Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

#43- Smoke Screens

A Character story about honesty.

"Hi, Susan," Julie greeted as they met on the playground before school started. "Did you get your composition done last night?"
"Oh, hi, Julie. No, I didn't. Our house was in an uproar all evening. There was no way I could concentrate. I'm sure the teacher will understand."
"Did you ask your parents if you could go to church with me on Sunday?" Julie asked eagerly. "No, not yet, Julie. To tell you the truth, I'm afraid to. They yell at me about everything else I ask. I just know they'd get angry if I asked them."
"But what could they get angry about? All they can say is yes or no."
"You don't know my parents. They'd find something about it that would make them mad. They'd probably say I would make too much noise and wake them up. I'll try sometime though . . . when they're in a good mood. Anyway, I've got to run. I'll see you later."
"O.K. Bye."
Julie didn't think much more about her conversation with Susan until she was talking with her dad that evening.
"Daddy, I keep inviting Susan to church but her parents just won't let her go," she confided.
"Oh, really?" Mr. Jensen remarked. "That's strange. I've talked several times with Bill Bennett and he certainly didn't indicate that he was unwilling to allow Susan to go. In fact, last week he told me that when he suggested the family attend church on Sunday, Susan put up such a fuss that he gave up."
"Really?" Julie responded in surprise. "That sure doesn't fit what she said! She said she was afraid to ask them because they would get mad at her."
"Oh, then Susan didn't actually ask them?"
"I guess not. She just said she planned to when they were in a good mood."
"Hmmm," Mr. Jensen said thoughtfully. "I wonder if Susan might be. . . uh . . . playing octopus."
"Playing octopus? What do you mean?"
"Well, let me explain it this way. Do you know how an octopus gets around in the water?"
"I guess he walks. He has enough legs!"
"That's true," Mr. Jensen chuckled. "But what if he needs to move fast when, say, an enemy is approaching. Then what?"
"I don't know," Julie admitted.
"When the octopus needs to move fast, he forces water through a muscular tube called a siphon. This jet of water forces the octopus in the opposite direction. It works much like a jet plane or a rocket. But before his getaway, Mr. Octopus has another trick up his sleeve first. He releases a black ink-looking fluid into the water. As this floats there momentarily, the shape and color of the fluid fools the enemy into thinking that it is the octopus. While the enemy lunges at the decoy and gets only a mouthful of water, the octopus jets himself to safety."
"Wow! That's pretty creative."
"Yes, but not for the octopus. He's only doing what comes naturally. It is his Creator who came up with the plan."
"That's for sure," Julie agreed.
"This little trick is called a 'smoke screen.' It is a decoy to keep others from seeing what is real. One famous salesman made this statement: 'a man generally has two reasons for doing a thing- one that sounds good, and a real one.' I wonder if Susan might be putting up the smoke-screen of her parents because for some reason she really doesn't want to go with you to church."
"You mean you think she's lying?" Julie asked.
"No, I wouldn't say that. But it is possible to convince ourselves of something that really isn't true at all. For example, I thought I was on my way to heaven because I went to church, and tried to be good. But when I was finally honest with what the Bible says, I had to admit that it is only the finished work of Christ applied to my account that could ever make me acceptable with God."
"Yeah. I guess I do the same. In fact, I was just asking myself why I really want Susan to go to church. I do want to win the contest for bringing the most visitors, but a better reason is to see Susan accept Christ as her Savior."
"That's good, Sissy. Before we can help others be honest with themselves, we must examine our own motives."
"But how can I find out if Susan is putting up a smoke screen?" Julie asked, scratching her head.
"Well, let's see. If she repeats this reason the next time you ask her about going to church, why don't you offer to go with her to ask her parents? If she seems uncomfortable about that, then ask her if there is any reason why she doesn't want to go with you. Once we know the real reason, we can pray her over that obstacle."
"Yeah. that's a good idea. Thanks. And if I can get her out by next week, I still might win that contest."
"Uh uh," Mr. Jensen scolded gently. "Be careful, Sissy. Your motive is slipping again."
Julie blushed slightly. "I-I guess it's easy to play octopus, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is, for all of us," Mr. Jensen admitted, putting his arm around Julie.
"I do so want my words to be what I mean. I'm going to pray for Susan, but I'm also going to pray that the Lord will show me whenever I put up a smoke screen to cover up what I really mean."


1) The body temperature of a cat is a) higher b) lower c) the same as that of a human.
2) The old adage is true: blood is thicker than water. How many times thicker is it? a) 2 b) 3 c) 6 d) 10
3) Which has more fat in it, reindeer milk or cow milk?
4) Crocodiles sleep with their eyes open. T F
5) How many feathers are on an average chicken? a) 500 b)1000 c) 2000 d) 5000 e) 8000 f) 10,000 g) a million
6) Whose heart beats faster, a man or a woman?

ANSWERS: 1) cat temperature is 101.5; human is 98.6
2) blood is 6 times thicker
3) reindeer milk has 5 times more fat
4) true
5) e
6) man's heart beats 8-10 more times each minute.