Macho: Ego Unleashed

Hazardous Attitudes Produce Hazardous Decisions

A Macho attitude is the fourth hazardous attitude of “5 Bad Attitudes” listed in the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook (p. 26). Although each attitude can result in a bad decision, they are also intertwined. A Macho pilot has to be anti-authority to break the rules and buzz his girlfriend’s house. He feels invincible, because he doesn’t think his engine will die, leaving him with nowhere to land. He does all this on an impulse, because his friends are in the plane. Pilots with this type of attitude will try to prove themselves by taking risks in order to show off. And, they show off because their ego is unleashed.

Ego Unleashed

Ego unleashed is the driving force behind someone’s macho attitude. He has more than normal pride and self esteem… he has a superlative sense of pride and esteem, believes he is better than everybody else, and everybody else has to acknowledge that. Thus the showing off, the swagger, the bullying and the big talk. It is especially prevalent in young gangs, where recognition is key. Some gangs even require a new member to kill somebody to prove they are fearless and macho.

Two Sides of Macho

The Village People recorded the song, “Macho Man” in 1978. The last verse of the song says,

Every man ought to be a macho, macho man
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand

Have your own lifestyles and ideals
Possess the strength of confidence, that’s the skill
You can best believe that he’s a macho man.

There are many interpretations of the song, some saying it is a satire, a parody, and a mocking of the macho man image. However, there is another side in this verse that shows the positives of macho. Being a free spirit, taking a stand, having confidence that comes from strength and that gives more strength.

Certainly the attributes of Macho are well ingrained in the American male psyche. We all admire the Navy Seals with their fighting abilities, strict discipline and tough reputation. It’s resilient, strong and durable. It watches NASCAR and football and Barbeques steaks on the grill. It says, “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

Good Ego – Bad Ego

The bad side of Macho happens when someone gets obsessive about his ego and superiority complex. Most of us have come across people who won’t stop talking about themselves, or where they are from, or their views of life in an incessant attempt to make everybody pay attention to them. Sometimes they will keep talking louder and louder until everyone else in the room stops and is forced to hear what he says. This is bad enough in a social setting, but when it is transferred to a job or to the family, the results can be devastating.

Decisions arise out of our own perspectives. If we are cautious, we check all the variables, have a Plan B and a Plan C, and make sure we have all the supplies we need for the venture. Pilots do this for every flight, because the stakes are so high. Military planners do the same, and try to address every scenario. This is a well balanced approach to anything we do… driving, flying, adventure seeking, etc. But there is a point where one can be too cautious and never do anything. This ultimately leads to failure, frustration and disappointment in life. On the other hand, Too much risk taking can take us down into the abyss of unforeseen consequences.

From Woodstock To Eternity – No Guts No Glory

From Woodstock To Eternity

In the book, “From Woodstock To Eternity,” Dustin Morgan entertains a Macho attitude in his fearless attitude towards flying over the Caribbean to Colombia and back with loads of pot. He’s not trying to draw attention to himself, but he sees the endeavor as a gauntlet he must go through to see what’s on the other side. He knew the other side brought money, status, glory and self satisfaction. This made the risk worthwhile, although the penalty eventually caught up with him.

You can read about what happens next in the sequel “The Steel Wall,” which will be ready for publication soon.

Invulnerability: “It won’t happen to me!”

Do you have a sense of vulnerability or invulnerability? To be vulnerable is to feel open and defenseless. It may be a fear that someone is out to get you, circumstances are against you, or life in general is against you. Some people only feel vulnerable in certain situations, while others feel vulnerable all the time. On the flip side, Invulnerability means “not vulnerable.” Those who believe they are invulnerable don’t think anything can hurt them. They can do anything, go anywhere, and break all the rules. Why? Because they firmly believe, “It won’t happen to me.” This attitude can be good or bad…

Definitions of Invulnerability

Invulnerability has two definitions, with the first one logically leading to the second.

  1. Incapable of being wounded, hurt, or damaged.
  2. The false belief that one is somehow safeguarded from the dangers and misfortunes that afflict other people. 

