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Skip Heitzig - #LOL

Skip Heitzig - #LOL
Skip Heitzig - #LOL

Father, we give You our attention. We are here in this place because we all have a need, every one of us. Whether we know it or not, we need to encounter You. We need to hear from You. We need a word from Heaven. And that's why we open up the Bible, because we believe that we are looking at and reading the inerrant word of the living God to human beings. We pray, Lord, as we glean wisdom from this book of Proverbs, that it would be wisdom to our very lives, that the way we think about these things would change, be refined. We pray, Lord, that we would become instruments in this community for our families, for our friends, for this instruments that You use. In Jesus' name, Amen.

There were two people who were talking. And the first one asked his friend, hey, do you have Facebook? And he said, no, I don't have Facebook. He said, well, do you have Twitter? He said, no, I don't have that either. Well, so do you have Instagram? Nope. Do you have Snapchat? He goes, nope, don't have any of those? He goes, well, what do you have? And he said, a life. We live in a day and age in which social media is sort of becoming an obsessive thing with folks, who have decided that they can have relationships with a device. People are communicating to the device. But it's not like the real world.

One person wrote, I haven't got a computer, but I was told about Facebook and Twitter. And I'm trying to make friends while applying those same principles of Facebook and Twitter. So every day, I walk down the street, and I tell passersby what I've eaten, how I feel, what I've done the night before, what I'm going to do for the rest of the day. I give them pictures of my wife, my daughter, my dog, me gardening and on holiday, and spending time by the pool.

I also listen to conversations. I tell them I like them. I give them my opinion on every subject that interests me, whether it interests them or not. And it works. I already have four people following me: two police officers, a social worker, and a psychiatrist. Did you know that Facebook now has over one billion users? I want you just to think about that. That means one seventh of the world's population goes through that portal called Facebook. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest nation on earth: China, India, Facebook, the third largest country, and dare I say, the least productive of all.

Now, I'd say that for a couple of reasons. Number one, we're not going to get away from it. This stuff is not going away. We can joke about it, and we can bemoan the fact that people do this. But it's part of the culture now. You can fight it all you want to, but it's here to stay. And it's going to continue to evolve. It's sort of like when cars were introduced, and some folks still held on to the horse drawn carriage. Well, you can have a horse if you want, but cars are here to stay. Or going from radio to television or the use of the computer, these are cultural changes that now mark who we are. So that's not going away.

The second thing I want to say about it is this. We can at least try and understand it, because it is a cultural phenomenon. Man, I think if we could understand it, in fact, even get involved a little bit in it, if one seventh of the earth's population is going through a social media portal, don't you think some of us could get creative and get the Gospel through that portal? Couldn't we use some of that technology instead of saying, I'm just dead against it? You know, jump into the pond and let the Gospel out.

I think that we have to think that way, because it's sort of like a missionary. When you send a missionary overseas, we expect that missionary to learn the culture, learn the language a little bit, not be so this culture, but be more that culture. Well, this is the culture we find ourselves in too. And this is how people communicate. And they communicate with an interesting feature called the hashtag. The hashtag is a metadata tag that is developed when you put this symbol, that number sign or pound sign, in front of a word or an unspaced phrase. It gives people the opportunity to search in different categories that have this tag. And it's easier to find messages with a specific theme or content.

It's everywhere, by the way. I know some people don't know what it is. But it's even on the nightly news. In fact, the word "hashtag," since June of 2014, has been inserted, added, to the Oxford English Dictionary. It's a part of culture. Also, this year, in the Super Bowl, do you know what a Super Bowl ad costs, by the way, 30 second Super Bowl ad? $4.5 million. Audi, the car manufacturer decided that for its $4.5 million spend on that 30 second commercial, they would use a hashtag. They flashed a hashtag to the audience, hoping that viewers would tweet using the hashtag, and they could win a substantial prize. So it's gone mainstream.

