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And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Philippians 4:8

The human brain is an amazing component of our bodies. With it, we are able to sense, to recognize, to understand, and to remember countless things. Our brains keep track of countless important details (like heartbeats) that keep us alive. All without conscious decisions on our part. Even with the most advanced products of scientific research, we have not been able to rival what has been given to us by God with the gift of life.

One thing we must be careful about is the type of material we give our brains access to. Since the brain is like a sponge, it retains all the information it receives. A few years ago, Denny Gunderson, former president of Youth With A Mission, asked an interesting question: Would you feel comfortable if your thoughts were to be shown on a movie screen for all to see?

What we think about can have a very strong impact on the way we handle a situation or view a series of events. Thoughts lead to actions. And, if left unchecked, these can turn into negative character traits rather quickly.

The Lord wants our minds to be pure and useful for the tasks he has planned for us. It is difficult to serve effectively when a person is considering thoughts of revenge, envy, or other wickedness. Paul understood this and challenged the Philippian church to think about things that were honorable, true, lovely, admirable, and worthy of praise. This way, their actions would match their thoughts.

Would you feel comfortable if your thoughts were shown on a movie screen for all to see? It's not too late to allow God to perform some "editing" so our thinking is in line with his. The question is whether you are willing to let him do it. Can you take the list from Philippians 4 and note three or four items for each of those traits?

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Please God With Service Instead of a Culture of Honor

Tony-MorganAt the risk of not showing honor to peers in ministry, I want to tackle the topic of honor today. I’m concerned. I see a trend in churches that I think is unhealthy. Honestly, I believe it’s also unbiblical.

There are a number of churches today that are trying to teach a culture of honor. The concept of honor is biblical. In fact, Romans 12:10 tells us to:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)

We should show honor to our leaders, but God designed it to go both directions. If it’s one-way, it’s unhealthy and unbiblical.

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8 Ways to Be ‘Odd Man Out’ on a Team

Employees-arguing-cant-beHave you ever heard the phrase “odd man out? It means you didn’t fit. You don’t measure up for some reason. You were excluded. It hurts.

I’ve been that person numerous times. I get it because I’m pastor sometimes. People assume I can’t also be fun. So they don’t invite me to the party. I experienced it some in business circles. There are haves and have nots in many business circles. I was mostly in the have nots. I’ve even been excluded though for having too much. People assume because I’m not struggling like they are that I probably never have.

We’ve all been excluded at some point in life.

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Dan Reiland: The Foul Four

Dan-Reiland-headshotHave you ever opened your refrigerator and said with passion, “Whoa, what IS that smell? I have and it’s no fun. I quickly launch a breath-holding expedition to find the source of the foul smell that is making everything stink too.

We don’t just leave it there do we? We get rid of it. We agree that it’s unacceptable and do something about it.

There are things that can make your leadership team or staff “smell bad” too.

I call them the foul four. I recently checked my thinking by doing quick interviews with a half dozen “bosses” of church staff asking the question: “What are the characteristics of staff you like the least?  The four held steady.

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Nothing but the Blood Can Redeem Us

Ron-Phillips-Headshot-BlogThe Petersen House in Washington D.C. is the house across the street from Ford’s Theatre, where a mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln was taken after being shot by John Wilkes Booth. A few hours later, Lincoln succumbed to his wounds and, as then Secretary of War Edwin Stanton observed, passed into the ages.

For years, his blood-stained pillow remained on display—a testimony to the horrific events of April 14, 1865, and the violent death of one of our greatest presidents.

A while back, some friends of mine visited the Petersen House only to discover that the pillow had been removed, and placed into storage. The only item that contained the blood of the "Great Emancipator" had been taken out of public sight and put into a place where it could, potentially, be forgotten.

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Rick Warren: The Most Overlooked Key to Growing a Church

Rick-Warren-newI believe the most overlooked key to growing a church is this: We must love unbelievers the way Jesus did. Without His passion for the lost, we will be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to reach them.

Jesus loved lost people. He loved spending time with them. He went to their parties. From the Gospels, it is obvious that Jesus enjoyed being with seekers far more than being with religious leaders. He was called the “friend of sinners” (see Luke 7:34). How many people would call your church that?

Jesus loved being with people and they felt it.  Even little children wanted to be around Jesus, which speaks volumes about what kind of person he was and what kind of pastor he’d be. Children instinctively seem to gravitate toward loving, accepting people.

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