Invulnerability by Choice: Risk and Reward

Sometimes, a sense of invulnerability draws the line between staying where you are, and engaging a higher level where there are many unknowns. In the counter culture novel, “From Woodstock To Eternity,” Dustin Morgan has to deal with his own version of invulnerability. When he ponders his first run to Texas, he thinks,

The conclusion is inevitable. He’ll always wonder what would have happened if he doesn’t. The next level is always a blind leap. You’ll never know until you try. The question is, do you have the guts to try, or is caution going to triumph over glory?

Caution over glory, or glory over caution, that is the question. In order to justify the risk, we have to accept a measure of invulnerability, that is, it won’t happen to me. The early pioneers had to deal with this issue, and some never made it… however, many did, and they reaped the rewards. No Guts, No Glory

Forced Invulnerability: Combat Under Command

We recently commemorated the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. How many of those soldiers thought they were invulnerable? What if they felt extremely vulnerable and wanted to go back… could they? No. They were under orders to attack, and they had no choice. Although, later in life many reflected on how they felt as young soldiers and said, “I thought I could do anything. I felt invincible, like it would never happen to me.” We all know the outcome. When the need is drastic, the risks are great, and those who meet the call are the ones who make it happen.

Hazardous Invulnerability

In aviation, invulnerability is listed as one of the “5 Bad Attitudes” that contribute to airplane crashes. Many people believe that accidents happen to others, but never to them. They know accidents can happen, and they know that anyone can be affected however they never really feel or believe that they will be personally involved. Pilots who think this way are more likely to take chances and increase risk. Aviation Instructors Handbook 8-17.

For pilots, this could mean neglecting flight planning, refusal to check all the variables for that flight, and maybe even ignoring weather reports. They may try to fly outside the limits of what the plane can do, such as putting it into a roll when it is not made for such maneuvers. One that gets a lot of pilots is called “scud running,” where a pilot will try to circumvent Instrument conditions by flying under and around clouds just by reference to ground features. No bueno.

Practical Invulnerability

This aspect of Invulnerability also applies to everyday living. While there are times when we need to go “into the unknown,” so to speak, most of the time we need to count the cost. Those who make decisions thinking it won’t happen to them reject basic precautions. They don’t use seat belts, they drive drunk or get themselves into situations they have no business being in. This is not to live in a state of fear. rather, to be fearlessly reasonable. Like Dustin Morgan said,

People spend their whole lives trying to keep bad stuff from happening.  They starve themselves and jog five miles a day, trying to stay ‘healthy’, then fall down dead from a heart attack.  They turn down opportunities to see the world because they’re afraid of flying, then get run over by a Mack truck while they’re looking the other way.  Maybe I’m stupid or careless, but I just refuse to let fear keep me from experiencing all that life has to offer.”

Impulsivity: “Do Something!”

Impulsive Behavior

The second hazardous attitude in aviation, after “Anti-Authority”, is “Impulsivity”… the attitude of people who frequently feel the need to do something—anything—immediately. When you are impulsive, you do not stop to think about what you are about to do; do not select the best alternative, and do the first thing that comes to mind, even if it is wrong. In From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan showed a lot of impulsive behavior in his decision to fly pot, at night, at low altitudes, etc. We’ll look into why later in this article.

Impulsivity vs. Caution

In military history, there has always been a contrast between generals who have been impulsive or cautious. In World War II, British general Montgomery was frequently criticized for always preparing, but too hesitant to go into battle. The American general Patton, however, was constantly engaging the enemy, moving forward beyond the supply lines. In the Civil War, the Union general McClellan was accused of the same overabundance of caution, thinking he was outnumbered when he wasn’t. Confederate general Jackson was quite the opposite, striking suddenly with overwhelming odds against him.

Plan B

What does all this have to do with Aviation? Pilots often find themselves in situations where they feel compelled to act first and think later without a Plan B. This violates all safety considerations, and everyone should have a Plan B for everything. As part of normal pre-flight planning, pilots are trained to exercise NWKRAFT, which stands for Notices to Airmen, Weather conditions, Known ATC Delays, Runway Lengths and conditions, Alternates Available, Fuel Requirements and Takeoff and Landing Distances. So, why would any pilot ignore their planning and go ahead anyway?

