The other cheek

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Living under the other shoe

shoe dropFor years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When  I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did.  A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution.  I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?

Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”

I’ve never worried about that shoe again.

 

It won’t get any better

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Today is National Bipolar Day

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What’s your AQ — Attitude Quotient?

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I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Hump day humor/Midweek madness

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Do I have to draw you a picture?

“Well, [pause] yes,” he said. [Pause again] “Sometimes you may have to.” Continue reading

What’s your FQ? your faith quotient?

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“Christian” is a lousy adjective

A Jewish lady answered a knock at her door. The young man asked her if she wanted her house painted. It needed painting, so she took his card. She noticed a fish symbol on the card and asked him what it meant. “It means I’m a Christian painter,” he said.

In my opinion, calling yourself a “Christian” anything presents two problems. First, no one has ever explained to me what a Christian is in Biblical terms. Any definition fails to capture what Jesus taught us about following Him.

And second, using “Christian” to describe a “painter” does not help me learn anything about the person holding the brush and ladder. Does a “Christian painter” paint differently from a “Catholic painter” or a “Muslim painter” or, “atheist painter”? The woman wanted her house painted. All she cared about was whether or not the guy could paint.

Too many times I think folks use “Christian” to describe their business to persuade their customers they’re more honest or ethical than “non-Christian” businesses. That somehow their “Christian business” ethics or integrity or quality of work is superior to their competitors who don’t flash a “Christian” label in their front window or on their business cards.

Too often we hear stories of bad experiences some consumers have with “Christian” businesses who flash their fish symbols then act just like the world in the market place. Those “Christian” business folks drive people away from The church and away from Jesus. One bad “Christian” business deal can destroy dozens of potential good business deals with authentic followers of Jesus who take Jesus to work every day.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23

Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to flash a “Christian” label to attract more customers, or to describe one’s integrity or character. Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to convince others of their faith. The way we love others is all we need to bear witness to our integrity and our character.

What is your FQ–focus quotient?

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson.  We knew each other injohn ed college, and we were in seminary together at Emory. He became the pastor of the largest Methodist Church in America at First Methodist in Houston, Texas.  I had the privilege to work with him on a lot of things for renewal in The United Methodist Church.  He retired early to North Alabama; sadly, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bill was a great preacher.  I’ll never forget his telling about lion tamers who go into the cage with lions.  They carry a four-legged stool.  They also carry whips, poles, and pistols, but the purpose of the stool is fascinating.

The lion tamer always holds the stool by the back and points the four legs toward the face of the wild animal.  The animal tries to focus on all four legs at once.  When he does this, a kind of paralysis comes over him, and the animal becomes weak and disabled because his attention is fragmented and is unable to focus.

Too often we try to focus on too many things, and we become victims of discouragement and disappointment, and ineffective living.  A lack of focus is destructive.

One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 12:1-2.  The backdrop is an athletic event, the race.  The writer describes that the runner always runs with focus and purpose.  He says, “We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega of our faith.”

You never see a runner win who is multi-focused while he is running.  You don’t see him waving to people up in the crowd, or “hot-dogging.”  The runner who wins focuses on the finish line and runs straight towards it.  He  doesn’t  look at his competitors!  He doesn’t get distracted.  He is focused!

One of the big differences in success and failure is how well we are able to focus.  Someone has said, “The successful man is the average man – focused.”

When a football team goes out of town for the big game, much of the planning centers on how to keep the team focused.  Play off and championship games carry with them many distractions.  The more focused a team can be, the better it will perform.  Last year a German soccer team immediately changed hotels for its training camp.  They found that a beauty contest was taking place at that resort hotel with 400 Russian models.  Smart coach!

There is a convicting Old Testament story about a guard who was looking after an enemy who had been captured.  His responsibility was to focus on keeping the prisoner secure.

When his leader came to check on him, they discovered the prisoner had escaped.  The leader wondered how that could happen.  Was the guard overpowered by the prisoner, or did some colleagues come and help the man escape?  He asked the guard to explain.  His explanation was, “While I was busy here and there, the prisoner escaped” (1 Kings 20:39-40).  The guard had not stayed focused on his duty!

Stay focused on your purpose.  A huge traffic jam recently occurred in Alabama where a truck driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a loose tooth.  He crashed his 18-wheeler along Interstate 20.  While he grabbed hold of the troublesome tooth, he lost control, jack-knifed and veered off the road.  He forgot about driving and focused on pulling his tooth.  The highway patrol verified his dilemma when he said, “He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof!”  But that did not untangle the traffic jam or fix his truck.

Remember, a lack of focus can paralyze you.  Stay focused!

