Spotting God in Action

He leaves us neither alone, nor defenseless. Instead, he gives us light to shine in the darkest places. Using stories from aviation, space, and life I write about God working through ordinary people like us.
Hope it encourages you to look up, not down; forward, not back.

7. Working Grace

pilot pushing plane through mud needs grace

Grace, a lovely name picked for cherished daughters by parents hoping to impart gentle softness. And we call some graceful because they move not only with coordination but also harmony and rhythm. When we speak of the Lord’s grace, we often envision sunlight on roses under a willow tree—all good and true, but incomplete.

Jesus threw us a rope while we wallowed in a sewer. He pulled us out, slimy and putrid, a dripping mass of, well, you know. Then, after He cleaned us, He said each one of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. What forms does His grace take? read more ...

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6. The Trump Card

single-engine airplane on wet ramp challenges the pilot's choices

We believers know to do God’s will—that’s the easy part. But why should we? Because He loves us, or we love Him? Or maybe because He made the universe and knows better than anybody how it works? Or perhaps because He can zap us into cinders if we don’t? All true, but He’s concerned with our hearts.

Actions are important, but motivation trumps doing. And that’s the hard part. Rules are easy; motives are obscure. The human heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?

Fortunately, He does. He weighs every motive, every thought, every intent. Picking His way doesn’t come from mindless response. He didn’t endure the cross to create an army of robots. Instead, He demonstrates the difference between doing His will for ourselves and doing His will for Him by posing the question: “Who gets the glory, you or me?” Then, He steps back while we choose. read more ...

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5. The Deal

balance beach rocks illustrate the deal we thought we made with God

When we first acknowledged Jesus as Lord, most of us secretly thought, “He’s getting a pretty good deal.” Oh sure, we were in a jam and needed help, but we pictured ourselves as valuable assets to His Kingdom. We saw it as the classic win/win swap—a fair exchange where both parties bring something valuable to trade.

The truth is we brought nothing; He brought everything. We gave him all of our junk: lust, envy, idolatry, hatred, and rebellion. He, on the other hand, gave us an easy burden and a light yoke; new life, victory over sin, darkness flees at our word, death is defanged, and we get to spend forever ruling and reigning with Him. Then, as if that weren’t lopsided enough, He added, “Cast all your cares on me.” read more ...

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Honored by The Plane Faith Project Interview

Logo of the Plane Faith Project who conducted the interview

The Plane Faith Project, directed by Pastor Jimmy Tidmore, aims high. They come alongside potential missionary pilots to help them overcome the exorbitant cost of flight training. Jimmy recently interviewed me about both my journey to the mission aviation ministry and about my book, Mile High Missionary. You can visit their website and hear the interview podcast by clicking here.

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4. Adjusted Perspective

A Cessna 206 flying against a field of stars offers an adjusted perspective

The night sky adjusts our perspective. Vast distance separates us from the stars we see. If we could fly at the speed of light (just shy of 670 million mph) it would take us 775 years to get to Rigel, the hot blue star that marks the lower right corner of Orion. An airliner could make the trip in 902 million years, while a Cessna 206 would take a bit longer—3.7 billion years, not counting downtime for maintenance.

On a practical basis, we can gaze, we can long, and we can wish, but we can’t cross. The good news is that while the stars may be unreachable, it turns out that they’re not untouchable. They send us a steady stream of photons that our retinas detect as light. Whether we open our eyes or not, we’re awash in a continual cascade of star stuff. read more ...

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3. Visible Heart

Visable heart displayed by many private aircraft parked on grass field

At Oshkosh [the world’s largest air show held annually in Oshkosh, Wisconsin] last night, a MAF recruiter told the story of a national preacher speaking to a church in the US. The preacher held up one arm saying, ”These are the prayers of all of you rising up to the throne of God.” Then he raised the other, meeting the first high over his head, and said, “And these are the prayers of the believers in my country rising up to that same throne. Though only a few of us have met here on Earth, we already know each other in the Lord.” read more ...

