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A mother was having a difficult time with her young son named Johnny.

It seemed that he had gotten into the habit of telling tall tales to everyone he met. Johnny would make up grand stories about monsters in the basement, mice that would talk to him while he watched TV in the den and a magic genie that lived in his bedroom.

The mother met with the school counselor, spoke to her parents, and just about anybody who would listen to her dilemma. She finally decided to ask her pastor, and see if he would talk to little Johnny, and explain to him that making up these wild stories was hurting him and how nobody would ever believe him if he wouldn’t tell the truth.

The pastor told the mother to bring little Johnny into his office the next day after school, and he would try to impress upon him the importance of telling the truth to his family and friends.

The next day, the preacher read some articles that dealt with children with vivid imaginations and came up with a plan. He would use reverse psychology in dealing with little Johnny.

He thought that if he came up with a really crazy story that was so unbelievable, little Johnny could see for himself how ridiculous he was looking in front of his friends. Before the mother and son arrived at his study, the pastor opened a window, took books from the shelves and placed them all in the floor, turned over his desk, and turned his trash can upside down, spilling garbage onto the floor.

When little Johnny and his mother arrived, they were shocked at what they saw.

The mother asked, “What happened?” and the pastor responded, “While I was studying, a big polar bear climbed in through the window and was about to eat me when a little, spotted Chihuahua dog jumped through the window and landed on the back of the polar bear. A big fight took place, but the Chihuahua whipped the polar bear and pulled the polar bear back out of the window!”

Then the pastor turned to the little boy and said, “Johnny, do you believe the story I just told you?” Little Johnny pumped his fist in the air and said: “Believe it? Why preacher that little Chihuahua is my dog.”

I guess that reverse psychology is not always the best approach to dealing with certain problems. However, what makes a tall tale a tall tale? Is it because there is something in the story that is hard to believe or difficult to accept? Or is a tall tale harmful because some truth might be mingled in with a great deal of fiction? I guess a tall tale is dangerous when we are willing to believe in fantasy rather than live with truth.

John 4:23-24 says, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NAS).

The Bible tells us that truth is necessary for worship. We have to be honest with God before he considers our prayers, sermons, offerings, etc., true worship.

Too many times we ask people, “Where do you go to church?” as if that is the paramount question. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we are truthful with God when we stand before him. Let me ask you one more question: “Are you telling God tale tales when you go to church? Or tall tales when you don’t?”

God knows the truth about all of us, and he wants us to know it and be honest with him about it. Remember, don’t give in to sin. Think about it.

Vince Hefner is pastor of First Baptist Church in Cherryville.

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