By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson. We knew each other in 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:email@example.com
Listen 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/
By Ken Chester
Blogger over at Grace Gripped
Editor’s Note: Ken Chester is one of my favorite bloggers on the Internet. His grasp of God’s grace is singularly brilliant. I know you’ll be blessed today by his thoughts.
“But you dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is unending life, the real life!” Jude 20-21 Message
What a life Jesus Christ has called you into. It is a life unlike any other .. holy .. wide open with God’s love .. all blemishes wiped clean .. “real life”. He calls you by name personally. He knows the sound of your voice and heals all the broken places in your life so that you can know the sound of His voice. There is grace .. a lifetime of learning just how incredible the love of God is .. beginning at the cross .. a day to day walk by faith .. and discovering that your life is His method for reaching the world around you. Jesus is going to come back one day. It is as certain as the empty grave He left. It is right around the corner. And the life you are called to live is exactly the life the He lives in you. Anything less will always feel like less. Jesus hasn’t left you here to worry or live anxiously. He’s left His Spirit to guide you and grow you in grace. He’s left His Spirit to remind you every day of how much you are loved. He’s left His Spirit to work in you all that Christ is for you. What a life Jesus Christ has call you into .. today. He only takes a moment …
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 NASB
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Waiting-Willing-Walking followers of Jesus(firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when, year and year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a great voice were saying, ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not try to do anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.’ If that happens to us, we experience grace.” (Paul Tillich)
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
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 navigation 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 | email@example.com
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Author’s Note: Bryan writes one of my favorite blogs to read. He is insightful and always inspires me. This post appeared on his blog this past week and I felt it was well worth sharing with you all. Bryan is a husband, father of four and a youth and children’s pastor in the heart of the Bible Belt.
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