Now, why would I decide to do a summer series called Hashtag? Because what I want to do is take some of the popular hashtags used in social media and explore. Is there any Biblical significance to it? And here's why, because these tags are expressions of people. This is what people think about. This is what people are saying. This is what people like or dislike. And I think that every issue, every belief, God has an answer to it in His word, to every single concern of mankind. So I want to see what the Bible says about some of these issues, see if we can learn anything from it.

LOL, laugh out loud, very popular hashtag. When somebody uses that, what they're saying is, I think that's funny. Now, they actually may not think that. But you read it, and you think, that person is responding with an LOL, I think that's funny, laugh out loud. You know, the Bible actually has a lot to say about laughter, about happiness. Some of it may surprise you. Look with me at Proverbs chapter 14. We're going to look at the 13th verse, primarily. But can we get a little context surrounding it so we see how Proverbs is laid out? Let's begin in verse 10.

The heart knows its own bitterness. And a stranger does not share its joy. The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. And now, for our verse, even in laughter, the heart may sorrow. And the end of mirth may be grief. I want to share with you three discoveries about laughter and the human condition from verse 13. The first one is this. Your God knows you well. Your God knows you well. Just the first reading of this verse, the first blush over these words, as I was going through it this week, that was my first discovery. Your God knows you well.

I want you to look at that verse again. And I want you to notice with me four words, four nouns, each different from the other noun, different in English, different in the original Hebrew. Look at them. Laughter, that's the first, sorrow, mirth, and grief. Boy, what a gamut of emotion, right? From highs to lows, the Bible acknowledges the full gamut of human emotions and has something to say about them. It's written like this because your God knows you well.

Now, let's just understand Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is a book that is filled with sayings, little pithy sayings, about all aspects of life. Who's the author of this book? Solomon. It's a trick question. He's the human author. The divine author is God. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, correction, reproof, instruction in righteousness, that the man or woman of God may be thoroughly furnished, complete in every good work. This is part of all scripture, the Book of Proverbs, and the one we're reading from is part of God's word. The word proverb, our English word, that's the title, the beginning of this book Proverbs.

Our English word comes from a Latin word "proverbium" that comes from two Latin words, "pro," which means instead of or on behalf of. And the second word is "verb," or "verbum," words. So it means a statement that takes the place of lengthy explanations. So you have these pithy sayings, these maxims, these epigrams, aphorisms. So one of the things you notice about the book of Proverbs, it's simple truth. It's simple truth. It's distilled truth, or truth in a highly concentrated form. I love the fact that God is simple. I'm not saying there's not difficult stuff in the Bible. There is.

But here in the Book of Proverbs, it's just these simple sayings that, if scholars, if academics were to write them, you probably would never understand them. Somebody once said, if a scholar were to write some of our modern proverbs, rather than "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," a scholar would say, "scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific." That's how academicians think.

But God gives us simple truth. Why? So we'd remember. See, what good is truth if you don't remember it? So when you read a proverb, especially if you commit it to memory, think of it like a little truth bomb, B, O, M, B, that will detonate at the right time. You commit it to memory, then you go through an experience, and at the right time, bam, it goes off and you remember it because of its simplicity. So it's simple truth. But not only is it simple truth. This is expert truth. You see, the Book of Proverbs isn't just good advice. It's God's advice. It's part of that all scripture. So it's simple truth. It's expert truth. But it's also beautiful truth.

Do you know that the Book of Proverbs is a book of poetry? Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, a few other books, is written, you may even notice it as you look at your Bible page. It's just set up differently than the narrative sections of scripture. That's because it's poetry, Hebrew poetry.

Now, a word about Hebrew poetry, it doesn't rhyme. That's American poetry. That's English poetry. Our poetry has meter and cadence and rhyme, because we think that's important. But the Hebrews didn't think that any of that was important.

What they thought is that words don't need to rhyme, but thoughts need to either be parallel with each other or contrast to each other. That's called Hebrew parallelism.

And so you have a thought expressed, and then a similar thought or the opposite thought. Go back to verse 10 and notice it.