External Pressure

The recent NTSB report on the Kobe Bryant crash is a prime example of external pressure. The helicopter pilot flew into marginal conditions to get his client to his destination, experienced spatial disorientation and crashed. External pressures are the nemesis of common sense. They are the influences that create a sense of pressure to complete a flight—often at the expense of safety.

External pressures can include the following:
• Someone waiting at the airport for the flight’s arrival.
• A passenger the pilot does not want to disappoint.
• The desire to impress someone. (Probably the two most dangerous words in aviation are “Watch this!”)
• The desire to satisfy a specific personal goal (“get-there-itis,”)

I Don’t Want to Hear It!

External pressure is the one risk factor category that can cause a pilot to ignore all the other risk factors. This is a warning to all of us. Whenever there is some irresistible motivation to “damn the torpedoes,” we ignore other voices shouting in our heads with facts and warnings, and we say, “I don’t want to hear it!” These are our inconvenient truths that would require us to not jump into what we are determined to do. We exchange that for the reassuring lie that we can pull it off and say, “I told you so.”

No Guts – No Glory

Why did Dustin Morgan fly his pot? To see what was on the other side. What did it require? Guts. No Guts – No Glory, and glory was the prize. Like the pioneers of old, he wanted to jump into the unknown, experience the adventure, and prove to himself he could do it. However, he was not impulsive. Like the pioneers, he prepared and weighed the costs and always had a Plan B. Was it a noble cause? Not really. Did his risks catch up with him? You’ll have to read the sequel, The Steel Wall to find out.

Therefore, there is a distinction between Impulsivity and Daring Ambition. The former is mindless, the latter is a mixture of planning, fortitude and courage.

Do you have guts? This is the difference between those who stay where they are and those who go after their dreams. If you don’t have a dream, get one. If you do have a dream, get up and make it happen. Don’t be impulsive… take care of your business, but plan for it, work for it and go for it!

The next Hazardous Attitude is Invulnerability – “It won’t happen to me.”

Attitude Adjustment

Hank Williams Jr. wrote the song, “Attitude Adjustment” about methods used in the South to change someone’s perspective on life.

Hank Williams Jr.

And just about the time he got the words out
An ‘ol boy jumped up and closed his mouth…
It was an attitude adjustment
I guess it was his first time
An attitude adjustment
Now he understands just fine. Hank Williams Jr.

Now, we don’t encourage these tactics in the field of flight instruction (as much as some instructors would like to), but the FAA addresses the issue of attitude nonetheless.

Attitude and Attitude Management

According to the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook, “Attitude is a personal motivational predisposition to respond to persons, situations, or events in a given manner that can, nevertheless, be changed or modified through training as sort of a mental shortcut to decision-making.” This means we have an inner mindset based on life experiences and character that affects our motives and the ultimate responses we have to things that happen to us. This is how we are predisposed to react. It can be a victim mindset, a defensive mindset, a selfish attitude, high esteem or low self esteem.

However, all of this can be changed. “That’s just how I am” is not an excuse. “Attitude Management is the ability to recognize hazardous attitudes in oneself and the willingness to modify them as necessary through the application of an appropriate antidote thought.” Aviation Instructor’s Handbook

Antidote Thoughts

What in the world is an “antidote thought?” Our way of thinking about things is “That’s just the way I am,” but there are other thoughts if we are willing to apply them. So, if there is another way to think, and that other thought prevents us from making a bad decision, that thought becomes an antidote to change our response. In aviation this is critical, because a wrong attitude can lead to disaster.

In the Christian life, we have many antidote thoughts to counter bad attitudes. They are found throughout the Bible. One antidote thought is in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Antidotes for Real Life

In real life, as in aviation, bad attitudes compromise safety, hinder success and destroy prosperity. Therefore, if we overcome bad attitudes, we increase our chances for these benefits and many more.

Victim Mindset: “Everybody’s picking on me.” The goal of this attitude is to take the spotlight off your actions, get some sympathy, and maybe get some preferential treatment. The result is bitterness, anger and self-pity. The antidote is to work harder with integrity so there is nothing for others to pick on you for. Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Defensive Mindset: “I didn’t do it. It’s not my fault.” The goal is two-fold here… deflect the blame and get praise for what you did right. The result is to never improve, because you don’t think you need to. The antidote is to take the rebuke and learn from it, even if no one notices. Romans 2:29 “whose praise is not from men but from God.

