I Hab a Code

August 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

Achoo! Bless me. I mean, excuse me. I hab a code, er, I have a cold. It’s a good thing I don’t use voice recognition software right now, because I hardly have a voice, and what does squeak out is a bit jumbled. The computer would likely transcribe it in Jabberwocky. You know, “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; / All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.”

When I was in high school, I wrote a research paper on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, focusing on the books’ oddities and their real life parallels. Back in those days, word processors were brand new and very expensive. We lived on my mom’s single-parent income, so I had to rely on my trusty typewriter to prepare assignments.

As I typed my first draft, I chose not to hit “backspace.” I just kept on going even when I knew I’d made an error. That drove my internal editor crazy, but I persevered until I finished the task. Then, I sat back and read it aloud and laughed until I cried. The whole thing was Jabberwocky!

I considered turning the paper in as it was. I thought surely the teacher would appreciate my efforts to authenticate the theme by speaking Carroll’s own language, but in the end, I chickened out and handed in a clean, error-free version. I guess I made the right decision, because that one scored an A+.

I’m just so glad the Lord understands me no matter how I sound. I may hab a code, I may type without backspacing, I may mumble, stammer or “uh,” but my heavenly Father knows what I mean. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV). Look, “…the Spirit himself…groans,” and the Lord gets it.

Of the Jabberwocky poem, Alice replied, “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t know exactly what they are!” But you know what? Whether I speak English, Spanish, French or Jabberwocky, I can rest in confidence my Lord knows exactly what I am saying and that my prayers are heard.

Tongue, Be Thou Loosed

August 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Carol Barnier –

Welcome, friends, to Church Speak Recovery Class. My name is Carol. [Hi, Carol.] And I’m a recovering addict of church speak. Yes, friends, for years I suffered from an acute addiction to the compelling lure of church language. Its grip on me and my tongue was so tenacious that it could emerge at any time.

“Why, Laura, come in and have a muffin. Would you like a proper exegesis with that?”

While trying to live for the Lord, my uncontrolled use of the best practiced and most historically accurate of church terminology often puzzled people, in some cases, moving them further from the very God I wished them to know. I often saw the confusion spreading across their faces as I shared my thoughts of grace, mercy and ecclesiastical catechesis — and, yet, I was clueless as to what I had done to produce the wrinkled brow and baffled expression that regularly met my eager gaze.

Luckily, a mentor emerged to show me the error of my ways. “Carol,” he kindly said, “You do understand that the person you were speaking to believes Total Depravity is a headbanger group from the 90s?”

It was then that I realized the need for change. Yes, friends, it took years to jettison my vocabulary of words unknown to many and, thus, basically worthless in attempts at actual communication. But, with Yahweh’s divine intervention, … I mean, with God’s help, I began.

I started small, and, by that, I mean Big. Big words were the easiest to locate and remove. Propitiation. Apostate. Dispensationalism. In fact, if the word ever appeared in any one of the Confessions, or was listed in a seminary dictionary, or possessed more syllables than the gears of my car, it was now set aside.

The harder task was to remove the little words, words that while easy and simple to utter, were still unknown in concept to many people.

For example, I might say something seemingly plain, such as …
“Sin entered world, which caused the fall of creation. So, God sent a sacrifice to take on our sin, and that’s the plan of salvation” (hear the lyric beauty of the rhyme).

Seemed clear to me. But what people actually heard was …

Glorp entered the world, which caused the floogery of nim-cloppidge. So, God sent a ramdoozle to take on our Glorp. And that’s the drission of interpillionism.”

Big sigh.

I’m reminded of a song of the Shakers — ‘Tis the gift to be Simple, ‘Tis the gift to be free. I couldn’t agree more. It would indeed be a gift if I were able to speak simply, clearly, with no loss of meaning. And it certainly would be freeing, most especially for anyone listening to me. C.S. Lewis felt the pull of this simplicity goal, as well. His BBC radio lectures (yes, the same BBC that eventually brought you Monty Python) on the basics of the Christian faith were an attempt at simple, clear understanding of some rather weighty concepts. So successful was his work that many came to faith as a result, and the subsequent book, Mere Christianity continues to be standard reading, even 50 years later. It is to such simplicity and clarity that I aspire…as well as to a best seller that sells well for half a century.

Of course, if you ever miss the good ole’ days when you could speak your mind without a single edit and produce that puzzled look on the face of your listener, you can always briefly drop back to your old ways. Start chatting up someone in the grocery line and tell ‘em it’s all under the blood, or don’t cast your pearls before swine, or that they should perhaps put out a fleece. Gets ‘em every time.

The Trouble With Words

August 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

Don’t get me wrong. I like words. All kinds of words. I like how they help me communicate with people, whether through writing or speaking. The best thing about words is the way they sound as they make their way past my lips. Some words are more fun to say than others. “Muffin,” for example, is an amusing word. What’s not to love about that “m” sound combined with those two “f”s? You know what’s even better? The word “waffle.” Say it a couple of times. Really play with “w” and “f” sounds, and I’ll bet you’ll be smiling.

The trouble with the word “waffle” is that can mean two different things. In one instance, it refers to a yummy breakfast treat smothered in either syrup or fruit and whipped cream. (This is, in fact, my favorite meaning of the word!) Sometimes it’s a verb meaning you are struggling between two choices. Very rarely will you confuse the two unless you happen to be at an IHop, waffling between ordering waffles or pancakes for breakfast.

Context becomes important when we use words that have double meanings. A friend of mine found that out recently after she was involved in an accident on the freeway one Sunday morning. When the car in front of her stopped suddenly, my friend braked in time to avoid the collision. The person behind her, however, did not. The police arrived, discerned no one was seriously injured, then began questioning those involved.

