In the Arizona desert, there is a little critter called a “stick lizard.” On days when the temperature is sky high and the desert floor is like a hot plate, this little animal runs around with a stick in its mouth. When its feet become too hot to stand, it stops, pokes the stick in the sand, and climbs up on it. Then, after they cool, he hops off, grabs the stick in his mouth, and he’s gone again. — I want to be like the stick lizard: going on and doing my job when everyone else stays home because they can’t take the heat.
I posted that on Facebook the other day.
Where did I get the story? I found it in Smithsonian magazine some years back.
Well, I did and I didn’t.
It was actually a letter to the editor of the Smithsonian. But I never forgot it, and have used the stick lizard in the occasional article, devotional and sermon over these years. He seems like such a survivor, a tiny creature that has figured a way to overcome obstacles.
And now, I find out it’s not so.
One of my Facebook friends, a pastor in Arkansas, commented that according to “email@example.com,” the stick lizard does not exist. It’s “old-timer, tall-tale hooey,” he said, but “it amuses the tourists.”
Another great sermon illustration shot down by reality.
Now, in all fairness, all we have said is that an Arkansas pastor “said” someone named Clay Thompson says this. I have not followed up to see if there is such a person, if he said such, and if he has evidence the critter is fictional. The letter to the editor of the Smithsonian does not make the animal exist, and the report of a nay-sayer does not prove he doesn’t.
Having a reference to cite as the source of a great story or quote is always good policy, but simply saying “Thom DickenHarry said this” does not make it so.
People play this little game with the Scriptures. Case in point.
A couple of years back, I ran across a newspaper column where prominent columnist Cal Thomas was taking a potshot at some preacher or other for living lavishly. He did so by quoting our Lord: “Do not acquire gold or silver or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff, for the worker is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:9-10).
Did Jesus say that? He sure did. The quote is accurate.
But that’s not all He said on that subject.
Continue reading ““The Bible Says.” Why That’s Not As Simple As It Sounds.” »