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One Degree

Lately, I've been thinking about the big differences little things make and how they impact our lives. Consider this: If you're flying a plane somewhere and you're off course by just one degree, after one foot you'll miss your target by 0.2 inches. Trivial, right? But what about as you go farther? Here are some statistics to get a grasp of one degree:

• After 100 yards, you'll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable. If hunting, you will completely miss your target.

• After a mile, you'll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.

• After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you'll be off by 6 miles. That isn’t that bad because L.A is large and you can see it miles away.

• If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you'd end up on the other side of Baltimore, 42.6 miles away!

• Traveling around the globe to/from Washington, DC, you'd miss it by 435 miles and end up in Boston.

• In a rocket going to the moon, you'd be 4,169 miles off (nearly twice the diameter of the moon).

• Going to the sun, you'd miss it by over 1.6 million miles (nearly twice the diameter of the sun).

• Traveling to the nearest star, you'd be off course by over 441 billion miles (120 times the distance from the Earth to Pluto, or 4,745 times the distance from Earth to the sun).

Over time, a mere one-degree error in course makes a huge difference! The same is true in the Bible. We can't allow our faith to travel on auto-pilot. If we don't set the course correctly in the beginning (which very few people do), close will not be good enough. This is why sin is called missing the mark. The odds of success are slim, at best. You must watch the results you're getting and make constant course corrections. If what we believe is not aligning itself with scripture then we are one degree off. Sure, we can find scripture to validate what we want to believe and make good arguments for it. But we should not look for scriptures to validate our position. We, like trained soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3-4), take scripture and align our beliefs with what the Word of God says; not man’s doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). In an airplane or helicopter, one degree off course over time will mean the difference between finding your intended destination or running out of fuel and crashing. If you are off one degree and travel 42 miles off course nothing will look like what you expected to see. You will know you have traveled the right distance but you will circle trying to find your mark and run out of fuel searching. You will unfortunately be the first person on the scene of the accident.

On the contrary, one degree over short distances can easily be corrected because we will know how far we have traveled and will still be able to recognize our intended landing point. When I was in the Army as an instructor pilot, I trained all my pilots to have excellent precision: hovering the helicopter at 10 feet +/- 3 feet. This is very challenging. To navigate a precise course and within a certain distance left or right meant passing or failing as an aviator. The standard for us to deploy and land at any point worldwide from our home base was 10 feet from the intended landing point and +/- 30 seconds from time on target. That precision meant success or failure of the mission. That precision meant life or death!

Over small distances one degree will go unnoticed, even though we are off course we will see our intended landing point. Making a habit of being off course and not being precise and intentional in our planning can and will eventually take us to a place that we do not know and will keep us from finding our intended destination. How we read the Bible and apply it to our lives, whether with precision or casual intent, will determine our intended destination. It will determine life or death!

We follow one man, Jesus. We keep our eyes on the prize and run our own race (1 Cor. 9:24) and we must run in such a way that we may obtain it. We have traveled 2024 years from the crucifixion of Jesus and we still have many teachers who teach others their own philosophies and doctrines for their glory. They may seem good and well-intentioned but they have made it a habit of being off course by one degree. If we follow their training then we too will be one degree off. Over time, we can find ourselves searching for truth in an area we do not recognize and spend all our time in that area until we run out of time. The difference is one degree.

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Greg & Kathy Fisher
Greg & Kathy Fisher
May 10

We have set our eyes on the goal and we are running this race to win the prize for which God has called us. Jesus

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