The heart knows it's own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy. That's one thought that adds or complements another thought. Verse 11, the house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish. Now, you have a thought that is in direct contrast to the first statement in the couplet.

So it's simple truth. It's expert truth. It's beautiful truth. Why is it beautiful? Why poetry? Don't you find that interesting that God decides that poetry should be in the Bible? You know why that is, I think? To help our memory. Beauty helps us remember it.

Do you know that the human mind retains only 25% of what it hears? That's on a good day. I gotta tell you, that's very discouraging to a public speaker, to hear those statistics, that people, when you talk to them, they're only going to pick a fraction of it up, and at their best, if they're really listening and not engaged on Instagram at the moment, they're going to retain only 25%.

And experts say that's if they hear it twice. So let me repeat what I just said. So it's simple truth, expect truth. It's beautiful truth. But it's also very practical truth. It's where the rubber meets the road. It's about real life. And here's what it tells me. It tells me that God is concerned about all the issues in real life that have to do with me.

I love what the Psalmist wrote. I think it was Psalm 68. He said, the Lord will perfect or complete that which concerns me. He's concerned about the things that concern my life. I tell you, that's a liberating truth. The day that I realized that God was as interested in me when I was at the office or on a bicycle ride or praying for waves at the beach or in church with my Bible open, that was liberating.

All of that, all of that, even my emotions were important to Him. Example, in your Bible, the word sorrow appears 70 times; the word sad another 13 times; bitter, or bitterness of heart, eight times; the word grief 62 times; the word joy 158 times; laughter 30 times; and the word glad 139 times.

Do you think that God has something to say about your emotional life? Absolutely. Speaking of sorrow, Psalm 56, You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.

What a beautiful, tender thought, that the Lord keeps track, not just of the hairs on my head, like Jesus said, but every tear I cry. He knows what number that is in my life. And they're recorded.

That's why I love the end of the Bible, where it says, in Heaven, there's no tears, there's no sorrow, there's no crying. There will be a time when the sad part of your emotional life will be gone and only the great parts, the joy, the peace, will remain.

So this proverb, and other verses, teach me that our God knows us well. He knows that we have ups and downs. And they are expressed in all of these different ways, laughter, sorrow, mirth, and grief.

See, God has given us a wide range of emotion to correspond with the wide range of human experience. And how has He done that? Well, He's put something in your head, I mean, literally. They're called lacrimal glands, tear glands. They're connected to little ducts that water your eyes. When you have certain emotional responses, that water begins to flow. God designed you that way.

He also put muscles in your face so you can do this. We ought to do that more often. And so we can laugh. God designed us that way. And we're told by virtually every medical expert that laughing is good for you. It's healthy. Laughing helps reduce tension. It relaxes tissues. It exercises vital organs. However, there's a time for it. Isn't that what the Bible says? There's a time to laugh. There's a time to mourn. And then there's a time not to. Have you ever laughed at the wrong time?

I distinctly remember, as a boy, now, keep in mind, I am the fourth of four boys in the Heitzig home. We were all a little rambunctious. The last two, Bob, my next oldest brother, and myself, were probably the worst. My dad believed in corporal punishment and took us to the woodshed, so to speak. And I remember, one time, we did some wrong, we deserved it. He took off his belt, and he was going to give us a whipping.

And a thought struck me. And I started cracking up. I started laughing hysterically. And I'm here to tell you, that did not help the situation. There's a time to laugh and a time to mourn. I got those mixed up. It wasn't helpful. But it is good. It is healthy. Laughing is healthy. Weeping, as well, is good. Tears are cathartic. They cleanse not only the eye, but they cleanse the emotion. In fact, it is unhealthy to suppress those emotions.

One doctor said, suppressed sorrow can wreck havoc on your nervous system. He said he had one patient that died of ulcerative colitis, and he believed it was directly related to him suppressing grief when his father died.

