What’s Your LQ – Luck Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #10)  Often in life we falsely ascribe the term luck to situations and circumstances that really are the result of preparedness, hard work, and God’s intervention.

Some people collect lucky charms.  Neither life nor luck is enhanced by rabbits’ feet, horseshoes, or four-leaf clovers.  The real truth is that luck is what happens when hard work and opportunity cross paths.  As Louis Pasteur put it, “Luck favors a prepared mind.”

A few years ago 155 people on US Airways Flight 1549 had a rare experience when the plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese upon takeoff.  The plane didn’t break apart and there were no fatalities.  Many people referred to it as “luck.”

It wasn’t luck!  That plane’s pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, had worked hard and was prepared for such a moment.  He had a record as an excellent pilot instructor in how to react in the situation in which he found himself.  He had written manuals and had given lectures and offered training for other pilots.  On the Hudson River on that particular day, “Sully” had an opportunity to put all of that into practice.

When I am on an airplane, I don’t want a “lucky” pilot, but one who is ready for all situations.  I don’t want the plane built by “lucky” people, but experts who build with excellence.  I remember reading how the passengers on Flight 1549 said most of them were praying.  God answered their prayers.  That wasn’t luck – it was the result of the intervention of God coupled with the exceptional expertise and composure of a prepared pilot.

One of the greatest tragedies of American history occurred on April 14, 1912.  The “unsinkable” Titanic was on its maiden voyage with 2,224 people on board.  The Titanic hit a huge ice berg and began to sink.  Due to insufficient crew training, it took over an hour to deploy the 18 lifeboats.  Many of the lifeboats carried about half of their maximum capacity.  1512 people did not make it to a lifeboat and died.

Many have designated the sinking of the Titanic as “bad luck.”  It was an extremely unfortunate tragedy, but bad luck did not play a part – poor preparation did.  There were only enough lifeboats to accommodate about one-third of the ship’s capacity.  It seems plausible that the ship ought to have had enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone, but somebody didn’t prepare.

There were other things that indicated a lack of preparation for such an emergency.  A telegraph message was sent concerning the sighting of an iceberg in the ship’s path, but somehow it did not make it to the captain of the Titanic.  Also, there was poor communication with the nearest ship, the S.S. California.  “Bad luck” is more the case of poor planning, poor preparation, and poor execution.

If I want to improve my luck, I need to improve my preparation for life’s experiences and rely more on the sovereignty of God.  As one successful lawyer classified as being “lucky” wrote, “I am inclined to recall that luck usually visits me at 2:00 am on a cold morning when red-eyed and bone-weary I am pouring over law books preparing a case.  It never visits me when I am at the movies, when I am on the golf course, or when I am reclining in an easy chair.”

The antithesis of luck is faith – knowing that we have a responsibility, but God has the final say.  Proverbs 16:33 says, “We toss the coin, but it’s the Lord who controls its decisions.”

Every day, pray this prayer – “God, help me make this a victorious day based on my preparation, hard work, and complete trust in You!”

What’s your LQ  –  Luck Quotient?

What’s Your FQ – Faith Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #9)  Have you ever heard someone described as being “lucky?”  Have you ever heard a person brag about being “lucky?”  Have you ever heard of successful events in life described as just being a result of “luck?” 

I don’t believe in luck.  I think we have a choice of living by luck or living by faith.  Living by luck is determined by the immediate situation.  Living by faith looks at life not only in the present but also in the future.

The concept of luck is connected to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.  In the 5th Century, Patrick was a missionary in Ireland.  As a teen, he had been kidnapped by Irish raiders, but while he was working as a shepherd, he was able to escape.  During that time, he found faith in the God who lives.  He returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary.   He had a tremendous witness in Ireland until he died on March 17 and was buried at Downpatrick.  He became the foremost saint from Ireland.

St. Patrick would use a three-leaf shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.  Each leaf represented a member of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Since a four-leaf shamrock is rare, people began to describe it as bringing good luck. 

