Trust Your Instruments

Photo by Thomas Fengler on Pixabay

It’s usually safe to rely on our senses, but sometimes they can play tricks on us.

Especially if you’re flying a plane.

Pilots sometimes get into trouble with something called “spatial disorientation.” If they’re flying at night or in poor weather, they’re unable to see the horizon through the cockpit’s windshield. Without these visual cues, they may fall back on their other senses, but this can be a big mistake.

A pilot’s non-visual sensations, such as signals from their inner ear, may not respond truthfully during flight. Without visual inputs to override these mistaken feelings, a pilot may believe he or she is flying level when they may actually be in a bank, or gradually ascending or descending.

If a pilot isn’t proficient in the use of flight instruments, errors can pile up until the pilot loses control of the aircraft, entering a steep, diving turn known as the graveyard spiral. The pilot remains unaware of what’s happening until it’s too late to recover control, and the aircraft breaks apart or crashes.

In fact, it’s believed that spatial disorientation is what led to the fatal crash in 1999 of the plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr. Flying at night over water, the visual landmarks he might have relied on were absent. Kennedy was certified for visual flight rules, but had not yet received his full training for instrument-only flying. His instruments would have told him that he was heading on a collision course with the water, but tragically, he trusted his non-visual sensations until it was too late.

We as believers can get into the same sort of trouble when we trust our feelings instead of what the word of God says.

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Does The Bible Really Say That?

Darth Vader photo by Steven Miller on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Sometimes we can get a bit fuzzy about what the Scriptures say, can’t we? We hear a commonly used phrase and think it sounds a bit “Bible-ish,” so we assume it’s in God’s Word. But we may be mistaken.

Let’s try a little quiz. Which of these sayings is in the Bible?

  1. “God helps those who help themselves.”
  2. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
  3. “Just follow your heart and believe, and you can do anything.”

Actually, NONE of them can be found in the Scriptures. The first was popularized by Ben Franklin, the second by John Wesley, and the third is from a Disney song!

Let’s try again. How about this one:

  1. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Who said that? It must have been Jesus, right? That totally sounds like something He would say, probably to His disciples.

Actually, that immortal phrase was uttered by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movie!

We can really get thrown off track when we don’t know Scripture for ourselves. When we mistakenly think certain phrases are in the Bible, we can even believe things that are contrary to what God says.

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Jam The Signal!

The tiger moth Bertholdia trigona is the only animal in nature known to jam
the echolocation of its predator
Photo on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Bats are crafty creatures.

Being nocturnal, bats search for food at night, but their night vision is fairly poor. So instead they use echolocation, or reflected sound, to home in on insects such as moths. Their built-in sonar directs them to the precise location of the tasty morsels; then it’s just a matter of swooping in and gobbling them up.

So the bats’ prey have to be crafty as well.

Certain species of tiger moth have the ability to emit sonar of their own. As a bat is closing in, the moth emits a fusillade of ultrasonic clicks. This barrage blurs and disrupts the bat’s echolocation: the signal is essentially jammed. The baffled hunter can no longer “see” the moth, and is tricked into thinking its target has vanished. Thwarted, the hungry predator flies away, and the prey is safe.

Our little tiger moth beats its enemy at its own game.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could “jam the signal” of the enemy of our soul? If we could disrupt and counter the lies the world tells us about ourselves?

In fact, there’s a way that we can.

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You Already Have What You Need

Baking ingredients
Photo by Kathy Moreno on Wallpaper Flare

I love desserts that you can make on the spur of the moment, with ingredients you already have in your kitchen (like the recipe for coffee cake below). The ones where you don’t need to make a special trip to the store to find an uncommon or rarely used ingredient.

For instance, I love the flavour of pistachios, but rarely keep them on hand in my cupboard. Walnuts, on the other hand, are more likely to be found year-round in my kitchen. If a recipe calls for nuts, I know I’m bound to have some walnuts I can use.

Or what about an ingredient like rosewater? It sounds like it would create an exotic dessert, but who keeps rosewater in their pantry?

