Lessons and Laughs From A Typo

by Tom Wacaster

Some years ago I was corresponding with someone about the changed life of Saul of Tarsus. The point I was attempting to make was that the conversion of Saul is evidence of the divine origin of the gospel. In my correspondence I wrote something that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Originally the sentence read as follows: “Converted in early adulthood, this enemy of the cross because the most ardent supporter and defender of Christianity.” Of course one immediately realized that the word “because” simply did not fit into the sentence, and the thought was quite incoherent; in fact, it just didn’t make any sense at all. The word “because” should have been “became.”

Occasionally a typo can have serious consequences. The change of one single letter can change a positive statement into one that is negative. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” can take on a completely different meaning if we change just one letter: “Thou shalt now commit adultery.” Church bulletins are known for typos that raise an eyebrow now and then: “Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.” Even classified ads can take on a whole new meaning with a small typo: “Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.” Or: “This is the model home for your future. It was panned by Better Homes and Gardens.” I read the following online; whether true or not, it demonstrates the sobering reality of typo errors: “The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.” Another read: “The Senior Choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.” Well, so much for the lighter side of typographical errors.

Now let’s go back to the typo referenced above. In order to communicate the point I was trying to make, I had to replace the word “because” with “became.” In so doing, not only did the sentence make sense, it communicated the thought I wanted to make. Here are some lessons we might derive all such typographical errors.

First, communication is only as good as the one who seeks to convey his thought to the mind of another. Occasionally a person might use “double talk” to intentionally confuse a person so as not to communicate. Politicians seem to be good at that. Of course it is not limited to politicians, or any single class of individuals for that matter.  Here are a couple of examples of double talk: “A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him. “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” This one is credited to the late Winston Churchill: “The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.” We have some wolves that have entered into the body of Christ who are good at double talk. Rather than openly tell you what they actually believe, they attempt to hide their true intentions with so much “double-talk.” I think it was the late G.K. Wallace who was fond of saying that he could explain his position on any issue on a postcard and still have room for the address. Simplicity, straightforwardness, and singleness of heart are essential elements to successful and open communication.

Second, when once you realize you have “miscommunicated” own up to your mistake and correct the problem. My typo did not hurt anyone; it may have confused my reader, but I do not think any lasting damage was done to our friendship as a result of a misplaced or misused word. That is not always the case. When it turns out that you have misrepresented the truth, take a minute and correct your mistake, apologize for any harm you may have inflicted on another, and carefully communicate what you intended in the first place.

Third, consider the power of one word, and even a few letters within a particular word. Let’s go back to my typo for a closing thought. “Because” was replaced with “became.” But if we reduce the correction to its basic element, the three letters “use” were replaced with “me.”   One of the great failures of many a faltering saint has been the attitude that God “use others.”  “Use others to teach the lost.”  “Use others to help the orphans and widows.”  “Use others to knock doors.” The list is endless; the consequences are devastating.  When we combine the incorrect letters from my typo with the correct letters, we get the submissive plea, “Use me.”  Those two words sum up the attitude that all of us should have when it comes to the work of the church.

While typos often leave a sentence incoherent, or provide a good laugh now and then, typographical errors can sometimes teach a hidden lesson; and even our mistakes can be teachers in disguise.

Do you remember: When it was safe to walk the streets, at night, without fear of being mugged or assaulted, when you could leave your house unlocked, and when a “Club” was something you carried with you when you went walking to beat off the dogs? Can you remember when families usually remained in tact, divorce was shameful, and single parent families were almost unheard of? Can you recall when “gay” meant happy, and “rap” was something someone did on your front door when they came calling? Or when the problems we faced in schools were chewing gum, getting out of line, or skipping classes? If you do, then likely you can remember when each school day was begun with a devotional and prayer, piped into each class room via the intercom, when neighbors talked to each other over the fence. when two week gospel meetings were common and cottage classes were conducted on a regular basis. When church attendance on Sunday morning AND evening were the norm, when we discussed religion with our fellow employees, and encouraged an open examination of one’s belief in the light of the Bible, when mission work was increasing each year, when preachers gave a “thus saith the Lord” for all that we do in religion, and wen the church was united, standing upon the Bible, and preaching and teaching the same. Do you recon there is any correlation between all of these things?

Our visitation team effort will kick a week from this Sunday (September 11). Anthony Campbell has agreed to help me make assignments, keep records, and fill out and receive cards. This will take some of the burden off me and share the load. I hope to have names assigned to team #1 and #2 by a week from today, with the list out either next Wednesday evening or early Sunday morning the 11th. Then, on the evening of September 11th, team #1 will meet to pick up their assignments. Thanks for your help in this vital work.

The following quotes from little children demonstrate why it is that we love children and adore their innocence and frankness when it comes to communication:

Why Love Happens Between Two People:  “No one knows for sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell.  That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular” (Mae, age 9).

Personal Qualities Needed For Love: “One of you should know how to write a check because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills” (Ava, age 8).

Reflections On The Nature of Love: “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too” (Greg, age 8).

