Liz Curtis Higgs encourages listeners to laugh more and seek the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.
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John: So, have you ever wanted to take some time off from your responsibilities as an adult? On today's "Focus on the Family," you'll hear author and Bible teacher, Liz Curtis Higgs and she can relate to that.
Liz: Driving through Manhattan, Kansas, we have a sign in the window of the Burger King. Wanted part-time adult. (Laughter) I'm thinkin', "Hey, who wants to sign up for this? Can I sign you up?" (Laughter) Isn't this great? We're feeling mature, we go to work; feeling child-like, we stay home, because, hey, (Laughter) they only need a part-time adult--right up my alley."
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John: Well, you'll hear more from her today on "Focus on the Family" with Focus president Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and Liz has a rather unique way of looking at life.
Jim: She sure does. Yeah, and last summer we invited Liz into the studio and got to know her a bit better. She's a former FM radio deejay and was a colleague of shock jock, Howard Stern. Most people probably know about him. She was a friend of his many years ago and was living that party-hearty lifestyle, until she met the Lord at age 28.
John, this reminded me that nobody is beyond the reach of God, nobody. You think of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the apostle. Well, Liz is kind of in that way. She was on the dark side and then came into the light. Over the years, Liz Curtis Higgs has become an amazing Bible teacher, conference speaker and an author of many books, including the best-selling Bad Girls of the Bible series.
So, today we thought we'd get back to a speech Liz gave to our staff here at Focus on the Family a few years ago and play that for you as a way to lighten up things a bit.
John: Well, I think it's a great idea and really enjoyed that presentation when she was here. I'm looking forward to listening to it again. Here's Liz Curtis Higgs, speaking at a Focus on the Family gathering.
Liz: I spent 10 years on the radio as a radio personality. And the most fun part for me was always this—being invited to come out and speak—because I would meet people who'd heard me on the air for years and who felt like they knew me. And they had come up with their own idea of what I look like. (Laughter) This is not it. (Laughter)
Nah, it's never what they expected. (Laughing) I had a lady come out to a car dealership to meet me. We were signing people up for contests, you know how you do. And she pulled up in a little Toyota; she took one look at me and she said the first thing that popped into her mind. (Laughter) "My word, you don't sound fat on the radio." (Laughter)
Boy, that's subtle, isn't it? Now, I am never at a loss for words, okay? (Laughter) Do you understand, I can do two hours without a topic, okay? Do you see what I'm saying? So ... (Laughter) Don't panic. I'll finish on time today, but you know, it's seldom that I'm caught without something to say. Well, she got me that day. "Well … ha, ha, heh ... " (Laughter)
So, I've thought about this for like 13 years. I mean, I'm a little slow, but I've finally come up with what I should have said. You know how you don't have it when you need it? Got it now. I should've said, "Ma'am, the Bible says that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and He figured why build a chapel when you could build a cathedral?" (Laughter and Applause) You cathedrals, you take that line and run with it, girlfriend. It's yours; it's yours.
Well, I am very encouraged by Scripture, you know. It says when we get to heaven, we get a new body. Is anybody else excited about that besides me? (Laughter) Isn't that great? And girlfriends, I have checked; it's a size 6! I love this. (Laughter) For you guys, about a 40 regular; you'll love it. Now you're saying, "Lizzie, where in the Scripture does it say size 6?" Every translation it says, we go from the imperfect to the perfect. That 6 would be about perfect to me. (Laughter) Of course, it also says in Mark, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." So, if you wear a 6 now (Laughter), enjoy it while you got it, okay?
Well, Ethel Barrymore says, "You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself." I can tell you the day I grew up. I was there. I was flying through the Indianapolis Airport—you know, on a plane—and I'm sitting in the commuter waiting lounge. Now, you know how this works at the airport. The seats are all hooked together and bolted to the floor. And all those seats were filled, but at the end of one row, there were two seats on a T-shaped base. Now, on one side was a little skinny woman. I thought, "This is perfect. I've got room for both my hips. I love this."
