Monday, August 17, 2009
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I knew this guy who, several times a week, would suddenly make this announcement, "Attitude check!" That never meant much to me until I began to have some friends who are private pilots. Up to that point, the only pilot I knew was with Pontius, you know. But that word "attitude" can be a life-or-death word for a pilot. One of my friends described a plane's attitude to me as its position relative to the ground, to the horizon - or, as he says, your angle of attack. After decades of flying, including landing on aircraft carriers, he summarized the importance of a plane's attitude this way, "Right attitude, you keep flying. Wrong attitude, you stop flying."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Attitude and Your Altitude."
Every pilot knows if your attitude is incorrect, there'll be tragic results. Every person knows that, or at least we should. If your attitude is right, you can make it through almost anything. If your attitude is wrong, you're going to start losing altitude, tumbling, and eventually crashing. In life, we usually don't get to choose our circumstances, the kind of stuff we have to fly through. A lot of that is determined by forces or people beyond our control. But we can choose our attitude. And it will be our attitude, not our circumstances, that determine whether we stay up or go down.
Pilots tell me that when you're flying by your instruments, in those times when conditions won't let you fly visually, you adjust your attitude based on an instrument called your artificial horizon. It actually shows you where the real horizon is. But when you can't see any points of reference, your senses start playing tricks on you. One veteran pilot friend of mine said that even he has to sometimes fight his instincts and feelings that are telling him lies about whether he's going up or down. The only thing that's telling him the truth is his artificial horizon.
For us, the horizon is the Word of God. After the loss of the Shuttle Columbia and its crew, I heard an interview in which it was reported that Commander Rick Husband read a Scripture passage to his crew on the night before their launch. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Joshua 1, beginning with verse 7, says, "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left...Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
Every new day, we've got to set our attitude based on quality time in God's Book; not just where we read the Bible, but where we let the Bible read us. For me, that means setting my attitude on "horizons" like these: "Jesus is Lord" over everything that's going to come up today. "Love covers a multitude of sins." If I love people, I'll overlook their mistakes today, not record them. That's a right attitude for the day. Then, there's those Biblical words "Whatever you do, do it with all your heart" (Colossians 3:23). So, whatever I have to do today, whether I particularly like it or not, do it with all my heart. When you're setting your attitude, set it on this, as well: "The battle is the Lord's" (2 Chronicles 20:14), every battle you're going to face today. And finally, "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2). Don't let anything or anyone distract you from Jesus as your focus.
Set your attitude by the "horizon" of God's unchanging Word, even when your feelings and your surroundings are screaming to go another way. If your attitude is right, you'll hold your course, you'll fly steady as she goes, and you will complete your mission. So choose your attitude.