The Bottomless Pit

There are people, and this is especially common amongst controlling types, (who actually depend on this mechanism for their control), who ration their approval towards their victims.

People who look up to them try anxiously to please them, to appease them and to win their approval. But the problem is that this resource of commitment, devotion and being anxious to please is wasted on these people because they do not value it except only as a means of measuring how much those unfortunate people are trying to suck up to them. It’s like throwing your attentions into a bottomless pit. I know people like this and they use these tools deliberately as a means of control – the tacit or overt withholding or dispensing of approval – in order to make others do their bidding. Being Aspergic, of course, this sort of manipulation goes straight over my head, and it’s only by examining a situation really carefully and logically that it becomes clear to me. But it’s true nonetheless; there really are people who behave like this. No doubt you too will know someone like that.

I had been thinking along these lines for some time when, true to form, I found something where another believer echoes similar thoughts. In this case, it was the brilliant Jeff Turner, whose thoughts on this complement mine nicely – partially because they’re not identical! – recently shared a short piece which clicked with me immediately. Here it is:

“I dare say that there are thousands reading this who live for the opinions of people whose approval they will never get. When it comes to fundamentalist types, as wonderful of people as they might be, some of them just aren’t budging. They’re fearful, terrified, and have convinced themselves of the rightness of their beliefs, though they were blindly received, and remain both untested and unexamined. Maybe you’ve become a pariah to them; a heretic, unsaved, or some other epithet they render powerless through endless repetition. They may be parents, children, old friends, former pastors or leaders, or something else entirely, but whatever the case, you living your life seeking their approval, and refusing to move on until you get it, is a fruitless endeavor. Some people will never approve of you because some people refuse to think and move forward themselves. I’m not saying cut these people out of your life, but, please, for your own wellbeing, cut yourself free of them. They know that they hold you in bondage by withholding approval. Do not let such ones be in control of a life you fought very hard to have”.

This is excellent advice on all counts. I love how Jeff can so concisely express these things and yet be so easily readable. I do tend to ramble, myself 😉

It also occurred to me that people who ration their approval, like those we have talked about above, are usually those who also believe that God is impossible to please in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons. They believe (although they would not describe it in so mamy words) that god holds them too on the whim of his own approval. And they project that on to their congregations and that’s how they control them. As Jeff says in his book, Saints in the arms of a Happy God, “…In our Western traditions God is often presented as being cold, austere, distant and judgmental. We imagine Him surrounded by dark clouds, with a scowl sprawled across his angry mug…He’s very eager to be pleased, but, unfortunately, extremely difficult to please….the God that a large percentage of us imagine and pay homage to is disgruntled, disappointed, and disapproving”. And this is spot on. Many, many believers have been taught that this is the normal way of things, and that this is the way God is.

But He’s really not. The Kingdom of God is supposed to reflect the character of its King, and if the Kingdom of God is supposed to be ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom 14:17), then it follows that these will be at least some of the attributes of God’s character too. If that’s the case, then those who lead by the underhand techniques wwe have been talking about here are not really displaying many of those attributes, if we’re honest! And as I have said before, these people do not represent God, nor do they carry His authority.

No, God is full of joy, laughter and goodness, whereas Religion is full of grey people who think everything has to be really serious all the time. They think you can’t have any fun in case you fall into ‘sin’.

Maybe it’s like in Job 1:5, where the old guy makes a sacrifice for his children after they have been partying, ‘just in case’ they have ‘sinned’:

“When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom”.

But God isn’t all serious like this. God Himself laughs for the sheer joy of all He has created, and all He has planned, and is supremely happy and joyful. He loves to delight and surprise us, and He rejoices with us when we too are delighted. God likes you, just as you are.

And therefore I believe in a happy God. Do you?

 

00

Why We Need To Stop Demonizing Those Who Leave The Church

Following directly on from yesterday’s post by Phil Drysdale that I shared, here’s his blog article fleshing out the ideas in some more pratcical terms. This is, I feel, so important to see in these days of increasing nastiness towards those – even ‘former brothers and sisters’ – that ‘fall away’. Over to Phil:


 

“They’ve backslidden.”

“They fell away from the Lord.”

“They fell from grace.”

“They are no longer walking with God.”

“They’ve turned their back on Jesus.”

These are the sorts of phrases I would have frequently used in the past to describe someone who had stopped going to church.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve heard some of these phrases too, you might even, like me maybe, have used them too.

But over the years, doing what I do, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to those outside the church than to those in it.

One of the aspects of having an online ministry is that those who contact me have a degree of anonymity. This in turn means people open up to me in a way they don’t with their pastors, church friends and sadly even their spouses at times.

I get a unique window into the lives of those who reach out to me. Which is many. When I travelled more often a few years back it was when talking to people around services (therefore mostly people in church meetings). Now I focus on online resources and social media I get hundreds of messages of people reaching out to me every week. More often than not these people don’t go to a local church.

Why leave the church?

The reasons are many. Maybe they were abused by the church leadership. Maybe they came out as gay and weren’t welcome any more. Maybe they were disillusioned by the affair the pastor had. Maybe they started to doubt some of the key teachings and were encouraged to stop asking questions or to find another place to worship. The list could go on for a long, long time. Believe me when I say I’ve heard thousands of stories over the years and while there are many similarities no two stories are identical.

Suffice to say, the fact I love the Church and I still very much believe in the Church is somewhat surprising given the horror stories I hear every day.

I think it’s because when I was in church meetings every day throughout the year all over the world the conversations were largely positive. So I hold onto that and remind myself that just as I was in a pro-church bubble then I now find myself in a very anti-church bubble today. Both are biased experiences that do not tell the whole story for everyone.

The thing that surprised me was not however the terrible experiences people had in church. I’ve had a handful myself so it stands to reason when you cast your net to the entire population of the planet online you’ll find some people that have been hurt or given up on the church.

The big surprise…

What surprised me is that most people I encountered hadn’t given up on God, on their faith, they desired to continue on a spiritual path of some sort.

They still loved Jesus.

As I started to do research on this I was shocked.

Did you know that 30 years ago a study was done in the UK that found around 48% of people who left church maintained some level of spirituality.[1]

More surprising when the same study was done in 2000 just 13yrs later the number had risen to about 78%.[2]

A national survey again in the UK in 2000 found that 38% of people who left the church felt the daily personal presence of God. 37% said that God frequently assisted them by answering prayers.[3]

I could go on with interesting statistics all day, but I have been told by my wife that not everyone finds statistics as interesting as I do.