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2. Motley Crew Glue

motley crew onboard pirate ship

Have you ever wondered about the Body of Christ? What did God have in mind when He put together this motley crew of brigands? We have as many opinions about what He wants as there are members. Some days, we not only have trouble rowing together, we can’t even agree that we’re in a boat. Why does He risk His name on such a ship of fools?

Part of the answer has to be love. Paul says that as we speak the truth, we will “grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” He goes on to say that “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” His love squishes out from the seams of our work like magic glue. It transforms a band of pirates into a company of saints. read more ...

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Complications – Fixing Pipes and Publishing Books

publishing books—title page of book manuscript

One of my favorite things to do is spend an afternoon in a book store that also has a coffee shop. From thousands of titles, I pick a dozen candidates to consider. Then I order a cafe-americano accompanied by a scone and sit to choose one. Or two. Or maybe three. That simple small-table haven makes the whole book thing seem uncomplicated. Publishing books, however, is not.

Recently, I pitched my new SciFi novel, The Perelandra Paradox-Discovery (first of a three-part series) to a book publishing agent. First hope, then no joy. So, on to the next agent. Discouragement tempted me but a few days later, life reminded me that publishing books is a complex affair. read more ...

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1. If You Can?

3D picture of this book

The candidates [potential MAF missionaries] arrived today, wide-eyed and willing to believe anything we tell them. But we know that after a few months struggling with bad weather, civil disturbances, poor communications, cross-cultural frustration, lost mail, and a leaky cylinder, their sharp belief will take on a fuzzy edge. Embarrassing feelings will pop up from beneath the swamp of weariness and frustration as they struggle to keep the faith.

A desperate father once cried out to Jesus, “… if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus replied, “`If you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes.”

The honest father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When we confess the truth, the Lord carries us, while, at the same time, demanding deeper faith.

While He’s holding your program together, what gauntlet of impossible belief has He thrown down before you?

Jeremiah 33:3 1 John 1:9 Mark 9:14-29 Ephesians 3:20-21

Excerpt from Call For News-Reflections of a Missionary Pilot

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I Used to Be Cool

a cool F-15C jet aircraft flying low

My friend, Ivan, shared this video (03:53) of his USAF unit conducting F-15C low-level training in Wales, UK. Then he sighed and said, “I used to be cool.” His comment struck deep because I felt both his messages.

First, what Ivan did was cool. An elite team selected him from a multitude of applicants. They spent a lot of money and risked their lives to train him. Then, they sent him out to fly multi-million dollar, supersonic aircraft worldwide, trusting him to defend honor, hearth, and home. His daily work was the photogenic essence of great stories. Many dream of that mantle, but few ever wear it.

Second, after a whole career of daily significance, he confessed his retirement felt less important, not so cool.

I used to do cool stuff, too. For almost two decades, I flew out on the pointy end of the ministry spear. A rigorous selection process granted me membership in an elite team. Then they, too, spent thousands of dollars and risked their lives training me to throw a ton and a half of aluminum at mud strips you wouldn’t drive your car on (if you could get it there).

Our team provided the Amazon Jungle’s indigenous people with their only alternate travel option—walk for days or fly for minutes. We impacted someone’s life every day. We saved someone’s life every week. The heady wine of significance became the color of daily life.

After returning home, I was happy to help the team from afar. But I never noticed withdrawal setting in. I accepted, without conscious choice, that my life and work were now ordinary, average, second class. In other words, I was no longer cool.

It took me a long time to see it. My feelings were real enough. But my thinking rested on the lie that said my value was only as good as what I acquired, produced, or accomplished. If I did cool stuff, I was cool. If not, well . . .

The truth is, God designed me even before he made the world. He sent me for birth at precisely the right time, free to choose—or not—to fulfill my purpose. He formed me in his image and gave me everything needed to succeed. But I, myself, brought no ability or quality to the table.

Even so, after I rejected him and his plan, he loved me so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay for my failure. His sacrifice demonstrated how much he valued me—and every other person on the planet.

So, yeah, we’re cool because God says so. That’s what Easter is all about.

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Air, Space, and Life