Friday, November 6, 2009


My flight instructor warned me, “Do not trust your feelings! Keep your eyes on the instrument panel.” I can’t tell you how difficult that was. For several minutes I flew at about a half mile above the ground with my hands gripping the controls. “Now prepare to land,” my instructor directed. It was my first attempt at landing.

I radioed my intention to the tower then gently turned the plane to align myself with the runway. I was now flying in the landing pattern and waiting for my turn to bring the plane down. “You must keep your eyes on those instrument gauges!” my instructor warned. My eyes quickly scanned the panel.

The altimeter indicated that I was flying at the right altitude, approximately 1,500 feet above the runway. The airspeed indicator showed that my speed was proper—not so fast that I would be unable to land, and not so slow that I would “land” (or perhaps I should say “crash”) before I reached the runway. The fuel gauge reported that I had a half a tank.

“Sport 1150 you’re cleared to land,” the air traffic controller’s voice crackled on the two-way radio. My hands were sweating. With my instructor beside me, we rolled into the final approach to the runway. I extended the flaps on the wings. The plane slowed, and began to drop toward the runway.

For a moment I turned my attention away from the gauges, to look out at the horizon. “Pull back on the stick!” my instructor raised his voice. “Keep your wings level!” He shouted. Watch those gauges. Suddenly an alarm sounded. “Rick!” My instructor’s voice was urgent. “Watch…”

But it was too late. The plane hit the ground moving at 100 miles an hour. My first landing ended in disaster. Fortunately, I was only flying a Flight Simulator—a plane built to teach new students how to fly before actually leaving the ground.

What had been my fatal mistake? I had failed to keep my eye on the gauge that showed my plane’s relationship to the horizon. This gauge indicates to the pilot if the wings are tilted or parallel to the ground. It also would also show if the plane was pointed to the surface of the earth or up towards the sky. Pilots know this gauge to be the ATTITUDE INDICATOR or artificial horizon indicator.

I’ve often thought how appropriately named that gauge really is. As we fly through life, it is vital that we pay attention to our ATTITUDE. If we fail to keep a right attitude, we too will crash.

THE BIBLE URGES GOD’S PEOPLE TO THINK AS CHRIST THOUGHT. “Let this mind [or attitude] be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5.) That means that we are to discern what is holy and sinful, and that we are to approach each situation with a Christ-like attitude.

Truth is, OUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES OUR ALTITUDE. If we have a Christ-like attitude we will have a heavenly altitude! No matter what our circumstance may be—for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health—we can triumph in every circumstance when our hearts and minds are directed towards heaven.

Fear is paralyzing. But faith—that unshakeable confidence in God and His goodness is empowering. I can’t think of any great accomplishment that was built on the foundation of fear. I can think of many temporal and spiritual victories that have been won because someone believed God. (Be faithful!)

Impossibility thinking is debilitating. But possibility thinking—directed and inspired by God—enables us “attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” (the words of William Carey, missionary to India). The enemy says, “It can’t be done!” But Jesus said, “with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (Be confident!)

Hopelessness drives us to despair. But the Christian’s hope—the assurance that one day our “faith shall be sight”—keeps us moving towards victory. Our brave American veterans who fought their way onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, pressed forward with the hope that they would win. And they did! (Be hopeful!)

In fact, if we had come to St. Louis with a hopeless attitude there would be no Faith Community today. But we believe God! And we know, that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. We know that “he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Philippians 3:20. I agree with the songwriter:
We’ve come this far by faith, Leaning on the Lord
Trusting in His Holy Word, He’s never failed us yet.
Oh! We can’t turn back! We’ve come this far by faith!

The Scriptures urge us to:

“Rejoice evermore!” 1st Thessalonians 5:16 (Be joyful!)

“In everything give thanks!” 1st Thessalonians 5:18 (Be grateful!)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (Be encouraged!)

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. (Be compassionate!)

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1st John 4:7. (Be loving!)

“Comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” 1st Thessalonians 5:14.
(Be patient)

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1st Timothy 6:6. (Be satisfied!)

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” Philippians 4:6. (Be exultant!)
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (Be intentionally upward in your thinking!)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7. (Be peaceful!)

SO BEFORE YOUR PLANE HITS THE GROUND, CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE! And let the mind of Christ be in you! Ultimately it is a matter of our will agreeing with God’s will. When we give up on seeing things our way, and begin seeing things God’s way, it is then that our hearts and minds and lives will soar into the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God!” Romans 12:2.