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want to thank NASA Dryden and NASA Ames Research centers for making
this photo of the C-17 Simulator available. In 1967 and 1968 I had
the privilege of working at NASA Dryden as an Engineering Student
Trainee. At that time I was allowed, briefly, the chance of flying
one of the early aircraft computer simulators. On a certain day
they had programmed into the simulator the scenario of the huge B-70
supersonic bomber losing one of it's outboard engines in mid-flight.
That aircraft had a weakness. If one of the outboard engines failed
the plane went into a death spiral. Unless you were some kind
of a super duper pilot you couldn't stop the plane from crashing.
Test pilots were trying to see if they could fly the simulation to a
safe landing. More often than not they would crash. I was given a
chance to try my hand at it. Of course, not being a pilot I promptly
collided with the ground and the screen showed a cracked windshield.
I remember hearing the computer operator saying, "Okay, you're
losing your outboard engine now." He flipped a switch and chaos
came upon me. Here's a link to the Dryden Flight Research Center
where I had the privilege of working years ago:
As a young electronics engineering student needing finances I went to work for NASA, six months on and six months back at school. Thanks to NASA I was able to pay my looming school bills. But it was also one of the most exhilarating times a young man might enjoy working around high speed aircraft, the IBM 360 mainframe computer, and Simulators!
In those early days NASA was just beginning to couple computers and complex mathematical equations to very closely simulate the flight characteristics of large and small aircraft. Even then they were starting to get so good at this work that a NASA test pilot was able to sit in the cockpit of a simulator, while totally on the ground, and notice some similarity between what he saw on the color monitor and how it had been the day before in the real test plane.
Today the science of simulation has exploded with success. The "know how" of simulation even turns up at amusement parks. With a good computer program and the right shakers, vibrators, sound effects and hydraulic equipment, you can fool people into believing they are in flight. Today we call it "virtual reality." In other words the simulation is so good that it virtually seems like reality...but it isn't reality at all! It's a total fabrication!
Simulators are a marvelous life saver. Untold lives have been saved as engineers, scientists and pilots can now fly an airplane before it exists. They can see the flaws in a design before that design ever has a chance to hurt anyone. Simulators are a God-send in the world of vehicle design!
Simulators are also very, very important in the training of new pilots, saving millions of dollars as well as lives. Without simulators our astronauts might have crashed several Space Shuttles just trying to touch down. The Shuttle isn't your average aircraft. It takes practice to fly it. They can't do practice landings in a real Space Shuttle! Shuttle pilots may only fly a real Shuttle two or three times in their whole life! But they spend untold hours flying the Space Shuttle simulator.
As wonderful as simulators are for vehicle design and pilot training they are a curse in the church! Or, didn't you know we've had church simulators for years???
I've been to many, many churches in my time, and I can tell you from experience that more often than not I find myself in some kind of "virtual reality" as I attend worship. Unbeknown to even the pastors these churches are simulations of the real thing, re-enactments of some kind of scenario. When I was a young man they used to call it, "playing church."
But today, with all the "hi-tech" gizmos we use in our churches it is now possible to run a simulation that can even fool preachers.
In the middle ages they used simulators too, but very expensive and very primitive. The way they did it in medieval times was to build a cathedral. Huge echoing rooms, gigantic stained glass windows, beautiful frescos, monks chanting slowly in Latin, a little imagination and "voila" the simulation of the presence of God that could fool most people into thinking they are having a religious experience.
Not too long ago I was visiting a large church. The music was fabulous! As the congregation was worshiping, joining in the song led by the worship leaders I got fooled by a simulation trick. I felt sudden joy; and, as I analyzed where this joy was coming from I realized that I was blessed because the large congregation was coming together in their worship. A certain unity had come upon the worshipers, a concentration in their voices. I was thrilled. They were singing with greater and greater enthusiasm and emphasis. God was moving on them, or so it seemed.
Nevertheless I have a good ear for sounds and music. And I'm an old church sound man myself. My ear picked up on the simulation. I was appalled!! The sound man was catching the congregation's singing with a specially placed microphone. He was amplifying our voices and then carefully mixing us in with ourselves, using the high tech sound board. He was slowly, ever so slowly, simulating us singing more vigorously. With the wizardry of electronics he was able to fabricate a fake reality! As we heard ourselves singing more aggressively, we were getting happy with our own simulated enthusiasm and unity. I found I too had been caught up in the simulation. It wasn't the Holy Spirit moving on us!! It was the sound man MANipulating us!
