Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, December 09, 2004

All right. Let's suppose you're in my shoes. You're about to co-teach Acts-Revelation again with Randy Harris for eightysomething freshmen Bible majors. You're about to negotiate who teaches which books. Immediately I grab Romans and Colossians, two of my favs. But which ones would you insist that Randy teach? Or narrow it down. Which one would you say, "I refuse to deprive our students of the opportunity to hear you explain THIS!!" If that stumps you, try this (and maybe it will lead us there): what's the hardest passage in Acts-Revelation to understand? What's a baffling bit of text that someday you'd like to ask, "Paul (or Peter or James, etc.), . . . what the heck was THAT about?"

- - - -

A unique call to worship (from John Ortberg):

"The church where I work videotapes most of the services, so I have hundreds of message on tape. Only one of them gets shown repeatedly.

This video is a clip from the beginning of one of our services. A high school worship dance team had just brought the house down to get things started, and I was supposed to transition us into some high-energy worship by reading Psalm 150. This was a last-second decision, so I had to read it cold, but with great passion: 'Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!' The psalm consists of one command after another to praise, working its way through each instrument of the orchestra. My voice is building in a steady crescendo; by the end of the psalm I practically shout the final line, only mispronouncing one word slightly: 'Let everything that has breasts, praise the Lord.'

A moment of silence. The same thought passes through four thousand brains: Did he just say what I think he did? In church? Is this some exciting new translation I can get at the bookstore?

Then everybody in the place just lost it. They laughed so hard for so long, I couldn't say a thing. . . . I finally just walked off the stage, and we went on with the next part of the service.

I have been teaching at that church for eight years. Of all the passages I have exegeted and all the messages I have preached, that is the one moment that gets replayed before conferences and workshops. Over and over."


  • about the first part of your blog, I understand everthing in scripture perfectly, just ask me.....

    about the second, a mutual friend of yours and mine, who will remain nameless for this post, stood to offer the prayer in a young couples class, and said, "Will you prease play with me."

    By Blogger don, at 12/09/2004 06:28:00 AM  

  • Don - It's unfortunate that "pray" and "play" sound so much alike. Right before I spoke at convocation at Pepperdine a few years ago, a students was to lead the prayer. He said, "Let us play." A few snickers. He tried again: "Let's play together." The snickers were now gone; snorting and hee-hawing laughter had taken over.

    By Blogger Mike, at 12/09/2004 06:32:00 AM  

  • First part of blog: I'd like to ask Peter whassup with that Christ-preaching-to-the-spirits-in-prison-who-disobeyed-long-ago-while-God-waited-patiently-in-the-time-of-Noah? I'd also like to ask Jude what possessed him to quote not one but two non-canonical books, and if he just grins and says "The Holy Spirit," that's not going to help.

    Second part of blog: My late dad used to tell the story on the equally-late Ray Muncy (in his preaching, pre-history-teaching days at Harding) that Ray once stumbled through a wedding ceremony at our church and ended by announcing that the conception would follow in the fellowship hall next door. Then he prayed that God would bless us all as we "passed out into the street." Dad said everyone nearly did - from hyperventilation!

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 12/09/2004 06:45:00 AM  

  • Oh, I don't know. Maybe the dragon in Rev. 12 that was going to eat the woman's baby as soon as it was born. That's not your typical Bible Hour memory verse.

    Anyway, you reminded me of the preacher at my parents' old church who had given his wife some kind of electronic massager-type thing for Christmas, but made an unfortunate word choice and went on and on about his wife's new vibrator from the pulpit on Christmas Sunday. His poor wife was on the front row and he would NOT shup up about the vibrator. He finally concluded his story by describing how she liked the vibrator so much that she took it to bed with them and nearly vibrated both of them out of the bed with it. It was really quite awful. I was holding on to Chad's arm to keep him from falling out into the aisle.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 12/09/2004 06:55:00 AM  

  • I'm no preacher, so this hasn't brought me too much embarassment, just some laughs as I grew older and realized my mistake...for many many years as a child I truly believed the song went, "Now let us, have a little CHOCOLATE Jesus..."
    I later realized that a "LITTLE TALK" was what "makes it right", but for quite a long time I was pretty convinced it was the chocolate...

    By Blogger tine, at 12/09/2004 07:07:00 AM  

  • I'm all for hearing about "baptism for the dead" and "because of the angels," in reference to women's roles. And rather than split these books and crazy topics out, I think you guys should debate these issues in front of the class, maybe modeling something of unity through diversity...or perhaps it would be effective for waking up the back row.


