Funny stuff that happened to me as a pastor…
God can be comical when he wants to be. And some of his people, gathered in
churches can do some pretty funny things. I was a pastor for over 30 years in four
different churches. Lots of great eternal stuff happened, lots of sad stuff, but lots
of weird and funny things too. Some of these weren’t funny at the time, but looking
back, I’ve got to laugh.

If you have funny stories of your own, I’d love to hear them. Send me an email.
Obviously, the possibilities are endless.  Here are a few of mine…


The elderly couple and the aftershock…
In 1989 we had a major earthquake in the area close to our church building – a 50
year old theater that we had bought and turned into a place of worship. As a side
note, you might be amused to know that the building had been used for a season many
years before as a porn theater! Anyway, we endured many aftershocks over the
months following the big quake.

One morning around 6:00 I was praying with an elderly couple at the church facility
when we were startled by a pretty substantial aftershock. The little old woman,
Winnie, looked up at me and said demurely, “Should we run?” You know how your mind
can picture an entire scenario in a millisecond? Well, I immediately “saw” a whole
newspaper headline that said, “Pastor escapes crumbling church facility while elderly
couple dies in the rubble.” No way was I going to entertain any thought of outrunning
these two very precious, but extremely slow-running elderly saints! If the building
was going to fall down, no way was I going to be outside (and down the block), while
the were still getting off their knees under the rubble. I said, “No, let’s just wait and
see what happens.”


The lady on skates, the leotard, and the parrot…
Santa Cruz is a funky place. The most popular bumper sticker in town reads, “Keep
Santa Cruz weird!” Though I’ve led churches in three cities,  almost all of my funny
stories come from there because it’s like no place on earth.

So, our church was meeting in a former bank building. Yes, the bank vault was still
intact. We used it for the nursery. Those concrete walls sure did the trick to keep
those screaming babies from interrupting my sermons! Anyway, we had some
characters coming to our new church in those days. One of which was a woman
named, Sally (the names have been changed to protect the weird). There was really
nothing about Sally that wasn’t bizarre. But one particular Sunday, she won the
bizarre-church-attire-award when she came dressed in a hot pink leotard. If that
weren’t enough, she was on roller skates! But wait, that’s not all. She had a parrot on
her shoulder (a live one, not like the blow-up one in the Pink Panther movie). The
bizarrest part though was when she went straight to my wife, thinking this would be
some sort of friendly gesture, and placed the bird on her shoulder. Remember, we’re
not out in some park, we’re in the middle of the high and holy experience of
worshipping God in church. My wife, not particularly noted for any adoration for
parrots, especially on her shoulder, kindly requested it be removed, and the service
continued as weird as usual. The bird, as far as I know, didn’t get saved.


My first beach baptism…
If you haven’t actually been at the ocean and seen the waves come and go (and sadly,
there are people out there of whom this is true) you might not get this picture. But,
take it from me, at the beach the water comes in and then goes out again. It’s a
regular thing. Sometimes it’s a few seconds between waves, and sometimes minutes.
But if you’re standing in the water, it rises and then it falls. The cycle, since God
made the seas, continues – up and down, in and out. I’ve known this since a child. I
was born in Hawaii and have lived by the beach both there and in California for most
of my life. I love the feel, the sound, the power of the waves at the beach. I have
been swimming, surfing, skim boarding, even boating (my least favorite of marine
activities) in the ocean. But until about 1981 I had never been baptizing anywhere but
a calm, warm, controlled pool or baptistery.

Just to clarify, our method of baptism is total immersion. I’m not knocking the other
methods, but in order to get the full impact of this story, just know that my goal at
every baptism is to put my baptizee completely under the water. It doesn’t have to be
a long time. But he, and in this case, she needs to be covered in the cold, salty water
of the Pacific Ocean at least momentarily. Also, we do it by bending the person
backwards. I’ve heard that some go forward, and others squat straight down. I don’t
know why we go back, unless to more clearly simulate a person in a grave, face up.
(That, by the way is the message being portrayed in the act of baptizing. The subject
is symbolizing their death to the old life – going under the water, and their
resurrection – coming back up; that is if we’re so kind as to bring them back up).  I
instruct them to bend at the knees, lean all the way back, and let us do the work of
bringing them back up. I also ask them to hold their own nose when they go under.
Obviously, since they’re face up under water, I’m not interested in them inhaling half
the Pacific while on my watch. Also, I always do baptisms with another person on the
opposite side of the person we’re immersing. I don’t know where I got that idea. I
think it has something to do with the fear of not being able to raise the more ample
subject out of the water. How embarrassing would that be! “I’m sorry, Bob, but your
wife was just too large for me to lift her out of the water (buoyancy
notwithstanding). But you’ve got to admit, it’s great way to go!”

