Forward Guidance From God

1890s image of banker from Picryl, Library of Congress collection, Public Domain.

Central bankers can be inscrutable folk.

They issue statements regarding the economy that can sometimes be a bit enigmatic and vague.

Economists and journalists pore over every word of each press release, trying to read between the lines and guess at what the central banker is thinking and planning.

At other times, however, central bankers are more forthright.

They issue what is known as “forward guidance”: clearcut statements about the likely course of future monetary policy.

They may plainly state that at their next scheduled meeting, interest rates will be going up (or down). People are able to make decisions about mortgages or loans based on that foreknowledge.

Don’t you wish that God offered “forward guidance”?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God let you know in advance what’s coming down the pike in your life?

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Focus On Alpha and Omega, not Delta and Omicron

Alpha and Omega letters. Image by J. & R. Lamb Studios, 1857, U.S.Library of Congress Collection via Picryl

Just when you thought you could see a light at the end of the tunnel, the light bulb burns out.

This pandemic sort of feels like that, doesn’t it?

It almost looked like we were getting a handle on COVID-19, and then along comes the Omicron variant. At this juncture it still remains to be seen just how benign or destructive Omicron will be, and whether it will displace the Delta variant. But it’s not the news we wanted to hear, was it?

And there’s always the possibility that other variants may develop in the future. With each of them now being named after a letter of the Greek alphabet, I’m learning a bit more Greek these days than I cared to!

But really, there are only two letters of the Greek alphabet that believers need to focus on, and they’re not Delta and Omicron.

They’re Alpha and Omega.

These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In the Bible, this pair of letters represents both God the Father and Jesus Christ.

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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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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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The Way of Escape

Image of Jewelweed flower by jimaro morales from Pixabay

Sometimes Mother Nature can reach out and bite you.

If you’ve ever suffered the ill effects of a run-in with stinging nettles or poison ivy, you’ll know what I mean.

Both of these plants produce an unpleasant, itchy rash if your exposed skin comes in contact with them. If this happens when you’re out in the woods and nowhere near a pharmacy to buy rash cream, where do you find some relief?

From Mother Nature herself!

The wilderness might have stung you, but it also provides an effective solution.

Plants such as dock and jewelweed (also called touch-me-not) help relieve the sting from nettles and the itch from poison ivy. The sap of these “rescue” plants, when rubbed on the skin, provides a cooling, soothing effect. Native Americans have known this trick for millennia.

Conveniently, dock and jewelweed can usually be found growing in the same area as poison ivy and stinging nettles.

Coincidence? I’m not so sure.

I think God placed the “cures” near the harmful plants on purpose.

For one thing, He knew we’d need a ready remedy for skin woes when out in the bush.

Also, it illustrates a truth contained in the Bible:

When we are faced with temptation, God always provides a way of escape along with it.

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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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Watch the Impossible Happen

Image by Josef Pichler from Pixabay

They say that it’s impossible for bumble bees to fly.

The theory goes that their weight and size are too great for their tiny wings to support, so according to the laws of aerodynamics they shouldn’t be able to get off the ground.

The only problem is, no one has told the bumble bees that.

They seem to have no difficulty in buzzing about in the air from flower to flower, collecting pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive.

So how do they do it, when physics would seem to suggest that they can’t?

For a long time, this was a mystery to us. Eventually we discovered that bumble bees actually don’t defy the laws of aviation: they simply fly in a different way than a plane or bird does.

We learned that the propeller-like way they beat their wings creates an invisible force above them, like a mini-tornado or -hurricane. This vortex actually sucks them upward, giving them lift in spite of their weight.

There was more going on than met the eye, which allowed the “impossible” to happen.

Likewise, when we believe in God, there is more going on in our lives than we’re aware of.

When God is working in your life, sometimes He will cause the impossible to happen, even when you can’t see how it could.

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Plant the Seeds of Your Dreams

Vintage seed packets. Photo by Douglas Coulter on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you’re a gardener, you probably have a stash of seeds tucked away.

I certainly do. I have a special bin in a cupboard where I store all my seed packets:

Envelopes containing seeds I’ve harvested over the years from plants in my garden. Seeds that friends have collected from their own gardens and then passed on to me, along with handwritten notes about the plants.

Packets of seeds I’ve bought the Botanic Garden’s seed fairs that look intriguing: seeds of rare plants, unusual colours of better known plants, or hard-to-find heirloom varieties of vegetables or flowers.

I have a veritable treasure trove of seeds in my cupboard!

There’s only one problem:

Those seeds are doing me absolutely no good sitting in a bin on a shelf.

I may take the packets out from time to time and look rapturously at the photos on the front. I might imagine how nice it would be to grow such gorgeous flowers or unusual veggies.

But until I put those seeds in the ground, all they are is wishful thinking and pretty pictures.

If I don’t take a step of faith and plant my seeds, I’ll never get a harvest.

Similarly, we sometimes leave our dreams and desires on a shelf, so to speak.

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The Best Fire Protection

Baked Alaska dessert set alight. Image by Vxla on Flickr. CC BY-2.0

Baked Alaska is one of those desserts that seems like it will end in disaster.

This dessert involves covering a core of ice cream and cake with meringue and baking it at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Really.

Who puts ice cream in a hot oven anyway?

Surely it will result in a melted mess, and you’ll be spending the next hour resentfully scrubbing out your oven.

But Baked Alaska will surprise and amaze you.

When you take this dessert out of the oven after a few minutes, you find that the meringue has cooked and slightly browned, but the ice cream underneath it is still cold and has retained its firm shape. The ice cream inside the “igloo” has remained untouched by the intense heat.

It seems miraculous, because you’d think that ice cream would melt when it came anywhere near temperatures that high. It’s not actually a miracle, however, but rather a clever application of physics. The dessert was invented in the 1800s by American physicist Benjamin Thompson, who was investigating the insulating properties of whipped egg whites.

If you want a genuine example of miraculous protection from a hot oven, you need to go the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

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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.

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