"We shall not fail, and then some day, when children ask, 'What did you do to win this inheritance for us and to make our name so respected among men?' one will say, 'I was a fighter pilot,' another will say, 'I was in the Submarine Service,' another: 'I marched with the Eighth Army; a fourth will say, 'None of us could have lived without the convoys and the Merchant Seaman; and you in your turn will say, with equal pride and with equal right: 'We cut the coal.'"

At least the preacher got the last line right.

Now, I think I know what happened here. After all, I may have done something similar myself over the years. Some preacher in years past read that and liked it, but decided it needed something. It needs juicing up a tad.

I can recall somewhere sometime hearing someone quote Churchill's final line as "We were down in the pits with our faces to the wall, cutting the coal!" That flows a little better, although how in the world one decides to improve on Churchill's words is beyond me.

I come from a long line of coal miners. One of my brothers was a miner, my dad and all his brothers were miners, and their father and uncles before them labored in those dark, unsafe pits. I suppose that accounts for why I remembered the story in the first place. This is holy ground, so to speak, for me.

It would probably be a good thing for a minister to believe that someone in his congregation will know more about any subject than he does, if that would drive him to get his facts right and his story straight.

But even if they don't--even if he is preaching to a congregation of fifty souls in the backwoods of Louisiana's swamps or Alabama's hills, people who may not have read a newspaper all week or a book all year--even so, he still ought to be sure of his quotes and his stories and his numbers.

The pastor is dealing with two precious commodities when he stands in the pulpit: the precious Word of God and the fine China of people's lives.

Handle with care, faithful servant of God.

Because, Churchill aside, you and I really will stand before the King of Kings at judgment and give account.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mtUsed with permission.