Christian Aviation Network

Guiding Aviators and Aircrews through life's storms

Is God okay with same-sex marriages?  

AVIATION as working environment seems okay with gays and lesbians. But, since an elite group of intellectuals wants to go to court to enforce same-sex marriages in a mainstream church an old question has reared its head again: How can a loving God reject gays and lesbians?

The first part of the answer is God does not reject them. The real question is if same-sex marriages are part of the Christian culture?

Marriage is a Godly institution. The Holy Spirit is part of the union. A marriage without the Holy Spirit is like mixing custard powder and milk. Without heat the transformation to custard will never take place. Without God the relationship can never transcend the realms of the soul and the body.

Many marriages end up in the divorce court as God is never allowed to do the transformation.Children grow up in an environment in which role models are corrupted. Many suffer from rejection, neglect and abandonment and are physically and mentally abused. The likes of these are easy to spot.

A more affluent group produces subtler problems, though with no less non-biblical effects. The abuse is far less likely discerned as children are spoiled by parents who would rather give their ‘presents’ that their ‘presence’, as author Mark Twain put it. Self-centered folks are addicted to technology – internet, social media, computers, games, phones, televisions, etc. Parents who are not actually absent pursuing personal interests are absent minded. 

Children are 'paid off' to take a hike... to the mall, the club, sleep-overs... Resentment and rebellion set in. At the same time parents insist that children exceed expectations of themselves. They are supposed to become super-replicas and super-achievers. What better way for children to punish parents for such 'neglect' than to thwart their ambitions? With many marriages ending up in divorce courts gay and lesbian relationships seem a far better solution!  The image of a Godly father and mother is tainted.

Nevertheless, in Malachi 3: 15 (a) the biblical purpose of marriage is plainly revealed by posing a question: “…did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because, He sought a godly offspring [from your union – Amplified Bible]” The New Living Translation makes it simpler: “Didn't the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He wantGodly children from your union...”

God has created the threefold human being – body, soul and spirit according to 1 Thessalonians 5: 23. He wants us to be one spirit with Him, according to 1 Cor. 6: 12. We are NOT (own emphasis) our own, according to Rom. 8: 9 and 1 Cor. 6: 19. Our body is a temple to the Holy Spirit (6: 19). He made us in His image, male and female, according to Gen. 1: 27; then blessed and told us to be fruitful and multiply (28).  

We are His friends if we keep His commands (John 5: 14).  Jesus said, ‘If a person really loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our home with him’ (John 14: 23). ‘He who does not love Me does not obey My teaching’ (John 14: 24 a). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16: 26). He intercedes for us about our sins before the Father (Rom. 8: 34 and Heb. 7: 25). He did not come to judge us, but to free us (John 12: 47).The Word will judge us (John 12: 48). The Spirit will guide us (John 16: 13). The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8: 14). Would the Spirit lead us into same-sex marriages? Not unless God changes His Word. If that be the case Rom. 1: 26 b & 27 must be either rephrased or taken out of the Bible, i.e. “…women exchanged natural function for an unnatural… one and the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze with lust for one another – men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own bodies and personalities…” [Amplified Bible]

In 1 Cor. 6: 9 the question is posed: “Do you not know that the unrighteous and wrongdoers will not inherit any share in the Kingdom of God?” The answer is plainly, “Do not be deceived: Neither the impure and immoral, nor idol-worshippers, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality… (v. 10) ‘…Nor cheats, nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit and share in the kingdom of God”.

We might test truth by means of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. An antithesis would be “…ANY cheat, or idol worshipper, or adulterer, or those who participate in homosexuality… etc. WILL inherit and share in the kingdom of God”. If that be the case we could change the Scriptural mandate. 

When according to Gen. 19: 5 the men of Sodom called on Lot, “…where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know (be intimate with) them”, he should NOT (own emphasis) have retorted (7) “…I beg of you my brothers, do not behave so wickedly”.

In antithetical terms Leviticus 18: 22 should be changed to read, “…you shall (instead of “you shall not”) lie with a man as with a woman: it is not (instead of “it is”) …an abomination”. 

 When in Judges 19: 22 & 23 men of the village wanted to have intercourse with a (male) priest staying overnight at a charitable man’s house and demanded to have intercourse with him, the man of the house should then in antithetical terms NOT have appealed “…I pray to you do not act so wickedly…” Then they should have had their way “just way” with the man. The death of the woman raped to death in the man’s stead should NOT have led to civil war in all of Israel.

  • We can change through a transformation so complete our baptism is compared to a watery grave and our arising to the resurrection of Christ, according to Romans 6: 4 – 6 and Col. 2: 12. In John 3: 5 Jesus says “…except a man is reborn of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  So, if you’re going into the baptismal waters an adulterer you would expect to come out differently… a new being. Why would it be different for anyone of same-sex orientation, referred to in similar context in the same text? (1 Cor. 6: 9). God does not reject anyone. He has both paid the most terrible price and shown the way.  But, you have to do things His way, which is according to His Word.                              

Is Evil at work in aviation?

 

A subject suggesting a disconnection with reality is evil principalities. Whoever opens the Pandora’s Box may be categorized among sects, cults and radicals.  

 

Notwithstanding, the sharpest minds offer no rational explanation for many recent events affecting aviation safety. Correlation does not always establish cause and effect, but no other logical solutions seem forthcoming.

 

After a simulator re-enactment, though not in context of this discussion, Capt. Sully Sullenberger could find ‘no logical explanation’ why on Jun. 1, 2009 highly trained Air France pilots would let a serviceable Airbus A330-203 enter a deep stall and fly into the Atlantic, killing all 228 aboard. Sullenberger’s exceptional piloting skills had saved 155 aboard a heavily loaded Airbus A320-214 during a ditching in the Hudson River months before. The airliner had cooked a gaggle of geese in its GE Aviation/Snecma Turbofans just after take-off from La Guardia Airport on Jan. 15, 2009. Despite trying circumstances he’d remained calm, sound-minded and disciplined, to perhaps unwittingly conform to principles of II Timothy 1: 7.

 

From later reports about the Air France accident the junior pilot on deck was overcome by anxiety about huge storms ahead, consistent with the ITCZ. It was in the early hours of the morning on the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Circadian rhythms might partly explain his lowered mental defences. He was anxiously pulling back on his side-stick trying to climb to a higher altitude without clearance, whilst the other, more senior co-pilot was pushing forward. The automation logic cancelled out the conflicting commands.  

 

With all the CRM training behind them neither they nor the captain, awoken from his sleep, could figure things out. A spirit of confusion, sparked by fear, had overcome them. Is this merely an idiomatic expression or euphemism for a situation too gross to express? Or, was some evil influence at play? John 10: 10 a states‘…the enemy comes but to kill, steal and destroy’. It takes no imagination to note the outcome corresponding with a Biblical principle.

 

Suicides

 

This brings us to the subject or suicides which are not new. Mortally wounded by Philistine archers, King Saul fell on his sword, according to 1 Chron. 10: 4 and 1 Sam. 31: 4. The remorseful disciple Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus, according to Matthew 27: 5. In aviation context, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 are probably the most cited example. We normally associate suicides with depression. Proverbs 12: 25 states ‘…anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression’.

On March 25, 2015 all 150 aboard an Airbus A320-211 died in the French Alps after the co-pilot with alleged suicidal tendencies and a history of treatment for depression had locked out the captain and programmed the aircraft into a dive from which it never recovered.

 

The real question is not, ‘why his condition could not be detected by psychometric and line testing or regular medical checks, but why he would take all those innocent victims with him?’ Few inferred he had any psychopathic tendencies or personality disorders corresponding with lack of feeling or empathy to others.

 

The transient nature of such episodes is perhaps illustrated by a very odd suicide attempt which occurred on Feb. 9, 1982. The 35-year-old Japanese Airlines DC 8-61 captain had, despite efforts to restrain him, cancelled the autopilot and pushed the nose down to crash in shallow water 300 m short of the runway at Haneda Airport in Tokyo Bay.  Efforts of the co-pilot and flight engineer arrested the sink. Only 24 of the 166 aboard perished.

] Ironically, the Japanese Airlines captain was among the first to get aboard a rescue boat. He stated his occupation as a clerk. The suicidal notions of shortly before had inexplicably vanished and survival instincts gotten the better of him. An inquest would later find him not culpable by virtue of insanity, posing the question why he had gone mad at the most critical time, endangering all?

 

On Nov. 29, 2013 an Embraer 190 of Mozambique Airlines from Maputo to Luanda was piloted into the ground halfway through the flight, over the Caprivi Strip. All 33 aboard died. As in several other cases one of the pilots had locked the other out of the cabin.

 

Since 1982 nearly 1000 innocent victims have lost their lives in suicide airliners. The figure excludes the Sept. 11 attacks, but includes the Royal Air Maroc ATR 42-312 disaster on Aug. 21, 1998 claiming all 40 aboard and the Silk Air Boeing 737-36A on Dec. 19, 1997 with all 104 aboard and the Egypt Air Boeing 767-366ER on Oct. 31, 1999 with all 217 aboard.

 

National psychosis

 

From a different perspective, the kind of national psychosis which motivated Soviet officials to order a Korean Boeing 747-230B from New York via Anchorage to Seoul to be shot down over the Sea of Japan on Sept. 1, 1983 boggles the mind. Long after the facts were disclosed the pilot of the Su-15 interceptor still maintained he had probably saved his country from an invasion, by causing the death of 269 innocent civilians. Who or what was behind it all?

 

More recently, a Boeing 777-200ER of Malaysia Airlines from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by pro-Russian extremist over the Ukraine on Jul. 17, 2014 killing all 298 aboard. The 43 Malaysian passengers were relatively few to claim the carrier’s nationality could have anything to do with it. The death toll included 198 Dutch civilians.

 

The indiscriminate hate and total disregard for life are instilled through conditioning, based on irrational fears and passed on from generation to generation as a sins of the fathers phenomenon.

 

Terror in Europe

 

The ordinary traveller will be in a fool’s paradise to expect an unchanged status quo after recent attacks. The coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015 which claimed 130 innocent civilians were by no means isolated events.  Social changes in Europe are slowly but irreversibly taking root. The face of aviation risk assessment is about to change accordingly and dramatically.  The after-effects of the Arab Spring or series of uprisings in 2011 have left some 12 million people disenfranchised. Political analysts believe the West has just begun to feel the impact of the war in Syria and suicide bombings.

Bombs in Brussels

 

There can be no doubt the aftermath of the explosions in departure lounges of Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Station in Brussels on March 22, 2016 will reverberate around the globe for a long time.

 

No end is in sight for the brutal ‘religious’ conflicts in the Middle East, some of which were sparked off by yet another Arab Spring going out of control. The bombs in Brussels went off as 400 delegates of 57 countries were gathering to seek a solution. The majority of the peace-seekers were from Muslim countries. To alienate the moderate mainstream locally or abroad would be political folly.

 

One glance at the digital magazine Dabiq would convince anyone the Islamic State represents a threat like never before and those in aviation governance need to wake up.

 

In the US many are banking on hard-hitting presidential candidate Donald Trump ‘…to make America great again’. What do they really want? In South Africa student demonstrations at campuses may be just the tip of the iceberg of social unrest with deep rooted influences. Street riots over corruption in local government and poor service delivery have become virtual daily occurrences. How long till these threats spill over to the aviation security?

 

Powers Behind

 

What or who is behind it all? Everyone has an answer, but no-one the perfect solution.  In the final analysis it would by no means be radical, but extremely naive to expect a solution from politicians alone.  From the trail of destruction cited above the ‘powers behind’ have clearly been affecting all in the aviation industry in a devastating way.

 

Drawing near

 

In uncertain times Christians have always drawn near to God, according to James 4: 8 knowing He will draw near to us. But, remember during Jesus’ ministry on earth He drove out demons on 25 occasions. Why would the discerning of spirits be a gift to the believer, according to 1 Cor. 12: 10?

 

Eph. 6: 12 states, ‘… we do not struggle against flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’. Mark 16: 17 states‘…they shall expel demons in My name’.  Acts 1: 8 states‘…they shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them’.

 

John 3: 5 makes it plain, ‘… unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit (baptism of the Holy Spirit), he cannot enter the Kingdom of God’. 

 

In the aviation industry it is perhaps high time for leaders to change strategy. In so doing we can move mountains and the Powers Behind.  

                                                            

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Can Protestants and Roman Catholics unite?

Johan Lottering

When flying we maintain geographic positional and situational awareness by keeping track of the overall picture and by cross-checking our navigation accuracy and progress with reliable features and beacons.  Our map as Christians is the Bible. Our vectors come from the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is the only Book written over thousands of years by numerous authors in which all the prophecies and events line-up and cross-check. 

Like a good flight planner knowing the outcome from the start, God has had a redemptive plan for believers in Christ from the Beginning. The Old Testament has been proven by the New Testament. Few if any historic books can claim that. The Word will continue to prove itself true. If we choose to ignore the warnings and signs, we will go astray. Matthew 24 makes it plain what to expect. Jesus personally warned about the great deception in verses 4, 11, 15 and 24.

Believers who might think the Reformation and the Protestant breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church have been misguided are deceived. Similarly, those who believe a one-world religion will help bring about world peace are mistaken.

God’s Redemptive Plan is Jesus. There is NO OTHER offer or solution. Anyone who believes God will deviate from His Plan or go against Prophesy is badly off track. Anyone who believes mankind would work out its salvation and that ‘all roads lead to Rome’ is in error.

The Lord states the Day of His Coming (v. 39) will take many unawares. Two will be in the field but only one will be taken away (v. 40). Two will be at the hand mill but only one taken away (v. 41).  Be sure to be the one taken away.