    A friend of mine told me about a boy who had recently been baptized in a very strict church. As was their tradition, on the next Sunday morning the boy served on the table for communion. He was to lead the prayer for the "fruit of the vine." He advised in clear terms not to say, "wine," but to say "fruit of the vine," so as not to offend certain members of the congregation. This being his first public appearance in a "leadership role," he was extremely nervous. Sure enough, when he said his prayer, he said "wine," and then to cover himself he said, "Oh crap, I wasn't supposed to say wine." I guess no one told him about the prohibition on the word "crap" in communiion prayers.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 12/09/2004 07:29:00 AM  

  • Well, Mike...

    I am new here...put onto your blog by my son who is getting ready to take your aforementioned class next semester! I actually live in TN...

    I would prefer that you ask Jason all these questions, especially the ones about the beasts of Revelation...since he is so excited about taking your class!

    Seriously, I'd like to see you deal with the traditionally patternistic approach to Acts in the class. When we just go to the text with a persepective of patternism, we miss so much of the heart of it...the passion for following Jesus and sharing his good news.


    By Blogger Glenn Drysdale, at 12/09/2004 07:32:00 AM  

  • Romans! Romans!! But then there's Revelation and 1 John. Oh my, what a difficult decision. Romans, Mike; and Revelation, Randy; both of you 1 John. And then there's Ephesians, in light of our recently stated goal at Highland as a missional church.
    But my true 'druthers' and plea is that we hear sermons at Highland drawn from your class teachings. A whole book study is my very favorite sermon model.

    As to the second part, I'll keep my experiences to myself, thank you. :>)

    By Blogger Kathy, at 12/09/2004 08:00:00 AM  

  • Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

    "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

    Two questions arise from this passage:
    1. Isn't this a description of most of the human race for the past 8,000 years?

    2. How do I have "nothing to do with myself?"

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 12/09/2004 08:10:00 AM  

  • I still crack up when I think about the guy who was doing the announcements one Sunday morning. As he greeted the visitors, he intended to say, "Hang around for a while and let us hug you and squeeze you and make you feel a part." Instead, he said, "let us hug you and squeeze you and make you peal a f___."

    I have been laughing all morning at these stories!

    By Blogger Rick Ross, at 12/09/2004 08:21:00 AM  

  • My dad was once preaching on Psalm 19 and as he was reading he was getting really into it. But when he got to the part where it say in the heavens he has pitched a tent, he messed up the words and switched the endings. Instead of saying pitched a tent he say said pinched a (well you can guess). He just kept on going like he didn't notice but one of the elders in the front just couldn't control himself any longer and just let out a huge laugh and the whole church lost it.

    By Blogger Brandon Moore, at 12/09/2004 09:25:00 AM  

  • The preacher had not been at our congretation long when he was trying to make a point. (I have forgotten what it was about). He said "I could get up here and flash you". He said 3 more words and then said "Did I say flash you?" I meant "be flashy". We all had a good laugh. He didn't last long. hmmmmmm.

    By Blogger Steve Duer, at 12/09/2004 09:34:00 AM  

  • In Liberia, the word "Hell" is used as an accepted adjective. I am not condoning that, mind you, just relating the facts. Not long after we had been there, at the conclusion of the service my dad asked if there were any more announcements to be made. One older gentleman stood up and said: "Brother David, after service is over we are going to have a hell-of-a business meeting today". Yep, I confess we both fell out laughing, as all of them looked at us like we were crazy. He never asked for additional announcements after that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/09/2004 09:49:00 AM  

  • Sorry that came up as anonymous...don't know how that happened.


    By Blogger David U, at 12/09/2004 09:51:00 AM  

  • As a previous student of Randy's Acts-Revelation class, I remember him spending one class period on Revelation, but I don't remember what he said. We kept on bugging Randy to say the books of the Bible in less than 60 seconds, and he did! That part I remember.

    And I am all about explaining the baptizing of the dead. And bringing in the pugs as guests.

    By Blogger TKP, at 12/09/2004 11:04:00 AM  

  • Oh, I just remembered the one Dr. Jack Ryan used to tell on himself. When recording the gospels on tape (just imagine his deep, mellifluous voice intoning KJV Scripture), he would record continuously so that errors could be edited out later.

