Laugh your head off! It’s good for your soul!
Have you seen a hilarious YouTube video and laughed so hard you nearly peed in your pants? Laughter is medicine to the soul.
The other day my teenage son sprawled on the couch in the loft and was laughing so hard that I had to find out why. John was watching Impractical Jokers and saw Joe pull a good-hearted prank on Sal. His chuckles rolled into laughter as infectious as the common cold. I laughed too, and it felt good.
Listen to this:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13)
Laugh with Jesus
Jesus laughed too. Soon after healing many (Luke 4:40-41) including a man with a skin disease (Luke 5:12-13) and a paralytic (Luke 5:24-25), Jesus sought the lowliest of the low–a Jewish tax collector, hated other Jews–and said, “Follow me.” At once this man left everything, even his bags of coins, and asked Jesus to come to his home where he threw Jesus a party.
Can you hear the laughter? As Jesus and the tax collector and a gaggle of his low-life, raucous sinner-friends gathered, don’t you this they grinned and joked and laughed? Jesus was a scholar and had fun. Can you imagine how the party-goers responded? The God-man was with them, just as he is with you, when you’re crying and giggling.
Oh how they laughed in the home of the tax collector. Laughter of freedom from chains of sin, laughter of breaking bread at a party for the best known rabbi in town at the home of a sinner. The wine flowed. Platters of food made the rounds. Laughter rang.
To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who tsk-tsked Jesus for laughing his head off with tax collectors and sinners–imperfect people like you and me–Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)
We each have a testimony — a story of how Jesus became real to us as Savior–and every story is a reason to smile, to laugh, for God broke in to a sorry life and made it whole. Angels celebrated. Can you imagine their joyful laughter? Another one belongs to Jesus. And another one. And another one.
This one an adulterer, that one filled with jealousy, and over here a woman dripping self-righteousness. Yep, the latter is me. You can read my testimony here.
5 More Laughs
As you probably know, medical science has uncovered the laugh-your-way-to-health truth in study after study. Google laughter health and you’ll find umpteen studies to peruse. That said, here are five belly-laughing sure bets:
- Watch your favorite funniest sitcom.
- Play with your toddler. Don’t have a little one at home? Scout out a park bench at a popular park and little-people watch.
- Visit the zoo. Skip the reptile house and head straight for the baboons by way of dolphins.
- Read a joke book.
- Roll down a grassy hill, blow bubbles, or play Hide-and-Seek.
Laugh at the Days to Come!
Just as Jesus laughed and enjoyed himself, you too can laugh because you have the best reason of all. Do you know what it is?
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)
Christ is your strength (Ps. 118:14). Christ clothes you with his righteousness (Romans 13;14). Christ is your good shepherd who will never leave nor forsake you. He overflows your cup. Whether you’re facing the hardship of bad health or the loneliness of loss or the scary emotions of fear or anger or despair, you CAN delight in Christ.
Yes, you CAN laugh at the days to come. You CAN laugh your head off.
Need help finding your laugh? I’ll help. Contact me.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Can you guess the big lie Satan wants you to believe?
It’s NOT that you’re not good enough, though he tempts you to believe that one too. It’s NOT you’re unsuccessful or unattractive or a total mess-up or a waste of space, though you and I have fallen for some of these lesser lies, haven’t?
Can your believe I bought the lie that I was a defect?
This isn’t the big lie either. It destroyed my peace, though. God — through life-giving Bible truths and uplifting Christian music as well as counseling — showed me the truth: that I and every believer in Christ is his precious child and God also revealed the big lie at the core of my shame lie.
So what’s the big lie?
The Big Lie Is. .
The big lie Satan tempts you to believe is the same one Adam and Eve ate up in the Garden: God is holding back, that he couldn’t care less, that he’s not. . .good.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the lying nature of Satan, then I’ll give you a strategy to overcome the big lie if you or someone you care about believes it. I learned much of this material while reading the Bible, Randy Alcorn’s book If God Is Good, and Billy Graham’s book Angels — all of which I highly recommend.
The Genesis of the Big Lie
You probably know the fruit-chomping choice of Adam and Eve that caused sin to enter the world. You can read Genesis 3:1-6 (NIV) as dialogue here.
