Altitude: Your Next Move Changes Everything

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9781938467431: Altitude: Your Next Move Changes Everything
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Who’s flying your plane? Do you know who you are and where you’re going? Everyone needs courage and hope. Everyone experiences wobbly moments of faith. Everyone needs to make the next move that changes everything—that changes the future. Altitude will fly you over eight moves that will change the trajectory of your life. Altitude’s theme is Your Next Move Changes Everything. The chapters reflect what every person struggles with: how to craft a life of meaning and purpose. Altitude is written by teaching pastor Michael Simone, using successful sermons and teachings. Combined with his poignant letters God and the study guide, Altitude will apply transformational moves to help individuals and church groups.

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About the Author:

Michael Simone is the founding and Senior Pastor of Spring Branch Community Church, a mega-church with nearly 3,000 members in Virginia Beach, VA. His first ministry assignment, in 1972, was working with street kids, in East Harlem, NY. He teaches Religious Studies at Saint Leo University, South Hampton Roads Center. Michael is also Chaplain at the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center. His doctoral work is in the area of marriage and family. He wrote the study guide for Couples Who Pray and has been a keynote speaker for The Fall Festival of Marriage. Michael loves baseball and played on the Field of Dreams movie site, Dyersville, Iowa. His passion is bringing faith and life together through speaking and writing. Spring Branch is a member of the Willow Creek Association and is a premier host site for the Global Leadership Summit. The author lives and works with his wife, Gail, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Those who hope in the Lord
  will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles.


Isaiah 40:31




Your First Move
Desperately Seeking Altitude




I don’t believe
for a second
that success is just about
self-motivation. If that were all it took,
all any of us would ever need is a little pep rally
now and again and we’d soar to the stars.
But after all the rah-rahs and the warm feelings
wear off, it’s ultimately about action.
When you strap into your jet, you have to push up the throttle
and then release the brakes to take off.

Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman
Never Fly Solo



You get on a plane. You get off a plane. You’ve adjusted to TSA screenings. You daydream as you get patted down. You log miles and collect points. You’re moving your personal body system over oceans, mountain ranges, and the occasional metropolis. But with all the aerial gymnastics, questions float in the air. Who’s flying your plane? Are you going anywhere significant? Are you desperately seeking Altitude?

We’ve grown up in a generation where something that was steeped in science fiction is now humdrum reality. We don’t raise an eyebrow or look up as the flight attendant’s rote safety announcements annoyingly interfere with our Kindle concentration (I know my seat can float. I know to blow into the little tube thingy). In our oblivion, we fail to appreciate the most startling of realities—we’re in a can being hurtled through space at four times the average Daytona 500 speed.

PHYSICS LESSON
We fly by gaining support from the air, and we defy gravity by using static lift. We gain speed by increasing power (or thrust), which also determines Altitude. As we ascend, engines work more efficiently, we get where we are going faster, and we rise above the majority of turbulence.

So, why the physics lesson? Well, there’s a lot of similarity between Altitude and relationships. We all ride the skies of relationships. Relationships take us up and bring us down. There are rumbling takeoffs and scary nosedives as we hope for safe landings in life. Altitude is all about getting the answers to your wobbly relational questions. And you have questions. We all do. Altitude is the way you live your life. You either keep learning and growing (thrust) and safely get to your destinations, or you find your flight has been canceled. You’re grounded until conditions clear up. How long you’re grounded might just be up to you.

Altitude has a spiritual altimeter and compass. One indicates the level of connectedness with God; the other gives you the coordinates of where life is taking you. Together, those readings tell the stories of your flights. There are times when we look at our instrument panel and it seems like a bunch of dials we can’t make heads or tails of. If we’re honest, we have to admit that our spiritual lives are oftentimes the same way. Who God is and where life is taking us can feel like a mystery.

So, let’s take some flying lessons and explore the skies of your relationships. We all need to find out who is flying our plane. The future depends on it.

FLIGHT PLAN
It pays to take spiritual flying lessons. You’ll be glad you did when it’s foggy or when you come in for a landing and there’s snow on the runway. Learn to fly right and you can even set ‘er down on a patch of dirt if necessary. Some of us old-timers know there are a lot of potholed airstrips in the flight plan of life. There are creaky wings and landing gear bumpedy bumps, too. Most of the time you need all the help God can give, as you pray for safe relationship landings. Let’s begin by looking at a man who thought he was an expert pilot but came up desperately seeking altitude. His name is Solomon. This is the story of his flight.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
   says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
   Everything is meaningless.”
What does man gain from all his labor
   at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
   but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
   and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
   and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
   ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
   yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
   there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
   more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
   nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
   what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
   Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?

    (Ecclesiastes 1:2-10)

So, Solomon, a brilliant guy, says, Take a look around. Take a good look. Peel back the layers of life. Go ahead. There’s nothing there. Trust me, I’ve looked at it. I’ve thought about it. I’ve gone through this over and over again in my mind. I wish it wasn’t so, but life cannot pay off for you. It hasn’t paid off for me. Life wears me out.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

 Then he gives the back story. He says in essence, Let me show you how I got here.

I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.
“Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;  nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)
 
Solomon is desperate for Altitude. He’s trying to gain it through pleasure. He’s got American Idol and The Voice going on. He’s got rodeos. He’s got his own bank he can walk into any time he needs cash. He doesn’t need a PIN. He signs and goes. He’s trying to fly high through achievement, through production and by doing more. Maybe if I create the highest buildings, the greatest structures, maybe I’ll find something inside that feels like meaning and hope. But it wasn’t there. Zip. Nada.
 
In 2008, 4,000 books were published on happiness, while a mere 50 books on the topic were released in 2000. 1  Do you think there’s a market out there for happiness? Do you think people are trying to figure this out? Thousands of years earlier, Solomon was writing his own book on happiness. You know what? It wasn’t happy. His life screams at him, Whatever you do, it will not pay off for you! And so, in futility, he responds at the level of a deep inner ache.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
(Ecclesiastes 2:17-19)
 
I have sweat equity he argues with no one in particular. Then I pass it on to someone else? How do they know what to do with what I’ve given them? How do I know I can really trust anyone? It looks like he’s going under. But in the midst of it all, he gets one glimmer of hope.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I can see is from the hand of God, for without him who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
 
A shot of wind beneath his wings! He gains some Altitude. As he’s trying to fill up something on the inside that’s insatiable, he thinks, Wait a minute! Maybe I’m onto something here. Maybe it’s about more than the latest stuff, the latest acquisitions, or the latest indulgences. Maybe it’s about squeezing the life God has given me, while enjoying God in the process! Planning great times with friends and family is one way to gain Altitude. Think weddings. Think ball games. Think concerts. T...

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