Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Pun-ny Thing Happened

Carpenters have hammers, plumbers have wrenches, painters have brushes. Writers have words, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love affair with words. Sometimes I even use them like toys.

For instance, did you hear about the hard-driving businessman from Taiwan who gave a blood sample for his annual checkup? The lab techs marveled at the Taipei Type-A’s Type A blood!

My favorite country song is, “Run Down to the Roundhouse, Nellie – He Can’t Corner You There.”

Have you heard about the candy for couples not ready to conceive children? They’re called CondomMints. Where do those couples typically live? In condominiums.

Whenever I get a haircut, I like to annoy my barber with a few puns. His standard reply is, “There you go, playing with words again.” Yes, my toys.

I can’t help it – my parents were born and raised in Punnsylvania. Do you know where they send people that always tell bad jokes? To a punintentiary.

Did you hear about the Eastern mystic who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

A monastery assigned each new resident the duty of preparing their kettle-cooked potato snacks. They give the person the official title of Chip Monk.

Some pastors are acquiring fake seminary degrees online. They’re said to be artificially insemin-ated.

Why was Noah considered the boldest financier in the Bible? Because he was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Describe Boaz of the Old Testament before getting married: Ruth-less.

Dumb jokes? Unquestionably. But the way I see it, if humor like this provokes a snicker even for a split second, it’s worth it. We all have a tendency to take ourselves a bit too seriously, and as the Bible says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Creation’s Limitless Creativity

I must admit: I’m one of those obviously deranged, hopelessly unenlightened people that believe the “Big Bang” is nothing more than a big bunch of baloney.

It takes a lot more faith than I’ll ever possess to believe once upon a time (before there was such a thing as time), immeasurable eons ago, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nill. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Until, suddenly, shazzam: Then there was something. Ta-da! Something – according to the infinite wisdom of academic and scientific intelligencia – came out of…nothing. Unfortunately, that’s apparently the lone rationale for explaining not only the earth and its solar system, but also the universe, when one insists on excluding God from the equation.

To me, the opening words of the Bible and its book of Genesis, “In the beginning, God created…,” may sound simplistic but even in its simplicity it provides a plausible explanation for everything we can see, touch, hear and smell – along with a lot of things we can’t.

This week I and some family members visited the Tennessee Aquarium, where we were reminded of the marvelous variety of God’s creation. We also saw ample evidence of His grand sense of humor:

The seahorse that looked like a large chunk of seaweed. Wispy jellyfish with mushroom tops. A stick-legged crab. Even proud penguins parading about. To borrow the words of Alice, uttered after she had tumbled down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, things seem to get “curiouser and curiouser.”

But you can find similar wonders in your back yard, along the roadside, even the sky above. Perhaps that is why the psalmist wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

Best of all, with all the wonders we find around us, the Scriptures tell us, to put it in the vernacular of slang, “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The best is yet to come!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The People You Meet

“Five years from now, you’ll be the same except for the people you meet and the books you read.” The late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones often made that observation, stressing the importance of relationships and of reading.

In an age when many of our written words are presented electronically, I remain a strong advocate for book reading. But that’s fodder for another blog. As for people, it’s indisputable that many individuals I have met through school, work, church, even my neighborhood, have played a big part in shaping my life.

Some time ago I wrote about personalities that became major influences in my life, but even brief encounters can make a huge difference. For instance, I had a neighbor – not a follower of Christ – who challenged me to think more deeply about my faith and seek answers to tough questions. The managing editor of a newspaper where I worked briefly taught the importance of always having a “plan B.”

Speakers I heard at various writers’ conferences challenged me to treat the written word with reverence, respecting its power, appreciating its creativity, and valuing its integrity. Occasionally, complete strangers would appear during low times in my career to offer helpful words of encouragement.

I often write about relating spirituality to the workplace in practical ways. Numerous men and women I met through the years have modeled this for me, demonstrating that to lead, manage and work according to biblical principles is an ideal worthy of pursuit.

At its heart, the Bible is a book about relationships: Our relationship with God, and our relationships with one another. I think that’s why it exhorts, “and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deed” (Hebrews 10:24). The impact we can have on others is both profound and immeasurable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do You Love Your Work?

Someone has said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never go to work another day in your life.” But in reality every job – no matter how perfect – includes elements of drudgery and tedium. You may love what you do, but might not always like it.

The key, however, is in loving what you do. Too many people – a vast majority, according to some studies – dislike their work, even detest it, but do it anyway to pay the bills. To them, “necessary evil” and “work” are synonymous.

Having work that involves doing what you enjoy and what you are good at doing makes the difference between starting morning with a cheery “Good morning, Lord!”, or a grouchy “Good Lord, morning!”

I’m among those fortunate that discover early on what we love to do and have the opportunity to turn it into a vocation. Actually, as most professional writers will concur, I hate to write – but love to have written. The challenge of gathering information and then presenting it in meaningful, enjoyable writing stirs my creative juices daily.

By the same token, long ago I realized I don’t like repairing cars, fixing toilets, crunching numbers or selling encyclopedias. So I steadfastly avoid work in any of those areas. It’s as important to realize what you’re not good at and what you don’t like to do as it is to identify your skills, talents and natural bent.

Years ago, feeling discontented in my job, someone asked me, “If money were no object, would you continue doing what you’re doing?” That great question instigated a quest that led me to the work I do today. What would you really like to do if money were not an obstacle?

In Colossians 3:23 we are told, “Whatever you do, do you work as for the Lord rather than for men.” If you’re doing what you love, what God designed you to do, that admonition will be a snap.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

If Only We Could Communicate

Did you ever have an animal you wished you could communicate with – a pet dog or cat, even a horse? Imagine how naturalists and scientists are feeling as they anticipate the likely devastation from the massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.

Following the offshore oil well explosion April 20, countless thousands of gallons of oil are spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, slowly moving toward land. And experts fear not enough can be done to avert major environmental consequences.

While numerous crews work feverishly to cap off the huge oil leak and others struggle to contain the widening oil slick as it heads shoreward, the greatest concern is for animal and plant life. Sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and shrimp are just some of the species at risk, along with many varieties of birds migrating back to the region. Scientists are using terms like “very bad timing” and “the worst possible time” for the oil spill – although all would agree there’s no “good” time for such a catastrophe.

Naturalists helplessly ponder the plight of wildlife that will encounter the runaway oil. The first avian victim, a northern gannett, was found, its normally white feathers, yellow head and long, pointed beak covered with thick, black oil.

If only there were a way of communicating to alert them to the approaching danger and direct them to safety and refuge. Alas, we would have to become a dolphin to forewarn the dolphins, or a pelican to caution the pelicans.

In essence that is what occurred when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God, in the person of Jesus Christ, took on human form to communicate – in words and action – His saving message to mankind, warning of impending danger far greater than any manmade or natural disaster.