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Making the perfect batch of brownies is simple. There are only four ingredients needed, and the directions are easy to remember:

3 Eggs
2/3 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 brownie mix.

Piece of cake…er, I mean brownies, right? For my latest attempt to teach the gospel to teenagers, I baked a few batches of brownies. For the first batch, I followed the directions perfectly and you know what I got?

Brownies. Perfect, tasty brownies.

For the other batch, I mostly followed the directions, but made a few minor changes. The recipe for those brownies was something like this:

3 Eggs
1 cup oil
1/4 cup water
I brownie mix
A big dash of onion powder
A big dash of garlic powder
A bag of cheese powder
1/4 cup salt

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Apparently it wasn’t the best batch of brownies I’ve ever made (I don’t know, since I couldn’t get past the smell once they were cooked). After last week’s tale of the bad karma stolen brownie episode in the kitchen, I knew I had something truly wretched for the kids in my class to enjoy. I placed a handful of the good brownies on the plate, a handful of the brownie nightmares mixed in with them, breathed deeply, stifled a laugh and headed to class to make a dozen new teenage enemies. Here’s how it all played out:

“Hey, class! I was talking to my son last week and he said I needed to bring more treats to class, so here you go. Anybody want some homemade brownies?”

(All hands shoot up).

I walk around with the plate and let everybody help themselves to a square of sugary bliss or chocolaty anguish. When the plate is empty, I sit back and wait for the fun to begin (I imagine myself twirling the ends of my mustache as I laugh maniacally). Within a few seconds, my villainous patience pays off. The first young lady to eat one of the bad brownies pauses, chews slowly and tries to discreetly spit out the brownie into her napkin. She quietly wraps up the rest of the ‘treat’ and puts it on the floor.

The next kid chews the brownie, gets a horrified look on his face, finishes chewing and… takes another bite? He chews that bite with the same horrified look and goes for another bite? As he finishes the entire brownie that way, the young lady next to him gags and screams before spitting her mouthful out.

Scanning the room, it’s obvious who got the sweet dreams and who got the nightmares. I start laughing. Those with the rotten brownies give me scowls. Those with the good brownies are giving me confused looks.

There is chaos everywhere, brownie pieces all over the floor, wadded up napkins full of half-chewed ‘treats’, angry kids, confused kids and a teacher who’s laughing too hard to speak.

Normally, this is where I would transition to the lesson I learned from what happened. Instead, I’ll share the lesson I was teaching:

When we follow the directions (commandments) exactly, we get precisely what is promised. When we follow mostly, adding or taking away from what the directions are, we get something else. It looks the same, it might even taste the same at first, but it is not what is promised.

The kids paid a terrible price for that lesson, but it’s one they’ll likely remember for a while.

On a funny, gross, semi-brownie-related side note – When I did a scripture flip today (where you open the scriptures to a random spot and read) to see if there was some spiritual insight I could add to this story, I had to laugh at the verse that came up.

Ezekiel 4:12.

God definitely has a sense of humor.