Category Archives: Holy Humor
In case you missed them, here are the top five blog posts that I wrote in 2018, in order of how many reads they received. Click on each link to read the post:
- Did the preacher really say that? Pulpit bloopers and blunders.
- Why I don’t teach or preach from the King James Version.
- Movie review: “I Can Only Imagine.”
- 10 church sayings and what they really mean.
- Movie review: “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”
I once heard a dignified preacher talk about visiting Hoover Dam. He said, “I looked over the whole dam project.” There was a pause, and then he blurted out, “I mean the project of the dam!” That’s when the congregation erupted in laughter.
It’s an occupational hazard of preachers. As pastor Chuck Pourciau says, “If you say a lot of words, the odds are that eventually something will come out wrong.” I asked some pastors to share their stories, and they generously told the following. Don’t judge them for things that sound risqué by accident. It was not their intention.
Preachers know it is dangerous to talk about politics, but Jonathan Kittrell remembers trying to say something about Osama Bin Laden and accidentally saying Barack Obama. However, his biggest blooper was not when he misspoke but when he miss-stepped. He did a character sermon on Job in costume. It going beautifully until he sat down on the stage. He forgot to put shorts on under his biblical attire. (I think that story is brief enough.)
Dick Allison was pastor of FBC Jellico, TN. He was preaching about Joshua and the walls of Jericho, except that he continually said throughout the sermon, “The walls of Jellico came tumbling down!” (Now that’s what I call bringing the sermon home to the congregation.)
Larry Robertson says that once he was preaching a topical series on Sunday nights about “Hot Potatoes,” hot topics/ethical issues facing the church. That evening he was going to be addressing the issue of pornography, and he was encouraging everyone to be there, only that’s not how it came out. He said, “We’ve been looking at ‘Hot Potato’ issues facing the church on Sunday nights lately, and tonight we’re going to be looking at pornography. You don’t want to miss tonight’s sermon as we look at pornography together…”
Robbie Passmore says he was preaching a funeral and instead of saying Lighthouse, he said Outhouse. (He may have been in the dog house after that funeral!)
Chuck Pourciau was once doing a graveside service, and said, “Thank you that Mrs….” He meant to say the name of the deceased, but instead he said the name of a friend of the deceased who was sitting under the funeral home tent, very much alive. He thought, “I can’t say, Thank you that Mrs. So-and-so isn’t dead, too,” so he just started the sentence over again and said the correct name.
James Canada says that once he meant to say “a live organism” but he left out a syllable, which undoubtedly caused the congregation to gasp.
Joe McKeever was in the middle of a sermon, when suddenly, it occurred to him that the purple tie he was wearing illustrated the point he was making. “Now, take this necktie,” he said. “Someone gave me this tie. I hate this tie. This is one ugly necktie.” Long pause. Getting uncomfortable. Small laughter. “Uh oh. I just remembered who gave me this tie.” The congregation erupted with laughter. (Brother Joe was relieved that the couple who had presented him with that necktie the previous Christmas were laughing harder than anyone.)
Donnie Brannen has several stories about the bloopers of other preachers. He heard a syllable stumble like the one above, and another blooper by a preacher friend who was asked by the deacon body at his church to address the issue of women wearing pants to church. As he preached, he said, “When the Bible was written, pants weren’t even invented. What the Bible says, is that men shouldn’t dress as women and women as men. But women’s pants are not men’s clothing. They don’t look the same; they aren’t cut the same. Men, have you tried to get in your wife’s pants lately?”
Now before you get offended at these stories, let’s acknowledge that many Christians need to lighten up and not take ourselves too seriously. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is a time to laugh, and Jesus pronounced a blessing on laughter in Luke 6:21. So when the preacher’s tongue gets tangled, smile a mile, forgive, and remember that we are all sinners saved by grace.
Copyright 2014 by Bob Rogers
I was talking to a Registered Nurse the other day about “malapropisms.”
A malapropism is the use of a wrong word in a sentence, often a word that sounds like the word meant to be used. The results are often humorous. For example, I told her about the time a lady told me a church was “cosmetic” when she meant to say “charismatic.” Also I recalled the time a child in our church Weekday Ministry referred to me as “the creature” rather than “the preacher.”
