Monday, October 12, 2009

The Real Good Humor Man, by Don Gordoni

The first of our family's goals is to have fun together. That may not sound too spiritual but before you get all high brow and skip on to the next article, please hear me out. One of my best friends, Richard, is a wryly witted, storm chasing meteorologist who is married to a free spirited, adventurer named Paula. Paula's parting words are usually "have fun" to which Richard sometimes replies "oh, yeah, it's all about having fun." Yes, Dr. Richard there is more to life than fun but there is a wonderful proverb that says "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). In fact my wife proposed that we adopt that Bible verse as our household motto, she even painted it over the mantle of the home we were in at the time. By the way, under the cool austere and scientific shell that Richard wears, lurks the mischievous grin of a very fun loving and funny fellow.

With all that is dark in the world today and the certainty of things growing darker in the end times, wholesome fun is of great value and is one of the distinguishing marks of those who know that with Christ all things will one day be made right. My wife and I are both youngest children and one of the common laments that we hear from the first born crowd is how strict and distracted their parents were and how they loosened the reigns for their younger siblings. In essence they say things like "you youngest kids got away with !"

My parents loved to laughed and were always looking for the up side and it wasn't because we were living on easy street. My mom had crossed eyes until she could afford to pay for surgery at age 19, my father went blind, lost his career, his first wife, and his life savings and suffered from recurring brain tumors, surgeries and hospital stays. However, through all their trials they both kept smiling and laughing. Prayer and trust that God would see them through showed real faith in difficult times. There is a creative movie called "Life is Beautiful." The movie features a loving Jewish father who keeps his young son hidden in a German concentration camp. This film is not for young children and falls short of speaking of God and Christ but it displays the power God has given us, to be able to have a positive attitude amidst extremely difficult circumstances. Another example is Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. She and her sister had amazing God-given courage in a concentration camp. Corrie's sister Betsy's positive attitude encouraged Corrie to persevere even after Betsy died.

It is important to distinguish between what is good-natured humor and what is fun at other's expense. Anything that creates shame or demoralizes or promotes hurtful stereotypes is not funny to God. Certain types of silly, foolish behavior are not becoming in men, women or teenagers. Discerning when humor is appropriate is a key part of maturity. The best forms of merriment are usually associated with celebrating achievements. The Bible contains feasts to be observed as a recognition that all true success comes "down from the Father" (James 1:17) and is meant to be a refreshing time of merriment. The sentiment is "wow, isn't God good?" It is as though God says, "you've done well, now sit down and enjoy some of the fruit of your labor." With ten children, we don't always have the means to accept every party invitation but we try to make it a priority to be there for the most significant events whenever possible. What makes an event significant varies depending on the person involved. Granted, some events like a wedding for instance are always significant but we need to listen very carefully to our loved ones to discern what it is that they really want to celebrate. I have one son who at this point, is much more interested in me observing his finely honed golf swing then almost anything else.

Okay, for those of you who are convinced that piety and laughter can never inhabit the same person, I have a few questions for you. Think about some of the Christians who have been the most influential in your life, directly or indirectly. For instance, D.L Moody and C.S. Lewis have influenced me indirectly through their writing (like I'm trying to influence you now). People I have known face to face have also influenced me directly. One such person was a little old lady named Evelyn Bell. Evelyn had polio when she was young and it left her with a great hump on her back. She never learned to drive and lived in a tiny house where she took in sewing jobs to earn her keep. In the winter her clothes had the odor that came from the fumes of a gas stove and she was the only that I knew who was shorter than me when I was twelve years old. Evelyn loved Jesus and people and more than her diminutive crippled body or the odd odor of her clothing or her poverty. I remember her broad smile and her warm hugs. Now that you have these people who have influenced you in your mind, how do you picture them? Is it their serious mood and furrowed brow that you reflect on? Granted you may think of them in some passionate state performing some great feat but when you think of the their faces do you see their smile? When you hear them speak in your mind, is there a lilt and hopefulness in their tone? For me, when I think of D.L. Moody I picture him playing with children, spinning around in circles with his forehead on the end of a baseball bat so that he can gather a group of children and tell them about Jesus. When I think of C.S. Lewis, I think of funny illustrations woven into deep spiritual truths such as his famous proposition that there are only three ways to look at Jesus: Lord, liar, or lunatic. He quips that if Jesus is not God but only thinks He is, then he is like a man saying that he is a poached egg. If that doesn't strike you as funny then your funny bone is broken.

Harry Burt had a heart for people, a knack for candy making, an innovative way to keep your hands clean while eating ice cream, and a resourceful way of getting his product to the people. This entrepreneur who we have to thank for ice cream on a stick, also had strict standards for those who worked for him. Here's what one history book had to say about his army of Good Humor men:
Burt hired and intensively trained men who lived up to the image the Good Humor Ice Cream Company wanted to portray. Clean, white uniforms and a cheery manner became trademarks of the Good Humor Man. The qualifications for becoming a Good Humor Man included the ability to be friendly with children and look after their safety. Burt was so successful in molding the image of the Good Humor Man that by the 1950s such virtues as enthusiasm, dedication, friendliness, dependability, and honesty had come to be associated with his ice cream company. Newspaper reports of the local Good Humor Man rushing a baby to a hospital for treatment and breaking up a counterfeit money operation in Long Island, New York, only added to the image.
- Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 14. St. James Press, 1996.

I was thinking about the real Good Humor man, He is the God Humored Man and when I get to see Him face to face, I will be dressed in white (Revelation 3:5). Like Harry Burt He has very high standards for those who follow Him and He commissioned His people to take to the streets dispensing truly satisfying refreshment. Just as the Good Humor men held children in high regard and watched over them, we too are expected to hold them in high regard (Matthew 19:14) and be on the alert against those who would harm them (Mark 9:42).

Nehemiah 8:10 says "Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." The people had been weeping because Nehemiah had been reading God's law and it was evident that they had been neglecting it but afterward they rejoiced because they "understood" what had been read to them (Nehemiah 8:12). Yes, we live in sober times too with evidence all around us that God's law has been neglected even among His people, but when we realize the power of Christ and the hope that we have in Him there is great cause to rejoice! A realization that allows us to: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

It seems only right to conclude an article like this one with a joke: why did the chicken cross the playground? (drum roll please) To get to the other slide.

If you have a favorite joke or story, please email me at or make a comment on my family blog at


  1. Our church's motto is: to honor God, build health relationships and have a blast!