Anyway, in this case, my first ocean baptism, was at a beach that the surfers
affectionately call, “Suicides.” That should have been my first clue about the
suitability of this particular location. The tide was low and the swell (a surfer term
for the size of the waves) was moderate. We - the baptizee, my helper, and I went
into the water about waist deep and turned around to face the onlookers on the
beach. I’d been taught in Bible College about what to say before immersing your
subject below the water (have I mentioned the water in the Northern California
Pacific is cooooold?). I recited said formula, we helped our new convert backward
into the icy sea, and found that what was once waste deep, was now about mid-ankle!  
We slapped her down into the 3 or 4 inches of sea water, and without missing a beat,
both of us began to shovel, splash, and swoosh as much water onto her as we could.
It turned out to be a sort of hybrid immersion-splashing method. Please, no one tell
my denominational leaders. We then lifted her up, everyone clapped, some laughed,
but she was officially baptized as far as I was concerned. I hope God agrees.


The beach baptism and the topless woman…
You’ll notice that several of my stories surround baptisms. I’m not sure why that is.
It's either God’s great sense of humor or the devil’s disdain for this sacred rite.
Either way, as I’ve said many times, “You either laugh once in a while, or you cry all
the time.”

We decided to have an entire service on the beach prior to the baptism. We all sat in
a circle, more of a clump, on the sand. We sang songs, heard the testimonies of the
baptizees, and did a little preaching (louder than usual for the sake of the onlookers
on the beach). Speaking of onlookers, the beach was packed that beautiful sunny
Sunday day – surfers, volleyball players, sunbathers… One of which was a rather
inebriated female sunbather, who just happened to be wearing no top, came over to
view the proceedings. I mean, a bunch of people singing about God on the beach,
that's pretty odd! Just so you know, my favorite place to baptize people is on the
beach. No, not because of the possibility of this scenario, but because our
Christianity (and especially the baptism declaration itself), though personal, was
never meant to be private. What better way to call attention to Jesus than to do our
worshipping on a public beach! The problem that day was that there was something
also calling for attention. Anyway, may God’s greatest blessings be on a couple of the
women in our gathering for this. They got up, tapped the female attention-caller on
her bare shoulder, and gently led her away from our group. No, they didn’t berate
her for her indecency. They kindly shared God’s love with her, while at the same
time getting her out of eye-shot of our group. Talk about having a difficult time
getting the attention of our guys back on to God and what we were there for!


A man follows me into the church bathroom…
Did I already say that the mission statement of the city of Santa Cruz is:  to be, and
to stay weird? Especially in the earlier days of our church we had the privilege of
attracting some real characters. One that stands out was a regular attender who
called himself, “Francis” (after Saint Francis of Assisi). I never knew his real name,
but he had a shaved head and long beard, dressed in a robe which was tied at the
waste with a rope. As far as I knew he lived pretty much on the street. He had many
annoying habits when worshipping with us, not the least of which was his tendency to
get up from his seat at strategic moments in the service (during the challenge to
receive Jesus, the offering, etc.) mumbling under his breath about something or
other. Did I say that he really didn’t smell very good either? A couple of times
Francis went off on some church member, talking loudly and with some colorful
language. All of which I repeatedly pointed out to him was inappropriate and
troublesome to our young congregation.

I remember one day in particular an incident with Francis. In order to tell this I have
to say something about me using “the facility,” the kind of facility that flushes, the
kind of said facility that you use while seated, even if you’re a man. If this image is
too uncomfortable for you to read about or offends your belief that pastors don’t do
such things, then simply skip to the next story.

Anyway, I went into the little cubicle within the men’s room to use the facility that
flushes. We were a simple church with no special such facility for the pastor or staff
members. We just went right beside the commoners. And that was all fine until
Francis decided to follow me in there (inside the bathroom, but outside the cubicle
door – the kind of door which has space for viewing the feet of the user – for which
I was thankful – thankful not that the door shows feet, but that he didn’t join me in
the stall). He stood outside the door that reveals feet and began a conversation with
me. It wasn’t technically a conversation, since I wasn’t participating, Nevertheless, he
continued. The worst part of it (that’s right, we haven’t divulged the worst part yet),
was that the topic of Francis’ “conversation” was the ills and inconveniences of
hemorrhoids. You get the picture, right? Wait, I don’t mean “picture,” rather
context. You don’t really have to picture this in your mind. The service that I’m
supposed to officiate is about to begin. I’m trying to do something kind of private
here; the captive audience of a man who thinks he’s a saint from the 17th Century,
and I’m being subjected to a lecture on how to do this kind of personal business in
such a way as to avoid hemorrhoidal consequences.

