[forthright] Gratitude and Altitude/Hope

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2007 17:07:11 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Gratitude and Altitude by Stan Mitchell
Hope by Barry Newton

COLUMN: Reality Check

Gratitude and Altitude
by Stan Mitchell

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek
the things that are above, where Christ is, seated
at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things
that are above, not on things that are on the
earth" (Colossians 3:1,2).

Why do we live in a world that is so ungrateful,
so indifferent? Why do moms do so much for their
kids -- meals, a clean house, clean clothes -- and
rarely get thanked? Why do dads pull 65-hour
weeks, bringing home food and shelter, but rarely
get thanked? Why are law enforcement officials
resented, rather than thanked for protecting the
innocent? Why do church leaders -- elders,
teachers etc. -- work so hard and receive as a
norm criticism rather than gratitude? Why do we
breathe free air, enjoy the bounty of our land,
expect answers to prayer, and count on
forgiveness, but rarely thank God?

It's an old cliché: "We must develop the attitude
of gratitude." Well, I have a new one. "We must
develop the altitude of gratitude!" Yes -- I said
"altitude," as in "above sea level," "Rocky
Mountain high," "Ladies and Gentlemen, today we
will be cruising at about 30,000 feet."

Altitude and gratitude!

On January 13, 1997, adventurer Steve Fossett
climbed into the cockpit of a hot air balloon in
St. Louis, MO, and rose into the sky with the
intention of becoming the first man to circle the
globe in a balloon. After three days he had
crossed the Atlantic and was flying at 24,500 feet
eastward over Africa.

The prevailing wind was carrying him on a direct
course for Libyan air space. This presented a
problem, because Libya had not granted him
permission to use its air space, and he could very
well be shot down. A second problem was that hot
air balloons do not have a means to turn
themselves around -- no rudder or wings!

So what could he do?

The only way to direct the balloon away from
danger was to change altitude, and hope that he
met a cross wind, either lower than where he was
currently flying, or higher. First he dropped his
balloon several thousand feet, but the direction
of the wind did not change. Then he raised the
altitude of the balloon several thousand feet
above his former altitude, and caught a cross
current moving south east, thus allowing him to
fly south of the rogue nation.

By raising his altitude, he had been saved. A
person changes altitude by changing attitude! Our
problem, I suspect, is that we don't raise our
altitude -- we don't think of things above. If we
raised our thoughts and desires upward toward God,
rather than downward toward the earth, we might be
more grateful!

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COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

by Barry Newton

Yesterday as she painted her story with somber
colors, it was clear that whatever bright dreams
for a future Camelot she might have clung to at
one time had long ago melted away into dark
oblivion. The hopelessly dark colors plastered on
her life's canvas had been the insidious work of
powerful talons: serious chronic diseases, an
abusive relationship with a felon, sleep
deprivation, and a work history lying in shambles.
Feelings of powerlessness and being a victim had
stripped away all her hope. The limit of her
horizon was set at acquiring a few safe hours of
sleep, some food, a picture ID so she could get
her medication and a bus pass.

For those accustomed to working with the down-
trodden of the inner city, a cynical warning
system will already be at high alert. But what if
this were all true? What then? What hope does she
have for a tomorrow?

Two millennia ago a heterogeneous amalgamation of
curious onlookers, joyous victors, and women
pierced with profound heartache surrounded a small
detachment of Roman soldiers fixated on appending
yet another body to a cross. Personally terrified
earlier at this scene unfolding, Jesus was now
allowing himself to be crucified to release a
power and hope far greater than the evils
dominating human lives. As he was lifted up so
that his life might be ripped out, he knew his end
would produce the colors of hope for a dark world.

A crayon box emanating the brightest colors ever
seen would spill forth disciples transformed by
Jesus' death and filled with the Father's love to
minister to shattered lives. From his death, the
power of a blinding white would emerge to bleach
away even the stains from the most vile
undeserving heart to set it free from the
malicious talons of past guilt. A golden
inheritance prepared for a king's son would be
offered to the most despised and deprived. The
glorious colors of purpose, meaning, and godly
decision-making would transform the here and now
for even those imprisoned by chronic illnesses. A
kingdom of disciples would come forth to carry the
message of these bright colors into the darkest
corners. Christ crucified provides hope, genuine
hope for our world.

"... it is God who works in you to will and to act
according to his good purpose" Philippians 2:12.
How has the cross impacted your life that God
might use you to brighten a part of our world?

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