Tag Archives: philippians

Disagreements don’t have to be warfare

It’s the week of the RNC, so let’s talk elephants (but not politics.)

The elephant is a majestic creature. They’ve been around awhile and have been domesticated in some ways to be used in industry, entertainment, warfare and more. Did you know that it is females that are mostly trained because male elephants don’t really work well with humans? Except in warfare, girl elephants run from boy elephants – so not the best warriors.

I’ve stood in awe at elephants. I’ve seen them at a variety of zoos and such. Watched the Discovery channel. I’ve even read/seen Dumbo and Horton Hears a Who. Classics.

But today, my mind drifts to that piece of folklore of several blind men discovering an elephant for the first time. Each one explores a different part of the creature and comes to totally different conclusions. One author (Greg Koukl) summarizes the results as such …

  1. The first blind man put out his hand and touched the side of the elephant. “How smooth! An elephant is like a wall.”
  2. The second blind man put out his hand and touched the trunk of the elephant. “How round! An elephant is like a snake.”
  3. The third blind man put out his hand and touched the tusk of the elephant. “How sharp! An elephant is like a spear.”
  4. The fourth blind man put out his hand and touched the leg of the elephant. “How tall! An elephant is like a tree.”
  5. The fifth blind man reached out his hand and touched the ear of the elephant. “How wide! An elephant is like a fan.”
  6. The sixth blind man put out his hand and touched the tail of the elephant. “How thin! An elephant is like a rope.”

An argument ensued. Each posted on Facebook calling the other liars and spreaders off fake news. The lines were drawn in the sand and not one of the six even listened, much less tried to understand, the others. A few took to the street to protest. Others hid in their homes and just fumed. One applied for a concealed weapon permit to protect himself from the others. One made a book deal and went on news media to share his story and why others are more than just blind, they are ignorant. One even said to think otherwise is the way Hitler made people think.

Okay. Maybe that’s not the original legend, and maybe I slid into a little politics. But it is amazing that in reading about the DNC and the RNC, and watching some snippets from both, people can watch the exact same thing and come to opposite points of view.

Is he mad at the driver? Did the driver try to hit the elephant? Or maybe the beast just needed to scratch an itch on his belly and the car was the only thing that would reach that hard to reach spot?

I know this is nothing new, it’s been around like this for … well since man has been here.

But it’s hard to watch. And even harder to live through all this. I don’t have quick fixes or fortune cookie statements that draws all men together. But I do have a challenge from scripture for each of us. Basically – put others before yourself.

Put others first!

What would this world be like if we practiced that – or at least tried to practice that? I’m not talking about being a door mat or allowing others to take advantage of you – but just living humbly, polite, and realizing we are not the center of the universe.

What a beautiful world this would be.

10 Years Ago to Today … Don’t Care

Yesterday, my wife and I talked some about ourselves in regards to the 10 year game. What’s changed? How are we doing? Regrets? Victories? We determined our son’s life has changed more than ours. And that is expected for someone in their 20s. But in the end, I just didn’t really care what was different.

Before you count me off as callous, intolerant, uncaring, or just mean, let me have 90 seconds.

I know so many people have come so far in 10 years. Bondage has been broken. Lives have been changed. Wounds have been healed. Hearts have been changed. Marriages, kids, losses, gains, jobs, ad infinitum.

But Paul is pretty clear where he states …

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3.13-14, ESV)

This does not mean we are to stop rejoicing in blessings, nor forgetting to praise God for deliverance. And we should never quit examining ourselves for improving. But it does mean “press forward“. The Greek is using a racing term of stretching forward, like a runner at the wire, stretching everything out towards the finish line.

Press forward. Not looking back, for that causes loss of momentum. Not looking around, for that means you’re more concerned about other racers and circumstances than the race. But looking forward, leaning into where you’re going, and keeping that as your focus.

In practical terms, as a pastor, I am more concerned about where you are headed than where you came from. I challenge those whom I pastor and others I advise to look at where they are and let’s move forward.

Cheering each other on. Pressing forward. Picking up those that stumble. Pressing forward. Restoring those headed off the path. Pressing forward. Inviting others to run with us. And pressing forward together.

So you can enjoy looking back. But me, I am excited about 2020 and beyond. (A Buzz Lightyear voice is needed on that last line)

What amazing things He has in store for us. Let’s press forward. Together.

