Friday, October 28, 2016

 Taken from the July 2014 Edition of the Focus on Christ Newsletter.


By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

What I've learned from aviation, is that planes are lost not in the storms, or when the engines quit, but when the training is neglected under blue skies, and calm winds, when the engines are running. Its too late when the storm hits. You are either prepared, or not. Captain Sullenberger who made the emergency landing in the Hudson, said in an interview with Air and Space, that they didn't have time to get through page one of the engine restart checklist. That day however started like any other--normal. Normal is good. In the space shuttle days, the astronauts talking to ground control about their systems working correctly, called it “nominal”.

How do you handle emergencies? Unfortunately, some emergencies are catastrophic and there just isn't time to do anything. There are three phases in these unfolding events, that determine whether they are catastrophic, or miraculous.
The first is the what we might call the nominal phase. What are the conditions prior to the event? To me, this is the most important phase. And the reason is the next two phases. It is the daily discipline that take place here that determine the outcomes. Where many of us are now.

The second phase is common to all emergencies. The year 2009 gave us two events to learn from. The first was US Air flight 1549 which I already referred, and Air France flight 447.
While there are notable and obvious differences, notwithstanding the outcomes, there are a couple of crucial similarities, and lessons learned. In both cases, there was mere seconds to save the ship. The transfer of a routine flight when everything is "peachy" to certain perishing of all on board took place in seconds. It is mind numbing how quickly we have to be called on to that transition. One moment peace and quiet, or the wonderful scream of jet engines to chaos, and a much more ominous silence from the engines. Unfortunately not all captains realize this. Recent mass tragedies of cruise ships and ferries tell us this. That screeching noise of rocks on the hull, or listing to port are ominous harbingers of something wrong.

Both flights took off normally, with a period of nominal performance. Admitted Captain Sullenburger's normal flight was measured in only seconds. Flight 447's flight plan was normal for several hours. Passengers had time to watch a movie, be served their refreshments, and settle in for a good sleep.

The other similarity is the suddenness to which the pilots needed to declare an emergency. Experiencing an emergency, is not the same as declaring and emergency. It may be surprising, but just declaring an emergency is a big issue. Certain things happen when those words are stated. And too many of us think we can handle a situation, which really is an emergency. For Captain Sullenberger, it was obvious--the engines quit not long after takeoff--talk about an awkward silence. For the pilots of flight 447 it was "kinda" obvious, and "kinda" not. However, for them, after some three to four hours in the air, they were all dead in three and a half minutes. The last question heard on the black boxes in the cockpit, was "What is happening?" It would be over three years before they knew the answer to the pilots' question after recovering the wreckage from the Atlantic. Realizing an emergency saves lives.
Both cases held grave consequences for the passengers and crew. That is the last similarity between these two fateful flights. It is the consequences that are often the unseen factor in these situations. We live in a day and age when consequences seemingly can be "ducked", postponed or avoided altogether. But there are always consequences to our actions, or inactions.

Not every person, or ship captain, for that matter takes preparation seriously. Including all of us at one time or another. We've seen catastrophe's over the last hundred years beginning with the Titanic, and more recently, Asiana 777 crash in San Francisco, a cruise ship, and just this past spring, the South Korean ferry. Each of those has a different reason why they ended badly.

The only one of these situations that ended without loss of life, was one in which there was advance preparation. All others were catastrophic.

The Bible tells us there is an emergency coming. It is certain. Unlike air travel, one's chance of emergency is almost nil. But for each of us, there is a crisis coming. We are going to die and face judgment. Some of us will have time to prepare, and some of us will not.

So how prepared are you and I for our certain emergency? We are in a period of calm--normal. We have blue skies and calm winds above. Now is the day of salvation, according to Hebrews chapter three. Here is the warning from chapter two, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him...”

We can look to the Cross of Calvary, where Jesus faced judgment for us. That's the beginning of the “heeding” mentioned in the above text. The rest is daily walking and surrender to Christ.

As a congregation too, as leadership, we are in preparation mode—while things are seeming “normal”, The horizon is screaming change. The landscape is changing before our eyes. And if we are not careful, we will be caught unprepared. The only preparation is that of the soldier, in Ephesians 6.
Not only is there persecution increasing at an exponential rate, critical academics are ratcheting up attacks. Because of our Biblical/Theological positions, we could find ourselves on the wrong end of the law, facing legal costs, defense and issues we've never dreamed of.
We need to pray. Its all around us, and we have to decide NOW what our position is.

Today's Wall Street Journal had a story, about a Washington DC couple who were scheduled to go to Granada in Spain for vacation. After departure, watching the monitor on the seat in front of them were horrified to discover they were headed to the Carribean. They are suing British Airways. How much worse would it be to discover you are headed to Hell because of bad scheduling? Trust Christ today. Nothing else is more important. Realize the situation, and declare an emergency. Your emergency will not be catastrophic, but miraculous.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom

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