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 multiple 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.”
When Jesus encountered a man who had been afflicted for 38 years, He gave him three commands: Get up; pick up your mat; and walk.
if I make a conscious, deliberate decision to get up, to obey Jesus, to do what Jesus tells me to do, my life will change. It’s a lot easier, and more comfortable sometimes, to remain where we are. To remain in the grasp of a place we don’t want to be, but don’t have the courage, or the faith, to do what Jesus tells us to do.
Like the sick man Jesus encountered, I need to make an effort to change, especially if I’m lounging on a mat of my own creation. I have to want to get well. I need to obey Jesus’ command. The man needed to take action.
Then Jesus told the man to pick up his mat. John 5:9 says, “Immediately the man became well.”
I’d be willing to wager he showed that mat to everyone he met, skipping through the streets testifying to how Jesus had healed him. His mat became his message. God used the man’s 38 years of affliction as his testimony to God’s faithfulness and powers of healing.
Finally, Jesus told the man to walk. It was finally time for him to act. Once Jesus has touched us, impacted our lives and healed us, He wants us to walk out our testimonies. To share our healing with others.
I am a victim of post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. We experienced a homicide in our home November 10, 2013. Following the murder the PTSD set in and it took several months of weekly counseling for me to work through it. When I did, I shared my story in recovery groups, church groups and with others who experienced PTSD. I walked my story out and could tell others, “I know how you feel.” Because I did. I was able to share understanding and compassion with them. And others shared their stories with me as well. We share a bond that others can’t share. But as we walk out our experience, we grow stronger and closer to the Lord. I am forever grateful for all the things God showed me as I lay on that mat.
Maybe someday I’ll write about all that.
If you missed the post, “Get up”, you can read it here.
If you missed the post, “Pick up your mat”, you can read it here.
If you’d like to read about the homicide and the source of my PTSD, You can read the full post here.
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
In life we have two choices – we can focus on the bad things that happen or we can focus on how good God is.
Our tendency is to focus on the negative, but that can play tricks with our minds. The Bible reminds us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Ps. 23:7). Our mindsets govern our actions and attitude.
There is a book in the Old Testament called Lamentations which addresses a negative mindset. In the first three chapters, Jeremiah gives a long litany lamenting how bad things are. His beloved city, Jerusalem, which “once thronged with people, was silent now. She sits like a widow broken with grief alone in her mourning. She was once a queen of nations, is now a slave” (Lam. 1:1).
Jeremiah describes his initial reaction. “I begged my allies for help. False hope, they could not help at all. Nor could my priests and elders. They are starving in the streets while searching through the garbage for an ounce of bread” (Lam. 1:19). “There is no one anywhere to help” (Lam. 1:21).
He continues, “I cried until tears no longer came. My heart is broken as I see what has happened to my people:little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. They cry out, ‘Mama, Mama, we want food’ and then collapse on their mothers’ shrunken breasts. Their lives ebb away like those wounded in battle” (Lam.2:11). Jeremiah describes himself like one who “cannot escape. I am fastened with heav chains. My path has been filled with detours” (Lam. 3:7).
In the midst of this sad litany, Jeremiah changes his way of thinking. The key word is in Chapter 3, verse 21, when he says, “Yet.” I love that word “yet.” It means that change is fixing to take place. He says, “Yet there is one ray of hope. God’s compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. God in His faithfulness, His loving kindness begins afresh each day” (Lam. 3:21-22).
The quality of life we enjoy sometimes hangs on the ability to use that word Yet. Read my blog from July 15, 2015, about the prophet Habakkuk regarding the Yet mindset. Habakkuk knew how to let the Yet mindset govern his thinking and actions. When you get down, get up to the Yet mindset that focuses on His compassions and His mercies and His faithfulness. (Tweet this)
One of my favorite hymns, based on Lamentations, says – Great is Thy faithfulness /Great is Thy faithfulness / Morning by morning new mercies I see / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided / Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.
This hymn is a great witness of how faithful God is. We discover it every day. The last verse says – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth / Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide / Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow / Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
That’s a Yet mindset! It doesn’t deny the fact that things can be tough, but it affirms the fact that God’s faithfulness is stronger than our toughest situation, and His blessings are in the thousands!
We have a choice. A choice determines a consequence. You can choose to live on the negative side – and focus on how bad things are – and you can be completely overcome. Or you can say “Yet” and let God help you change your thinking to the positive side – to focus on how faithful and merciful He is. The Yet mindset makes possible unbelievable results!
Let God help you get a Yet mindset!!