Wardrobe Malfunction .. or .. Ridiculous Journalism

9-11 … a day Americans will always remember. I remember where I was. And I remember the emotional roller coaster in the immediate days that followed. I remember the crowded churches that weekend. And I remember that America was more united than it had been in a long time before and since.

And every year, we honor those that lost their lives and remember the cost of freedom.

But this year, a photo of our First Lady circulated the twitter-verse that showed some people have way too much time on their hands and/or that people can be a bit ridiculous. So why do I discuss it? It’s a little funny. And it’s a little sad.

I guess it’s all about perspective and choosing to look for the positive … not the asinine.

What was it? Our First Lady wore a coat … black with some white stitching for style. The lower back of the coat had a slit for comfort, style, and movability. The trim had a white stitch (seen on the belt as well) and a button latch that also had the white stitching.

Here’s the rub … some saw the pic (from a distance at that) and said it was an intentional slap in the face of those in the twin towers. They stated the stitching was specifically done to represent a plane flying into the tower.

Me, it look more like the Washington monument with the elevator flying out. But I watch too many apocalyptic disaster movies.

It’s just a stitch. It’s … just … a … stitch.

What will we focus on? What dominates our minds? And why do we need to voice things just because we think them? Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty sarcastic at times … too much so. But I hope that most my thoughts are those which align with this great saying …

What a better place, better nation, better world it would be.

What are your thoughts about today?

Please forgive my ignorance of correct garment terminology. My extent of knowledge comes from the movie The Devil Wears Prada, and that is not a lot.

Felicity Huffman … Elitism Slammed by Elitist

It was a college scandal that rocked the rich. Top schools involved. Six figure bribes. Test taking shortcuts. Some of Hollywood elites connected. And more.

Recently, Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty, appealed to the court as a mother who tried to do whatever she could to help her daughter. She gave some reasonable excuses, but still, excuses. She pleaded for mercy … no jail time. She accepts fines, community service, probation, but no jail.

The women on The View discussed this. They claimed she was rich, entitled, and tried to ‘game the system’. They expressed she deserves to go to jail, for a long period of time. They called it elitism at its worst.

Now … I find this a tough scenario. But I also find it ironic. I would imagine any of those female hosts that sat around the table would also ‘game the system’ in certain situations. If they walked into a restaurant and they wanted a table, yet had no reservation, I would wager they would expect a table anyway. Good seats at a gala. Special attention at the boutique. These little perks seem welcomed and expected.

So … where is the line? When is taking a perk deemed elitism? When does being treated special become elitism? When does helping become favoritism? I get the cheating on tests is too far, but where is the line?

Someone donates a building, multi-million dollar investment, or whatever. Tell me their kid wouldn’t get in. Where is the line?

I am a pastor. Should I get a discount at Lifeway? My friend is a cop. Should they get free coffee at 7-11?

I am not sure. I am glad I am not the judge, the accused, or even one of the kids that got into college that way. (Though USC would’ve been cool).

But there are some great principles here …

  • Don’t think too highly of yourself
  • Pride comes before a fall
  • Honor others more than yourselves

I think we would be better off if we helped each other more than we looked it for ourselves. Radical? How about Biblical. In a world that is quick to judge, let’s be people who are better known for building people up.

Do Life Together – Sharing My Troubles

Sometimes I am hit pretty hard when I read the Bible. It slaps me around as I realize I need to change some of the ways I relate to other people. I’m no poster boy for sainthood but I think I’m pretty good – then wham, Scripture shakes me out of my slumber. Such was today’s reading.

Paul tell the Philippi church they are to be commended for sharing with his trouble.

Now those who know me realize I am a warm, cuddly teddy bear … okay, maybe not too cuddly, or warm, or … never mind. I do care about people. I will give, or help, or try to be there for people who need help. But sharing with others in such a way seems to leave me vulnerable, takes me out of my comfort zone, and costs more than I normally want to give.

But this said ‘share with’ … as in not just give but get down and messy with someone, taking up our own discomfort and affliction just by helping them. The word is from the root word Koinonia – a sharing of lives and hearts together, a fellowship deeper then mere casual acquaintance.