Satan: Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Eve: We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’
[FYI: Eve adds words to God’s commands. He did not command them not to touch the tree.]
Satan: You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,knowing good and evil.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
God created Adam and Even without sin but they chose to rebel against him, just as the great archangel Lucifer (who became Satan) had chosen to rebel, and as you and I also choose the big lie over the beautiful truth of the gospel.
Like all angels Lucifer was created good, for everything God created he called “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Yet at some point after the creation of the universe, some of the angels rebelled against God (Jude 6). Some scholars believe that Isaiah 14’s account of the demise of Babylon’s evil king may also describe Lucifer’s fate:
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!…
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God…
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.
This great, pride-filled, fallen angel is now called the devil, which means “slanderer,” and Satan (“the accuser”) as well as “a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus said in John 8:44:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Other revealing names of Satan’s true nature are described in Matthew 13:19, John 12:31, Revelation 12:10, among other Bible verses. The other fallen angels are now referred to as demons (Luke 8:30).
A Strategy to Overcome the Big Lie
Now you know the lying nature of Satan, I want to the remind you of a crucial truth before revealing the strategy to overcome the big lie.
That is, God and Satan are NOT equals. This isn’t Batman versus the Joker.
Satan is a created being with limited power. He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent, but he is intelligent and has been studying human behavior for thousands of years.
Here’s the strategy:
[tweetthis]Tear down strongholds by recognizing them and replacing the lies with God’s truth.[/tweetthis]
Easier said than done, I know. God can and will smash strongholds as use the weapons God has given you to overcome them.
Here’s the verse I shared in my last post and it’s worth re-sharing:
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)
To destroy the arguments and lofty opinions that are against God, you need to take every thought captive to obey Christ, just as the Apostle Paul said. I often share with my counselees — whom I meet with in person and by Skype all over the United States and the world — a valuable tool that helps them replace lies with truth. As counselees make this exchange, they experience a new way of thinking leading to peace-filled emotions and God-honoring behavior.
I want to give you this truth tool. See this post for the truth tool.
You can begin your path to the promise of the abundant life here and now.
This is the abundance of knowing God’s love for you and loving him and others. It’s better than the so-called abundance of a garage filled with BMWs, a house filled with flat screens, and a passport filled with stamps proving your worldwide travel.
If you want helping smashing the strongholds in your mind, please send me an email at Lucy@LucyAnnMoll.com and I’ll get you a downloadable version of the truth tool.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Friends, as you know, I counsel hope and happiness to the heart. Among my newest favorite books on counseling and the gospel is Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ by Dr. Bob Kellemen.
Bob asked me to share this book with you and I readily agreed. It is practical and honors Christ and is for any Christian who wants clear instruction on how to encourage, counsel, and comfort a hurting friend.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Why Gospel Conversations?
LAM: Bob, with all the books available on biblical counseling, what prompted you to write Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ? What is unique about this book?
BK: You’re correct that we live in a wonderful time where many fine books are being published on gospel-centered living and on biblical counseling. However, there are very few books designed as a training manual for becoming more like Christ in how we help hurting people.
Gospel Conversations walks readers through a biblical process for learning 21 biblical counseling relational skills, and it does it with one overarching strategy in mind:
We learn to become effective biblical counselors by giving and receiving biblical counseling in the context of real and raw Christian community.
LAM: Tell my readers more about this strategy of “learning by doing” that you emphasize in Gospel Conversations.”
BK: Here’s part of the problem, as I see it, in our equipping of biblical counselors and one-another ministers: most of our equipping is done by lecturing. As a result, many of our trainees end up thinking that counseling equals lecturing. Counseling training becomes a “brain dump” of content, rather than the personal application of God’s truth to our lives.
Instead, Gospel Conversations teaches that biblical ministry is always a combination of Scripture and soul, of truth and love. That’s why I designed Gospel Conversations with literally hundreds of built-in interaction guides where users of the book can give and receive counseling in their own lives.
Gospel Conversations is a relational training manual. In Gospel Conversations, we not only gain counseling competency to care like Christ, we also grow in Christlike maturity as we become more like Christ. There are hundreds of built-in prompts for “self counsel” so that readers are learning to apply truth to their lives as a foundation for learning to apply truth to other’s lives.