The point being that it’s safe to say that when people leave church they aren’t always leaving God.

When they say “I’m done with Christianity” they often don’t mean, “I’m done with Christ.”

And this has certainly been my experience as well. Daily I speak with dozens who have found their church experience to no longer facilitate their spiritual growth.

In fact, for many it is because they are spiritually growing with Jesus that they find themselves leaving their local church! That’s right, they feel Jesus is calling them away from their local church so they can continue to grow!

Why do I say all this?

Because I think it’s high time we stop seeing the church and church attendance as the defining line of in and out. I’m personally not a fan of ins and outs anyway to be honest.

But talking about people who are not in church as unsaved, backslidden, unbelievers etc. only serves to push them further away from us as a community.

Instead we need to be asking, what does it look like to accept this group of brothers and sisters in the world without requiring that what they do on a Sunday morning looks like us?

I myself here in the UK go along to my local church on Sunday afternoons. But every Sunday morning I meet with others on spiritual journeys mostly outside of churches. We go climbing at an indoor bouldering wall and have brunch that usually lasts well into the afternoon as we have great chat about everything and anything.

To be honest, most weeks I find the mornings more spiritual and more nourishing than the afternoon! Maybe I’m a closet backslider too. Or maybe, just maybe God can be found outside four walls. Maybe we are writing off a whole group of people and intentionally isolating them because they don’t fit in our box?

Let’s remember this – church originally was just the gathering of followers of Jesus.

So let’s not limit what church can be by requiring attendance in a building for it to apply.

There is a desperate need in the body of Christ

For me over the years my ministry has shifted away from people in the church. People inside churches have huge quantities of people to help them. There is no limit to people in the church you can talk to, your pastor, leaders, peers etc. plus most ministries out there are for those in church (or for getting those outside church into church.)

But there aren’t many people looking to help those coming out of churches… for good or bad reasons it’s almost always a lonely and scary time. It’s a time where many may well give up on Jesus and spirituality all together if they don’t see another way to do it. If they are not taught that their local church and Jesus are not synonymous.

I personally see it as a great privilege to come alongside such people.

Many will (and do) see me as the one who leads people astray. That is a shame, but they seem to care a lot less when it’s their son or daughter who is the one leaving church and they come to me to find spiritual guidance and a safe space to process.

I don’t really mind what people call me. At the end of the day I’m in good company if people think I’m backslidden or a sinner! That’s the sort of things people called Jesus because of the company He kept.

What I care about is that there is a safe person out there who isn’t crying out “heretic” or “backslider” as people are going on a legitimate spiritual journey.

My prayer is that those people might find in me someone who is saying, “hey, this is a pretty scary and lonely journey, want some company?”

And my greater prayer is that there might be more people rising up who equally desire to fill that role.

So I’ll leave you with a challenge, will you be a safe place that celebrates people going on a journey and helps them go on that path? Or will you demonize their path because it doesn’t look like yours?

Will you be a part of the problem or a part of the solution?

[1] Hay & Heald, 1987

[2] Hay & Hunt, 2000

[3] Hay & Hunt, 2000

Link to the original article

10

Are you persecuting the largest growing group of Christians?

I get a weekly email newsletter from Phil Drysdale, a man for whom I have the greatest respect, and who is a real Christian thinker. In the past, I have likened to C. S. Lewis other thinkers like  the superb Jeff Turner, and I would say that Phil is in the same league.

Today, I would like to share with you a piece taken directly from his latest newsletter. Don’t be put off by the title!


Are you persecuting the largest growing group of Christians?

I’m fascinated by how the Christian landscape is changing in the West.

It’s something most Christians are aware of. But just in case you aren’t I want to share some stats with you…

Did you know that in the USA, the most conservative numbers suggest ~3500 people leave the church every day. This equates to dozens of churches closing their doors every week!

The fastest growing Christian group is Evangelical Christianity, which grows at a rate of ~1,000 a day. Which is pretty impressive, until you realize that most of those people come from other churches. It’s not really a net gain for Christianity as a whole.

Some statistics suggest that while the Evangelical church grew by 2 million between 2007-14, the amount of people leaving church entirely in that period was 19 million (that’s 10,000+ a day!).

That’s 10 times as many people leaving Christianity as those who are joining the only growing Christian group in America.

This is where most Christians tend to shut down. It’s easy to look at these numbers and find ourselves in despair. To feel pretty hopeless.

But there is another way to look at these numbers.

You see there is another statistic that turns these kind of numbers on their heads. I’ve mentioned it before in my newsletters and online in various places.

That’s the statistic that approximately 78% of those who leave church still claim to follow Jesus in some way or another.

Stop and think about that.

That means of the 3600 (we’ll stick with the smaller number for the sake of our poor hearts) people leaving church today, with no intention of returning, as much as 2700 are still in love with Jesus and trying to follow Him as best they can.

I’d like to propose to you that while institutional church is facing a crisis, The Church isn’t.

Every day I talk with dozens of people who are going through this process. Most have not left their church because they have a lack of faith, but because they are growing in their faith and their church simply doesn’t have room for them to do so.

There is an astonishing awakening in the world today. And much of the church which is crying out for a move of God in their midst is missing it!

Not only are many of us missing this move of God… we are actively persecuting it!

We cry “heresy” and label people as “backsliders.” Because we have a framework that can’t celebrate people actively growing in their faith if it doesn’t involve church or God as we understand it/Him.

It has been famously said by many a leader of revival that “those in the new movement of God are almost always rejected by the past move of God.” But I genuinely believe this is exactly what we are doing right now.

Instead of writing off the millions who are leaving the church we should be engaging with them. Not with a view to make sure they stay in the church. Or even to try and change them. But rather to understand them and have relationship with them as part of our family.

Because trust me… for every person I know who left the church for bad reasons there are dozens who have left it for very good reasons. In fact, the average person sitting in a pew each week could probably grow tremendously by listening to them.

It’s easy to get discouraged for those of us who are in the church and believe in the church when people stop attending one (especially in such huge numbers!)

