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

assuming responsibility. Super responsibility. That’s not a good thing.

Self tries to live the Christian life. Self does good Christian work. Self loves to chair committees. Self likes to volunteer in the food pantry and the clothes closet.  Self loves to teach Bible Study. Self lives to volunteer. Self never says no. Self is “self” confident. Self likes to think it’s “self-sufficient”.

Self likes to play leader. Self becomes arrogant when someone has a better idea than self.  Self thinks it knows best. Self worries. Self gets full of self. Self stands up for self’s rights. Self knows how to do things right around its church. Self pouts when it doesn’t get its own way. Self is unyielding in its attitudes towards others. Self looks for greener grass. Self seeks greatness and  notoriety for its achievements and holiness. Self is judgmental. Self is self-conscious. Self takes even constructive criticism personally. Self likes to be right. But self is humble. If you don’t believe it ask self.

Self is such a failure.

Self needs breaking. As long as self seeks to be in control God can do little in self or through self. But self can not break its will to God’s will. It has to be a sanctifying work of God and God alone. Coming to the end of self is a life-long journey coming to the ultimate realization that “self” is not as smart or wise as “self” thinks.

Paul said in Philippians,

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Those verses are tough pills for self to swallow. And it’s only by the sanctifying work of Christ living in us that we can ever get to the end of self.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

 That’s the end of self. The end of you. The end of me.

Put your helmet on

Come on folks it’s time to get serious. 

We are in a war

We’re not at war in Afghanistan, not Iran, not Syria, We’re in a battle between our ears for our hearts and thought life.  It’s a battle for our culture, for our families, our communities and for our spiritual lives. I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan ort spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up their pews every Sunday.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

When is the last time you pleaded with Satan to flee from your presence? When’s the last genuine “Come-to Jesus “ meeting you had with yourself or a close friend about it? When is the last time a trial befell you and you knew it was Satan? When did you last sin or when was the last time you were disobedient? Did you talk with a close friend or your pastor about it? When did you last talk about Satan with friends?”

 Here’s a question: Do you think we talk about Satan too much or too little?

 Do you think we are at war spiritually or do you think that’s just a bunch of Biblical mumbo jumbo nonsense and you don’t want to be troubles with it at all.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years, he’s thinking about us every moment looking for someone to devour–to kill, discourage or ruin their day. Every time Satan tells you a lie and you believe him, he’s had a good day.

I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan or spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Howard Beale got mad enough  to go to war.    In the 1975 classic movie Network Howard let everyone know how he felt in his radio audience when he shouted into his mike, ” I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Are you mad enough to go to war? Then strap your helmet on. It’s time. Or would you rather sit on your complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Maybe he’s not even paying attention too many Christian who are afraid to go to war.l lives. We’ve got to get off of our complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and go to war to preserve the Gospel that saved us and gave us new life.

When is the last time you cursed him for messing with you?  When is the last time you  commanded him to flee from you? When is the last time you thought about Satan? Thought about Evil? Thought about your own disobedience?  When’s the last time you thought about sin? Yours or someone else’s.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years  he’s thinking about us every waking moment looking for somebody to destroy  or just discourage someone or ruin someone’s day or just get them off their game.

I would venture a guess that he’s not paying attention to lots of Christians who are afraid to go to war and prefer to sit on their complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and let other folks go to war.

What brand of nacre do you use?

No, it’s not misspelled. What brand of  n-a-c-r-e  do you use?

 Of course that begs the question,  what on earth is necra?

Nacre is the filmy layer of goo an oyster secretes to cover a grain of sand that has embedded itself in the oyster shell and become a nasty irritant.  The necra eventually hardens around the irritating grain of sand and exerts so much pressure on the  grain of sand  that it over time it becomes a beautiful diamond.of inestimable value.

Back to the main question– what brand of necra do you use?  Of course we don’t have any necra laying around when things irritate us to the point of distraction. Walmart doesn’t carry it. either. And there’s no limit to  the kind or severity of irritants we experience. The irritant can be is pesky as a snoring spouse or a banging toilet or a neighbor who parks two of his wheels on your grass.

Admit it. Things and people  irritate us almost every day.

Unlike the oyster we don’t have any goo to make the irritation go away or turn it into a sparkling diamond. If we don’t dispatch that pesky irritation, it will continue to fester and gnaw at us and make us miserable.

Let me  share  a two-step process it is guaranteed to minimize or completely eradicate any irritation you might experience.

Bathe yourself  in Psalms

It doesn’t matter which Psalms you read.  Just open your Bible and start reading Psalm after Psalm. . The Psalms will begin changing your attitude and lifting your Spirit.  Reading Psalms will give you an entirely new perspective of your irritations and give you God’s perspective and scriptures on how to handle them.

