Posts Tagged ‘Discernment’



January 9, 2015

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

The familiar chirp of a text message emanated from my cell phone.

hello whats the lowest price for your Craigslist item(s) for sale. Will U accept a Cashiers check, IF OK PLS TEXT BACK, DAN

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone“That’s odd”, was my initial response. However, this was the first response to my Craigslist item so I was anxiously accommodating. I am trying to sell the sound system from our closed Church plant. Since the doors closed, this mound of electronics has ceased to emit sounds of worship and preaching, rather it accumulates dust in a basement storage room. We have dispensed with all the other accoutrements of the Church (Chairs and the Will of God).   I do not know all the reasons as to why it has taken so long to part with the sound system. However, I do know that it is not easy to sell a Church / DJ / Band sound system, regardless of whether there are deeper issues. There simply is not a large market for used sound equipment. Therefore, I was hopeful when some interest was shown in my Craigslist sound system advertisement. So, I texted back:

Dan – we will take $1,600 for the sound system; we would prefer cash. The sale will be at my business during regular business hours.

Dan replied:

1,600 sounds good. How should your name be on the Cashiers Check & what address should we mail it to. We’ll pickup after check clears Dan

All sorts of red flags went up with this response.

Who agrees to buy anything without first seeing the item? Who agrees to send money to someone they don’t know? What is this preoccupation with cashiers checks?

I discussed this series of texts with two of the more cynical of my co-workers. “Scam” was their immediate response.  Therefore, I Googled “cashiers checks” and “craigslist” and read theCraigslist page on how to avoid scams. Their fourth bullet point is “Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.” That was enough for me to make my decision. I texted Dan:

Too much fraud with cashiers checks anymore. Will have to require cash.

I never received a response from Dan.

Do you think that I was too judgmental of Dan?
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1),
am I now subject to being judged based on my judging of Dan?

Maybe, I should have given him the benefit of the doubt and worked with him more.  Maybe, I was too cynical and just assumed the worst and lost out on a sale.

Or, maybe, Dan is a scammer in consumer clothing.

I think that Dan is the latter. The reason I can be reasonably assured of that characterization is because of his fruit. He did all the things that scammers do. When I tested his fruit,  he disappeared. I am not condemning Dan for his faults and refusing to forgive him. (Matt. 6:14-15) As a result, I am not judging Dan. What I am doing is practicing a discernment that does not condemn, but distinguishes a scammer from a true buyer in order that no harm will be incurred to my bank account. It would be naïve for me to think that there are not people in this world who are trying to scam me. It would be foolish for me not to practice discernment in business and finance transactions.

Yet, there are worse scams than being stuck with a false cashiers check. My soul and the souls of my family are of more value to me than my bank account. I believe that a scam that defrauds me with false teaching is much worse than anything Dan was trying to do. Therefore, I hope that I am much more diligent in discerning spiritual scammers than I am monetary ones. I am amazed at the lengths many will go in refusing to recognize the existence of scammers in the Church. We are told that there will be “Dans” in the Church. There will be scammers – false prophets who appear to be great people, true believers, great teachers, wise counselors, but who are really scammers.

It is not judging them to test their fruit.  When we practice spiritual discernment, we are not condemning a person for his faults and refusing to forgive him.  We are merely trying to distinguish a scammer from a true believer in order that no harm will be incurred upon the children of God. We are told some of the tell-tale signs of  a spiritual scammer that should send up red-flags to the discerning believer:
  • Controversies (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
  • Different Doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3)
  • Divisions (1 Timothy 6:4)
  • Destruction of Faith (2 Timothy 2:18)
  • Destructive Heresy (2 Peter 2:1)

We don’t need Google to help us discover the scammers of the Church. God has already told us what they will do and how they will do it.  It is up to us to respond appropriately when those red-flags of discernment go up.

PRAYER: Father, you told us that there will be scammers who will come into the Church.  Lord, I truly hate how our enemy attacks your children.  Make us wise.  Give us discernment to know who are the faithful and those who are not.  Enable us to respond appropriately and in love, but still responsibly so that people are not led astray.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen



December 17, 2014

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Weight and height are used in computing body m...As a year’s end rapidly approaches, I get a little retrospective. I was looking over my 2014 resolutions and was disappointed in the general lack of accomplishment. I was particularly disappointed with the progress toward my body weight goal.

I was 200 pounds at the beginning of 2014. My goal was to be 186 pounds at the close of this year.

I exercised more consistently this year than I have in my entire life. I ran more miles than I have ever run. I pedaled over more asphalt than I have ever cycled before. I followed the black line in my pool lane, lap after lap, for more laps than I thought possible (for me). I did the Jilian Michaels Body Revolution and P90X3.  I took a fitness test and it said that I have the fitness level of a 21 year old.

Yet, I was 204 pounds as of November 1st.

I know  I have put on muscle but that only explains a portion of my weight gain. My bathroom mirror exposes a lot of things, including the myth behind my rationalizations. The reservoir of fat that accumulates above the dam of my belt has persistently survived through the drought that I sought to subject it to. The reality is that the drought was not as severe as it needed to be. I no longer have the metabolism of a twenty-nothing. I can’t eat whatever I want and just workout a little more to stay lean.

