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The Elephant Walk, Part 1
Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 14:3; Joshua 1:8;...
Track 5 of 6 in the A Freedom Journey series
Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, 12 seconds.
The goal of this lesson is to give you some tools so that you never have to live on assumptions. God doesnt intend on us living in captivity. Dont be afraid to challenge everything based on what the Bible teaches. If the Bible is absolute truth then it can handle any of lifes gray or confusing issues. Assumptions confine and freedom, well it just frees us.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Elephant Walk

Many people say that elephants are very smart. Once they learn something they hardly ever forget it. Elephants develop what we call a seasonal migration, which would be like a map, of where to go to find the best food and water supply. Sometimes their trail is more than 1000 miles long. Once they make this map of where to go they don't want to change it. They can remember year after year to take the same path and they even teach their children about these paths. If you were to put something in the elephant’s way when he was traveling on this road, he would just knock it down in order to get through.

The most famous example of an elephant’s memory is illustrated in the story "Elephant Walk” (1954 Movie, Elizabeth Taylor). This is the true story of a British colonial villa, which is like a large house that was built across a traditional elephant walk in India. The elephants were confused and mad to find their way blocked, and every year at the same time, the people that worked for the owner of the house would have to defend the house by forcing the herds of elephants to go around the house to get back on the path of their traditional migration pattern.

Finally the elephants got so mad that they could not be forced to go around the house anymore, and in a rage they stormed on through the home, destroying it and killing many of the people. Once the house was gone the elephants could continue on the traditional road.

Are there things you do that are a result of conditioning? Do you do things out of habit because some told you it was the right way and they made sure you did it that way no matter what so that today, that is how you naturally do things? Can you give me any examples? What is good about this and what is not so good?

Have you ever seen this before? Why is it that the most powerful beast on the planet can’t with one little tug pull that stake out of the ground if it wanted to? It was conditioned not to.
With little effort if could break free from its stake prison. When this elephant was a little baby it was chained to that stake. And at that time it didn’t have enough strength to break free.

Somewhere along the way the elephant gave up and accepted that being chained to a stake in the ground was reality and couldn’t be changed. The adult elephant never escapes because it lives on the wrong assumption that its captivity is simply how things are.

True or False: This is as good as it gets.

Moral of the story: If you believe, you can do it, but you first must convince yourself in your own mind.

The goal of this lesson is to give you some tools so that you never have to live on assumptions. God doesn’t intend on us living in captivity. Don’t be afraid to challenge everything based on what the Bible teaches. If the Bible is absolute truth – then it can handle any of life’s gray or confusing issues. Assumptions confine and freedom, well it just frees us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight.

Freedom is Part of a Bridge

Thousands of years ago, the Romans built small humpbacked bridges over many rivers and streams throughout Europe. For 2,000 years people and wagons safely crossed over them. But today, if you were to drive a heavy truck over one, it would break. It doesn’t have a sufficiently strong base and it can’t withstand the pressures of something heavy.

Unfortunately, some Christians are like humpbacked bridges, they do fine in life until heavy burdens walk over them. If we don’t have the foundational strengths to withstand the pressures and weight of the heavy elephants in the room, we will be like the 2000 year old Roman humpbacked bridges completely unprepared for the pressures to come.

Hindu Proverb: “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time.”

Are you by nature a person when confronted by a very big challenge look for the quick fix? You look for the superhero that saves the world in under 2 hours. Or, are you by nature the person who looks at life as small bites, overcoming issues and problems one at a time until nothing it left of the massive beast that stood before you?

Someone describe for me the kind of culture we live in today? Is it a “one bite at a time” culture or a “quick fix” culture?

• Do you require everything to happen instantly?
• How good are you at waiting in line for 15 minutes while shopping?
• Can you get by with dial-up modem speeds on your computer?
• When you can’t reach someone on the phone, do you get aggravated?
• Do you expect someone from the other side of the world to respond instantly to your instant message from your cell phone?
• Do you demand things to be done at the speed of now and have little patience for…well anything?

When it comes to defining your beliefs in this mad culture, it is not a matter of a quick fix, but a journey. You can’t download it or instant message it, you can’t hurry it or even wait for it. You must attack it one bite at a time. How you deal with the massive elephants that walk over your life depends on the bites you take. The bites you take out of the beast in your life are the right questions you ask. The process of asking the right questions determines if the elephant consumes you or you consume it.