What Is a Gospel Conversation?
LAM: Clearly, Gospel Conversations is not your father’s textbook in biblical counseling equipping! So, what is a gospel conversation?
BK: In the book, I describe “gospel conversations” in several overlapping ways:
- In gospel conversations, together with our counselees we derive our understanding of earthly life from heaven’s viewpoint—we see life with Cross-eyes.
- In gospel-centered counseling and gospel conversations, the whole Bible story impacts the whole person’s whole story.
- Gospel-centered conversations promote personal change centered on the Person of Christ through the personal ministry of the Word.
- In gospel conversations, we first understand the gospel story, then we seek to understand our friends’ stories, then we journey together to intersect God’s eternal story and their temporal story.
Let’s ponder that last description. Picture yourself with a hurting and struggling friend. You’ve embedded gospel truth in your soul, but you don’t just shout, “Gospel!” the second they ask to talk. No. You listen well and wisely, compassionately and comprehensively, to their journey. Then, rather than just quoting a verse, perhaps out of context, together you explore the narrative of God’s Word as it specifically relates to their life—the whole Bible story impacting the person’s whole story.”
Two Guideposts of Biblical Counseling
LAM: You outline gospel conversations with the picture of two guideposts of biblical counseling. Help my readers to understand these guideposts.
BK: Again, let’s place ourselves sitting across from a troubled, hurting, and confused friend. They’ve just “spilled their guts.” Our minds are racing. Where do we start? Where do we go?
We need a GPS—Gospel Positioning Script. We need some basic biblical handles to provide some wisdom structure to our counsel. Here’s a phrase I use to help us to ponder those handles:
We are saints who face suffering and fight against sin on our sanctification journey.
I’ve found that some counseling seems only to focus on suffering. Other counseling seems only or primarily to focus on sin. Instead:
Biblical counseling must deal thoroughly both with the evils we have suffered and with the sins we have committed.
It’s Normal to Hurt
and Possible to Hope
LAM: You then build upon these two guideposts by talking about 4 biblical compass points for biblical counseling. What are these compass points?
BK: Real life is messy, right? As is real and raw counseling. And most counseling situations will always deal with suffering (parakaletic care) and sin (nouthetic care). But the question is, ‘How do we care like Christ in suffering and sin?’
Based upon my examination of Scripture and of church history, in Gospel Conversations, I outline four compass points to give us some wisdom-based direction. The first two relate to suffering/sanctification and parakaletic care.
As you engage with a suffering friend, picture yourself pivoting between two worlds: the earthly world of their suffering where life is bad, and the eternal world of their hope in Christ that reminds us that God is good. We always listen with both ears—to our friend’s story and to God’s story. In sustaining, we offer comfort by empathizing with our friend and communicating that ‘it’s normal to hurt.’ In healing, we offer encouragement by enlightening our friend to the gospel truth that in Christ ‘it’s possible to hope.’
It’s Horrible to Sin,
Wonderful to Be Forgiven, Supernatural to Mature
The second two compass points relate to sin/sanctification and nouthetic care:
- It’s Horrible to Sin, But Wonderful to Be Forgiven
- It’s Supernatural to Mature
Here we are once again pivoting—this time between sin and grace. And we always do so with a Romans 5:20 mindset that where sin abounds grace super abounds. Further, we maintain the mindset that grace is not only salvation grace but also sanctification grace—so we help people to grasp the depth of their sin (‘it’s horrible to sin’), the infinite depth of Christ’s grace, (‘it’s wonderful to be forgiven’), and the power of grace to make us more like Christ (‘it’s supernatural to mature”).
Gospel Conversations journeys with readers through 21 biblical counseling skills of sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding. Through counseling illustrations, you learn the art of biblical parakaletic and nouthetic counseling.
LAM: I know that there is a companion book to Gospel Conversations called Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives. How do these two books relate to each other?