Fasten your safety belts for what I'm going to say next. What that sound man was doing in that large church, that Sunday morning, was nothing less than WITCHCRAFT!! I'm sure the poor sound man had no idea in the world that he was doing something terrible. I'm sure that he had just discovered that the worship was enhanced and people responded better if he kind of fed their voices back at them in slowly increasing, increments. I'm sure he felt he was just using the technology to it's best advantage. I don't believe the sound man was some kind of evil fellow. Nevertheless the sound man had also been swallowed in the deception that so easily engulfs Christians who have little discernment. All the new hi-tech toys we have to day don't make it any easier to find God. Technology can make it harder to find God!
My experience at the super-church was a good example of witchcraft. But in many, many fellowships today we have more subtle ways of fooling ourselves. We've been fooling ourselves with great simulations for so many years that most of us hardly know what a true move of the Holy Spirit really is! There is so much simulation going on in the church today that our worship services have become worship simulators.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus Christ used so little of anything that we use today in HIS ministry?? HE had no music other than a hymn at the last supper. HE most often spoke to HIS congregations in the open air. HE didn't have "The 2500 voice Crusade Choir." There was no Peter, James and John worship team. HE didn't have Michael W. Smith, or even George Beverly Shea to bring a moving rendition before HE spoke. HE didn't have an introducer even, "And now here's JESUS, a man with a message for the hour!" He had no pulpit because no one had invented that prop yet. HE had no notes, because HE spoke what HE heard HIS Father saying to HIM! "...the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." [See John 12:49] HE didn't have a team of demographics men who told him the next town that was the most susceptible to HIS brand of gospel.
Truly, one of the reasons Jesus Christ arrived in the time and era HE did was because it was a simple time when there was so little "hi-tech." Jesus needed to appear on an empty stage with no props for a reason. And the reason HE had no props was because HE had something infinitely better than props and "hi-tech." Jesus had the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit. Saint Peter highlights this for us in one of Peter's sermons:
"...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." [See Acts 10:38]
Dr. Luke, is inspired to give us another insight into Jesus' ministry and the infinite help that Jesus had:
"And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them." [Luke 5:17]
Jesus, Himself, told his listeners that HE had infinite help assisting HIM from the Throne Room of God:
"But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." [Luke 11:20]
The early First Century saints seem to have also had this supernatural help. How else can you explain St. Paul preaching all night and his congregation staying with him?? Yes, I know that Eutychus fell asleep. But I also know that Paul went down stairs and raised Eutychus from the dead, after Eutychus fell from the second story to his death. And then the congregation went back upstairs and Paul preached on until morning dawned! [See Acts 20]
As good as any speech maker in the world today is, I cannot listen to that speaker for 12 hours straight, without getting majorly bored! When we go to church today we hear speeches and monologues. The preachers don't even try to fool us with their prepared "Christian" speeches. They say, "Today, in MY MESSAGE I want to share with you...blah blah blah."
That's a prepared lecture...or a prepared sermonette. It can't be totally direct from Heaven. Such a message is a replay, a redo, an echo, a program, at the very best! Many of the best sermons today are mostly re-hashed leftovers that the preacher received during his prayers in his study. It may have been fresh to him at that moment in his study...but when he regurgitates it back up to us on Sunday, unless God anoints it, that message tastes like day old leftovers! Some people like spiritual leftovers...but not me. Some people like their bread a bit stale, but not me!
So even the sermons we are used to hearing today are too close to a simulation of the real thing. And what is the real thing??
I visited a small church some years ago and a layman in his seventies was the special speaker that day. He had no notes only a Bible. He prayed a long opening prayer in which instead of being bored, I sensed something going on in the very atmosphere of the room. When the prayer was over the environment of the room had changed. The speaker himself had changed. The speaker admitted he had no idea what was going to come forth next...but then a message like I had never heard anyone else in my life project came forth...a message that surpassed all the Doctors of Theology. It was a message direct from Heaven itself, with authority! That preacher had become for those few moments a living mouth piece for God. I could feel every word touching me at the core of my being. I didn't mind at all being in a run down building, in a run down little railroad town because I had heard God speaking through some nobody. It was awesome!
I can give you a true Bible example of this happening! When you read the sermon that Stephen the Martyr preached to the Sanhedrin, you are reading a message direct from Heaven. [See Acts 7] We can know THAT even by logic, if not by revelation. Here's how. In that message words of harsh judgment pour forth from Stephen's lips that are too harsh for any believer to utter on their own. God's Word tells us that we are not to judge anyone. Judgment is God's department. God's Word indicates to us that we are to speak kindly to our enemies. However, in that sermon, in the words that come forth from Stephen, we hear some of the harshest words that come from the lips of anyone in the entire Bible:
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it." [Acts 7:51-53]
Even though these harsh words come out of Stephen's mouth, we soon hear Stephen, back in himself, interceding for leniency for his killers. We can see that Stephen, HIMSELF, was not angry with the Sanhedrin. It was the Holy Spirit that delivered a "thermo-nuclear" telegram from Heaven via Stephen's lips. That harsh word was God speaking, God giving the Sanhedrin a chance to glimpse what Heaven's position was on all that was going on!! But blinded eyes can see very little.