The R.N. said that malapropisms are very common in the medical field. The example most everybody has heard is popular misnomer for Alzheimer’s Disease: “Old Timer’s Disease.” I smiled and replied that I had called it that myself. My nurse friend said, “That’s actually a pretty good term for Alzheimer’s.” But she had many more examples I had never heard:
— a woman who said she wanted her baby boy “circumscribed.”
— a person with gout who said he had “gouch.”
— someone with fibroids who said, “I have fireballs.”
— a woman coming to get a mammogram who said, “I want mine monogrammed.”
While it’s funny if people use the wrong word for a medical term, it isn’t funny if we get the healing ministry wrong. I don’t have to tell you that nurses, doctors and medical professionals are under a great deal of stress, because you have huge power over people’s lives.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ has given us some great lessons in healing. Jesus, the Great Physician, went around healing many diseases. In Mark’s Gospel alone, scripture records at least nine healings in the first nine chapters. Take a quick look with me at four lessons we learn from those healings.
I. Compassion. In Mark 1:40-42, Jesus was moved with compassion for a man with a skin disease, perhaps leprosy. Other people wouldn’t touch him, but Jesus did. “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him.” (Mark 1:41). I wonder how long it had been since anybody had touched him? What a difference we can make in people’s lives, with when show them some compassion.
II. Time. In Mark 5:24-34, Jesus was interrupted in a crowd by a woman who touched his robe, hoping to be healed. Many of us become irritated with such interruptions, but Jesus stopped to heal her– and gave the gift of time. It reminds me of a dentist who examined a middle-school girl’s teeth, and then sat and chatted with her about school, cheer leading, and other things in her life. Her mother was surprised, and asked the dentist why he lingered with her. He said, “Because behind the teeth is a 13-year-old girl.”
III. Respect. In Mark 7:31-36, Jesus healed a deaf man. Mark says that Jesus took him away privately, put His fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue, and looked up to heaven and spoke words of healing. It’s unusual for Jesus to do so many visual motions, but remember that Jesus was healing a deaf man. He was showing respect for the man’s need to see things visually, since he could not hear.
IV. Prayer. In Mark 9:17-29, Jesus healed a boy suffering from demonic seizures, after the disciples had failed to heal him. Afterwards, the disciples asked why they couldn’t heal him. Jesus told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer…” (Mark 9:29). We should never forget that after all that we can do, the greatest thing we can do is pray, for all healing ultimately comes from God.
Remember the R.N. who told me about medical malapropisms, like calling Alzheimer’s “Old Timer’s”? I chuckled at each of her stories, but my favorite one was the lady who referred to spinal meningitis as “Smilin’ Mighty Jesus.”
Spinal meningitis is a serious disease; my nephew suffered from it. That’s why it is good to know that we do have a Smiling Mighty Jesus who looks down on our suffering and cares for us in our sicknesses. Nothing makes Jesus smile more than to see us bring our need before him in faith, believing He can heal us and save us. When four friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus to heal, Jesus smiled upon their faith and He healed the man both of sin and sickness (Mark 2:1-12). As Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
So if you want to see a Smiling Mighty Jesus, pray to Him, believing He can change your life! Even if you use the wrong word, He’ll be pleased with your faith.
Cal & Rose Samra tell how Thanksgiving Day was approaching, and a family received a Thanksgiving card with a painting of a Pilgrim family on their way to church.
Grandma showed the card to her small grandchildren, saying, “The Pilgrim children like to go to church with their mothers and fathers.”
“Oh yeah?” her grandson shot back, “if they really like to go, then why is their dad carrying that rifle?”
Which raises a question this Thanksgiving: do you really like to worship God and give Him thanks?
John Walker from Post, Texas, tells about a Christian farmer who visited a city and went to eat at a fine restaurant. When he received his food, he bowed his head and quietly gave thanks to God. Some rowdy teenagers at the next table sneered and said, “Hey farmer, does everybody do that where you live?”
The old farmer looked at the young man and calmly said, “No, son, the pigs don’t.”
Don’t be a pig this Thanksgiving. Be willing to give thanks to your Creator for all His gifts to you. Do it gladly, without somebody having to hold a rifle to your head.
If you see a video ad below this post, please understand that I have no control over these ads, and that I do not necessarily endorse the product.
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers
Twitter is becoming a hotbed of holy humor these days. One can find some crazy characters with names like “Unappreciated Pastor,” “Church Curmudgeon,” “Back Row Baptist,” “Lloyd Legalist,” and “Bad Chruch Secretary” (deliberately misspelled).