Christians have much to look forward to. Believers who have passed away in the conviction that Jesus had died for their sins and had risen again, and had accepted Him as sole Savior, will rise from the grave according to 1 Thessalonians 4: 14. Believers who are alive at His coming will rise with the risen dead and meet Him in the clouds to share eternity with Him.

He will come like a thief in the night, according to chapter 5, verse 2. Those who try sinful living hoping to convert at the last minute are mistaken. The Scriptures notify us to be prepared.

Why delay, if the promise of Jesus is abundant life, according to John 10: 10? Jesus said: ‘Today, if you hear My voice, respond’, in Hebrews 3: 7 & 8 and to not harden your hearts in 4: 7. Many might be deceived into believing it is too much of an effort. 

We cannot save ourselves or go a long way towards doing so on our own by works or any other route but via Jesus. He is the Light. The prompting to accept His plan of salvation comes from God. As a pilot would have to apply correction to a compass heading, the vital step to staying the course as a Christian is to not quench the Holy Spirit, according to 1 Thessalonians 5: 19. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, according to Ephesians 5: 18. According to Ephesians 3: 5 we only have one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism.

We are supposed to be Christ’s ambassadors according to 2 Corinthians 5: 20 and can have no harmony with unbelievers, according to 2 Corinthians 6: 15 – 17.

There is only one offer acceptable to God and that is Jesus, according to numerous verses, like Hebrews 10: 12. Through Him alone do we enter into God’s Holy Presence, according to Hebrews 10: 19.

Once we accept Him, we need to be baptized according to Hebrews 10: 22. Jesus said in Matthew 3: 5, ‘I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’. This is in accordance with the Old Testament prophecies, like Ezekiel 36: 25 to 27.

We must be born of the Spirit, according to John 3: 8. Whoever believes in Him, will not be rejected according to verse 18.  Jesus set the example to be baptized in John 1: 32 and immediately the Spirit of God descended on Him. Only thereafter did He perform miracles (John 2: 9).

If you might think it unimportant to be filled with the Holy Spirit, think again. John the Baptist said it is He, Jesus, Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1: 33).

According to Romans 6: 4 & 5 the symbolism of baptism is to be buried with Him and arising again sharing in His resurrection.  Colossians 2: 12 repeat the same concept almost verbatim.

According to Acts 2: 32, the promise to us is the Holy Spirit. Acts 2: 16 – 21 make it clear that the outpouring and infilling of the Holy Spirit is in accordance with the promise of Joel 2: 28 – 32.  According to Galatians 5: 18 we must be guided by the Holy Spirit and if we yield to the Holy Spirit we will receive the Fruits and even the ‘gentiles’ can be reconciled to God.

1 Corinthians 12: 7 – 12 discuss the Spiritual Gifts, without which we cannot function. Especially verse 13 connects baptism and the Holy Spirit, again.

Doctrines or teachings which oppose the way God has set up His redemptive plan are not aligned with His Word and prophecies.

In Matthew 23: 9 Jesus warned His disciples not to call anyone in the church father, for we have one Father, Who is in heaven. There is only One God and One Mediator (1 Timothy 2: 3).

According to Romans 8: 11 His Spirit dwells in us and those who are led by the Spirit of God will be the Sons (and daughters, considering Galatians 3: 28) of God, according to Romans 8: 14.

Consult 2 Thessalonians 2: 3 & 5 about the son of perdition and especially verse 8 about what will happen to him, though he will be attended to by great power (v. 9).

·        Protestant believers cannot hope to come to God through Saints nor Mary the Mother of God. 

·        Those who have died cannot be redeemed by the prayers of the living.

·        No earthly priest can condone your sins.

·        Our Heavenly Father will not bless us because we have sinned.

·        Our good works cannot help to get us into heaven.

·        No sacrifice other than Jesus can redeem us.

·        The bread (wafer) does not actually become the body of Christ,

·        The wine does not actually become the blood of Christ.

·        The pope does not actually represent God on earth, the Holy Spirit does.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, but the Lord is faithful and just to not condemn us and forgive us if we turn to Him in true repentance and rely on the redemptive work of Jesus on the Cross and no-one or nothing else to be redeemed. 

The differences between Reformationist Protestant beliefs with the Roman Catholic Church are virtually endless.  

We are neither to be seduced nor deceived, according to 2 Thessalonians 2: 9 – 12 but instead accept God’s Plan for our lives according to verses 13 to 17 and not lose heart, according to Galatians 6: 9. 

A Protestant can never be reconciled with doctrines neither lining up nor cross-checking with the Word of God.

THE ABOVE SHOULD NEVER DETER THE REFORMIST FROM REACHING OUT TO OTHERS OF DIFFERENT BELIEF SYSTEMS, IN A SPIRIT OF LOVE. DO NOT JUDGE. BRING THEM AROUND, NOT VICE VERSA.

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August 2014 – Editorial

THE FORGOTTEN GENERATION

Socio-economic and political developments of the past two decades have left yet another forgotten generation in its wake. On the one hand society had to rectify imbalances of the past. On the other hand children are bombarded through the education system with secularism, Apartheid and ancestral history and evolution theory.

Parents are required to be more hands-on than ever with assignments and intra and extra curricular activities – leaving no or little room for “error” such as Christian interpretation and interaction.  Christians can be overwhelmed with the task of teaching their offspring right from wrong in Biblical context. 

The clash of Culture and Christianity is creating unprecedented levels of inner-conflict and confusion, to the point of young fledglings facing an identity crisis. Not unlike other demanding occupations the task-specific aviation industry and travelling sap every ounce of energy from parents. Just to cope many tend to become overly-dismissive towards children. They in turn, turn to Technology and chat-rooms for socio-emotional nourishing. What we sow being what we reap, children imitate and “punish” parents with reverse ostracism and rebellion.

Parents and children alike suckle from the Tree of Technology. Yet, those are the “lucky ones” from good homes. The new dispensation, being hell-bent on reversing discrimination against previously advantaged race groups, has also left a trail of fatherless homes. Being unable to provide, the father figure is undermined. The family hierarchy is toppled as mothers need to at least temporarily get out in pursuit of income. The “absent-minded father” is therefore matched by the “absent father” syndrome, to which aviation is no stranger or exception. 

The cream of the crop usually occupy airline and airline related positions. Everybody loves a winner. But, that makes losers out of the rest, having to run the gauntlet of sporadic and rather unstable charter and contract flying work in distant countries.

With both parents out of the home, the temptations of this world more readily become the darnel choking the good seed (with reference to Matthew 13). Our youngsters readily become absorbed by social media, games and gangs, pornography and drugs. In schools they are offered role models such as the “Black Napoleon”, alias the Zulu King Shaka – notwithstanding renowned anthropologists and historians indicating a rule of extreme tyranny, oppression and fear. The concepts and values idealized are in direct opposition with Christianity. Our children are also confronted with the ancestral belief system of “divination” and the culture of the “pre-child” born out of wedlock proving a marriage viable.

As aviation participants (either past or present) we do not fall beyond the ambit of having to “make disciples of all nations” in accordance with Matthew 28: 19 – 20. To the contrary, we are among those called by the Lord to be “the salt of the earth” according to Matthew 5: 13, the “the Light of the world according to Matthew 5: 14 - 16 and “more than conquerors” in compliance with Romans 8: 37. Our children cannot be left to the system and their own devices. We need mentors with uncompromising Christian values to step forward.

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Editorial – July 2014

God’s perfect Will for aviators

The Wonderboom Airport Manager’s office recently forwarded a message someone in New Zealand was trying to trace me. I was overjoyed to establish coms with an old friend, David Hawke. We'd last flown together in 1995. I was privileged to undertake his initial twin conversion training at the time.

David's innate sense and passion for flying had raised the question why he never opted for a flying career? The answer was not all that simple and might be of significance to anyone at cross-roads or embarking on a career. His sense for the controls were attributed to superior sporting skills in his heyday. As a youngster talent scouts had him earmarked for national colours as a cricketer. Many may be confronted with similar "tough choices", to keep playing to one's strengths whilst following the perfect Will of God.

Inner conflicts about choosing the "ideal career" were resolved "for" David... Having to support a family one day, the elders of his hometown deemed it wise to support him only if opting for a “proper career”. In all fairness, resources were limited in view of the sacrifices to be made to get him educated, no “distractions” could be allowed. He could neither pursue his cricket ambitions, nor breath a word about his other passion, "aviation". That would be "selfish". 

He qualified as irrigation engineer. He was very good at it. A prestigious company offered him employment in Africa, where David had always secretly wanted to go as "flying missionary in Africa". The Lord works in mysterious ways!

At the time we met at Soshanguve Bible College, where David was the guest speaker invited by principal Past. Ron Kinnear, he was the epitome of “someone being everything to everybody”. He had made the necessary compromises having relinquished other bright career options. He had earned enough to obtain a Private Pilot's Licence. After an encounter with the Lord he had arrived in Johannesburg with his wife and five young children, when the fiercest riots the country's history were taking place. Images of enraged mobs practicing the feared "necklacing" execution method on opponents were reverberating around the globe. David received calls from the folks in New Zealand daily to relinquish his “folly” and "return home".

I would also ask why, when the "chicken run" was taking place he opted to go in the "opposite direction". It turned out his convictions came from being sure he was in the “perfect Will” of the Lord. The Lord had told him in His "perfect Will he would be safer in the middle of a riot than in his bed". He had felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to come to Africa. But, "hearing God’s voice" about his destiny was one thing. Dubbing out the “noise” from other “sources” like the inner fears of others, was another entirely. The Bible states in the counsel of many there is Wisdom. True. Yet, the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to discern His voice among all the other inputs. Knowing His voice comes from relationship.

One evening, on a charter flight in Africa, David told me how exactly he’d resolved the contradiction between conflicting messages. The Lord had shown him the men in the Bible, including Jesus, had worn beards. He would grow a beard and disregard the advice of those who had a problem with stubbly cheeks!

The trick was in paying real attention to what the Lord was saying. David came over with a special message for Africans, that "nobody is here by chance or accidentally, there moms perhaps having forgotten to take the Pill”. That shocked me at first. But, coming to think of it, according to Scripture God does weave everyone in their mothers’ wombs. He knows the number of hair on their heads...

Some years later David returned. He had been to Africa to unearth springs of life-giving water (See John 7: 37 - 38). Certain waters were from the dry Sabie River bed in Zimbabwe. Others were by the "Hawke Foundation" having erected hand-pumps over boreholes in rural villages – with the aid of the New Zealand High Commission and other donors.

In conclusion, some seem much luckier than others in their pursuit career paths. Others have to “compromise”, "sacrifice" and “optimize”. Finding the “Perfect Will of God” might be hard. But, in the end it's all worth it. The Lord uses ordinary people and all their skills and experiences to let "the lost" drink from His Living Waters. Aviation is one of His means. If you think you are hearing His voice, though you might have tried and failed, keep listening... then keep trying!

                 

Editorial - June 2014

The tightfisted cannot sow

As commanders and business leaders we are in an excellent position to impart value into people's lives. Few environments offer better opportunities for ‘making disciples of all nations’ (Mat. 28: 19) than aviation. 

However, unbelievers are often deterred by the double standards of  a pretentious few calling themselves Christians. Those ‘unconverted’ resort to sweeping statements like ‘Bible punchers are the worst kind to do business with’. Yet, nobody resents hipocrisy more than God (Mat. 7: 5); whilst those making such generalizations may not be very different. 

Not wanting to mix our faith and business has become a good excuse for holding back in the Lord’s harvest field. What most unbelievers probably find amiss in the way believers do business is Grace. Converted, means ‘changed’, into the nature of God. The Godly nature at the core is all about love, grace and mercy. 

God’s followers cannot adhere to two sets of conduct or principles, i.e. for the secular environment and for Church. God loves our clients, employees and coworkers, though they may (still) be unconvicted and hence unsaved.  Our basic mission is sowing in their lives. But, we cannot sow if tightfisted. 

We cannot expect to reap what and where we did not sow. We are supposed to sow both actions and words, bearing in mind Mark 4: 14 was the first parable, signifying its importance. Jesus explained ‘the sower sows the word’. If according to James 2: 16 we say to those dealing with us and in obvious need, ‘go in peace; be warm and well-fed’, but do nothing about their physical needs, we are not sowing nutrients in their lives. The tiny seeds of faith will not germinate. 

To win souls, we ought to be mindful of Romans 10: 17 that ‘…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’. Lest we confess the Truth in correct context, backed by our actions and conduct, we are powerless and our words meaningless. Eccl. 11:4 states ‘whoever watches the wind will not plant (sow); whoever looks at the clouds will not reap’ [NIV]. It might never be the right climate by secular norms. 

But, if we open ourselves, the Holy Spirit will always be faithful to show both the right time and opportunity. Lastly, I Cor. 3: 6 sets us straight that ‘neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow’ [NIV]. The Holy Spirit brings conviction and growth, not us. Start sowing.  

April 2014

In-flight break-up and...

The ‘bye-bye beat-up’

Johan Lottering

THE recent loss of three productive young men in an air crash, shortly after their aircraft was reportedly seen by eye-witnesses to break up in flight, should once again serve as a wake-up call to General Aviation (GA) stake holders and participants.  

G.A.’s safety record clearly suggests the highly regrettable events represent neither the first, nor the last. But, after dozens of safety talks and discussing analogical cases (such as the 'bye-bye beat-up' in ‘Avoiding Fatal Flying Traps’ from different vantage points) one still feels like just another voice in the ‘wilderness’, the air safety message often falling on deaf ears. 

The purpose of this article is absolutely not to point fingers or preempt the formal investigation. But, on a certain level it is deeply personal – having known far too many pilots who have gone down over the years. My mom, having dropped me off can attest to the fact the deceased pilot-in-command was the last person whom I'd run into at a coffee shop before catching a flight for permanent relocation to Hermanus in the Western Cape.

