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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Funeral Focus

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

Funerals are a reality in our culture today.  This isn’t really any differentjohn ed from years past.  Everyone will die.  All cultures have some form of expression and focus to acknowledge the death of a person.  The Christian focus is on a celebration of life to come.The attendance at funerals is always interesting to see.  I am oftentimes surprised, both positively and negatively at the number of people who attend.  Will Rogers once said that the biggest factor determining the number of people who attend your funeral will be the weather.

An interesting thing just occurred last month in a rural part of China.  The Chinese government is forbidding strippers from performing at funerals in the country.  They have called the burlesque send-offs “uncivilized.”  Evidently family members hire strippers to attract large crowds to funerals.  They think a large attendance at the funeral is a way of guaranteeing good fortune for the deceased in the afterlife.

Part of this new crackdown by arresting strippers and their employers is a result of the “Culture Ministry.”  The Culture Ministry said, “This type of illegal operation disrupts the order of the cultural market.”  They should also have said something about social morals.

Britain has also recently had an interesting twist to funerals.  In order to get more people to come, you can hire weeping professional grievers for wakes and funerals.  You order them from “Rent-A-Mourner.”

The cost is $68 per head.  The rented mourner will read up on the deceased’s life story “so they converse with other mourners with confidence.”  That is sad.  Yogi Berra always had a lot of interesting things to say.  One of his best was, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” Some funerals in today’s culture are interesting.  They are often eloquent eulogies and high tributes to the poor soul in the casket, or urn.  Upon hearing the eloquent things said about the deceased, some attendees wonder if they are at the right funeral.

A good Jewish friend shared with me recently about his father’s attending a funeral of a friend.  The presiding Rabbi told of so many extremely good qualities (greatly exaggerated) of his deceased friend that he told those sitting around him that he needed to be excused.  When asked why, he said, “I want to peep in the casket to see if that’s my friend.  I might be at the wrong funeral.”

Abraham Lincoln once listened to all the good things said at the funeral of one of his generals. Lincoln observed, “If he had known he’d get a funeral like this, he’d have died much sooner.”

The important focus about a funeral is not how good the deceased looks, or the quality of the music, or the cost of the casket, or the flower arrangements, or the eloquence of the eulogy.  The focus is not about how many people are coming, but where the deceased is going!

Jesus said, “”I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25) Paul sounded the victory for the Christians, “O death, where is your is your sting?  O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Focus – Christians never see each other for the last time.

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

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A 13-Year Old’s Thoughts On Race Relations

By Jalen Phifer forjohn ed
John Ed Mathison
Executive Director,
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

For the past five years I have preached each year at the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church on their race relations Sunday. This is one of our largest African-American churches. Dr. G. W. C. Richardson is the Pastor. In his 35+ years at the church he has had 140 people enter the ministry. He encouraged people to write essays on race relations. A 13-year-old young man, Jalen Phifer, who is already an ordained pastor by that church, wrote the following essay I edited for length:

“We live in a country that has seen its share of shame. From slavery to racism and discrimination, yet America has come a long way. The civil rights movement was a huge step in the right direction to bridge the gap and bring about equality and unity. However, as a nation we still have a journey to complete. I have listed three ways in which I believe America can continue to improve upon race relations.

Race relations can be improved in America if we bring the conversation into our homes and schools. All education starts at home, but it continues into the classrooms where we spend a good portion of our day. Parents can talk to their children about other races. This kind of education will help break down any stereotypes and ignorance that are believed.

I believe it is important to have these conversations in school because if my peers don’t get to learn from each other, then our future is still at risk. As a light skin person, I have heard my share of hurtful and ignorant statements. Everything from mulatto, to white boy, to what are you anyway? Hurtful as they are, I have smiled and most times ignored them. I don’t get to choose my color, but I can choose my character. At the end of the day, it would be my hope that my character is seen before my complexion.

Secondly, I believe that race relations can be improved in America if we have this conversation in church. As a young preacher, I believe that we are all God’s children and that He does not have favorites. So having the discussion in church will make us have to think about what God thinks. As Christians that should be all that matters to us. 

I look around our church and I see mostly us, black people. But God don’t only have black children, He has white, yellow, and brown. These are our neighbors but where are they? We need to seek God’s word on this because I know that He said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

This unity would open the eyes of the community as well. The church is a place that the community looks up to, and this would help them to know that race relations are improving. It’s okay to talk to other races, fellowship and worship with them.