Yet, to this day, I still encounter people who will say, they're well-meaning, but ignorant. And they'll say things like, don't cry. Don't cry? I was designed by God to cry. Don't you think if God put that capability within me that He expects it to be used sometime? That's normal and healthy.

Not only is laughing and weeping, but grieving is. And you'll notice that in our text. Look at the word sorrow in verse 13, that second noun. It means to be pained by grief, grief associated by loss, typically, pained by grief. And then notice the very last word in verse 13. The word grief means heaviness or depression due to grief.

Grieving is normal. Grieving is healthy. It is not healthy to hold it all in. Do you know that the Hebrews were given 30 days to grieve publicly? They were expected to mourn publicly. And if you know anything about Hebrew grieving, it's very demonstrative. They would put sackcloth on, ashes on their heads, tear their clothes, wail, mourn, bring in professional mourners to sort of set the mood.

They made a show of it for 30 days. The Egyptians, even longer, 70 days. British author Graham Scroggie said, let grief do its work. Tramp every inch of the sorrowful way. Drink every drop of the bitter cup. To see our loved ones and what they have left behind will give us daily pain, the clothes they wore, the letters they wrote, the books they read, the chairs they sat in, and the music they loved. But what would we be without these reminders? Those who truly love will say that they have found in sorrow a new joy, a joy which only the broken hearted can know. So by looking at verse 13, I discover your God knows you well. And He has made you an emotional being.

The second discovery is that your face is not reliable. I hate to be the one to tell you that, because you have some nice faces as I'm looking at them. And as nice as they look, some of them, not all of them, but... They're not reliable. You can cover up a lot of reality with a facial expression. Look at verse 13. Even in laughter, the heart may sorrow. The New Living Translation says, laughter can conceal a heavy heart. Appearances can be deceptive. You see, by laughter, you give the impression that you're happy or light hearted, when in reality, you may actually have a broken heart. You may be a very sad person. But you're laughing it off so that people think, oh, so happy.

You think that actor on that TV commercial who's smiling and laughing and saying, this car changed my life, once you get him off camera, he's not doing that. He's as ornery looking as he normally is. That's a show. That's concealing what he really thinks. He may not even like that car.

So when somebody says, LOL, it doesn't mean they're actually, at that moment, laughing out loud, or that they even think it's funny at all. In fact, do you know that comedians are among some of the saddest and most depressed people ever?

The world was shocked a couple years ago when Robin Williams took his own life. And people wondered, how could that be? I mean, you listen to him, you listen to the jokes, and you see these comedians, and they seem so happy and so funny. Psychology Today said, quote, we know that the funniest people are often surrounded by darkness. The deeper the black hole, the more humor you need to dig yourself out of it.

One expert, Dr. Rami Kaminski, professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Medicine, said the reason so many comedians are at risk for mental illness is because being funny is not the same as being happy. He said he believes many comedians will mine humor as a way to escape depression and anxiety.

Many comedians have admitted to this, actually. Some have gone on camera, and they've said, let me tell you how I really feel. This is who I really am. This is what I really deal with. One comedian, I won't mention his name, admitted, the people that bring the most laughter into this world are usually the ones hiding the most pain.

You remember that Solomon, the writer of this book, wrote another book, Ecclesiastes. And he was at that very journalistic period in his life, where he's writing down all of his ramblings and feelings. He's tried everything.

And he comes to a point where he says, I said one day to myself, to my heart, I'm going to test mirth, pleasure, laughter, joy. And he said, I said of laughter, madness, and of mirth, what does it accomplish? It is all vanity and vexation of spirit.

Now, I am not saying you shouldn't smile or you shouldn't laugh. In fact, some of you need to do a lot more of it. We have enough grumpy people in this world as it is. I've always loved what Christianity Today wrote. I've held onto it for a long time. The author said, some people think that you can't be a Christian and laugh. I think it's the other way around. God has written lots of comedy. It's just that He has so many bad actors. Don't be one of them.