So, I sat down, gave her greetings, "Hi, how ya doing?" And then I bent over to gather my luggage around me and while I was bent over she stood up. Did you ever ride a see-saw as a child? (Laughter) You know if the other kid gets off too fast, something's gonna happen to you. Well, I went flying through the air, tails over teacups. Now, this will bring the men out from behind the counter. I mean, it takes a lot to get them motivated, but a flying woman will do it. (Laughter)
Three little men came out in their little red jackets and tried to help me get up[ and couple not. Not 'cause I was pinned under the chair and not because ... well, I was just laughing so hard. Have you ever laughed on the floor on your face? (Laughter) It creates kind of a humping wheezing effect (Laughter), which really concerned them. They said, "Ma'am, ma'am, shall we call a doctor?" That just made it worse (Sound of wheezing). (Laughter)
Finally they got the chair up. They got me up. I sat down in the middle (Laughter) and that was when I realized this waiting area was stone silent. (Laughter) More than 100 people were saying to themselves, "That's the funniest thing I've ever seen," but they dare not laugh. (Laughter) So, they're looking around the room; they're looking in the newspaper (Laughing); they're looking anywhere but at me.
I, on the other hand, I could not stop laughing. (Laughter) Have you ever gotten really tickled in a quiet place? (Laughter) During communion (Laughter) it's very quiet and you see something nobody else sees and you get tickled. And the problem is, noisy inside, quiet outside is a very bad combination. (Laughter) It comes out your ears, your nose (Laughter). I'm sitting there, trying to get my mind off the visual, because I could see how I must have looked--big woman in a black coat, flying through the air without a broom. I mean, what a picture! (Laughter)
Finally, I flipped out my compact to see if my lips had survived this unscheduled flight. (Laughter) And looking in the mirror I saw behind me another big beautiful woman who looked like she'd swallowed a cat. I mean, she was so ready to laugh. I sized her up as a sister, immediately gave her the elbow and said, "I'm just glad I didn't flip that little woman up in the air." (Laughter) Now this was truly a happy day for me; it was! If this had happened to me when I was 20, I would've been so mortified, I would never have flown through Indianapolis again, couldn't have told my best friend. But now that I'm well over 40, even flying through the air, I thought, "Hey, this'll make a great story." (Laughter) You see, one of the joys of maturing—and there are lots of joys of maturing—is that you ought to be able to laugh more and God gives you so much more to work with. (Laughter) Oh, He really does.
Now, can you imagine, as a speaker and a writer, how incredibly blessed I am to be with you and to have this one opportunity to encourage you? And I'm thinking, "What would be the right message for the wonderful Focus people?" And you know what I decided? I think maybe that you, like me, like all of us in America, well, I think the church just needs to laugh more, because I sit on the platform and I look out at congregations. I bet you see this, too. "The joy of the Lord is my strength (Laughter) (Sigh) the joy of the Lord …" (Laughter) Bless their hearts. Come on, if we're gonna say we have the joy, joy, joy down in our hearts, why don't we move it up about 12 inches and get it on our face? (Applause)
You see, joy doesn't mean that nothing ever goes wrong; joy means you have an answer and you don't lose your joy even on the days when the fun leaks out. And the fun does sometimes leak out, but the joy can be present. I'm on a mission to help the church laugh more. And people say one of three things: "Oh, I don't have time. (Laughter) I don't have time for that." Can I ask a question? Is chapel mandatory? Do people have to come? Good. That means that the people who wouldn't have come because they said, "Oh, she's just gonna be funny," are stuck here. I love that. (Laughter) I love that.
Now, we all carry burdens from time to time, but do you know some people kind of make a career out of that? Do you know who I might be talking about? Don't point at them, but you know (Laughter) who I might be talking about. We get a backpack of stuff going that we aren't willing to lay down.
We somehow misinterpreted the Scripture that says we're to carry the cross of Christ and we do it all. "I'll just carry it all myself. I'll just carry it; you just … ooh." And I'll say to this dear soul, "Look, why don't you put your backpack down just for an hour? Just 30 minutes, put your backpack down. We'll help you get it back on—all those hurts, all those disappointments, all those times somebody hurt you."
And you know, we don't want to take the stuff out. We check on it. We unzip it. (Sound of bop) There's that hateful thing she said to me in 1973. It's still in there (Laughter)," you know. As if somehow this is our burden to bear and I don't think so. I think the Scripture tells us to cast our cares at His feet.
