I read a lot. I thought I might include a couple of short reviews of excellent and God honoring books on here.

The Enemy Within – Kris Lundgaard (P&R Publishing)

An excellent work on the pursuit of personal holiness. Modern in language and clear in application, Kris Lundaard builds on the excellent foundation laid by John Owen’s Indwelling Sin in Believers and The Mortification of Sin. Recommended by J.I. Packer, Steve Lawson, Jerry Bridges, Chris Riser, and others. A hot item at the XL conference in 2008.

http://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Within-Straight-About-Defeat/dp/0875522017/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230177894&sr=8-2

This has been a really awesome month. I had the opportunity to go to the XL Ministries conference in Glorietta, NM, which was an amazing blessing.  Thank God for a group of committed pastors and teachers, who will teach the Scripture plainly and clearly (and make my natural man writhe)!

I have also recently had the opportunity to write a defense of the principle of Sola Scriptura in response to a set of questions asked of me by a Roman Catholic.  Specifically, he asked whether the principle was an “invention” of the Reformation, or whether it was present immediately following Christ’s ascension.  Also, he asked how the church might have had access to the Scripture, how they might understand it, and several other related questions.  This is the first in a series of posts; don’t fear, the rest are already written. It’s going up on safeguard as I type.  I encourage you to look up each of the references, and savor how God has provided for his Church.  The sheer volume of internal evidence in the Bible is truly overwhelming.  I’m indebted to Steve Lawson’s excellent two-part message “Christ, the Reformers, and Sola Scriptura” for a clear, and recognizable, foundation.  It’s available from the Sola Scriptura conference audio at countrysidebible.org.  All the references are ESV.  Look them all up!

It’s a huge blessing to be immersed in the Word as I was for two days, studying.  I am very thankful that, by God’s grace, I’ve learned so much of the value of private worship and study this year.  I am sure that the time I devote is still far to meager, but I cannot imagine how I tried to survive on the much smaller “meals” of last year.  I am finding that the more I work to teach or write, the more seriously I study, and so hopefully I can continue to do both as God gives for me to do.

Finally, a new friend from XL is teaching through the book of Daniel, and I’ve been listening to the series as I sit in hotels (which I do a LOT).  I’m very encouraged and convicted by it.  Here’s the link. http://www.gracetn.org/Sermons/Speaker.aspx?SpeakerID=1

I’m also very grateful for two of my brothers and the rest of their family inviting me to share Thanksgiving dinner after I get off work.  What better way to praise the Lord for his great and gracious works than with His Church!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Nat

John Charles strode through the long, silent hall. The soundless tremor of many boots ringing in martial unison menaced his course. There were soldiers in the square. He shivered, the swift suppression of paltry fear.  They would not check him now; the greatness of his errand would fly unnoticed in the face of the cruel normality of tyranny.  A small door on the right admitted him to a shadowy path traversed with the fluent irreverence of familiarity.   The whispered challenge issued, the watcher satisfied, and John Charles did not even blink at the sudden light of the council-room.

No greeting is given or expected.  This gathering cannot afford personality.  Many have been lost; many more would too easily be betrayed.  There were seven assembled: the chairman, the general, the poet, the purser, and three “advisors”. The first four held the power. John Charles and his fellows were, simply, spies.  The poet, protégé of the chairman, was in mid-tirade.

“Long has this state wielded secrecy and terror, the blackness of night and silence! Ever have its arrogant masters robbed the people while disdaining even to be seen.  How long must we also sulk in the darkness?  Will we not soon destroy the light of freedom by familiarity with shadow?”

“Haste is dangerous, young fool,” growled the purser.  “And though the fire of your song warms the hearts of the people, it also burns them with a dreadful cost.”

“I burn them? No, sir, it is not I, but this foul state that…”

“Gentleman!”  The old chairman roused himself as to a weary task, “Gentleman, we must save our strength for a worthy fight!”  “Sir,” to the purser, “your losses are very deep, but drink not yet of despair.”

