Archive for the ‘Purity’ Category

Barking enraged shepherd dog outdoors

Our outdoor dog raised quite a ruckus at about two o’clock this morning. Clearly, someone (or something), was in the yard because she was loudly sounding her full-out intruder alert; ready to attack. As three of us hurried outside to confront this unseen foe, I couldn’t help but think how foolish a person would have to be to jump a fence and prowl around a yard that housed a German Shepherd –and yes, there are guard dog signs up to warn any would-be intruders.

Oddly, our girl kept running in and out of the pool yard in full-attack mode, but she didn’t tear into anyone. Clearly she wasn’t after a coon or a possum because she has a distinctly different bark for those. Her bark is also different when alerting us to people on the road just outside our property. No, this was different —more vicious— but it didn’t seem that anyone was in the yard after all.

At first I was puzzled. Then I saw it, MOVEMENT! And to be honest, I chuckled. Had our dog been as tall as me, she might have figured out what the movement was; but she is only half my height, so the top of the (above ground) pool is way above her head. From the porch she could see the pool float moving about in the current, but she could only see the pillow portion, and that on the dark side of the pool.

Normally we don’t leave floats or toys in the pool so the sight, more specifically the movement, would certainly have been alarming for our ever-vigilant watch dog. Had I taken the float out, as per our custom, I might have spared our household, and probably three others, from being disturbed in the middle of the night, but I’ll just chalk it off as a lesson learned and hope the neighbors didn’t mind the urgent barking too much —better safe than sorry, after all.

After loving on our girl for awhile, I patted her on the head and told her what a good job she was doing then came inside to wind down before going back to bed. As I sat in my chair, this scripture came to mind:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. I Thessalonians 5:22

Our dog doesn’t really avoid every appearance of “evil,” She attacks it head-on. To her way of thinking, any creature, two-legged or four, that enters her yard, is an enemy to be slain.

If only God’s children would have kept that attitude in regards to compromise, I thought, this country might still be a Christian nation. But sadly, we have let too many evils creep in —into our churches, our society, our culture—because we didn’t recognize those evils for what they truly were. We also made too many compromises with many of the more subtle evils in our attempt to reach the unchurched with the Gospel. Sure, we meant well, but rather than succeeding in pulling people up, we slowly, but surely, allowed our own standards of holiness to be lowered, both in our churches and in our nation.

I have, over the course of time, asked several pastors the following question: Does the end (higher church attendance) ever justify the means (seeker-friendly gimmicks) if the means violates God’s instruction? I have seldom heard a pastor answer no. “Yes,” they say. “So long as we are getting people into the church, God will understand.” I DISAGREE! Why? Our god told us to abstain from the very appearance of evil. He tells us from cover-to-cover in our Bibles that we are absolutely forbidden from mixing the holy with the profane. If our church services look more like worldly concerts or pep rallies, we must ask ourselves if we are being obedient to God’s word. There are other examples I could use as well, but you get the point.

Where do we draw the line? You may ask. Well, if we don’t know the answer to that question, perhaps it is time for us to pray until we do. Meanwhile, it would be in our best interest to be on full-out intruder alert when it comes to even the appearance of evil. True, we may sometimes bark at something that isn’t truly a danger, but again, it is better to be safe than sorry. If we, God’s people, don’t stand up for what is right, who will? Friends, when it comes to sin and evil, let us learn a lesson from our canine protectors and attack them head-on!

As I always say, the people who care the most are they who care enough to speak the truth; in love, of course.

pencil lady

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baby xmas

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”   ― James E. Faust

When parents don’t lie to their children, their children learn to affect their world in positive ways.

My heart had been heavy for the last few days, but my daughter changed that today while we were having another discussion about the importance of obeying Scripture no matter what. Even young people, who view life through an entirely different perspective than previous generations, realize that mainstream Christianity is in the process of a complete metamorphosis; one that is more comfortable and accommodating to today’s culture.  Some of these changes are not always acceptable to fundamentalists like myself.

Thus, my children, though grown, have always lived a little outside the Christian norm because we raised them to take a firm stand despite these changes. Nevertheless, as a parent, I expect my children to make mistakes, or go through spiritual rough patches, and they have. During those times, I wondered, did their father and I do a good enough job? Heaven knows we tried.

Obviously, we’ve done something right. I would like to share with you a true story that happened just last night.

My twenty-one-year-old daughter was visiting with a friend and her mother. This friend I will call Becky, for the sake of privacy. At some point in the conversation, Becky’s mother lied to her daughter about something, and my daughter knew immediately that it was not true. After Becky left the room, my daughter firmly stated, “You just lied to her!”

