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First United Methodist Church

Glen Rose, Texas

 September 14, 2014

Series: “Turbulence Ahead”

 “In Case of Emergency”

(Isaiah 40:21-31)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     Did you know that a Boeing 747's wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first flight? On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a wind-swept beach of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. A Boeing 747's wingspan is 211 feet.

     There were three more flights made on December 17, 1903. Orville's brother Wilbur was the pilot for the record flight lasting 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet. Ever since, flying has become a regular means of travel. The First Commercial Flight was January 1, 1914, from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tampa. In the US, the first Flight Attendants didn't start until 1926.The first female flight attendant was a 25-year-old registered nurse named Ellen Church, hired by United Airlines in 1930.

     I don’t know what the early preflight message was; but what if we had a preflight message in Worship. It might sound something like this.

     Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. As we prepare for take-off, I would like to remind you that you are seated in the First Class section. There are no second class passengers on our flight today.

     Please take a good look at the people around you this morning. Should there be an emergency, these are the people whom you will support and who will support you through their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.

     If you haven’t already done so, please stow all your carry-on baggage at the foot of the cross. Jesus asks that we turn it over to His care and disposal.

     Now please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. Make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position.

     At this time, we request that all electronic devices be turned off for the full duration of the flight; let us give God our full attention. Exceptions are made for those who use their Bible on their phone or tablet.

     Let me remind you that this is a Non-Smoking flight. If you would rather be in the smoking section, flights south leave nearly every minute just outside the doors of our church.

     We suggest that you keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight, as we may experience turbulence. Emergency exit procedures are simple, "Follow the Light."

     Oxygen and faith pressure are always being monitored. In the event of an emergency, please keep calm and breathe deeply. The breath of God through the infilling of the Holy Spirit will help strengthen you and those around you. If you have children or someone who requires assistance, Keep Calm, Breathe Deeply and Assist The Other Person.

     A floatation device is provided for those who wait for the Lord. God will renew their strength and they shall mount up with wings like eagles.

     You will find this and other safety information in the card located in the seat pocket in front of you. We strongly suggest you read it and take it with you as a constant reminder of God's care for you. Sit back. Relax and Let Us Pray.

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE Isaiah 40:21-31 (NRSV)

[21] Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

[22] It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;

[23] who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

[24] Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

[25] To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

[26] Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

[27] Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?

[28] Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

[29] He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

[30] Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;

[31] but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

     Last week we began this series talking about Turbulence and how in our lives there will be trouble. In keeping with that theme, this morning I want to talk about what to do in the midst of that Turbulence. How do you handle those emergencies, both physical and spiritual emergencies, in life? I won’t say it’s easy because it’s not. Nor will I tell you that what I say is definitive. However, with a little adaptation, I think we can use the Airline Emergency Information Card as a model. So, Fasten Your Seatbelt.

I. BAGGAGE:

     We all know that airlines limit the number of bags you can check on any flight. There’s an extra charge for anything above that number. They also limit the number of carry-on items we can bring. They do it because of the weight limitations of the airplane. They do it because too many items in the overhead compartments or under the seats can become a safety issue. The seat gets too crowded and people stumble over all that excess baggage.

     Well, it’s the same in our walk of faith. We stumble over all that excess baggage in our lives all the time. Sometimes the weight of that baggage brings our life to a halt.

     Jesus came so that our lives and our spirits could be unburdened by the weight of the excess baggage of our past that we all seem to carry around. Jesus offers us more than just a baggage check. Jesus is not interested in carrying your burden for short periods of time and then returning it to you. NO, the whole reason Jesus came is so that you can drop that baggage, so you can let it go.

     Jesus will come along side you, and if you will relinquish control, He will take the weight and the guilt and the pain of whatever burden you are carrying and make it His own. If you will give Him control, you will never have to carry it again. So, give Him your baggage.

