Yesterday I wrote about draft horses. Today, it’s elephants.
Many of us have heard about what happens to baby elephants that are captured. A strong chain is attached to one of their feet. The chain is then attached to a iron stake that is driven deep into the ground. No matter how hard the baby elephant tried to pull, the stake does not come out. The elephant cannot break free.
Flash forward several years and the elephant is now an adult. A rope may be attached to its foot. The rope is loosely attached to a wooden stake that is barely driven into the ground. The elephant now had all the ability in the world to pull the stake out and escape. However, it doesn’t. Why?
Because it’s conditioned to believe that it cannot break free.
The elephant story makes me wonder how much we are like that. What are we conditioned to believe that holds us back when we have the ability to move forward?
How does it show up in our relationships? Our careers? Our dreams?
only that, but I wonder how it shows up in our relationship with Christ?
What are we letting stand in our way that we have the ability to escape?
A few years ago my boss told me that I can do anything I wanted to do in my career. Guess what? He was right. There’s something else as well. I have the ability to not do anything I want. I am my own worst enemy.
What we believe about God and our relationship with Christ was taught to us early. It is like the chain and stake that holds the elephant in captivity. So much of what we were taught is junk that truly keeps us from moving forward in our walk with Christ.
It could be how we view our earthly father affecting how we view our heavenly one.
It could be our parents marriage shaping our view of Christ and His Bride.
There are countless other ways.
What is our job?
Figure out what chain was attached to our feet when we were young. Work to overcome those false notions that have been holding us back for twenty, thirty, forty years. Realize that we have the ability to pull up the stake with no problem, no matter what our emotions are telling us.
Is it easy?
No. Absolutely not.
Is it worth it?
You know it.
What chain and stake has affected you in your relationship with Christ?
Many of you know that I’ve been running and walking a lot over the past few months. I try to make good use of that time by listening to podcasts as I go. I’ve learned a great deal through the many shows I’ve listened to since July.
This past Saturday I learned something interesting. A draft horse is a powerful animal. It is larger and stronger than a Clydesdale, which I though was about the largest and strongest horses imaginable.
A draft horse can pull upwards of 800 pounds by itself. Maybe more. That is incredible. Talk about horsepower.
However, guess what happens when you team two draft horses together? You might think that two can pull double the amount of one horse. That would be 1600 pounds, right?
Well, we both would have been wrong. Harness two draft horses together to pull as a team and they will pull in the neighborhood of 3200 pounds. Think about that. Two horses together will pull basically four times the amount one horse can by itself.
I used this example when meeting with my two teams the other day.
We rely on teamwork. We simply cannot be successful in my job without it. I compared my teams to the horses. And no, I don’t mean to say they are horses.
When two of my team members work together, the results are far beyond what one can produce. They produce far more than what anyone would expect two to produce. It’r rather incredible.
What if we were like that in the Church and in our churches? What if we acted like draft horses? What would it look like?
First, we would be equally yoked. Too often we want to take pragmatic approaches to our issues. Maybe we will end up there, bu that isn’t where we should start. We should make sure that we care equally yoked with those in the Church who we work with. Two spirit-filled, Christ pursuing believers can produce incredible results.
Second, we should take our gifts, strengths and talents, and team them up with others in our pursuit of Christ. When we do that, we will go further and faster than when by ourselves.
We need to be equally yoked, Spirit-filled draft horse pulling in the same direction as Christ. Our eyes must be seeking the same direction. We need to pull together in unison and unity so that God will be glorified through Christ.
Are you a draft horse for Christ?
I got the idea for yesterday’s post from this post from my friend, Eileen. I meant to link it, but forgot to go back and do it. Sorry Eileen.
Today I want to follow up on yesterday’s post. Rob and Bill mentioned what I was hinting around at. They brought up the “L” word…legalism.
Too often we grow up in a tradition where we are taught legalism. We believe that we have to follow the rules, check the boxes, make the right steps to be right with God.
We have to live Christianity “correctly” to have any worth in His eyes. This is one of the greatest tricks of the enemy, as He knows how gracious our God is and does everything he can to fool us into missing that.
Fortunately, Jesus lived life “correctly” so that we don’t have to. And so that we can.
You see without Christ, we have no hope. We can’t live correctly. It’s not possible. We have no chance. He looked at the Father and said, “Let me do it for them. They can’t do it.” And the Father said for him to go for it.
Now, though, the Father has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. It’s only post coming to Christ that we have a chance to live correctly. Not through our own power. No, now positionally, we are living correctly. And through His power we are moving daily toward living “correctly” in reality.
So, no, I can’t live “correctly” on my own. But I can when He does it through me.
What a glorious God we have.
Are you living “correctly”?
My friend, Eileen, wrote a post a couple of days ago. In it she made a statement that struck a chord with me.
For too many years I had it wrong. I thought way too much about how to be a Christian, “correctly.”
I think that is a problem that I have faced for much of my life. If it’s a problem from me, I bet that it’s a problem that many others have faced. There’s just one problem.