What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

1Listen to John Ed Mathison's one-minute daily devotional on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/johned.mathison/ and click “PLAY" on the audio YouTube in order to listen.  Or you can go to his ministry page at  https://www.facebook.com/JohnEdMathisonLeadershipMinistries/

7 ways to resolve conflicts

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Whole lotta shoutin’ goin’ on

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2-decades-old prayer still strikes a nerve

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What’s your QQ –your Quit Quotient?

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It’s been one of those days

Murphy’s law on steroids.

Whatever could go wrong today went wrong. From the moment I left the house this morning until I crashed on the couch at days’s end. My soft couch was welcome respite.

I regret to say I was not a nice person today. in the throws of multiplemurphys-law setbacks I lashed out at two ladies. Both, in their respective roles were trying to help me. Both were cheerful and pleasant. I was not.

I chose to complain and become one of those antagonistic clients they practice on in  HR customer service training classes.

I sought them both out at the end of our meetings and apologized  profusely and earnestly. I resent my negative responses to people who only wanted to serve me. All I wanted to do was argue and register my dissatisfaction and disappointment. All they wanted to do was help me.

By days end I was exhausted and regreted that I responded contrary to my usually pleasant Type A, never-meet-a-stranger self. I needed relief.  I needed rest.

I came home and opened my bible and read Mathew 11:28-30 several times.  About the third or fourth time I felt His peace wash over me. I was quiet, refreshed and at rest in Jesus.

I’m so grateful that on Murphy’s law days I can always come to Jesus and let Him take away my burdens and my anxiety and give me His peace and I can rest in Him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke
is easy
and my burden is light.

A book of discipline

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Failure in 2017

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Banging on the door

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What resentment can do

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Do you ever use the “J” word in public?

Did you inow . . . Continue reading

Sharing scars

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He just loved her

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Potluck religious stew

Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.

The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper.  More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”.  The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word.  The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.

“I’ve made myself available
    to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
    by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
    to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
    to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
    who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
    are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
    a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG

Go ahead! Take God for granted

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A young man with the right answers

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Why do “they” go to church?

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Why didn’t God just write a “To-do” list for us to follow?

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Mr. Smith Has Left The Building

Even Mr. Smith found it impossible to function honestly in Washington. Continue reading

Some encouraging words

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Fighting, Finishing, Faith

By Dr. John Ed Mathisonjohn ed
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

When you pick someone to fight, be careful about the illusion of outward appearance that can be deceiving. Nobody except God would have picked the little shepherd boy David to fight a nine-foot tall Philistine Goliath. What you see on the outside doesn’t always measure what is on the inside! An old adage says “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog!” Let me give you some modern examples of effective fighters:

A Brazilian mugger recently attempted to rob a woman. She appeared to be an easy target. Little did he know that she was a mixed martial arts champion. Monique Bastos, 23, is a professional MMA fighter. She knocked the man to the ground and wrapped her legs around his neck in a “lion killer choke” until police arrived. It was videoed by an onlooker. The mugger picked the wrong woman to deal with!

A great American fighter died in 2015. His name was Ben Kuroki. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Ben wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Force. He was rejected by recruiters – they doubted his loyalty since he was the son of an immigrant Japanese farmer.

Ben drove 150 miles to another Army recruiter who signed him up. He had to endure a lot of doubts and racial slurs, but once people began to see his skills, they made him a B-24 tail gunner. Despite the policy that people of Japanese descent could not serve aboard bombers, Ben flew missions over North Africa. The rule was superseded because of his superb talents. He said, “For the first time I belong.” He also went on missions in northern Europe and took part in raids over Nazi oil fields in Romania. 310 fliers

in his group were killed. When he finished 25 missions, the policy was to let people go home. Kuroki insisted on flying more raids “to prove my loyalty.” By outward appearances, he was considered “ineligible.” But inwardly he made a difference in American history. His crew mates nicknamed him “Most Honorable Son.” In 2005, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. At the ceremony, he said, “I had to fight for the right to fight for my own country, and now I feel vindication.”

Another Japanese American who fought a different kind of fight is my friend Rev. Ben Sawada. He was constantly fighting against Satan who seeks to destroy – Ben always won! He grew up in Mobile, Alabama and entered the Methodist ministry. He had to endure the same kind of doubts and racial slurs that all Japanese Americans endured during the 1950s and 1960s. Ben is one of the finest Methodist ministers I’ve ever known. I’ve spoken at a lot of churches where he has served, and he is always referred to as one of the most beloved pastors of that church.