Freedom in Christ just doesn’t happen overnight. Oh yes, what God did through Jesus happened immediately, he set us free, but we are a lot like the elephant chained to the stake. We haven’t figured it out yet that we can move away from that stake any time we want. Pulling up the stake and living a life that God intends for us to live is a matter of developing the art of asking the right questions. So, let’s begin to chase down the elephants in our lives, set the table and begin to eat them one bite at a time. There are actually 16 bites; today will we look at 10. I will make available the “How to Believe” grid for all to use when making decisions.

True or False: No one has the right to impose or pass judgment on another’s opinion in dealing with morally debatable issues.

Romans 14:3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

The only option we as Christians have is to accept one another because God has accepted us.

Bite #1:Is the decision within the moral will of God?

The big challenge here is, understanding the moral will of God. Do we understand what it is or do we make up what it means based on what I want it to be? How do we find out or discover God’s moral will?

Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Bite #2: Is the decision being made in the attitude of Christ?

Romans 15:1-3a: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself…

What is the attitude of Christ?

This question needs to be asked early because if we don’t reflect this attitude, we will turn to pleasing ourselves. Our attitude will be the single most important decision that we make each day. It is the open door to wisdom and it puts us in a good position to make the wise decisions for God.

Bite #3: Is the decision being made under the control of the flesh or the Holy Spirit?

Galatians 5:13-15 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

In Galatians 5 Paul was contrasting two opposing ideas, “desires of the flesh” and the “desires of the Spirit”. In your decisions, which is it?

Bite #4: Will the decision have a personal Spiritual impact on the self?

There are basically three smaller questions to ask:

• Will it build up?
• Will it profit?
• Will it help personally?

If something isn’t good for the believer – if it doesn’t build, profit or help – it has no place, even though it might be permissible.

Bite #5: Will the decision addict or enslave?

Can someone give me the definition of “addiction”?

1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

I once read where the definition for “addiction” is “misplaced worship”. Misplaced worship in the Bible always led to idolatry. We were created to worship so we will always worship something. Misplaced worship is perverted intimacy or enslavement to something other than Jesus. Decisions that lead to bondage aren’t simply a case of mistaken freedom gone astray but a much deeper problem of perverted worship.

Bite #6:Will the decision hurt a fellow believer spiritually or set a Spiritual deathtrap?

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

The freedom journey is not about us, it is about others. If what we do causes a stumbling block for others, then we must stop, not out of compulsion, but out of love for someone. If we have knowledge that what we do offends someone, then we have to consider if what we do is worth hurting someone else?

Bite #7 is closely related to bite #4: Will our decision have a positive Spiritual impact on fellow believers?

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

If something isn’t good for our fellow believer – if it doesn’t build, profit or help – it has no place, even though it might be permissible.

Bite #8: Does the decision go against conscience?

Spiritually speaking, if a decision goes against the conscience of the decision maker, then the action is sin (Romans 14:23). But, we have to be very careful because on a practical note, we have to be very patient regarding differences in conscience. Often new followers will establish unnecessary rules to help keep from falling into sin. For you and me we might be stronger and no longer need the fences of protection. We are to accept our brother with all their fences because God has.

Bite #9: Will the decision disrupt fellowship and damage relationships with the church?
Unity is an absolute for a church. It is to be protected at all cost. Freedom is fueled by love and has love as its main mode of action. Without love, fellowship can’t exist and only broken relationships will remain.

Important rule:never allow opinions to be more important than relationships.

Bite #10: Will the decision Glorify God? Will it make a big deal about Jesus?

This is the ultimate question to ask. If what we do every day of our lives is not to make the redemptive work of Jesus central, then we are missing the whole reason why we exist as Christians. Every person should hang on their mirror this question for when they get up and get ready for the new day: “What will I do or say today that will give Glory to God in someone’s life?

As I stated in my lesson, there are actually 16 bites but due to the lack of time, I wasn't able to talk about all 16 bites. Following are the remaining bites:

Bite #11: Is the decision consistent with the rule for Christian living?

Bite #12: Will the decision remove focus on the big picture?

Bite #13: Is the decision being made out of a selfish heart?

Bite #14: Can the decision be imitated by others who understand their freedom?

Bite #15: Is the decision being made in the light of the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Bite #16: Will the decision damage reputation?