St. Patrick’s Day is more recognized today than it has been in the past.  There are huge parades in different countries.  Since St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, the Irish people would lift Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol for that day.  That is the reason Irish Whisky and beer were consumed heavily in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  Cider could be substituted for Methodists and Baptists!  The idea of luck came about in this celebration.  A shamrock was placed in the bottom of the drinking glass.  When you finished the drink as a toast to St. Patrick, the shamrock could be tossed over your shoulder, which was thought to bring you good luck.

You can throw a bunch of shamrocks over your shoulder, but I do not believe it will ever bring you good luck!  Arnold Palmer once said, “The the more I practice, the luckier I get!”  Accomplishments are much more determined by preparation, practice and execution than luck.  (Tweet this)

Faith – not luck – is the way to live.  Faith is understanding that God created us and loved us.  Faith is understanding that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Faith is “living one day at a time” (Matt. 6:34 LTB).  Trusting in God every step of the way is faith. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

Tradition says that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, you might get pinched.  Wear green and avoid the pinch.  But I have some better advice to avoid the pinch in life – move forward, inch by inch, trusting more in God with every step.

Wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the life of a great Christian missionary, evangelist and saint.  Don’t spend your time looking for a four-leaf clover or throwing a shamrock over your shoulder – spend your time thanking God for His goodness and all the good things that He brings about in your life.

I recently had a series of events occur in my life that have been extremely important.  Some people would say I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.  I know better!  I know that God had me in the right place, and He had designated the time, and He is responsible for the outcome!

I Thess. 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   That’s living by faith – not luck!

What is your FQ – Faith Quotient?

Thank you for your prayers!

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your prayers.  God put me in the right place to meet Dr. Todd Sheils and his medical team.  I feel like I have experienced a miracle!
I am doing great!  I don’t have any pain.  I can stand up straight and put weight on my left hip.  I should be off the walking cane next week.
While it is mostly precautionary, I will continue to be on heavy antibiotics for about three more weeks, but it doesn’t really affect me adversely.  My doctors want to be sure there is no possibility of an infection.
I will be back to normal activities in about a week or so.  I have several ministry opportunities scheduled for this Spring and Summer. 
Your prayers have been special to me!
For the Cause of causes,
John Ed Mathison

What’s Your WQ – Winner Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #8   People can make mistakes when announcing winners in relation to other people.   It recently happened on a global stage at the Oscars.  Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were the presenters for Best Picture.  There was a huge mix up when Beatty was given the wrong envelope.  Beatty and Dunaway misreported that “La La Land” had won the Oscar for Best Picture. 

Immediately the judges started scrambling.  “La La Land” producers were already making their acceptance speeches when they were interrupted by accountants from Price Waterhouse Coopers.  They quickly took the microphone and said a mistake had been made, and that “Moonlight” was the Best Picture winner.  A colossal mistake!  Humans make mistakes naming winners.

A similar thing happened on a global stage when comedian Steve Harvey was the MC for the Miss Universe Pageant last year.  When it came time to announce the winner, he was given the wrong card.  He crowned Miss Colombia as the winner, when it should have been Miss Philippines.

I love the reaction of Terrell Owens, the great professional football player from Alex City, Alabama when he was not selected for the National Football Hall of Fame this year.  He said he is going to look into the issue to see if maybe the winners going into the Hall of Fame were mistakenly announced and his name should have been there!

God doesn’t make mistakes!  He picks winners in life.  A lot of time people may try to tell us that we are in-competent, little, unimportant, failures, misfits, etc.  God never says that.  He created each of us just as we are.  We are precious in His sight.  We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “His works are wonderful” (Ps. 139:14).

Where do we find our true self-identity?  The world tells us to find our self-esteem and identity in life through trying to accomplish great things or by accumulating wealth.  That is not the truth.  If you need a fancy car or expensive clothes to make a statement about yourself, you don’t have much to say!  (Tweet this)

Sometimes we try to find our identity in comparing ourselves to other people.  God did not make any of us like anybody else.  He created each of us uniquely different.  I like Tim Teebow’s statement – “We never become who God created us to be by trying to be like somebody else.”  Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself  instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” 

Our true identity comes in knowing that God loved us, that He sent His Son into the world to redeem us, and He designed a perfect plan of purpose for each of us.  He announces us as winners!  We find our identity in Him.  Read Jeremiah 29:11-13.

