Your Internal Voice Recognition Software

Adele live in concert, Glasgow, 2016. Wikimedia Commons CC BY-2.0

Sometimes your eyes may fool you, but your ears know the truth.

A group of Adele impersonators found this out back in 2015.

They had gathered for a contest to choose who could best imitate the British singer Adele. The competition was filmed as a supposed BBC TV special, hosted by Graham Norton.

There was a catch, however. It wasn’t really a contest, but rather a set-up.

Unbeknownst to the other participants, the real Adele had gone undercover and had entered the competition as well. A movie effects specialist had disguised the superstar’s appearance with a fake nose and chin so that people wouldn’t recognize her. She introduced herself as “Jenny,” a nanny.

One by one, the contestants performed a song. Each had done her make-up to look like the real Adele. And some did a passable impression of her vocally, too.

Then, “Jenny” began to sing.

Once she opened her mouth and sang in her trademark style, the other “Adeles” were riveted. They got emotional as goosebumps ran up their arms. It soon dawned on them that it was actually their idol singing, not some anonymous nanny (watch the video of their reactions here).

There was no mistaking who it was anymore, even if she was in disguise.

Simply put, they knew her voice.

Did you know that, if you’re a believer, you have a similar ability within you? You have an internal “voice recognition software” that enables you to recognize Jesus’ voice.

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All in Good Time

They say cooking is an art, but baking is a science.

Part of what makes baking scientific is that it often calls for exact timing.

When you cook a roast or a turkey in the oven, the estimated cooking time can vary. The meat will be in the oven for several hours, and the recipe might give you as much as a half-hour window to start checking for doneness.

But when you’re baking cookies, the recipe will sometimes only give you a two-minute span to remove them from the oven. You have to be on your toes so you don’t miss this window, but at least you have a greater degree of certainty as to when the baking process will be over.

We humans crave certainty, don’t we? And that’s especially true when we’re going through difficult things in our personal lives.

Wouldn’t you love it if God told us exactly when our time of suffering would end?

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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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Easier to Destroy Than Create

It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.

I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.

A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.

I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.

But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.

It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.

A cautionary tale, don’t you think?

If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.

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Clues to God’s Presence

If you’re out in the countryside, how can you tell if you’re near water?

You may be able to catch a glimpse of blue and know that you’re near a lake or pond, but sometimes trees may hide it from your view. What then?

You can use your other senses, plus search for indirect clues.

If you hear the sound of waves lapping on the shore or running water cascading over rocks, you know you’re close to water even if you can’t see it.

Hearing the call of the red-winged blackbird can be another clue, because this bird prefers habitats near water.

Your sense of smell might help you detect the presence of water, too. Wet earth gives off a distinctive scent, and the presence of algae in a lake also emits an odour that can be a tip-off.

If vegetation is blocking the sight of a pond or river, even that vegetation itself can be a clue for you. If you see lots of willow trees, you’re bound to be near water, as willows are naturally found there.

So there are things we can look for that indicate the presence of water, even if it’s hidden from our sight.

But what about when we’re trying to determine if God is near?

We might not be able to see Him directly in physical form, but are there still indications that our Heavenly Father is close by?

Yes!

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Precedented Times Are Coming

Aren’t you a bit tired of living in “unprecedented times”?

You’re not alone. I saw a slogan on a T-shirt the other day which read, “I miss precedented times.”

We’re all longing to go back to our normal, predictable lives, the way they used to be.

But even when we’re able to return to a semblance of our pre-pandemic existence, we still aren’t guaranteed a life without injustices, sorrows and unwelcome surprises.

Jesus told us that “in this world, you will have trouble.” And ain’t that the truth!

Even so, we can have hope that with God, we can still live in “precedented times.” How so?

When you read the Bible, you find there are precedents to receiving healing, restoration, wholeness and joy, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem.

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Date Night With God

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If you’re married, do you have a “date night” with your spouse?

Some people set aside time each week when they get together with their spouse, just the two of them, and do something special.

Life is so busy these days that we sometimes have to actually schedule time to spend with our spouse. We have to juggle work, raising children, community involvements, caring for aging parents, hobbies, and so on.

There are so many demands on our time that we often have difficulty making sure we’re giving enough attention to the person most important to us.

And besides, we know that our spouse is aware of our love for them. So we let things slide and don’t make the relationship a priority.

In this way, however, the bond between you starts to suffer. Without regular conversations and one-on-one time, a distance can start to grow in the relationship.

It’s the same with our relationship with God: we’re so busy with family and work commitments that we sometimes fail to fit Him in to our schedules.

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Your Heavenly Pinch Hitter

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Do you ever feel a bit shaky when you’re “up at bat” in life?

Sometimes we face daunting challenges, and don’t feel we’re capable of facing them on our own. We feel like we need a bit of help, someone who can take over for us when we’re at our weakest.

Someone like a pinch hitter.

In baseball, a pinch hitter acts as substitute who bats for a teammate. The pinch hitter might step in because the original player is injured, or when the one next up at bat is a less effective hitter, such as when a pitcher is worn out after six or seven innings pitching.

The manager might decide that the substitute has a better chance of helping their team to score, or may send in the pinch hitter to execute a specific play. In many cases, the pinch hitter will be called upon at a critical moment in the game.

Sounds like a handy person to have around, doesn’t it?

Did you know that believers have a heavenly “pinch hitter”?

This teammate who comes to your aid is the Holy Spirit Himself.

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Have Faith, And Bring Your Umbrella!

Image by Lorri Lang from Pixabay

If you’re a gardener, you know that when you plant seeds in the ground, you can expect results.

Not every seed will germinate, but a great many will. So you need to make preparations beforehand.

For instance, if you’ve planted seeds of climbing plants, you’ll need to provide something for them to cling to as they grow upward. Even if your pea or bean seeds haven’t germinated yet, you still might prepare some trellises or stakes for their eventual growth.

You wouldn’t think of not getting ready for the emergence of your seedlings and adult plants, would you? You have faith that they’re on the way.

Isn’t it funny, then, that when we pray and ask God for things, we often don’t really expect we’ll see any results?

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Angels Are Fighting For You

Image of the Northern Lights by Noel Bauza from Pixabay

If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Northern or Southern Lights, what do you think you’re seeing?

This spectacular light display, called the aurora borealis or australis, is usually confined to the high latitudes at the Earth’s poles.

Many people view these shifting ribbons of light as a sort of otherworldly dance in the sky. Others see the swirling colours as a mystical painting come to life. Some indigenous peoples believed the eerie, glowing streamers were ancestral spirits.

But when you look at the auroras, what you’re really seeing is a battle.

The entrancing, ghostly lights result from charged particles from the Sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. These particles, borne on the solar wind, are constantly bombarding our planet. At times they’re more intense, as during periods of high sunspot activity.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from this barrage of particles, like a “deflector shield” in a science fiction movie. Without this protection, the solar wind would eventually kill us.

Our magnetic field is always there, an invisible but highly effective shield. It deflects 98% of the particles spewed out by the Sun in our direction, but is slightly weaker near the poles. During the ethereal display known as the Northern and Southern Lights, our magnetic blanket becomes visible as it works to protect us.

What we see as an intriguing and beautiful phenomenon is actually visible evidence of a fierce battle going on for our lives.

Likewise, in life, sometimes we don’t fully understand the battles that are raging behind the scenes.

Unknowingly, as we go about our daily lives, believers are being protected by heavenly forces from harm. We usually can’t see these protective beings, but they’re there nonetheless, working on our behalf.

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