Becky’s mother replied that, “It was just a little white lie.” My daughter was very disappointed. “But that’s not right,” she countered.

Smirking  just a bit, the woman told my daughter, “Oh come on now, you know your parents told you little white lies when you were growing up –like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.”

“No they didn’t!” She answered truthfully. “My parents always told us that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny weren’t real; and there is no such thing as a tooth fairy.”

The woman was truly stunned.

“My parents have never lied to us.” my daughter proudly continued, “And I’m pretty sure they never will!”

Shortly thereafter, Becky returned. Her mother’s smugness was gone, replaced with sincerity, as she turned her attention towards her daughter. “There’s something I need to tell you,” she confessed. “I lied to you while ago.” She followed with the explanation that, “I just wanted you to be safe and I thought that it was best to say what I did, but it wasn’t true.”

That wasn’t the end of the matter. Becky’s mother then sincerely apologized to her for lying to her about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny during her childhood. Not surprisingly, Becky was a bit disinterested in that part because it was so long ago, but that’s not the point. I have no doubt that her mother’s admission and apology will have a positive effect at some point.

Becky later confided in my daughter that she knew her mother was lying about the first matter. “Do you want to know how I know?” she asked. Then, not waiting for a response, she added, “My mom always had that same little expression when she used to lie to me about Santa Clause and stuff.” Yes, she knew.

Children trust their parents when they tell them “little white lies” like Santa Clause, but children grow and learn the truth. At some point they know you are lying to them, but they seldom say so. Nonetheless, a seed of mistrust has been planted.

Dear reader, it is not my purpose to condemn anyone with this post, but rather to offer a little food for thought. When you read your children bedtime stories and fairy tales, they understood that they are entering a world of make-believe. On the other hand, they usually understand Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy to be quite real because that is what they are taught from infancy. I have even known parents (even Christian parents) that actually get angry if anyone so much as suggests that children should be told the truth about these fictitious characters. Parents, it seems, enjoy this falsehood every bit as much as the children.

Engaging in these holiday traditions may seem to be nothing more than harmless fun, but in the long run, children will understand that their parents have lied to them from a very early age. And whether they express it or not, there will come a time when they question whether or not their parents were completely honest about other things as well –possibly even God. And yes, this does happen; far more than we care to admit.

I am very proud of my daughter for having the courage to tell Becky’s mother that it isn’t right to lie to her own daughter; and I told her so. Her response was very touching. “I am so glad you and dad never lied to us about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny,” she said. “If you had, I couldn’t have answered Becky’s mom the way I did, and she would still think that lying is okay. Besides,” she added, “I can trust you and dad to always be honest with me, no matter what.”

That is certainly our intent. My husband and I do not believe in telling lies, not even “little white ones.” A wise man rightly said that those who tell white lies will soon become colorblind. More importantly, Scripture instructs that He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. (Proverbs 12:17).

Christmas is just around the corner. Trees will be erected, and gifts prettily wrapped. For those who celebrate this holiday (not all Christians do), my question to you is this: will you be truthful with your children, or will you carefully conceal the truth of Santa Clause with the pretty wrappings of tradition? The choice is certainly yours, but please do remember that choices have consequences.

There are dozens of Scriptures that condemn lies and falsehoods, but I will leave those for another time. For now, I leave you with this final thought: Honesty is the foundation of integrity. And it is true that when “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” (Pr 20:7).

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

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Fanny Crosby is probably one of the most inspirational women who ever lived. Though blind since infancy, Fanny penned more than nine-thousand of the most beautiful hymns ever written and devoted her entire life to selflessly serving the poor and needy.

What Fanny lacked in physical sight, she was more than compensated with spiritual insight. She once remarked: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”

Lord help us all, I pray, be blinded to the enticements of this world that we may see you more clearly. Let us proclaim, as did English clergyman John Newton, “Amazing Grace… (I) was blind but now I see!”
(“Blind Sight” is an archived message from my Polished Pearls blog.)


pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

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My raven-haired beauty was only four years old when she glued her library book to the bed.
I’m still not sure how she found the bottle of wood glue in the first place, but I do admire her creativity in solving what she considered to be a big problem. Of course, I didn’t approve of her method, but I had to smile at her reasoning. She explained, “Liz-a-biff kept trying to take my book. I had to stop her!”