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God Sees You in Infrared

Bee on cosmos flower
Photo by Veronica H. on Pixabay

Did you know that some birds and bees can see things that are completely invisible to us? They’re able to see in infrared, just beyond the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum that human eyes can detect.

What looks to us like a regular pink flower might resemble a helicopter landing pad to a bee. Where we see only the uniform expanse of one colour, the bee may see a target-shaped design of several differently coloured concentric circles. The bee’s infrared vision allows it to home in on the most nectar-rich part of the flower.

The world looks completely different when you can see in infrared.

I sometimes think that God sees us in “infrared.” He can see things in us that are invisible to others, and even to ourselves.

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Season of Stillness

Empty cafe in Italy
Photo by Peter H. on Pixabay

The lockdowns associated with the coronavirus pandemic have produced some unexpected results in the natural world.

With fewer vehicles and industrial machines operating, noise pollution has been reduced so dramatically that seismologists can hear sounds from inside the planet that they couldn’t detect previously.

In cities, reduced traffic noise is allowing people to hear birdsong, the chatter of squirrels, and the chirping of crickets like never before. People have been surprised to discover that they can now hear the flapping of birds’ wings as they pass overhead.

A quieter environment is probably also allowing animals to hear each other better. City birds usually have to sing more loudly than their country cousins to make themselves heard above the urban cacophony: perhaps their mates and rivals can hear them more easily now. With a reduction in ship traffic, marine mammals might also be finding that they can contact each other with greater ease now that there is less “acoustic smog” in the oceans.

If we can hear the creation better during the lockdowns, and creation can hear itself better, can we hear our Creator better?

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Solidarity With the Persecuted Church

Photo by Imagens Cristas on Flickr
CC BY-NC 2.0

For those of us who are regular church-goers, the cessation of regular worship gatherings due to the coronavirus has been wrenching.

With churches shuttered temporarily, the children’s and youth activities, Bible studies, and men’s and women’s groups that they housed have had to close down along with them. Sure, some churches have switched to live-streamed Sunday services and online gatherings, but we’re not able to meet in person to worship or fellowship like we used to.

We probably feel a little hard done by, don’t we?

But there’s one group of Christians for whom these sorts of restrictions have long been an all too familiar reality:

The Persecuted Church.

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Volatility Index of Your Heart

Feel like pressing the panic button?
Photo from Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA-2.0

If you follow the stock market, you might be familiar with something called the Volatility Index. Sometimes called the “fear index,” it gauges the market’s anxiety level.

When investors are fearful and markets are in turmoil, the volatility index spikes higher. Now happens to be one of those times, thanks to fears over the impact of the coronavirus.

It made me wonder, do our hearts have a “volatility index” of their own?

And if they do, what can we do to keep our emotions on an even keel, when our circumstances might give us every reason to panic? How can we find peace even in the midst of turmoil?

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Promises of Good Things To Come

Vintage seed catalogues from the 1890s.
(Publicdomainpictures.net)

When winter still has us in its icy grip, it’s hard to imagine that it will ever let us go. There seems to be no end to the frigid temperatures and snowstorms, and it can really get a person down.

What can we do to give us hope during a bleak, cold winter?

A favourite thing that gardeners do is to curl up indoors with some seed catalogues. They read about the promise of future luxuriant flower gardens and abundant crops of vegetables. It lifts their spirits and helps them hold on until spring comes.

Let me show you what I mean:

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Need a “Stop-Loss” For Your Life?

Stock Market Correction
Photo by Rafael Matsunaga on Flickr CC BY-2.0

If you’re familiar with the stock market, you probably know what a “stop-loss” is. It’s an order whereby your shares are automatically sold if their value drops to a predetermined level. This prevents your losses from becoming even greater if share prices drop further.

It’s a handy tool to set in place when trading on the stock market. It locks in your profits or limits your losses in a down market, and helps preclude financial catastrophe.

But don’t you wish we had a “stop-loss” for real-life problems?

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