A Fresh Twist to Some Old Proverbs…

Last weekend my wife and I spent some time with three of our grandkids at their home in New Hampshire. They are so special, as are all of my grandchildren. Their energy (whew!), ideas and humor were refreshing, and a great affirmation that their parents are doing a wonderful job in raising them. Speaking of humor, I found this little excercise where a first grade teacher (supposedly) collected well-known sayings. She gave each child in her class the first half then asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. Cover up the right side of the following list as you complete the saying on the left; then compare your response to what the kids had to say. Enjoy…

Better to be safe than………………..punch a 5th grader
Strike while the …………………….bug is close
It’s always darkest before…………… daylight savings time
Never underestimate the power of……….termites
You can lead a horse to water but……..how?
Don’t bite the hand that…………….. looks dirty
No news is…………………………..impossible
A miss is as good as a……………….mr.
You can’t teach an old dog new…………math
If you lie down with dogs, you’ll………stink in the morning
Love all, trust……………………..me
The pen is mightier than the…………..pigs
An idle mind is……………………..the best way to relax
Where there’s smoke there’s……………pollution
Happy the bride who…………………..gets all the presents
A penny saved is……………………..not much
Two’s company, three’s………………..the musketeers
Don’t put off till tomorrow what……….you put on to go to bed
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and…….you have to blow your nose.
None are so blind as………………….Stevie Wonder
Children should be seen and not………..spanked or grounded
If at first you don’t succeed………….get new batteries
You get out of something what you………see pictured on the box
When the blind leadeth the blind……….get out of the way

And the favorite:

Better late than…………………….pregnant.

Speaking of Daylight Savings Time, don’t forget to turn your clocks forward one hour this Sunday. Also, I would appreciate your prayers this week as I am driving with 14 football players from Wheaton College to Selma, Alabama on a missions project trip over spring break. We are leaving this Saturday, which is the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”; the day 600 African-Americans were attacked as they walked across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in defiance of segregationist repression of their right to vote. We will be there!

There’s nothing like a children’s program to …

kidschoir01I have had the opportunity throughout the years to speak at summer camps and conferences, and almost without exception there is the inevitable end- of- the- week program put on by the children showing what they have learned about Jesus. The children gather in the front to say some memory verses and to sing some special songs they have learned. The average person would probably take a Dramamine at this point if they didn’t have a kid in the program.

However, being an old psychology major in college, I have noticed that the same personality types and behaviors are present no matter what group of kids is performing. There is always the little boy who has no idea what is going on; who is just looking around like he’s a walk-on never having seen any of these people before. There is also the little girl (and it usually is a girl) who knows every verse and every word to the songs, and is singing at the top of her lungs like she is trying out for American Idol. Finally, there is the kid (boy or girl) who while singing, is waving frantically to his/her folks as if they are about ready to go home and leave her/him at camp for the rest of the summer. I love it! Check me out on this the next time you witness a children’s program. These kids are just being who they are; they can’t help it!

John Miller, in his book The Contentious Community, compares the church to a children’s choir singing about Jesus. “Innocence and guile are perched on the edge of the platform, waiting to burst forth in song or shove some unsuspecting freckle-faced being to an ignominious landing three feet below. And it isn’t that Bonnie is innocent and Bobby is full of guile; it is that innocence and guile, the ideal and the real, are coursing through the veins of each.”

My friend Marshall Shelley, in Ministering to Problem People in Your Church (highly recommended), writes “The church, indeed every Christian, is an odd combination of self-sacrificing saint and self-serving sinner. And the church, unlike some social organizations, doesn’t have the luxury of choosing its members; the church is an assembly of all who profess themselves believers. Within that gathering is found a full range of sinner/saint combinations. Ministry is a commitment to care for all members of the body, even those whose breath is tainted with dragon smoke.”

As a pastor, I have learned that much of the unsettledness and criticism that people have of their church come from the issues they are facing in their own lives. The anger we have because we’ve been passed over for that job or because of what’s happening at home often gets redirected at the church. Our feelings of frustration or increasing insignificance due to where we are in life often flashes out when we feel we are not heard or our preferences not honored at church. All this is not to say that the church is perfect, but to hallmark the fact that the church is made up of imperfect people; “innocence and guile, the ideal and the real, are coursing through the veins of each.”

How do I know all this amazing stuff? It is because I too am a unique combo of sinner/saint with the faint odor of dragon breath (ok, maybe not so faint). We pastors need to recognize this and not to play the victim by thinking that we’d be better pastors if we just had better people. George MacLeod said, “I’ve never met a man who wanted to be bad.” This is who we are; this why we have needed the grace of the gospel to save us as well as to sanctify us. It is also why we need one another, though thrown together in an unlikely children’s choir, to help each other sing praises to Jesus and to keep his Word in our hearts.