Things I Learned about God and Life while Jumping out of a Perfectly Good Airplane – Kenny Rader

kennyFirst of all, why jump?

I really don’t know why I decided to do a tandem skydive except that when the thought first came to my mind, it sounded like fun.  Last year after my first-ever mission trip (to Haiti) and then my first ever 320 mile bicycle ride from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, the thought of a tandem skydive came to mind.  After I thought about it, I thought, “Why not?”

I lost Martha to cancer over 12 years ago.  Our kids are all grown, married, moved away and have their own families. My obligations that are left in this life are in this order: God, my health, my family and my congregation (family and congregation tied in third place only because of my current stage in life), and taking the Word of God to people.  So why not jump?  Jumping out of an airplane sounded like a good idea – as long as I could use it for ministry in some way.  Last Christmas when I told my kids of the idea, they gave me their blessing and after they made certain their inheritance was secured, they gave me Christmas money  to  use  for  the  jump.   (My 92-year-old mother still does not know of my insanity.)

What about the landing?

Amazingly, on the day of the jump, I was not nervous and not really anxious.  I actually looked forward to the jump. So after the preliminary instructions, my instructor, Joe, said we were ready to go.  He instructed me about everything but the landing so I asked about it.  He told me that he would give me those instructions on the way down, after the chute opens.  With the wisdom of a man who has made almost 12,000 jumps, he said that if the chute doesn’t open, we would not be concerned about the landing.  I understood his reasoning.

On the way up, I asked if he had a reserve chute on.  “Yep,” came his reply.  He said he would be dead 19 times without that reserve chute.  Amazingly, I still had no concern about the jump.  I completely trusted him and Him (Capitalized ‘Him’ means God).


Far above the clouds

We reached the altitude of 12,000 feet, at least one mile above the clouds, and Joe gave me the final instructions of where to place my hands and even my head when we jumped out of the plane.  After we were clear of the plane, I was to change the position of my hands and head.

The moment came and we were out in the air, picking up the speed of our descent to 120 mph.  It was difficult to breathe with that much wind velocity coming at me, which Joe had cautioned me about, but then his hand grabbed my head and he pointed to the cameraman who was free-falling out in front of us.  I was to keep my eyes on the cameraman and wave or do whatever to make it look like I was having fun.  And it was fun; I did not have to pretend.

Before I knew it, we had free-fallen one mile, the chute opened, and then Joe instructed me how to adjust my harness to get comfortable.  By the time I got everything adjusted and could look around, we were far below the clouds.  I finally looked at the earth below and it was beautiful.  We floated the rest of the way to the ground and before long we made a perfect landing standing up.  What a thrill!

What I didn’t expect

As soon as we landed, the cameraman was there to get my comments regarding the jump.  That is when I realized that I had not even thought about God the entire jump after leaving the plane.  Actually, I could not even remember much about the jump.  I was so focused on the instructions of exiting the plane, the cameraman as we were free-falling, and then the instructions about adjusting the harness after the chute opened that I could not remember much at all about the jump.  I had to wait to see the video to see what I had just experienced but could not remember.  I never expected that I could jump out of a plane over two miles above the earth and not remember much about the jump.  No way!  But, oh yes!

So distracted

What an experience, but it is so much like life.  I had gotten so wrapped up in the particulars of the jump that I missed the experience.  I had gotten distracted, but isn’t that like life?

You and I go through life and we get so caught up in our everyday busyness that we often miss what living is all about.  As with my jump, we get so caught up in the excitement, fun, troubles, plans, concerns and worries that we often forget about God, and we also forget about the big picture of life.

What does this mean?

Well, let’s first ask what life is supposed to be about.  A simple verse from the Bible answers that question.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Our main purpose in life is to glorify God.  We are to do this in everything we think, say, and do, all day everyday, all night every night. With every breath we take, we are to glorify God, but oh, how we fail so miserably.

Life is like jumping out of a plane.

Life passes us by and is over before we know it.  We get caught up with so many nonessentials of life that we cannot enjoy it like God intends. We fail to really experience life and we fail to experience God.