I have many friends for which I’m eternally grateful for their contribution in my life
– those who led me to the Lord, the ones who prayed for me to be filled with the
Holy Spirit, others who encouraged me along the way. But right up there in the top
ten of such partners in the faith is Henry. He saw my plight that day (actually all he
saw were my feet and Francis talking to them) and gently ushered him out of the
room so that I could continue preparing myself for the service. Henry, if you’re
reading this, thanks again! I love you, man.


A woman worrying about my ………… during a baptism…
OK, here’s another story that might offend your sensibilities, especially if you’re
inclined to think that pastors are fundamentally (even anatomically) different than the
rest of you. And speaking of anatomy, this story includes a reference to a part of the
anatomy that you don’t talk about in polite conversation. Nonetheless, I include this
story because – well, because I think it’s funny, and because you and I aren’t having a
“polite conversation,” or any other kind for that matter. I’m writing and you’re
reading. If this sounds too risqué for your tastes, I understand. Just move on to the
next story without reading the rest of this one.

I’ve already said that weird stuff seems to happen at baptisms – at least they do to
me. This one happened, not at the beach, but in a backyard pool. The home was owned
by a church member who gladly offered her pool for the proceedings, since it was
just too cold (wintertime) to go to the beach. The mistake I made was in neglecting to
ask her if the pool was heated. I just assumed that she’d have it close to toasty for
us, since the reason we were there instead of the ocean, was because the water in
the ocean was in the 50 degree range, And of course we just had to have a bunch of
people to baptize that day! That’s usually is a good thing. But the fact is, the water in
her pool was colder than the ocean. And what I usually do when baptizing is stay in
the water the entire process of testimonies, prayers and immersings. Sometimes we
even sing songs of worship in between. It can take some time, and I can be in the
water for quite a while.

By the way, there are two things that I firmly object to in relation to certain
practices of baptizing by immersion (both of which are based on machismo alone.) I
don’t have a Bible verses for these or anything. The first, and most vehement of the
two objections, is the method used by some in church buildings where the pastor
dunks people from outside the tank. This is where the baptizee is in the water and
the baptizer is standing outside the water in his warm, dry suit and tie. That’s just
not right. The dunker ought to get wet with the dunkee! The other method to which I
have a repulsion is where the baptizer wears a wetsuit, whether in the ocean, a lake,
a river, or a pool. I don’t care if those being baptized wear them, although I suspect
the Lord has more love for those who don’t. But heaven forbid that I should ever
stoop to such wimpiness (either as a dry-dunker or a warm one)!

So, that day at the pool I stepped in the water first – the pastor always goes first.
They taught us that in Bible College. The water was arctic. After the initial shock, I
went pretty much numb. I sucked it up and didn’t show it on my face for the sake of
those who were about to join me in the freeze. But remember, they are in and out.
I'm in for the duration. One after another gasped as they entered, and sighed in
relief when exiting. They weren’t as committed as I about keeping up the ruse of it
being intolerable.    

Then it happened (so far this story isn’t all that funny). The pool owner, who was
quite aware of the water’s temperature, and evidently troubled about it, approached
my wife. She said, and quite matter of factly, “I’m concerned about your husband’s…”
OK, I can’t use the word, even though it’s a term you’d use in Anatomy Class (Gym
Class too), but not in what we’ve already referred to as “polite conversation.” I
thought I was going to be able to bite the bullet and just say it here, but then I
worry about someone thinking I’m the most unsanctified Bible teacher they’ve ever
known. So, here’s what we’ll do instead. I won’t use the word, but I will tell you that
without these little spherical anatomical parts or, apparently if one of them gets
frozen somehow, a man couldn’t contribute to the process of impregnation. (That
word is not too bad, right? At least not in comparison to the other one I declined to
use.) Anyway, this gal said to my wife that she was “concerned about” that part of my
anatomy. At least she whispered in her ear, rather than shouting it across the pool!
At which point my wife looked at her quizzically and responded, “Excuse me?” I don’t
think she used the same whispering tone that the woman used. And then she
responded with something very much like, “Honey, feel free to get my husband’s …
out of your mind. Immediately if not sooner!”