So I'm not saying don't laugh and don't smile. What I am saying is that laughter and joy are two different things. In fact, I'll say it this way. Laughter and happiness, they're different from joy. Joy is fixed. And I've seen people go through horrible experiences who still have joy, because the joy of the Lord is their strength. They're fixed. They may not be laughing at that moment or smiling at that moment, but there's a joy.

It's deep. It's real. It anchors them. Happiness is different. You see, happiness depends on the happenings. If the happenings are good, wee! If the happenings are bad, grumpy. They're up and down with the happenings.

Joy is very different from that. The second thing I want to say about this is I believe firmly that we need a place, we need a person or a group of people with whom we can be honest with and share our true feelings without the fear of being judged. This is a great need in the Church, in the body of Christ. You need a safe person with whom you can be real with. You can let down your guard and they're not going to tweet it or gossip it or judge you. They're going to work through it with you. It's a desperate need.

One of my favorite children's stories is the Velveteen Rabbit. Do you remember that story? The velveteen rabbit, the little velvet rabbit is having a conversation with the skin horse in the toy room. And the skin horse is all beat up. And he's been loved by a child. All the fur's rubbed off, the little button eyes are fallen out. He's real, he says. You become real by having that happen to you.

And so the velveteen rabbit is asking the skin horse about being real. And the skin horse says, but these things don't matter at all, because once you're real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

I'm saying, forget about the people who don't understand. Find some who do. Life's too short. Find those people that you can be honest and real with. It's a great need.

Your God knows you well. Your face isn't always reliable. And the third discovery is that your beginning may not be your end. Look at the second half of that verse. And the end, see that word the end? That's a key word. And the end of mirth may be grief. So the whole verse, even in laughter, the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.

It's really the same kind of thought as the previous verse. Do you mind? Would you look at verse 12? After all, we're only doing one verse. Verse 12, there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. See, it's the same thought.

The path you choose may end in death. The party you go to may end in grief. You ever think about the end? Not only does laughter, not only can it mask reality, but the end can be worse than the beginning.

Where I find most of us, most human beings, fall short is we don't think much about the end of things. We don't think about consequences much. We don't.

I mean, we're thinking about now, that extra piece of cake? Come on. That's OK, but that extra piece of cake every day for the next 40, 50 years? There will be some consequence. You may not care, but there will be. But nobody thinks about that.

Or that mouse click that takes you to a website, that illicit website that is not good for you. What will the end of that be like? A broken home, broken marriage? What about that urge to pick up that cell phone and text while you're driving, because you just can't stand to let that thing go? Will that end up in a crash?

You see, we don't like to think about the consequences, the end of things. Eve didn't. When she saw that fruit and took it and ate it and gave it to Adam, she wasn't thinking about the consequences. But one of the key features to this book of Proverbs is that nothing should be judged by its initial enticement.

It's a father writing to his son or sons. Solomon is writing to his sons under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, telling them, just by what you see, don't be enticed by that. Don't go down that road. But stop and think where that's going to lead you, because it may not be to a good place.

There are a lot of examples of that. Here's one, adultery. He'll say, son, when you see that woman and she looks so good and that affair, it looks so good, it looks so promising, stop and think of the end. For Proverbs 5, Solomon says, in the end, she is bitter as wormwood and sharp as a two-edged sword.

I have some friends who like to go white water rafting. They've invited me. I haven't gone yet. I will maybe one day, maybe not. But it does look fun.

I was having a conversation with them once. And I said, hey, I hear that the river just above Niagara Falls is awesome. Have you ever thought about taking and rafting that? And they looked at me like, what are you, an idiot?

Now, I was playing with them. I was joking with them. I wanted them to think that way, because their response is what I wanted to hear. They said, look, I'm sure it's awesome, great river, great rapids. But it's the ending that I'm worried about. It's those falls that I'm worried about.

And even the initial drop off, that would be exhilarating, but it's not going to last long. It's going to be a bad ending.