I had once flown alongside him and in the back as passenger. He was the epitome of someone 'who had made it' in the field of GA. Not only was he well-loved, but among the most competent and best qualified. Our hearts go out to all the loved ones left behind. Yet, the message remains that if he could succumb to the dangers associated with aviation, so can any of us.

Our task as aviators is to constantly look out for factors which could ensnare us. Euphemistically we should be searching out the ‘spider’ as well as the ‘web’; i.e. not only the human and aerodynamic factors, but the group dynamic influences and circumstances which can cause any of us to even momentarily be caught unawares, or condone/tacitly accept minor in-flight ‘excesses’ or ‘indulgences’ by fellow-pilots; or to be tempted to act ‘out of character’.  I am not suggesting this was the case here, but if yet another possible in-flight break-up does not alert us to sit up and take another look at both our individual and holistic approach to air safety, nothing will.

Overall the ever so common 'need for speed' has never ceased to grip our imagination.  

On the one hand, we have the ‘Galloping Ghost’, a P51 Mustang which lost its elevator trim tab, as prime example of in-flight structural failure before scores of witnesses. The weirdly ‘spectacular’ demise of the pilot and several spectators at the Reno Air Race barely a year or two ago, was widely publicized.  

On the other hand, we can also learn from cases involving in-flight break-up such as the doctor from Zeerust underway to Virginia some fifteen years ago in more demure, yet no less lethal, circumstances. The pilot was simply conducting a private flight at cruising level, though believed in 'unusually' turbulent conditions.

Notwithstanding, in both cases both pilots were aptly qualified. Both were flying well within their personal and operational limits, though unaware of their respective planes’ actual structural capabilities; or more aptly 'latent' and 'patent' defects. (On this note we may rest assured investigators go to great lengths to detect any underlying or preexisting shortcomings or defects in the certification and production processes).  

But, the common denominator was and has always been the incessant demand for performance... often at whatever the cost. Truly, the better the ‘power-to-weight ratio’ of any aircraft, the more likely anyone would want it and pay the highest premium.

In the case of the Reno air racer the 1949 aircraft had undergone dozens of modifications and speed enhancements over its lifetime. In the case of the Zeerust doctor his aircraft had a speed-kit fitted merely a few flight hours before ill-fated flight. Ironically, the value of the respective aircraft represented roughly the cost of a share or fractional ownership in true speedsters like several options among light Business Jets.  

Furthermore, no-one ever qualifies as a pilot unless demonstrating a thorough understanding of structural stresses and limitations. Similarly, no pilot is released into the system before ticking all the right boxes indicating a thorough grasp of human factors such as ‘G-forces’, spatial orientation, the vestibular system, etc. So, why do so many in our ranks still succumb to high Load Factor related incidents and accidents? Maybe we should start looking for the underlying causes in a different place and pursue a renewal of the mind from a different perspective?

As aviation Christians we ought to do well to, instead of chasing more speed and better fuel efficiencies, step back and reevaluate our approach; asking ourselves where it is we are off to in such a hurry? We are NOT ascribing blame here, or aiming at anyone in particular – least of all the recently deceased. We also need to bear in mind that aircraft have always been useful in many ways in serving the Purposes of God and in so doing Humanity; such as bringing loved ones together, delivering necessities in war-torn and conflict areas, participating in emergency evacuation, rescue and even Evangelical missions over many years.  

But, unless we stop and confront ourselves with what our true aim and purpose in life might be AS AVIATORS, we might end up in the 'killing zone' (WHOLLY WITHOUT AIM OR PURPOSE), chasing speed for the sake of speed. And, if we are perhaps too eager to please ourselves or others through the sometimes 'hedonistic' sensations of speed and flying, some of us may well end up in the accident statistics.

Quite a few readers and members of my audiences have over the past few years tried to persuade me to use shock tactics... like showing more horrific images and gory details. I have always resisted, as on a certain level that would be ‘sensationalist’ too. Just consider that in one particular accident involving one very experienced aviator,  having lost control of his plane during a ‘bye-bye beat-up’... He had both figuratively speaking and quite literally ‘lost his head’ which was found several hundred meters from the wreckage. Sordid enough?     

 

Let's not forget that the death tally for the year opened with a young crop-spraying pilot who was fatally injured shortly after he had “buzzed” his parents’ home and his aerodynamically over-loaded aircraft had subsequently entered an uncontrolled nose-dive into the ground.

Let’s allow the Word of God to remind us according to Proverbs 14: 12 “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of that way is the way of death”... and that according to Psalm 39: 5 and 6 we need to remain mindful that “...You (the Lord) have made my days as (short as) hand-breadths and my lifetime is as nothing in Your sight. Truly, every man at his best is merely a breath. Surely, every man walks to and fro – like a shadow in a pantomime... Each one heaps up riches not knowing who will gather them.” - Amplified Bible  

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Editorial – January 2014

Never has so much been owed, by so many to so few... Yeah, right!    

Aviation crisis... again? 

New Years, with predictable regularity, bring about anxiety and uncertainty. Aviation is in a crisis, yet again.  

On the one hand one might ask, how bad can things really be? Our Tracey Curtis-Taylor, has just bravely completed an epic 7,000 nautical mile journey between Cape Town and London virtually girl alone with the support of her sponsors, team of specialists and a GPS in an enviously green Boeing Stearman, like Lady Mary Heath in 1928. Hats off to her! 

Mary, whose dad had bludgeoned her mom to death to himself die in an asylum, would overcome adversity to be the first woman parachutist, first lady CPL in the UK and first female copilot at KLM. Maybe we need setbacks, obstacles and handicaps to bring out the best in us?    

Mary would face other 'challenges' peculiar to aviation. It might serve us well to remember the aviation diva, once the flying bug had bit her, might have known she'd die penniless... not unlike many (mostly male) predecessors, successors and contemporaries... instructors, crop dusters, ferry, contract and charter pilots (the list goes on), having fallen from grace, in her case a a tram, in London.  

A sobering thought, though perhaps not for the many nowadays dabbling in aviation as side-benefit of loving money more than God, i.e. those charging two-hundred bucks for a two-minute telephone consultation?

For the rest of us mere mortals, being more enthusiastic about aviation than aviation seems about us, the paradox of 2014 lies in guaranteed added costs and demands stacked against the myriad of fears and uncertainties

The laborer is worthy of his wages. But, as long as the fat cats are skimming off the top milking the cash cow dry, the end-user will have to cough up more for skimmed milk. The following questions therefore spring to mind: 

  • Who exactly are the fat cats - "we" or "they"?
  • Who indeed is on which side of the aviation spectrum?
  • How much of a crisis, can it be?

At the root of all evil in terms of cost drivers in aviation in South Africa seems to be the three-headed monster, arisen from the ashes of the Apartheid era. The end-user is effectively trapped in the triad comprising central governing agencies levying charges on primary service providers; local governance leasing out taxpayer assets instead of managing these themselves; and the privateers or concession holders. 

It therefore suits the privileged few with own agendas to be crying wolf again, as always... most of them juts using their pull through industry representative bodies to exert pressure on the custodians of taxpayer assets (the municipalities) to keep leasing rates (to them) as low as possible and to be outsourcing more concessions; so the rest of us will keep paying them (the profiteers) in the belief the (inflated) rates passed-down to end-users are wholly justified. (Being an official must be tough nowadays, keeping everyone happy... whilst keeping the fat off the waistline, amidst all the free lunches, golf days, trips to game farms, etc.)    

To the rest of us the current state of affairs with prevailing high prices and a myriad of fees, levies and all kinds of charges suggest a whole different meaning to Winston Churchill's famous, now somewhat prophetic words, about aviators after the Battle of Britain that "...never in the history of mankind has so much been owed by so many to so few".  This has held true unto today - just take your plane or chopper for an M.P.I. 

The crisis meeting called for by the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association in December 2013 was postponed till 2014 "...out of respect for Nelson Mandela"... and with everyone else on holiday. So, when is the next one? 

Reportedly, hangar lease holders are once again at loggerheads with airport owners and each other, insinuating an atmosphere of favoritism on the part of the overall landlords. But, are those leasing municipal hangars and sub-letting space to aircraft owners at handsomely hiked rates not really the beneficiaries?  

The current system urgently needs to be reviewed, as the peculiar arrangement/s between some municipal airport custodians and the new class of fat cats, i.e. the B.B.B.E.E.E. sub-contractors and concession holders, have succeeded in keeping aviation fuel prices soaring, at an all-time high.  

Add to this the weak Rand, the Gauteng toll system and looming wage negotiations and the future indeed looks a little less rosy... for some.  

One thing is for sure, maybe two... Honest men and women will be facing increased demands dressed up as ‘challenges’ or sales and performance ‘targets’. And, the faceless ‘powers that be’, whether in Business or Governance, will certainly be wanting their extra pound of flesh, like last year, the year before… and before that, again. 

As greed necessitates more time at work and higher input levels from individuals, quality quiet time with the Lord will be the first casualty. The next to go down in flames will be family time, taking a back-seat to business... as always. In its wake will follow broken promises and moral compromises. In the long run we will get the Youth we deserve...   

When the dust settles, the the privatized profiteers will have negotiated even better deals for themselves in terms of concessions, with fatter margins; to be passed on to end-users, like before, that's for sure. That's the problem.  

By April we will go to the polls and vote again, along racial lines, like before, and before that.  

At the end of the day, with notorious predictability, the system of diffused responsibility and downright laziness on the part of those in charge of governance will have seen even more taxpayer resources – such as motorways, municipal hangars, fuel plazas, restaurant spaces and airport buildings – sub-contracted out to middlemen. Avgas will continue its decline from 700 million liters per year in 1983, by 28 million liters per year.

The industry has been in a nosedive for years, with over-regulation, under-governance and profiteering vying to keep its control column in a tight stranglehold. Only a widespread return to Biblical values can really bring about change. But, to what or Whom shall we turn to?   

Everyone seems too busy to acknowledge that Christianity is infinitely more than any Government and far above any set of (mostly personal) New Year's resolutions... and that Biblical principles would apply to aviation too, to everyone's benefit.  

Let’s not forget the industry is the direct and indirect provider of jobs to numerous families.  

Let's not forget there is a Living God Who sees our every move and motive and Who wants us to be far more than we can ever imagine.  

Let's not forget to apply His principles to our lives and aviation careers, professions and businesses and things must come right. Let Him not tell you one day you have had your reward on earth, as in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  

Let's rather fill our tanks with Wisdom from Proverbs:

·        11: 1 ‘…a false balance and unrighteous dealings are extremely offensive and shamefully sinful to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight’.

·        11: 25 ‘… the liberal (generous) person shall be enriched, and he who waters shall himself be watered’.

·        4: 23 ‘…in all labor there is profit, but idle talk leads only to poverty’.

·        15: 3 ‘…the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch upon evil and good’.

·        16: 3 ‘…roll your works upon the Lord so will your plans be established and succeed.

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Editorial - December 2013  

The object of our affection

TWO thousand years from now Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) will probably be the only South African still remembered. That is, if the Lord extends mercy for more to be saved delaying the second coming of The Son.  

It is appropriate that we honour the Christian-like traits of Madiba and extend condolences to his family members who have lost a husband, father and a granddad. His legacy will always be in showing mercy and forgiveness.  

Before his release from prison American evangelist Billy Graham wrote to him outlining his options in terms of the Word of God. We thank God that Mandela chose the more excellent way.

Whether or not Mandela was righteous and a Christian is not for us to decide. Like all men, he will be facing his Maker.  

But, it remains for us to remember no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14: 6) and through Him alone do we live and move and have our being (Acts 17: 28). We read in Romans 3: 10 there is none righteous, not even one. We are warned in Romans 3: 23 all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We cannot be saved by good works (James 2: 24). We cannot be saved solely on the basis of upholding God’s law (Matthew 19: 16 – 17).  It is by Grace alone.

Upholding the second most important Commandment to love your neighbour as you love yourself (Matthew 22: 39; Leviticus 19: 18) can only be observed subject to the most important law to love God with all your heart, might and soul (Matthew 22: 37; Deuteronomy 6: 5). Jesus was the only sacrifice in atonement of sins and reconciliation acceptable to the Father (Hebrews 4: 15; 9: 14; 1 John 3: 4 -5 and 1 Peter 1: 8 – 9).

We shall have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20: 3). He and He alone is the Great I Am (Exodus 3: 13 – 14). Over the millennia He used and worked in the hearts of kings of great nations, like Faro of Egypt. God would protect the root of Israel through their regimes.

In Jesus we may be heirs of the Salvation and Promise to Abraham (Romans 8: 17). Worshiping other Gods and creating idols is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.  

Israel went through centuries of oppressive cycles and seventy years of banishment under the Babylonians, each time as a result of worshiping other gods. In South Africa we still have religious freedom. Let us make the most of it and spread the Gospel.Not only that, let our lives reflect our convictions. God allows empires and accomplishes His will through them. Let us make the most of it. That is our heritage.  

At the same time, let us give honour where honour is due (Romans 13: 7) in remembering Nelson Mandela. But, let us not forget that it is and was and always will be by the Grace of God and His alone that we are saved and delivered.  

The Christian serving the Father as one and only God will in these times do well to respond to fellow citizens in the spirit of Isaiah 40: 1 - Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.  

As a nation mourns the passing of a father and great leader, Romans 13 may help create the proper perspective and encourage all:

 14. Bless those who persecute you (who are cruel in their attitude toward you); bless and do not curse them.

 15. Rejoice with those who rejoice (sharing others’ joy) and weep with those who weep (sharing others’ grief).

 16. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish and high-minded and exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to (people, things) and give yourself to humble tasks. Never over-estimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

 17. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble (aiming to be above reproach) in the sight of everyone.

18. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for (God’s) wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite) says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32: 35).

 20. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals (of blushing, being ashamed) upon      his head (Proverbs 25: 21 – 22).

21. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but (master) evil with good.

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Editorial – October 2013

 

Add your vote to the ‘Righteous’

 

THIS month’s Editorial Comment is largely inspired and accredited to website supporter Lourens Badenhorst. He summarized our position in terms of the forthcoming elections very concisely and clearly, as quoted later in this article.  

Believers in Jesus Christ do not always realize to what extent we are survivng under the cover expressed in Psalm 91, with thousands falling victim around us daily (vs. 7). At the same time we would be naïve to deny the truth of Proverbs 29: 2 that when the uncompromisingly righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but groan and sigh when the wicked rules. Which is it?   

Proverbs 29:4 makes it clear that a ruler through justice establishes a country, but those in authority who exact gifts (bribes) and tribute overthrow it. Again, which is it?  

Christians have one norm and that is the Will of God, no compromise! If we comply, we may expect peace, love, prosperity, justice and so much more according to His bountiful blessings. We are neither taking ‘the moral high ground’ here, nor suggesting ‘sensible’ compromises, such as voting for a party ‘most likely’ to do His Will. Far from it!  

The Lord has given us both His ‘logos’ or 'written Word' as reference and His Holy Spirit guiding us through Spiritual gifts like ‘Discernment’ and the ‘counsel of many’ (fellow-Believers); and Godly ‘Wisdom’ to help us make not only sensible, but God fearing decisions.  

We simply do not have much latitude or discretion, but to stay in the perfect Will of God in terms of which political party to support. Daniel 3 shows clearly we should choose persecution above adherence to policies which clearly oppose the Will of God. But, God supernaturally protects and empowers those who side by Him.  

This is no political or fundamentalist forum. We are neither promoting nor running down any party. But, we are compelled to educate visitors to evaluate policies and their after-effects through empirical observation and comparing these to the Will of God. We are not suggesting a militant or anti-authority attitude. We are inspiring fellow-Believers to go to the voting polls and to educate themselves about policies and not just follow political rhetoric, ideologies and dichotomies, just because these seem to 'suit' you, or do justice about e.g. 'past wrongs' and future 'redresses'.

The Lord for instance promised Abraham in Genesis 12: 3 He will bless those who bless him and his offspring, but curse those who curse or oppose them. Whether we for instance ‘like’ Israel or the Jews or not, whoever stretches his hand out to help them can expect to be blessed, and vice versa!  

So, make very sure you know where your party stands on issues such as these. Would you support a party which effectively promotes pornography by bringing it into your home through lax censorship laws? Bear in mind the direct correlation between pornography and child and woman abuse. No Christian is allowed to support practices and policies which inflame the hearts of men and women against God’s Will, as clearly expressed in the seventh commandment.

Lourens proposes each ‘Christian in Aviation’ should apply his or her mind to resolve the following vital thought-provoking questions and challenges, before the elections as follows:

The Christian and Voting

Vital questions:

·   Should the Church be involved in politics?

·   What about separation of State and Church?

·   Should Church leaders educate their members on voting?

 Resolutions:

The State should not rule the Church neither should the Church rule the State.

· Look at New Testament relationship between State and Church. Respect the Government, obey the laws and pay taxes. Pray for those in authority. (Rom 13: 1-7, Matt 22: 15-22, 1 Tim 2: 1&2)

· Remember to be more obedient to God than to man. (Act 5: 29)

 What about voting for a political party?

· Every citizen has the privilege to vote during elections and should exercise it

· The Church should teach their members how to vote, in the same way as they are taught how to live as Christians in this World on any other level

· The Church should be careful about (and best avoid) getting involved in party politics, e.g. to tell their members who to vote for

·  But, they should educate their members how to vote as believers in Christ!

Consider the following…

·  What is more important to a Christian – results or obedience to God?

·  Who has the greater authority, God or man?

·  To ‘Whom’ shall we ultimately give account for our decisions?

 

Ask yourself the following questions (To mention just two):

·  Is same-sex marriage God’s will?

·  Is abortion on demand God’s will?

 What does my vote (X) mean?

·  I agree 100% with the policy of the party or person I vote for?

·  Or does my vote count 90% or 80% or any other percentage?

 Consider the warning in 1 Cor 10:22 and in Rom 1:32

 Bear in mind…

· When I vote for a political party, I effectively agree to and tacitly support their TOTAL policy (Each vote = 100%)

· When a political party supports “same-sex marriage”, I am effectively and tacitly supporting the policy too by voting for them.

· When a political party supports “abortion on demand”, I am effectively and tacitly supporting the policy too, by voting for them.

· When the Lord God expects the opposite, but I still vote for such a party I am effectively in opposition with God. Then I am effectively disobedient to God.

· Ultimately we all will face up to 1 Cor 10:22 and Rom 1:32.

Therefore,

· Before casting your vote, be very sure of the particular political party’s ENTIRE POLICY, having evaluated it in context of the Will of God as expressed in His Word.

· You should not vote for any political party if they subscribe to even one policy which goes against God’s Word!

 What if there is not a political party which I can’t vote for on the Ballot Paper presented to me?

· Return a “Spoiled Ballot Paper” by drawing a line across the ballot paper and casting it into the Election Box

· An attempted “No-vote” by either not handing in a ballot paper or by abstaining from voting DOES NOT count in the Election Result, but CAN EFFECTIVELY HELP those parties which you are trying to effectively oppose

· Spoiled Ballot Papers DO count in the final election result percentage!

 [Lourens, Thank you for clarifying the vitally important issues! – Editor] 

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Editorial – September 2013

Automation can  

be lethal

ON January 20, 1998 Air Inter Flight 148 ended in disaster when the crew inadvertently selected the wrong mode on the autopilot resulting in a rate of descend of 3300 feet per minute during the final approach to land at Strasbourg Airport. They actually meant to select a 3.3 degree glide path which would have yielded a much slower rate of descend of about 750 feet per minute.

The crew’s attempts to correct the incorrect mode and do a go-around were over-ridden by the auto-throttles. The Airbus A320 crashed into a mountain, claiming 87 souls out of 96 aboard. That disaster was one of several attributable to automation error.

The French automation philosophy differs from that adopted by US designers. The aircraft is protected from ‘pilot error’ in each flight phase. Crew intervention is not allowed. To the contrary, the approach adopted by the American designers and incorporated by Boeing comes down to automated devices being aids for assisting crews. The designers do not regard crews as Zombies in need of remote control. 

The concept of a ‘national psyche’ was first introduced by anthropological researcher Franz Boas and later refined by Margaret Mead. She found a national mode of thinking among different nationalities. In a nutshell an American would typically think like an American and for that matter a Frenchman like a Frenchman.

Of note here is the French do not allow teacher-pupil physical interaction in their schools. In the encompassing humanistic culture a teacher is not allowed to even touch a pupil. The fears of teachers abusing children have become so distorted an ever-growing alienation and sense of detachment between teachers and learners in recent years have resulted in many cases of emotional problems. The teaching atmosphere has become anything but that of warm Christian love. 

Wherever Christianity is not the encompassing atmosphere or mode, we can expect problems. How we arrange our lives would be determined by our preconceived notions and ideas. Political and ideological motivations may distort our perceptions of Christianity and thwart our attempts to obey the Holy Spirit.

We would be stuck in the mode of instant gratification and entitlement. We would be hell bent on domination and gain. We would sink so low morally that we miss our destinations and destiny altogether. The Lord is not subject to our plans.  To the Believer it must be the other way round. Many of us need a mode transition.

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Editorial – July 2013

Who's controlling your  

head space?

AVIATORS may agree in any theater of war aerial superiority is paramount. Our head space is Satan's main strategic objective. Before indiscriminately or randomly counter-attacking to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones, we need to take into account relevant Biblical principles which the Lord has taken great care to convey to us, as strategy.

Firstly, we need to realize unlike certain cults and other belief systems Christianity will NEVER require someone to have a blank mind or to submit his or her faculties to anyone’s control. In spiritual worship, prayer and thanksgiving we need to be alert and actively focus our hearts and minds on the Lord and/or His Holy Scriptures.  

[Picture: Air Traffic Control Service Units control Air Spaces, like we should control our minds] 

We read in I Thessalonians 5: 23 we consist of three integral components, namely the spirit, soul and body. Our will, thoughts, emotions and carnal minds are within the realms of the soul – which in the field of psychology may be likened to the cognitive and subconscious mind. Anyone allowed to gain access and control through our subconscious minds, like in somnambulist trances and by ‘suggestion’, may indeed influence and manipulate us.

In II Timothy 1: 7 we note we have been given a spirit not of fear, but love, calmness, discipline, sensibility and self-control. According to II Corinthians 10: 5, we must cast down the imaginations opposing the knowledge of God. The Bible is riddled with texts imploring us to not resist the Holy Spirit and in fact, submit ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We are subsequently warned in Ephesians 4: 19 that spiritual apathy is absolutely lethal to the Believer. In Ephesians 6: 11 – 19 we read we need to don the Lord’s battledress and armament. In context, we need to take heed of Ephesians 6: 16 to guard against fiery darts (thoughts fired by the Evil One) with our Shield of Faith.

We are supposed to be in control of our mind, like an Air Traffic Controller. The Holy Spirit is our radar, the Gift of Discernment – see I Corinthians 12: 10.

Satan and the workers of unrighteousness and evil cannot read your mind! Yet, they may delude many through the strategy of pattern recognition, reasoned 'prediction' and manipulation. To achieve the loss of self-control by a 'victim' or potential future customer, the workers of iniquity employ various tactics, such as the use of drugs.

Bear in mind, the first step towards foolishness is naivety. We are often unsuspectingly hoodwinked to sin through loss of sobriety. Young people are ensnared with notoriety into the bondage of sin and destructive patterns by initially unwittingly having their drinks spiked in places of pleasure and sensuality - often by so-called 'friends'. As potential 'war casualties' aviation people are no exception. The 'need' for artificially induced physical cycles of highs and lows – even at gyms and health clubs – should serve as an early sign of potential trouble and be guarded against.Our minds are like computers – junk in, junk out.  

Take control of your mind like an Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU). Inadvertent or unauthorized airspace intrusions and incursions cannot be avoided, but can be ordered out and denied landing rights.  You cannot avoid the birds flying over your head, but you can prevent them nesting in your hair.

Lastly, please guard against 'sins of the mind' like gossip, false testimony or negative confessions of fear and doom. Control those aspects of Technology - computers, iPads, etc. - by means of which blasphemy, profanity, promiscuity, pornography, etc. can enter your minds and gain landing rights in your homes and lives. Control your mind and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, like a vigilant Air Traffic Controller!

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Editorial – June 2013

Grace vs. Tolerance

SOUTH AFRICAN labor laws on health, safety, unfair practices, discrimination and prejudice on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation at the workplace and even environmental issues all promote tolerance. The new constitution even demands tolerance among different religions.

An analogy can be found with the modern airline cabin as microcosm where various cultures meet. Both aircrew and cabin crew cannot accommodate situations where opposing values create conflict of whatsoever nature, for whatsoever reason. Tolerance is absolutely vital for a safe flight.  

[Image. John Burke... Not directing traffic at an air show, but inviting sinners into the Church of Jesus Christ, with their 'initial' imperfections and all]. 

The secular world and especially the aviation work environment demand the highest levels of tolerance. The antithesis is that religious fundamentalism is feared and actively resisted, due to the perceived potential for intolerance.  Let’s not kid ourselves. Certain dress codes trigger extra vigilance on the part of cabin crew and security officials.

In the protracted aftermath of 9/11 perceived or real threats aren’t taken lightly. When it comes to safety ‘the customer isn’t always right’ and ‘profits’ aren’t balanced with ‘protection’. The message is clear, ‘Don’t even pretend to be ‘fanatic’ inside the airport perimeter.   

With all those lives at stake, we would not have it any other way. It has virtually taken the romance from flying.  But, who cares, as long as our loved ones get to their destinations safely?

The paradox is the Church of Jesus Christ deals with essentially the same situation every day. Lives are also at stake. However, if the Church cannot tolerate upheaval, nobody gets saved. Our sedentary approach inside the Church has fumed sedition on the outside. The double-edged Sword of the Word cuts both ways. Pretentious Believers often miss the Great Commission altogether!

Especially jet pilots know you can run out of fuel at the holding point. Once started up, you got to get cleared and airborne. The fire in the combustion chamber will see you overheat and become useless, unless you convert it to propulsive energy in a specific direction to do work.

But, whether you’re in a hurry or not, you don’t get airborne unless you’ve checked all systems for serviceability. Then, to what extent do you tolerate sins?  At what point will tolerance affect the lives of other ‘redeemed’ church goers, or worse, frustrate the efforts of the Church?

In the anthropological study ‘Three African Tribes In Transition’ under editorship of Julian H. Steward (University of Illinois Press, 1972) Anglican missionaries in the German colony of Tanganyika (Tanzania) complained about gains and in the hearts and minds of the Kaguru population by ‘checkmating’ and ‘counterbalancing’ efforts of  the local Roman Catholics. The stronger position of the ‘foes’ around 1912 – 1913 was attributed to their own (the Anglican Church’s) intolerant attitude and strong condemnation of ‘things’ such as ‘alcohol, tobacco, cards and dancing’ (p. 179).  

John Burke addresses these issues that have evidently been central to Christianity for ages. In the real Church ‘passengers’ are converted to crew. At the very least they’re supposed to help – not unlike rendering assistance with fitting drop-down oxygen masks to one another in case of rapid depressurization.