Recently, they all came out of the woodwork when one of the top trends on Twitter was #AlienHymns.
For the Twitterless and clueless, let me explain. Twitter uses hashtags with the pound symbol (#) to allow people who don’t even know each other to join in a discussion of the same topic. This is often popular at conventions and during top TV shows, as people can go to the same hashtag and discuss what is going on while it is happening. Sometimes a hashtag gets repeated so much that millions of people are using it, and it becomes a top trend. That’s what happened to #AlienHymns.
In honor of the U.S. government admitting there really is a secret zone called Area 51, “Back Row Baptist” speculated what would be the name of some hymns if they were sung by space aliens. Here were some submissions that erupted on Twitterland:
“It is Well with My Hans Solo”
“Klingon Me, When You’re Not Strong”
“Swing Low, Sweet Mothership”
“Let’s Break Warp Speed Together”
“I Beam Thee Every Hour”
“I Come to the Garden a Clone”
“Just a Lunar Walk with Thee”
“Zoom By Ya”
Okay, enough already. You get the idea. While this sort of silliness may be entertaining for a season, the fact is that hymns and spiritual songs aren’t designed for space aliens; they’re designed for you and me. As the apostle Paul said, “Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you… singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16, HCSB).
So grab your hymnal or project your PowerPoint, and lift your voice in praise to our God. After all, He is out of this world!
As a pastor, I visit people who are in the hospital for all kinds of reasons: surgeries, childbirths, injuries and sickness. I have learned to always knock before entering a hospital room, because one never knows what might be behind that door. Hospital gowns are not designed for fashion or full covering, and I certainly don’t want to invade somebody’s privacy.
But one man who goes to my church saw something that he never dreamed he would see in a hospital room.
His wife, who was about 45 years old, went to the hospital for surgery. After a few hours, a nurse came to the waiting room and called the husband’s name. He stood, and she took him by the arm and said, “Come with me. We’re going to see your wife.”
Imagine his surprise when the nurse opened the door to a recovery room, and he saw a beautiful, 22-year-old blond in a hospital bed. Immediately he said, “Wow! I like that surgery!” Later, the man told me, “I’m just glad the young lady was asleep and didn’t hear the nurse tell her that I was her husband!”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who go through wrong doors.
Some go through wrong decision doors, rushing into poor choices about important matters such as marrying a spouse or buying a house without stopping to pray for God’s guidance first. Others get sucked into trap doors, as they are enticed into bad habits and unhealthy addictions that leave them feeling like the door was locked behind them and the key thrown away.
But Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:7, 9). He didn’t say it would be easy to enter that door. It requires heart surgery—a changed heart by repenting of our sin and trusting in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for our salvation. But the end result is worth it. If we will enter by His door, we will find abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven. Like my church member said, “Wow! I like that surgery!”
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers
What are the top ten gifts NOT to give on Father’s Day?
Here’s my list:
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.
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.
“Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, HCSB)
I had been serving Woodville Baptist Church as their youth minister. Woodville was, and still is, a small county-seat town located south of Natchez in the extreme southwest corner of the state. Woodville’s claim to fame was that it was the boyhood home of Jefferson Davis. Woodville also boasts the first standard-sized railroad line ever built in America, which once was used to ship cotton down to the Mississippi River at St. Francisville, Louisiana. Although it was a tiny town, they had very active Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Catholic churches, each one claiming to be the oldest of their denomination in the state. You could leave your house unlocked in Woodville and not worry about anybody breaking in.
I took my new bride from Woodville to New Orleans. We settled into an apartment belonging to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and I promptly went to a big New Orleans bank to open a checking account.
The bank clerk took one look at my check from Woodville, and said, “I can’t deposit this check. It doesn’t have an account number.” I said, “That bank doesn’t use account numbers. They go by your name.” The clerk sarcastically replied, “This is 1980. Nobody does that anymore.”
I just shrugged and said, “They do. Why don’t you call them and ask them?”
So the bank clerk took my challenge and left me sitting at his desk while he went off to another room and called. In a few minutes, he came back with a sheepish grin on his face.
I asked, “Well, did they tell you that my check was good?”
He said, “Yeah, and the guy also said to tell you hello.”
It’s nice to be known by your name rather than just a number, isn’t it?