Just in case you were wondering, we had two healthy children following that baptism
(not immediately following, but sometime afterward). The water was cold, but not so
cold as to leave us childless.


Yet another beach baptism and being washed up to shore…
I hope one baptism story after another isn’t boring you. Or worse, if you’ve not yet
taken the plunge, I trust that I’m not dissuading you from it. I say in all seriousness,
that baptism is not only a command of Jesus for true followers of His, but it’s a huge
blessing and dynamic experience for those who choose to follow him. If you have a
genuine relationship with Jesus, I strongly urge you to be baptized ASAP. Study the
Scriptures about it, talk to your pastor, gather some people, and do it!

But there are some funny things that happen even during serious moments. This, in
my humble opinion, is one of them. When telling the story of my first beach baptism,
I mentioned that there are several factors to take into consideration when
performing this unique pastoral task. Of course there’s the weather to consider. If
it's rainy or just dog-cold, you might want to find another day or an indoor location.
But there are factors, which only the ocean aficionado would be able to help you
assess. I’ve found that the best person to have with you on the day of a beach
baptism is at least one seasoned surfer (a lifeguard wouldn’t hurt as well). While the
commercial fisherman or sailor have a grasp on what happens out on the open sea, if
you want to know what’s going to happen on the shore, in terms of the breaking
waves and other dangerous eccentricities, these guys and gals who ride the waves on
boards are gold. Don’t do a beach baptism without one! Your life (at least your
dignity) may depend on it.

I first learned this when I decided that we’d do a baptism at a surf spot named after
the nearby street, “26th Ave.” in the Pleasure Point area of Santa Cruz. It was
convenient because we lived right down the street from this spot, and there were
always lots of people on the beach, and thus great for calling attention to God and to
his crazy people.  I had learned by then the lesson that you have to do things more
quickly in the ocean than in a placid pool or baptistery. Otherwise, you might run into
the embarrassing situation I described above of losing all your water while you wax
eloquent before God and man.

On this particular day, it wasn’t an issue of not having enough water, but of having
way too much. First of all, let me confess that I’m not a surfer myself. Though I’ve
dabbled, watched a lot, and can talk the talk; I’m not a participant. I know when to
insert the words, “gnarly” or “stoked” in the appropriate places in conversations, but
I really don’t know the way of the waves like a true surfer.  Because of all the things
that are going on at the shore of the ocean and the potential danger you’re facing,
when you take this innocent baptizee out in your care, you want to have someone
there with a clue about the best time and place to do the dunking.

On this particular day, I either had no such person (of the surfer type) or simply
wasn’t aware my need for the counsel of one. We went to one of the worst locations
for what we were trying to do. I mean, my first clue should have been that there was
no one else in the shallow water just playing around – no one wading, no kids splashing
around in the hip deep water. There were some surfers out a little deeper as I
recall, but no one in the shallow. As I looked back at it later, I realized there was
almost never such activity at that particular beach. No one ever just plays on the
shore at 26th Ave. And there is a reason for that. Duh! The waves there can be
fairly large at times, but they’re not the kind that you see coming for a long time.
They kind of jut up quickly, form a nice barrel (another surf term I learned), provide
a brief and exciting ride (I’m told), and then crash angrily on the sand (I’ve
experienced that part first hand). You’re probably getting the idea what was about to
happen.

We did the appropriate praying with the candidates along with about 30 people from
our church on beach. I was saving the pronouncing of them officially baptized in the
name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for when we were in the water. Then I took
our first brave soul, along with a helper out to the proper depth of water. We turned
around to face the beach and our smiling onlookers. I began the pronouncement,
“Based on your confession of faith in the Lord Jesus…” I noticed about half way
through that the looks on the faces of our friends on the beach changed (always
pray with your eyes open at a beach baptism). Their eyes seemed to enlarge, some
with panic, others with hilarity. The next thing I remember is this huge shadow
enveloping us from behind, accompanied by a moment of eerie silence, and then the
ear-splitting crash. The three of us were covered, then lifted off our feet, then
pounded down against the hard sandy bottom and washed up to shore right to feet of
our laughing Christian brothers and sisters. They might’ve postponed the laughter
until they saw us rise to our feet, but everyone joined in the amusement at that point.
As we stood (three drenched and disheveled Christians), my baptizee exclaimed,
“Wow! Was that it?!” I responded, “No way. I didn’t do the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit part.” And we returned for another more effective, much quicker, and less
eventful dunking.