So, here is my suggestion.  Pull the cord now.  Open the parachute so you can slow down and start enjoying life: life in God and life in general.  Look around and find someone you can be Jesus to.  Discover someone you can serve.  Be Jesus to your family: your spouse, your son, your daughter, and other loved ones.  Look at all the beauty of God’s creation.  Don’t miss God.  Don’t miss the simple things of life.  Don’t miss the life that God intended for you

Love ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Crucified – Channon Martin

my faceThere are many reasons why I love the Scriptures and there are many reasons why they speak to me at different seasons in my life. One reason in particular comes because of a phrase called “illocutionary force.” I want to share with you why this phrase holds meaning in my love of the Scriptures and then give you a reasoning behind this phrase. A University of Pennsylvania article describes this phrase as: “The illocutionary force of an utterance is the speaker’s intention in producing that utterance.” With any communication there lies a meaning to that message. When I say, “I’m cold” I could simply be telling you the fact that I am cold, but you could understand my message as me telling you to change the fact that I am cold. This act of illocutionary force is essentially understanding that language is vast and could mean several different things all at the same time. I could tell you that I am hungry expecting you to give me food, but you could hear me as simply stating the fact that I’m hungry—nothing more.

This act of illocutionary force is seen in several parts of the Bible but I want to share one in particular with you. In Jeremiah 2 we have the prophet Jeremiah telling us what the LORD said to him. Jeremiah tells us that the LORD said, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown” (2:1-2). When you read this, I don’t want you to think of God as an emotionless machine as we sometimes make him out to be. Sometimes we get in this habit of thinking of God as this all controlling, judging machine that has no feelings, but that is not how God works as we see in this text. God is speaking to his nation Israel and he says, “I remember how devoted you were to me.”

Move down to verse 5, we read that God asks a question of his nation Israel: “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves” (2:5). That sounds like so many of us in our relationship with God. We get so connected with God—we are on fire for him and are ready to do his mission, but for whatever reason we lose that connection and God is left there going, “What did I do?” We see God’s heart in this text, and then we skip down to verse 13 to continue to see his heart where he says, “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (2:13). As a historical side note that will hopefully connect you with what God is saying, I want to share Palestine’s way of collecting water. Palestine has three methods of collecting water, the first and best way is fresh running water that is found in springs and streams (hence the phrase living water). The second method comes from ground water that is collected from a well. The last method is runoff water that is collected in a cistern. This last method is what Jeremiah uses to explain God’s heart. Cisterns collected water, but they also collected silt and mosquito larvae. Cisterns were not the best source of collecting water, so we can see the insanity that God is showing to us when he says his people left his spring of living water for cisterns that can’t even hold water.

The Israelites committed two sins: they abandoned God and tried their own methods. The Israelites chose sin, and they chose their sin over God. It’s insanity that the Israelites chose their sin over God, but it’s the same thing we do time and time again. For those of us who time and time again choose our sin over God, let me encourage you with this: the Apostle Paul, a man who called himself the worst sinner (1 Timothy 1:15) also says “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Too often we run back to our former lives—we return to broken cisterns that don’t hold water expecting something different but we already know the outcome.

I want you to notice the illocutionary force in Jeremiah’s account and in what Paul says to us. Though the text does not say a thing about God’s love, you know it’s there. You see God’s heart for Israel as they turn their backs on him. You see God’s heart for us as Paul speaks of the crucifixion and how it’s no longer us, but it’s all Christ who died for us. Notice the second part of Galatians 2:20 where it says, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This second part speaks of Christ’s love for us, but I want you to notice the display of that love: “and gave himself for me.” We can hear that God loves us, but his love takes on new meaning when we see it displayed in the cross of Jesus Christ. That love is displayed for all, even the ones who try to dig their own cisterns. “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jeremiah 2:1-2, 5, 13 // Galatians 2:20 // 1 Timothy 1:15 // Romans 5:8

With grace,

Channon Martin

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