Your Internal Voice Recognition Software

Adele live in concert, Glasgow, 2016. Wikimedia Commons CC BY-2.0

Sometimes your eyes may fool you, but your ears know the truth.

A group of Adele impersonators found this out back in 2015.

They had gathered for a contest to choose who could best imitate the British singer Adele. The competition was filmed as a supposed BBC TV special, hosted by Graham Norton.

There was a catch, however. It wasn’t really a contest, but rather a set-up.

Unbeknownst to the other participants, the real Adele had gone undercover and had entered the competition as well. A movie effects specialist had disguised the superstar’s appearance with a fake nose and chin so that people wouldn’t recognize her. She introduced herself as “Jenny,” a nanny.

One by one, the contestants performed a song. Each had done her make-up to look like the real Adele. And some did a passable impression of her vocally, too.

Then, “Jenny” began to sing.

Once she opened her mouth and sang in her trademark style, the other “Adeles” were riveted. They got emotional as goosebumps ran up their arms. It soon dawned on them that it was actually their idol singing, not some anonymous nanny (watch the video of their reactions here).

There was no mistaking who it was anymore, even if she was in disguise.

Simply put, they knew her voice.

Did you know that, if you’re a believer, you have a similar ability within you? You have an internal “voice recognition software” that enables you to recognize Jesus’ voice.

Read more

Fill Up Your Storehouse

This is a busy (and nutty) time of year for squirrels.

The little critters are hard at work storing up nuts and seeds for the hard winter ahead.

Depending on the species, they may either store their nuts in one spot (a stash), or hide them by burying them in multiple locations (known as “scatter-hoarding”). They’ve even been known to shamelessly steal nuts from the stashes of other squirrels.

The jury is out on whether squirrels actually remember where they’ve hidden all those nuts. Some studies suggest they can recall the location of thousands of buried nuts. Other research implies that squirrels fail to recover a good number of their treasures, which allows the nuts and acorns to grow into trees.

One thing is for certain: these little guys are single-minded about gathering up nuts before winter, often using unconventional places to store them.

Like cars.

Just ask Bill Fischer of Fargo, North Dakota. For the past eight years, a red squirrel has been using Bill’s pickup truck to store walnuts. Each year, the poor man has to remove thousands of walnuts from every crevice of his truck, including the engine compartment and bumpers.

This month, the critter set a new record, stashing 348 pounds of nuts in Bill’s vehicle. And this was all the work of one tiny squirrel.

These crafty little animals might exasperate us, but we can learn something from them:

They make sure they’ve “squirrelled away” provision for hard times to come.

I think we should do something similar:

Store up the Word of God in your heart, because you never know when you might need a certain verse to sustain you in a tough situation.

Read more

Bring Out The Big Guns

The Tsar Cannon, the Kremlin, Moscow.
Image by Tatyana Kazakova from Pixabay

Have you ever had a day when you simply needed chocolate?

Maybe you faced some problems, and needed a pick-me-up. Or you were dealing with a heartbreak and needed a balm for your ragged emotions.

And you knew that milk chocolate just wouldn’t cut it, let alone white chocolate.

It required the stronger stuff. You needed to bring out the big guns to help you cope with your challenges:

Dark chocolate.

Only the intense flavour and strength of chocolate with over 80% cocoa solids would do the trick. Nothing else would suffice.

Sometimes we reach a similar point in our spiritual lives, too.

The Christian life isn’t all a bed of roses. Oftentimes we face desperate circumstances, and we may find ourselves in a heap on the floor, crying our eyes out.

Maybe we’ve received a scary diagnosis from the doctor. We might have been let go from our job. Or our family might be in crisis: our marriage is in tatters or our children have gone astray.

We need help that is grounded in the gritty reality of what we’re facing. Sunny bromides like “Don’t worry, be happy” just won’t cut it.

We need to bring out the big guns.

We need the Psalms.

Read more

Easier to Destroy Than Create

It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.

I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.

A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.

I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.

But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.

It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.

A cautionary tale, don’t you think?

If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.

Read more

Precedented Times Are Coming

Aren’t you a bit tired of living in “unprecedented times”?

You’re not alone. I saw a slogan on a T-shirt the other day which read, “I miss precedented times.”

