Whopper Stopper by Phil Callaway


Children are born with an innocent gullibility. You have to be careful what you tell them. When you say, “If you aren’t in bed in 10 minutes, a herd of gerbils will gnaw on your toenails,” this won’t be funny to a small child.

I grew up believing what my brothers told me: that if you touch a toad, you’ll get warts. That drinking coffee stunts your growth. That chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That sharks swam around the deep end of our pool. That every song on the radio was being played live by little guys in there who were sound asleep until you turned the radio on. I believed some whoppers about God too. Here are three of them:

1: God would only be pleased with me if I was in full-time ministry. As a kid, I told my mom, “I wanna grow up and be a comedian.” She said, “Well, you can’t do both.” She encouraged me, but I grew up with a gnawing sense that God would only be happy if I was a pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist. But the Bible is filled with people in ordinary jobs doing extraordinary things. Adam was a gardener, Paul a tentmaker, Matthew a tax collector, and Jesus a carpenter. Whatever our work, it is a sacred assignment from God.
2: All good people go to heaven. It’s what many religions teach us. Follow the rules you go up. Disobey? You go down. But listen to Titus 3:4-5: “When the kindness of God our Saviour and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy…” This is the best news ever. Forgiveness and eternal life are gifts we can’t earn; we can only receive them by placing our faith in God’s son Jesus. Maybe you need to do that today.
3: God Does Not Exist. I tried believing this for a short angry period of my life – about four days’ worth. But then I got looking at my hand, or a tree, or a dog, or thinking about the odds of this all forming by chance. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

It sure beats trusting your brothers. If I believed everything they said, I’d believe that a yeast infection came from eating too much bread. Then there was the time I saw a deer head in a guy’s living room. My brother whispered, “The rest of the deer is on the other side of the wall.”

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