Get In Tune With God

Image by Christine Morton from Pixabay

Before musicians play a piece of music, they get their instruments in tune.

But how do they know which is the true pitch to align with?

The piano might think it’s got the correct “A” note, but the violin begs to differ. Or maybe the clarinet insists that it’s the only one who truly has the right note; a mere trumpet certainly wouldn’t know.

To settle the arguments of squabbling instruments, there’s only one solution:

Use a tuning fork (or its electronic equivalent).

When struck, a traditional tuning fork vibrates at 440 Hz to produce a pure “concert A” note. Once this correct pitch has been established and sounded, all the instruments can tune to it instead of to each other.

This guarantees that the whole orchestra will be perfectly in tune.

I think there’s a little lesson that we believers can glean from this…

Too often, we want other believers to get in alignment with our viewpoint, our “pitch,” as it were. We insist that only we have the correct revelation from the Word of God about this or that matter, and everyone else needs to get on board with us.

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The Only Horoscope You’ll Ever Need

Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

What’s your astrological sign? Are you a Libra or a Leo?

Do you read your horoscope daily and make life decisions based on that advice?

Astrology teaches that the time cycle in which you were born determines your personality, and to some extent the course of your life. But this might leave you with a sense of being powerless, at the mercy of impersonal forces beyond your control.

Isn’t there something better to help you navigate your way through life?

I believe there is.

How would you like a horoscope that is valid for every day of the year, no matter when you were born?

One that contained truths you could always rely on, was written by Someone who knows you and loves you, and is not determined by inanimate objects like stars or an impersonal and arbitrary time cycle?

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My Lifeguard Walks On Water

Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

For those of you who live near a large body of water, or who might be visiting one during the summer, what are some important things to remember when spending a day at the beach?

Remembering to apply sunscreen is definitely important. So is bringing snacks, a blanket to lie on, and perhaps an umbrella to sit under. Maybe a toy bucket and shovel for the kids to play with in the sand.

But isn’t there something more important than all of those?

How about remembering to pay attention to the lifeguard?

If you’re visiting a public beach by an ocean or large lake, there will probably be a lifeguard station there. Lifeguards will be in place at intervals on raised platforms above the sandy shoreline. If the lifeguard tells you the undertow makes it unsafe to swim in the water, obey his or her instructions.

There will also be rules set forth on signs along the beach. To have an enjoyable and safe day at the beach, it’s important to obey those rules. Stay within the boundaries of the supervised areas. Pay close attention to the warning flags.

The rules are there to protect you.

It’s the same with God, isn’t it? He has set forth rules for us in His Word, the Bible. He wants us to stay within His boundaries in the way we behave. He wants us to obey His instructions, because they’re for our good.

His rules are there to protect us.

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Empty Rooms Tell A Story

Image by dozemode from Pixabay

Empty rooms can sometimes tell a pretty full story.

For instance, if you come downstairs into your empty kitchen and find chocolate sauce smeared over everything and a trail of chocolatey footprints leading into a closet, you can probably surmise what happened:

Your four-year-old went wild while you were busy upstairs and is now in hiding.

Or if you come home to an empty living room only to discover the sofa’s cushions have been chewed to bits and there is stuffing all over the place, the room itself tells you all you need to know: that your naughty dog shouldn’t be left alone so long.

Perhaps you arrive back from vacation and each empty room shows evidence of having been ransacked. A window was broken, drawers have been pulled open, and valuable items are missing. Police detectives find additional clues in the house that help them figure out the identity of the burglar.

Investigators (and parents) are masters at being able to figure out what story an empty room tells.

I wonder if we can use our detective skills to determine what the empty tomb of Jesus conveys?

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Easter: Jesus’ Finest Hour

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What makes something your “finest hour”?

To answer that question, we first have to reach back to June 16, 1940, when that phrase was made famous in a speech by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

World War Two had begun the previous year. France, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands had all fallen under the jackboots of the Nazis. It was a dark time, and the only thing standing between Hitler and control of the rest of Europe was the island nation of Britain.

In this context, Churchill prepared his people for the immense sacrifices that would be asked of them in the coming battles. He told them that the survival of their nation and way of life lay at stake. He let them know the consequences both of success and of failure in the task ahead of them.

He concluded his speech with one of the great rallying cries in history:

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

Churchill was telling the British people that their finest hour would not be a time of ease or comfort. Rather, it would encompass pain, sacrifice, duty, and selflessness.

The same holds true for us.

And the same held true for Jesus in His finest hour.

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Have You Found The Way?

Image by claumoho on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Have you ever tried navigating through a maze?

Perhaps as a kid you tried to find your way in and out of a hedge maze in a park. Or maybe you visited a maze made of corn or sunflower stalks in a farmer’s field. They’re fun, aren’t they?

Mazes can vary dramatically in size. Some are so large that visitors are given an emergency cell phone number to call if they get lost in the maze and can’t find their way out!

You might wonder, is a maze the same as a labyrinth?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a difference between them.

A maze is known as “multicursal.”