What Exactly Is Marriage?:  “Marriage is when you get to keep your girlfriend and don’t have to give her back to her parents” (Eric, age 6).

How To Make Your Marriage Endure: “Be a good kisser.  It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash” (Dave, age 8).

God Will Keep Thy Soul

by Tom Wacaster

In times of uncertainty the child of God has a refuge in his heavenly Father.  Indeed, the promises that God gives to His children are so abundant that the saint could read one promise a day for the entire year and not have touched the hem of the garment.  Psalm 121:7 contains just such a promise:

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

For those of us who grew up in the days of the cold war between the two super powers of the world, morning “atom bomb drills” were almost a daily occurrence. Who among us can forget the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” also known as the “October Crisis of 1962”? That crisis was a 13 day stand off between the United States and Soviet Russia. It was the closest that the ‘cold war’ came to a full scale nuclear war. I was barely 15 years of age then, and I can still remember those drills where we would go into the hallway of our local school, and face the walls and put our hands over our heads. I sometimes wondered what good that would do if a nuclear missile actually struck the DFW area.

I am now rapidly approaching the completion of seven full decades upon this planet. I’m not suggesting that sixty-nine years has somehow made me wiser than any of you who might be older, or more experienced in life. I’m just saying that I have been blessed to live and serve my Lord for that extended period of time. One thing I have learned is that the uncertainties of the early to mid 1960’s have not diminished; they have only changed form. Things are just as perilous today as they were in those innocent years of the 50’s and 60’s. Life remains uncertain, riches take wings, and ‘earthly wisdom’ continues to prove itself to be devilish and from beneath. Random killings remain a mystery, whether it be so-called terrorists, or crazed killers like Charles Manson. We may be exposed to more violence, and that may play a part in making it seem like there is a greater quantity of killings and that the chances of our becoming a victim of such violence is greater. I scarce can browse the internet, or read the Star Telegram without being exposed to yet another terrorist act of insanity; for who in their right mind would strap explosives to themselves, and then detonate their homemade bomb in the midst of a crowded market place? After all, what do they accomplish? They don’t live long enough to “enjoy” (if I dare use that word) the act of misled devotion to a false religion. In fact, precisely the opposite occurs. The very moment they take their own life and the lives of dozens of others, they wake up in eternity with the full realization that they have made a horrible miscalculation. And, every time we hear of some mass killing, the pundits and prognosticators are seeking “clues” as to what motivated the killings.  Such random killings are designed to generate fear in the minds of society. Were it not for the fact that God has promised to watch over His children, the crazed mad men of our unstable society might be successful in producing that fear even in the hearts of God’s children.

In contrast, consider the promise set forth by the Psalmist. “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil.” To a certain degree God does protect us and shield us from the woes of this world, if for no other reason than the fact that seeds of godliness keep us aloof from the troubles that plague most men. I know of no Christian who has been the victim of random shootings. I am not saying no Christian has ever fallen prey to senseless killings; I am just saying I know of none. But the promise that “the Lord shall preserve thee from all evil” finds its fullest application when it comes to preservation of the soul. Regardless of what might happen in this world, the Christian has his hope set on what happens after this life.  While God is concerned about our well being this side of eternity, He is more concerned about the soul, and has promised to keep us from all evil. When traveling, when going home and coming back, everywhere and at all times, God will watch over us. What great comfort there is for the troubled soul in knowing that God cares for us. As one poet put it:

In foreign realms, and lands remote,
Supported by thy care,
Through burning climes they pass unhurt,
And breath in tainted air.

When by the dreadful tempest borne,
High on the broken wave,
They know thou art not slow to hear,
Nor impotent to save.

The storm is laid - the winds retire,
Obedient to thy will;
The seas that roar at thy command,
At thy command is still.

In midst of dangers, fears, and death,
Thy goodness we’ll adore;
We’ll praise thee for thy mercies past,
And humbly hope for more.

Our life, while thou preserv’st that life,
Thy sacrifice shall be;
And death, when death shall be our lot,
Shall join our souls to thee” 

There is no doubt that troublesome times will remain as long as the earth remains; that is just part of life, and part of curse of sin and evil. But let come what may, the child of God rests in the promise that “God will keep thy soul.” 

Have you ever thought about the implications of the following words from Jesus: If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free (John 8:31-32). These words suggest the availability of truth; the necessity of truth; the blessings of truth. But in spite of these words and numerous truths implied thereby, there are untold thousands, yea millions, who say it makes little difference what you do in religion so long as you are sincere. What makes a man free?  The TRUTH! Let us pursue this a little further.   One man says, One church is as good as another. Another says, There is only one body, one church, and one must be a member of THAT church in order to be saved. Now friends, only ONE of those statements can lay claim to being true. They contradict each other, so BOTH cannot be true. I ask you again, what makes a man free?  Is it the false statement of the two, or the true statement of the two that will provide freedom from sin?  To say it makes no difference is to lay as much value on a lie as on the truth. Since the TRUE statement is the only one that can make you free, then it is mandatory that we determine which one is true!