I heard once about a boy who took an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken.  The eaglet hatched with the rest of the chicks and grew up with them.  The baby eagle thought he was a prairie chicken and did what the prairie chickens did.  He clucked and cackled with a brief flurry of his feathers to get a few feet off the ground, because that was what the chickens were doing.

Years later, the eagle was growing old.  He saw a magnificent bird soaring in the sky.  He said, “What a beautiful bird.  What is it?”  Someone chuckled, “That’s an eagle, the chief of all birds.  But don’t give it a second thought, you could never be like him.”  The sad thing is the eagle gave up the thought of being what he was created to be and died thinking he was a prairie chicken.

The Oscars and beauty pageants don’t pick the right winners.  God does.  He picks you.  Get out of the chicken pen and start flying!

What is your WQ – Winner Quotient?

What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #7)

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?

Update on my surgery

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all your prayers this past week.  Great news – I am going home!!!!  (As of this publication, John Ed is at home.)

God provided people who connected me with Dr. Todd Sheils at East Alabama Medical Center.  I don’t think there is a finer doctor who could have performed my third hip surgery, which was a challenge.  Every doctor and nurse and administrator was exceptional.  I feel blessed.  It could not have gone better.

I will have some antibiotic treatment and will use a walker as a precautionary measure for a couple of weeks.  I have no pain, and the next time you see me I won’t be limping!!

This experience was a blessing to have doctors and a medical staff pray before they performed their ministry of healing.  What I dreaded turned out to be a blessing!  Thanks for praying for that.

For the Cause of causes,

John Ed

What’s your GQ – Growth Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #6)  Growth is essential in life.  Growth involves knowing how to handle success and failure because success or failure can either negate or fuel growth

We sometimes get into a situation where we think that we can’t go forward.  When this happens, it’s a good idea to stop and see if we are facing in the wrong direction!  Remember, God judges a man not by the point he has reached but by the way he is facing.  God doesn’t judge by distance but by direction.

Growth requires taking a risk in the forward direction.  Someone has said you can approach life in two ways – protect it or pursue it.  When the voice of safety says, “Build a fire in the hearth and stay in where it is warm,” the voice of growth says, “Build a fire in your soul, then go out and pursue your vision with a passion.”  (Tweet this)

C.S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird – it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.”  Life really has two options – grow or die.  What is your GQ?

A man went back to his alma mater for his 50th anniversary of his graduation.  He had accomplished many things in his life as a physician.  He served as a surgeon in a large hospital, he was decorated as a military hero in World War II, and he was an accomplished bicyclist, a devoted husband, father and grandfather. When he went to his school, the old graduate was interviewed by a student reporter who asked, “What is the most important thing you learned in college?”  Without hesitation, he replied, “How to go on learning for the rest of my life.”

Life is a process of learning and growing.  Oliver Wendell Holmes was studying Greek at age 94.  When somebody asked him why he was studying Greek at that age, he replied, “My good sir, it’s now or never!”  I heard a good friend often say, “What matters most is not the years in your life – but the life in your years.”  (Tweet this)

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived out this concept.  When he was way up in years, his hair was white as snow.  A friend asked him how he sustained his vigor and zest for life.  This person wanted to know how he could keep on writing so beautifully.

Longfellow pointed to a blossom on an apple tree and said, “That tree is very old, but I never saw prettier blossoms on it than those which it now bears.  That tree grows new wood each year.  Like that apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year.”

How much new wood are you growing this year?

The Bible says, “We grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s plan for our lives” (2 Pet. 3:18).  “We are to grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15).  “You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you” (Col. 3:10).