Ben Sawada has a keen sense of humor. He once was invited to speak at a banquet that drew people from several states. A high ranking Methodist was also at the head table and just assumed Ben couldn’t speak English. He made such statements as “like-ee tea or like-ee coffee? Like-ee food?” Ben said nothing. After Ben gave a stirring speech using impeccable English, he sat down, and the man and his table mate were embarrassed and astonished. Ben, in his inimitable way, looked at him, smiled and said, “Like-ee speech?”

Whether you are fighting giants, muggers, American enemies, or Satan’s forces – don’t judge an effective fighter by an outward appearance. Be sure you are wearing the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Be like Paul who finished his career saying “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7-8).
Are you ready to fight, finish, and keep the faith?
John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

The 800-pound resentment in the room

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Detaching to detox

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Perseverance pays off

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Bobby Kennedy’s speech on Martin Luther King’s assassination

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A tinge of guilt

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My response to the tragic murders in Dallas, Orlando, San Bernadino and beyond

Editor’s Note: I wrote this blog post two days before the
police murders in Baton Rouge.

A fellow blogger on Bloggermeetup.com challenged us to write a blog post conveying our thoughts and feelings about the killings in Dallas, Orlando, San Bernardino and beyond. Here I goes . . .

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My conversation with an atheist

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How do you look at things?

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Comments from “Can someone explain this to me?” post

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Bill Gates rules for life and living

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Are we drifting?

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Sometimes helping loved ones grow up is painful.

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Self is a four-letter word

When we use, or you hear someone use, the word “try” that means “self” is vying for control. Self is

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Confessions of a serial adulterer

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I could get a PhD in “STUPID”

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When you want to hear from God

Editor’s Note: I can’t count the times I’ve wanted (needed) to hear from God and didn’t. I’m an impatient sort, so I feel uncomfortable when God says, “Wait.”  My blogging friend, Kelly Baker, wrote an excellent post on her blog about three things we might consider when we need to hear from God. I wanted to share her insights and thoughts with all my readers.  Be blessed.


By Kelly Baker
Guest author
Blogging at KellyrBaker.com

Don’t we love it when God gives clear direction straight into our spirit? Generally speaking, He doesn’t always do that! One day I longed to hear from God. I worshipped.

Silence.

I prayed. I asked. I went to battle with the Word.kellyrBaker

More silence.

I waited.

Again, exasperating silence.

A Psalm of David. I pray to you, O LORD, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die. Psalm 28:1 NLT

This particular translation of this verse makes me chuckle. I’m sure there is a more productive solution than self-pity.😉 But, what do we do when He says nothing? Why does He say, “Wait”?

We all desire to hear His voice clearly, and when we haven’t we wonder what are the possible reasons. It’s not easy to be at peace with His temporary silence, but we can be sure He has a purpose in it.

3 Actions While Waiting on God’s Answer 

1. Spend time with God daily. Could it be that He wants to fill our hunger and thirst? He desires that we know Him more and more through His Word. When we study the Bible, we begin to know God’s character. I’ve thought of someone in the midst of a situation and said, “I already know what that person would say!” When we know someone well, we can easily hear that person’s voice playing in our head. When we regularly spend time with God, it becomes easier to “know” what He would say in those times when we feel He is silent. We can then more readily relate His Word to our circumstances.

2. Consent to character development. There may be times when we open our Bible while seeking Him for specific direction, and the Holy Spirit will illuminate the words we’re reading. Suddenly, there is an answer staring us in the face, maybe even from an entirely different angle. He might be telling us we need to make an adjustment. It might not have been the answer we thought we needed, but the one He knows we need. He often gives us what we don’t expect, but it’s still an answer. To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet (Proverbs 27:7b KJV).

Gears3. Trust Him. God is getting every detail in place. Have you ever looked at the perfect way gears lock together and turn when they fit properly? When we wait for His timing we see Him properly align every specific, necessary facet. Sometimes we think we are stuck, but if we could take a step back and see His viewpoint we would see the big picture. We aren’t all clock makers. He is working on our big picture. He’s got it covered.

Through His seeming silence, God might be saying, “Come and know Me more,” or “An adjustment needs to be made.” At other times, He may be wanting us to let go of the stress and trust Him. He will fulfill His promises. Let’s not allow doubt to be a hindrance. A prayer of doubt will nullify a prayer of faith.

What are other reasons God may be silent, or say, “Wait”?

I wish I had said (done) something.

When I published my “I with I hadn’t done that” post several days ago, I got an interesting flip side perspective. . . Continue reading

We change our clothes, we change our minds, but . . .

we often fear
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“What do Facebook and CB radios have in common?”

online etiquette Continue reading