But with a perspective change it’s easy to see that these people never left The Church. They are still a part of the Body of Christ. They still gather with other believers. The only difference is in how we choose to see them.

So the question is, will we embrace them as part of our family, working out their faith in a fresh and new way as they feel God calling them? Or will we reject what is very possibly the next move of God?

 – Phil Drysdale, shared with his kind permission

10

We Will Magnify

On this, the 39th anniversary of my ‘birthday’*, I’m sharing this as a memory of yet another of the supernatural events that happened to me when I was a young believer.

One morning in 1982, I awoke with a song on my heart. It was a bit odd because I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it, but eventually I worked out that it’d been playing a couple of days before, on a tape I’d got; a compilation tape from the Christian youth gossip magazine ‘Buzz’ (they’d never have admitted it, but that’s what it was). The song was ‘We Will Magnify’, by Phil Lawson Johnston.

I played the tape track once, then picked up my guitar and played the song perfectly, along with the tape, and had it learned after only twice through, such is my gifting.

Since I was Director of Music at our new church at the time, I was in a position to introduce the song the very next Sunday, and so I did, and it went an absolute bomb (for those who don’t know the colloquialism, that means it was very popular 😀 ). The song as heard on the original track is a majestic declaration of the glory of God, set in a rich orchestration of sound and performed with beautiful dynamics (that is, it’s done with different emphases, created with different volume levels and breadth of instrumentation) and in heartfelt worship. What a glorious song! And we managed to do it very well on that Sunday.

But unbeknownst to me, it seemed that God had also inspired other worship leaders with that song at more or less the same time, because it became a real hit in Charismatic circles. (No-one ever said (at least, not on my blog) that Evangelical Christians can’t hear the voice of God every now and then 😉 )

And I have loved the song ever since. Not for me the ‘flash in the pan’ style of popularity of worship songs, here one minute and gone the next. No, when these songs build into me the things of God, they become a part of me; a part of what made me the person I am. And so they will always carry meaning for me. This is a song from my formative years as a believer, and it played a great part in demonstrating to me the prophetic nature of my calling as a worship leader. Despite my having moved on, so to speak, from those times and the beliefs I held (actually it’s probably more accurate to say I matured), still those times were what made me who I am today. The foundations of those times are still very much a part of me.

So, as you can imagine, great was my rejoicing when I managed to get hold of a copy of the vinyl record that We Will Magnify was on: the album ‘Hallowed Ground’, recorded by ‘Cloud’, who I think were the worship group at Holy Trinity, Brompton. Here, then, is the track itself, complete with vinyl pops and crackles!

Enjoy!

 

Oh Lord our God, how majestic is Your Name!
The Earth is filled with Your glory
Oh Lord our God, You are robed in majesty
You’ve set Your glory above the heavens

Chorus
We will magnify, we will magnify the Lord enthroned in Zion
We will magnify, we will magnify the Lord enthroned in Zion

Oh Lord our God, You have established a throne
You reign in righteousness and splendour
Oh Lord our God, the skies are ringing with Your praise
Soon those on Earth will come to worship

Chorus

Oh Lord our God, the world was made at Your command
In You all things now hold together
Now to Him Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
Be praise and glory and power forever

Chorus ad nauseam and fade


Here’s the album artwork too:

Interestingly, the Amazon graphics (the song is still for sale on Amazon!) describe these tracks as ‘[songs that] shaped a generation’.

And I was part of that generation.


*The day when my life changed forever as I ‘asked Jesus into my heart‘. For real.

10

Sin Stuck, or Sin Freed?

Firstly, I must apologise that I haven’t really been sharing much of my own thinking recently on my blog. I think my last post of my own personal work was my exposition on Matthew 7, back in July.

As you know, I ‘do what I see Father doing’, and while I have been having lots of ideas and beginning essays on these ideas, I have also found that others have been posting stuff that is definitely worth sharing, and is also ‘what I see Father doing’, and so I have shared that. I know I don’t have to apologise for what I write here, but I thought I’d just give a bit of an explanation for my regular readers.

Anyway, I saw an excellent piece yesterday by Ralph Harris, which I found was echoing exactly the sort of things I have been preaching over the last couple of years about believers being personally a New Creation. Wow. In his header for the piece, Ralph also encouraged people to share it, so I have done so without asking specific permission*. The Easter theme he mentions is because he published the piece at around Easter time, but of course the ideas behind it are timeless!

Here we go:


Not long ago I was involved in a Facebook thread in which people were discussing sin. One person became increasingly indignant with me—she was pretty much yelling via text—and insisted that, as a Christian, she would always be an “incurable sinner,” whose best hope was “sin in remission. Don’t you know that?!” she demanded.

Well, I answered, only if you think of yourself as the unchanged, old creation, the former creation, and as what you do rather than who you truly are in Christ, a new creation. Then you can you say that you are “a sinner.” You will be wrong, but you can say it. Essentially, you will be in error concerning what Jesus did for you and to you through the cross and resurrection. This error hurts you because, not knowing the cure of Christ, you will misdiagnose yourself and treat yourself as though you are sick. This will become a twisted and sickly caricature of Christianity; while perfectly cured, you will deny your health. You will frustrate yourself by looking for health—freedom from sin—based upon what you do, rather than upon what Jesus did. That won’t work. It never has. What He did is your cure and health, not what you do.

To the error-prone Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote: “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).

So the big question is: “Did God’s cure work for you?” Through Jesus’ crucifixion, was your old self crucified with Him? Was your body of sin “done away with” so that you would no longer be a slave to sin? Since, in God’s thinking, you died with Christ, are you freed from sin? Is what He did your cure, or do you have another diagnosis and prescription? Who is the better Physician—you or God?

If you continue to believe that you are an unchanged, old creation and an old sinner-self, and that salvation “only” rescued you from sins and guaranteed you for heaven, your diagnosis will be wrong, because you will not believe the gospel and enjoy the perfect health benefits of the cross and the resurrection for you. One was for your sins, and the other was for your new life. Those in Christ are no longer “sinners” by nature, since through the crucifixion and being included in that, they’ve had a change of nature in Christ and now share in the Father’s. They are saints by nature, holy sons in fact, and already citizens of heaven—free from sin, as is everyone in heaven.

You cannot have dual citizenship. You are either born of this world and are of it, or you are born of heaven and are of it—alien to this world and representative of heaven. Which one are you?

