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Discipling Faith


If our primary job as followers of Jesus is to make disciples, then our job as leaders is to equip people to do that very task.

 

Discipling is about helping people build a history with God by learning to live by authentic faith and, as the apostle Paul reminds us, not by our five senses.

 

They will simply fail us in this new way to be human.

 

That in itself is a very different life skill. And so when circumstances say otherwise, faith becomes the guiding instrument in maintaining holistic equilibrium.

 

Nearly twenty-five years ago, John F. Kennedy Jr. was only 38 when the small plane he was piloting disappeared on a densely foggy night. Pilots questioned the relatively new skill set that John F. Kennedy Jr. had to attempt a flight in poor weather over the ocean that killed him, his wife and her sister.

 

Researchers at the University of Illinois wondered how long a pilot with little instrument training expect to live after he flies into bad weather and loses visual contact? They ran tests with twenty students in flight simulators that recreated what’s called “instrument” weather. Every one of them crashed—the average time a mere 178 seconds.

 

A pilot has written what that scenario looks like, very possibly what young JFK Jr. experienced. Buckle in…it’s brutal:

 

The sky is overcast and visibility is poor. That reported five mile visibility looks more like two, and you can't judge the height of the overcast. Your altimeter tells you that you are at 1500 feet but your map tells you that there's local terrain as high as 1200. There might be a tower nearby because you're not sure how far off course you are. But you've flown into worse weather than this, so you press on.

 

You find yourself unconsciously easing back just a bit on the controls to clear any towers. With no warning, you're in the soup. You peer so hard into the milky white mist that your eyes hurt. You fight the feeling in your stomach. Now you realize you should have waited for better weather. The appointment was important, but not all that important.

 

You now have 178 seconds to live.

 

Your aircraft feels on even keel but your compass turns slowly. You push a little rudder and add a little pressure on the controls to stop the turn but this feels unnatural and so you return the controls to their original position. This feels better but now your compass is turning faster and your airspeed is increasing. You scan your instruments for help but what you see looks unfamiliar. You're sure that this is just a bad spot. You'll break out in a few minutes, except that you now only have 100 seconds to live.

 

You glance at your altimeter and are shocked to see it unwinding. You're already down to 1200 feet. Instinctively, you pull back on the controls but the altimeter still unwinds. The engine is into the red and the airspeed, nearly so.

 

You have 45 seconds to live.

 

Now you're sweating and shaking. There must be something wrong with the controls; pulling back only moves the airspeed indicator further into the red. You can hear the wind tearing at the aircraft…but can see nothing.

 

You have 10 seconds to live.

 

Suddenly you see the ground. The trees rush up at you. You can see the horizon if you turn your head far enough but it's at a weird angle -- you're almost inverted. You open your mouth to scream but run out of seconds with the impact.

 

How horrifying.

 

When we lose our visual reference points and we’re trying to live by what we see through the windshield of our senses, our journey is ill-fated if we haven’t had critical instrumentation training. There is no meaning.

 

And so it is our duty to teach and model what it is to live by faith. This is such a vital skill that the writer of Hebrews makes an astounding statement, pointedly made in Peterson’s paraphrase:

 

“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” HEBREWS 11:6

 

When was the last time you unpacked authentic faith for your audience?



Dave Workman | The Elemental Group

 


 

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