Finally, I believe race relations can be improved in America by our actions. We can learn about it, we can talk about it, we can preach about it, but it means nothing if we don’t put it into action. I believe we must be proactive. Make it a point to go to where other races are and become friends with them. Go places with them and invite them to places with us. If we put ourselves into action, this will help get rid of racism and ignorance. This is the dream I believe Dr. King had. And for all those who died for our civil rights, I believe it will be pleasing to them. But most of all I believe it will make God smile because we will be obeying His word when He tells us to love one another as we love ourselves.

In conclusion, I believe race relations can be improved in three ways, education, conversation in our church, and through our actions. We all have to live in this world together. If we put God first, then all this will fall into place. He made us all, and we can learn a lot from each other. Not only will this improve race relations, but it would make God very happy.”

Thanks Jalen!

John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.

Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

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Who Won March Madness?

Editor’s Note: March Madness is a United States basketball tournament. It is to college basketball as the World Cup is to soccer.

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

What determines who won March Madness? Was it the most points scored? Was it thejohn ed most money made by coaches and schools? Was it the TV ratings for a network? Was it the clever commercials? Was it Warren Buffet? Or could winning really be something else?

If it was the most points scored in the final game, UConn won the March Madness. If it is the most money made, the coaches and schools won, but the players lost. The four coaches in the Final Four are making an average of $3.1 million from their schools and will together make over $1 million dollars in bonuses covered by their contracts. It is estimated that each school who played in the “big dance” received a $1.5 million benefit. The NCAA could be a big winner as sports in college is an $11 billion business, twice as big as the NBA, larger than Major League Baseball, and unparallel to the NFL!

The TV ratings were “off the charts.” A network has to pay millions of dollars to get the rights to telecast the games. Warren Buffet was a genius when he offered a billion dollars to anyone who could submit a perfect bracket. I prided myself of knowing something about basketball and joined 12 million other people in filling out a bracket. I was already planning how to spend $1 billion!

I had to quickly change my financial planning after the fourth game of the first round. Ninety-five percent joined me after the first day. Before the first round was completed, everybody’s bracket had been busted – even President Obama. Buffet got a lot of free advertising.

I propose that the real winner was not UConn, or the coaches, or the NCAA, or the network, or Warren Buffet. All of these concepts of winning are very temporary. They will be forgotten pretty quickly. Real winning is what happens in the long run – the real big win – eternity!

I propose that Baylor won March Madness. That is right – the Baylor Bears. Nobody expected them to even be in the tournament. But they are the real winner. Jim Denison cites the following facts about Baylor from FOX Sports Southwest report entitled: “Baylor’s ‘extraordinary’ season has left lives changed.

It begins with the Bears’ loss to Kansas February 4, 2014, their seventh defeat in eight games. Head coach Scott Drew stopped one of the team chaplains after the game and said, “We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach, but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss.”

Later in February, Kenny Chery, Baylor’s starting point guard, sat down in a hotel to talk to shooting guard Brady Heslip and assistant coach Tim Maloney. The two helped him give his life to Jesus. “I felt like I was a new person,” Chery said afterwards. “I felt like everything I’ve done bad in the past is gone. I’m starting new. I’ve accepted God into my life. The next morning I woke up, thanked God for waking me up, and I just had a whole new outlook.”

Taurean Prince plays forward on the team. On February 14, he told a chaplain he was miserable and didn’t want to live according to his plan anymore. The two prayed together, and then Prince invited Jesus into his life.

On February 25, 2014, Taurean Prince and Kenny Chery and three other players were baptized. Baylor lost in the Sweet Sixteen, but Coach Drew calls this his most important season ever. “Winning the game of life is a lot more rewarding than a 40-minute basketball game that’s so temporary,” he says. “To have an opportunity to help be a part of an impact on a young person’s life is the best feeling.”

The Baptist Baylor Bears (wish they were Methodist) cut down the most important nets and turned March Madness into March Gladness!
John Ed's posts appear each Thursday in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4 4131 Carmichael Road Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

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Where Are You Going?

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

When you look for guidance be sure you get good instructions.