I love my citizenship and how I got there through the cross and resurrection with Jesus. I’ve never felt more clear about sin than after I knew the truth about those two events and my being included with Christ. In Christ, I have died already, and sin has no power over me. In Christ, I have been healed and raised, and my nature is righteous—through and through. How about yours?

Happy Easter!


*Here is the link to Ralph’s post on Facebook

And here is the video – it’s only five minutes, and it can change your life if you haven’t heard this news before:

00

Grace

“Grace is wildly irreligious stuff.

It’s more than enough to get God kicked out of the God union that the theologians have formed to keep him on his divine toes so he won’t let the riffraff off Scot-free.

Sensible people, of course, should only need about thirty seconds of careful thought to realize that getting off Scot-free is the only way any of us is going to get off at all.”

— Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word

10

Take-Away Time

Well, it’s not so long since I last published a piece containing bite-sized quotes, but I have read so many thought-provoking things lately that I have collected enough for another one.

Here we go. Enjoy!


“Man made doctrines, religion, and traditions die screaming. God is stripping from the church right now everything He never told her to do and believe, and it is terrifying those in the system who are not willing to let go” – Jamie Englehart

“I think that the only sort of God one can hold on to is the one that they can freely and frequently let go of. When you inhale, you must exhale in order to find breath again. If you hold your breath, for fear that you will lose it, you cease to breathe. When you let it go, however, you will find your lungs inflated almost instantly, and with no effort put forth on your part. A God that you hold onto is one that you will lose, but a God that you lose, and who does not mind being lost, is a God you will rediscover over and over again” – Jeff Turner

“I find it disgusting how Religion takes the most glorious news – ‘Christ within you, the hope of glory’; ‘Your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit’ – and makes it into a set of Rules instead of rejoicing in the glorious truth of it.

“Here’s how it should go: ‘God in us? Wow! That’s incredible!’

” ‘He that is in us is greater than he who is in the world? – Wow! I mean. wow!’

“But instead it’s ‘God in us? And therefore don’t smoke!’

‘He that is in us is greater than he who is in the world? – So you must not dance or go to the cinema!’

What a sad way to live. This is apparently what’s known as ‘abundant life’, btw… 😉 ” – Me

“Prayer does not bring you into the Divine Presence, nor does it bring the Divine into your presence. Rather, prayer is simply a way by which we make ourselves aware of the Divine as it is present at all times, and in all places and people”- Jeff Turner

“Don’t underestimate love at first sight. Many of us might not pass a second inspection 😉 ” – found in a Fortune Cookie

“You can always tell luck from ability by its duration” – another Fortune Cookie

“The most offensive thing about the Father of Jesus has always been who he accepts, not who he rejects; who he includes, not who he excludes. Religion has always gotten this precisely backwards, and this is why the way of Jesus is a narrow way. Not narrow in the sense that it is accessible only to an elite few, but in that those who think themselves elite reject it by default” – Jeff Turner

[In today’s Evangelical church] “…even just questioning something for which there is no Scriptural foundation whatsoever…you can be called a heretic” – Keith Giles

[Writing in response to someone criticising a ‘politically-incorrect’ joke] “You find it offensive; I find it funny. It seems that you will need to look elsewhere to find your humour, just as I will need to look elsewhere in order to find offence” – Me

“What I realised … is that a lot of control is based on fear, and God is not afraid. God doesn’t need to control” – Karl Forehand

“If my Christianity motivates me to “win souls,” attempt miracles, preach on street corners, wear out bibles, and speak in tongues until I run out of syllables, but also encourages me to abandon lifelong friends when it becomes apparent we disagree on a point of doctrine, I don’t believe for a moment that Christianity is what I have” – Jeff Turner

“If the validation of your own faith requires that you invalidate someone else’s faith, then I would say that your own faith is at least partially invalid – until you get rid of that preposterous requirement” – Me

“Nobody in my fundamental-ish church growing up meant to make it like this, but I learned a religion that for me was a lot about shame, guilt, and fear. I’m done with that, but I don’t want to flush the whole thing down the toilet”  – Jedidiah

“Grace is for the offender and the offended, the oppressor and the oppressed, the victim and the victimizer. It makes no sense. It goes against logic. It blows apart all of our boxes. But, alas, it is the Gospel. A Gospel that does not stretch your notion of inclusion is not nearly inclusive enough” – Jeff Turner

“If you think [God hasn’t spoken to you], I’m afraid that says more about your awareness than it does about God’s communication skills. He is always speaking. He is always telling you in countless ways, on countless days, how He loves you. His sheep hear His voice, they don’t just read His book” – Joshua Greeson

“Someone once acknowledged to me that the Church is simultaneously the best, and the worst, witness to Christ there is. I agree with half of that; I will leave you to guess which half 😉 ” – Me

“When the Gospel has become bad news to the poor, to the oppressed, to the broken-hearted and imprisoned and good news to the proud, the self-righteous and privileged instead, it is no longer the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” – Beth Moore

“Jesus reveals a God who does not put the weight of knowing Him on human shoulders, but on His own. He breaks into our world by becoming human, and does not require we break into His by becoming gods” – Jeff Turner

“I have my own ideas about ‘predestination’, but it struck me just now that the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination/election ONLY works if there are some who are ‘in’, and some who are ‘out’. If full inclusion is actually what the gospel is all about, then the entire Calvinism bubble bursts. And deservedly so” – Me

“Modern religion focuses on filling churches with people. The true Gospel emphasises filling people with God.” A. W. Tozer

00

Your Repentance Will Not Save You

Here is a great artice by Australian writer Russell Croft, which I am privileged to be able to share with his kind permission. Don’t let the title put you off; he explains really well in the article what he means by it. 🙂

Your Repentance Will Not Save You

“You must repent and believe!”, cries many a preacher; from pulpits, street corners and social media. The implicit, and even explicit inference is, “If you don’t, you will go to Hell”. It is a method that has been terribly powerful for some generations now, but it seems that the effectiveness of such a mantra is wearing thin. The common disregard for such preaching now should register to those preaching it as an indication that there is a problem with this particular message. But for some reason it doesn’t. This apparent disregard has been seen as a signal to preach the exact same message with even greater fervour. But where it once could bring millions of people into the Church at one time, now it is turning millions away.