“Young man, you are zealous in your poetry, but you have also diligence in your zeal.  I know how tirelessly you write the lifeblood of our people’s hope.  You are right.  Our lords have not only deprived us of our liberty, of our children, of our livelihood, of any of the honest pleasures or burdens of free life, they have created two worlds.  They gathered all that was useful and artful, and they cast us out.  And every child who has thought to read, every girl who has thought to sing, every man who has thought to soothe his brother’s illness, every one of our people who have unselfishly reached out of this despairing world have been attacked!  They slither amongst us, destroying any that would share in their treasures.  But no more!  Brother, give us your news.”

John Charles rose.  “You all know how terrible the persecution has become.  Director Theodore, though but a slave of the great lords, is even more terrible in his hatred than they.  Now he prepares our utter destruction.”  John Charles spoke clearly and softly, as if commenting on the weather.

“Theodore has risen to great favor with the king.  They meet face to face. The director received his final orders this morning.  The king has carefully guided his slave to this point, slowly crushing the resistance.  The lords are emboldened. Today he will leave the citadel and come against our people in the forests with his full force.”

“Then,” said the general, “It is just as we have planned it.”

“Yes.”

The king will die first.”  The purser spoke with dark pleasure.  “Are the rest of the lords marked well?

The second advisor nodded, “We found the last of them mere hours ago.”

The chairman stood. “The years have stretched and strained, victory came close, and fled again.  Now the final stroke is at hand. The price we have paid for this opportunity has been terrible.  The farmer and his band slaughtered, the forester vanished, and others were subjected to unspeakable things.  By your careful work, John Charles, the director’s plans were open to us. By your advice, time and time again we suffered that in his success he might gain the confidence of his masters. And now, by your, certain intelligence we will again be attacked in the forests.  But our lords will also fall, unguarded, in their homes.”

“And our diplomats are ready to secure recognition of our freedom from our friends abroad immediately we have wrested it from those cold hands that suffocated it,” the last of the advisors smiled with satisfaction.

“Then freedom will come at last,” was the whisper of the chairman, no less weary than before.

“I will not write again until men may sing not merely of freedom, but in it! It is strange, indeed,” the poet continued, looking at John Charles “that he who brings the news of the end should not rejoice more.  And yet, great joy is for those who have invested much!” he finished with a bow to the purser.

At this, general hope warmed the chamber.  But the chairman stood, stern weariness yet on his face, and looking gravely at John Charles, dismissed them.

“Gentleman, attend to your duties and farewell.”

That afternoon, even as the army finished its preparations, the assassins moved to their places.  They would strike as soon as the protection of the Director’s troops was diverted on its sinister task.  Suddenly, it was whispered through the imperial ranks that an unparalleled honor would be given them.  A royal review would see them off to what they knew would be a short but desperate fight.  The assassins smiled grimly.

John Charles strode through the long, silent hall.  The hushed murmur of massed anticipation swelled to meet him. There were soldiers in the square. A smile whispered across his face.  They would not check him now; his great errand the certain end of tyranny.  A small door on the left opened to a broad balcony.  The fevered silence peaked.  His gaze swept the plaza as he raised his arms in greeting.

“The King!” came the heralding cry.

“The King!” echoed the soldiers.

The crown had come to him when he was young.  By curiosity he had crossed into the world of suffering.  Terrible was the realization that his throne was too weak for justice. The great lords would simply erase the unseen king. And then he met the chairman, and together they plotted the freedom of his people.

Freedom did come. Songs were sung of the farmer and the forester, of the general and the purser.  And in a quiet churchyard corner stands a stone with this inscription:

JOHN CHARLES
The Great Investor
- A poet.

Howdy y’all

I took a break from the blogosphere for a while to move, finish macroeconomics, go back to recurrent training, and a couple other things that I’v already forgotten.  I’m determined to get back to writing, especially for safeguard, because nothing focuses my mind on important spiritual issues more than having to study for a good post.  I think I need to keep them a bit shorter, however, to avoid burnout on either end.

So, today I’m enjoying the second day of a two-day trip.  This is a vast improvement over four day trips!  I still work four days (I leave tomorrow for another “two-day”), but instead of a long layover in Podunk, Iowa, I get to spend that time at home and at church!  Right now however, strong winds have blown a bag cart into our airplane, and I’m killing time on the trusty old couchish bench in Springfield ops.