Selfish Mindset: “I’m the best. Me first. Look at me. I want it all.” The goal is to draw attention to yourself and to fulfill your needs first. It produces an inflated self esteem, greed and covetousness. The result is to actually look bad in other people’s eyes, causing damaged relationships and a bad marriage. The antidote is to see yourself as a servant and try to bless others. Jesus told us, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Best Antidote Thought for Everything

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

Anti-Authority – The Rebel Attitude

5 Hazardous Attitudes

First on the list of hazardous attitudes in Aviation is anti-authority – the rebel attitude. So why is a rebel attitude a bad thing? Can you imagine a controller saying, “You have traffic at 12:00, turn right ten degrees,” and the pilot saying, “Don’t tell me what to do. I want to keep flying straight ahead.” That, in aviation terminology, is a hazardous attitude.

The Rebel Attitude

Modern culture glorifies the rebel attitude, and in fact, the American experiment is built on the foundation that we will live free or die. This would be called “Rebel With a Cause.” In “From Woodstock to Eternity,” the hippie mindset promoted the cause of brotherhood, peace and love while rebelling against straight society. Dustin Morgan imagined that the rock festival in Bull Island would be an example of how it would be if Woodstock Nation took over. That is, until the whole thing fell into a quagmire of narcotic drug use and filth.

As for rebellion in general, in the many and varied ways we function in life, the devil is in the details. Defying society, the police, the teacher, or whatever is one thing. Refusing to comply with instructions while operating high precision industrial equipment is another. One may make you feel like you’re the man, while the other can get you killed.

Born a Rebel

All baby says is NO!
Born a Rebel

What is the first word out a baby’s mouth? All parents know this one… NO! The truth is, we are all born with rebellious spirits, to one degree or another. In fact, all these hazardous attitudes are inherent in our nature, and it is up to us to take control of them and manage them. That is why the FAA includes the study of hazardous attitudes as part of pilot training. You have to know they are there before you can overcome them.

Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Attitude

This is the one that gets us in the most trouble. It makes us feel independent, cool, and self important, because it is based on pride. Unfortunately, pride and self exaltation ruin marriages, cause problems at work, and make us look like egotistical jerks to everybody else. It seems the only rebels who think they look cool are the rebels themselves. Also, rebels for rebel’s sake think they are on top of their world, but in reality, they seldom reach their full potential. This is due to the fact that rebellion, by definition, refuses the instruction that guarantees growth. It is a huge boulder on our path to success.

Rebellion Stifles Growth

The anti-authority – rebel attitude actually strips us of warnings and information that keep us safe and improve our lives. Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase learning…” So what is the definition of a wise man? A wise man hears, meaning he is open to instruction. Proverbs 10:8 “The wise in heart will receive commands.” A wise man also fears the Lord and departs from evil, according to Proverbs 14:16. These qualities are essential to grow and achieve heights people could never imagine. Those who reject these principles pass on towards their own destruction.

Rebels Reap the Consequences

Rebels are called Fools in Proverbs, and the Scripture has plenty of practical insight into the mindset of a fool. In contrast to the wise who receive commands, the fool “despises wisdom and instruction,” (Proverbs 1:7). The consequences for despising instruction are spelled out in Proverbs 13:18 “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction.” Poverty is not always lack of money. It also shows itself in quality of life and self image. You can be poor in marriage, poor in attitude, or poor in life experiences. Shame comes in jail, in divorce, in rejection, and in lost opportunities.

Make 2021 a Year of Wisdom

In every ground school class I have taught, I end with a life lesson to build three things in their character that will ensure their success. Knowledge, Discretion and Humility. You build knowledge by receiving instruction. The definition of discretion is knowing what not to say or do. Finally, humility is the foundation of servant leadership. More on these attributes to come.

Happy New Year 2021!

5 Bad Attitudes

Good attitudes produces good results, and bad attitudes produces bad results

Attitude is Everything! This is not a new concept, preached from motivational seminars, but one of many bits of wisdom found in the Bible. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” The interesting thing is, this principle applies across the board, but many have never grasped the concept. It seems that some people just refuse to be content, grateful or happy about anything. What they don’t know is that their bad attitudes actually contribute to more of the same of what made them sour in the first place.

