. Give him a hug and tell him, “I love you.”

3. Let him sit in an easy chair and wait on him hand and foot all day long.

2. Bring the grandchildren to visit. (Did I mention that I’m going to be a grandfather?)

1. Accept Christ, and be baptized with your Dad on Father’s Day.

The last verse of the Old Testament prophesies, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6, HCSB) It doesn’t get any better than that!

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why Tiny's baptism was a big deal

Pastor Rob served a tiny church in North Carolina that had a big problem with Tiny. “Tiny” was the nickname of a very large man who had harassed his Christian neighbor for years, but through the quiet testimony of this neighbor, Tiny had been converted to faith in Christ, and wanted to be baptized.

The little country church building did not have a baptismal pool, so a deacon had dug a hole in his backyard, and lined it in concrete. He told the preacher they could use his backyard baptistery, so they took a garden hose and filled it with water. Pastor Rob told Tiny that when they got into the water, that he would need to bend his legs, and then the pastor could lean him back and bring him back up. However, the little hole in the yard was only about four feet wide, and Pastor Rob was a big man himself, so when big Tiny got in the water with him, the water rose almost to the level of the grass in the yard. Pastor Rob leaned him back, and Tiny's heavy weight pulled Pastor Rob down with him, sinking underwater until their large frames got wedged together between the concrete! Pastor Rob held his fingers above the water’s surface to signal for help, and his deacon grabbed a water hose, cut off an end, and lowered it into the water so they could breathe. Then they got a pump and pumped the water out. Finally, Pastor Rob and Tiny got themselves loose from the tight space in the backyard baptistery, and climbed out, exhausted. Tiny looked at Pastor Rob and asked, “Well, am I baptized?” Pastor Rob said, “You sure are!”

Tiny and Pastor Rob almost drowned in that baptistery. But God doesn’t want dead sacrifices. God is looking for living sacrifices. Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice-- holy and pleasing to God..." (Romans 12:1, NIV) Since Jesus died for us, let's live for Him. Let's rise from the waters of baptism and offer ourselves in service to God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Christians get the last laugh after Easter

A pastor in Clearwater, Florida, preached one of the shortest sermons ever recorded. The topic was "Sin." He got up and said, "Don't do it, Amen." Then he sat down.

Why such a short sermon? The reason was that his church was celebrating Holy Humor Sunday, which is a resurrection of an ancient custom called "Bright Sunday" (the Sunday after Easter), when early Christians had a day of joy and laughter to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes, had picnics, drenched one another with water, told jokes, danced and sang. After all, God had played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead.
In 1988, the Fellowship of Merry Christians began promoting the celebration of "Holy Humor Sunday" on the Sunday after Easter, with the theme, "Jesus is the life of the party." The idea seems to be spreading.

Some churches celebrate "Holy Humor Sunday" with ushers dressed as clowns, bright streamers, smiley faces, multi-colored balloons, and signs saying, "Smile! Jesus is alive."

Two Mennonite churches in Kansas gather on the Sunday after Easter and sing silly songs about their church, reworded from popular musicals, such as The Sound of Music. Instead of singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music," they sang, "The pews are alive with the sounds of Mennonites."
A United Methodist Church in New Jersey had their choir sing in bathrobes, and used the occasion to take up a collection for new choir robes.
A Christian church in Missouri advertised on their sign, "If you must sleep in the Sunday after Easter, sleep in here." They provided sleeping bags on their back pews for those who wanted to take a nap during the service.

A church in Michigan celebrated "Holy Humor Sunday" with a series of baseball sketches in a "nine-inning" baseball service. A chicken mascot cheered on the congregation, and when the preacher got winded, he was replaced by two "relief preachers." The pastor said, "It's not sacreligious-- it's good theology. After the pain of the crucifixion of Jesus, we want to celebrate the joy and fun of Jesus' resurrection for more than just one day."
A United Methodist church in New Jersey gave everyone in the congregation a kazoo, filled the sanctuary with helium balloons, and allowed members to take turns telling clean jokes.
A Presbyterian church in Florida decorated the worship center with large butterflies, encouraged members to wear their brightest colors, and women had a "parade of hats" to display their unusual and colorful hats. After the service, members who had lost a loved one since the previous Easter released live butterflies in the church courtyard.
Why not? After all, Jesus is alive, Satan is defeated, and Christians get the last laugh!