I ran across an interesting game due out on multiple platforms later this year.  The idea behind Spore (http://www.spore.com/) is to set the evolution process in motion.  What a great idea for a game!  Honestly.  But I think a little deeper down it makes two ironic and serious statements.  First of all, it DEMANDS intelligent design.  Sure they may have written some code for your amoebas to “evolve” a bit randomly, but their code (and their gameplay) rely on you having a plan for your world!  Gamers want to be able to define things about their creatures, from color to aesthetics! In fact, the game website advertises your ability to choose between form and function!  And anyway, the game wouldn’t work without someone laying logical rules for the universe to run according to (Laws of Nature, anyone?).

Secondly, and maybe a bit darker, this game is a version of theistic evolution.  The difference being that YOU get to be god.  One marketing quip runs something like “Tired of your world? How would you do it better?”   No one minds a form of creation (and NO I do not believe in theistic evolution one tiny little bit), they just mind the implications of a Creator!  No Creator, no sovereign God.  No sovereign God, no sin.  No sin, no problem.  This reality (spelled out in Romans) is the real heart of the creation debate.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for calling us out of our self-deception!

I’m gonna springboard off of this into a funny thought that’s been running through my mind on another aspect of God’s awesome creative wisdom.  A friend of mine likes to say, “Never underestimate the importance of irreducible complexity.”  So look for “World 2.0″ sometime soon, and probably on safeguard.

Nat

Just a quick post.  I’m in the midst of a sequence, but I finally finished updating my new logbook software.  It generated this google earth picture of all my 1256 hours of flying. Keep in mind most of those lines are turns (or out and backs) and so really represent 2 flights each.  Click for the larger and properly formatted pic.

Nathan 

complete-march.jpg

I’m at home this weekend, on sick leave. I absolutely hate calling in sick, but left over sinus blockage from last week resulted in some nasty ear popping on Sunday evening. I had scheduling pull me off the remainder of my trip, and the doc has me on some medicine to fix the ears back up. The extra time off is useful, however, as I am in the process of buying a new house. The old one is wonderful, but it’s also 45 minutes away at best from my life and work. The new one is about 8 minutes (yes, I timed it) to church and about the same to work. Lord willing, the inspection will go well Wednesday, and I should close the 12th of next month.

I was rummaging through the hidden recesses of my kit bag, and came across this short story I wrote while sitting ready reserve in Chicago. It’s based on a flight from Toledo back to Chicago. I think it may be a bit overdramatic (likely due to the utter lack of drama in the crew room while I was writing), but I liked it enough at second discovery I decided I’d let other people see what they thought….

“The blackness of night veils the peril aloft, but a flash of lightning betrays the line of thunderstorms from which it darts. These occasional bursts of light confirm in brilliant silhouette what our radar suggests: heavy precipitation falls across our planned route to Chicago, stretching far to the south. The Captain alerts the flight attendant while I turn the lights up a bit lest we be blinded by the lightning. Both of us pull our charts for Chicago now, knowing it may be difficult once airborne.

Four minutes before our Expect Departure Clearance Time (EDCT, pronounced ‘edict’), I start the second engine and complete the taxi checks. Like clockwork, the tower clears us for takeoff exactly at the EDCT time. Our lights blaze pinpricks of white as we race upward into the darkness. Almost immediately, we feel the unrest of theses skies.

Checking on with Chicago center, we begin the chess game. These are the fall storms of the Great Lakes: violent, but without the spectacular vertical development of their Southern cousins. But air traffic control already has streams of aircraft cruising above them, and so we are forced to deviate laterally, swinging 90 degrees off track to the north.

Several minutes later, Chicago points out a friendly sight, another Eagle Embraer is also paralleling the storms, a mile in front and a thousand feet below. His miniscule presence against the immensity of the clouds is both comforting and sobering. We race north in silence, probing for the elusive gap; every minute takes us almost ten miles further off course.

Our makeshift formation is alone, ATC clears us to deviate as far north as the Canadian border, and then the nearness of the storm fills the radio with static. This is real flying. And then, finally, the weather weakens. We begin to turn: five degrees, another five, ten, twenty, the clouds give way. We break into the clear, the stars shining clearly about us.

But our worries are not over. We have burned a vast amount of fuel; as I accelerate to best forward speed the engines are consuming almost four thousand pounds an hour. Diversion seems certain for a moment, but then our dispatcher calls with the welcome news that we no longer require an alternate landing airport, freeing up enough reserve fuel that we may continue. Off to our right, the other Eagle breaks away, the storm defeated, but not soon enough.”

