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<< A Wisdom Retreat with Stephen Davey

A Wisdom Retreat - September 23

  • 2019 Sep 23

Little White Lies

James 1:26

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.

In the summer of 1899, four Denver newspapers, including the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, published a story claiming that American business firms were planning to demolish the Great Wall of China and use the rubble as paving gravel in a series of new roads.  

Of course, there was no such plan—the Great Wall remains fairly intact to this day. So what happened? As it turns out, four reporters met by chance at Union Station, where they were hoping to catch the latest scoop from elsewhere coming in on one of the passenger trains. When no newsworthy items materialized, one reporter suggested that if they all published the same fictitious story, no one would be the wiser.

The group made their way back to the Oxford Hotel where they conspired to craft a tale that would be exciting, believable—and not easily verified. They determined that a story set in the Far East would be less likely to be unraveled by anyone close to home.

The Great Wall hoax was published the next day—reporting that a Mr. Frank C. Lewis of Chicago, stopped at the Oxford on his way to the West Coast to meet with Chinese representatives about the plan. The fabrication was soon published in other major newspapers.

But the joke didn't end there! Decades later, in 1939, Denver songwriter Harvey Wilber published an article claiming that the Denver news report had reached China, infuriating the Chinese people. Wilber said that the Chinese citizens were so outraged by the prospect of westerners demolishing their ancient wall that they rioted, setting off the Boxer Rebellion.

Wilber's source for this legend was a Methodist bishop who was speaking to a Denver church about the power of the printed word—and what may happen when an untruth is allowed to circulate. Yet there are no reports in China that suggest that news of the Denver story ever reached the country. Though the Denver Great Wall hoax made an excellent cautionary tale, the idea that it set off the rebellion in China was itself an urban legend.

Although every lie won't launch national concerns or international bloodshed, lies are at the heart of rebellions against God. It's little wonder that lying is considered ungodly, and treated harshly by our Lord. When you tell the truth, it's easier to live with the consequences. When you tell a lie, the consequences just might cost you more than you ever could have imagined.

Honesty is still the best policy . . . it's certainly the biblical practice to pursue.

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to reveal dishonesty in your heart—cutting corners at the office; padding expense accounts; cheating in class; exaggerating accomplishments—and ask Him to make honesty your automatic response in life.

Extra Refreshment: Acts 5, a reminder of how much God hates dishonesty.

The Advent Event

December is one of the busiest months of the year. As Christians, we approach the Christmas season with the intention of focusing on the incarnation and making it a significant time. But it's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season—the parties, the decorations, the presents and the special events at church. Before we know it, the month of December has flown by, and we wonder where the time went.

One of the most significant things a family can do in December is to be intentional about finding time every day to think about the true meaning of Christmas. The Advent Event is an easy, fun and enriching family project to help focus attention on the birth of Jesus while discovering the big picture of God's plan throughout the entire Bible.

Each day in December, the family sets aside a few minutes together for this activity. There is a simple coloring craft, a story from God's Word and a motion to learn that helps children remember the timeline of Scripture. Most importantly, this resources provides a special family time that Moms and Dads can use to reconnect their families to the spiritual significance of Christmas; the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

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