By John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Ministries
My experience with Sunday School at Frazer is an excellent example. Early in my ministry I put together a visionary group called the Joel Team to help discern God’s vision for the future. One layperson suggested that Sunday School attendance had to grow in our church. This bucked the trend because United Methodist Sunday School had been declining over the last 50 years. Our Sunday School was small, but these creative laypeople began to discuss how we could change that trend.
We discovered that some of the larger Sunday School classes were meeting in smaller rooms, and some of our smaller classes were meeting in larger rooms. This isn’t good stewardship in the use of the facility.
Let me remind you that Sunday School classes have a tendency to have ownership of their space. They go to great efforts to upgrade the looks of their classroom. The window treatments, the altar tables, etc. are oftentimes personally made by members of the class. One layperson suggested, “Why don’t we look at Sunday School attendance every six months and rearrange the rooms to give the largest rooms to the largest classes.”
Caution! This is a huge change. People began to see that every Sunday School class might have to change rooms. But the question is – do we want to grow a Sunday School or do we want to have business as usual and keep our own rooms? Change would be necessary.
The Joel Team, consisting of people from all age groups, said that our core value is to grow our Sunday School. To do that it would be necessary to place the largest classes in the largest rooms. It was voted on and passed unanimously, because the core value did not center around the inconvenience of change but the vision of growing the Sunday School.
Every six months the average attendance of each class is recorded and the rooms are assigned accordingly. The Sunday School grew to three sessions each Sunday morning. Each room is used three times. If you go to Frazer today you will see no permanent Sunday School class names on a door. There are actually three slots for 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 Sunday School. Each class has a nameplate that they can slide into that slot. The classrooms change accordingly to average attendance and the size of the room.
It has also created a bit of competition. If you want to keep your Sunday School room, you need to be inviting people and growing!
Another layperson suggested that the best way to grow our Sunday School is to start new classes. Because the tendency to give a new Sunday School class a room that is not being used (because nobody else wanted that room) you design defeat for the new class. The Joel Team suggested that we give the best classrooms to the new classes. That was a big mindset change for Sunday School classes.
All of these ideas passed our governing body almost unanimously. Because the Joel Team had representatives from every age group in the church it was not a case of “they” making a decision for radical change, but it was a “we” are a part of that deciding body.
If these proposals had been my idea, I would not have been retained as pastor very long! But this was the vision of the laypeople. When laypeople have ownership, vision becomes reality.
What was the result – Frazer grew a Sunday School that became the largest Sunday School attendance of any United Methodist Church in America!! The amount of change dictates the amount of growth. Vision became reality when people were willing to change.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org
I used to live like that.
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:9-10a New American Standard
It’s done. Jesus did it all for us. In John 17:4 Jesus told the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” He said on the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
We are “complete” in Christ. We have all the power, knowledge, and wisdom we will ever need in Christ.
The question becomes: what will we do with it all? I think for many believers, salvation is enough. They believe, “if we occupy a pew most Sundays, set a Bible on the coffee table, mumble the Lord’s prayer occasionally, usher once a quarter, give some, volunteer some–then we’ll be in good standing with the Man upstairs. Right?”
God doesn’t want us in good standing. He wants us standing on His promises. (I cringe every time I hear someone call The Creator of The Universe, my Savior, “The Man Upstairs”.) He wants us to believe and accept that we can’t do anything to “help God” sanctify us.
His work FOR us is finished. If He’s going to work IN us, He wants us to accept ourselves as complete–as righteous and holy, consecrated to God so He can mold us into His likeness.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
Many “Christians” Are Among The Worst Offenders
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Andy Stanley¹ defined “Christians” as “judgmental, homophobic, exclusionary moralists who think they are the only ones going to heaven and secretly relish the fact that everyone else is going to hell.”²
To me that describes some “Christians” who commented on posts I wrote on Jesus’ love. “Jesus Loves Homosexuals” drew more flak than any other post I’ve written. Many comments echoed Andy’s definition. To me readers’ comments revealed lack of scripture knowledge, a holier-than-thou mentality and pompous condescension.
Two friends who wrote blog posts on the issue received similar negative, belittling comments. Some pulled God’s word out of context to support their opinions, rather than allow God’s word to shape their thinking and comments. One friend got so fed up with “Christian” negativity they deleted their post.
Our posts attracted “Christians” who delight in pointing out others’ sins and faults. Just like the Pharisees.
Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. Romans 2:1b-2 MSG
Homosexuals have every right to choose their lifestyle. I have every right not to. That does not change the truth Scripture speaks to it. Nor the consequences. Nor does it change Jesus’ most important commandment. He gave us God’s standard for how authentic followers of Jesus, who love God with all their heart, are supposed to treat ALL people: “Love One Another.”
¹Andy Stanley is Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
By John Ed Mathison
Director, John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
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