SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. — Humor comes naturally to Martin Babb; it seems to run in his family.

Both of his parents (now deceased) had a great sense of humor, said Babb, associate pastor/education at Springfield (Tenn.) Baptist Church. “At their funerals there was more laughter than there was crying.”

Babb’s ability to laugh at most any situation, combined with his ability to make others laugh as well, spills over into his vocation. “Humor is a big part of my ministry,” he said, “because it is a big part of my personality.”

And Babb said his wife, Beverly, and two children, Meredith and David, all have a good sense of humor. As an elementary school music teacher, Beverly especially has to have a sense of humor just to survive each day, Babb said of his wife.

So, it’s a laughter matter that Babb has compiled 100 “lessons for life” in a new humor book, “When Did Caesar Become a Salad and Jeremiah a Bullfrog?” from Howard Publishing.

“Christians ought to be happy and ought to be able to laugh,” said Babb, citing Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine....” After all, he continued, “We have the ultimate answer. We know how the story ends.”

Most people don’t think of church as a “funny place,” but “I do,” Babb said, noting, “Humor has a healing effect on people.”

Though not an ordained minister, Babb often is asked to assist in funerals. “In every one I’ve done, I have been asked to be myself and to say something funny.”

During his 25-plus years of ministry, which includes experience in both education and youth ministry as well as service as a youth consultant with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Babb has written numerous articles for newsletters and other publications.

And almost every one contained elements of humor.

Most of the stories in his new book are humorous, Babb said, although a few are not. “They are just stories that needed to be told,” he said.

The publisher describes the book as “100 Clever, Funny, and Insightful Lessons for Life.”

Babb described most of the stories as two-thirds humor with one-third being a religious thought or truth that “ties it together” at the end.

Writing has become an extension of Babb’s ministry.

“I can do something different through writing. It’s another way I can minister,” said Babb, who aspired to be a journalist before God called him into the ministry.

Babb said the book fulfills a 20-year dream. And whether it sells a large number of copies or not doesn’t really matter to Babb. One phone call has already made it “successful” in his eyes: A woman he knows well whose mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease had to stop reading the book to her mother because she was laughing so hard.

“The measure of the book’s success will not be by sales but by the number of people who tell me they have been touched by the book,” said Babb, a native of Little Rock, Ark.

Babb is hopeful the book will be an encouragement to people. “We don’t encourage people enough,” he said. “It would make me feel good to know that one of my stories helped someone get through the day.”

Babb also hopes the book will be used as a tool to talk to someone about Jesus. “A person might not pick up an intellectual book, but he or she might read a 500-word story.” He said he can be “religious” in his stories and the reader “doesn’t know it’s going to be religious until it’s too late.”

“Humor,” he added, “relates to both the Christian and the non-Christian.”

Should the book do well, Babb already has enough stories for another book. Plus, he develops new ideas into stories continually. “I don’t think I will run out of material,” he said.


© 2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.