And so, I would encourage you, if you've come in with a backpack today--and we all have those times--just throw it at the foot of the cross, because that's the only place you can put it where something incredible, miraculous might happen. He is the only One who can get in there and clean that stuff out for you. And after you've laughed, it so strengthens you. When you go back to pick it up, it'll be lighter. You'll be stronger; it'll be emptier. Or if you're like me and you're over 40, you won't remember where you left it, anyway. (Laughter) In which case, just dance out the door and forget the thing, you know? We'll clean it up for you; we'll throw it away.
But many times, we feel like we have to carry this burden and the bad news is, if you've got on a backpack that's so heavy, you can't laugh, because your diaphragm can't even go up and down. Like "Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh." (Laughter) So, you got to shake it off if only for this half hour. Oh, it's so good for you.
You know, a lot of times things happen and we turn to somebody and say, "Well, someday we'll laugh about this." I say, "Why wait?" (Laughter) If you see the humor potential, dive in, dear ones, go for it (Laughter); go for it.
John: You're listening to Liz Curtis Higgs on today's "Focus on the Family" and there's more laughter to come. Let me just say that you can get a CD of this program with extra content, when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459. Or get the instant download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's return now to Liz Curtis Higgs on today's "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Liz: And then the third reason, when I tell people they need to laugh more, they say, "Oh, but Lizzie, I don't have your sense of humor." Well, lucky you. (Laughter) I see humor everywhere I go. It like jumps in front of me. Driving through eastern Kentucky--a very rural part of my state-- came to a small town, one fast-food restaurant. This was not McDonald's; this was Skeeter's: Home of the Big Biscuit. (Laughter) Skeeter's had a big hand-lettered sign out front that said with no punctuation, "Drive through 50-item salad bar." (Laughter) Now that's not what they meant. They meant they had a drive through and they had a salad bar. But it said a drive through 50-item …
I'm imagining a family of four all leaning out of their Suburban (Laughter), trying to keep the croutons from blowing off. I mean (Laughter), I'd say a drive-through salad bar is an idea whose time has not come. (Laughter)
Going through western Kentucky, we got a new toll road. I got onto the toll road; I got my little toll ticket and I came to the first exit. Here's a sign, professionally painted by our Department of Transportation: "Do not exit without exact change." (Sound of surprise) (Laughter) Boy, that doesn't give you many choices, does it? (Laughter) I'm wondering, "Why didn't they put the sign out before I got on, 'cause what am I gonna do now?" (Laughter) See, there've been people driving this road for weeks! (Laughter) They're hoping to pick up a hitchhiker with the exact change. (Laughter)
Driving through Manhattan, Kansas, here's a sign in the window of the Burger King: "Wanted: Part-time Adult." (Laughter) I'm thinking, "Hey, who wants to sign up for this? Can I sign you up? (Laughter) Isn't this great? We're feeling mature, we go to work; feeling child-like, we stay home, because, hey, (Laughter) they only need a part-time adult--right up my alley."
Hotels always have odd little things. You step into the shower. Over the shower head, it says—little sign—"Place Curtain in Tub." I'm thinking, "Boy, this is a lot of trouble, but okay!" (Laughter) So, I take down all the curtains and stretch them out in the tub. (Laughter) You'd think they'd have people to handle this professionally, wouldn't you? Yeah. (Laughter) See, there's so much humor out there and ... and we miss it.
Flying home today, I'll go through the Cincinnati airport and it is the only airport in America that has a very unusual sign in the restroom. Now all the airports in America have automatic sensors on the sinks. You walk up, right and whoosh, the water comes out. Well, I'm there all soaped up and ready to go and I watch this gal next to me, obviously not a frequent flyer. Because she is staring at the sink, looking for the faucet handles. Then she begins to will the water to come on. (Laughter) Then she sees a little silver button. She starts working that thing. Fump, fump! And the soap dispenser is dropping little pink plops on the floor--plop, plop. I said, "Oh, bless you heart, let me help you with this. It's so easy. Let's step back together, all right? We're ready. We're gonna step up ... nothing happened. Oh! Moved down a couple, let's try again. So, we step back, we step up--nothing happened.