Bad Attitudes in Aviation

Result of a Hazardous Attitude

Flight Instructors are taught to be aware of 5 Hazardous Attitudes that could affect their student’s decision making process. Any one of these bad attitudes can produce bad results. What is note worthy is that these are also attitudes that all humans share to one degree or another, and they can definitely influence our path of life.

Aviation Instructor Handbook

Life Coaching from Aviation Coaching

No Bad Attitude

Each one of these 5 Hazardous Attitudes has its own effect in our lives. Anti-authority types eventually hit a brick wall in their marriage or job or a relationship. We have all seen what can happen if we resist arrest. Being impulsive can cause bad decisions, and resignation is the same as saying “I can’t.” (see my article on Can’t is a Four Letter Word)

Life Coaching and From Woodstock to Eternity

The book “From Woodstock To Eternity” is full of life coaching lessons related to attitudes. Eating beans and rice from the Hog Farm commune at Woodstock, Dustin Morgan pondered the essence of the welfare state vs. what it would take to get a hamburger. Even in the hippie culture of the time, he could plainly see the difference between the commune side and the capitalist dope dealer side. When presented with bizarre choices, he was willing to take risks to see what was on the other side. His own sister dared him to dream of what he could accomplish in flying if he made his opportunities and pursued them.

What’s Next

In the next five articles, I will dissect each Hazardous Attitude defined for flight instructors and apply them to everyday life experiences. This should be interesting, and hopefully, encouraging. Life is so much easier when we know what is causing us problems, and what we can do to change all that. Please stay tuned and share the posts that touch a chord.

Deliverance vs. Recovery

While there is a great story line and lots of drama and action in From Woodstock To Eternity, the main theme of the title hinges on the transformation from Woodstock to Eternity. The key to this transformation is in the chapter titled “Deliverance.” However, Recovery is not the same as
Deliverance.

The Deliverance chapter is where the long struggle with the old life comes to a climax, and Dustin Morgan is freed from the bonds he put on himself. What he initially thought was good and upright and fun eventually entrapped him in his lifestyle, his attitudes and his very freedom to exist. This is how it came about:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Jesus-casts-out-demon.jpg

A change comes over Pastor J.R. Instead of the nice, soft spoken church pastor, his eyes come alive, and his whole persona flushes with boldness. He is on the attack. A look of fire lights up his face, and he strides toward Dustin like a lion. Morgan’s eyes make contact with J.R.’s. He starts shaking. J.R. points his finger right at his face and speaks directly to the spirits. He snarls,

“You demons of lust and drugs and drunkenness, I command you to come out of this man now, in the Name of Jesus Christ!!”

In the heavenly realms, the screams of Legion and his demons resound like tormented echoes going down a well as they spiral into the pit of hell. The angels watching the LIGHT screen see the hordes tumbling down to Hades as Jesus casts them all out of Dustin Morgan. The heavens erupt in a deafening sea of applause and shouts and praises. Thousands and thousands of angels sing, “Worthy is the Lamb!!” and “The Lord, my God, my Strength, my Song, has now become my Victory!!!”

Many programs have evolved to help people “Recover” from these issues, but Recovery is not the same as Deliverance. Recovery implies a permanent state of bondage to old addictions, whereas Deliverance means total and permanent release from the bondage and victory over the old temptations.

For instance, Recovery programs all follow the same general plan. They usually incorporate some variation of the commonly known “12 step” program first made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous. While these plans help many people, I am disappointed by Christians, believers in Jesus, who still maintain they are an “Alcoholic,” or a “drug addict,” even though they have been sober for 20 years. These programs have indoctrinated them to believe they can never be completely free. The fact of the matter is, if you truly believe in Jesus, and in His power over Satan, you can absolutely be free. There is only one condition… you must surrender completely to Him, no reservations, no clinging to one last thing. Once you have come to that point, and it may take a while, you are a candidate for Deliverance.

This is how Dustin Morgan felt after he received his Deliverance.