But, would you have your son or daughter attend Friday evening youth meeting, to possibly encounter individuals trying to shake a drug habit? Is it the chance we have to take? Let’s suffice to say, this is a situation not monitored from an armchair.  

John Burke takes these issues head-on. This leading pastor of the Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas has written a series of books on these contentious, contemporary topics.  

His most recent work ‘No Perfect People Allowed’ has recently been promoted on his tour of South Africa. The issues he confronts are not only thought-provoking, but sear the average churchgoer’s conscience like a red hot poker. His sound Bible based teachings make it clear that the ‘Living Church’ cannot grow without assimilating ‘sinners'.

Believers have no choice but to find ways and means of reaching the unsaved and teaching the untaught. Burke is not naive, fully realizing the tendency for established members of the congregation to kill the 'barely saved' with a mixture of criticism and kindness. Believers also propagate perpetual patterns of turning inwards, onto each other in the lulls between incoming ‘newcomers’.  

Pastoral teams need to continuously strive to find the optimum between the well-being of the presently and previously unsaved. In this regard the Holy Spirit has helped Burke develop practical concepts like ‘race partners’ to remain focused and on track. The fulcrum is somewhere between Grace and Tolerance.

If Burke’s concepts are taken to their logical conclusion, the proactive Church is at first an emergency ward for the wounded. Church goers are combatants for Christ who need to overcome obstacles of trust, tolerance, truth, loneliness and brokenness to reach the fallen. The baptismal waters can be bloody pools.

Those in the trenches cannot be provoked by lesbian couples holding hands in the front pews, but need to wait on the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin. Evicting them equates to losing them. Ultimately, we may reject the sin, not the sinner. The real Church is a slaughterhouse smelling of medicines,ointments and disinfectants. God's Grace is the ether.  

www.johnburkeonline.com

[Follow 'Willow Creek' link on right sub-menu]

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 Editorial – May 2013

Praising God as you wait on His provision

SILAS MAKWHENA normally serves customers at the Wonderboom airport’s Italian restaurant in textbook Afrikaans. His six foot three bulk belies his gentle nature and steadfast faith in God.

He recently testified that like his Biblical namesake Silas, the Apostle Paul’s companion, his trust in God had been richly rewarded. He is solely reliant on tips as waiter for his income. One morning a few weeks ago his wife reminded him the bag of maize was nearing empty.

[Picture below: Silas – before the restaurant with the Wonderboom Airport tarmac in the background. As devout Christian, he always wears a pin in solidarity with the State of Israel].

He had barely enough money to get to work, but refused to get panicky. One thing he had in common with his namesake of old was to keep praising the Lord, no matter what (comp. Acts 16: 25).

Yet, the day-to-day struggle to keep body and soul together was almost getting the better of him. It's often difficult just to trust, especially when surrounded by affluent aviators in his line of work.  

As he was reasoning with himself on the way to the bus stop the Holy Spirit drew his attention to a cripple without feet. The lame man hailed him enthusiastically as always, whilst acclaiming the Lord's Goodness. Silas suddenly felt a surge of relief and decided keep his spirits up.

In the bus and while walking the last few miles to work, he hummed hymns and sang praises to the Lord, like Silas and Paul after they had been severely beaten and shackled in the latrine pit of the dungeon. They would be freed by God's miraculous intervention. Our modern day Silas needed exactly R100 to make ends meet and decided to trust God for it and began thanking Him.

That morning he served a customer with all the zeal he could muster, as unto the Lord. But, after paying the bill the customer got up and walked away while talking on his cell phone without leaving a tip. Silas decided to keep praising the Lord no matter what and blessed the man. After almost leaving the building seemingly absentmindedly, the man turned around and came back. ‘Here,’ he said, handing him a R100 note, ‘please buy a bag of maize for your family’. Silas was astonished. How could he have known about the exact need, unless by the power of the Holy Spirit?

***

A short while later Silas’ congregation hosted a fundraising event. His sons came to help him get everything at the church yard and around his home spic and span.

It would be customary to have dinner together afterwards. But, they were out of supplies again and needed a bag each of maize, sugar and milk powder.

With R6 in his pocket, he was in a tight spot. In the spirit of the evening he nonetheless bought three R2 tickets for the raffle, one for each son, and one for him.  He had nothing left. The icy familiar feeling of running on fumes threatened to settle in the pit of his stomach, again.

He decided to keep praising God, no matter what. As the evening progressed with hymns and speeches and games he found it hard to concentrate on anything, but to be hospitable after the event with empty cupboards.

Time for the draw soon arrived. They watched with bated breath as the lots were cast into a big black box.  

It was shaken so many times he feared it would break apart. Proverbs 16: 33 states ‘the lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord (even the events that seem accidental are ordered by Him)’.  

The first prize was a bag of maize. Silas held the winning ticket!

He was still rejoicing in God when the second ticket was drawn. The next big prize was a huge bag of milk powder. To everyone’s utter amazement his one son was the winner!  

Everyone was still congratulating them when the third raffle ticket was ready to be drawn. The box with tickets was shaken about again... There was a silence... then an explosion of joy as the third prize, a humungous bag of sugar, was won by his other son!

That night and many days afterwards all rejoiced in the Lord’s divine provision. If you find it hard to fathom, go to Wonderboom airport restaurant and ask for Silas to serve you.

*** 

Is our walk louder than our talk... and can we share more than an opinion, or shilling or two when the Holy Spirit points out another person's needs to us?   

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Comment...

Thank you for your article on Silas. I know him well, and he really is a great guy.

What happened to him is really inspirational, and it was good to see deeper into his life.

Keep going with the web-page; it is becoming one of my favourites.

Regards,

Hermé Goosen

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Editorial – April 2013

The naked pilot

ONE visit to a fatal air crash site should convince anyone death holds no dignity. Yet, in the name of dignity we refrain from speaking up when good judgment necessitates intervention.   

Especially in aviation 'deadly diplomacy' pertaining to friends and colleagues can be both an excuse and a stumbling block when they should be prompted to either stop flying, or get help.  

Bear in mind, pilots who make the silliest mistakes are ironically often experienced and highly acclaimed.  In numerous cases behavioral patterns in the period before an accident should have prompted those nearest and dearest to speak up and intervene.

But, vicarious and contributing liability though ingrained in aviation insurance seldom matter when it comes to peers or fellow aviators. In the aviation culture any attempts at questioning or intervention would be 'strictly forbidden' and regarded as 'interfering'.  Such claims to privacy are unwarranted when a condition, situation or attitude affects others, especially members of the public as bystanders and/or passengers.

Where people of 'superior' class, social standing and skills reveal signs of being unsafe or in trouble we seem to resort to 'discretion being the better part of valor', whilst those in trouble and who are about to cause even greater trouble for themselves and others, always seem to claim a right to not be 'patronized'!

Such foolishness is perhaps best illustrated by the 1837 Hans Christian Andersen fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The plot revolves around two swindling weavers who invoke collective denial in the regent as well as those surrounding him to pretend that his regal garments and attire are exquisitely beautiful, though invisible to all lacking taste and discernment! 

The monarch happily subscribes to such self-delusion. His pride and vanity precludes and prevents his courtiers and closest advisers from speaking up, to avoid embarrassment.  Ultimately he makes a complete fool of himself as he marches through the city streets utterly naked. Everyone with him persists with the fallacy... till a little boy in the crowd points out the pompous regent’s nakedness. 

Keeping up appearances can indeed be deceiving in real life. A flying buddy’s ‘whiskey tan’ might be written all over his face, whilst everyone around him just prefers to ignore this; actually pretending everything is all right.  

Individuals in some form of personal crisis or trouble may well be hiding pent up rage from years of disappointments and frustrations behind distraught faces, abrupt mannerisms and 'tough guy' facades and/or abusive charades... leaving it up to those around them to try and figure out how to make room to live with them. This seldom goes without the scars to those who respect and support and often love them most.  

In the end the real question which begs answering is: 

Do we spare their feelings, or their lives?  

He or she, may be in a real life crisis, too proud or too embarrassed to come clean, while logging one close call after the other.

Respecting his or her dignity, we are actually condoning his or her actions - maybe for fear of rebuke, retaliation and/or conflict. We are actually awaiting disaster to strike.  

Most are generally too stiff-necked to seek the only real solution, which is to bow repentantly with contrite heart before the Lord, our God, our Maker for real transformation and deliverance... through and by His Spirit.  

God demands both sobriety and honesty… which may render us unpopular. Think of your friend though. Unless you speak up and act he or she will end up naked on a post mortem slab. 

We observe the principle of joint accountability applied throughout the Bible.  We are not to stand by idly and lead or allow anyone to be led astray. Call it 'tough love', if you must.

In Genesis 4: 9 Cain protests being accountable as his brother’s keeper. The Lord resents his protestation as He indeed holds us accountable.

Picture:
 

 

Read about the Emperor's New Clothes above

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Editorial – March 2013

When we become collectively stupid

CREW coordination failures and management style related disruptions due to overly steep authority gradients first came under the spotlight after the Tenerife air disaster on March 27, 1977 - 36 years ago this month.  

The commander of a KLM Boeing 747, Capt. Jaap Veldhuyzen van Zanten (51) - picture right - had overruled and ignored his co-pilot’s express concerns, as he was preparing to take-off, that a Pan-Am Boeing 747 obscured by mist was still taxiing in opposite direction on the runway. There's a spiritual lesson in all of this, but let's firstly consider a few events...  

The world’s biggest aviation disaster claimed 583 lives as the airliners collided. In retrospect the commander's dichotomy, i.e. that he was as always 'right' and his subordinate therefore 'wrong', had differed from reality. One good thing which transpired from this tragedy was that it sparked off the advent of Crew Resource Management (CRM) techniques.

CRM was initially aimed at getting inept, passive, at a loss for words co-pilots like Klaas Muirs (32), Capt. Veldhuyzen van Zanten’s protégé, to speak up and intervene to avoid disasters.  

Another killer in multi-crew situations is mitigated speech. Expressions, phrases and idioms are toned down to the point of semantic value change. Such caution with words is intended, either wittingly or unwittingly, to avoid annoying or agitating overly assertive and authoritarian commanders. In extreme cases dialogues cease to be a meaningful exchange and interpretation of information.  

Fastidious commanders become interrogators. Team members are effectively transformed and reduced to respondents. They end up defending themselves, often by withholding vital information (either inadvertently suppressing their opinions on account of not feeling 'worthy', or for fear of further provoking the 'Alpha' male or female), instead of advocating opinions.  

Willful withholding of information is not unlikely on flight decks, though one would expect 'more' from highly qualified individuals, supposed to realize the potential negative consequences. However, in extremely stratified environments, such as depicted in Alex Haley's epic work Roots (1977, ISBN 0-330-25301-8) where the steepest possible authority gradients are encountered, i.e. between plantation owners and slaves in the American South in the era before the Civil War (1861 - 1865), sullenness could constitute attempts at 'sabotaging' or 'penalizing' superiors. In most working environments such attitudes and reactions to unabated oppression may be insidious, but in the long run the effects will not be less hideous.  

Cockpit voice recordings analyzed after air disasters would often reveal how in the period directly before impact communications deteriorated to one-sided affairs in which not only meaning, but effect were lost. The analyses indicated individuals in leadership can become so focused on asserting themselves and having opinions validated and orders carried out, they would lose touch with environmental conditions and operational facts, enforcing decisions which are often objectively irrational.  

Leaders quickly become adept at treading on thin ice and amenable to accepting or even inducing undue risks, especially after they had gotten away with over-rulings in the past. A social researcher, Cecilia L. Ridgeway, refers to a phenomenon of  'leadership idiosyncrasy credits' in context of taking fundamental processes of small groups under the looking glass in The Dynamics of Small Groups (1983, ISBN 0-312-22369-2; pp. 144 - 145).  

In essence high value members of groups, committees, etc. - especially the ones used to having their way and sometimes dictating or making the rules - become so superior to 'presume' certain latitude to deviate from proven or acceptable norms and standards, without tacit or implied approval. Their subordinates ironically 'award' them such 'deviation credits'. This form of entitlement is characteristic of gangs, but lo and behold, also encountered at the highest levels of decision making in society and wherever group decisions are made.  

You can award a person with a rank or title and dress him or her in a uniform or pin striped suit, but you cannot make him or her righteous. Humility is a decision. Righteousness is the result of submitting to and following the Holy Spirit. Wisdom and insight follow from prudently abiding by God's principles in carrying out our work soberly, diligently and with dedication. Let's look at subsequent developments in aviation, illustrating our shortcomings if not acting with the necessary discernment.  

***    

In the USA and Europe airlines countered such overly authoritarian styles of former military pilots mentioned above by integrating more pilots from civilian flying backgrounds.  Culture was found to have a huge effect and more 'Westernized' styles of communication and interaction had to be adapted - especially by crews from the Far East. Over the years this gradually led to the other extreme. The demise of Air France Flight 447 which crashed into the icy Atlantic Ocean about halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Paris is but one example.

In the early hours of June 1, 2009 228 occupants of the perfectly sound Airbus A-330 died after two co-pilots had failed to figure out the one’s nose-up command was cancelling out the other’s nose-down command with the control column. In this case the authority gradient had been so shallow that the crew was ineffective in detecting and counter-acting imminent disaster. The captain in the jump seat, woken from his midnight slumber, could neither figure out nor provide any input towards solving the predicament of an otherwise recoverable and relatively simple aerodynamically stalled condition.  

***
 

Later, researchers began  to look at systemic aviation safety management failures. It was  discovered that almost without exception boards, committees and decision  makers could have pre-empted and predicted negative trends, tendencies  and destructive patterns beforehand. Researcher Dr. James Reason found  up to seven breakdowns in ‘safety barriers’ need to line up like holes  in a Swiss cheese before a disaster occurs.  

