A friend told me today about a bull he raised on a farm when he was younger. This bull had a several foot wide set of horns. If you challenged him by walking straight up to him, he would wave those horns back and forth and attack. He felt threatened and went into defense mode. That is probably what happened to Steve Irwin this week when he was killed by that stingray. The ray was fine until it felt threatened.

My friend told me that if he came alongside that bull, he could pet it, walk with it, and lead it around anywhere. It was not threatened by someone walking alongside.

People are like bulls. When we seek to effect change to their established position or preference, if we take it head on, they resist, go into a defensive posture and attack. They are shut down immediately. But if we come alongside and show them the benefit of the new approach in fulfilling the vision, they tend to be more open and will walk with you.

I encourage you to come alongside people rather than take them head on. Periodically, you will find a bull that cannot be dealt with in any other way than head on. At that point, God will give you flint for a forehead (see Ezekiel). But for the most part, we will get further ahead in effecting change if we come alongside people and watch the Lord change their hearts and attitudes.

Steve Dennie and I have been on a mission. The shipping area of our building was in need of some cleaning. Yesterday we finished phase two of what will turn out being a four or five phase project. As we tossed, rearranged, choked, and organized, I found myself drawing many parallels to us as people, and our lives. Let me share some of my observations:

1. It is possible to continue to function in life even when our life is cluttered with the unnecessary or with junk from the past. But not to our potential.

2. Our capacity for better, newer or greater things is stymied by trying to hold on to our past, even if we think that the things from our history may prove useful in the future.

3. Like ourselves, others near us are aware of the tremendous need to deal with the clutter of our lives. But while there may be quiet murmurings among them, they never seem to push the issue.

4. We hold onto things that represent people, events, and methods that once held great importance to us. While remembering can be good, those things belong put into perspective in the archives and not taking up space in our present.

5. It takes time to work through processing the junk in our lives, but it is well worth the investment.

6. Others see the hard work you are doing and celebrate the value of it with you.

7. It is possible for us to lose track of all the available resources we have because they get so spread out. If we took a little time periodically to bring life back into order, it would help us know what we have.

8. Cleaning up one area of life spurs you on to tackle other areas of life. Life is a continual process.

9. The tools we need to move the heavy loads are available if we ask.

10. Cleaning up our lives helps us help others more effectively.

These are a few observations that flew past the dust balls that were circulating in my head during the process. We have a plan to continue our work over the next months.

What areas need addressed in your life or in the life of your church? Why not take the initiative to do something about it now, before you go through another year of life or ministry functioning below your potential?

Jesus makes available all the tools that we need.