Tim Throckmorton: What kind of flag are you using?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2023

Many years ago, in a land far, far away there was a pastor late for a meeting who, after dressing, noticed a wrinkle on the front of his dress shirt. 

Attempting to save time and noticing the hot iron sitting close by, he picked it up and very gently touched the wrinkled region pressing in ever so slightly to avoid great pain. 

His plan worked seamlessly until he accidentally pressed the steam button on the iron! 

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Full disclosure, I was the knucklehead pastor above who by the way escaped with only minor burns. 

Looking back, I really can laugh at myself! 

You see, I was doing the right thing, but I was doing it the wrong way! 

It’s humorous when it involves an iron and a little burn, but it’s not very funny when it comes to our spiritual life. 

There is an account in the Old Testament where Kind David is trying to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem where he can build a permanent dwelling place for the Lord. 

In 1 Chronicles 13:3-5 we read, “And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So, David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim.” 

Now here’s a great idea, but David went about it the wrong way. 

As they tried to carry the ark the wrong way, Uzza, David’s servant touched it as it was about to fall and he died. 

You see it’s very dangerous to handle the things of God in a careless manner. 

Finally, after searching out the correct way to carry the Ark, it was successfully brought to Jerusalem where there was great celebration. 

It was a great idea and God longs to be close to those who love him, but there is a right way and a wrong way to bring this to pass. 

We live today in a culture that says very blatantly that you are intolerant when you say that there is only one way to God and that way is through knowing Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior. 

Well, I suppose that I fit snugly into the category of the intolerant and gladly so. I still happen to believe Jesus words when he said that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And that no man can come to the father but through him.

There is a right way and a wrong way to Heaven, and no amount of bargaining and debating can change the words of the Lord. 

Regardless of what famous athlete’s and celebrities claim, what world leaders embrace or what anyone else says, Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. 

H. A. Ironside shared the powerful illustration of the danger of doing the right thing the wrong way. 

Some years ago, a fearful railroad wreck took a dreadful toll of life and limb in an eastern state. 

A train, loaded with young people returning from school, was stalled on a suburban track because of what is known as a “hot box.” 

The limited was soon due, but a flagman was sent back to warn the engineer in order to avert a rear-end collision. 

Thinking all was well, the crowd laughed and chatted while the train-hands worked on in fancied security. 

Suddenly, the whistle of the limited was heard and on came the heavy train and crashed into the local, with horrible effect. 

The engineer of the limited saved his own life by jumping and some days afterwards was hauled into court to account for his part in the calamity. 

And now a curious discrepancy in testimony occurred. 

He was asked, “Did you not see the flagman warning you to stop?” 

He replied, “I saw him, but he waved a yellow flag, and I took it for granted all was well, and so went on, though slowing down.” 

The flagman was called, “What flag did you wave?” 

“A red flag, but he went by me like a shot.” 

“Are you sure it was red?” 


Both insisted on the correctness of their testimony and it was demonstrated that neither was color-blind. 

Finally, the man was asked to produce the flag itself as evidence. 

It was then that the mystery was explained. 

It had been red, but it had been exposed to the weather so long that all the red was bleached out, and it was but a dirty yellow! 

Countless lives have been eternally derailed by the yellow gospels of the day and the bloodless theories of unregenerate men that send their hearers to their doom instead of stopping them on their downward road! 

What kind of flag are we waving today? 

Let’s not be caught doing the right thing the wrong way. 

Take it from me friend, you could get burned!

Tim Throckmorton is the national director of Family Resource Council’s Community Impact Teams.