Only God has a right to speak in that manner. No Christian is ever to speak in that manner on their own. That is why Stephen's own words are recorded for us, the purified, sanctified, Holy Spirit filled Stephen petitioning Heaven that his murderers will not be judged for taking his life. Do you see the difference?? We see the Holy Spirit speaking from the Throne Room, through lips of clay, judging and unearthing the ugly sins of the Sanhedrin. Then we hear Stephen's own spirit with compassion toward his enemies, begging God to pardon them.
"And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
The sermon poured through Stephen is no simulation. It is no re-enactment. It's not your generic "illustrated sermon," that we get so much of these days, with "Power Point"® graphics! It wasn't a regurgitation of what Stephen got the prior Thursday in his devotional time, even though Stephen's lips give us an Old Testament review. It is fresh from the Throne Room of God. That does not mean that such direct-from-the-Throne-Room messages are mostly harsh. In fact most messages from the Throne Room are very loving. But there are times that God must speak a sobering word of warning to give a chance to avoid judgment.
As I watch churches here and there, in our current Christian culture, I see something that reminds me of that photo of the C-17 cargo plane simulator, at the top of this page. Many churches need to awake before it is too late. They need to get re-connected with the Holy Spirit in a more direct way! They need to realize that they are not soaring high in the air as they might imagine. They need to recognize that they have grounded themselves!! They are really on a "virtual reality" amusement ride instead of soaring for Jesus! They need to get to the place that they can make it without all their props, without all their "hi-tech" tools, without all their simulations.
If they would just yield to the Holy Spirit and HIS total control of the church, they would be able to function in power on a bare stage. They would begin to be airborne. They could pray for the sick and the depressed and the addicted and see them healed and restored before their very eyes. They would be carried by the Holy Ghost into the Heavenlies again, doing the perfect will of God! They would stop hearing from the seminary, Bible college and popular writers and start hearing direct from Heaven again. The only thing they would lose is the control of the vehicle, and that is where the stumbling block is found: CONTROL.
Losing control is what the church organizations and leaders fear most! That's why they love the "church simulator!" For you see, in God's aircraft, the true Church of Jesus Christ, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, Chief Executive Officer of the Airline, sole stockholder, Commander and Chief, owner, Master, operator...everything important!
So where do we ride in God's plane?? We have the joy of sitting in the back seat, with our loving Heavenly Father in the front seat at the controls. In the back seat, we have our little toy, toddler steering wheel that isn't fastened to anything. You've seen those toy steering wheels fastened on junior's car seat, haven't you?? We are God's children. God is teaching us and growing us. At first the Father pays little attention to how we spin our little toy wheel...for we are like toddlers...we are just learning a little spiritual "hand-eye" coordination.
Later, when we become more mature in the Lord, receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we begin following the Father's flight movements. When He banks left...we turn our toy wheel to the left. And as we grow stronger and more anointed in HIM, we find ourselves in greater and greater unity with our Father. Then one day, we say, "Father, you are speaking to me about a great need over here to the right. Father, I'm turning my little wheel to the right because I sense, by your Spirit, that we are going to go to the right." And the Father smiles, as HE gently banks HIS glorious airship in perfect coordination to our little toy wheel. The Father remains in total control. We continue to turn that toy wheel...but something glorious happens as we mature in HIM. Our Father stays totally in charge, totally in control...but our little wheel gets connected to Heaven...because we have come into perfect unity with our Father. When HE turns his wheel (or yoke as they call it in aviation) and depresses HIS right rudder pedal, we simultaneously do the same with ours. It is glorious to soar with our Father! This is a miracle that happens through the wonderful workings of the Holy Spirit. That's part of the Holy Spirit's purpose and assignment. The Holy Spirit is the controller, the Heavenly Person who ties God's circuitry into our circuitry for wonders and mighty things of God to come to pass. Thank God for the Holy Spirit![By the way, if you look at the simulator picture above closely you will notice that the pilot doesn't have a wheel, but a stick like smaller fighter aircraft have. Some pilots prefer to fly with a joy stick, others with a wheel or yoke.]
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