Samuel Collins

Samuel Collins, who is 13, plays the lead role in a new Christian children’s adventure series called “Samuel L. Collins and The Search For Biblical Truths.” It combines the adventure of “Indiana Jones”, the gadgets of “Mission Impossible” and the Scriptural principles of “Bibleman.” Filmed in exotic locations like Singapore, Bali and Egypt, Samuel is tasked with deciphering three clues in each 30-minute episode to determine the Biblical truth.

You could win the $10,000 Grand Prize if you solve all the puzzles on the website. Plus, check out a trailer and order the first DVD in which Samuel grapples with integrity. Visit  Not surprisingly, he loves to read. Douglas Bond is his favorite author, who wrote Crown and Covenant, about the Scottish people who were fleeing from the King of England during the Scottish Reformation.

Samuel L. Collins

The T-Shirt Test

I had trash duty.

Like other boys learning the importance of responsibility, I had chores. Not a lot to ask in exchange for a roof over my head, food on the table, and parents who loved me.

I figured the quicker I emptied the various trash cans throughout my home, the quicker I could get back to reading my favorite book. After all, it took only about five minutes to empty the cans, put a new white liner in the kitchen can, and carry out my assortment of empty cereal boxes, vegetable peels, and old newspapers to the large bin in my Tampa, Florida, neighborhood.

I think my mind was wandering. Possibly I was daydreaming. Maybe I wasn’t thinking about much of anything. But I snapped back to reality when I looked down into one of my appointed stops on the trash train and saw a T-shirt of mine.

That’s weird. It’s not stained. It’s not too small. Why is this in the trash?

I liked that T-shirt. So I devised a plan.

Looking to my right and then to my left, I fished my shirt out of the trash without anyone the wiser. It was an act of desperation. Then, after emptying all of the household’s trash, I simply placed the shirt back in the same trash can.

Frankly, my plan wasn’t terribly advanced. In my nine-year-old brain, perhaps I would sneak the shirt back out of the trash into the bottom of my sock drawer and from there into my bag for my next overnight visit at my grandparent’s house. Pretty elaborate. Pretty ridiculous.

Whatever my vision was, it never came to pass. Mom intervened.

“Samuel.” Her stern voice made me want to cower. “Did you empty out the trash?”

“Yes.” I hoped she couldn’t detect the quiver in my voice.

“All of it?”

“Ah . . . yes.” My answer didn’t convince even me.

“Really? Then what’s this?” There, hanging on the end of her slender index finger was the one thing I hoped she wasn’t holding: my T-shirt.

Oh boy! This isn’t good. On a scale of one to ten (one being not surprised and ten being shocked), I was about an eight. Not sure why I was that surprised. After all, I had put the T-shirt back in the bottom of the trash can—in plain view—unobstructed by anything.

I guess it was the confrontation that surprised me and that my mom had caught me in a lie. Worse yet, there would be inescapable punishment. There were consequences to lying in the Collins house.

In that split second, I had been put to the test and failed. Now, technically, I rationalized that I had indeed emptied all the trash. That part was true. What wasn’t true was that I had held back the T-shirt.

In a way, my sin is like Ananias’s, the friend of Jesus’ disciples in Acts 5. He and his wife, Sapphira, had sold a piece of property. They decided to keep some of the money for themselves and give the majority of it for the ministry. Everything was fine. But then Ananias lied. He claimed that he gave every penny to the ministry. In the blink of an eye, God killed him. Yikes!

I’m glad that God had more patience with me.

Today, at age thirteen, I asked my mother about the T-shirt incident. I never have known why that T-shirt was in the trash.

She didn’t pull any punches. “Sam, when you were smaller, I used to set you up to see what you and your sister Katie would do when faced with temptation.”

“You mean, you weren’t really throwing my T-shirt away?”

“Not at all. I was testing your character. That’s what parents are supposed to do. And you failed the test.”

“So, if I had asked you why the T-shirt was in the trash, or if I had gotten it out and brought it to you, you would have let me keep it?”

“Absolutely!” she said without missing a beat.

“But since I lied about it, you really did throw that T-shirt away?”

“You got it. Your father and I wanted to raise you to understand that you need to obey, no matter what. God has entrusted your care to us. He has given us His authority to raise you to serve Him and to honor Him. We want your first desire to please God, even if it seems difficult or it’s hard. God asks us to be obedient in the little things. If we can’t succeed in obeying in the little things, then we can’t be successful in the bigger things He wants us to do.”

After I was disciplined, my mother shared a New Testament verse with me. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13 NIV). My way out was to simply be honest. All I needed to have done was talk to my mother about the T-shirt in the trash and everything would have been fine.

She’s right. And, more important, God’s right.

If I’m going to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and become an airplane mechanic, I need to be able to tell the truth. I need to be a man of principle because I serve a God of principle. Whether I’m repairing planes for the Air Force or for the commercial airlines, I hope to be responsible for the lives of hundreds of people. If I try to cut corners to save money or because I’m lazy, one of the engines might break down and a plane could crash. That is truly a big thing. And I would have failed God.

Better to learn my lesson now—caught in a fib at the age of nine—than to watch on the news when I’m forty-two and learn that one of my planes went down because of my faulty repair job.

My question for you is simple: Will you pass your next T-shirt test?


Samuel L. Collins