Let's look at the flip-side of the coin and consider the concept of the wisdom in the counsel of many. It turns out councils without the guidance and temperance of the Holy Spirit can still make the worst kind of mistakes imaginable. Some catastrophic events of note are hence considered to illustrate how we can overlook vital facts and even invent new or irrelevant ones, to make bad choices and collective or corporate mistakes. Policy makers should be especially mindful of this. 

Discrepant decision making often occurs in group context. In Social Psychology, Third Edition (Robert S. Feldman, 2001, ISBN 0-13-027479-8; p. 525) researchers refer to a group’s tendency to during group discussions over-emphasize and exaggerate an original point of view with no regard to specific facts. The perception of 'safety in numbers' makes the individual members as decision makers feel 'invulnerable' and 'unaccountable'.

[Picture right - The disaster-headed Columbia being launched into space]

More neutral members anticipate the direction in which the sentiments are shifting and align themselves with more powerful or high value members. Groups tend to ‘polarize’ i.e. exaggerate initial positions, often making more bizarre decisions and reaching more extreme conclusions than either good judgment or prudence necessitates.

The phenomenon of ‘groupthink’ manifests partly due to the inner need of people to conform to the majority as well as an ‘overwhelming’ desire to find consensus.  To evaluate the quality of group decisions Feldman uses the example that in the USA findings by juries are far more often overturned after case reviews than those of individual judges.    

In Feldman (pp. 459 – 467) social researchers refer to the first catastrophic demise of the space shuttle as an example of ‘groupthink’. The space vehicle Challenger exploded to claim seven crew members less than two minutes after the launch on January 28, 1986.

A board of inquiry later uncovered shocking revelations. NASA’s managers, deliberating whether or not the launch should take place, had ignored repeated warnings by a team of engineers.  

[Picture above - The ill-fated Challenger crew] 

The concerns were that rocket booster O-ring seals in the fuel system would become brittle and fail in the unusually low and in fact sub-zero temperatures which had been prevailing at Cape Canaveral, in otherwise temperate Florida, before the launch. The launch vehicle had never been tested in such conditions.

Being confronted with clear concerns the managing team sent the engineers back to the drawing board so to speak, to ‘recalculate’ the probability of a mishap – in other words ‘to change the picture’.  

The overall paradigm or backdrop was that funding for NASA projects had been a national bone of contention. The presence of teacher Christa MacAuliffe among the astronauts would heighten public appeal.  Key decision makers ‘protected’ themselves from knowledge which could prevent or preclude the launch. The result was a spectacular calamity of unprecedented scale.

*** 

Merely 17 years afterwards, on February 1, 2003, the rest of the world would once again witness a spectacular catastrophe as the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated 84 seconds after re-entering the atmosphere. All aboard would perish.  

As had been the case with the Challenger, the country’s top minds and experts in the field had, once again, been together; to deliberate and 'predict' the odds of something going wrong, or occurring in a certain way.

To cut a long story short, the inquiry afterwards would, once again, reveal flawed decision making processes. NASA’s organizational culture, which encompassed the overall mindset and paradigm of getting things done and not taking no for an answer, was highlighted as a key element contributing to the disaster. The management team had, once again, downplayed warnings by engineers. We do not seem to learn from the past, even in top echelons. 

A mathematics expert and Board of Inquiry member, Richard Feynman, claimed the scientific failing had been due to a ‘moral failing’ to accept and interpret the ‘scientific’ facts.  

Protective tiles would  detach on seven successive launches and the 'statistical risk' of such  occurrences causing calamity had been negated and made out to be 'mere  debris' - with as little side-effect as Styrofoam hitting a speeding car, according to Wikipedia. This would recur once more, but result in tragedy and calamity. Disaster could have been avoided, had the glaringly obvious facts not been ignored and the risk not been misinterpreted.

On a decision making level the group of managers had learned to downplay or ‘rationalize’ and ‘negate’ such risks as ‘part and parcel’ of space operations and the type of endeavour.  

The ‘arbitrary’ assessment of risk and hence the 'odds' of debris causing damage to the launch vehicle had been expressed as a so-called ‘one in a million’ chance – theoretically implying nothing would go wrong in successive launches every day for 274 years, according to Feynman.  

[Pictures show the ill-fated crew of the Columbia (above) and the disintegration of the space vehicle shortly after re-entering the atmosphere, below.]

Yet, after the calamity the board found the origins of the disaster had been ‘rooted in history’. This had been an accident 'waiting to happen'.  

Notwithstanding all the brilliant minds and specialists being pooled around one table the group’s yearning for consensus and having their way at all costs, had prevailed beyond reasonable parameters of safe operations.  

  • What can we learn from such phenomena – that despite top qualifications and levels of expertise in the rank and file entire boards, groups, committees and teams of 'technocrats' and managerial 'masterminds' we can readily act with ‘collective stupidity’?  
  • What shall one call such management or governance – ‘idiot-cracies’?

To avoid  ‘corporate delusions’ steering committees and perhaps boards of directors, i.e. group decision makers, may do well to learn from decision making weaknesses unraveled by aviation safety analysts. 

 

  • Is it not high time that we pay much more attention to the Holy Spirit’s guidance opposed to focusing solely on group sentiments?
  • Isn't the hardest thing sometimes to wait upon the Lord and things to come into 'season'; i.e. to follow His timing and lead, instead of ours?
  • With 'history' being rewritten in South Africa to suit political aims and objectives of the ruling masses and whilst new paradigms and dichotomies are actively being 'invented' by the masterminds behind the 'powers that be' (according to Ephesians 6: 12)...  should Believers not pray like never before, as the Bible demands, for those in Government... to turn to God and not make disastrous policy decisions in Parliament and in the caucuses?

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Editorial – February 2013

Where your heart is

AFTER a recent crash claiming two occupants of a light plane someone was quoted saying the deceased had died doing what they loved most. The aftermath of the tragic event according to a friend who'd been there resembled extracts from Avoiding Fatal Flying Traps; right down to the missing man formation in the end. However, in the opening statements of the above mentioned air safety book the well-known expression concerning departed aviators is discussed as problematic. Why? 

Before attempting to answer and along with the rest of the flying community, we would firstly like to extend heartfelt condolences to the next of kin. Whilst nothing can be done or said to bring back flying buddies who have lost their lives in accidents, those of us left standing need to ask where OUR priorities lie.  This month’s editorial is by no means intended to judge or criticize anyone involved in and affected by accidents. Far from it!  

But, such occurrences should serve as a wake-up call that we are mortal, even fragile... and as such need to constantly evaluate and search our motives; i.e. why we are doing things and why we're doing it in a certain way... and why we're even involved in aviation activities. 

If flying is our 'first love', we need to ask ourselves how we conform to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ. When He had walked the earth some 2000 years ago He'd explained in Matthew 6: 21 that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be. This does not mean to suggest we should not fly, or for that matter be good at it. We dealt with that aspect in the previous editorial, i.e. that if we subject ourselves to God’s Perfect Will for our lives, we can be expected to be very good at what we do.  

As crews and pilots in God’s hands we can bring rescue, relief and evacuation services often direly needed by those in disaster or war stricken areas; and/or be His hands of love and compassion and/or spread the Gospel. Considering the countless lives that have been sacrificed by military and civilian aviators in pursuit of freedom in the continual struggle against aggression and oppression, an aircraft can truly be a Chariot in the service of the Lord.

As modern aviators in peacetime, we often tend to lack purpose and context. We miss the point and lose the plot. How? The pursuit of pleasure, is also called hedonism, and has ourselves and the fulfillment of sensual human desires and pleasures at its core. That can be likened to idolatry in its extreme form. If you consider the statement 'harsh' or 'extreme', read on...   

Though flying has always been a source of delight to those devoted to its practice and disciplines, seeking a thrill can never be our motivation to fly.  

On the other hand the average aviator should be proficient at maneuvers like the Immelman and chandelle to get out of trouble or tight spots one day. That should be practiced under experienced supervision, properly rehearsed and carried out at a safe altitude. Any random and extreme and unrehearsed expression of flying, seeking a thrill as its aim is headed for disaster, sooner or later.  

As pilots and aircrew we have a very vital role to play in God’s greater scheme of things. We might be like someone who has never truly lived unless we humble ourselves sufficiently to be guided and led by the Holy Spirit every step of the way. Our spirits can only truly come alive if touched by God. Our lives can only have a true meaning and purpose in a close relationship with Him... and that includes what and how we do things; even or especially in aviation.
 

As aviators even the relatively poorest among us are in a most fortunate privileged sector of society.  As Christian Aviators we need to discover how to use that as an advantage to God and in submission to His perfect willFlying can be a vital piece of the puzzle in God’s perfect plan and overall scheme of things.  

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Editorial – January 2013

Planning vs. Masterminding

THE start of a new year invariably affords countless opportunities for strategizing and planning; without which no business, occupation or operation, least of all an aviation venture, can achieve success. However, without the Holy Spirit even the smartest plans can come to nothing and ultimately result in calamity.  Mankind seems unable to find the balance between doing things simply 'because we can' and adhering to the perfect Will of God.

As aviators some of us tend to fly low ‘because we can’. As sportsmen and women some of us dive deep and scale mountain cliffs ‘because we can’. As business people some withhold tithes, wages, bonuses, increases and commissions ‘because we can’. We sometimes underpay staff and overcharge clients ‘because we can’.  Once we have conquered Poly Shorts and the slopes of Kilimanjaro 'because they're there' we pursue ventures to manipulate men and money markets, 'because we can'.  

Somehow this all sounds right… until one considers how Angus Buchan in his daily devotional book ‘A Mustard Seed’ (Shalom Ministries, 2007; ISBN 978-0-620-39918-0) describes how he had avoided financial calamity on one particular occasion in a way which was humanly impossible to foresee or plan for.  Before all cattle in his area would be culled due to foot and mouth disease and wholly unbeknown to him, Angus had somehow ‘sensed’ the Lord prompting him to sell his livestock, even the breeding herd. Do those who place their trust in Him not seem to have an uncanny kind of ‘luck’ which surpasses all human understanding?  

To aviators this concept of blindly trusting the Lord can be especially daunting since we are taught to never ‘guesstimate’ or to work on random or ‘thumb-suck’ planning and parameters; especially when it comes to aircraft performance and flight planning.  

The moral dilemma becomes even more pronounced if one considers that the clash between manipulative or masterminding forces on the one hand and Godly principles and sound minded thinking on the other (II Timothy 1: 7) has been a controversial issue integral to the Bible since the creation of man and which continues to ‘confound the wise’ to this day.  

Given to scientific thinking, we simply fail to grasp 'the third option', i.e. of doing things as unto the Lord and submitting all our plans to Him. In our daily lives and business ethics and customs this seems to defy both sound logic and the principles of prudence. It is almost if the Lord pities us for being trapped in this paradigm or mindset. In Isaiah 48: 13 we even detect a note of sarcasm when the Lord states ‘…you are wearied with your many counsels and plans’. Mankind has never failed to anger and frustrate Him with the notorious tendency of approaching all and sundry even idols for wisdom, advice and guidance, opposed to walking close to and inclining minds and hearts to Him.  

People simply have this uncanny yearning of doing their own planning and then asking God to rubber-stamp their grand notions and ideas.

The predictive nature of physics and chemistry form the basis of invention and technology and seems to inhibit our thinking processes. Facts and combinations which we have seen proven through empirical testing are formulated, documented and portrayed in performance graphs. The very nature of theorems and equations denotes reliable and predictable outcomes. Aviators not only function, but thrive in this world. Yet, throughout the Biblical books of wisdom like Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes we find that our Creator had created these scientific forces and phenomena of nature and that He actually (even today) wants us to use these as part of His goodness, goodwill and provision for Mankind.

To reconcile our way of thinking with the principles of the Lord, we must bear in mind that what seemingly makes it more difficult is that as aviators we are taught concepts like ‘points of equal time’. We also do ‘radii of action’ calculations in case we need to divert flights or return to departure points, in case calamity threatens to overcome us – like a passenger falling ill or an engine becoming inoperative. In a nutshell we try to always provide for 'uncertainty' which is a long way off trusting blindly. Yet, every time we do a sum or calculation it is actually an act of Faith.  

We therefore carry on to determine ‘reduced take-off weights’ in observance of environmental conditions. Commanders have aircraft carry either more or less fuel to provide for ‘uncertain’ conditions and events… all of which can more or less be predicted. We base these decisions on information, forecasts and trends and refer to our actions as ‘contingency planning’.  Similarly, aircraft manufacturers and aviation administrative bodies alike require aviation products to be used in specific manners with crews conforming to ‘predictable’ routines, flows, vital actions, speech patterns and behavioural drills which ought to yield predictably desirable results. So, where's the problem?

The predicament we all seem to face is that no matter how hard we corporately try, unforeseen disasters still occur.  Passengers and cabin crew members who have survived air disasters often testify of some ‘premonition’ or advance perception of danger. Two stewardesses whom I had respectively interviewed about different air disasters they had survived attested to the hairs on their neck inexplicably ‘standing up’ each fateful day before reporting for duty. They could not convert these feelings or sense of trepidation into cognitive knowledge.Why can we not be like Angus and hear from the Lord to avoid calamity? Perhaps we can... But, it takes a certain kind of yearning after the Lord which seems to escape (most of) us. 