While he’s driving down the highway, he feels lighter and lighter, like he’s floating six inches above his driver’s seat. A smile creeps over his face, and a Presence hovers right in front of him, slightly above and to the left.

“Who is that? Jesus, is that You?”

All the way back, Jesus is right there, all around him, so close he can touch Him. Dustin reaches out and grabs the air, over and over, laughing out loud with a gusher of release that erupts out of his belly. As the reality of what just happened sinks in, he explodes with joy. No visions now, no visions the next day, no visions for the next year, no visions for the next twenty years.

He is in awe of God. Physical miracles are one thing, but when God enters the battlefield of your mind, conquers your oppressors, and throws the bums out, you know there is another realm, and He is the King. Morgan knows it. He is sure of it. Jesus has rescued him from the clutches of Legion and his demons, and he owes Him his life.

2018 Resolutions: No Blasts from the Past

The Past is a Tyrant

There we are, moving and shaking, excited about new goals, hoping, dreaming, expecting great things… then BOING! Something from our past jumps up and says, “Here I am! Remember me? We had all the good times, you feel comfortable with me, everything is familiar. Why change things? It’s risky out there in the future with all your big ideas.”

Have you ever had those thoughts? The past likes to bring up things that will derail our resolutions for the future. Doubts, fears, old desires, fantasies, and bondages just waiting to pull us back. In From Woodstock To Eternity, Dustin Morgan finds himself face to face with the past in the form of a Michelob sign,

The two cabin builders settle into a small cafe on the main strip and order their coffee and cinnamon rolls.  As he sits in the wooden booth, sipping his coffee, Dustin looks out across the street.  There, beckoning him from a small saloon, is a glowing, red neon Michelob sign.  It’s a blast from the past, intruding into his new life from the other side of the road.  It’s saying,

“Dustin, I’m here.  Come on in.  Remember all the good times we had?  You used to have a ritual, remember?  Every time you went up the mountain, you would stop in a bar in the foothills and have a couple of beers to celebrate.  Well, you’re getting ready to go up the mountain, and here I am.  Come on, Dustin, just have one beer.  One beer won’t matter.”

This is the tyranny of the past

The past tries to manipulate us by softening the effects of what has gone on before. Time is a healer of wounds, and the past tries to capitalize on this by telling us the bad things weren’t that bad, and the feel good things that got us into trouble were really OK. If our new focus is not clear, we may be easily influenced to go backwards.

How to overcome the tyranny of the past

1. Make a sharp contrast between where you came from and where you want to be.

The contrast is stark, and the choice is clear. The church side of him is here, in a coffee shop, with his church friend, representing his deliverance.  And the saloon side of him is over there, with the tinkling glasses, the smell of liquor, the crack of billiard balls in the back. 

2. Have a healthy respect for the power of the past to hold you back.

“Yes, Dustin.  You are delivered from one beer.  Let Me tell you what will happen.  Just like that door to the saloon opens up into another world, with another set of experiences, one beer will open a door to the complete array of temptations and desires that you just left.  One beer will unplug a hole in your wall that will let all the bondages of drugs, and lust, and drunkenness flood back into your life.  It’ll be like pulling your finger out of the hole in the dike.”

3. Press on – Have faith in the Lord to take you where you need to go.

Philippians 3:12-14 … but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

References: “True Freedom – No Longer Obligated”      “The Agony of Not Trying”

2018 Set Your Affection in the Right Direction

The Direction of Your Affection Determines Your Action

Excerpt from my next book, “The Steel Wall”

Scooter’s heart ached as he took one last fond look at the stack of bricks. He opened the side door and gradually let it down, the wind plastering his face and tearing at his shirt as the sea rushed by 200 feet below. Whitecaps lined the tops of raging swells. He gripped the framework of the doorway hard and looked down.

“Oh Lord, there’s no coming back from a fall into that.”

He carefully maneuvered his feet as he picked up three bricks and shuffled toward the door. His gut had a big knot, like he had to shoot his dog, knowing he was throwing away perfectly good cocaine. He hesitated, thinking, “Maybe I don’t have to do this. Maybe they’re not there anymore.” He had already stowed his backup bricks in the baggage compartment, but tossing the rest in the water was more than a situational necessity… it was a calamity.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.