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christina Aguilera isn't alone: preachers have super slip-ups

Christina Aguilera publicly embarrassed herself when she forgot a line of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 2011. But preachers, who speak all the time, find that “slip-ups” are a hazard of their occupation. Here are a few samples:

Pastor Jimmy in Paint Creek, Texas, was at the grave side of a lady whom he had known for nearly 20 years. He said, “We are here to place the body of…” Nothing came to him except two names and he knew neither one of them was correct. The pastor next to him said, quietly, “Shirley.” Everyone knew what had happened, so he confessed, “I had a senior moment there.”

Pastor Kevin in Falkner, Mississippi, was preaching one time and intended to say, "Jesus is Lord!" Problem was, his intentions did not play out. He said, "Satan is Lord!" He never had any idea what he had said until his wife told him about it weeks later.

Pastor Paul in Metairie, Louisiana, was telling the story of the Prodigal Son's return to the father that he blurted out the father's memorable line, "Kill the fatted pig!" The laughter didn't stop until the sermon ended. (If you don’t get it, look up Luke 15:11-32, especially verse 23.)

My favorite comes from Pastor Rick in San Antonio, Texas. He says, “Once, my wife gave me 'that look' as I was preaching, and knowing that I said nothing wrong, I stopped and asked, "Why are your giving me 'that look'?"... Her public response was, "ZIP UP YOUR ZIPPER!"

Now that’s one super slip-up that Christina Aguilera will never make.

Scripture reminds us of how we all slip-up on a regular basis. The apostle Paul bluntly says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). He quotes numerous Old Testament affirmations of our imperfection, and interestingly, a lot of them have to do with messing up in the mouth. Romans 3:13-14 mentions the throat, tongue, lips and mouth.

Thank God we can be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

So when you slip up, look up. Look to God for His forgiveness and grace. And when your brother or sister slips up, offer them the same grace.

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mississippi Romeo fears he is jilted by his Juliet

Years ago, a girl from a wealthy family in Natchez, Mississippi, fell in love with a poor boy from the country. Their families consented to a wedding, albeit reluctantly, when the boy and girl persisted in professing their passion for one another.
Since the wealthy bride's family was embarrassed to have the country bumpkin in their city church, they decided to have the wedding at the rural church of the groom. When the Saturday of the wedding arrived, people began to fill the pews of the little house of worship. The groom's side, that is. The bride's side remained empty. No family of the bride, and no bride.
The organist played happy wedding music in anticipation of a celebration that appeared to be over before it began. The preacher looked at the forlorn face of the groom as the appointed hour came and went. The minister had never felt so sorry for a fellow in all of his days. "That girl ain't coming," the preacher thought. "Her family has talked her out of it."
Just as they were about to give up and send everybody home, a cloud of dust arose on the horizon. It was the bride and her family, rushing in, all out of breath, dressed for the wedding. The preacher proceeded to lead the smiling groom and his sweaty, breathless bride in a quick exchange of “I do.”
At the reception, they learned the rest of the story from the father of the bride. It seems that the bride's wedding dress was at the dry cleaners, and when they went to pick it up that Saturday morning, the cleaners was closed. The father of the bride had to make frantic phone calls and demand that the owner of the cleaners open up on his day off. After finally fitting the dress on the frantic bride, they set out into the countryside to find the groom's little church, only to get lost. This was long before the days of cell phones and GPS.
Imagine the joy of the bride when she saw the little church at the end of the gravel road. Imagine the joy of the groom when he saw his bride riding up in a cloud of dust. Yet none of that can compare with the joy that the church, the "bride of Christ" will have when we see our Lord Jesus coming to take us up to heaven!
"Let us rejoice and exult, and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7, ESV).
You might think that I made up this amazing story, but I did not. The preacher who performed the wedding tells me it really happened. What is even more amazing is that the marriage of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the church, the Bride of Christ, is really going to happen, too. Will you be there?

(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.