Perhaps the attitude underpinning the right approach in the Lord’s eyes is found in Ecclesiastes 11: 4: ‘He who observes the wind (and waits for all conditions to be favorable) will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap’. Business and aviation planning will always require the ‘due diligence’ to be carried out, but never with any real ‘guarantee’. Ultimately the Lord is our only guarantee. We know His Will through His Word and through His Holy Spirit. We know His Will for us ‘in general’ through expressions contained in Scriptures like Jeremiah 29: 11, i.e. ‘…Plans for welfare and peace and not for evil…’  

In John 10: 10 (b) we see He wants us to have life ‘…in abundance’

According to Proverbs 14: 16 ‘…the wise man suspects danger and cautiously avoids it’. Proverbs 14: 12 points out there is a way that might seem right to a person, but which leads to death and destruction. In crew resource management training pilots, perhaps unwittingly, also conform to Biblical guidelines.  

  

In Luke 12: 16 – 21 Jesus as a warning tells the parable of the wealthy businessman who tried to apply some ‘masterminding’ in attempt of multiplying and securing his wealth.  According to verse 20 ‘…God said to him: You fool! This very night they (the messengers, angels of God) shall demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be?’ Jesus makes it clear that our plans can only truly succeed if our motives coincide with God’s purpose for our lives; and that we can only find out through having a close relationship with Him (verse 21). This is echoed by Psalm 39 in which we see every person’s stay on earth is like ‘hand-breadth’ (verse 5) and that ‘…each one heaps up riches not knowing who will gather them’ (verse 6).

 

In summary, we have seen the vast difference between planning as part of the processes of ‘due diligence’ which the Lord expects of us as commanders, businesspeople and leaders versus the ungodly and dangerous practice of trying to manipulate or act as the 'masterminds' of our own fate and future and that of others. One yields life and progress, the other death and destruction. Our intentions do not seem to matter, but discernment in finding out if indeed we are in the 'perfect Will of God' does. The secret seems to lie in knowing the difference when not to be 'indifferent' and to submit all our ways to the Lord. As aircrew and business leaders we cannot and do not wish to escape weighing up all the relevant facts and doing all necessary calculations.

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Editorial – December 2012

Sensibly afraid of flying

SOME years ago an instructor’s thesis about aviation risk management was thrown back at me. The inspector’s comment was that ‘…if flying is a risk, we shouldn’t do it’. I was devastated. I could hardly believe he’d once been an air force and later airline pilot.  Flying is all about risk management, which involves the way we approach our whole career.

Being scared in an aircraft is sometimes part of the job description. If it were not for a healthy aversion to risk ignorance would be bliss. Even airlines continuously have to find a balance between ‘profit versus protection’, to quote career captain and air safety protagonist Gavin MacKellar. When a major event such as the Air Force Dakota disaster in Lesotho strikes, especially aspirant pilots tend to question whether or not they’re on the road to destruction. The most sensible ones find it hard to reconcile their choices as career pilots with their notion or perception of a God-given purpose driven life.  The following email attests to this...

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'Is it normal to feel like quitting flying altogether due to safety concerns? I am strongly getting this gut feeling to quit. I have of late been avoiding the cockpit, because my mindset is just not in the right setting. I now have this heightened safety concern and it’s almost turning into paranoia of some form as I get this feeling that something will go wrong in my flight.

‘I have a young family and I am very passionate about aviation, but I am getting a strong feeling maybe GA is not as safe as I had previously thought it to be. Am I wrong in my assumption, or I am just being afraid of nothing?

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Knowledge dispels fear and being brave requires doing one’s duties in the face of adversity despite one’s inner fears. Fear which is not rooted in realism is either paranoia or a phobia. One must guard against that, otherwise we risk 'blocking out reality' or 'changing the picture' if we cannot face facts or see what we like. Unless such inner conflicts are resolved at the earliest stages of an aviation career, chances are one can end up like the captain of the Costa Concordia, jumping ship when passengers need us most.

The aspirant pilot who wrote the mail has a healthy dose of realism to find his former, perhaps rather ‘idealistic’ focus shifting and his confidence shaken.  Don’t we all get afraid as time goes by and we gain experience; i.e. around 100 hours, then 1000, then 3000? That’s the time to press on and press through. We invariably find we love aviation ‘despite’ of and not ‘because’ of certain inherent characteristics, sometimes turning out to actually be shortcomings which we should be aware of, though not necessarily ‘afraid’ of. It would be impossible to live and function normally in constant fear of calamity. But, it’s sometimes easier said than done.

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If it weren’t for aviators we would all be Nazis right know. If it weren’t for Allied Airmen all Germans in Berlin would have all starved. I realized Satan is at his happiest ‘…if evil prevails, whilst good men do nothing’ – to quote Sir Benjamin D’Israeli. So, in my own little way I fought the personal battle to conquer my fear and warn others about the dangers and deceptions.  From my point of view the thing at hand was to become involved in aviation safety campaigns and on forums to make aviation not only more affordable, but a little safer.

I also realized if it weren’t for aviation I could never have delivered missionaries into war-torn Mozambique, or places like Zambia. Even bigger, way bigger… it weren’t for people like Gordon Marshall of Mission Aviation… and Stuart King, Hennie Steyn, the McDonalds and the McMillans, etc. many people would never have gotten the message of Christ in time, or the vital relief and evacuation assistance one reads of in powerful books (actually testimonies) like ‘Hope has Wings – The Mission Aviation Fellowship Story’ (King, Stuart; 1993 – ISBN 0-551-02551). (Please read ‘Angels in Mustangs’ in the Christians in Aviation section of this Site).

A young private pilot studying for his commercial licence some time ago commented to me he could not understand The Lord’s plans with him. There he was, ready to fly for a Christian mission and no-one would take him. Our involvement in aviation is more often than not similar to Joseph’s journey from his father’s house through the pit and dungeons to the position of King of Egypt. Through him the whole lineage of Jesus Christ and all nations would be saved. Remember Moses? The Lord prepared him for eighty years! Daniel served two kings, but had to come through the lions’ pit.

My question to the young aspirant Christian pilot was which pilot would he rather trust with 14 souls aboard e.g. a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan? Who would you want to fly you to help and safety through and around thunderstorms, at night, in the rainy season to land on a muddy runway?  Would you have someone who’s done the hard yards and is aware of the pitfalls and dangers?’

The Lord wants to use aviators in His service. But, aviators as the proverbial ore, has to go through the furnace for the dross to be separated from the silver and be turned into something useful (Proverbs 25: 4 and II Timothy 2: 21). Cecile reminded me of the message in Dr. Izak Burger’s book ‘Five Minutes before Death’ in which he makes it clear that the Lord wants us to have long and full lives. But, if you are flippant about risks and approach life in a ‘don’t care manner’ you could lose your life. The entire message and example of Jesus is to live a sacrificial life. Realizing the risks involved and that aviation is a dangerous and deceptive playground is the first step to having a dedicated attitude.

I believe in aviation our whole lifestyle must reflect our thoroughness and professionalism. When you e.g. do a conversion to type, make sure for instance you know each and every system and everything there is to know about the aircraft. When you study, do so if your life depends on it. It does, as do the lives of others.

When the Lord wants you to stick around in your job until you’re wholly accomplished, trust Him to release you when the time is right. I do not believe that the Lord wants us to quit. But, encountering and learning to do the right kind risk assessment/s is the first vital steps to safety.

Proverbs 14: 12 warns ‘There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but and the end it is the way of death’. Proverbs 14:16 states ‘…a wise man suspects danger and cautiously avoids evil, but the fool bears himself insolently and is (presumptuously) confident’. The idea is not to overlook danger and evil, but to CONQUER it. That requires you to become ‘streetwise’ in aviation terms – through your involvement and dedication and interaction – thereby conquering your (realistic) fears. If you approach it this way, your young family will appreciate you and the fact that you have a calling and job to do to the best of your ability.

Lastly, we have the continuous battle between Fear and Faith. Bravery is not being bold. World heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s trainer, the late Cus D’Amato, used to say ‘heroes and cowards feel the same fear, but react to it differently’. Heroes use their fears to do those extra rounds of sparring and miles of roadwork and to eventually project those fears as blows onto their opponents. Conquer your fears by becoming the best at what you do. Nothing can be gained by quitting.

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 Editorial - November 2012

Flying ‘blind’ in times of lay-offs

FLYING by reference to instruments only, or flying ‘blind’ upon entering clouds is one of the best examples of exercising faith. In adverse conditions aircraft can be tossed around like the Biblical boat without a rudder. Maximum power may be needed to overcome drag and weight as microscopically small super-cooled droplets suspended in the air freeze on impact, to accumulate over the airframe and lift producing surfaces. The added weight and aerofoil distortion may result in a few anxious moments. In turboprop aircraft the Inter-stage Turbine Temperature (ITT) and rotor shaft RPM sometimes need to be set to the absolute maximum limits. The heart may skip a few beats as the airspeed drops… till the inflatable boots and heated air bled from the compressor stages melt and dislodge the ice.

Some of us tend to forget the basic principles. The more advanced we become in terms of skills and seniority the less receptive we become to correction and a few, especially those going through trials and tribulations associated with being laid off, won’t tolerate 'being patronized'. Those who have gone through such trials may be acutely aware that we inevitably ask God 'why might He have us go through the furnace? 

Our sense of self-worth is severely diminished and our reputations tarnished. We tend to become preoccupied with 'making sense of it all'. But, God says in 1 Corinthians 3: 19 ‘For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God’. Notwithstanding, we compare our behaviour to others and ask even more questions. In Romans 3: 10 His Word cautions us that ‘… None is righteous… no, not even one'... (even if we 'don't deserve being treated that way').  

We feel we have let our loved ones and families down. Eventually we cease seeing the ‘bigger picture’. In fact, we tend to ‘change the picture’ and may end up with nothing, as we resist making the inevitable changes in lifestyle that follow retrenchments soon enough. It is also the time to remember we have only stepped from the flight deck, which was not a 'throne'… unless, of course, we’d seen it that way. What a sorry excuse for a reference any man or woman may be for making oneself the centre of one’s universe!

Some may even wag their fingers at God. Just remember, according to James 6 b. ‘… God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace (continually) to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)’. [Proverbs 3: 34].  

Without a visual horizon trying to look around ‘outside’ may cause uncomfortable physiological effects. As the vestibular fluids in the ears swirl ‘spatial disorientation’ may occur. The sense of disorientation or ‘vertigo’ can be very alarming to inexperienced aircrew. In such circumstances one either sticks to the fundamental principles and proven standard operating procedures or lose control. Remember what the hardest thing was initially, i.e. to trust one’s aircraft systems, structural integrity and instrument readings completely despite the body’s senses giving conflicting messages? Now is the time to remind ourselves that according to Romans 8: 28 ‘…All things work together and are (fitting into a plan) for good to and for those who love God and are called according to (His) design and purpose.’ 

Any pilot who can be trusted needs to be trained, tested and retested for proficiency. Our Creator had known we need to do the ‘hard yards’ initially and repeatedly to be fit for flying. Similarly, we need to ‘practice’ our ‘faith’ in keeping our vital references. Believers in Him have no better reference than His Word.  

Over 3000 years ago, the elements of the Lift formula had already been recorded. In Job 28: 25 in the Amplified Bible one reads ‘…He gave to the wind weight or pressure…’ According to Job 26: 7 ‘…He spreads out the northern skies over emptiness and hangs the earth upon or over nothing’. In Job 37: 27 - 29 the hydrological cycle is described: ‘For He draws up the drops of water, which distil as rain from His vapour; which the skies pour down and drop abundantly upon (the multitudes) of mankind.Not only that, but can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds or the thundering of His pavilion?’

Job 30: 22 appears to apply to flying through storms, i.e. ‘You lift me up on the wind. You cause me to ride upon it, and you toss me about in the tempest’. Pure aerodynamics! Makes you want to turn the radar to 'max gain' or 'full bright'. We read in Job 31: 6 being put to the test is part and parcel of our very existence, i.e. ‘Oh, let me be weighed in a just balance and let Him weigh me, that God may know my integrity’.  

Proverbs 25: 4 might indeed apply to those about to go through the furnace of being laid off, as hundreds of aviation employees do just before the Christmas season. Job 25: 4 offers further insight why we sometimes undergo trials and tribulations, i.e. ‘Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth (the material for) a vessel for the silver smith to work up’ 

Right in the Beginning God put mankind to the test of faith and obedience. In Genesis 2: 15 & 16 He forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  For faith to last, it needs to be tested. We believe in the structural integrity of our aircraft, because it has been tested to 1.25 times above the certified load limit.

Bind the message of Proverbs 3: 5 to your heart: ‘Lean on, trust on and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your insight or understanding’. How many times have you thought that line-squall of storms was never-ending? Likewise, just keep your eye and reference on Him and your ear inclined to His Word.

(Note own 'bold emphases' added each time above). 

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October 2012

Is (was) Rustenburg relevant?

The Christian aviator in Troubled Times

AVIATION participants in South Africa are facing difficulties in troubled times which our counterparts elsewhere on the globe do not necessarily contend with.  Upon stepping down from our planes, we may rightly ask if the countrywide riots and for that matter mass prayer meetings have anything at all to do with us, or aviation?  Is Rustenburg even relevant to the likes of us?

Individuals not in aviation or our peers operating and living outside our borders can also not be blamed for perhaps finding it difficult to grasp the full extent, complexity and intensity of the daily internal situation and circumstances.  To most 'others' concepts like living behind bars and barriers, the time spent on anti-theft and security measures and acting like chauffeurs and body guards for our children, etc., etc. may be 'wholly unnecessary' and even seem 'paranoid'.  

Foreign aircrews on lay-overs and tourists are normally transported straight to fine lodgings in the best areas. They can afford to frequent places with their strong currencies some of us only dream of. So, nobody would want to blame them for sometimes offering well intended 'advice' or opinions, though without bearing on reality.

