Tag Archives: misunderstanding

The Sins You Never Committed

Story of the Day for Friday July 6, 2012 

The Sins You Never Committed

Then the Lord said to Moses . . . “Choose some towns to be your cities of refuge.” 

                                       Numbers 35:11

Chuck Swindoll tells the story about a Texas law firm. Every Thanksgiving the boss would set turkeys on the walnut table in the board room. Every attorney in the law firm stood around the table, and in turn, would pick up a turkey, say how grateful they were to work at the law firm, and how grateful they were for the turkey this Thanksgiving season.

But Swindoll explains how one young attorney has no use for a turkey. Besides having no idea how to cook one, he was single and didn’t need a whole turkey.

His co-workers understood this, so one year they replaced his turkey with one made out of paper mâché and weighted to make it feel like a real turkey.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the young attorney picked up his bird, announced how grateful he was to work at the firm, how thankful he was for his turkey, and went home.

He caught a bus and, with the large turkey on his lap, wondered what he was going to do with it. Just then a discouraged-looking man boarded the bus and sat next to him. The attorney learned the man had a large family but was out of work. He had spent the day job-hunting with no success.

The attorney saw his opportunity to do a good deed; he would give the man his turkey. But he didn’t want the man to feel like a beggar, so he asked him, “How much money do you have?”

He had less than three dollars.

The attorney said, “I’d like to sell you this turkey.”

The man was moved — thrilled that he could bring home a turkey for Thanksgiving. When the man got off the bus he waved to the attorney. “God bless you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll never forget you.”

Can you picture the man bursting through the front door? “Kids, you’ll never believe what a nice man I met today! Come here, look what I have.”

On Monday morning, the young attorney’s co-workers were dying to find out about his turkey.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? And it feels awful.

When we do something wrong, it’s often easier to find forgiveness than when we hurt someone unintentionally and have no way to apologize. How do you find forgiveness for something you don’t really believe was wrong?

In the days of Moses, God told him to set up refuge cities for accidental sins. If you killed someone unintentionally, you could flee to a refuge city and be ensured safety until justice was done.

Those refuge cities are a small picture of who God is for us. “O Lord,” Isaiah says, “. . . you have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in distress.”

When we’re feeling bad, God’s refuge is a safe place to be. He can provide healing — even for the sins you never committed.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

We Stand on Cars and Freeze

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 26, 2012

We Stand on Cars and Freeze

                                      I heard it, but I did not understand. 

                                                                               Daniel 12:8


When my wife was a teenager she worked at the Spotted Bear Guest Ranch. One day, as they prepared potatoes, Connie, the other cook asked her: “What did you call these?”

“Hog rotten potatoes.”

For years, Darla heard others talk about hog rotten potatoes, but never connected them with the written words: au gratin potatoes.


When we listen to music our minds struggle to make sense of lyrics that we can’t quite understand. One woman heard the Rolling Stones’ lyrics: “I’ll never be your beast of burden” as “I’ll never leave your pizza burnin’.”  When the Beatles recorded Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, John Lennon sang: “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” Some, however, heard it as, “The girl with colitis goes by.”

Because of their perennial popularity, Christmas songs are inevitably prone to misinterpretation. One kid was caught singing, “Dashing through the snow, with one horse, soap, and sleigh,” and ended the verse with, “What fun it is to write and sing, a slaying song with knives.”


As a child, Sylvia Wright’s mother read poetry to her. She remembered a 17th-century ballad, “The Bonny Earl O’Moray.” She heard the end of the first stanza as:

They have slain the Earl O’Moray

And Lady Mondegreen.

Years later, she read the ballad and was surprised to learn the last line actually read: “And laid him on the green.”

Wright wrote about her mishearing of the words in a magazine article in 1954, and now “mondegreen” has been accepted in English dictionaries to define an error resulting from a mishearing of something said or sung.


The people in Jesus’ day loved to discuss Scripture. The give and take of civil, but spirited debate with those of opposing viewpoints was a healthy way to correct mondegreens and sand off the rough edges.

Access to various beliefs and ideas has exploded in our generation. Yet, the trend today is not to engage in discussion with those of opposing beliefs. Instead, we find religious and political groups huddling together and discussing their beliefs only with those who agree with them. The result has been an increase in misinformation and the growth of whacky ideas.


Unless you feel very insecure about your understanding of the Bible, discuss it with others — especially those who disagree with you.

It was only when the four-year-old Canadian, Ryan, began singing that his parents had the opportunity to correct his version of the national anthem. The last line says, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” rather than ” . . . we stand on cars and freeze.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Looking For Ping Pong Balls

Story of the Day for Saturday March 31, 2012

Looking For Ping Pong Balls

                                 And Paul replied, “I didn’t know, brothers, that he was the high priest.” 

                                           Acts 23:5


An elderly man, living just south of town, had an apple tree in his front yard which stood temptingly close to the road. The apple tree provided the man with far more fruit than he could use, so he generously allowed others to pick what they wanted.

One evening, a carload of youth pulled up in front of his house and raced over to the apple tree looking down in the grass. The old man instantly realized they were looking to see if any apples had fallen into the highway ditch — since any fruit falling on the right-of-way of the road was fair game.

The old man wanted the kids to know that they were more than welcome to come into his yard and pick all the apples they wanted, so he hollered from his porch, “Looking for some apples?”

One of the kids shouted back, “No, we’re looking for ping-pong balls!”

The old man looked at them with a hurt expression. Why did they have to respond to his generosity with such a sarcastic comment?


That same evening, I was busy orchestrating the annual scavenger hunt for our church’s youth group. I would hide objects all over town and hand each team a sheet of clues on how to find them. The kids would pile into cars and each team would try to find the most objects. Everyone had to be back in the church parking lot in an hour or they were disqualified. The group that found the most objects was declared the winner.

Just south of town was a large billboard and I hid one of the objects at its base and wrote clues about how to find it. The billboard stood by the side of the road — right next to an apple tree. And the objects I was hiding this year for the scavenger hunt were . . . ping-pong balls.


We can hurt others because we’re trying to hurt others. But how often have hurt feelings been the result of a misunderstanding?


When the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem his enemies recognized him and had him arrested. As he stood on trial before the court, he announced he had been dutiful to God, and for that comment the high priest ordered Paul to be struck in the mouth.

This infuriated Paul and he shouted some insulting things at the one who gave the order.

Those present were horrified. “How dare you revile God’s high priest!”

Immediately, Paul apologized. He didn’t know it was the high priest. True, he felt he had been wronged, but he knew the Bible taught you should never insult the your leaders.


Misunderstandings are, sad to say, unavoidable. Even looking for a ping-pong ball has the potential to cause hurt feelings. But they can be minimized when we learn to either apologize or forgive all hurts we cause or receive.

Even the disrespectful insults from snotty-nosed kids who try to steal our apples.

                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)