God knows your name. Revelation 10:15 tells us that he has the names of all who believe in Jesus Christ written in his Book of Life. And beside the name of each believer, that book has these words written: “Paid in Full,” because Christ made full payment for our sins upon the cross (1 Corinthians 6:20). That’s one book that I’ve made sure has my name. And you can take that to the bank!
Copyright by Bob Rogers
Recently I heard about a church named “Church by the Side of the Road.” I’m sure there was a good reason to name the church that, but for some reason it conjured up pictures in my head of a church broken down and abandoned on the roadside.
I once served as pastor of Calhoun Baptist Church in Hot Coffee, Mississippi. Hot Coffee is the name of a rural community with two country stores and one church. I always thought it would be fun to change the name of the church to Hot Coffee Baptist Church, but I found out that I would be getting into hot water to suggest such a radical change. They might have decided to send me to Boiling Springs Baptist Church, which is in Soperton, Georgia.
Nevertheless, that experience caused me to pay attention to unusual church names.
A real tongue-twister from Mississippi is Eastabutchie Baptist Church. (Try saying that aloud really fast.) Saint James the Less Catholic Church in New Orleans has to be careful how they display their name on their sign, because they don’t want anybody to think they’re “Less Catholic.” I wonder if Spray United Methodist Church in Eden, North Carolina believes in more than just sprinkling. Cape Coral, Florida has a congregation named “Church Today.” Can you imagine the confusion when you ask a member, “Have you been to church today?”
Lots of churches are named “Unity” and “Harmony,” but in Miller’s Grove, Texas, they were honest enough to name the church Divide Baptist Church. I wonder if they split off from Petty United Methodist Church, which is also in Texas.
A member of North Spoon Baptist Church in Pearl River County, Mississippi, told me they chose their name “because there was already a South Fork.” Somewhere in Africa, there is a Wet Cow Manure Baptist Church. Apparently when the tribal chief asked what they should name it, the missionary told them to name it after something precious to them.
The state of Georgia, where I lived for years, is full of interesting church names. I’d love to visit Star of Bethlehem Baptist in Douglasville at Christmas, and I’d love to celebrate communion at Church of the Living Bread in Stone Mountain. I’m sure that Georgia New Seoul Baptist Church in Tucker is a Korean congregation, but I love the double-meaning.
Whispering Pines Baptist Church in Hephzibah sounds like a peaceful place to worship, and God’s Acre Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta must have the perfect location. I’ve always heard that there is no perfect church, but the folks might disagree at Ideal Baptist Church (located in Ideal, of course.)
Which reminds me that, while there is no perfect church, there is a church that is ideal for you, if you’ll just look around with an open mind and heart and seek a church that loves Jesus, loves the Bible, and loves people.
Easter is a happy time. After all, we’re celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, right? So it should be no surprise that during the Easter season, many churches try their hands at humor on their church signs. I say “try,” because some are failed attempts.
It seems that the Easter bunny is the favorite target of church marquees at Easter time. Some of the signs are cute, like this one:
“NO BUNNY LOVES YOU LIKE JESUS.”
Others are hopping mad at that pagan symbol, such as these:
“EVERY BUNNY KNOWS EASTER IS ALL ABOUT JESUS.”
“THE EASTER BUNNY DIDN’T RISE FROM THE DEAD.”
Then some are simply corny, like this one:
“HOW DOES THE EASTER BUNNY SAY ‘HAPPY EASTER’? HOPPY EASTER!”
My favorite bunny sign is this one:
“EVERY BUNNY IS LOVED BY JESUS”
Of course, church signs don’t just go after the bunny; they also remind us that Easter eggs don’t really relate to the resurrection, either. Read this one:
“EASTER IS MORE THAN SOMETHING TO DYE FOR.”
Then there are a few Easter messages directed at those who attend worship. Some are negative, like these:
“EASTER COMES ONCE A YEAR. HOW OFTEN DO YOU?”
“DON’T FORGET, JUDAS ALSO LEFT EARLY.”
Others are more positive, like this one:
“BEAT THE EASTER RUSH- COME TO CHURCH THIS SUNDAY.”
Personally, I think the best Easter humor is to focus on Jesus Himself. That’s why I like this one:
“YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN. HAPPY EASTER.”