“Ma’am,” the policeman asked my friend. “Have you been drinking?”

“Yes,” She replied.

The cop gave her a strange look. “How many drinks have you had?”

She thought for a moment. “A glass of orange juice and tea with breakfast. At least two bottles of water and─” She caught the policeman’s bemused face. “Oh! I thought you were asking if I was hydrated today!”

For my friend, a bicycling enthusiast and a Christian, the idea of drinking alcohol on a Sunday morning was such a foreign concept that she naturally assumed the policeman was concerned about her being dehydrated. For the policeman, alcohol and accidents coincide so often that he had no trouble believing a person could be drunk so early in the day.

I try to remember this lesson in context when I speak to others about my faith. I have to be aware of what colors their perspective of God. Even a word like “sin” has different meanings to different people depending on their own past and present experiences. But “love” and “acceptance” are words that most people understand. If I start on common ground with our need as human beings to be loved and accepted for who we are, I find people to be much more receptive to the other words I speak about God.

Money Can’t Buy Me Fitness

August 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

We invited our church over for an open house not long ago. I really hate to admit to this, especially in writing. It’s bound to be used against me at my inevitable sanity hearing. But I burned more calories on my exercise machine while getting ready for that open house than I have since I bought the thing. Here’s the goofy part. I burned all those calories by shoving the monstrous beast out of the way and into the storage area. I was sore for a week. That’s just downright embarrassing.

Doesn’t it seem like simply owning the machine should be enough to get me fit? After all, I invested a big hunk of money in it. I think I thought I’d see the muscles start to bulk up and the fat melt away as I wrote out the check.

I wonder if there are people who have the same kind of warped view when it comes to God’s Word? Could they possibly think that by finding the biggest, fattest, most expensive Bible, they automatically become spiritual? Or maybe they think that while writing that tithe check they suddenly have a special understanding of the will of God.

But when we’re told in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor of God, we’re instructed in verse 17 to “take” the Word of God. Not just buy it. Not simply write our family history in it. Not to merely set it on a shelf for some kind of spiritual protection. We’re not to just glance at a few pages now and then. No, we’re to “take” the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We’re to wield it. How insane would we consider a soldier who strapped on the sharpest, shiniest sword, then went into battle trying to bop people in the head with its sheath? He would be even sooner destined for a sanity hearing than I am.

In Psalm 119:45 and 48, the psalmist says, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.” And in verse 32 he says, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding,” (NIV). Wow, walking, reaching, running—I think I’m in better shape already!

It inspires me all the more to stretch myself. To use God’s Word—really use it—and let it continually be at the center of everything I do and everything I am. That’s a big part of what being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in Him is all about. It’s at those times when we’re walking in, reaching for and running toward Him and toward His word that we find ourselves equipped to do what we were designed to do. That’s a great place to live.

And just so you know, I’ll be dragging my exercise machine back out of storage soon. I guess I’ll try a little harder to use it to do what it was designed to do too. Hey, do you think that hauling the thing back out might earn me enough aerobic points to get me through ‘til summer?

Healthy, Healthy Chocolate

August 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Steph Prichard –

At last, science has acknowledged what the rest of us knew all along—that chocolate is good for you. Okay, so the verdict was limited to dark chocolate—we chocoholics can live with that. And what finally pushed the men with pointy heads to that waking point? They discovered little thingies called antioxidants living in dark chocolate, and—guess what?—these antioxidants have their own addictions! They gobble up bad cells called “free radicals” as greedily as, well, we devour a box of chocolates.

The free radicals start out as terrorists that use oxygen to parachute into our bodies and blast our cells with machine guns. The cells, lop-sided now because they lack a crucial molecule, go absolutely whack-o. Foaming at the mouth, they take off on a rampage and beat up healthy cells to steal molecules from them. Then those poor, robbed cells run amok and bushwhack other cells to steal their molecules. And so it goes, blam, blam, blam, one big chain reaction of hold-up after hold-up. The result? Ugh—disease.

All for lack of antioxidant-good-guys.

So, motivated by the desire to be dark-chocolate healthy, I cruised the grocery aisles. Candy bars, chocolate chips, cocoa, ice cream bars—if it said dark chocolate, I bought it. And ate it. My favorite antioxidant host became the ice cream bars that were dark chocolate, inside and out. For dessert every night, I faithfully ate one. I decided to become even more faithful and eat one for dessert at lunchtime too. And if one is good and two are better, why not add a third one for an afternoon snack and have triple the health?

I noticed I was gaining weight, but what’s a pound or two when the gain is in health too? At five pounds, I thought a bit of restraint might be in order, but you know what the –holic means at the end of the choco-? Uh-huh. The antioxidants and I were hooked. Totally addicted to chocolate and free radicals. Sadly, but with great resolve, we decided to bite the bullet and cut back on everything dark chocolate but the ice cream bars.

At ten pounds, when I had to shop for clothes a size larger, reality in the form of a humanoid blob stared back at me from the fitting room mirror. I sniffled, knowing I had to make a choice. It was either another month and another size larger, or go cold turkey and quit. I exchanged my dark chocolate for turkey.

What took one month to gain took three months to lose. Ever since, I have shunned dark chocolate and made friends with the antioxidants inhabiting the fifty-two calories of a raw apple. You’ve never heard of an appleholic, have you? There’s a good reason why.

But, hey, not all cravings are bad! There’s one I’ve gained exponentially from, every bit of it to my benefit. When I became a Christian at age twenty, I began reading the Bible, sometimes in bite-sized pieces, sometimes in full-plate portions. The more I read, the more I gained wisdom for my marriage, my parenting, and every decision I faced, big or small. What could be better than insight straight from the God who made me and loves me? Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Hoo, now there’s an addiction worth indulging in!

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