Then I found the sign--a tiny little sign made like with a label maker--black clothing will not activate faucet. Oh! (Laughter) Well, there I stood in a solid black dress, a solid black raincoat. I had one gold button to work with. (Laughter) Excuse me ma'am. Just trying to activate your faucet here, okay? Just give me a second. (Laughter)
Conrad Lawrence says, "Heartily laughing together at the same thing forms an immediate bond, which is why I love what I do. Does it show that I love what I do? Do you understand, this is all that I do? (Laughter) I talk and eat, what a gig! You know (Laughter), I mean, look. (Laughter) A little blessing.
Oh! I love to encourage the Body of Christ to laugh, because there is no greater way to pull a ministry together, to pull a church together or to pull a family together than to have humor as part of the glue that holds it all together. You know what my greatest delight is when I speak? Watching you, 'cause you do not all laugh the same way. Some of you've had a good time this morning, but you haven't made a sound, you've just given me great shoulders. (Laughter)
Some of you are shakers and that's good. And other people don't move anything, but they make funny little noises, ee-ee, ee-ee. (Laughter) Those are the squeakers. So, we got shakers; we got squeakers. We got leakers. Some of you when you laugh, you just leak. It just springs out and you just have to always be goin' with the Kleenex. We shake, we leak, we squeak, we snort. (Laughter) Unless I'm greatly mistaken, I heard a snort in this vicinity. I'm not entirely sure, but somewhere right around here. Don't point. I see you pointing. Don't point. (Laughter) But you're right; he has great snort potential down there, I agree. (Laughter)
And I know about that one. You know, can I tell you a little secret. You know how some people smack the table when they laugh. That is a snorter tryin' to cover up (Sounds of snort, snort, snort), okay, just so (Laughter) you'll know, just so you'll know what's goin' on.
Well, you know, it's very interesting. After all these years—14 years of speaking—I have learned a couple of things. And one is, that you don't always know what's goin' on, in someone's inside judging by their outside. I remember speaking once to an audience, [a] wonderfully responsive group just like you, but there was one gal, right in the front who absolutely was not with the program. Do you know what I'm talkin' about? She didn't laugh; she didn't squeak, snort, nothing' nothing happened, just sat there. And of course, if any of you present or teach, you know what this does to you. You're looking at 'em thinkin', "Oh, my word, I'm bombing. What's happening? This is terrible. It's not funny. Everybody else is laughing, but she's not laughing."
But she's the first person who came up to me at the end and said, "That was the funniest presentation I have ever heard." (Laughter) Who knew? (Laughter) You know what I wanted to say to her? "Tell your face! (Laughter) It has no idea that you're havin' a good time." (Laughter) But then I get women at the whole other end of the spectrum who come up and say, "My mascara's gone; my stomach hurts; I wet my pants. Thank you so much." (Laughter) So, I'll take anything in that range; it all works for me. (Laughter)
I am guessing that most of the time at your chapels at Focus, you have ... you have deep speakers, don't you? (Laughter) Yeah. A lot of times I'm on the platform with deep speakers. In fact, almost always, if there's two of us, she's the deep one and you know how intimidating that is for me? It really is. I sit out there and here's this incredible woman of God, who speaks and the audience hangs on every word. Wow! And they write down every word she says. I notice most of you are not writing down (Laughter) and oh, it gets so intimidating. You're gonna get a pen out for me now, aren't you, sweet man? (Laughter)
But you know, some of you who are funny like me, you know what I'm talkin' about. You feel like everybody kinda keeps you as a mascot, but they don't really take you seriously, you know. So, I thought, well, I'm gonna pray for deep. The Scripture tells us you have to ask if you want something, so I began to pray, "Lord, I want to be deep. Please make me deep (Weeping)." He said, "Lizzie, you're forgettin' the rest of the song, "Deep and ... wide. (Laughter) Deep and wide." You be wide, okay? But I know He doesn't just mean the width of my hips.