If nothing else, it was a fun way to pass the time on ready…. Oh, before you go, I finally updated safeguard last week, but it still wasn’t the ambassador article I keep promising. Nonetheless, go take a look, it’s a lot more edifying than what you’re reading here! I still have hopes for the ambassador article in the near future.

Nat

Well, I’ve sorta been on an unwilling and somewhat planned sabbatical from the whole blogging thing since Christmas. First thing is I went on vacation…. this is good. And instead of pulling the greedy pilot trick of working my vacation and getting paid triple or whatever, I went skiing with my church (countrysidebible.org) at Winter Park. Not only was the skiing amazing (great powder: for you New Englanders, that’s why it’s called SNOW skiing….), but so was the fellowship and the teaching. The teaching was on Lazarus’ resurrection, and my friend jazz hands has the notes on his blog (beholdinghisglory, see the link).

For some odd reason when I got back I worked a lot of day trips… Being home at night was great, but driving back and forth got really old and I flew a LOT (and a lot of maintenance flights, which rarely go smooth).

This week, however, I was on for six days straight, and what a wild six days its been. The first night, I was reassigned four times, and finally got on a plane bound for Champaign, IL. Or sorta bound. Whilst waiting for the captain, yours truly, being the excellent First Officer he pretends to be, carefully reviewed our release (several dead trees containing vast amounts of information including the weather) and determined the winds were going to far exceed our crosswind limits for a snowy, slick runway. When el capitan arrived, this was pointed out and summarily dismissed. We were going somewhere, so it might as well be in that general direction. I agree with this reasoning, but still, I would have bugged dispatch then and there.

Long story shorter, we had an amazing quantity of extra gas, so we held over the Champaign airport for 35 minutes before diverting to a new alternate, St Louis. I say new because we were listed for Indy and Des Moines, one of which was too windy (it rhymes) and the other way too far for convenience. All this texting back and forth via the ACARS burned up all said machines paper, which was ironically comic. The last straw in our divert decision came when the station called to tell us the wind was to strong to park at the gate, and the power was out anyway!

The flight to St Louis was easy and short, the passenger’s were sent away (the company generously forces them to pay for their own hotel, albeit at reduced rate, for weather related delays), and we prepared to get some sleep. The quick thinking flight attendant called the hotel to see about the van, and found out that said hotel had been out of business for six months. Whoops. Scheduling took another hour and a half to find a hotel with rooms, and proceeded to make the captain pay for the 35 minute taxi ride (they say they’ll reimburse). We waited an additional thirty minutes for the last tidbit, because the person working our problem went home at 1am, and neglected to tell her replacement. In the end, we got our sleep in a nice hotel, and I got to see the Gateway Arch. (and it’s a great story).

The day after that I was scheduled for an unheard of six legs…but extremely high winds (pointed the wrong direction) and a massive (houston to kentucky somewhere) line of weather induced a gate delay, two reroutes and the associated paperwork, an enroute spacing delay, a ground stop to DFW, plenty of poking around weather once airborne, WAAAY to much gas to land with (gear came down way early), and some holding. Baton Rouge to DFW: 2 hours 15 minutes late. Perfect landing in heavy gusts: Priceless!

That evening we shot a GPS approach to minimums in blowing snow at Springfield Missouri. I’m in Houston right now, and I’ll be home Saturday afternoon. Just another week in the life.

I’m going to try and go meet a friend from Paris for dinner tonight, but not before I put in a plug for the Sola Christos Conference at countryside next week. Come listen to Al Mohler, John MacArthur, and our very own Tom Pennington talk about the supremacy and importance of Christ in the Christian life. I’m very grateful that the Lord arranged for some extra vacation days so I can attend all four days!!

safeguard should be updated with the next of my ambassador series sometime early next week…. I hope

Nat

As I write this, I’m sitting in Fort Walton Beach, fulfilling my job description of professional boredom! It’s a nice overnight, with a rather spectacular view of the beach (I’ve tried to attach the picture to this). The water is cold. VERY COLD.