There is no simpler way to describe why we do what we do… why we feel like we feel. Scooter was distressed about throwing out the bricks because the coke was his “treasure.” It was valuable to him, not just monetarily, but in his psyche, in his gut. Cocaine was an integral part of his culture, and coke smuggling was his lifeblood. He wasn’t born this way, but this is where life lead him. And, frankly, he had never taken the time to consider living otherwise.

The things that are important to us always motivate our actions. This is why it is so important to look at ourselves and realize what we value the most.  I’ll pick three “treasures.”

  1. Career: There’s no better satisfaction than working at what you love. Or pursuing a goal and achieving it.
  2. Pleasure: To a single, independent young adult, there seems to  be no greater rush than partying down and letting it all hang out.
  3. Lifestyle: To anyone who has found their niche, there is no fonder fulfillment than soaking up the friends, the atmosphere, and the frills of the culture they have created.

Having our heart set on a career makes us persevere through college and low level jobs. If we are set on pleasure, we’ll spend lots of money and avoid things like commitment. If we are settled into a lifestyle, we may not even know there is an alternative out there, or we may not want to know. Either way, we are content to stay like we are.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.

The good news is, we can actually do something about all this. Many cannot see outside of their present existence to know they even have a choice, but they do. We all do. In “The Steel Wall,” Dustin Morgan comes face to face with two cultures, two concepts of pleasure, and possibly two career choices, all hinging on where he will set his mind… what he will embrace as his affection.

That is our choice for 2018. Not resolutions, but where will you set your affection… on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God?  or things on the earth?

2018    … Let’s all look upward!

 

 

Hey Hallmark! Christmas means Christ!!

Extra! Extra! Hallmark Channel Takes Away Baby Jesus!

Yes, It’s true. With dozens and hundreds of Christmas romance movies produced for the Christmas Season, Not one of them says a thing about the basis of the holiday celebration – the Birthday of Jesus! You know, the night God came into the world in human form with angels filling the sky and singing “Glory to God in the highest.” The same night that Mary and Joseph stayed in a cattle stall and laid their baby in a manger with the cows and sheep watching, along with the shepherds who came in from the fields to see the newborn King…

The same night the star rose over Bethlehem and guided the three wise men from the east who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh for the King whose kingdom would know no end? Yes, that’s the story that has inspired manger scenes on fireplace mantles everywhere, moved musicians to compose magnificent hymns of Christmas celebration, and brought the message of peace and goodwill to all men.            THAT CHRISTMAS STORY!!!

But is any of that in a Hallmark Christmas movie? No. Never. Zip, Zero, Nada. They’re all about the magic of Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, and most of all… the Christmas Miracle. There’s got to be one in every movie. But guess what? There’s no Jesus in the Miracle, in fact, there’s no Jesus anywhere. If a child were to watch any one of these movies, he/she would never know the real wonder of the night Jesus was born.

Before you accuse me of being an insensitive brutish scrooge, consider that I recorded a long list of Hallmark movies to entertain my lovely wife, and I offer myself up as a sweet smelling sacrifice to watch these things with her… even acting genuinely interested. That’s how I found out that they not only ignore any references to Jesus, they seem to deliberately go out of the way to scrub any vestige of the Savior from the script. The background carols are all about Santa, and Jingle Bells, and sleigh rides.

Even It’s a Wonderful Life ends with everybody singing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King!”

The straw that broke the camel’s back came when a grumpy Hallmark Christmas unbeliever couldn’t get all the fuss and asked his girlfriend,

“What’s the big deal, anyway? What’s Christmas all about?”

Talk about a softball question, but did she tell him it was the birthday of Jesus? Of course not! She gave him some mumbo jumbo about people feeling happy and doing things for each other, etc. etc. Not that these are bad things, but… no Jesus, no God with us, no Immanuel. One character went so far as to say the angel ornament on top of the tree was a symbol of departed loved ones looking down on us! How dumb is that? Believe me, Hallmark is stripping Christ out of every element of Christmas.

This is very sad, and it is serious stuff. Like my pastor said in his sermon this morning… When you take Christ out of Christmas, all you have left is a great big mess…