So, humor is wide. Humor is a hug. Humor is like grace. It really is one size fits all. And so, I've come to accept that part of my ministry in the church is really to help us look like we mean it when we say, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." If you asked me to sign your Bible, it would be at Proverbs 31:25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future." (Applause)
Strength in the Hebrew means, "A mighty fortress, powerful stronghold," like the good Lutheran hymn (singing), "A mighty fortress is our God." But see, my problem is, I run out on my own strength sometimes. Do you ever do that? Oh, I get in so much trouble. But strength, you see, is a problem for some of us. We're so strong, we're like a steamroller. We come in (whoo). And then we say, "Oh, wow! Look at all the flat people. (Laughter) They were standing up a minute ago; what happened to them?" (Laughter) You know? Well, I happened to them and then you gotta go back and fluff them all up. You know what I'm talking about? (Laughter) "Oh, I'm really sorry I've ... " (Laughter)
So, the strength has to be tempered with the dignity in the Hebrew. Honor, majesty, splendor and beauty—that's of God, not of me. "His strength and His dignity are her clothing." It's the first thing you see about her is God. Would that not be dressed for success? And when you're dressed right like that, the Scripture says we who've been baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. Well, no wonder you can smile at the future. We don't have to be fearful. And the smile in the Hebrew means, "Laugh, make merry, celebrate, hoot!" Okay, the hoot is a stretch for the Hebrew, but … (Laughter)
But the idea is that it's a real laugh. I believe when we smile at the future, when we laugh at the days to come, as it says in the NIV, we honor the Lord, Who fills us with joy. He says, "I want you to know the fullness of My joy." And I believe when we are a celebrating church, well, I think people will be drawn in. Laughter is a magnet. People go by; they hear laughter going on, they're like, "Let me in; let me in. What's goin' on in there?" "Why this'd be the joy of the Lord. Come in to find out what we really mean."
John: With that encouragement to lighten up, we'll come to the end of our presentation today from Liz Curtis Higgs on "Focus on the Family."
Jim: John, I really appreciate that joyful perspective from Liz. She is such an encourager and you know what? It's neat to see how the Lord has brought her from her days as a party animal and disc jockey, working at that radio station, to the author of best-selling books and Bible studies. What a difference Jesus has made in Liz's life.
And you know what, John? As we end today, let me read a comment we received that, you know, ironically loosely relates to Liz's former career as an FM disc jockey. This listener wrote in, "During my morning commute, I used to listen to my favorite shock jock, because he made me laugh. But I felt like God wanted me to listen to something else. One day I switched stations and there you were. I was fascinated. I knew "Focus on the Family" was where God wanted me to invest my time. And I've tuned in every day for three months now. I love your guests. I love your topics and when I leave my car and walk into work, I feel like a better person. I've told many friends about your program and they love it, too. Thanks, Focus for changing my life for the better."
John: Well, and I'm so glad that we can provide programs like this, this one in particular, of course, with Liz, which did bring laughter of a different note, that drew that listener in.
Jim: It's so true, John. Folks, if you love what we're doin' here, please tell a friend just like this gentleman did. Tell them to listen, because I think what we talk about each and every day will help people in their marriages, in their families. And you know what? We have apps for both Android and Apple devices. That makes me sound like techie, doesn't it?
John: You know so much about it.
Jim: And (Laughing) it really allows you to listen at any time. So, we're glad you're listening to these programs. But we also need your financial support. You know, we're a non-profit ministry. That means we depend on listeners like you to help us. And times have been tough. We've gotta be able to pay for the radio programs we've produced, for the staff who takes care of the help center, where people call in and e-mail us, asking for help and so much more. So, please help us help others. Give generously when you get in touch with Focus on the Family.
John: It really is very easy to partner with us and to make a difference, a quick phone call to 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you can donate at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . You can also drop a check in the mail, our address, 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80920. And as a way of saying thank you for your generous gift of any amount, we'll send a copy of this message from Liz Curtis Higgs with extra content, so you can listen again and laugh again or perhaps share it with a friend who needs a little bit of levity in their life.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening in. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we once again, offer trusted advice and encouragement to help you and your family thrive.
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Liz Curtis HiggsView Bio
Liz Curtis Higgs is a popular public speaker who has addressed audiences around the world. She is also a best-selling author of more than two dozen books; her nonfiction books include the Bad Girls of the Bible series, and she has written several contemporary and historical novels. Liz and her husband, Bill, reside in Kentucky and have two grown children.