The Philippians were already suffering – yet they took upon themselves to share with Paul – an attitude and actions that show sacrifice. (Philippians 4.14)

Paul is probably referring to money here, but the principle is much broader – for elsewhere he tells us to bear one another’s burdens.

So here’s my personal challenge. I see people hurting (loss of loved one, loneliness, care taking of an elderly lived one, family crisis, spiritual struggle and doubt, health, etc.) I want to help, but I often do it reservedly. I need to have God’s heart – God’s vision for people – and trust Him more.

I can’t be all thins to all people – that’s His job. But maybe there is one out there that the Lord want to use me in sharing their load of affliction they are bearing.

How about you? Are you willing to really share in someone’s affliction? I mean, really share? Think about it.

God, I need to be more like you – humbly seeing and reaching out to those who need me. Help me to get out of my comfort zone. I know I can’t be that for everyone – but Lord, today maybe, show me at least one with whom You want me to share with using my time, my treasures, my talents … or more directly, myself.

What I Want For You

A great example of love is a big sister’s love for her baby sis. This is Lisa hugging a less enthused Nancy.

Today, I share one of my favorite prayers from The Word. may it be my prayer for you too …

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Abound in love … in a world that is hostile and losing all sense of communicating with gentility, love. In the words of Bob Goff … Love Does!

Knowledge and discernment … show love with all knowledge, and the ability to use that knowledge.

Be pure and blameless … as a child of God, you have been delivered from the penalty and the power of sin. We still have to stay vigilant and fight the good fight, so stand strong, be on guard.

Be filled with the fruit of righteousness … may your day be productive for the your walk with the Lord and for those around you. This will make Jesus so attractive to all who cross your path.

To the glory and praise of God … it ain’t about you, it’s all about Him.

Be blessed, Todd.

Please know, it is hard to pick favorite prayers. There are so many great ones. I encourage you to reflect on the many scattered throughout Scripture. I also love to read the great prayers through history. But that’s for another day.

Not Good Thought – But God Thoughts

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Part three of this series is to ‘think the positive’. It’s not so much a glass half full concept – though that’s a great insight too. It’s about transforming the way we think, the way we see others, the way we see ourselves.

PART 1 – Bringing every thought captive – realize the battle going on inside of you. Tear down falsehoods and strongholds … and bring every thought into obedience/alignment with the way Jesus thinks.
PART 2 – Renew your mind – counter the lies and half-truths with the fullness of God’s Word – the whole truth. Claim the promises that will help you overcome the anxieties. It will transform you.
PART 3 – Think the Positive – let’s look at each one in this verse…

Setting the Stage … This verse is right after a verse that encourages us to give our supplications to the Lord, which leads to the peace of God. I believe when we yield our worries, our stress, our anxieties to Him, it opens us up to His peace. And when we have His peace, we can start to see the world through His eyes. This gives way to positive thinking. The thinking on the positive doesn’t bring peace, the peace brings thinking on the positive. So whatever is …

TRUE – Thy Word is Truth. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So it brings us to meditate, dwell on, abide, learn, apply the Truth of God’s Word – the place where the Jesus is revealed. Do we see Biblical application in everything? Do you filter politics, leadership principles, economics, relationships, and employment through a Biblical world view?
HONORABLE – that which is noble, worthy of respect. Interestingly, this word is used to describe the dignified lifestyle expected of deacons and elders.
JUST – some translations use the word ‘right’. So things that align with or or consistent with the Scripture. As a plumb line shows what aligns with gravity, so we are to think of things that align with God’s Word – not straying to the right or to the left.
PURE – that which is holy, free from sin.
LOVELY – think on things that are pleasing and attractive to the Lord.
COMMENDABLE – can you say good things about these thoughts? Can you recommend that book or song or TV show without exception?

These last two are a sort of summery … if there is anything that is

Instead of the common commercial, “What’s in your wallet?”, maybe we should be asking, “What’s on your mind?”

Now, I realize the difficulty of this list when we live in a world that throws so much garbage around, so much toxicity, and so many mundane things at us. But this is what we are to strive for. And remember, it comes after we pray and give our requests to Him.
This is not an end all to all worries; we will stumble and blow it. But it is some great Biblical strategies in the warfare that goes on on our mind.

May our thoughts be God thoughts.


post script – and just for your information – My wife Lisa fits all these characteristics, so I think about her alot!!!