    He once went late into the night until he got to Phillipians 4:3 where Paul was asking for help sorting out the problems between Euodia and Syntyche. Instead of reading "I beseech thee also, true yokefellow ..." he read "I beseech the also, true yellow folk ... uh, true yellow folk ... uh, YELLOW FOLK!" and then the tape dissolved into maniacal laughter.

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 12/09/2004 12:54:00 PM  

  • I remember a prayer led by one of our deacons one Sunday morning serveral years ago. It was right around Thanksgiving, and so naturally most of our prayers focused on thanks and blessings and the sort. He began normally, by thanking God for food, and the nature outside, and so on. But then he went back and proceeded to name specific foods he was thankful for. Something along the lines of "Lord, we thank you for beef, and chicken, and pork, and steak, and fish....and for the birds. Blue jays, cardinals, finches, and hummingbirds...and flowers, too. Daffodils, and periwinkles, and dandelions" Quite a few snickers ran through the congregation of about 1000 sitting in front of him in the pews.
    -Greg Parks, soph Bible major, Harding University

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/09/2004 10:10:00 PM  

  • A friend of mine in college swore he heard a preacher that mis-spoke and told his entire audience that the Jews bound "Prophylactics" to their heads (instead of the correct term "Phylacteries"). I'm chuckling as I write that story... had to have been hysterical when it happened!

    By Blogger Mandy, at 12/10/2004 06:35:00 AM  

  • Can today's blog and comments be published as a book? Add a few more, and it'll be ready for the Christian market (and deeper than 90% of the books there!).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/10/2004 07:25:00 AM  

  • I'm sure this is fairly common, but on several occasions I have heard about falling prostates rather than falling prostrate. :)

    By Blogger ann, at 12/10/2004 07:55:00 AM  

  • Then there was the time Harold Hazelip referred to Abraham's posterior instead of his posterity. We need to put that one behind us!

    By Blogger MarkS, at 12/10/2004 09:07:00 AM  

  • Remember how at College CoC in Searcy the "reserved for mothers with young children" section was at the far left hand side of the building, closest to the front, so that they were nearest the nursery? Back then you couldn't take a child to the nursery who was older than 18 months; they had to go all the way back to the Cry Room, which was in the foyer. If you've never been to College, that is a quite a trek.

    Back when Dale Foster was preaching there, I was a freshman at Harding. Bro. Foster wasn't exactly the most, um, fiery of preachers, so the auditorium was usually pretty quiet. One Sunday morning, a young child was getting antsy in the MWYC section, so the mom picked him up and started walking back to the Cry Room. When the kid suddenly yelled out, "Somebody help me, she's going to KILL me!"

    I wonder sometimes if that woman just kept on walking when she reached the back and never came back.

    That's my favorite "laughing in church" story. The runners-up are the time my friend said, in a public prayer, "Be with those who are sick of the congregation", and the time an elderly man at my parents' church asked for a blessing on "the fruit of the loom."


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/10/2004 12:09:00 PM  

  • I hope our eyes are opened and we can say, "Yes I now see clearly....."sorry for being such a pain with my beliefs".

    By Blogger Larry, at 12/11/2004 03:48:00 AM  

  • Larry,

    If you had an active blog, I would comment on it, but since I found no entries, let me just say that it was nice to see your name after all these years. Hope the family is well.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 12/11/2004 05:17:00 AM  

  • One Sunday morning my pastor was visibly sick and although sniffly, had made it most of the way through his talk. Everything was going quite nicely until he started reading from Acts 14...
    " At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish Synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed."
    "But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up their genitals... er their genitals.... um i meant the gentiles."
    His face turned bright red and everyone in the place nearly died.

    By Blogger Ryan, at 12/12/2004 01:18:00 PM  

  • These comments have really been quite humorous. Unlike the jokes about what churches have put in their bulletins, I've never heard these before!

    My uncle Terry is a very successful lawyer in Oklahoma City. Sometimes he really gets into his work. One memorable Sunday night when I was a kid, he got up to lead a prayer at our church and began, "Your Honor..."

    By Blogger Kyle T, at 12/17/2004 07:41:00 PM  

  • when I was about 15, on a christian camp, sitting around a table taking turns reading through a passage of the bible, one of the guys mis-read "sexual immorality" as "sexual immorTality" .


    By Blogger roj, at 11/21/2005 10:57:00 PM  

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