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Jump In

I John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

There was another hero in the midst of the Air Florida 90 crash in January 1982 (see previous two posts for other thoughts on this event).  Priscilla Tirado, a surviving passenger of the crash, was too weak to hold on to the helicopter line passed to her by Arland D. Williams.  Her eyes had been blinded by jet fuel that had accumulated on the surface of the water, and the cold water and crash trauma had zapped her strength.  She was stranded in the midst of a large patch of open water, and couldn’t hold on to any of the life saving devices that had been sent her way.

It was then that Lenny Skutnik jumped in to the icy cold water.  Skutnik was a Congressional Budget Office employee on his way home from work that afternoon.  Among the hundreds of onlookers, he was the only one who left the safety of the river bank to save a life.  As a result, Priscilla Tirado was one of a few who survived this tragedy, and Skutnik was invited as a special guest of President Reagan to the January 26, 1982 State of the Union address.  All because he jumped in!

There are situations throughout our society where Christians need to jump in, acting as doers in deed and in truth.  How is our witness?  How is our community engagement?  How is our voting record?  How is our commitment to our prayer list?  How is our political participation?  How is our voice on the issues of the day? 

Are we just standing on the safety of the river bank with the rest of the onlookers, or are we jumping in?

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE COURAGE AND COMMITMENT TO FULLY ENGAGE ON THE URGENT ISSUES OF THE DAY.  Lives can be saved, eternities altered, policies shifted, communities renewed, and societies revived if we take the simple act of faithfulness and jump in!

Better Than A Standoff

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

I John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:  because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.”

After the Air Florida Flight 90 crash in Washington DC in 1982, and before anyone knew the name of Arland D. Williams Jr, the newspapers and the magazines of the day were abuzz with thoughts about the unknown hero (see prior post at  The Washington Post published the following:

“He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a life line from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew – who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner – lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the life line saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage, and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene, but the man was gone.”

Time Magazine included the following thoughts:

“So the man in the water had his own natural powers. He could not make ice storms, or freeze the water until it froze the blood. But he could hand life over to a stranger, and that is a power of nature too. The man in the water pitted himself against an implacable, impersonal enemy; he fought it with charity; and he held it to a standoff. He was the best we can do.”

It is often easy to see ourselves as helpless against the powerful forces around us.  We see ourselves as weak and sometimes worthless. Yet, the truth is far different than understood through this perspective.  We serve a God who gave His life for His friends.  Our God is greater than he that is in the world.  We carry with us the life and eternity changing potency of the gospel armed with His supernatural power.  

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE ENCOURGEMENT AND THE CONVICTION TO SERVE GOD FULLY AND FAITHFULLY IN SPITE OF OUR SURROUNDING CHALLENGES.  We may never be in a situation to physically pass a survival rope to those around us, but we have the opportunity to do so metaphorically every day.  In the spiritual world, we can do far better than a standoff with our adversary.

Dragged to Safety

Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14thStreet Bridge shortly after takeoff from Washington National Airport.  The pilots on that day failed to activate the engine anti-ice systems and neglected to use proper procedures in the icy conditions they faced.  All passengers and crew members were killed as a result, except for five fortunate ones.  In part, those who survived had a fellow passenger to thank – Arland D. Williams Jr.  

After the crash, six survivors clung to the floating tail section of the wreckage.  They had miraculously survived the force of the crash, and were now facing a frigid death prompted by the ice-cold water engulfing them.  The race was on to save them, and hope came in the form of a U.S. Park Police helicopter that scrambled to the scene to lower ropes and drag these survivors to safety. Repeatedly, Williams was the first one to reach the rope, and each time he passed it on to the others to be dragged to safety.  About the time when the fifth survivor reached the safety of the river bank, the tail sunk beneath the icy water and Williams perished.  His identity was only known a year later when each of the bodies was recovered from the river and all the autopsies were performed.  He was the only victim whose cause of death was drowning, not blunt force trauma.  Arland Williams had sacrificed himself to save others.  He passed the lifeline at his own expense.

As we move on from the miracle celebrated at Christmastime to begin our New Year, may we never forget that our Lord sacrificed himself to save us all.  He passed us a lifeline at His own expense.  Though he had all the prerogatives of heavenly regality, He came to this earth to drag us to safety.  PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD SHARE THE SAVING NEWS OF CHRIST WITH THE PERISHING WORLD AROUND US.  Our testimonies and our witness can pass the rope of salvation on to others so they too can be dragged to safety.

Grace and Truth

John 1:14-17 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace of truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”

II John 3 “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Our Savior perfectly balanced a set of characteristics that are typically at odds with one another – grace and truth. He did so by demonstrating a level of supernatural love that gave unmerited favor while boldly proclaiming truth that was difficult for some to hear.

As those who follow Him, we must strive to balance these same characteristics in our lives. We are to love and care for those around us while boldly proclaiming hard truths. We are to embody a mix of seemingly contradictory characteristics – grace, mercy, peace, truth and love. The ability to do so can only come from Him.

PLEASE PRAY FOR A MIX OF CHRISTLIKE CHARACTERISTICS. The ability to live in grace and truth comes by Jesus Christ.

A Magnificent Movement

Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Philippians 2:10-11 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, or things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the 246thanniversary of the Boston Tea Party.  On December 16th, 1773, a large group of American colonists boarded three British boats and dumped 342 boxes of tea into Boston Harbor.  It was a tangible sign of revolutionary change by a few that impacted many.

On the day after the Boston Tea Party, John Adams wrote the following:

“This is the most magnificent Movement of all.  There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this last Effort of the Patriots, that I greatly admire.  The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered – something notable and striking.  This Destruction of Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I can’t but consider it as an Epocha in History.”

Christ’s arrival on this earth was a sterling example of such revolutionary change – a tangible sign by God that impacted all.  It was bold and daring.  It was notable and striking.  It was characterized by dignity, majesty, and sublimity.  Its resulted in the most important and lasting of consequences. It was the most notable Epocha of History, and it started a magnificent movement.

What are you and I doing now to live up to this most magnificent movement?  What do we plan to do for Christ in 2020 that is revolutionary? PLEASE PRAY THAT WE WOULD FULLY INVEST OURSELVES IN THE DIGNIFIED, MAJESTIC, AND SUBLIME MOVEMENT OF CHRIST IN 2020.  It is the most magnificent movement of all!

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