I believe God tells us like He told Israel – “Clear lots of ground for your tents!  Make your tents large.  Spread out!  Think big!  Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.  You’re going to need lots of elbow room . . . Don’t be afraid – you’re not going to be embarrassed.  Don’t hold back – you’re not going to come up short” (Isaiah 54:2-3 MSG).  Don’t get discouraged when you don’t have immediate growth in every situation.  Growth isn’t always consistent, but it must be evident in measurable increments.

What is your GQ – Growth Quotient?

Update on John Ed’s surgery

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for your prayers on behalf of John Ed.  He had his hip surgery this morning.  Dr. Todd Sheils, his surgeon, was able to replace the cup and stabilize John Ed’s mobility.  He reported unexpected infection was present and will require 6-8 weeks of aggressive antibiotics.  He will stay in the hospital until the first part of next week as of now.  Prayers are still needed for the infection to clear up.  Revisions in John Ed’s schedule will be forthcoming.
We appreciate your support and continued prayers.
Lynn Mathison and Family

What’s Your QQ – Quit Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #5) One of the most incredible sports stories occurred 30 years ago in the state of Alabama at Troy University.   This 30-year anniversary will be celebrated at Troy by the young men and their families who participated on the 1987 championship baseball team.  Let me tell you about Warren Arrington, a young man who played a significant part in making that championship possible.

In the 1980’s, I went each week to Jeff Davis High School here in Montgomery to meet with different athletic teams and speak to them.  It was a rich experience for me.  For about 10 years I witnessed some state championships. 

One of those outstanding athletes was a football and baseball player named Warren Arrington.  He had great athletic skill and a great attitude about life.  Warren went to Troy University on a baseball scholarship. 

In 1987, Troy was in a one-game playoff to determine who from their conference would advance to the college playoffs.  Troy was trailing by 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs. 

Warren Arrington was the batter.  He hit a routine grounder to the 3rd baseman who could throw it to 1st and Troy’s season would be over.  But Warren was fast and ran as hard as he had ever run to 1st base.  The 1st baseman juggled the catch, and Warren was safe.  Instead of being the end of the game and season, Troy had new life!  With 2 outs, the next 3 batters got base hits.  Troy scored 3 runs and won the conference title!

This sent them to the regional playoffs where they won and then went to the national championship game at Patterson Field in Montgomery.  Troy won, and they were crowned national champions.  It’s so important to never give up! 

It all goes back to that one play, 2 outs, trailing by 2 runs, and most players would have run routinely to 1st base ending the game.  But Warren’s “never quit” attitude was that he still had a chance – and he made good on that opportunity.  Because of that, Troy has a national championship, and Warren was named an All-American.  As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win!”

The current baseball coach, Mark Smart, played 2nd base on that championship team.  Recently I was speaking to 400 baseball coaches at their annual convention in Birmingham, and I didn’t know Coach Smart was there.  He was pleasantly surprised when I used this illustration in my talk on never giving up. 

I talked with Warren Arrington recently, and I asked him about that historic moment.  He said he was always coached to “never give up.”  He said, “You have to give it all you’ve got until it’s over.”  That’s a great attitude toward life.  That attitude helped produce a national championship and a championship life!

Never quit!  Don’t include the word quit in your vocabulary.  I like what someone said about Napoleon – “He didn’t know the word quit – he didn’t know English!”

Never quit!  “Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit” (Psalm 27:14 MSG).  “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate . . . the reward is life and more life” (James 1:12 MSG).  “Staying with it – that’s what is required.  Stay with it to the end.  You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved” (Luke 21:19 MSG).

What is your QQ – Quit Quotient?

Special Prayer Request

February 14, 2017

Dear Friends,

Our Board wanted you to know that John Ed will be having hip revision surgery at East Alabama Medical Center on Wednesday, February 15.  Dr. Todd Sheils is his doctor.  This is the hip that was replaced in 1998, and it received a new liner in 2003. 

Please pray for John Ed, his doctor, staff, John Ed’s family, and all those involved. 

You will continue to receive his new blogs each week as John Ed has prepared those in advance, and he has recorded his one-minute radio and Facebook spots for the next few weeks.

In His Service,

John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Board of Directors