The message relies so heavily on guilt and fear that people have had enough. It has been preached at them for so long that they have switched off, and for good reason. Many of them at one time or another bought into this fear and guilt and committed their lives to escaping it through the authorised means of repentance. But it has not worked. They have grown tired of the cycle of sin, guilt, shame, repentance – sin, guilt, shame, repentance. Tired because the effort and striving to live a holy life never actually amounted to any real betterment of their lives or yielded any true alleviation of the struggle. It only served to feed the cycle until it became completely overwhelming.

How is this so?

Guilt and fear do not, and cannot, ever bring about a truly transformational repentance. They only inspire a fear of one’s own eternal destination. Whether we are repenting to avoid going to Hell, or we are repenting to remain close to God (and hold on to your ticket to Heaven), we are still repenting for selfish motives and living out of a worldview completely antithetical to the Kingdom of God’s selflessness and humility. Is this something God will be proud of? Repentance is supposed to be about letting go of selfish desires isn’t it? Dying to one’s self in order to live for the Kingdom? Are we really living a life of self-sacrifice and humility if our ultimate goal and motivation is our own glorious, eternal destination?

The motives for this understanding of repenting and believing are largely selfish and sinful. And it leaves so many of us worn down, confused, doubtful and afraid of whether we are are truly saved because it is so heavily focused on our own efforts, no matter how much we dress it up in holy, selfless language.

How long does salvation that comes from this repentance last? For eternity? Or just until the next time you sin? How long can you hold out before you sin again? How often do you feel sorry and repent for your sins? Are you sure that’s enough? Jesus is almost completely forgotten in this approach, until it comes to judgment. Yes, he died for our forgiveness, but the focus is on what we must do to appropriate it. Without our repentance, Jesus is beyond worthless to us; and worse, he will actively work against us to punish our unbelief.

Repentance that works

There is a better way of repentance however, and it has a completely different starting point. True repentance is turning away from our false ways of seeing ourselves and instead adopting God’s vision of who we are. God is Love. Unconditional Love. This is the heart of the good news of who and what God is. We are all loved, forgiven and accepted – unconditionally. True repentance is turning away from the belief that we are unlovable (with all the sinfully depraved actions that come along with that) and turning towards the belief that we are loved, totally and graciously, and that nothing we can do will ever change that.

Unconditional Love is the only thing that can convict us in a healthy and positive way. When we look at our failings and shortcomings and see how much we are still loved despite the ugliness we see in ourselves, we are convicted of the sin of seeing ourselves as unworthy. We might feel bad about letting ourselves down, letting others down and even letting God down but God still offers nothing but love for us. There is no striving to do better, to be better in order to earn it. There is however a deep conviction that we are loved despite our failings, and a desire to simply be present in the presence of God’s Love.

When we turn away from a selfish repentance towards a real acceptance that we are loved despite our failings, not only can we let go of our burdens and sin to find peace and rest, we can begin to allow that same Love to bubble up through us and out into the world around us. We can begin to live by the Higher Law and the New Commandment through no effort of our own, but by the Spirit of Love that has made us whole.

“You are giving people a licence to sin!”, some might say. Not at all. God is patient. God is kind. God will continue to love people in their sin as long as it takes for them to see that they are loved despite their sin, just as God does for you. God knows that when you finally see your true value, despite your own feelings of unworthiness, you will eventually learn to trust such an amazing grace. And when you do, all of Heaven rejoices!

We can only trust Love once we have experienced it. And we can’t truly experience such grace if it we believe we have to earn it. Is biblical repentance something we do to earn love? Or is biblical repentance a response to unconditional love? The transformation may require more patience, selflessness and humility than we would otherwise desire, but Unconditional Love and Grace is an infinitely more authentic, substantial, legitimate and undeniable basis for repentance than a system that requires anything from us before it can become a reality.

– Russell Croft

The link to the original article is here

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A Bag of Chips

My regular readers will be familiar with the idea of these ‘quotation’ articles being likened to the concept of small, foody snacks. This one is no different. Note for non-UK readers: Over here in Britain, what some people around the world refer to as ‘Fries’, or ‘French Fries’, we call ‘chips’. * And these are big, fat and tasty, not long and thin like what we would call American-style fries. You get a lot of flavour and a lot of satisfaction from a proper bag of chips, I can tell you, and I trust that these snippets of others’ wisdom will also be tasty in the same way 🙂


“A Flat Earther’s idea of ‘research’ is just to watch other Flat Earthers’ videos” – Sci Man Dan

“And I know that Grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside” – Wm. Paul Young

“Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Therefore if it doesn’t look like Jesus, it’s not a correct image of the Father. There is no God other than the one seen in the human face of Christ”. – Jacob M. Wright

“Inclusion also ‘includes’ those who are opposed to the Inclusion message. This is something the Lord has been explaining to me over the last week or so, and He’s been showing me His great love for those who are trapped in the kind of hate-filled religion (but marketed as ‘loving’) that causes exclusion in the first place.

“No doubt this [short response] will get kickback from people who, for whatever reason, are not into including others…and to those people, I think the Lord would say again that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. No strings attached”. – Me

“If Luther and Calvin were right in declaring that forgiveness precedes confession and repentance, then it would mean that forgiveness also precedes belief” – Wm. Paul Young

“It’s not about our free will. You’re not going to hell, and it’s for the same reason you’re never going to buy a unicorn” – David Neal

“…it is a recognised phenomenon, in the study of spiritual growth, that those who move forwards in their faith are seen by those who have not [yet, if ever] moved forwards, as ‘backsliders’. I often wonder if those who claim that we are supposed to be ‘growing into Christ’ have ever actually thought what that’s going to look like”. – Me

“If you don’t use the Bible to endorse slavery or promote women as inferior to men, then don’t use it to condemn queer folk either, otherwise you’re the cherry picker, not those who are fully affirming” – Nathan Jennings

“Every religion on the planet requires ‘separation’ [separation from God] as one of its core doctrines, because then we can tell you how to get un-separated – those of us who are the professionals – and we can charge you for it. We’ll call it something benign, and in fact we’ll make you feel really guilty about it if you don’t (and it’s on the gross, not on the net, just so you know!)” – Wm. Paul Young

“I have nothing to prove to you.” – Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel

[In response to someone asking a question about painful post-death judgement] “I don’t think there is any pain in judgement, save perhaps for a slight embarrassment as I see what I dick I was in certain scenarios. I believe that judgement will be one of restoration and reconciliation, rather than retribution and revenge. God’s wrath is against the damage caused, not against those causing it, and that damage will somehow be put right. And for those who hated me, we will lean on each other and laugh about it, because it’s all sorted out. That way, we are all winners. That’s what divine judgement looks like.” – Me

“If the idea that the Biblical authors sometimes mistakenly misrepresented God upsets you more than the idea that God actually commanded genocide does, then your ethical priorities are in the wrong place.” – Daniel Skillman 

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes” – Anon

“…a simple look at the Scriptural narrative will put on display the sure reality that God always shows up in ways that the religious never expect and almost always detest”. – Chris Kratzer

“Praising God is acknowledging His attributes. I try to be aware when I pray that God is the ever-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving heavenly Father. I don’t praise Him because He needs me to tell Him who He is. He knows who He is. I am the one who needs to keep His divine attributes constantly in my mind. I try to keep the knowledge of God’s presence foremost in my thoughts. No matter where I go, He is with me”. – Neil Anderson

“Nowhere does Jesus mention that anyone should try to save others from Hell. You’d have thought if it was that important He’d have told us? You’d also have thought He’d have told us how important it was that we pluck the souls from the brink especially in the context of those parts of His teaching where the meaning is traditionally ascribed to being about Hell.

“Furthermore, if the hell-fire doctrine is true, and if Evangelical Christians claim that a loving God still lets people go to Hell ‘because He is so loving that He will not override their free will’, then it follows that they have to change the definition of Love so that it bears no resemblance to that found in 1Cor 13.” – Me

“It is quite possible to think too much, but those who accuse others of doing it are rarely guilty [of it] themselves”. – Jeff Turner


*And what they call ‘chips’, we refer to as ‘crisps’. And so it goes on 😉

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‘In Company With…’

“Exeter Radar, good morning; Golf Charlie Delta Delta Golf for basic service”

“Golf Charlie Delta Delta Golf , Exeter Radar, good morning; pass your message”

“Golf Charlie Delta Delta Golf, PA-28 out of Dunkeswell, in company with Golf Charlie Delta Echo Oscar, two thousand five hundred feet on one-zero-two-four, VFR navex and, er, basic service please”

“Golf Delta Golf, basic service, squawk five-zero-seven-one, Exeter QNH one-zero-two-three; will you be returning to Exeter?”

“Golf Delta Golf, squawking five-zero-seven-one, basic service, one-zero-two-three, and affirm returning to Exeter”

So yes, I had bogged up my ‘pass your message’ response, which should have been a concise and accurate summary of my flying intentions.

What I should have said was, “Golf Charlie Delta Delta Golf, PA-28 out of Dunkeswell in company with Golf Charlie Delta Echo Oscar, returning to Exeter after navex, heading one-eight-zero degrees at two thousand five hundred feet on one-zero-two-four, planned turning points at Sidmouth and Tavistock, VFR and requesting basic service”. * Quite a mouthful, but getting it right is important to me. And sadly I never get that bit right.

You’d have thought after over 20 years of flying, I’d have known better, wouldn’t you? But this time I had an excuse, or at least a reason 🙂

You see, the phrase, ‘In company with’ meant that on that day, a couple of weeks ago, I was flying with another aeroplane, this one being flown by my son David, who is a much better pilot than I am. His aeroplane, a PA-28 Archer, a variant of the PA-28 Warrior II I am flying but slightly more powerful, is based at Perranporth Airfield in Cornwall, not far from where he lives, whereas ‘my’ aeroplane is based at Exeter. ‘In company with…’ also lets the operator know that we are aware of each other’s proximity and he doesn’t need to warn us about each other.

And this flying ‘in company’ was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire flying career.

I will explain why it was so hard later. But the reason my radio message was somewhat patchy was due to the intense mental and physical workload involved in flying in fairly close proximity to another aeroplane. Our priority is this: “Aviate – Navigate – Communicate” and the ‘Aviate’ part was occupying my whole attention, with hardly any mental space for ‘Navigate’ and ‘Communicate’ was coming in a very poor third.

I mean it’s not as if it’s even anywhere near proper formation flying, like within a few yards of the other aeroplane. We stayed at least a hundred yards away, usually more like two hundred plus. But remember that a huge part of Pilot training is about the avoidance of other aircraft, and the idea of staying as far away from other users of the sky as possible. So to deliberately fly within a couple of hundred yards of another aeroplane is really, really counterintuitive for us. And remember that it’s the first occasion on which we have really done anything like this, at least for an extended length of time. And such concentration leaves very little mental capacity for other tasks.

Anyway, less of the words. Let’s have some pictures. Most of these shots, the flying ones at least, were taken by just pointing a crappy camera in the general direction of the target, and hoping for the best. The light was too bright (it was a really sunny day) to be able to see the cameras’ screens properly. But still they came out pretty well, I think.

Beginning with some of David’s photos, then, here’s the view from his Archer as he flies past Camelford in Cornwall, en route to Dunkeswell where we’d arranged to meet up.

On this particular day, there was a ‘ridge’ of high pressure over the southern part of the UK, bringing with it a little bit of murkiness under the cloud, and also a broken cloud layer consisting of huge towers of cumulus. To use David’s words, “…some of [the cloud] can be flown over…”

…and other bits that you just have to go around!”

Meanwhile, on the ground at Dunkeswell, I have already landed after my short flight from Exeter, and I am chatting with a young man who’s about to do his first sky-dive. Trying to encourage him, you know 😉 So here’s Delta-Golf on the grass at Dunkeswell. I’d hoped to get a photo of the two aircraft together, but David was asked to park in a place about fifty yards away from my aeroplane, so I didn’t get chance.