Reading has always been an important part of my children’s lives. They were each given their own library card from the time they were old enough to toddle into the library. There, we spent many happy hours searching for just the right story to fuel their imaginations, and the perfect books to expand their knowledge about science and history, and all the other fascinating wonders of life. You see, their father and I wanted to instill the love of reading, and learning, into our children from a very young age, in the hopes that their love of such would be life-long.

Most importantly, we wanted our children to love God’s Word. They each had their own picture Bible before they could even talk. By the time they worked their way up to the good ole King James, all of our children knew more about the Bible than many adults do. In fact, this same raven-haired beauty once climbed a tree and began preaching to the people on the streets when she was only seven.

How I wish I would have been raised knowing God’s Word like that! Sadly, I didn’t learn any of it until I was an adult. But, it’s never too late to start. I have now been a student of the Word for over twenty years, and enjoyed every minute of it. I am so thankful that we live in a country that allows us the freedom to read our Bibles without persecution. Tragically, this may not always be the case. It is quite probable that Americans will soon join the ranks of countless others who have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

If this ever happens, I can assure you that gluing our Bibles to the bed won’t prevent them from being taken away. However, there is something that we can do -starting now. The psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (119:11). I pray, dear reader, we would all do likewise. After all, once God’s holy Word is hidden in our hearts, no one can ever take it away from us!

I admit that memorizing Scripture, especially long portions of it, can be hard work–especially for us older folks. Even so, there are few pursuits in life that are more rewarding and beneficial. How then do we start, if we haven’t already? Simple, we can learn from the children on this one.

Have you ever watched a young child recite the words of her favorite story book to an audience of stuffed animals without having to look at the book? She is able to do this because she has read it (or had it read to her) so many times that it became a part of her. And because she loves the story so much, she can’t help but enthusiastically share it.

That’s how we should be with God’s Word. Because the Bible is so much more than just words on a page –it is God’s personal instruction to mankind- we should absolutely love to read it over and over until it becomes a part of us. And, we should care enough about our Holy book that we would rather glue it to the bed than let anyone take it from us.

Dear reader, it would be really silly of me to tell you “Don’t glue your book to the bed.” I would like to encourage you, however, to keep the Holy Bible “glued to your face.” If you’re not familiar with that expression, just ask my raven-haired beauty what it means; she still has a book glued to her face most of the time. That’s my girl!

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A week or so before my wedding, my mother called to tell me she was planning on missing the big event because she and her husband wanted to watch a local mud truck pull. Granted, my mother has never been a typical loving parent, but a mud truck pull –seriously?

Still, I wasn’t really all that upset. I had grown quite accustomed to her disregard for my life –which was always her choice not mine. My youngest sister, on the other hand, was upset. She had always longed to see our family become “normal” even though we all knew deep down that would never happen. Somehow, she convinced my mother that weddings trumped mud pulls; and missing my wedding might be something she would eventually regret.

At the last minute, my mother made the decision to pop into the church just long enough to view the ceremony and swap a few hellos. She did leave as quickly as possible to pick-up her husband and head to the mud, but I’m glad she came anyway. There is just something special about having your mother at your wedding, even if you aren’t close.

Now, after twenty-plus years, I still feel occasional bouts of sadness at never having experienced a real relationship with my mother. I had wanted that all my life. And though she would disagree, I tried over and over to draw her heart to mine. It just never happened.

This makes me think of the parable in the 22nd chapter of Matthew:

Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “Behold, I have made ready my dinner. My oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!”‘ But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise [another to his mud pull]…..

The king’s Son is an obvious reference to our Lord Jesus Christ. He longs to have relationship with all of humanity and draw their hearts to His, as His bride, but so many people disregard the invitation because they are more interested in doing their own thing. Others think that just popping into church once in a while will suffice, even though they are not really in relationship with the LORD. However, making an appearance in the natural, is not enough! Salvation is an issue of the heart. The parable explains that those who rejected the invitation to the *marriage feast  will be utterly rejected themselves. However, it further elaborates that those who wish to attend must be wearing a proper wedding garment.

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (vss. 11-15).

What is the wedding garment? The garment is the salvation found in Jesus Christ by acceptance of His atoning death on the cross for your sin, and subsequent obedience to His Word. Only the true bride of Christ wears this garment. They alone will be able to attend the marriage supper.

I’m not trying to sling any mud here, but there are lots of folks out there who will never attend the marriage supper because they are more interested in pursuing their own pleasures and activities. I truly hope, dear reader, you are not among them. Time is short, but it’s not too late. Why risk a last-minute decision? If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior, there will never be a better time to do so than now. And there is no greater source of joy than knowing with certainty that you will be ready for that glorious day when we will be united with our bridegroom, Jesus.

*Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God….” Worship God! (Revelation 19:7-10)

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Okay I admit it; a few days ago, I almost mixed dried mustard into my pumpkin pie filling instead of ginger.  It’s a good thing I keep a pair of reading glasses in the kitchen and have the good sense to use them.  Otherwise, our dessert would have tasted awful.  At least I can blame my aging eyes for this near-blunder. 

Speaking of nasty-tasting desserts, I will also confess to you that I still hold first place in the “worst cake ever made” category for novice bakers.  Granted, I was quite young when I made that horrible thing, but that error was one of ignorance rather than limited vision. Allow me to explain:

Because this was the first cake I had ever baked from scratch, I was careful to follow the recipe to the letter.   From its beautiful, golden-brown appearance, the cake looked perfect when it came out of the oven. It tasted awful, though.  Words cannot adequately describe how nasty this cake tasted, or how confused I was by the outcome.  What had I done wrong?

Determined that I would not accept such a failure, I decided to toss the cake and start over.  Again, I assembled all the ingredients and followed the recipe meticulously. The flour was carefully sifted, the butter properly softened, the vanilla carefully measured and every ingredient added in order.  Surely, I reasoned, this cake would be better.

Definitely not!

The second cake was every bit as disgusting as the first; I was practically in tears.  With great disappointment, I informed my parents that we were not having cake that night because I was the worst baker on the planet and both cakes were in the trash, where they belonged.

“What did you put in the batter?” they asked.

I explained that I had followed the cookbook recipe and used only the ingredients listed.  I wasn’t sure why my parents started laughing, but they led me into the kitchen and, pulling a bottle from the cabinet, asked if that was the vanilla I used.

“Yes,” I answered, somewhat confused.

More laughs.  “That’s not vanilla,” they explained. “You used liquid smoke in the cake.”  (Unbeknownst to me, we had run out of vanilla.)

To be fair, the label had come off the bottle some time before.  But even if it hadn’t, I didn’t have a clue what liquid smoke was. Apparently, it’s a dark, liquid seasoning that is used to add a smoky flavor to foods. Trust me; you do not want to eat cake which tastes like it just came out of the smokehouse!

I was thinking about this recently after I listened to a young pastor present some rather “contemporary” suggestions for bringing the unsaved into his church. For the most part, his ideas were pretty good. And if the preacher’s vision to reach the lost had been more firmly grounded in Scripture, the outcome would have been very sweet and desirable.   However (without elaborating on the details), I noted that a few of his suggested “ingredients” for successful evangelism were, in reality, a violation of God’s Word. His vision was admirable, but he simply did not have proper understanding in regards to the propriety of his ideas.

We must remember, when putting together any kind of church outreach, that the proper “ingredients” are absolutely vital!

Although our hearts may be sincere and our motives pure, we must always be careful not to unintentionally substitute the sweet “vanilla” of God’s instruction for the (liquid) “smoke” of “cultural relevance.”  True, our well-meaning efforts might produce something that looks really good, but if we have made substitutions in God’s “recipe” for Christian conduct, (even unknowingly), the results will most likely be distasteful to the Lord.

Of course, we do need to earnestly minister to the unsaved, but it is only the LORD who can effectively bring them into the fold.  He Himself said: No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him (John 6:44).   Programs are nice, and preaching is important, but our primary focus should be to fulfill our divine calling to be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that  [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light (I Peter 2:9).

Dear reader, let us   firmly resolve to once again raise the church to the standards of holiness she once walked in, that God may be pleased to dwell in His sanctuary as He did in days of old.  Upon doing so, we will most assuredly have the right ingredients to properly minister to those whom the LORD will send.

And that, my friend, is sweet and desirable to the LORD!

 “Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”                   ~George Soros

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photo: alternativeconsumer.com

I’ve often wondered why some folks buy healthier, sugar-free cereal yet dump two or three teaspoons of sugar on it before eating it; that defeats the purpose doesn’t it? True, I did the same thing when I was a kid but that is only because I learned by example. As an adult, I wanted my family to be as healthy as possible so I bought whole grain cereals and we ate them without added sugar.

Besides, sugar tends to cover-up the real taste of food. For the most part, our human nature likes it that way, even though our bodies don’t. The last time I was in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, I was amazed at how many varieties we now have to choose from. I was able to find a few boxes of plain, single-grained cereals scattered amongst the plethora of boxed breakfast foods but they were few and far between. Most of them had all kinds of ingredients added to make them more appealing to the masses, even though many of those additives, especially the artificial ones, are often harmful to a person’s health.