I always thought that I was romantic. But having two attractive young daughters has taught me that I have a lot to learn about romance. (Sorry, guys, they’re both taken—both are now married.) According to my daughters, there are three different levels in a boy-girl relationship:
1. “Talking.” If you’re “talking,” it means you’re interested in each other, but you’re not committed to being boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re free to talk to others. A lot of this “talking” is actually “typing,” because they often do it by texting on their cell phones.
2. “Going out.” This means a commitment to being boyfriend and girlfriend. My generation called this “going steady,” but today’s teens call it “going out.” The only problem is, if they don’t have a driver’s license, they aren’t really going anywhere. Personally, I think they should call this “talking a lot more,” or “texting a lot more,” because that’s what they’re really doing.
3. “Dating.” This is for older youth who have driver’s licenses. If you’re older, you can go straight from “talking” to “dating.” Also, to further complicate things, you can be “dating” but not yet committed to “going out.” So in this scenario, you actually ARE going out, yet you are not officially “going out.”
To my daughters’ list of three levels, I would add a fourth level. If God leads you to Mr. Right, then at the proper time, you should move to a fourth level in a relationship:
4. “Married.” This is what happens when you decide to go out permanently.
I’m reminded of a conversation I once overheard in a flower shop just before Valentine’s Day. Some young men were in the shop, talking about their constantly changing girlfriends. An older man spoke up and said, “What you guys need to do is stop buying at the news stand and get a subscription.”
The Bible says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18) and “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). That’s why I’m happy for my daughters. And I pray that after they are married, they don’t forget to keep dating, and going out, and talking. I know that if they do, their subscription will never run out.
Many NFL fans are not aware that there is another form of football played on Sunday. It’s called “church football.”
This game is often played by “bench warmers” who do not sing, pray, work or do anything much in the church but sit. They like to put the “backfield in motion” by making a trip back and forth to the restroom or water fountain. During “halftime,” when the music has ended and the sermon has not yet begun, they like to play “staying in the pocket,” keeping their money to themselves as the offering plate is passed.
Church footballers allow their children to run a “draw play” with the bulletin during the service. When the “two-minute warning” sounds and the sermon is almost over, they will try a “quarterback sneak,” leaving quietly during the invitation.
The preacher often tries to catch bench warmers in a “trap play” by calling on them to pray while they’re doing a quarterback sneak out the door. Church footballers often try to avoid the trap play with the “end run,” getting out of church quick, without speaking to the preacher or any other members. Then there is a “blitz” to the local restaurants. Many will also exercise the “halfback option,” as 50% of the congregation will not return to the evening service, especially on Super Bowl Sunday.
But then there is another breed of church football players. They are real winners who refuse to punt when the devil has them down on fourth and long. They choose to get into the game, block for their pastor, and tackle thorny problems. The preacher likes to put these people on the first string. When “sudden death” comes, they are the ones best prepared for the “overtime,” because they have committed the Head Coach’s playbook to memory and trusted Him to be right. They really believe they will win, no matter how big the opponent is, and because of their faith, they experience the thrill of victory, not the agony of defeat.
Which kind of church football player are you?
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers
Many pastors have come to learn some deep, dark secrets of members that we must take to our graves. But thanks to HIPAA, one of the secrets we used to find out about has been hidden. I’m talking about the real first names of church members.
You see, hospitals list patients by the name that is on their insurance, not by the name their family and friends call them. In the old days, the preacher could look at the list of patients at the information desk, and find out, for example, that John Smith was actually Orville J. Smith. Of course, John didn’t like to use the name “Orville” and would beg the preacher to keep it a secret. Going to visit “Bubba”? No problem, you could just ask for his last name and find him. But then along came HIPAA.
HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a law that protects the privacy of hospital patients and wreaks havoc on the hospital visitation ministry of pastors. Under HIPAA, patients have the right to refuse the release of any information to anybody, including their own pastors. And under HIPAA, anybody inquiring about a patient must give the correct name of the patient– even if the patient doesn’t go by that name.
So now when the preacher goes to the hospital and asks for John Smith, the lady at the information desk looks down at “Orville J. Smith” on her computer screen, and then looks up at the preacher with a smirk and says, “I’m sorry, we don’t have anybody by that name.” The preacher can beg and plead and promise to do a wedding for her family for free, but she will just say, “Have you ever heard of HIPAA? I can’t release that information unless you can give me the correct name.”
