Monday, March 20, 2017


I once had someone offer me some brownies....

They looked really tasty - they smelled delicious -they were still warm from the oven, but before I could have one they said "Let me share the recipe with you." So I patiently waited - longingly staring at what my taste buds desired...mmmm

They began to describe their brownie making process, and I was only half listening.
First I combine all the dry ingredients, and I use all organic fair trade ingredients, flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder and I sift them together very carefully.  Then in a separate bowl I combine all the wet ingredients, vanilla, eggs, melted butter and then my secret ingedient, two teaspoons of fresh dog poop.... 

WHAT??!! Surely you don't really include dog poop in your brownies!!

Yes I most certainly do, and everyone just raves about how good they are.  Don't tell me you are one of those judgey "I only talk about what I am against" preachy Christian types! Certainly you won't let a little dog poop offend you!! I mean, can't you just eat the parts you like and leave the rest...

It's all mixed up together, how would I leave the poop out?

You are so easily offended.  All of your friends ate my brownies, the farmers market sells my brownies, and no one ever complains because of how good they taste.  Frankly, I am surprised at your close mindedness, dog poop is just a part of the world these days.

I really don't think eating dog poop is a good idea, I think I will pass.

They are really only like 1% dog poop! You sound like your trying to keep some law about not eating dog poop, there is no such law and besides, dog poop is everywhere these days! Your loss! Me and my kids are going to eat these brownies right up!

Is that really safe?

How dare you tell me how to make good brownies.  How is it your business what I put in my brownies in the first place, or what I feed my kids!

So in all honesty, no one has ever offered me a poop brownie in the literal sense.

But recently I have been offered several figurative "brownies" and when I pointed out that these things might not be a good idea to partake of, the responses were much the same.

1 - It's mostly good, just accept the good and leave the bad

This is flawed thinking.  The fact is that if the good and bad are mixed together it is nearly impossible to separate them.
1 Corinthians 5: 6-8
6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8 So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.
How do I separate out foul lyrics and sexual topics from secular music for my sons? How do I separate the embrace and celebration of sin throughout a movie? It is not possible to separate these things. 
In another letter Paul also addresses this issue.
Colossians 3
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Here he is even more clear - "Have nothing to do with..." Paul recognizes that it is not possible to embrace and also reject sin.

2 - I don't think there is anything wrong with it and "a lot of people agree with me"

Imagine those brownies were real, and in fact everyone was eating them and talking about how tasty they were.  What would be the result of eating poop?  You could contact parasites or hepatitis, or maybe you would be fine.  Would you really risk it?  Would you offer it to your child? If ingested by accident would you consult a physician afterwards?

1 Corinthians 6:12
12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
If you find yourself consuming something that contains things of the old nature mentioned in Paul's letters.  I would strongly suggest you not offer it to your children and you instead consult the physician at once, the Great Physician.  But also consider that maybe there is a reason that "a lot of people agree" with what you are doing...
2 Timothy 3:1-9
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
6 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. 7 (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) 8 These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. 9 But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.
3 - If you don't accept this as we do you are judgmental, close minded, legalistic, preachy...

I think I would call it faithful to the calling and Spirit that I have been given. 
2 Timothy 3:14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Paul encourages believers to "put on your new nature"  and to be renewed as they learn how to become more like Christ.
Colossians 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Being equipped for every good work, having peace in life and in the family, being bound together in love with fellow believers... these things far outshine any temporary happiness achieved from mixing it up with some dog poop brownies.

The truth of the matter is - I lose nothing by skipping the dog poop brownies of this world.

Why waste perfectly wonderful, organic, fair trade ingredients by mixing them with dog poop?  How much more valuable are the ingredients of our new nature, the precious promises we have received, the new spirit that lives within us, than these cooking ingredients.   
This isn't legalism, it's common sense, 


Sunday, March 12, 2017


It had been raining all week, but for the first time in several days the clouds parted and the pavement was dry.  My eldest, licensed for a whole week, sheepishly asked if he could drive home.  It had been so hard on him to have his licence and then be told he had to stay put because of the weather. I readily agreed to his request thinking it would allow me to get a few other things accomplished. 

My first thought when the phone rang was that my son should not be calling me and driving, because he hadn't had enough time to get home yet....
His voice was shaky and he sounded like he was about to cry.  He said the van was "stuck" so after discovering he was OK, I asked him to tell me what happened.