BK: Both books are part of a two-book series I’ve published with Zondervan called the Equipping Biblical Counselors Series. As we’ve seen, Gospel Conversations is a training manual in biblical counseling methodology—relational competencies to care like Christ. Gospel-Centered Counseling is a training manual in biblical counseling theology—showing how Christ changes lives. In Gospel-Centered Counseling, we learn together how the gospel victory narrative relates to our counseling ministry. We learn how theology relates to counseling and to daily life.
LAM: Bob, how can people learn more about Gospel Conversations?
BK: Thanks for asking. At my RPM Ministries site, visitors can view blog posts about Gospel Conversations, they can read endorsements, they can read the Foreword by Pastor Brian Croft, and they can purchase Gospel Conversations for 40 percent off at the Gospel Conversations portion of my site.
Counseling Hope and Happiness,
Do you know when NOT to talk?
Welcome to “How to Talk Like Jesus!” This special Wednesday Word series is timed for the holidays, when you spend time with some relatives and family friends who make you want to scream or sulk! Today you learn the secret of zipping your lips
In case you missed them, the first 2 posts in the series are here and here.
Week 3: When NOT to Talk!
While almost all of our communication is nonverbal, sometimes you must use words. Right? Unless you plan to play charades and take turns acting out in pantomime, you must talk.
Therein lies the rub: Words can slice and dice like a chef on steroids.
Do you remember a nasty name someone hurled at you on the school playground? I’m sure you’d rather forget!
A new student in eighth grade and shy, I got the moniker “spacey,” no thanks to the mean girls who increased their power via put downs. They trashed-talked me on the “predictions page” of the yearbook too, though I doubt the adult adviser picked up on it. The occupation they chose for me? Astronaut. When I read it, I felt like worming into a dime-sized hole. What hateful talk!
The best way to learn when not to talk is learning what God says about speech. Here are 2 guidelines. One of them is super encouraging.
1. Desire to Guard Your Lips
To make a meaningful change, you first want to want to change. It makes sense, doesn’t it? But it’s simple to say and hard to do!
A smoker needs to want t quit lighting up. A greedy person must now prefer becoming a giver. A liar becomes a truth-teller. A gossip desires to build up, not tear down, with her words.
King David prayed,
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
He desired a change and prayed a prayer he knew God would honor. Would you like to change your speech too? May I encourage you to pray a similar prayer to Jesus?
2. Expect Fewer Problems!
Did you that guarding your lips means you’ll have fewer problems? Listen to King Solomon.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23
Transforming your words helps you make a positive influence on the people around you and in yourself. Well-chosen words bring forgiveness, encouragement, praise, truth, grace, thankfulness, discretion, and happiness.
Since God has given you the gift of speech, isn’t is wise to talk like Jesus as best as we can?
Talk About It
What is one change in your talk you can choose to make today?
Sharing hope and happiness,
Welcome to “How to Talk Like Jesus!” This special Wednesday Word series is timed for the holidays, when you spend time with some relatives and family friends who make you want to scream, pour another glass of wine, or run like Forrest Gump. “How to Talk Like Jesus!” will share the secret of godly communication just in time. Ready?
In case you first the first post in this series, click here.
Week 2: Four Essentials for Better Communication!
In the first post in the series, you found out 2 reasons why God thinks communication is important to successful living: 1) to please God more that anything else and 2) to be humble. The next 4 are listening well, well chosen words, nonverbals, and invest time to talk.
1. Tricks to Listening Well
Listening well isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is more than hearing.
Haven’t you talked with a teen who looks at you and seems to listen but you just know he isn’t paying attention? How do you know whether he’s listened well? Try checking in with him by asking a super simple question: Could you tell me what I just said?
Here are the first 3 tricks to listening well:
- Not interrupting.
- Paying close attention to what the other person is saying.
- Refrain from planning your response while the other person is talking.
He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13, NASB
This is one trick that makes the biggest difference: Ask gentle questions to make sure you heard right!
A couple of examples:
“So what you’re saying is ____.” Fill in the blank with a short summary of what the speaker said.
“Could you explain a little more?”
When you check whether you’ve listened well, your communication skills skyrocket. All of your relationships improve because you valued listening. . .just like Jesus!
Make it practical: In your next conversation, decide to not interrupt.