We’re all longing to go back to our normal, predictable lives, the way they used to be.

But even when we’re able to return to a semblance of our pre-pandemic existence, we still aren’t guaranteed a life without injustices, sorrows and unwelcome surprises.

Jesus told us that “in this world, you will have trouble.” And ain’t that the truth!

Even so, we can have hope that with God, we can still live in “precedented times.” How so?

When you read the Bible, you find there are precedents to receiving healing, restoration, wholeness and joy, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem.

Read more

Marinate Yourself in God’s Word

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

When you marinate food before cooking it, more is going on than meets the eye (or the taste buds).

You’re doing more than simply soaking the food in a seasoned liquid to add extra flavour to it.

You’re actually changing its structure and making it yield.

Marinating tenderizes meat, breaking down tough connective tissues to make it more palatable. It also helps meat retain moisture, ensuring that the cooked meat will be juicy and not dry.

Marinades usually have a sharp, acidic ingredient, like wine, vinegar or lemon juice, or an enzymatic one, like yogurt of papaya. Herbs, spices and oils are added as well.

Whether you use a red-wine-based marinade for beef dishes, or a tangy yogurt-lemon one for chicken, your meat is guaranteed to turn out tender and better-tasting.

Likewise, when we meditate on God’s Word, or “marinate” in it, we’re doing more than simply adding Biblical quotations to our knowledge base.

As we absorb and internalize Scripture, it changes us and leaves us better off than before.

Read more

Make Sure The Right Things Stick

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

It can be hard to remove labels once they’re affixed, can’t it?

They can be so darn sticky.

You can try to peel off the paper part of the label, but the adhesive often stubbornly remains behind on the object. It can take some strong chemicals or a lot of scrubbing to remove every last trace of a label or sticker.

But what about the labels that people affix on us, whether we want them to or not?

Labels like “loser,” “clumsy,” “screw-up,” “stupid,” “misfit,” or “failure.”

They can be the stickiest, and the hardest to remove.

Once people classify us in a certain way, it can be awfully hard to shake that identity. We eventually internalize the labels that people put on us, and believe that they must be true.

Especially when they’re negative.

But did you know that God has put “labels” on believers?

And they’re all good!

Read more

Leave Satan Speechless

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Have you ever been at a complete loss for words?

Like if your little boy comes in the house, covered in purple paint, and proudly announces, “Guess what, Dad! I’ve painted your car!”

Or when your daughter announces that she’s dropping out of med school to become an itinerant street juggler?

Maybe you’ve been left speechless after you’ve searched the house for the vintage fishing tackle box in which you hid thousands of dollars, and your spouse says, “That old thing? I donated it to the thrift shop months ago.”

How would you like to leave Satan speechless?

Jesus showed us that it’s possible, as long as you have the key.

Read more

What Can’t You Live Without?

You’ve heard it said that “man shall not live on bread alone.”

That’s absolutely correct. He also needs tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.

As in pizza.

I’m pretty sure that I could live on pizza alone, and I’m willing to give it a try. Is there someone out there who wouldn’t mind providing me with a daily supply of freshly baked pizza?

(I’m just kidding, of course. Sort of.)

Joking aside, we’re missing something crucial here, and that’s the rest of the verse I quoted above:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Jesus in Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus seems to be telling us that the revealed word of God is every bit as important as the food we nourish our bodies with.

But do we really treat the word of God as being as essential to us as the food we eat each day?

Read more

Believe Six Impossible Things!

Alice In Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party. Image from Pixy.org CC BY-NC-ND-4.0

With 2020 behind us, it’s time to believe that good things are in store for us in 2021.

Are you having trouble believing that? Has your faith been a bit battered by the events of the past year? Do you find it difficult to believe that God has something good lined up for your future?

You’re not the only one to think certain things are simply impossible.

Have you read the book, “Alice in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll? At one point in the story, Alice is challenged by the White Queen to believe impossible things.

When the Queen says that she’s a hundred and one years old, Alice is incredulous.

“I can’t believe that,” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said, in a pitying tone. “Try again; draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed.

“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Even though this story is fictional, I think we as believers in God can learn a lesson from it. Sometimes God wants us to believe things that the world might consider to be “impossible.”

Read more