Create Your Own BC/AD Pivot Point

Image of Anno Domini inscription on Windsor Castle, England, by Leo Reynolds via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s natural to divide your life into “before” and “after,” isn’t it?

We mentally calculate whether something happened before or after certain important events in our lives.

We might say that such-and-such happened before we moved to Boston, or after we got married. We may recall that another thing happened after we had our son but before the twins were born.

Ancient cultures did something similar. Those with monarchies would mark events in relation to what king was on the throne at the time. They’d say that something happened in the 9th year of the reign of King so-and-so.

Certainly, most of us will divide our lives into pre-and post-pandemic eras. March of 2020 was a clear demarcation point between our previous “normal” life and one dominated by COVID-19.

The dividing lines of our lives will be different for all of us, but what most of the world has in common is the use of the same calendar system to mark off years. This system has its own before-and-after pivot point.

For instance, most of us just celebrated the start of AD 2022.

What does the “AD” mean, anyway? Or “BC” for that matter?

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The Most Memorable Gift Of All

Image by Marco Verch on Flickr CC BY-2.0

What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?

Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t something bought for you in a panic at the last minute.

More likely, the gift you remember most involved time or trouble on the part of the giver.

Perhaps your child presented you with something that they’d painstakingly fashioned themselves.

Or maybe your spouse had a piece of jewellery custom made for you that they’d had a hand in designing.

Or a friend spent months searching high and low for a hard-to-find collector’s item that you’d always wanted, and finally tracked one down.

The present was especially meaningful for you because the time and trouble the giver went to were part of the gift.

Did you know that Jesus has given you a gift? And it isn’t something He picked up at the mall on Christmas Eve.

He offers you the gift of eternal life.

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Are You On The Naughty Or Nice List?

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Are you on Santa’s “Naughty” list or his “Nice” list?

Sometimes it’s hard to know, isn’t it?

You shovelled the snow off your elderly neighbour’s walkway, so that counts as nice.

But on the other hand, you greedily ate half a pan of freshly baked brownies before sharing them with your family. Not so nice.

You made up for that by running errands for a sick friend, and volunteering to work late at the office to help finish a project. Definitely heading well into “nice” territory!

But then you lost your temper at your spouse, fibbed to get out of visiting your mother-in-law, and illegally parked your car in a disabled space while you dashed into the store to buy milk. Uh-oh! Looks like you’re squarely back on the naughty list.

With Santa, it’s hard to know where you stand on the naughty/nice spectrum.

That’s why it’s good to know that, if you’re a believer in Jesus, there’s only one list:

Forgiven.

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How To Be The Best Dressed Person At Any Gathering

Image by Andrew Vargas on Flickr CC BY-2.0

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll know that getting dressed to go outside in winter can be quite an operation.

This is particularly true if you have children. Getting your little one bundled up warmly enough to brave the frigid temperatures outside can take a great deal of time.

First, you have to make sure they have warm underclothes and socks on. Then, you might dress them in layers of several tops, and select pants made of warm, thick material.

Once you’ve put their winter coat or snowsuit on them, you’re not done yet. There’s still their boots, hat, scarf, and mittens to don.

And then what inevitably happens when you’ve finally wrestled a recalcitrant child into all their winter gear, and are poised to leave the house?

Your little darling suddenly announces that they have to go to the bathroom!

Dressing in layers takes a lot more time and effort, but it’s essential to ensure that we’re kept warm and protected in winter.

Similarly, Scripture tells us to dress in spiritual “layers” as well.

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Get Your Joy Back!

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

When I was a little girl, the first snowfall of the season was a big deal.

If the snow had fallen overnight, my Mom would wake me up with, “Lori, I have a surprise for you!”

I’d then look outside to see everything covered with a blanket of pristine, white snow. I’d be excited about going outside to play in it with my friends. We’d create snow angels and snowmen, throw snowballs, go tobogganing, and perhaps even make a snow fort.

A new snowfall was an occasion for joy.

But now that I’m an adult, how do I react to a fresh snowfall?

With groans and grumbles.

I think of having to shovel it off the driveway and the sidewalk. I think of how it will make the roads slippery and the commute slower. I think of all the extra work and trouble it will cause me.

Nowadays, a new snowfall is an occasion for chores and complaints.

I guess I’ve lost the joy that new snow used to bring me.

The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives, too.

We sometimes lose the joy that our salvation initially brought us. Gradually, our focus shifts from Jesus and what He has done for us to what we feel we should be doing for Him.

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When You Can’t See God’s Face

Image by Sumanley xulx from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but I still have trouble recognizing acquaintances when they’re wearing a mask.

One of the unusual things this pandemic has taught us is just how much we rely on a person’s whole face to clue us in to who they are.

When someone wears a mask, we’re missing half the visual information we normally get from their features. It takes us longer to cotton on to who it is.

We waltz past someone, glance at the top half of their face above their mask, and think they look vaguely familiar.

“That’s not so-and-so, is it?” we wonder, as we keep walking.

Too late, we realize it was so-and-so. We can only hope they weren’t offended that we sped past them without a hello.

