Heart Improvement

You might recognize actor and comedian Jim Labriola from his recurring role on the hit TV show “Home Improvement.” These days Labriola makes his living as a Christian comedian, performing for people who specifically are looking for "clean entertainment." But in his bad old days, Labriola did stand up comedy the way it is expected from stand-up comedians— "injecting a few curse words here and there with a mixture of sexual innuendos added to the punch line."

And then he met Jesus. He was invited by his sister-in-law to a non-denominational church "where people raised their hands and were happy." He said of the preacher, "I never heard a guy talk so much about Jesus almost as if he knew him personally." He continued to go to the church, got to know some people and a few months later decided to give his life to Jesus. But when you give your life to Jesus, Jesus doesn't just leave you alone. Jesus takes us "Just As I Am," but He never leaves us this way. Labriola read from Ephesians 5:4, "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." He decided that this verse was speaking directly to him. "I can't just read the Bible and go up on stage and do the opposite." So he cleaned up his act… literally.

Today he performs for churches and Christian gatherings, but also in secular settings. He was surpsied how many people appreciated his “clean humor.” People come thank him for the option of taking their families to a comedy show “without the overlaying fear of listening to an uncomfortable joke while sitting next to your grandma.” His newest CD is entitled "Heart Improvement."

The problem with going to the doctor is that he doesn’t want to just fix whatever ache or pain we are complaining about that day. He also wants us to lose weight, get our blood pressure and cholesterol under control and a myriad of other things we just as soon he not mess with. And that is the way it is with the Great Physician. When we come to Him, he wants to change everything about us that is contrary to our spiritual health. We can’t compartmentalize our lives so that we have one set of values for work and career and entertainment and another one for church and family. Jesus wants us all, and that means that everything has to change. That’s not easy, but that is the deal.