I had my airband receiver with me, so I heard David arrive on the Exeter Radar frequency, then followed him as he switched to Dunkeswell’s air-to-ground radio frequency. A greaser of a landing later (yes, that’s a good thing!), he taxied over to the parking area and we met up. Over a picnic lunch, we planned our upcoming sortie in great detail. Positions we would fly in, radio frequency plans including loss-of-contact planning, procedures for changing ‘formation’, who would lead, who would trail, how we would do our taxying, power checks and takeoffs, the works. No stone was left unturned; planning is vitally important when considering a venture like we were going to do. Given that neither of us had previously really flown in any kind of proximity to another aeroplane for any appreciable length of time**, this was all new to us and therefore we had to thrash it all out on the ground, before setting off. Plan was this: David had the lead, sequential trailing takeoffs, fly out to Sidmouth, then turn for Tavistock on the other side of Dartmoor. Stick with Exeter Radar until we get to Bovey Tracey, then switch to SAFETYCOM frequency on 135.475 so that we can talk plane-to-plane.

So we started up and taxied across the airfield using the taxiways…

…moving slightly across to let another aircraft with a rude pilot come past (he’s off-camera to the right)…

…and then it was time to stop and conduct our power checks and pre-takeoff vital actions:

The strange, downwards-curved wingtips on Echo-Oscar are a modification kit that improves the efficiency of the wings and gives a better fuel economy – of the order of an impressive ten percent. It looks weird, but she flies well.

Since Dunkeswell is not a commercial aerodrome, where only one aeroplane would be allowed on the runway at a time, we lined up on the runway together and David set off first. The very second he lifted off, I opened my throttle and commenced my takeoff roll. Lifting into the air very quickly and not too far behind him, I managed to keep David’s aircraft in sight, although with a white aeroplane against a white/grey background, it was extremely difficult and I lost sight of him a couple of times.

Given that we were climbing, we were both at full power, and it was difficult for me to keep up; I finally caught up with him about ten miles out when we were nearly at Sidmouth. The first photo opportunity came when we had turned over Sidmouth and were over Exmouth; this gorgeous photo shows David over Exmouth with the mouth of the Exe estuary in the background, showing Dawlish Warren to good effect.

Although David knew I was ‘around’, he wasn’t sure whether or not I was actually in visual contact with him as we couldn’t talk to each other – we were on Exeter Radar’s frequency where we can only really talk to the radar operator. But he carried on with the navigation plan as we’d arranged, and just had to assume I was there. The position I am in in the above photo, in David’s five o’clock high, is a near-blind spot where he would not have been able to see me unless he knew where to look.

At this point, I began to overtake David to his right, so he’d be able to see me if he looked in the right place. Which he did, and happened to take what is probably the best photo in this entire set. I’d drawn alongside to the right but was slightly high, and as he passed under my left wing I realised I couldn’t see him, and so began a gentle, climbing turn away:

…and continued the turn for good separation, before I felt comfortable enough to turn back parallel to him again:

Job done. Note that if you can’t see the pilot’s face (or even the window), then he can’t see you. So because you can’t see my cockpit window in the above photo, it means that David’s aeroplane was invisible to me at that point. And at only a couple of hundred yards away, that’s pretty scary.

You see, it’s all very well when the aircraft are pootling along in the same direction, with little relative motion. Everything is moving in the same direction at the same speed, so it all looks like everything is standing still. But the moment you take any other heading apart from dead parallel, your velocity difference becomes immediately and frighteningly apparent. Because you’re doing about 100kt, which is about 114mph, you’re actually going very fast indeed. So convergence or divergence of your headings can happen very quickly. And if you were to turn at 90 degrees across the other aeroplane’s track, that would mean that your relative velocities would be in excess of that 100kt; you turn 90 degrees behind him and then it is immediately obvious that his aeroplane is moving away from you at high speed. Or, if you should cross in front at that speed and angle, that is going to be very dangerous indeed. At those sorts of speeds, things happen blindingly fast; faster even than my really lightning-fast reactions can cope with. So it’s important to use slight heading changes rather than drastic ones, hence my gentle turns in the photos above. This flight was in fact a safe if salutary lesson in how fast things can ‘develop’ (read: go pear-shaped) up there in the sky.

So, we got as far as Bovey Tracey, terminated the radar service and switched to SAFETYCOM. Now, we were able to talk ship-to-ship and that made things much, much easier. No need to second guess each other’s intentions; now we could just tell each other straight.

Somewhere over south Dartmoor, David took this photo of me formated on him in echelon port, about 200 yards away. Although this doesn’t look or sound all that close, in real life the other aeroplane looks frighteningly large, and you are painfully aware of your mutual proximity. The aircraft looks a lot bigger at this distance, in real life, than the photos suggest. You may even have some personal experience of this yourself; you’ll probably have taken photos of aircraft at airshows; when you took the photo the aeroplane was like right there and looking really big, but when you look at the photo later, the aeroplane is like a small dot. That’s what this is like.

And here’s a similar shot, but just not as zoomed in. That’s me in that tiny dot in the distance. Again, it looks miles away but in reality it wasn’t:

So, why is flying ‘in company’ so hard? Well, I’ve already talked about how things can change really quickly when flying this close to another aeroplane. At the kinds of ranges we are looking at here, just a couple of seconds’ inattention can result in a velocity change (speed or, more likely, direction) that can result either in getting too close or in losing visual contact with the other aircraft altogether, which is worse in some ways because he might be right there and you don’t know about it. Therefore, as well as having briefed preflight on breakaway procedures, as the trailing aircraft you’ve also got to keep your gaze more or less locked on the other aircraft – we call it being ‘padlocked’ – and there’s no time really to do much else. That’s mainly applicable for the trailing aircraft because the lead aircraft is simply flying straight and level and on course. Things like checks of fuel pressure, changing fuel tanks, oil temperature/pressure, compass synchronisation, carburettor icing checks and all the other routine chores involved in flying a plane; all these things become subservient to the overarching concerns of a) not hitting the other plane, and b) not losing him either. I have read anecdotes from fighter pilots where they say that in one moment the sky is full of planes; in the very next second there’s not a plane to be seen. I can see how that is possible. Think about it like this: from directly astern (behind), the cabin and fuselage cross-section of a PA-28 is something of the order of a five-foot square. Out of this five-foot square poke two wings which are almost invisible from astern at any kind of distance, because they are not much thicker than about eight inches or so. Added to that, the plane is painted mainly white and it’s glossy, all of which means it’s very difficult to see against a cloud backdrop, in haze, or against a hazy underlay. So unless you keep your eyes fixed on him all the time, it’s just so easy to lose sight even when you know exactly where to look. That’s the main thing that makes it so hard. I have absolutely no doubt that it becomes easier with practice and training, but for us, on that day, it being our first time, it was unbelievably difficult. But huge respect to people like the Red Arrows and The Blades, who routinely fly with only feet separating them from their neighbours. And that’s with more than just two aircraft in the formation, too. I would imagine that greater aircraft numbers will really complicate things way beyond what it’s like with a two-ship formation. Formation flying is hard enough with two aeroplanes straight and level. With four, or nine, aircraft and doing aerobatics too (which are also difficult), it’s just insane. Seriously, respect to these guys…it’s only when mere mortals like us do what we have done so tentatively, that we can really appreciate what these guys do. Amazing.