Moral of the story – always bring a surfer to a beach baptism, and listen to their
expert advice! (Why don’t they teach this stuff in Bible College?)


Flooding the church with baptismal water…
This is actually my first baptismal debacle. It didn’t happen at the beach, but in our
very own church sanctuary baptistery in Chico, California. We had just finished the
construction of a new church facility. Everything was new from carpet to candles,
from basement to baptistery. It was Halloween night, a Saturday, and as Youth Pastor
I was in charge of filling the baptistery for the following day. I entered the
sanctuary, turned on the spigot (which rhymes with Wiget), and left for another part
of the church property where we were having a college-age Harvest Party. (As
Christians, we don’t celebrate Halloween per se. We just steal some of the traditions
and of it and call it, “Harvest.”) Everyone was dressed in costume, and though I
despise wearing costumes, I was dressed as a hobo. We were having a ball playing
games, eating (have you ever noticed how much food is consumed at Christian
events?), and just being silly. I was supervising the bobbing-for-apples game, when
one of the bobbers was one of the young women (so really more of a “bobbette”)
being baptized the next day. When she brought her wet face out of the water with
an apple in her mouth, I thought of how ironic it was that in the next room the very
next day she would be lifted even wetter from the waters of baptism in front of our
congregation. This thought gave way to the realization that it had been a couple of
hours since I had begun to fill the baptismal tank – the same one that only took about
a half hour to fill!

I ran into the sanctuary hoping for the best, and what I saw was something very less
than what could be considered on any planet, the “best.” Keep in mind that this
facility had just been completed after years of personal sacrifice of the entire
congregation. Water was everywhere! Well, let’s not exaggerate. It wasn’t
everywhere. It was just covering the huge stage in the front of our place of worship,
cascading down the steps, through the pews, into the return air ducts, and soaking
the carpet in the two rooms adjacent to the stage. It might as well have been
everywhere. I tore back into the other room to recruit everyone from the party to
help sop up the water. Yes, I did stop first to turn off the water.

I called 2 elders, 3 deacons, and the Fire Department (I heard they had powerful
water removal vacuums and stuff). I called everybody but the Senior Pastor. I just
didn’t want to bother the man of God preparing for his sermon for the next day (or
something like that). We looked a sight, all dressed in funky costumes, sopping,
mopping, tearing back the new carpet to dry. The next day, of course, my stupidity
was already legendary. The first person I encountered was the pastor’s wife coming
up the walkway to the church. Evidently my invisible pills weren’t working, and when
she saw me coming she burst out in uproarious and ear-splitting laughter. This woman
had a great sense of humor and genuinely thought this was somehow comical. It would
have been more bearable had she yelled at me or something.

As a follow-up to this story and to show you that even though many of my ministry
debacles surrounded water baptisms, God does still love me and can (when He wants
to) rescue me from at least a few (very few) embarrassing moments.

It was winter some years later in Santa Cruz, and though the ocean always beckons
for a good public demonstration of how Jesus changes lives, it was just too cold to
venture out to the beach. So I asked a fellow-pastor if we could use their church’s
baptistery. He hospitably consented and hooked me up with a deacon who would loan
me a church key and show me how to get the tank filled. He put the plug in the
bottom, which was just like a bathtub plug. The thing didn’t have a chain or any other
way to pull it out in order to drain it, so he told me you had to pull it up with your toe.
(This has nothing to do with the story.  I just thought it was kind of curious.) He
started the water and told me that since it took a couple of hours to fill, it would be
just fine if I wanted to leave it, do some errands or whatever, and return to turn it
off. I told him about my previous act of stupidity, and that if it was all the same to
him, I’d stay and watch every drop go into that tank, and turn it off way before it
even came close to the top. That’s exactly what I did, and do you know, that this
thing was completely full in less than a half hour! If I had not had the prior
experience of idiocy, and had taken this deacon’s advice, I would’ve flooded the
sanctuary of someone else’s church!


The shepherd ropes the runaway sheep at Christmas…
I had seen a live Nativity scene at another church and thought it was a great idea.
We too could have live Joseph, Mary, shepherds, real animals - the whole deal. We
didn’t have our own church facility, the Lutherans were gracious enough to share, so
with their permission we’d use their grounds for this simple yuletide scene. A couple
of the men built a small barn-like structure (even though Jesus was probably born in
a cave), we made up the cast from church members, and the only animals we could get
to the scene that first year were a few sheep from the local 4-H Club.