2. Use Well-Chosen Words
Careless words are worthless.
Choose your words well and your communication will not only improve so will your relationships at home, in the workplace, and at church.
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36, NASB
The best chosen words build others up, they encourage, they comfort, and they show you care. Can you recall a time that someone encouraged you? What encouraging words did you hear? How did their encouragement help you?
Make it practical: Decide to build up someone with your words today.
3. Watch Your NonVerbals!
Crazy but true, at least 75 percent of your communication is your tone of voice and body language, not your actual words.
The phrase “Please bring me a glass of water” could communicate kindness or anger, depending on whether your face is relaxed or scrunchy and your arms are crossed or your tapping your foot or raising your voice.
When you notice that someone’s words and nonverbals do not match up, ask a followup question or make an observation. For instance, when your son says, “Mom, I cleaned my room, just like you asked,” but his voice sounds strangled and you see a sneer, you’ll probably wonder whether he’s lying or has a bad attitude.
Nonverbals to watch:
- Tone of voice
- Volume of voice
- Hand gestures
- Body posture
- Facial expressions
Make it practical: Ask a close friend or family member to watch your nonverbals for a few hours or a day and jot them down and share them with you. As you review the list, ask where you can make changes.
4. Take the Time to Communicate
Says biblical counselor and author Stuart Scott, who wrote The Exemplary Husband:
“We need to talk when we don’t want to and listen when we don’t want to. . . .Just because we are ill, tired, or not much or a talker, we are not released from the responsibility to work at good communication.”
Make it practical: Name one way you can communicate better even when you’re busy.
In next week’s Wednesday Word, you get a story revealing the two fundamentals of great communication. Watch for it.
A Resource for You
Everyone needs someone to talk to. Would you like a complimentary counseling session to share what’s on your heart? Please leave a brief message here. Confidential. Learn more about my heart for women, marriages, and families who hurt here.
Counseling hope to your heart,
You and I are alike: blowups, bad hair days, and blemishes.
Pretty? Polished? Perfect? Not us. No way. We’re real women with real problems and imperfections. We are messy.
My counseling and speaking ministry was born of my own messy loneliness. At church I desired friendship with godly women, but it seemed everyone knew the secret handshake but me. I was the wallflower, just another daisy lost in the lobby.
Can you relate?
Know this, sweet sister: You are not alone in your emotional and spiritual struggles. You are not alone in the pain that tags along with physical problems.
God Values You Now!
Soak in God’s truth that you are valued, significant and loved. Our God is tender toward you. He is Emmanuel — God with you He knows your name and has written it on the palm of his hand. He calls you. . .Beloved.
Would you like my free ebooklet “5 Amazing Names God Calls You”?
To claim it, provide your email address in the box on the right. Fast, simple.
God Understands Your Pain
Back in the early 1990’s, depression clawed my mind and darkened my mood. Anxiety rattled me. Difficult memories storm-surged. Yes, there was my parents’ divorce but something even worse. Something I had never told anyone, not ever.
How could I tell anyone my pain? Especially women in the church who seemed to have it all together?
Fast forward to 2000, the year of God’s specific call on my life.
A summer day. Sunny, a soft breeze. Me alone, in prayer.
God whispered to my heart.
“Lucy, comfort my sheep who are hurting with the comfort you’ve received from me.”
“Who me?” I asked
“Trust me, Lucy.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Like the fuzz of a dandelion, my worries flew away. “Okay, Lord.”
From Pain to Trust
I went to seminary, read shelves of books, and became certified in biblical counseling. For years I’ve counseled Christian women and the leaders who serve them. Fearful women. Lonely women. Abused women. Women caught in addiction: shopping, alcohol, pornography. Women who’ve committed adultery. Women with hard pasts.
Women like me. Like you.
God cherishes you and wants to heal you. He is our hope. Will you choose hope?
God accepts you just as you are. Like the woman at the well (John 4), an outcast among outcasts, you are loved by the One who ribbons the sky with rainbows.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:13-15
Are you thirty for living water? Do you ache to know the answer of hope for your hurting heart?
Contact me with your questions and prayer requests. There’s hope.
photo credit: Wishes via photopin (license)