It branches off into many confusing paths and surprising dead ends. A maze may have several entrances and exits. The surrounding hedges or walls are so high and dense that you can’t see the whole pattern unless you get up high in a viewing tower or balloon ride. A maze is for entertainment, a fun puzzle to try to solve.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, is “unicursal.”

A labyrinth has only one track or walkway, and it doesn’t branch off into dead ends. There’s only one way in or out. You enter, follow the path to the centre, and continue on the same path until you reach the exit. Sometimes the barriers on either side are very low, allowing you to see the entire pattern. Walking a labyrinth can be a calming, spiritual practice.

Which does Christianity most resemble, a maze or a labyrinth?

Jesus implies that it’s more like a labyrinth:

There’s only one way in, and one path to follow.

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What Will You Grow: Fear or Faith?

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

With the arrival of spring, gardeners are faced with some difficult decisions:

What should I grow in my garden?

You only have so much square footage and only so much soil.

You have to make hard choices about what plants will be given space, and which ones you’ll have to forgo this year.

Maybe you’d like to grow dozens of pink roses in your garden plot. That’s a great idea: it would look gorgeous and smell beautiful.

But then you’d have to give up on the idea of growing a vegetable garden in that spot. You simply don’t have the space to do both.

If you dream of having a wildflower meadow in your yard, you’ll have to skip your plan of creating a formal French garden. You have enough room for one or the other, but not both.

Similarly, you only have so much real estate in your mind.

You have to make decisions about what you’ll let take up space.

What will you grow there?

Faith or fear?

They both grow in the same soil, so to speak: uncertainty.

But only one of them produces a harvest that’s worthwhile.

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Mustard Seed Faith

What are the smallest seeds on earth?

You might guess mustard seeds. Close, but not quite.

How about poppy seeds?

They’re very tiny. You’ll find out how extremely tiny they are if you accidentally spill them on the floor. You’ll discover that you can’t pick them all up by hand: it’s hopeless. You have to bring out your vacuum. (Don’t ask me how I found this out!)

Actually, the tiniest seeds on earth are said to be those of certain orchids from the tropical rainforest. Each of these dust-like seeds weighs only one 35 millionth of an ounce. They’re smaller than a grain of salt.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the prize for the largest seed on earth probably goes to the Coco-de-Mer palm tree of the Seychelles Islands. One of its seeds can weigh up to 45 pounds.

Mustard seeds are a bit larger than poppy seeds, but they’re still exceptionally tiny compared to most seeds.

They’re so small that Jesus used them as an example in one of His teachings. Surprisingly, He said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could see great things accomplished.

How is this possible?

Because when we have even a small amount of pure faith, God uses it as a force multiplier. Our tiny contribution somehow provides the spark for God’s power to show up in a big way.

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How To Become A Loaf Of Bread

Imagine that you’re a ball of bread dough (for some of us whose figures are a bit “doughy,” this isn’t much of a stretch).

You’ve had your ingredients mixed together nicely, and you’ve been resting for a while after all that effort. You feel good: you’ve even risen higher. It won’t be long now until you become a beautiful loaf of bread.

But wait! What’s that coming toward you? It’s a fist! Someone is actually punching you! You feel yourself deflate, and lose a lot of your volume. Then you’re lifted out of the warm bowl you were in and slapped onto a counter. Ouch! That hurt! The hands are now kneading and pummelling you. You wish they could be a bit more gentle.

Finally, it stops. Thank goodness! That was excruciating! You’re now resting back in your bowl in a warm spot, with a tea towel over you to protect you from drafts and from drying out. You can relax now. At least all that pain is over with.

Or is it? Some time later, here come the hands again. They lift the tea towel and begin punching you down anew, just when you’d risen to your previous height. Not again! You’ve got to be kidding! Wasn’t once enough? Once more, you’re kneaded and prodded, stretched and pressed down hard. What good could this possibly be doing you?

When all the pummelling is finished, you’re shaped and placed into a loaf pan. At least it’s cozy here, and the hands have disappeared for a while. You can rest again. Surely nothing worse will happen to you.

But then suddenly you’re thrust into a searing oven. Yikes, that’s hot! You feel your insides begin to transform, and your surface start to turn brown.

You’re becoming a loaf of bread after all.

But why all the trouble and pain? Was it really necessary?

Yes, because that’s what gave you a finer texture.

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Of Lions And Lambs

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Do you have some weather sayings or proverbs in your area?

Maybe you’ve heard ones like “April showers bring May flowers,” or “Clear moon, frost soon.”

Perhaps you know this weather proverb: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

Here in the northern hemisphere, we say “March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb.”

This saying might have started out referring to the stars. The beginning of March sees the constellation Leo (the lion) rising in the east. The end of the month features the constellation Aries (the ram or lamb) setting in the west.

Over time, the saying shifted to have more of a weather connotation. The start of March is often cold and stormy, fierce like a lion. By the end of the month, the weather has turned more calm and gentle, almost lamb-like.

This weather proverb doesn’t always hold true, of course; sometimes March starts out like a lamb but ends like a ferocious lion!

There is, however, a Biblical promise about these two animals that you can bank on:

Jesus came to earth first as a lamb, but will return as a lion.

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