Truthfully, I find the same trend amongst many churches today. There are so many church “flavors” to choose from these days, and most of them have one thing in common: the modern church has added lots of enticing programs and practices in order to make it more appealing to the world. This strategy has certainly worked. I wonder, though, are we guilty of taking the purity of God’s word and sugar-coating it?

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for good church programs, especially those that are truly evangelistic in nature. However, I fear that the church, in its zeal to bring people in, has dropped her guard and added too many secular ingredients. These enticements might make the church more palatable to the world, but in the long-run they can be quite harmful to everyone’s spiritual health.

Let’s be honest, what does martial arts classes or punk rock have to do with the gospel? Yet these kinds of things -and more- are gaining popularity in our churches. Yes, these “seeker-friendly” enticements might bring people into the church, and they might even say the sinner’s prayer but are their lives truly changed after they are saved, or are we instead breeding a new generation of believers who try to embrace both the godly and the secular? Jesus said we cannot serve two masters.

He also said that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter how comfortable our building is or how awesome our programs. If the church maintains her foundation, staying rooted in the purity of God’s word, His kingdom will grow no matter what –and lives will be transformed.

We’ve all heard the proverbial saying “If it aint broke, don’t fix it!” The prophet Jeremiah would agree and we can learn by his example. He wrote:

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.

My friends, we don’t need to sugar coat the gospel nor God’s instructions. Rather, we need to embrace them as they are and taste of their fullness!

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:103)

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One particularly memorable day, the pastor had a special treat planned. As congregants entered the small country sanctuary, they were greeted by the delightful aroma of fresh-baked brownies. And if I know Pastor Cory, he probably arranged for everyone to sing “Lord, I’m hungry” during Worship.

Stepping up to the pulpit, he stated “Today I want to speak to you about the ingredients for living a godly life.” “But first,” he offered “I want everyone to enjoy a brownie.” And they did. Everyone knew that they were about to witness another of the pastor’s illustrated sermons and they were eating it up – pardon the pun.

Next, the pastor uncovered a tray of baking goods and explained that he was going to show the congregation just how to make the wonderful brownies they were enjoying. “Then” he added with an authoritative tone, “I will show you how this relates to your walk with Christ.

Carefully measuring the powdered cocoa and pouring it into the mixing bowl, the pastor advised the congregation that choosing the right ingredients was of utmost importance. He then added the remaining ingredients one-by-one –flour, sugar, butter, etc—until the delicious-looking batter was nearly complete.

The pastor offered a nugget of wisdom with each addition. They were being well-fed spiritually but some were wishing they had another brownie; that is until…

“The batter is nearly ready to bake, but there is one more secret ingredient to add,” the pastor said with an impish grin. As he lifted a baggie from the tray, he told everyone “I personally gathered this doggie poop a little while ago; it’s quite fresh.”

As everyone stared in disbelief, the pastor squeezed a small amount into the batter and stirred briskly. “Don’t worry” he said. “It’s only a tiny amount, you can’t even taste it, but it sure does add to the brownie.

I can only imagine how the expressions changed as each person realized he or she had just eaten one of those ‘special’ brownies. Of course there was no poop in the ones they had eaten, but the very thought was enough to make one feel suddenly disgusted, or worse.

Pastor Cory had copied the idea for the secret ingredient brownies from a caring father who felt the need to answer his teenagers ‘why not’ questions in a very impacting way. The man had been badgered by his teens, “Why can’t we watch this movie, there’s just a little violence and language in it? What harm could there be in that?”

This conscientious father had chosen to use his ‘special’ brownies to show his teens that even a tiny amount of something bad can ruin the whole. “The small amount of ‘bad’ in the movie may not seem all that harmful, but it is as disgusting to God as this poop is to you,” he admonished, “and it is harmful whether you can “taste” it or not.

Needless to say, the movie was not watched and the brownie batter was discarded.

Next time any of us sit down to watch that popular movie or read that best-selling novel, we should ask, “Is there any poop in here, even just a little?” If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance that it won’t seem nearly as appealing all of a sudden.

More importantly, we should ask if the Lord would be pleased with our choice. As the saying goes, WWJD (What would Jesus do?), . Remember, whatever ye eat, or drink, (or watch or read) or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)

Having said all that, anyone want my recipe for cheesecake? –just kidding.

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