I must admit, we preachers had it coming. After all, for years we have abused that privileged information, barging into the hospital room and loudly asking, “How are you feeling Orville?” as John (a.k.a. Orville) hides under his sheets in embarrassment. But no more. Now, only God and your doctor have to know your real first name. That is, unless Orville wants his pastor to come pray before his next knee surgery.
Five years ago I started riding a mountain bike a few miles in the morning to work out at the YMCA. I figured with gasoline at $4.00 a gallon, I could pay for the bicycle in gas saved and be exercising while riding. Soon I was addicted to cycling, and started riding longer distances on Saturdays for fun. When I got up to nearly 20 miles, serious cyclists told me I should upgrade to a road bike, and I was blessed to receive one on permanent loan from a friend. Soon I was riding 30 and 40 miles on the weekends on the road bike, which is a lot easier and more fun to ride, with its light weight and narrow tires.
Then my brother, who lives in Louisiana, got into cycling. We decided that we would ride the 41-mile Longleaf Trace (near our parent’s home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi) over the Christmas holidays. Since I had been cycling a lot longer than Todd, I was sharing my expertise with him and comparing notes on Facebook and in phone calls. Soon he was riding 40 miles each weekend. I got up to 52 miles on my longest ride.
A couple of months before the ride, it dawned on me that my brother was going that distance on a mountain bike, while I was riding a road bike. I decided to be fair to him, I should also ride the slower, heavier mountain bike, and I started training again on my mountain bike. I had never been farther than 22 miles on a mountain bike. A couple of weeks before our ride, I got up to 35 miles on my mountain bike, and I thought I was going to die.
I should have seen what was coming, but my pride got in the way. On December 31, our Dad dropped us off in Prentiss at the beginning of the Longleaf Trace, with our mountain bikes. (That’s a picture of the two of us on this page, with Todd on the left, and me on the right.)
The idea was to ride in each other’s draft, taking turns leading one another. I led the first seven miles, with Todd right behind me in my draft. It was largely uphill, and then we took a break. I felt fine, but Todd said my pace seemed slow. He led the next 12 miles. Forget about staying in his draft, after about 5 miles, it was killing me to keep up with him. I had to make a decision: was I going to be in pain trying to keep up his pace, or just enjoy the ride? I decided to enjoy the ride and soon he was half a football field ahead of me, constantly looking back. After the next stop, I was feeling humiliated. I had to put the bicycle in a low gear to handle the slightest uphill slopes, while Todd started meandering on the path, over to the left and then to the right, just to slow himself down and keep from going over the horizon out of my view. Then he started telling me that he needed to reset his music on his mp3 player, and told me to go on ahead and he would catch up. Soon he was flying past me. I felt like the little engine that could, but I wasn’t so sure that I could. The last 10 miles were pure pain and determination. I think I saw a turtle pass me. After five hours and 41 miles on the trail, I finally crossed the line, muttering that I HATE mountain bikes. My brother was circling around the parking lot waiting for me, saying he could go another 5 miles. But I couldn’t be mad at him, because he was trying to be nice about it the whole time, thanking me for riding with him and saying how much fun we had. That evening he went out to a movie. I took ibuprofen and rubbed my sore thighs and knees at home.
The experience reminds me of the way we often see ourselves spiritually. We think we are really good people. We compare ourselves with others, and we look pretty good. But the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) When we compare ourselves with God, He runs circles around us, and leaves us in the dust. It’s an humbling realization, but an important lesson for us to learn.
That long ride on mountain bikes with my brother taught me that I’m not nearly as great a cyclist as I think I am, and also encouraged me to keep on training. Getting a glimpse of God’s glory should teach us a similar lesson: we aren’t nearly as holy and good as we think we are, but we have a loving God who is waiting on us up ahead, accepting us for who we are encouraging us to do better.
However, there is also a difference. My brother can do nothing to help me, except give encouragement. My God can give me power to do what I cannot do myself. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
I’m looking forward to the ride with God in 2013.
UPDATE: When I got back to Georgia, I noticed that my rear tire was lose and rubbing against the rim, so I took it to my bike repairman. He said the bearings were shot, and he said, “I don’t know how you even finished 41 miles with a wheel in that bad shape.” Soooooo…. maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t in as bad a shape as I thought! Looks like I need to challenge Todd to another ride on the Longleaf Trace!