Now we were in radio contact, David also got a chance to formate on my aeroplane, as I took the lead for a spell:

And then, at 5,000ft and coming up on Tavistock, our scheduled separation point, I got this lovely shot of Echo-Oscar:

The Devon town of Tavistock is visible below the cloud there, and nearly a mile of vertical distance below us, and I think this shot captures as well as any other the glaringly obvious point that there is nothing holding us up. Just the wings, using the marvellous natural effect that happens when you change airflow over a curved surface and generate lift. It really is quite remarkable that literally thin air can lift (in the case of a PA-28) the best part of a ton of metal, fuel and flesh up into the sky, where it really has no business being. And of course that’s just a light aircraft; there are of course many, much bigger, aeroplanes, all of which fly because of the same principle. I find that amazing.

But eventually we had to part and go our separate ways. From just west of Tavistock, David continued on course for Perranporth, and I turned for my return flight to Exeter. Here’s David’s Echo-Golf just before I broke away:

Even then, things were complicated slightly in that my intention was to break away high and left, and perform a 180-degree turn onto heading for Exeter. But directly to my left was a towering cumulus cloud that stretched a good couple of thousand feet above my level and there wasn’t space to get round without going into cloud. So I had to make an on-the-spot decision – such a common occurrence in flying that I am well used to it – but basically I turned away only some 30 degrees in a climbing turn to the left, towards the cloud but not all the way towards it, and then reversed my turn and turned right and away from the cloud, still climbing, and crossed David’s wake about half a mile behind him and three hundred feet higher. We’d said our farewells before I began the turn, maybe we should have waited to do that until we were heading away from each other. Well, we’ll know for next time.

My flight back to Exeter was uneventful; David took a couple of photos, though, including his first ever airborne selfie:

(see how he’s got the same kind of headset as mine; we got him it for his 30th birthday 🙂 )

…but he also got some spectacular views like the claypits (china clay quarries) at Indian Queens near Newquay:

So, there we go. An awesome flight where we learned so much***, and had so much fun. Things to learn from this flight, just off the top of my head: I would probably have wanted direct radio contact much earlier in the flight to maintain situational awareness and mutual location; better briefing on how to find each other; maybe do more aeroplane checks but again in radio contact, so we can warn the lead aircraft to keep it straight, maybe setting a slightly divergent heading while doing the checks. Also, carry a photographer rather than doing it myself 😉

But all in all a great experience. Still buzzing from it, over a week later!

Peace and Grace 🙂


*English translation:

‘Golf Charlie Delta Delta Golf’ is my aircraft callsign; it’s the phonetic alphabet rendition of the registration letters on the side of the aircraft. It’s usually shortened to ‘Golf-Delta-Golf’ by controllers, or just ‘Delta-Golf’ by flying school staff and pilots. ‘Which plane are you taking today?’ ‘Delta-Golf’.

‘PA-28 out of Dunkeswell in company with Golf Charlie Delta Echo Oscar’ – Aircraft type is a PA-28, and we’d taken off from Dunkeswell, an airfield near Exeter Airport, where it’s cheaper for David to land. And I fancied a landaway anyway.

‘Returning to Exeter after navex’ – that’s my destination airfield, and a ‘navex’is a ‘navigation exercise’.

‘Heading one-eight-zero degrees at two thousand five hundred feet on one-zero-two-four’ – refers to the direction in which my aircraft is pointing, so the radar operator can see which aircraft I am. One-zero-two-four refers to the pressure setting  – the ‘QNH’ – on my aircraft’s altimeter, so the operator knows what pressure setting I am working from in order to determine my altitude. This needs to be the same for all the aircraft he is working with, so that all their altitudes are reported from the same reference point.

‘Planned turning points at Sidmouth and Tavistock, VFR and requesting basic service’ – tells him our intentions, that we are flying under ‘Visual Flight Rules‘, that is, decent weather flying where we can see where we’re going, and that we just want him to help us look out for other aircraft on his radar screen. Giving us an extra pair of eyes, as it were.


**The only previous time when we had done anything like this was once over Cornwall in 2013, where we had met up in the air by chance – we knew each other was up and around, but not exactly where – and David came up about fifty yards off my port wingtip. An awesome sight, but we each had our flights to do (he was doing a navex and I was training my daughter for an upcoming charity flight), so we didn’t stay like that for long.


***In addition to the lessons learned, there was something else too. David and I are both military historians. This flight gave us both a really strong appreciation of what it must have been like in air combat in World War II – or indeed any war – but especially WWII because of the ubiquitous use of air-to-air gunnery. Imagine a swirling sky filled with fast, small aeroplanes that are going at speeds in excess of 350mph and in a small volume of space, trying to keep formation with your wingman, trying to avoid collisions with aircraft friend or foe, and most of all trying to shoot down other aeroplanes. Given that the most effective range for using guns against other aircraft was of the order of no more than about 100 yards, and often much closer, we got a really good appreciation of how huge an enemy aircraft would appear when it is in firing range. Because of that, it’s also no surprise that many pilots opened fire at ineffectual ranges, like say 400-500 yards because, although the range was too great for effective fire, still the aircraft would look like a great big barn door target and therefore would look close enough. You had to get really, stupidly close in order to score any hits. Added to that things like deflection shooting (where you aim ahead of the target so that it flies into your bullet stream, like in clay pigeon shooting), bullet drop and other advanced ballistics, and that you had to actually point your aeroplane into a collision course with the target in order to shoot it – I mean it’s just insane! Pointing your aeroplane at another aeroplane at very high relative speeds, getting really close, and somehow not colliding with him…. it’s incredible to imagine how they did that, given the things we experienced on our ‘in company’ sortie. These were brave people indeed.

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