What does being a Christian “correctly” look like?
It seems that many of us have a picture of what correct Christianity looks like in our minds. We probably have some similarities, but we also have many differences. We take a snapshot of it with our mental camera. Our own personal photograph becomes “correct” Christianity. Others become wrong. That is until we grow to the point where we understand that each picture may stand on its own merits.
My picture is no better than yours. Yours is no better than mine. No one person’s is necessarily right or wrong. We’re all on a journey. Our goal is Christ.
How do we do Christianity correctly? We pursue Jesus. We might falter taking a few steps. We might take a few different paths. But if He is our aim, we’re headed in the right direction.
Have you been guilty of trying to live Christianity “correctly”?
We’ve reached Paul’s final words to Philemon. It also happens to be my final Sunday at Big Meadow for another year. It is, with some of the same emotion, that I think Paul and I come to these final words. Paul examines the relationships that make it possible for him to continue his ministry despite being imprisoned. My ministry and Paul’s both come down to the same things: a relationship with the Lord and relationships with people.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. If you spent any time with me during Philippians this summer, then you will remember Epaphras. He carried that letter back to Philippi. He risked his life and was to the point of death to help Paul.
We know Mark mostly from his gospel. He also was a cousin of Barnabas and was the reason Paul and Barnabas split. Somewhere he came under the influence of Peter and grew in the faith. Obviously he and Paul reconciled at some point.
Aristarchus was a long time associate of Paul’s . He was with him at Ephesus when the riots happened. He was shipwrecked with Paul on the way to Rome.
Demas is a sad case. At this point he is working with Paul, but later in 2 Timothy Paul refers to him as having deserted Paul because of his love of the world.
There is not much that we have to say about Luke. He was a doctor and wrote his gospel and the book of Acts. He was another long time companion of Paul
Why did Paul bring these men up? He wanted Philemon to know that they stood with him and that not only would he be accountable to Paul, but to these men as well.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Paul’s conclusion is similar to almost all of his conclusions. He prays for grace for Philemon. He wants the grace that Philemon experienced through Christ to be evident in his treatment of Onesimus.
What are out takeaways?
1. Relationships are the name of the game in our walk of faith. Once we have our relationship with Christ, we need relationships with our fellow believers to help us in our walk with Christ.
2. Grace is the cornerstone of our faith. The grace we receive and the grace we exhibit.
Recently a gal came by my desk asking if I waned to buy a key ring. Another person at work makes key chains that highlight particular high schools.
I didn’t buy one, but it did cause me to pause and look at my key ring. As I recalled while talking to Jan, it’s about twenty-seven years old. An old girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday in 1987. All that is left is the actual ring part. There is no attachment, though I think it used to have that said “Destined For Greatness.”
What is even more interesting is that it has exactly two keys on it: my truck key and my house key. I don’t have any others. I don’t want any more. That’s it.
This story made think of blog post from James Clear this week. You can read it here if you like.
The post talks about a guy who asked Warren Buffett about goal setting. Buffett told to write down his top 25 goals. Then he told him to pick the top 5 out of those. Then his advice was to focus on those 5 goals and don’t even think about the other 20 until he had achieved those 5.
That’s why I like only having two keys on my key ring. I only have to think about two keys. No others distract me. I’ve seen people who have so many keys that it takes them forever to open a lock.
What if we did that with our spiritual lives? What if we focused on one or two things in our spiritual life? Too often we can become distracted by so many choices. We allow too many things into our lives. What if we stripped down our lives to a more simple and basic structure?
I don’t know if that’s the answer. What I do think is that instead of being generalists in our spiritual lives and relationship with Christ, we should be monogamous. We need to quit flirting with everything and be true to our one true love.
Do you let yourself become distracted in your relationship with Christ? Do you need fewer “keys” on your spiritual key ring?
My sister recently moved back to the area after being away for the past nineteen years. She is still trying to organize herself after the move. I’m sure she still will be for some time.
There’s one other thing that she has to face now that she is back in a new town. She has begun the search for a new church. It reminds me of our own church search about three years ago. I understand, somewhat, what she is going through.
I’m not sure what she is looking for in a church. If I had to guess, I would bet that she lands in a church larger than ours. I tend to want a church that is no bigger than two or three hundred at most. Of course, I wouldn’t leave if my church grew larger.
As I have thought about it, though, I’ve realized that when considering a church the question of the size is probably the wrong question.
The question should be about where the Lord wants you. Where can the gifts He has given you be best utilized.
Is the Gospel being preached and proclaimed that will speak to the hearts of both those who do and those who do not know Him?
Is the church dysfunctional? It wouldn’t take long to figure that out.
Does the church care about reaching the community in which it resides?
Is the church serious about being in community with those who comes each week?
Is the church mission minded?
There are tons of other questions that should be asked. If I was beginning my church search again, I would fill a page full of questions. No one church would be able to answer them all. But I would ask them.
What questions would you ask if you were going to search for a church?