My weight is a frustration because I do not eat excessively. I don’t drink carbonated-sugar colas or snack on junk food.  I have only an occasional dessert. My only meal of substance is dinner. Yet, the weight has persisted through a year of consistent exercise.

2014 has conclusively taught me that if I want to be lean then I have to watch both the quantity and quality of what I eat.

Therefore, my wife and I decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas present – a Vitamix  and  Dr Oz’s two-week cleanse. My diet has been replaced by fruits and vegetables with a little bit (6 oz.) of protein for dinner. That is not very much.

However, this initial phase has been enlightening as to how much our grocery shopping has had to change. Our refrigerator crisper is now overflowing with produce that is actually eaten before it has a chance to rot; frozen fruit and Greek yogurt has replaced the ice cream.

When we made this concerted effort to refrain from our normal diet, we were able to access how many compromises were being made in what we consumed. They had not been huge compromises, but they all accumulate – right above my belt to be precise.

In general, we have been consuming the better rather than the best.

So far, I am very pleased with the results of our Christmas present. I am down to 196 lbs and 186 lbs seems possible by the time the 2015 triathlon and cycling season starts.

As I stared into my bathroom mirror and giggled in frustration the deposits that I hope will be gone by spring, I wondered about the fitness level of my soul. I live in a world with many very good things, a lot of neutral things, and a whole plethora of bad things. I take into my mind a regular diet that feeds my soul.

I believe that we can be spiritually fit with chunky souls.

We may know the basic principles of God.
We may be secure in the elementary doctrines of Christ.
We may  be steadily maturing in our faith.
Yet, we still retain that persistent “baby fat” of an immature follower of Christ.

Is your soul lean? Mature faith is lean faith

What is the diet of your soul?

Are you feeding your soul the solid food of the mature believer or the milk of the immature?

Is your diet filled with the things of the Spirit or the compromises of the flesh?

I believe it is good to do a periodic spiritual cleanse. When we make a concerted effort to refrain from the normal diet of what we allow into our minds, we are able to access how many compromises we make in our soul’s diet. These compromises might be sinful, but they don’t have to be. We may have merely substituted the better for the best. Compromises don’t have to be huge but they can accumulate to pull our eyes off of Christ and make us spiritually fat.  I believe that this process of stepping back and assessing what we let into our minds is instrumental in allowing the Spirit to train our souls to discern between good and evil.

Let us not settle for the better. Let us push on to the best. Let us push on to maturity with a diet that will feed a lean soul, fit for the work of our Lord.

PRAYER: Father, you have been so good to me.  Thank you for my faith.  Thank you for the maturity that you lead me in through your Spirit.  Father, teach me discernment.  Show me the difference between good and evil, better and best.   Lord, give me a desire to have a lean faith.  Give me an appetite for the things of you rather than the things of this world.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen


















December 2, 2012

“Hittites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gideon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning…” Joshua 9:1b-4a

I often work as a consultant to government entities on regulatory issues. The majority of applicants don’t want to do what the code requires. It costs them money. Therefore, they try an assortment of strategies to circumvent the requirements. Their strategies fall into two broad categories – fighters and manipulators.

Fighters will come in with all guns a-blazing. They will assemble their team of experts and attorneys and we’ll have a go at it. I have no problem with fighters. I like and respect them. The system is built for them and they are working it as it was intended.  The manipulators are another story.  They are the soothsayers that will tell you what you want to hear all the while cunningly plotting to do exactly the opposite. They are difficult to spot since they appeal to your sensibilities.  However, their appeal to cronyism can have disastrous long-term consequences.  I would be a fool to think there were only “fighter” adversaries out there.

However, we Christians often make that naïve mistake. We think that we either don’t have any adversaries or that our adversaries are only those who blatantly fight against the Faith. I have been astonished at how some will take at face value the soothing words of a person that they personally know nothing about.

I am reminded of a sister in the Lord whose husband left her and their children through acts of stunning deception. She said that she found out that he was not what he appeared – he was very cunning. She now has to deal with this person for the foreseeable future. I have seen Churches devastated by a Pastor who came in saying all the right words but time revealed that he may not have even been a believer. They are still rebuilding and recovering.

It is so very easy to be deceived when we rely upon our own senses. Some may say, “But I have the gift of discernment.”  Really; Do you have more discernment than Joshua, who was “full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deut. 34:9)?  If Joshua could be deceived, then you and I can be deceived.

There is no decision that will not wait to allow time to seek the Lord in prayer. That was the Israelites error – they did not ask counsel of the Lord (Josh. 9:14).  Any person who will be offended by you seeking the counsel of the Lord is someone that you should reject, summarily.

Our typical response is to accept that which appeals to our senses – “but I love him”, “but he is such a great speaker”, “but it is logical”, “but it just feels right”, “but look at her resume”, “but they come from a great family”, “but they are so consistent in these areas”….but, but, but.

We are foolish to accept the “buts” without prayer. Be careful relying upon your own senses, you may just end up having to live with a “butt”.

PRAYER: Lord, Protect me from my own confidence and pride; Forgive me for acting as if I don’t need you.  Lord, I need your wisdom in all aspects of my life and especially in those areas of discernment. Father, remind me of my need for you; humble me so that I will seek you in all things. Protect me from disception, particularly my own.  Amen

%d bloggers like this: