Your Attitude Will Determine Your Altitude

March 13, 2016

How many people know what a bucket list is?  If you don’t know, it is a list of things you
want to do before you die, or kick the bucket. 
The concept is best explained in the 2007 movie with Jack Nicolson and
Morgan Freeman. (Show clip)  How many of
you have a bucket list?  How’s it going.

I don’t really have a formal bucket list,
but there are things that I would like to do. 
And while we were on vacation I got to scratch one of them off the
list.  I got to fly in a bi-plane, what
I’d really like to do is fly a bi-plane but that probably isn’t going to
happen.

When I was in college I started taking
flying lessons, there had been a speaker at one of our chapel services who represented
MAF, Mission Aviation Fellowship, which is an organization that provides air
services for missionaries in areas like Papua New Guinea.  I was 20 thought it sounded cool and started
to learn how to fly, but soon it became apparent to me anyway that my calling
was to pastor a local church and I knew that flying would be a hobby that I
wouldn’t be able to afford, so I gave it up. 
But I loved to fly.

And as many of you know I am a convertible
buff, so if you combine my love of flying and my love of convertibles a
bi-plane seems to be a logical leap

Here is a picture of me and the plane I
flew in, which is a Waco YMF from the 1940s. 
Here is my favourite shot of what the seat belts look like and my
biplane selfie.

The only downside is it reminded me how
much I love to fly and now I want a biplane. 
Angela and my banker say no. 

When we were taxiing down the runway for
take-off I remembered a statement that jumped out of my ground school manual when
I was learning to fly.  I had written it
down and kept it on my desk, it became a mantra of mine for years.  But somewhere along the line the note
disappeared but on that sunny day with the roar of the engine in my ears and
the wind in my face it suddenly came back to me. 

Here it is write it down because it is a
deep and profound spiritual truth. You ready? “Your attitude will determine
your altitude.” 
Did you catch it?

 “Your
attitude will determine your altitude.” 
Coached in layman’s terms that simply means the direction your nose is
pointing will determine how high you fly. 
Right? 

Let me illustrate with my handy dandy
model airplane.  If the nose of your
airplane is pointed level than you will fly level, if the nose of your airplane
is pointed up than you will fly up, if the nose is pointed down than you will
fly down, and it’s doesn’t matter how much you increase your speed ultimately
it is your attitude that determines your altitude.

That concept and statement is just as true
for life as it is for flying.  How high
you fly personally, emotionally, spiritually, academically, vocationally will
be determined in the most part by your attitudes.  And once we realize that, once we realize
that we are in control and that circumstances aren’t then that gives us the
power to determine our destiny.

Now there may be people here today who
disagree with me.  That’s ok, I’ve been
disagreed with before, will probably be disagreed with again.  But that doesn’t change the fact that in
life, less is dependent on what happens to you and more is dependent on how you
react to what happens to you.  I have
seen people go through similar traumatic situations, one person going through
the ordeal, the other person growing through the ordeal. One person becomes bitter
one person becomes better.  If it’s not
the circumstances that dictate the outcome what is it?  It is the person’s attitude. How they
determine that are going to handle that situation.

You ever read this book?  It’s called Alexander and the Terrible,
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  A few
years ago it was made into a movie.   Have
you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day?  Sure you have, we all have them. 

Listen up, you can’t control the
circumstances that come your way, but you can control how you respond to them.

Leo Buscaglia writes “There are two big
forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over
external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and
pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those
disasters? Over that I have complete control.” 

So the question is, what type of attitude
do you have?  How are you going to face
life and what it has in store for you?

Some Have
a Downward Attitude  
You
ever meet someone who is always down.  It
seems that they are perpetually seasick on the journey of life.  It doesn’t matter what happens they know
things are going to get worse. 

There’s a story in the Old Testament, you
probably remember it.  The Israelites
have escaped from Egypt and have come to the very edge of the Promised
Land.  In preparation for the people of
God to enter in to the land that had been promised to them Moses sent 12 spies
into Canaan to do what spies do best, spy. 
And when they came back they had a glowing report of how fertile the
land was  and then they dropped the
bombshell in Numbers 13:28  But the people living there are
powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there,
the descendants of Anak!

And they weren’t content in being quietly
negative if we keep reading in Numbers 13:32  So they spread this
bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we travelled through
and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw
were huge.

In Mike Duffy’s first speech in the senate
he referred to “Nattering
nabobs of negativism.”  Burt it
wasn’t all that original, I heard it when John Crosbie was running for
the Tory Leadership way back when, and he actually stole it from American Vice
President Spiro Agnew, and it wasn’t even original with him because it was part
of a speech written for him by William Safire. 
But regardless that’s what these ten spies were, “Nattering nabobs of
negativism.”

John Symonds a good friend of mine and
pastor of Yarmouth Wesleyan once commented on a person he knew, he said “They are
so negative that if the Angel Gabriel came down they’d put on dark glasses and
shoot him for a crow.” These people remind me of Janeane Garofalo “I guess I
just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half-empty. And
cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.”

So you can have a downward attitude, or
not!

Some Have
an Upward Attitude
Now in the story we told you about in the
book of Numbers we mentioned that there were 12 spies who went into the
Promised Land and that 10 of them came back with a negative report, so what
about the other 2?  This is what they
reported:

Numbers 14:7-8  They
said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is
a wonderful land!  And if the LORD
is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.
It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.

Same land, same time frame they saw the
same things and yet instead of a negative report they came back with a positive
report.  Why?  Perhaps the truth comes in the words of Sugar
Ray Robinson who said  “I’ve always
believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.”

The two
spies who brought back the positive report were named Joshua and Caleb, Joshua
went on to write a book of the bible and this is what God said about Caleb Numbers
14:24
 But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others
have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he
explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.

I’d be
very surprised if anyone here could name any of the ten from the negative
group.

He had it all, a successful career, a wonderful
life, adoring fans, everything a man could want. And than in one minute it was
all over, he was doing what he loved, jumping competitively   when his horse stumbled pitching him to the
ground and then it was all over. 
Christopher Reeves went from being a Superman to being a quadriplegic
who even needed a machine to breathe for him. 
I would think that Christopher Reeves probably has some pretty good
reasons to be negative to have a downward attitude but listen to what he said: “You
play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile.”

You get to choose how you are going to
look at life, will it be with a negative attitude, always able to find a
problem in every solution, always able to spot the dark cloud that comes with
every silver lining or will it be with a positive attitude?  Will you be a part of the problem or a part
of the solution?  Will you light the
candle to chase away the darkness or will you be the one who blows out the
candle to prove how dark the room is? 
Only you will decide that.

Some Have
a Backward Attitude

Some people just can’t seem to leave the
past.  They are always focusing on what
used to be.  They seem unwilling to leave
yesterday, or probably closer to the truth to leave their memories of
yesterday.  Which of course should come
with a warning label that says “Any resemblance these memories may have to the
actual events is purely coincidental.”

Let go back to the story of Israel’s
exodus from Egypt.  Do you remember what
happened whenever the going got a little hard in the wilderness?  The Israelites would begin grumbling and the
grumbling would always go in the same direction, “Oh why did we leave Egypt? Things
weren’t so bad in Egypt, oh we ought to go back to Egypt.”

They had been slaves, forced to make bricks
out of mud and straw, whose very lives were held in the whim of Pharorah.  The conditions are recorded in Exodus 1:11-16  So the Egyptians made
the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them,
hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the
cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.  But the more
the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread,
and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.  So the Egyptians worked the
people of Israel without mercy.  They made their lives bitter, forcing
them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were
ruthless in all their demands.  Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this
order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:  “When you help the
Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy,
kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”

Wow, you gotta hate that, but that isn’t
what the Israelites remembered.  Listen
to their fond memories of their days in Egypt. 
Numbers
11:4-5
 Then
the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the
good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for
some meat!” they exclaimed.  “We remember the fish we used to eat for free
in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we
wanted.

Like them, most of our yesterdays are
coloured by nostalgia.  George W. Ball was
US Secretary of State under John F. Kennedy and he made this statement “Nostalgia
is a seductive liar.”

We can become so caught up in the past
that not only can’t we see tomorrow we can’t see today.  You can’t live in the past, and you can’t
change the past.  One of the great things
about starting Cornerstone from scratch was that we couldn’t talk about how great
things were back in 1953 or 1983.  We had
no past, but we do now.  And we need to
be careful that we don’t live back there, remembering the good old days. 

This is the season in the Wesleyan Church
of pastoral change.  Under normal
circumstances if a pastor is going to resign on the Atlantic District it
happens in February or March, and no I’m not resigning.  Some are pleased with that declaration while
some might be disappointed.  But it is
what it is.

And sometime the new pastor finds that he
has a tough time prying people out of the past, “Why when so and so was pastor
here things were really happening, he was such a great preacher, and visited
all the sick and shut ins from the church, and his kids were perfect and he
never offended anyone.”  And it goes on
ad nauseam.  And I’ve been on both ends
of that, I’ve followed Pastors and have not been able to live up to their
legacy, and if you listen to some folks in at least one of my previous churches
you’d think I can walk on water, and I can’t.

And for all of those people I want to say,
let’s not forget the past, but let’s not dwell there.  It was Zig Ziglar who said “Yesterday ended
last night.  Today is a brand-new day”

And the same holds true for your personal
lives.  As wonderful as yesterday may
have been, it is yesterday. 

Yesterday may be a nice place to visit,
but you shouldn’t be living there.  I’ve
said it before but you might want to write it down this time, “The past makes a great classroom
but it shouldn’t be your living room.”

   

Paul
wrote to the early church in Philippians 3:13  No, dear brothers
and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting
the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

But
looking backward isn’t the only option, Some
Have a Forward Attitude 

What are your dreams?  You do have dreams don’t you? John Barrymore
said “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” How do you
picture your tomorrows?  Regardless of
our past the future stretches out before us like a giant sketchpad waiting for
us to make our mark.  What is the picture
going to be? What are your dreams for your life, your family, and your church?  Where do you want to be six months down the
road, a year, five years ten years?

If you can’t see it now you won’t be able
to have it.  Before your dreams can come
true, first you have to have dreams.  We
will never build anything on the ground until we build castles in the air.

When Joshua and Caleb saw the promised
land they not only saw it for what it was, they saw it for what it could
become.

For the first ten years that Cornerstone
existed we dreamed of having a building of our own and here we are.  But that was only a part of the dream the
dream wasn’t just to build a church, it was to build a Church. 

That is a community of people who come
together to worship Jesus, to support and love one another and to reach out to
our communities to introduce more people to Jesus. 

From day one the purpose of this church
was very clear, to reach the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched,
we were put here to help depopulate Hell. 
That is our dream that at the end of the day there are more people who
know Jesus and are going to heaven because this church was here.

But that one can’t only be Denn’s dream it’s
going to have to become the dream of all of us. 
And that’s only going to happen as we seek God’s face and what he wants
us to do to reach people, to determine what we need to do to honour God and
fulfil his will. 

So let’s go back to the beginning, “Your
Attitude determines your Altitude” But how do you determine your attitude.  Well when you are flying you can’t always
judge it by the horizon because sometimes that can be deceptive in bad weather
or uneven terrain, and so there’s a thing called an Artificial Horizon
on the aircraft’s instrument panel.  And
even when you can’t see the true horizon you can know what the attitude of your
aircraft is.

Sometimes in life it’s hard to determine
what your attitude is because of outside circumstances.  Our lives aren’t always lived under clear
skies.  And as believers we don’t have a
something to keep our eyes on instead we have a someone. 

You might recall that we often refer to
Hebrews 11 as the faith hall of fame, and the heroes of the Old and New Testament
are celebrated there, and after we are told their stories we are reminded in Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are
surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip
off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us
up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  

Kind of
big expectations and so the author of the book of Hebrew tells us in the next
verse, Hebrews 12:2  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the
champion who initiates and perfects our faith. 
Circumstances and people may disappoint us, and they
may try to rob us of our faith but Jesus is constant.  Keep your eyes centred on him.  How? 
By reading his word, by spending time in prayer, by worshipping with his
people. 

And hopefully the end result for the Christ
Follower is found in  Philippians 2:5  You must have the same
attitude that Christ Jesus had.   That’s why we are called to be “Christ
Followers”.

So how’s your attitude, and how’s your
altitude, how high are you willing to go with God?  Only you will be able to determine how high
you will allow him to take you.