Sabine Moreau is 67-years-old. She was going on what she thought would be a short trip, so she followed her navigationjohn ed system. It sent her on a 1,800-mile detour through six countries! Sabine only intended to drive 93 miles to Brussels, but ended up in Croatia. She said, “Suddenly I appeared in Zagreb and I realized I wasn’t in Belgium anymore.”

We rely a lot on Lowrance, TomTom, Garmin, Smart phones, and other GPS navigational devices. Most of the time they are correct, but they can be faulty. I read about one elderly man who was following his navigation system and drove off of a pier into the lake!

The Bible teaches us that God wants to guide us through life. In Psalm 23 David says that God is like a shepherd who wants to guide us to the green pastures, the still waters, and the paths of righteousness. (Psalm 23:1, 2)

We can trust God’s guidance. He never sends us on a wild goose chase. He never makes mistakes when He guides. What we need to do is follow.

There was small boy who had an unusual fear of the dark. Late one evening his father asked him to go out to the barn to get some tools. The boy broke down and confessed that he was afraid of the dark.

The father gave the boy a lantern and said, “How far can you see son?” The boy said, “Well I can see to the mulberry tree.” The father said, “Good. Then go to the mulberry tree.” When the boy reached the tree the father said, “How far can you see now?” The boy replied that he could see the currant bushes. The father said, “Go to the bushes.”

As the boy reached the bushes the father asked again, “How far can you see now?” This time the boy said he could see the hen house and then finally to the barn. The father told him to proceed and the boy went step by step and made it to the barn.

When God guides us he doesn’t always show us the destination. What He expects is for us to follow Him to the next point, then continue and trust Him. It is all about trust. He knows where we need to be and He knows how to guide us there. He does it step by step.

Sometimes I get impatient and want to see the full map. God is always reminding me that it is His responsibility to guide – it is my responsibility to follow.

Technology is good. I will continue to use my GPS device, but want to remember that sometimes it can be wrong. More importantly, I am going to ask for God’s navigation system. He has never been wrong in thousands of years. He has never carried a person to where they do not need to be. He has never made a mistake.

He guides! I follow!

John Ed’s blog posts appear each Thursday on For His Glory

Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4, 4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 | 334.270.2149 | info@johnedmathison.org

 

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2012 Recap

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

2012 has been a very productive year for the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries. I have had a variety of experiences in preaching/teaching in many exciting venues. I have been involved in some local church almost every week during 2012.

I had an opportunity to preach/teach in many different geographical venues. During 2012 I have ministered in Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
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Thanksgiving is not a day on the calendar but rather an attitude towards life. I think it was Mark Twain who said we ought not to have a day of thanksgiving, but instead to have a day of grumbling. His point was that we should confine our grumbling to just one day and our thanksgiving to the other 364 days! Continue reading

No Accident

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A Legacy Of Integrity, Character and Accomplishment

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New Author Coming To My Blog

I am thrilled beyond words to announce a new author who will appear this season on “…all for God’s Glory.”

Dr. John Ed Mathison, my former senior pastor at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama for 36 years, now directs John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries. The purpose of the non-profit ministry, according to its mission statement is,

“first to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God. John Ed will accomplish this by speaking at churches, conferences, and leadership training programs on a local, national and global scale. He will also be participating in leadership activities within the United Methodist Church. One of the major goals of this ministry will be to give training opportunities for young pastors.”

One segment of John Ed’s leadership ministry is his blog. John Ed is one of the most effective, powerful and influential writers I have ever read. I found his website and his blog. I emailed him to ask if he would allow me to reprint some of his blog posts, and he agreed. I was overjoyed. Speechless. Excited to know you would get to share his writing.

John Ed’s style is conversational, compassionate and personal. He often interjects stories (some thought-provoking, some humorous, some sad, all good) of everyday people and their dilemmas, tragedies or victories. Then he relates his stories directly to the Gospel message and the Kingdom of God.

I have decided that each Thursday beginning next week, I will publish a post from John Ed’s blog. Here’s how much I respect John Ed’s writing and his unique ability to impact our lives with his writing: If you never read another blog of mine, read “. . .all for God’s glory” on Thursdays.  I promise you his blog posts will bless you out of your socks. (You do wear socks when you read my blog, don’t you?) Whether you wear socks to be blessed out of or not, don’t miss John Ed’s messages we’ll publish Thursdays.

Click here to visit the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries website.