II. OXYGEN MASK:

     A. One of the next things the Flight Attendant tells is what will happen if the cabin should suddenly lose pressure. An Oxygen Mask will drop to provide the oxygen you need. But, what do you do in everyday life when tragedy happens and sucks all the oxygen out of your life. You can’t breathe. You’re heart’s racing a mile a minute. And you feel like you’ve been smacked in the chest with a huge hammer.          That’s when we’re called to “Breathe in the Breath of God.” That’s when you practice the Breath prayer we use every Sunday. You Breath in the Holy Spirit and breathe out the stress and the fear. You Breathe in the Breath of God and breathe out your anxiety and eventually you notice that your faith has taken control. What you have known is true is still true. God is STILL with you.

     Believe it or not, I think this is one of the reasons why we need rules and guidelines in our lives. Rules are a part of the Oxygen for our souls. Rules are the structure upon which love and grace are hung. Yes, they get broken. Yes, they get tested. But when everything comes from together to apart, the rules are there to protect.

     There’s a great scene in Home Alone when Kevin finds out he’s all by himself. WATCH

     Kevin went nuts, all of a sudden there were no rules and he didn’t know how to behave. But after a while, it got old and he missed his parents, he missed the structure, he missed the rules because they all contributed to his sense of safety and security. We all need rules and guidelines.

     Start simple. Use God as your example. God didn’t begin with the Big 10. He started with 2, Love God, Love Your Neighbor. It wasn’t until we grew and matured that things changed.

     Babies don’t have curfews, they don’t get grounded. They’re simply loved. Later they’re told no and have what can harm them taken away. At first they don’t understand. At certain times, rules have to be very explicit, but as our children and youth grow up and mature, you have to trust them to live out what you’ve taught them and expand the boundaries.

     Maybe you heard about the professor who was giving a lecture on company slogans and was asking his students if they were familiar with them.

     “Joe,” he asked, “which company has the slogan, “What’s In Your Wallet.”

     “Capital One” Joe answered.

     “Brenda, can you tell me which company has the slogan, “Eat Fresh?”

     Brenda thought for a second then said, “Subway.”

     “Now John, can you tell me who uses the slogan, JUST DO IT?”

     “That’s easy,” John answered, “It’s my Mom.” Eventually you have to trust them; you have to trust God and you have to trust them to God. What you teach them DOES stick.

     B. Years ago when my oldest son Paul was in High School our community started a War on Drugs  group of which I was a part. We sponsored DARE and helped with education and held fund raisers. The drug scene was starting to hit us hard. So, one of the things we did was provide funds for an undercover officer. None of us knew who he was.

     One day the County Attorney, who was our Lay Leader, called me over to his office. He told me that there was going to be a bust that night and he wanted to give me a heads up because some of the Youth in our Youth Group would be involved. When he said that my heart sank and my first thought was wondering if Paul would be involved.

     I guess he saw the anxiety on my face because he said, “You don’t have to worry about Paul. Oh, he has a beer every now and then but he never let’s anyone go too far and he always makes sure everyone gets home safe, even if he has to take them.

     When I found that out, it was like a deep fresh breathe of God. My spirit soared. And if my spirit soared over how My son behaved when I wasn’t around, just think how much God’s spirit soars and rejoices when we live like God wants us to live.

     Breathe Deep from the Oxygen for the soul; the Breathe of God. Let it fill you so you can help fill your Children and Youth and share with them how to be filled on their own.

III. FLOTATION DEVICE:

     A. Then there’s the Flotation Device. We all have one. It’s not under your seat. And you don’t have to blow it up. It doesn’t go around your head, instead it goes around your heart. It’s the promise that you are never alone. It’s the promise that God is always there.

     Years ago there was a nature show on television about a black bear that gave birth to two cubs. One cub died right away. Three weeks later the mother died and the remaining cub was left to fend for itself. An orphaned cub in that condition is like a walking buffet for predators. And of course the camera immediately showed a hungry-looking mountain lion.

     One day the orphan cub encountered a giant male black bear. The little cub cowered at the bear's sheer mass. The larger bear peered around and seemed to realize that the mother bear wasn't anywhere to be found. He gave the little cub a friendly nudge. The camera then showed the little bear happily trailing along after the larger one. The adoption papers were signed, sealed and registered at the county seat in that nudge. Papa bear proceeded to show the cub how to grub for insects and how to catch fish and how to scratch his back against a tree.

     One day the two bears became separated. The cub began to cry and looked frantically for his new father, but couldn't find him anywhere. The cub approached a stream where he'd learned to fish and something caught his attention. He looked up to see a mountain lion ready to pounce. That same mountain lion had stalked the cub for the entire show. There was no way that mountain lion would've gone for that cub with Papa bear around, but now....

     The camera zoomed in on the cub. He automatically mimicked the posture of his adopted father when threatened. He stood up on his hind legs and bared his teeth. Then, in exactly the same way his new father would have done, this cub let loose a mighty growl that should have reverberated throughout the forest. But, only a tiny bear cub squeak came out.

     We all prepared for the worst. But, to everybody's astonishment the mountain lion lowered his head and ran off in the opposite direction.

     The camera panned back to the proud little cub still standing tall on his hind legs. And then all the viewers saw what that little cub Could Not: a few yards behind him, at full, ferocious height, his sharp, white teeth bared in a snarl, stood Daddy bear. He may not have made a sound, but he was there.

     And even though the cub couldn't see his father, his father was there, standing guard and  protecting his son. That’s what God does for us.

     B. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isa 40:28-31

IV. EMERGENCY EXITS:

     A. And that brings us to the Emergency Exits. I don’t mean this to sound flippant but if you follow the Light of Christ, you don’t have to worry about an Emergency Exit. The one we call the Good Thief is one of the few who ever needed an Emergency Exit and because he turned to the light and asked for help, he got it.

     Simply put, we have to stay connected to the Source of the Light, Jesus, Who said, “I am the light of the world.”

     Maybe a good way to talk about staying connected is to compare our spiritual lives to an extension cord. If it’s not plugged in, you don’t have any power. It’s the same with us. If we’re not plugged into God, if we’re not engaged in maintaining and growing our faith and our faithfulness, then we will run out of juice. We will faint and grow weary, especially when Turbulence happens or an emergency pops up. We have to stay plugged in through the daily discipline of prayer, devotion and time in the Bible. That time can come from reading by yourself or participating in a bible study. But whatever the case, we have to stay plugged into the Light through God’s Word. That’s why Psalm 119:105 says: Thy WORD is a LAMP unto my feet and a LIGHT unto my path.

     B. I can’t say this enough, get a translation of the Bible that you can understand. I love reading the KJV out loud but I also like Shakespeare. It’s the same language. If you have a hard time with Shakespeare, you’ll have a hard time with the KJV, so why not try the NRSV or the NIV or the newest translation the CEB. Find one you understand. Then read it and study it. Plug in to the power source. Stay connected to the light so it can guide your path.

CONCLUSION:

     According to USN Capt. Alan Bean, an Apollo Astronaut, test pilots have a litmus test for evaluating problems. When something goes wrong, they ask, "Is this thing still flying?" If the answer is yes, then there's no immediate danger, no need to overreact. When Apollo 12 took off, the spacecraft was hit by lightning. The entire console began to glow with orange and red trouble lights. There was a temptation to "Do Something!" But the pilots asked themselves, "Is this thing still flying in the right direction?" The answer was Yes, it was still headed for the moon. They let the lights glow as they addressed each individual problem, and watched orange and red lights blink out, one by one. That's something to think about in any emergency situation.

     Leave the baggage behind, it will only weigh you down.

     Breathe in the breath of God, let Him calm and guide your spirit.

     Rely on God’s presence; let God lift you up on eagle’s wings

     and Follow the Light; let your faith and the Word of God guide you through every situation.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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