The problem was, we were all pretty suburban, and knew little-to-nothing about
sheep. Someone built a pen for them. These were full grown animals (at least they
looked full grown to my keen agrarian eye), plump as could be. The pen seemed
sufficient to all of us, about three and half feet high.

On the first night of the production I came to the scene. Everything was in place,
ready to go, except for the sheep. The pen was empty and my key person, Michael,
was missing. I inquired about him and the sheep, and I was told they (the sheep) had
easily hopped out of the pen and Michael went after them. I was amazed at two
things. First, that those fat animals could jump so high was totally unexpected. The
sheep I always imagined and counted jumping over fences were so much skinnier.
Secondly, I was shocked that it was Michael who went after them. He wasn’t really a
farmer/rancher/animal-lover type. Michael was always well-dressed, never dirty, a
more into malls than meadows kind of guy.

I asked which way they’d gone and went after them. Now, I too know nothing about
sheep other than what I had read for sermons about them (they show up quite a bit
in the Bible). I’m sure you’re seeing the irony of this – the shepherds out looking for
their lost sheep. Yet another thing they didn’t prepare us for in Bible College! Jeff
had also joined the sheep hunt, all of us with ropes in our possession. How else do
you capture sheep? We were fresh out of sheep dogs. After trudging through a
muddy hillside we found them. There they were, huddled together in someone’s back
yard. And then we did it. We slipped ropes around their necks, tied knots that were
certainly not the knot you’d use to rope a sheep. But since we didn’t know the official
sheep knot, we did what we could. I’m not sure what the other guys imagined, but in
my mind, these fat, yet nimble creatures were just going to obey the subtle tugs on
the ropes and follow us home. That’s not exactly what happened.

Apparently, sheep don’t respond well to roping. At least these didn’t. (By the way, we
never told this story to the 4-H people, so keep this quiet will you?) Their response
was to heartily resist, and then to lie down with all four legs spread out. The more we
pulled on the ropes, the more they objected, and the tighter the ropes around their
necks became. That’s right. We put the ropes around their necks. Where would you
have put them? Their stomachs were too large, and they don’t have but tiny tails. We
had them by the throat, so to speak. But they didn’t seem to understand that it would
be to their benefit to just go with us quietly – a nice loosely fitting noose is always
better than a tight one. But what do sheep know? I’d been told they were dumb. Now
I know it. The problem was I didn’t know what to do about it. I guess that makes me
as dumb, or dumber, than they. (Way beyond irony - this is a parable of an ignorant
shepherd taking stubborn sheep where they don’t want to go in a way that they don’t
want to be taken! Sound like Church to you?)

Spiritual lessons aside, we still had to get the animals back to our serene nativity
scene for show-and-tell. We were pulling, they were refusing, their eyes beginning to
bug out. Since sheep don’t seem to make much noise (they weren’t growling or hissing
or barking or anything), the only noise we could hear was them gasping for air as our
ropes choked them. I thought at one point my sheep (the one I was tugging on)
stopped breathing! I’m begging you, please don’t tell the 4-H, the SPCA, or any
farmer-types about this. None of the animals died or were permanently damaged,
other than a little post-traumatic stress.  Plus, I think the statute of limitations has
passed, and we are no longer in jeopardy of prosecution.

We also learned that sheep don’t respond to reasoning, yelling, or cussing. I think I
heard one of the other guys say a bad word. I myself only thought bad words, We
pulled, we pushed, and we prayed. Inch by inch we made our way back to the site
where the baby Jesus was waiting for his farm animals. We were filthy and the
animals were exhausted. I think I heard one child ask his mother why the sheep
looked sick. We added height to the pen (about another six feet). Now it looked more
like a jail than a sheep pen. Everyone took their places. Serenity was restored and
Jesus had animals at his birthday.


In conclusion, do you remember how, after citing a bunch of Old Testament men and
women of faith, the writer of  the book of Hebrews says, “If I had time, I’d tell you
about...” and then he lists more examples of faith-filled people without elaborating on
the details? Well, that’s what I’m going to do now. If I had time, I’d tell you about…
•   The youth camp and the puking teenager…
•   Another baptism and the woman in the white dress…
•   The old lady who jumped on my back…
•   Street ministry and the big snake in the man’s shirt…
•   The breastfeeding mother in the church service…
•   The time I preached against “sexual immortality”…
•   The time I preached a whole message on how “clams” make pearls

These stories might just be funny to me. Sorry about that. But you have your own
stories that make you laugh. Remember them, savor them, tell them, and laugh. It’s
good for you.
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