Remember, recite and meditate on Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is not just a promise God makes to us. It is something God does for us in our daily lives.  First of all every choice we make and everything we do gets filtered through God’s love and grace for us. And he uses our choices, decisions and actions for our ultimate good.  So if you are dealing with irritations in your life keep in mind  that God is going to turn it all into something for our good.

And bye bye irritations .If you don’t believe this method will work for you, try it and prove me wrong.

Horoscope Hijinks

What’s your sign, man?

Horoscopes used to play an important role in my relationships–especially with women.. This was during my prodigal son romp through my recently divorced mid-life wilderness. 

When I became interested in a woman, the first place I went was Linda Goodman’s book Sun Signs to see if the woman and I would be horoscopicly (my word) compatible.If our signs didn’t cross and our stars didn’t align I was history. No way was I going to spend time, energy or money  on a horoscopic misfit.  

 It took me almost a decade and some serious Bible study and a boatload of God’s grace to figure out that I was born under a very different sign.  It read, ‘”Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

And I was adopted that moment by my Heavenly Father and became a son of God with all the riches in glory through my Savior, Jesus

Later it was hard to believe but for several years I looked to Satan’s lies in those horoscopes. That I would allow something Satan authored to help me make life choices and influence  some of my  personal relationships with so much Satanic bunk.

“So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ For it is a lie that they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish.”.  Jeremiah 27:9-10

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people .Leviticus 20:6.

I don’t think any serious believerr and disciple of Jesus Christ can justify astrology or horoscopes. Dare I say, you can’t believe in or follow Jesus authentically and follow astrology at the same time? I have known people claiming to be believers who check their horoscope in the morning paper religiously.  they read their horoscopes more religiously than they read their Bibles.

 If you are reading horoscopes now or relying on astrology to influence you at all let me encourage you do a word study on astrology. Find out what God’s word says. God’s word is truth. Horoscopes and astrology are both based on lies straight from the pit of hell.

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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/

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Having The Good Life

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

Do you want more of God’s kindness and peace? Do you want to john edknow God better? Do you want to be open to His power which gives many rich and wonderful blessings that He has promised? These are all questions that Peter asks in 2 Peter 1:2-7.

It all begins with faith. Faith is when we receive the gift of God’s grace and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord. Years ago someone shared with me an acronym of faith as Forsaking All I Take Him. That’s faith.

Peter reminds us that faith is the beginning, but not the end. Some people view faith as an insurance policy or ticket to heaven, but hope that it doesn’t interfere with their present lives. Faith is the beginning that leads to the life of peace and blessings and the gifts of God. Peter then lists four steps to what he calls “the good life.”

Step 1. “To obtain the gifts of God, you need more than faith – you must work hard to be good” (2 Pet. 1:5). I’ve been around people who say they are Christians but are not very good people. Their faith hasn’t filtered down to their language, or attitudes, or pocketbook, or motives. I don’t think that’s real faith, because faith expresses itself in being a good person.

Step 2. “We should learn to know God better and discover what He wants us to do” (2 Pet. 1:5). James reminds us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Faith puts us in such a position that God’s gifts become evident as we use them to serve Him. The big struggle in life is determining whether we are doing what we want to do or doing what He wants us to do.

God has given each of us a gift. Many people are too often recruited to serve at church just to fill a slot. They feel guilty if they say no, so they try to serve in an area in which they are not gifted. That can end in frustration and burn out. People who know their spiritual gifts, and then deploy them in His service, discover the greatest joy there is in life. Jesus said, “When you lose your life in My service, you find Life” (Mat. 10:25).

Step 3. “Become patient and Godly, gladly letting God have His way with you” (2 Pet. 1:6). Being patient means we are on God’s timetable and not ours. It means we don’t put a period where God puts a comma. Patience is not a weak term, but a strong term, because it requires us to allow God to be in charge of our motives and actions (Tweet this). The word patient is followed by the word Godly which means that we do things the way God would do them.

Peter says “gladly.” I’m afraid a lot of times in life we only reluctantly let God have His way with us. We even complain about it at times. When we submit to Him gladly, we open up the possibilities of what God can do through us. Step 4. “Enjoy other people and like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply” (2 Pet. 1:7).

This means that we have to learn to relate to people. We have to communicate. We can’t harbor prejudice. We first begin to like people, then we can grow to love them. Read Matthew 22:37.

Peter then gives a warning –“Whoever fails to go after these additions to faith is blind indeed – or at least very short-sighted.” God has given us faith so that we “can live a strong, good life for the Lord” (2 Pet. 1:9).

The Good Life is a gift provided for us through faith and our works that are a result of that faith!

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