Ft Walton Beach

Anyway, we knew we were in for it because Chicago was in our travel plans, and that’s rarely a good sign this time of year. When we got to the airport, though, we discovered that our aircraft had left the gate in Chicago 2 hours previously, but had not yet departed. Wheee! It’ll be here in an hour and a half or so; we’ll be ready to go in another 25 minutes after that. Will ATC be willing to let us depart when we’re ready? Not really sure. What will happen with our rather short overnight in CMH (Columbus, OH)? Definitely not sure.

My interest is almost purely academic, however, because this is only the second day of four, or perhaps six days of work. I’m not trying to get anywhere (although I would like that Chattanooga overnight tomorrow, it’s not tugging on my heartstrings very hard). The only concern I have with all of it is how much sleep I’ll get tonight. This is probably a good thing, because all of our passengers are quite a bit more worried about it. In general aviation (read: little airplanes) we would call this “get-there-itis”. Combine that nasty condition with flying the airplane, and you don’t have a very safe thing going. There are a lot of slightly (very slightly, depending on exactly how small the airplane was) shorter mountains because of this. So, the long and short of it is that I generally view the situation as almost funny, like one of those horribly slapstick comedies where they absolutely destroy a house in escalating laughter, than stressful.

Some friends recently got a game called quelf. From what I understand of it, you could play it and get a very good feel for what life flying the line is like!

Nat

ps I’m writing the next of my ambassador series, but I don’t want to post it until I have the time and space to open a couple dozen thesauri, dictionaries, commentaries, and concordances!!

Just a quick update to finish up what I started about the whole bid process….. I got my number 2 choice!!! It differs from my number one choice by only one day!! As one of my friends says: its a blessing, a blessing from the Lord!! I’m now going to see if swaps and drops will let me swap around the two days off that I have within the vacation period, contracts are a funny thing sometimes.

Anyway, I’m back to work for six days starting Saturday….

Nat

I just got the bid packet for next month, which is always exciting.  A quick tutorial on bidding:  Say there are 10 pilots assigned to a crew base.  The schedulers dream up 10 schedules, and then put them in the packet.  The number one pilot finds the schedule he likes the most, and enters it as his one and only selection, confident that the “ask and you shall receive” rule will work!  The number two finds his favorite schedule, plus one alternate, just in case he and the number one had similar tastes.  The number 1o pilot bids all 10, knowing he will get whichever wasn’t chosen by the nine above him.  I’m about midway on the DFW reserve list (I haven’t yet seen the actual list, but I would guess I’m a little south of the midpoint). However, there is a quirk.  There are actually more pilots then there are lines in the packet, to use our old example, there may actually be 11 pilots and only 10 lines.  This means that the reserve lines are dual awarded.  Back to the example, if all 10 lines were reserve, the number two will also get his first pick, even if it was the same first pick as the number one…the reserve line will be awarded twice.

This is the first month I’ve actually had to spend a lot of time looking over my choices. This is because I actually have enough seniority that what I ask for might actually happen, and because I have vacation.  Vacation time is like an eraser; whatever you are awarded on the monthly bid is then overruled by your vacation time.  So, I want to pick lines that have large numbers of work days within the vacation period, since they will be erased.  It would be very silly to have five days of vacation erasing three days off.   My shopping list for the ideal line this month was like this: days off (or consecutive days off) immediately before the vacation, large number of work days in the vacation period, day or days off immediately after the vacation, and then the quality of the remainder of the month.  My first pick has two days before and two days after the vacation off, five of the six vacation days are work days, and also has Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as the recurring sequence of days off  for the remainder of the month…

The legacies bit is ’cause I need to get my portrait taken for the first time since I was 15, I was going to do it today, but then realized that the preferred attire was at the dry cleaners!!

The lessons bit is partially ’cause I’m trying to accomplish school today, and because I’ve been trying to learn the significant but difficult lesson of being content to be alone with the King of the Universe!  More on that later.

Anyway, back to work I go…

Nat

p.s. Oh, yes, I also have a christmas party that I need to buy some cheese for.  Amazon beaver cheese, anyone?  No?  How ’bout some Dorset Blue Vinny!

About the author…

Nat Simmons is an airline pilot, writer, and pianist. He's looking forward to "a better country, that is, a heavenly one;" he's content, however, to sojourn in Texas....
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.