About the Skubula Happens shirts.

A little context for this post. Recently, I preached a sermon that referenced the Apostle Paul’s possible use of Greek profanity in the use of the Greek word “skubula.” Bible.org’s Greek lexicon translates that word as follows…

1. Dung, (Human) Excrement

(especially in the plural, as in Phil 3:8); or with a stronger emotive connotation (and the concomitant shock value)… sh*t

So, I joked about this in a sermon, saying if we lived in Ancient Rome the bumper stickers might read, “skubala happens.” The next week our fun-loving staff surprised me with this shirt, which I posted a picture of online…


While some people thought it was funny and wanted one, many others (awesome and good-hearted people, not angry-email complainers) lovingly and humbly reached out with concerns about the shirt…

  • Doesn’t the Bible command us not to “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth”?
  • Josh, you emphasize that with the Bible “context is king,” but doesn’t this throw out an incendiary part of the Bible without context?
  • Do we want children that we’re training not to speak coarsely wearing and explaining this shirt to their friends?

I honestly don’t have good answers to all of those questions and there are even differing opinions among our leadership, but I wanted to explain why I sometimes use language or humor like this in my preaching…


Even as I’m still on the fence about the shirt, here are a few reasons I sometimes say things like this in my preaching…

1) The Bible is not above using harsh language to, at times, shock people into hearing a message that must be heard. Paul tells people legalistically requiring circumcision for salvation to “go ahead and cut the whole thing off.” Isaiah castigates self-righteous Jews saying (and I’m not exaggerating) that their supposedly righteous deeds are like bloody tampons in God’s sight. Galatians says that if anyone is preaching to you another gospel, they can go to hell. God uses language to describe idolatry in Ezekiel that’s so graphic, I feel more comfortable just linking it HERE. An urgent message sometimes requires urgent language.

2) Faithful preachers should avoid two errors: 1) Shying away from language that matches the Bible’s intensity out of a people-pleasing fear of criticism, and 2) going too far and becoming coarse “shock jocks” for immature attention. I will make this observation: if you go too far, you’ll always get criticized, but nobody ever seems to get criticized for not going far enough.

3) We must, without sinning, become all things to all men in order to save some. Even as thousands were converted in his church, the great British preacher Charles Spurgeon was constantly accused of vulgarity in his preaching by churchgoers. Responding to these criticisms, he once said…

“I am perhaps vulgar, but it is not intentional, save that I MUST and WILL make the people listen. My firm conviction is that we have had quite enough polite preachers, and many require a change. God has owned me among the most degraded and off-casts. Let others serve their class; these are mine, and to them I must keep.”

I’m not just preaching to lifelong Christians who have grown up in the church. I’m simultaneously trying to preach to the HUNDREDS of unchurched drink-a-beer-and-watch-a-game guys in Bridge services every week right now.


In conclusion, I beg grace! I will get this wrong, but know that I will get it wrong with “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in my heart for men to be saved. If sometimes it frustrates you because it feels like I’m holding back and should speak more shockingly, maybe it’s because I’m trying to honor Christ with pure speech, different from the world’s. And if sometimes a word, phrase, or joke I use makes you cringe, maybe it’s because I’m communicating to a guy sitting next to you who doesn’t yet know God, and my heart is that I MUST and WILL make him listen.