The Bible is a crazy book.
JANUARY 23, 2023
The Bible is a crazy book. I’ll explain, on Key Life.
Being adopted into the family of God is not about doing more or trying harder. It’s about being welcomed by God because of his radical grace, free from the penalties of sin and never alone in your suffering, that grace is what Key life is all about.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end. And I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. Let me tell you what we’re going to do, as if the creek don’t rise. We’re going to be looking for the next few weeks at some of the themes in a book that I wrote that just came out. It’s called Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And whenever I write a book, what I do is that I spend some time on this broadcast looking at the themes. It’s a shame to waste all that work. And so, we’re going to spend some time in that book. And another way of saying it, some time in the Bible looking at what the Bible says about laughter and lament. Now, if you were listening a week or so ago, I said we’d come back to Acts this week. I’ve changed my mind. We had such a great time with Dr. Holcomb last week, and if you missed that, you need to go to our archives and listen to that week of programs, an overview of the Book of Acts. And I thought instead of going back and finishing up the last few chapters of Acts, we’d take a break from that, spend some time in this new book and the themes of that book. And then when we finish that, we’ll come back and wrap up the Book of Acts. It’s our practice on Mondays to go before the throne, before we study. Let’s do that. Father, we come into your presence, aware that in our lives at one time there is a reason for great lament and at other times a reason for great laughter. Father, we rest easy because it’s a safety net that you’re God, that you know what you’re doing, that you have our back, and that every incident, every molecule, every bit of our lives is planned and coordinated according to your plan and your glory and our benefit. But Father, sometimes it’s hard to remember that. So, remind us, and when it hurts, remind us that you’re there. And that you have our back, and when we’re having a wonderful time and there’s laughter, remind us that you’re a God of laughter too. Father, as always, we pray for the people who listen to this broadcast, you know in every place what’s going on. In other words, you know our names, and that means you know all about us. Meet us at the point of our need. And as always, we pray for the one who teaches, forgive him his sins cause there are many. We would see Jesus and Him only, and we pray in Jesus name. Amen. You know something, the Bible is a crazy book and that for a lot of reasons, it’s from God. And as the prophet Isaiah wrote.
God’s ways are higher than our ways. And his thoughts higher than our thoughts.
That’s Isaiah 55:8 through 9 and Paul recognized the crazy nature of God’s revelation by calling it the foolishness of God in I Corinthians. The Bible is also crazy because frankly, it’s so frustratingly counterintuitive. It violates almost everything that seems to be logical and balanced and understandable. Jesus found it necessary to correct religious people’s common and seemingly reasonable understanding of Scripture. He said, you have heard, but I say, that’s Matthew 5 and he still does that. The Bible is crazy because an infinite God, really big simply doesn’t communicate to finite human beings, or at least he shouldn’t because there simply aren’t the right words. Calvin wrote that the Bible is God’s baby talk to us. It’s crazy also because it points to a sovereign God, when we thought, as William Henley wrote in his poem Invictus.
I’m the master of my faith. I’m the captain of my soul.
But between you and me, there’s probably no place in the Bible that seems crazier than it’s teaching about triumph and tragedy, joy and tears, and laughter in lament. And what I’m going to be talking to you about in this broadcast and what I wrote in this book, won’t be a defense of God’s goodness in the face of tragedy. I am not going to make it either an apology for inappropriate and crazy laughter in the face of that tragedy. Instead, I want to show you something I’ve discovered that almost daily amazes me. I’ve done this religious thing for most of my life. I’m probably the most religious friend that you’ve got. I’ve been a pastor, a professor, a writer. Over all those years, I can’t think of a single Christian funeral I’ve officiated at or attended where, surprise, there wasn’t laughter. I understand the loss in the tears when we listen for the sound of footsteps that are no longer there. I understand as one widow said to me, I miss somebody who would wind the clocks. I also understand the nervous laughter as people walk through a graveyard at night, but when the loss is affirmed and even embraced, and the laughter is free and authentic, something’s going on there and we ought to look into it. We need to ask some questions. We need to pursue it, and that’s what I did in this book and that’s what we’re going to do on this broadcast. I recently talked with a close friend who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is the wife of a board member of Key Life and subsequently, she did die. I called her up to pray with her and see if I could give her a degree of pastoral comfort. And she wouldn’t have any of it. Actually, we laughed together more than we cried. And let me tell you what she told me. And it’s amazing, Steve, I hate this and certainly wouldn’t have chosen it, but I’m okay with it. And just so you know, I’m not being spiritual in saying this. But I have a peace that is deeper than anything I’ve ever experienced. That was an amazing statement of faith. But what puzzled me about that conversation when I think about it, was the laughter that was taking place during that conversation. Number of years ago, a book of basic Biblical doctrine for new Christians was written. One of the truly great books in the history of Christendom, and it was my book. And it was titled, Welcome to the Family. It was republished, the publisher asked me to write a new introduction and to change what needed to be changed. The first publication of that book had a photograph of me on the cover. Then I was a young man with a lot of hair, pristine complexion, and confident demeanor. As I looked at that photograph from the past, I realized that that young man had turned old, older than dirt. Then having started down that road, I thought of the life I’ve lived and the tragedy I’ve experienced. Not my own, well, just my own and others. Now, the little hair that I have left is white. The confident air is not as apparent as it was in that photograph and the lines, oh my, you should see the lines in my face. So, I winced as I looked at that photograph, but I also did something else. I looked at my image in the mirror. I’m not all together pleased with this old wrinkled face. The more I examined it, the more I realized something that surprised me. I noticed, can you believe this? I noticed that most of the wrinkles were from smiles and not frowns. That discovery made me think that in this old preacher that there is a reality, that most people reject. Laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. When we experience or see tragedy, we expect tears and fear, and sometimes anger. Just so, when we experience good and pleasant, we expect that we’ll see laughter, but when they mix up, it gives one something to think about. And we’re going to talk about it a lot on Key Life. You think about that. Amen.
Steve Brown there, and as he mentioned, we are stepping away from our leisurely tour of Acts just for a bit to explore the themes found in Steve’s new book called Laughter and Lament. It is classic Steve, so believe me, when I say we are in for a fun ride. We’ll continue that tomorrow. Don’t miss it. So, evangelism, what is it exactly? Well, that’s a big question, but at the very least, it isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. Well, Steve spoke about this idea in a message called The Death of Evangelism. It’s a classic sermon from him. In fact, we put the entire thing on a CD. And we can send you that CD for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the CD called The Death of Evangelism. And one more thing before you go. Would you prayerfully consider partnering in the ministry of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card. You can include a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who give safely and securely through text. How do you do that? Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.