This pandemic has been unnerving in many ways. Mask-wearing has robbed us of some of the crucial information we need to identify people quickly. Not only that, masks also deprive us of the ability to see people smile.

Do you ever feel like you’re only seeing half of God’s “face,” as it were?

Has hardship obscured His features from your sight? Do you long to see Him smile upon you again?

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Want To Feel God’s Love?

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

It seems like marriage proposals these days are a competitive sport.

It used to be that a man would propose to his beloved over a romantic dinner, with flowers on the table and perhaps some violins playing. He would get down on bended knee, present a ring, and ask for her hand in marriage.

Apparently, that just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Now, proposals have to be over-the-top. They might feature anything from fireworks to skywriting. A will-you-marry-me moment nowadays might involve a scavenger hunt, a fake movie trailer, a full orchestra and choir, or a ride in a hot-air balloon.

More adventurous grooms might enlist a celebrity in the proceedings, hire a flash mob at Times Square, or arrange to appear on the Jumbotron at a sports game.

And then there’s the man whose proposal took an entire year to create. Unbeknownst to his girlfriend Jennifer, each day for 365 days Dean Smith videotaped himself proposing to her, every time with a unique message. On the 366th day, he showed her the completed video and finally proposed in person (she said yes).

Why do people go to so much trouble?

Because they want to show their intended how much they’re loved.

Did you know that God has done the same for you?

He loves you deeply and He wants you to know it!

Let’s see how God stacks up when it comes to showing love.

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Choose The Right Mountain

American aviator Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, who in July, 1938 took off from New York City and somehow ended up in Ireland, even though his flight plan indicated he was headed for California. Image by IMLS Digital Collections and Content via Flickr. CC BY-2.0

Did you hear about the couple who booked a trip to Sydney, Australia, but accidentally ended up on the wrong continent?

Back in 2002, teenagers Emma Nunn and Raoul Christian booked their once-in-a-lifetime holiday online, not realizing that there was more than one Sydney in the world. Unbeknownst to them, their flight was actually taking them to the town of Sydney in Nova Scotia, Canada, thousands of miles from their intended destination.

Apparently, this sort of mistake is more common than you’d think.

Last year, a group of French football fans managed to miss their team’s game against Hungary in the Euro 2020 championship. They ended up in the wrong country, inadvertently travelling to Bucharest (Romania) instead of the similar-sounding Budapest (Hungary).

The next month, the mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team accidentally travelled to Toronto, Ohio instead of Toronto, Canada for a game. It took him quite a few hours before he realized his mistake: seeing an American flag is what finally clinched it for him.

The same thing almost happened to me once. I had boarded a connecting flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, on my way to a wedding in Bloomington, Illinois. As our small plane waited on the tarmac for takeoff, however, I overheard some of the other passengers talking about Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana? You mean there are two Bloomingtons? Which one is this plane about to fly to?

After a few panicky moments, I ascertained that I was indeed on the plane to the correct Bloomington. I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed for the short flight.

When we’re travelling, it’s crucial that we make sure we’re going to the correct destination.

The same applies to our spiritual lives, too: we need to ensure that we’ve got the right direction and headings for our journey.

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God Will Never Give Up On You

Image of antique shop by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

One of the things I love about antiques is that they usually have a story to tell.

The type of wood and the style used to make a piece of furniture can tell you where and when it was made. Marks on the bottom of pottery give you a clue to its origins, and perhaps even the name of the artist who fashioned it. The condition of a piece tells you what sort of life it’s had.

But occasionally antiques tell us something a bit deeper than that.

For instance, I recently bought an antique oak side chair dating from the mid-1800s. It’s nothing impressive, simply the type of armless chair you might have at your dining room table.

The tale it tells is rather moving, however.

I can tell from the dozens of drilled holes around the perimeter of the seat frame that it once had a cane or rush seat. The material must have broken decades ago, because a plywood seat was later installed. Even this seat has been upholstered twice since.

One of the chair’s bottom rails broke at some point and is being held together with a tiny makeshift splint. Several of the back splats fractured as well, and were replaced with ones made from a different type of wood. There’s also evidence of repairs to wobbly joints over the decades.

What does all this tell me?

That someone never gave up on this little chair.

With all its woes and breakages, they could have simply thrown it out. But they loved it so much that they thought it was worth repairing, and they did so, over and over again.

Do you know that God feels the same way about you?

He’ll never give up on you!

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Fast Or Slow, God Is Always At Work

Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

If you look out the (virtual) window here at The Faith Cafe, you can see the leaves starting to change colour on the trees outside.

The tops of the maple trees are starting to blush with red. There’s a hint of yellow among the linden leaves. And the sumacs are beginning to fire up in vivid shades of orange.

This change creeps in gradually, however. At first, you barely notice fall coming on. Weeks from now, though, the trees will be ablaze in vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. The difference from how they look today will be dramatic.

Oftentimes, I think this is the way God works in our lives.

He is slowly but surely leading us through a process of change and sanctification.

We may not notice that aspects of our character are being transformed, because the change is so gradual. One day, however, you look up and realize how far you’ve come and what amazing things God has done in your life.

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