“The Peril Of Conflicting Objectives”

June 17, 2015

Petunias on bikeColorful petunias cover an old bike at a roadside flower stand.
We see so many colorful sights in the course of our travels through Lancaster County!

“The Peril Of Conflicting Objectives”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3) “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

C117 airplaneFrom our home office window we routinely watch huge planes flying right over our heads in route to the Harrisburg International Airport. Usually it’s the four engine C117 Cargo plane but at times it’s Air Force One.*³ The crews are practicing touch and go landings. Sometimes the huge planes look like they’ve stopped moving and we wonder if they will just fall out of the sky. That would sure be a frightening experience.

When we lived in New England there were two especially news intensive aircraft crashes off the Atlantic coast near us. In July of 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr’s plane crash killed him, his wife and one other woman. It is believed that Kennedy became spatially disoriented, a theme we wrote on back in May 2007 in a message we titled “Spiritual Disorientation”.* Reviewing that message again I see the conditions observed that prompted its writing have deeply intensified these last 8 years.

Essentially spatial disorientation describes a phenomenon where a pilot can become so confused in haze or darkness without landmarks that he has absolutely no sense of direction. This is very serious for pilots who do not have an instrument rating. A pilot may feel he is going straight ahead when in fact he is diving down! In becoming spiritually disoriented one loses all sense of right and wrong.

The other notable airplane crash off New England’s coast in 1999 occurred in October with a much greater loss of life and a far less benign cause when EgyptAir Flight 990 went down in the ocean. Examining the evidence investigators determined that in the final moments before the crash the cockpit crew was actually working against each other.  It seems they had different objectives. The pilot valiantly tried to save the plane while the copilot was equally determined to ditch it into the ocean. What a terrifying time this must have been. The dastardly deed of being entrusted with several hundred lives and yet intentionally plunging them to death is practically unthinkable. *²

When we are working together to accomplish a mission having the same objective is vitally important.  This is true in the home, in business and of course in the church. The Scripture warns of being “unequally yoked”. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and we often apply that to dating and certainly marriage but it can be broadened to any area of life. Amos 3:3 states, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

What a blessing in any context when there is a shared mission and cooperation in reaching an objective. Today this will happen scores of times all over the world:

  • A surgical team will work together to save the life of a patient.
  • Pilots will coordinate their expertise to fly a plane to safety.
  • A corporate management team will unify in decision making for the company’s well-being.
  • A church will share a common mission.
  • A family will seek to serve God together.

But in our fallen world there will also be many examples of disharmony as people pursue conflicting objectives. Although the perils of most of these conflicting objectives are not as dramatic as a plane crash they are every bit as deadly. Those of us in Christian ministry should be soberly aware of this.  Paul spoke of two men named Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had wandered away from the truth. In doing so they had destroyed the faith of others as well (2 Timothy 2:17,18).

The third daily verse ought to be memorized by everyone involved in ministry for Christ in whatever capacity. I memorized it around the time of my ordination in 1979 and it has often been a prompt to faithfulness and steadfastness, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Vigilance in both what we believe and how we live is vitally important. The consequences of our actions affect not only our own destiny but those entrusted to our care as well. May the Lord help us to persevere in His truth!  And let us work together with those we are called to serve with.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, the Scriptures asks, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” That’s such an important thought-provoking question since we know there are only two paths we must choose from which gives room for two contrasting views. We can enter through the narrow gate which is small and the way is narrow that leads to life. Few look for this path so they can easily miss this narrow entrance to eternal life. Sadly, the vast majority enter the gate that is wide and the way that is broad that leads to destruction. We must be in alliance with the one we walk alongside lest we clash with conflicting viewpoints and contrasting goals. Grant us discernment, discipline, and direction when choosing our life partner, business associate or any other person in which we must unite in making decisions. For those who are presently unequally yoked grant them grace to live carefully, watching their lives and doctrine closely, so that they will positively influence their partner, co-worker or family member to consider the claims of the Gospel which may ultimately lead them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It’s in His name that we pray, Amen.


Last night we attended a picnic with a group of minister peers at a church in Harrisburg and as we arrived it appeared we were in for a big storm. However it cleared soon after this but not before I was able to take this photo behind the church.

Storm coming 6/16/15

We gathered with ministers yesterday in Harrisburg for our annual picnic which included pulled pork, chicken, and homemade ice cream. We weren’t sure just how much time we’d have before the heavens opened and the rain would hammer us, but eventually the dark clouds rolled away and we had a sunny, breezy gathering after all.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Family Prayer Song”  Video  Maranatha Singers A great way to end a service with families gathered together for prayer.

“A Family that Prays Together Stays Together”  Video  A nice video prepared for a family reunion. Singers not identified.

* “Spiritual Disorientation” Our message from May 10, 2007. This is a message we may work over and republish in time since the conditions that prompted the message are far worse today than just 8 years ago. The main text is, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21).

*² For the aviation-minded here is some fuller information from the crash investigation of EgyptAir Flight 990: The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded the captain excusing himself to go to the lavatory, followed thirty seconds later by the first officer saying in Egyptian Arabic “Tawkalt ala Allah,” which translates to “I rely on God.” A minute later, the autopilot was disengaged, immediately followed by the first officer again saying, “I rely on God.” Three seconds later, the throttles for both engines were reduced to idle, and both elevators were moved three degrees nose down. The first officer repeated “I rely on God” seven more times before the captain suddenly asked repeatedly, “What’s happening, what’s happening?” The flight data recorder reflected that the elevators then moved into a split condition, with the left elevator up and the right elevator down, a condition which is expected to result when the two control columns are subjected to at least 50 pounds (23 kgf) of opposing force.[1] At this point, both engines were shut down by moving the start levers from run to cutoff. The captain asked, “What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engines?” The captain is then recorded as saying “get away in the engines” (this is the literal translation that appears in the NTSB transcript), followed by “shut the engines”. The first officer replies “It’s shut”. The final recorded words are the captain repeatedly stating, “Pull with me” but the FDR data indicated that the elevator surfaces remained in a split condition (with the left surface commanding nose up and the right surface commanding nose down) until the FDR and CVR stopped recording. There were no other aircraft in the area. There was no indication that an explosion occurred on board. The engines operated normally for the entire flight until they were shut down. From the presence of a western debris field about 1,200 feet (370 m) from the eastern debris field, the NTSB concluded that the left engine and some small pieces of wreckage separated from the aircraft at some point before water impact.[1]

The NTSB determined that the only way for the observed split elevator condition to occur was if the left seat pilot (the captain’s position) was commanding nose up while the right seat pilot (the first officer’s position) commanded nose down. As the Egyptian investigation forwarded various mechanical failure scenarios, they were each tested by the NTSB and found not to match the factual evidence.


*³ Harrisburg International Airport remains an active touch and go practice runway for SAM 28000 and SAM 29000. These two planes carry the President. They are also known as Air Force One, the call which is adopted when the president is aboard either aircraft (or any other Air Force aircraft for that matter). The Air Force pilots use the custom VC-25’s (Boeing 747s) to practice via touch and go at the airport. These practice runs are at random (for obvious security reasons), but they do tend to be seen about weekly. The Air Force uses Harrisburg International as the practice airport for a number of reasons: its runway is long enough for a loaded 747, relatively low traffic, close proximity to Andrews Air Force Base, and the presence of the Air National Guard.


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