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Applying God's Word Gets Preacher Run Out of Town

In the American frontier days, there was a settlement in the West whose citizens were engaged in the lumber business. The town felt they wanted a church. They built a building and called a minister. The preacher moved into the settlement and initially was well received. Then one afternoon he happened to see some of his parishioners dragging some logs, which had been floated down the river from another village upstream, onto the bank. Each log was marked with the owner's stamp on one end. To his great distress, the minister saw his members pulling in the logs and sawing off the end where the telltale stamp appeared.

The following Sunday he preached a strong sermon on the commandment "Thou shall not steal." At the close of the service, his people lined up and offered enthusiastic congratulations: "Wonderful message, Pastor." "Mighty fine preaching." "Keep up the good work."

It wasn't the response he expected, so he went home to prepare his sermon for the following Sunday. He preached on the same text, the same commandment, but gave it a different ending. He said, "Yes, thou shall not steal, but thou shall also not cut off the end of thy neighbor's logs." When he got through, the congregation ran him out of town.

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