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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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.

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Bad With Names? God Isn’t!

Photo by EvelynGiggles on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Are you one of those people who is terrible with names?

I must confess to belonging to this group as well.

When being introduced to someone new, somehow their name starts to slip my mind’s grasp only a few minutes later.

This failing bothers me, because I know that people appreciate it when you remember their names.

My late father hit on a mnemonic device to solve this problem: You should come up with some sort of image to associate with the person’s name. That will help fix it in your mind.

He figured this method was foolproof.

Until the day he was in a camera store and met an employee there named Royce.

When you hear the name Royce you naturally think of Rolls Royce, a maker of luxury British cars. So my Dad decided the best way to remember this man’s name was to picture him driving an expensive British car.

The next time my father saw Royce in the camera shop, he confidently greeted him with, “Bentley, good to see you!”

(For those who don’t know, Bentley is another maker of luxury British cars.)

So much for mnemonic devices!

Aren’t you glad that we have a God who is perfect with names?

God not only knows your name, He knew you before you were even given a name.

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Call G-O-D For Help

Image by nir_design from Pixabay

Sometimes in life we just need a friendly ear, don’t we?

911 dispatchers have certainly found this out.

People call the emergency line for the darnedest of reasons, either to vent about some minor injustice or just to get some advice.

Like the fellow who called 911 to ask what last night’s sports scores were.

Or the little girl who needed help with her math homework.

One guy called 999, the UK version of 911, at 4am on a Saturday morning to ask, “Where is the best place to get a bacon sandwich right now?”

A Halton, Ontario, boy recently called the emergency line in an outrage when his Mom changed the password to his Xbox.

Some have been known to dial 911 when their pizza delivery wasn’t ready on time.

We get consumed with anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, or anger and think, “There must be someone I can call about this!”

Needless to say, 911 should be reserved for actual emergencies only, please.

But sometimes we just need someone to talk to, even if it’s about random things.

It’s good to know that no matter how big or small your concerns, God is interested in hearing from you.

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Lost In Translation

Sign on toilet door in Chengdu airport, China
Photo by Anne Roberts on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

There’s a real art to translation: zeroing in on just the right words to convey the nuance of what the original author intended.

Done well, a translated work can be a masterpiece in its own right.

Oftentimes, though, a translation can turn out to be a farce, as in the following examples:

A menu item in Chinese for a roasted gluten dish was translated into English as “Sixi Roasted Husband.” (The perfect dish for wives who’ve finally had enough of their mates?)

A hot and spicy chicken dish on another Chinese menu became “Chicken Rude and Unreasonable” in English. (No wonder the chicken met his end—he had it coming!)

Or this Google Translate zinger: “It’s been the goat in the budget, because His raining badly, so quite short, he is on the bucket month out.” (Not sure what this meant in the original Danish, but I hope the goat was able to figure it out.)

Then there’s the sign for a hair salon in China whose English name is “Could Not Connect To Translator Service.” (A bit of a give-away that they didn’t bother hiring a real live translator?)

Sometimes, we have a different understanding or “translation” of what God actually meant in certain Bible verses.

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Don’t Just Sit There…

Spaniel Photo from Pxfuel

I received an alarming notice in my mailbox from my neighbourhood association recently.

It informed me that there was an infestation of “dog-strangling vine” in the area. Dog-strangling vine is an unwanted, invasive plant that can choke out native species. The leaflet told me what steps to take if I saw this plant in my yard, and who to report its presence to.

Inexplicably missing from the notice, however, was the answer to a crucial question:

Will the dog-strangling vine actually strangle my dog?

I’ve conducted some research on this vital issue for readers of The Faith Cafe and can assure you that this crafty vine likely won’t strangle your canine. Unless, of course, he sits next to the vine and keeps perfectly still for several weeks. But if your dog isn’t in the habit of sitting motionless next to murderous flora, he’s probably safe from this vicious plant.

I’m being facetious, of course, but perhaps there’s a lesson here for us when it comes to sin:

If we just sit there and take no action to avoid the temptation, we’ll get into trouble.

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What’s in a Name?

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

As a gardener, I must admit that I prefer using the common or folk names for flowers. These sometimes-ancient names are often whimsical and enchanting, like “Miss Willmott’s Ghost,” whose origins we explored last week.

Who wouldn’t love calling flowers by such names as cherry pie plant, lady’s slipper, love-in-a-mist, baby blue eyes, bachelor’s button, quaker ladies, whirling butterflies, johnny-jump-up, busy lizzie, or candytuft? It makes the heart sing to use endearing names like these.

The scientific or botanical names for flowers, on the other hand, can seem daunting. They’re usually derived from Latin, and while they can give a more accurate description of what a plant’s nature is, they can sound a bit intimidating to my ears.

In fact, some botanical names actually sound like a disease:

“Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got Scabiosa again.”

“That’s nothing! You should see my sister’s Myosotis: it’s rampant.”

“You don’t say! But did you hear about Kelly? She’s got Nepeta nervosa.”

“No! Is she seeing a psychiatrist for that?”

(In case you’re wondering, Scabiosa is the botanical name for the pincushion flower; you might know Myosotis better as the little blue forget-me-not; and Nepeta nervosa is a type of catmint.)

I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to use informal names for the flowers we cherish.

In the same way, believers have been given the great privilege of using a remarkably intimate name for God: “Abba Father.”

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The Best Driving Tip of All

How NOT to park
Photo by Todd Dwyer on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

As a follow-up to last week’s post, “Life Lessons from Driving in Snow,” I thought I’d continue on the topic of driving and give you the best driving tip I’ve ever heard.

I learned this valuable piece of advice from watching the TV programme, “Canada’s Worst Driver.” There are various iterations of this show around the globe: perhaps your country has something similar. These “worst driver” shows are often hilarious but are also educational. You can learn a lot about how not to drive from atrocious drivers.

Before I present the best driving tip of all, here are some memorable examples of appalling driving as reported by driving instructors:

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World’s Strangest Collections

Assorted Stamps
Photo by Frantisek Krejci on Pixabay

Do you enjoy collecting things? Many of us do. Perhaps you collect stamps, vintage baseball cards, Barbie dolls, movie memorabilia, autographs or folk art.

Or maybe your hoard is a little more esoteric. You might specialize in collecting Cracker Jack prizes, Coca-Cola ads, thimbles, snow globes, or vintage fountain pens. These interests may be a bit more off the beaten path, but still within the realms of normal.

But it’s possible that your collection veers into the truly strange and oddball, like the following:

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When Words Fail Us

English Dictionaries. Photo by John Keogh on Flickr. CC BY-NC-2.0

Sometimes there’s something we want to express, but we can’t seem to find the right term for it. There’s a feeling or situation that we just can’t put into words. Or maybe the precise word doesn’t even exist in English.

On occasion we have to turn to words and phrases in other languages to describe exactly what we’re trying to say. For instance, in English we often borrow the German word “schadenfreude,” which means “pleasure at the misfortune of others”.

Maybe we should consider borrowing a few more foreign words that have no English equivalent. I suggest the following:

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