"I was on my way home and I decided to take the gravel road.  I was going along and right there by the curve with the farm the stream was up a little bit.  It was like, almost over the road, but I thought I could drive through it.  I started to drive through it and it was like something grabbed the van!  It pulled me away from the road and I gunned it and ended up in the field"  

Miraculously, he hadn't ended up in the river but my son learned a valuable lesson that day about discernment.

Google says discernment is the "ability to judge well"  Biblical discernment is the ability to judge well regarding God's truth. As a believer we are called to be discerning..

Thessalonians 5:21-22"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."
The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, 
"Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" 1 John 4:1
As a believer we are instructed to be discerning.  This applies to every area of our lives. Failure to use discernment in an area of life could lead to serious consequences - consequences that our heavenly Father would like to spare us from.  So how do we develop our discernment?

Step 1 - STUDY

 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us
"Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
I was surprised to learn that "Don't drive though standing water" wasn't covered in Drivers Ed. I believed that because I sent my son to a 10 hour course he would be prepared to drive. This crucial teaching that my son needed to have before driving, was neglected. As a result, he was unprepared for his journey that day!  Similar things happen to believers every day.  Many churches teach some Biblical truths but avoid touching on anything that might be difficult to understand or upsetting to a member. This leaves members believing they are prepared for life, that they posses discernment, but sometimes severely lacking in Bible knowledge.  Then when they wind up "stuck" they can't fathom how this happened. Bible study is the only way I know of to develop Biblical discernment.  Study the Bible methodically, reading every book. Study with friends, mentors, pastors, anyone who will study with you. Take online courses, check books out of the library, spend time in God's Word. Seek the Lord as if your life depends on it - because it really does!

Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians don't study the Bible.  This leads to embracing unbiblical teachings, things that you think you heard once ... like "God helps those who help themselves" or "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" or "This too shall pass" clever sayings - but not found in the Bible.  These are cute examples, but in practice many Christians can't discern between right and wrong, good and evil. They lack the foundational knowledge of the Bible and because of this they are overly influenced and easily swayed in their decision making by ungodly things in our culture.  Bible study, both personally and under the guidance of good teachers is necessary so that we can grow in our knowledge of God. So that 
"Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth" Ephesians 4:14 
Discernment is needful in every area of the Christian walk and God's word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue we will encounter. Without it - you might find yourself in a mess.
Lets think about this in comparison to my son's story. 
"I was on my way home and I decided to take the gravel road."   - Because I am an experienced driver, I would not have taken the gravel road after a week of rain because I would anticipate that it could be muddy and washed out.  The same holds true for the believer.  Experience and discernment tells us that some situations should be avoided altogether to avoid possible pitfalls along the way.  Should I counsel someone alone? Should I be solely responsible for the church finances? Probably not - not because there is something wrong with me - but because that road might wash out. 

  "I was going along and right there by the curve with the farm the stream was up a little bit. It was like, almost over the road, but I thought I could drive through it."  - Discernment identifies warning signs.  Several years ago I read a book "When Godly People do Ungodly Things" and I remember thinking it was going to explain a situation in my life where I had been deeply hurt - and it did - just not the way I thought it would.  It ended up helping me to identify some pretty serious red flags about this situation that I had missed - and if I had caught them - I could have avoided the whole thing.  I lacked discernment, so I learned some lessons the hard way. 

"I started to drive through it and it was like something grabbed the van!"   Without discernment, we usually wind up in sin wondering how we got there! It often feels like we were going along and everything was fine until suddenly, out of nowhere, we are in a heap of trouble! 

"It pulled me away from the road and I gunned it and ended up in the field"   We end up far afield of where we intended to be, many times afraid, rushing, and scared.  Discernment can help us to avoid these feelings, identify sin early, and avoid the snares of the devil. 

Some of the greatest insight on this is in 2 Peter 1:2-11 
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This passage promises us that we have "all things" - meaning everything we need, given to us by God to lead a life of godliness.  This can only be accomplished through knowledge of Him - God and Jesus. (Bible study)  This knowledge allows us to escape corruption and through diligent study to add MUCH to our faith. These things will ensure that we are fruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
But there is also a warning here.  Failure to develop these things is short-sighted, and leads one to forget and fall into the same old sins.  We are called to be diligent, developing discernment, so that we will not stumble in this way.  A friend of mine defined discernment not as the ability to judge between right and wrong, but as the ability to judge between right and "almost right".  What an apt description!