And we have to start thinking about the end. What's that like? Would you agree that the worst end, to use the word of the writer here, the worst end and the worst and saddest grief is an eternity separated from God in Hell? Isn't that the worst?

And yet that is exactly what people do not, will not, deal with. And they should, because one day, there will be an end. Jesus gave a story, not a parable, an actual story, of a rich man and Lazarus having a conversation after death. Here's a portion of it.

Then he cried out, and said, Father, Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. Abraham said, son, remember, in your lifetime, you received your good things, and likewise, Lazarus evil things. But now, he is comforted and you are tormented. That's the end. You're experiencing now the end that you never considered before. He is comforted. You are tormented.

What's the most famous sermon Jesus ever preached? Sermon on the Mount, everybody likes to quote it. Even unbelievers love to quote the Sermon on the Mount. Well, quote the end of it, because at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, you know, there's basically two paths in this life. There's two doors. There's a wide door and there's the narrow door.

And the wide door doesn't lead to a great place, and the narrow one does. And so He says, you know, that broad way looks good. It's enticing. And there's so many people gathered around it, wanting to go in, and very few people lining up for that narrow door. It's too restrictive.

Jesus said, enter in by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. That's the end. And there are many who go in by it. But narrow is the way that leads to life. And there are very few who enter therein.

That's striking, sobering language. The Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, said, most people are going down the broad way that leads to Hell, destruction. And very few people are going through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life.

You know, it's interesting. When I go to New York, and I love New York. But there's a street there. And as a preacher, I'm interested in this name. It's called Broadway. It's a big, broad, way street, broad street. And Broadway is very famous, of course. There's every conceivable human pleasure on Broadway.

But there are also little streets that are narrow, off-Broadway. And there's one in particular where there's this church, a pretty well-known church that is impacting the city, is located. People go to it, but not as many as are on Broadway.

If you look at Broadway, you see thousands and thousands at any given moment. On that little, narrow street where that church is, there are people, but not nearly as many, narrow way, broad way.

I say we take that term LOL and sort of reconstitute it, our own acronym, not laugh out loud, but how about this one? Live on lastingly. How about living forever? You know, you go back to that conversation we shared at the beginning, do you have Facebook, do you have Twitter? What do you got? A life.

Do you have life? Do you have eternal life? Are you sure that if you were to die, you would go to Heaven? It's the question we ask a lot? Do you ever think in those terms? Do you ever think about the end? After life is over and you go over the falls, what's that going to be like?

Even in laughter the heart, may sorrow. And the end of mirth, may be, it doesn't have to be, may be grief.

Father, we pause and we bow. And we, in prayer, consider what we have gleaned from this distilled, concentrated truth found in one axiom, one aphorism, one proverb, one pithy saying. And we consider our end. And I pray, Lord, even as it says, it may be grief, I pray it will not be grief. I pray for everyone listening to have made a choice to follow Jesus, to let Jesus be our sin bearer, to let Jesus be the one who carts off, carries off, our iniquity, by His work on the cross, shedding His own blood, taking the rap for what we have done, so that we can receive everlasting life. I pray we would live on lastingly, enjoying everlasting, eternal life.

As we are closing this service, you might not know Jesus personally as your Savior. Right where you're seated, some of you are seated in the main sanctuary. Some of you are seated outside. Some of you are seated in the family room or balcony or in an overflow room next door. Some of you are tuning in by radio or watching by podcast or computer.

Wherever you are, you ask yourself about the end of the choices you have made and where you're walking, what road you're walking down. Will the end thereof be death or life, spiritually speaking? Will the end be joy or grief? Because that can be settled right now. And if you are willing to trust in Jesus, then tell Him that. Right where you're seated, right where you are right now, you pray this. You say:

Lord, I am a sinner. I believe it. I know I am. I'm sorry for my sins. I believe Jesus died on a cross, shed His blood for my sin, and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn from my past. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord, to follow Him. Fill me with your spirit, Lord. Help me to do that. I can't do it alone. I need you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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