Whilst shuttling between the worlds of aviation and 'reality at home' Christianity might be viewed as an 'imposition' and even a 'handicap'. Traversing from the highly disciplined and regulation rich environments of flight decks, cabins or cockpits onto the riotous South African scene as backdrop can indeed be challenging.  

The stark contrast between the worlds of aviation and a society in which statistically 46 people are murdered daily casts eerie shadows in which our relatively ‘minor’ sins and transgressions may pale in significance. We become so self-absorbed in our own little worlds we do not even consider for a moment we might have a higher, God-given purpose. Not that we're not ambitious. Mention the word 'seniority' and you set off a debate which can last for hours. But, maybe God wants to use us right where we are, till He is ready for us to move on. One famous evangelist once said 'by faith Joseph, when in the pit and dungeons, had realized that in God's plan he was actually in the passage to the palace'.  

Well, you might think in good old South Africa we're in a furnace all-right... To an air crew member who has just spent several strenuous hours conforming to the strictest regimens and most strenuous sets of rules and standard operating procedures, having done everything by the book and thus sapped of every ounce of energy in satisfying both passenger and job demands,  it might seem ‘okay’ to let loose, 'blow off steam a little'. Being a good employee and on top of that a ‘good citizen’ in the 'new dispensation' takes everything or more than we have to offer.

We would ‘naturally’ feel deserving of a reward for our discipline, top class performance and excellence and perhaps unwittingly award ourselves a few 'indiscretions', or what sociologists term as ‘idiosyncrasy credits’.  In plain language it means against the backdrop of a viciously violent society we feel justified after a long shift not to be told to conform anymore and entitled to ‘deviate a little’. We cannot continue to abide by 'additional' or 'other' requirements ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.   

At the same time we also realize that in our daily lives people read the Christians and not the Bible. We fear being judged unfairly and the Bible's norms being applied to us on top of everything else. We are found wanting when it comes to 'role models'. Our leaders have feet of clay. Two successive chiefs of police have been dismissed. Our parliament sessions are opened for all the world to see on television by semi-naked most likely 'pagan' persons wearing leopard skins and chanting sayings in languages most of us don't even recognize, let alone understand. Our presidents are sworn in by these witch doctors they call 'sangomas' while televised. 

The way some might see it, standing up for Jesus and later sliding back can make even greater fools of us, compared to just keeping a low profile. We may also reason we cannot let Him down by dragging His name through the mud, as we're only human and bound to sin. The very moment we stand up for Him, we’re being judged. In aviation it implies we'd be getting even more flak than usual. And, nowadays, with all the changes in society, new laws and all we’re already struggling more than ever, just to cope.  

Especially as aviation people we might therefore 'play it safe' and compromise. We typically swallow it if the captain or colleagues blaspheme... lest we correct a scoffer and be victimized. Against the current backdrop of what's happening in our country we neither wish to rock the boat, nor be seen doing so in troubled waters. We also don’t need to be depicted or 'type cast' as ‘fundamentalists’. Yet, The Lord is and will always be our nearest and only hope to make it now and in the long run. We use Him like a book on a library shelf, whenever we feel like it, mostly 'in secret', whilst His Holy Spirit permeating our being is our only real hope of 'empowerment' and in fact like the self-sustaining fire in the combustion chamber of a turbine engine. 

In hiding ourselves among the cracks created by the contrasts of society, we are to be found like Jonah in turbulent times or on tossing seas, withholding God's message of Grace. Heck,  we are even deluded to the extent of feeling ‘entitled’ to sin. In ‘no-man’s land’ where we all end up in the wee hours of the morning our little ‘excesses’ may seem to dissipate against what everyone else seems to be doing right now. Our 'lesser indulgences’ … plotting, back-stabbing, gossiping, conniving, road rage, living together, sulking, striving, snorting coke, speeding home after illicit liaisons and the likes (pick your poison), tend to ‘disappear’ in the bigger scheme of things. Besides, our country's leader has five wives. Whose norms are we using anyway? Put that in your pipe and smoke it. The current turmoil and political scene at best provides a shaky platform for all, but especially Christian aviation participants on which to witness for Jesus, let alone take the moral high ground.    

In an airline which may typically be suffering magnanimous losses due to mismanagement by ill-qualified politically favored appointees one may readily feel, "what the heck, ‘they’ all steal big. If I leave a few of those tiny liquor bottles behind, someone ‘less deserving’ might take it anyway". Besides, you might ponder the system 'owes' you, as just the other day you have been stupid enough to check your luggage through, to find the locks tampered with and your favourite garments gone. You're merely 'evening out' the imbalances. 

Not getting bitter in an unfair dispensation doesn’t mean being sweet. Neither does it imply being naive. It means being ‘salt of the earth’. It takes doing what's right and what's good notwithstanding what's happening as our farmers are murdered and facing land claims and expropriations; whilst in and around our industries and plants rioters are hacking policemen to death with pangas (machetes); or executing 'scabs' or non-strikers with the terrible 'necklace' method by setting them alight with a car tire around their necks - all seemingly without being brought to justice.  

Whilst all the aforementioned is happening a passenger is pinned down and treated like a hijacker for 'trying to bring aboard' a tiny little ‘Rogers’ pocket knife he's had since childhood as a gift from his father. Or, whilst an aviation enthusiast gets mistreated and ruffled up like a spy for listening to controllers sequencing and directing ‘the big Boeings’ which he dreams of flying one day on a hand-held aviation radio - like most youngsters with a passion for aviation do.  

Those same 'paranoid' security guards, just waiting for an excuse to let themselves lose like the Biblical wolves among lambs onto their victims, though more to vent pent up hate from the days of oppression and Apartheid, evidently cannot prevent laptop computers being stolen like cupcakes from cars in the car parks under their supervision. Their attitudes are as despicable as their presence is a farce.  

Bus and taxi drivers floor the accelerator pedals to quite literally 'charge' down busy streets and kill and maim people with evident impunity; whilst a businessman gets detained, falsely accused of drunken driving, thrown into the back of a police van and ruffled up. Why? All for losing his cool with highly unreasonable security guards seeing him daily but preventing him from driving to an aircraft he rightly owns inside premises he rightly rents (at an exorbitant rate) in a state of agitation without signing in.  

A flight instructor recently dropped his fiancé off at an express train station, only to be robbed of his cell phone and other valuables in traffic at knife point. He wasn't in some backstreet joint. The armed robbery took place in broad daylight in front of the zoological gardens, where citizens are supposed to take their children. The perpetrators will probably never be pursued, let alone arrested and prosecuted. He now has his heart set on getting a job abroad and emigrating.  

But, one can be detained and heavily spot-fined for chewing gum on a train... or taking a sip of water from a bottle, to not even mention smoking tobacco in public (not that it's in any way beneficial). In contrast TV channels may feature pornographic advertisements and legally bring 'x-rated' or so-called 'adult' movies into our living rooms. In a 24 hour cycle anyone ranging from the young to the elderly can be exposed to 'double standards' depicting the state of our nation and bringing it to its knees in more ways than one.  

Likewise the same channel may host a Gospel choir contest or Christian church service merely hours after attempting to debauch and inflame the minds of its viewers against the very God's laws and standards; neither realizing nor caring, in the pursuit of pleasing the whole spectrum, that 'ice cream' cannot render arsenic less lethal... same as a fountain cannot yield both sweet and bitter water, as the Word warns. Isn't it time we do what the Swedes did some two decades ago, saying 'no' to public decadence, especially in the media? Well, maybe not while men so worried about their 'dignity' they'd lay charges against anyone using a derogatory term line our roadsides to without shame or consideration for passers-by including women and children, urinate in broad daylight in public...  

The aviation 'saga' goes on as especially in aviation some students get sponsorships or grants from airlines simply on the basis of race, whilst others’ parents have to bond their homes to pay for the same privileges. Instead of dedicating themselves to their work, those ‘lucky ones’ have all-night parties, fail to perform in the air and make idle undue demands on guest house hosts.  

In certain administrations people with insignificant unrelated experience get management posts, once again on account of their sex or race. Different sets of rules tend to apply to different population groups. Many in power have obtained qualifications at questionable standards. Yet, pointing out such 'imbalances' does not imply being 'right wing' or even radical. To the contrary. Aviators tend to see these injustices for themselves.  

Due to policies favoring a particular segment of the population lucrative fuel contracts are awarded to ‘preferred’ providers. End-users indirectly, though very effectively, pay hard earned profits to such ‘concession holders’. The ambitious profit margins passed on to clients cause training to cost the country far more than it really needs to. The mark-ups are so excessive by comparison that fuel transported to the remotest major airport in terms of distance from the port, is still sold there up to a third cheaper than nearer by.  

Allowing investors able of arranging lucrative subsidies stakes in aviation business, e.g. by putting the concession holder’s aircraft on the fleet, is the alleged cunning new way of business.

Whilst municipalities change names of cities and streets to glorify their heroes, their ‘struggle’ and themselves they debase their cities by neglecting to service and repair what’s really necessary.  The new notion of nobility is associated with sewerage and refuse polluting and clogging the streets and waterways.  

Meanwhile, rioters - deluded by the 'father of lies' (John 8: 44) in terms of their unbelief and deprived of rightful dues retained and actually 'stolen' by those supposed to take care of their rights and needs - suddenly demand wages for low-skilled work which highly skilled flight instructors do not even qualify for… despite years of study and dedication and having the burden of repaying training bonds and study debts. Yet, the rioters are victims too - of loan sharks and attorneys attaching garnishing orders to what's left of their hard-earned salaries after deductions. The harder they work, the deeper they sink in the marsh of debt, as that's the way of the 'devourer'. With hungry mouths to feed, you'll sign anything... any scrap of paper, whatever it means or whichever interest rate it implies, in exchange for a few bucks right 'there and then'. 

Amidst such circumstances and really large scale disruption in our country it may be easy not to want to believe or pray at all, least of all for those who seem so deluded and ‘undeserving’. What then, does a mass prayer meeting about the countrywide turmoil in Rustenburg have to do with us in aviation?  

Perhaps everything…

A passage of Scripture from God’s Word is more relevant than ever.

Ephesians 4:

23 And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude)

24 And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image (Godlike), in true righteousness and holiness,

25 Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbour, for we are parts of one body and members one of another [Zechariah 8: 16]

26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.

27 Leave no (such) room or foothold for the devil (give no opportunity to him).

28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk (ever) come out of your mouth, but only such (speech) as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favour) to those who hear it.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (do not offend or vex or sadden Him), by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).

31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).

32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving hearted), forgiving one another (readily and freely), as God in Christ forgave you.

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September 2012 

Dear Reader,

Thank  you for sharing your problems with me. I trust that the feedback has  been of help to you as well as others in similar circumstances. The  letters received lately have inspired my message below. May it bring  hope and encourage you.

 "WORDS"

IN Math 12:36 (The Amplified Bible) Jesus himself said “But  I tell you, on the Day of Judgment men will have to give account for  every idle WORD they speak. 37: For by your WORDS you will be justified  and acquitted, and by your WORDS you will be condemned and sentenced.”

These  are powerful words – words that should be meditated upon. The one word  from this text that “jumps out” is the WORDS. This word is more  important than many people realize.  WORDS…

-          Make us, or break us.

-          Heal us, or make us sick.

-          Spoken yesterday, makes life what it is today.

We must learn to make WORDS work for us – words of FAITH. We read in James 3:8-10 (The Amplified Bible) “8  But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is (an undisciplined,  irreconcilable) restless evil, full of death-bringing poison. 9 With it  we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in  God’s likeness! 10 Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and  cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.”

Let’s consider how words affect our relationships with spouses and children:

-          Both are products of WORDS.

-          Words make us sick or heal us.

-          Words curse us or bless us.

A  biting, stinging word in the morning will rob our loved ones the whole  day long, whereas a loving, tender word will fill them with joy and help  them face the day’s challenges.

The home  atmosphere is the product of WORDS. Arguments and negative talk create a  bad atmosphere which lingers … WORDS kind of ‘hang in the air’. The  lives and personalities of our spouses and children who live in that  kind of an atmosphere will undoubtedly be affected negatively.

Children  who grow up to be strong and capable to face life’s challenges are  invariably brought up in homes where the right kind of WORDS is spoken.  Harmony and love between spouses grow and stay strong where the right  kind of WORDS is spoken!

Let’s consider how words affect health:

Never confess sickness. Confess health. We read in Proverbs 4:20-22 (The Amplified Bible): “20  My son (or daughter), attend to my WORDS; consent and submit to my  sayings. 21 Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center  of your heart. 22. For they are life to those who find them; healing and health to all their flesh.”

Never  talk failure or defeat, but believe in success. Do not worry!  Worry  will destroy you. People worry about circumstances and about tomorrow.  Never talk about what the Devil has done, but talk constantly of the  works of God and what He is doing. God is the powerful One!  The  Conqueror! God is for us, not against us. Praise Him!

There are so many “negatives” – too many to mention. If we would only remember that: The GREATER ONE is living in me. Regarding our WORDS, remember for it to have a lasting positive effect:  Confess it, believe it!

“He  (God) knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and  wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be  hidden from him to whom we must explain all that we have done. But Jesus  the Son of God is our great high priest who has gone to heaven itself  to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting him.

"This  High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since he had the same  temptations we have, though he never once gave way to them and sinned.  So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to  receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need." (Hebrews 4:3-16). Amen!

Reference: Words (Fourth Printing), 1982. Kenneth Hagin; Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma (ISBN-0-89276-057-5)

PRAYER  - Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus and repent of every  negative word I have spoken. I wish to speak words of LIFE into my life,  that of others and into every situation - to sow love and build Your  Kingdom. Please help me to listen to Your Holy Spirit each time I wish  to say something. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

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