It was from the Low Point lighthouse near New Waterford, Nova Scotia, that I first saw it perched atop a hill, about 10 kilometers across the harbour. It looked like a church steeple, and pushing my tiny camera to its maximum zoom, I snapped a picture. "Look!" I said, showing my husband the somewhat grainy picture. "There's an old church of some kind over there."

We left Low Point with the determination that we would try and locate that old church upon the hill, and we did. It was not, however, a church at all. Rather, it was the observation post for the Chapel Point Battery Site...

How could I have confused a battery site with a church?

Good question; but if you look at my picture from across the bay (see picture at the top of this newsletter), you may understand my confusion, for the battery's observation tower is shaped very much like the bell tower of a church!

Now I don't know why the observation tower was built to resemble a bell tower, but if I had been so sure from across the bay that this was, indeed, a church, how much more like a church must it have appeared from the perspective of the German U-boats on the rocking waters of the open harbour? They would likely have been farther away than I was, and my modern telephoto lens was likely a bit more precise then their periscopes...Were they, like me, also confused? Would it have caused them to approach more closely than they otherwise might have done, and thus, put them at higher risk of personal loss?

It makes you think, doesn't it? Things are certainly not always what they seem, and there are many times in life when something that seems as innocent as the bell tower of a church turns out to be as dangerous as a coastal war battery can be to an enemy submarine. A particular set of circumstances, for example, may seem positive, and this causes us to make very wrong decisions; a particular place, bunch of people or activity may seem innocent enough, but in the end, this very innocent-looking thing could serve to pull us in, entice us, cause us to sin; the words that sound so true, spoken from the mouths of people we trust, may not actually be based in truth at all, and we are drawn to believe gossip. But perhaps the worst is that the doctrine taught from the pulpit may look and sound very good, but if it isn't based 100% on Biblical truth, we can be very easily drawn to false doctrine.

What can we do to protect ourselves from the bell-tower-turned-battery-observation-posts of life?

Fortunately for us, we don't have to rely on apparatuses that consist of tubes, mirrors, prisms or lenses. There is a better way. The Bible calls it "discernment", and it is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:10). It is also a skill that can be cultivated: "Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong." (Heb. 5:14a NLT).

This particular passage of Hebrews 5 is actually a rebuke to Christians of all times: "There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don't seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food." (Vs. 11,12 NLT).

Although this already sounds pretty harsh, it gets even harsher: "For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right." (vs. 13 NLT).

Thus, we understand that discernment, these "trainable" powers, are evident in mature Christians, those who are skilled in the basic things about God's Word.

And how do we become skilled in the basic things about God's Word so that we can be mature enough in our Christian walk to have this discernment?

Accepting Jesus as our Saviour is the vital first step that will make us babes in Christ. But just like we must study and learn to become mature adults, we must also study and learn to become mature Christians. This involves spending time daily with God, the Master teacher. It requires learning to hear His voice. It requires allowing Him to fill us with His Spirit, and it requires spending time in God's Word.

My final piece of advice to anyone wishing to cultivate that spirit of discernment is this: Never, ever take anything at face value. Rather, always remember to compare what you are seeing and hearing to the Word of God, ever asking God to confirm your path.

Want to come with me in search of a bell-tower? Better be careful! It just might be the observation post for a WWII battery!

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From Cape Breton" mini-series, please click here.)