Running Scared or Walking Confidently

“Running scared” might be the best description of how many people are living today.  Fear is rapidly becoming one of the most dominant emotions that we have.  Present day circumstances really heighten the emotion of fear.

Various pollsters listed some of the things of which American people are afraid.  71% suspect that there will soon be major terrorist attacks in the U.S.  43% fear that they or someone in their family will contract Ebola.  57% worry about being killed in a mass shooting.  69% fear cyber criminals will steal their credit card information.  62% fear that hackers will break into their phone or computer and steal sensitive and private information.   A huge majority of older citizens fear that they won’t have enough money for retirement years.

Andrew Parker, the Britain Security Chief has recently warned that Al Qaeda is planning “mass casualty attacks against the West.”  He goes on to say, “My sharpest concern as Director General of M15 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capacities to address it.”  Newspapers, television, social media – every day is filled with new threats that would heighten our fear.

Kenneth Benedict, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, meeting in Washington D.C. Thursday, January 24, 2015, reported that they are moving the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.  Benedict said, “It is now three minutes to midnight.  The probability of global catastrophe is very high.  This is about the end of civilization as we know it.”

Do we have more to fear today than in the past?  I don’t know the answer to that.  One person stated recently that we have so much to fear today that back in the Roosevelt days we didn’t realize how lucky we were – having nothing to fear but fear itself!

The subtle danger of fear is that it appears to be something that it is not.  It is deceptive.  It is false.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous quote that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” was followed by a description of fear as “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

One acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Against Reality.  Fear is not always real, it can be exaggerated.  It doesn’t always fit with reality.  A Russian proverb says, “Fear has big eyes.”  Fear will magnify what it sees – and sometimes will see what is not even there.  Mark Twain said, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m scared of them.”

The answer to fear is faith.  There are 365 references in the Bible to fear.  I am not real good at math but that is about one for every day of the year.  Each of those references assures us of God’s love and care for us and the importance of placing our faith in Him.  As my friend Jim Sanders signs his letters: Inhale Faith – Exhale Fear.

Psalm 34:4 – “I prayed to the Lord and He answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” I John 4:4 – “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  Isaiah 41:10 – “Don’t be afraid for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you and hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Life is a choice – fear or faith – running scared or walking confidently.

Extinguished or Distinguished

The 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard had a change of command January 10, 2015.  Colonel Samuel W. Black turned over the command to Colonel Randal K. Efferson.

The opening sentence of the Montgomery Advertiser’s article announcing this said, “Families, extinguished guests and citizen airmen from across the state…”  I am sure the article meant to say “distinguished” guests and citizen airmen, but the word used was “extinguished.”

The article went on to say how many state and high ranking military leaders would be present.  I assume they are the extinguished who should have been designated the distinguished.  I don’t think I want to be an extinguished guest.

The 187th Fighter Wing is distinguished!  Gen. Steven Berryhill said that there was discussion as to whether a Guard Wing could rotate into Afghanistan as the lead wing.  Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III and four-star Gen. Gilmary Hostage III pushed for the 187th to be the lead unit with no rotations.  With only 6 months to prepare (instead of the normal 12) the 187th Fighter Wing exceeded expectations!

What is the line between extinguished and distinguished?  It is only a heartbeat.  Some day all of the distinguished people will become extinguished people.  That is just the nature of life – and death.

I checked with the Bureau of Statistics in Alabama and the rate of death is still one-to-one.  Nobody avoids death.  The Bible says it is appointed for every man to die once. (Hebrews 9:27) The Book of James also refers to life as being like a vapor on a glass.  The vapor is there and you can see it, but soon it will be gone. (James 4:14)

The real question is – what can we do that would distinguish us before we are extinguished?  If you look on tombstones you always see the birth date and the death date.  The numbers might be 1935-2015.  That tells us a lot about when a person is born and when the person died.  But all of that person’s life is wrapped up in that one small dash.

What do we remember about distinguished people?  Some folks leave a legacy of accomplishments, wealth, accolades, trophies, and honors.  A few years from now, who is going to remember those?

The things that people remember are the investments that people make in the lives of other people.  Distinguished people are people who make a difference.

I know it was a typographical error – extinguished instead of distinguished. All publications like Preachers make errors. Montgomery is proud to be the home of the 187th Fighter Wing.  Their fighter planes proudly display the “Red Tails” because the 187th is home to the historic 100th Fighter Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Thanks to all of our military who provide opportunities for us to become distinguished and not extinguished.

You can quickly go from being distinguished to extinguished.  The Good News is you can also go from extinguished to distinguished because Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he, who believes in me, shall live, even when he dies.”  (John 11:25)  I’m blessed to be on God’s eternal distinguished list. Everyone has that possibility!

The Selective Deafness Team

Russell Wilson is the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.  Like his teammate Derrick Coleman, about whom I wrote last week, he practices Selective Deafness.  He is only 5 feet 11 inches tall and a 3rd round draft choice.  Everybody told him that he couldn’t play in the NFL.  He didn’t listen to the people who told him he couldn’t do it. He has a Super Bowl ring to show how “selectively deaf” he is.

His team is now in the playoffs pursuing another Super Bowl ring.  One of his greatest challenges has come this year.  Wilson became the target of criticism from anonymous insinuations that he wasn’t “black enough” when the Seahawks traded wide receiver Percy Harvin in October.  Wilson was anonymously blamed for the turmoil that followed that trade, and the teams’ 6-4 start this year.

Selective Deafness –Wilson didn’t listen to all of those insinuations.  He shrugged off the comments and said, “It didn’t bother me.  I don’t give nonsense any time.  I love my teammates, love this organization.  I’m blessed to be a Seattle Seahawk.”

Wilson has become good friends with Derek Jeter, the legendary New York shortstop.  He gives Jeter credit for helping him to “block out negative noise” that would deter him from reaching his goals.  Jeter has even invited Wilson to be a contributor on his website.

Selective Deafness – even a reigning Super Bowl winner is going to receive a lot of naysayer comments.  Practice Selective Deafness.   Like Russell – “Don’t give nonsense any time.”

Montgomery has a great historical addition.  A replica of the Wright brothers’ first airplane now sits in full view as people come into the Montgomery area on Interstate 65.

The Wright brothers had a dream to fly.  Everybody told them they were crazy.  They told them that it was impossible.  The Wright brothers, whose father was a minister, knew how to practice Selective Deafness.  They constructed the first “airplane” at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

I was speaking in that area recently and visited the Methodist Church at Kitty Hawk.  They told me that some of the women of the church sewed the cloth on the wings that the Wright brothers used on that first flight.  They had enough cloth left over that they were able to make dresses for some little girls to wear to Sunday school at the Methodist Church.

What folks said couldn’t be done was done by Orville and Wilbur Wright.  After that initial success in Kitty Hawk, the Wright brothers were very smart and moved to Montgomery to continue their pursuits at what we know today as Maxwell Field.  Every time you are on I-65 and see that Wright brothers’ replica airplane, just think how important it is to practice Selective Deafness.

I will be going to India twice this year to train pastors in the God-sized vision to start 5 million churches and win 1 billion people to Christ by 2020.  I am glad the Wright brothers practiced Selective Deafness because I plan to go on an airplane to India.  It would be a long way by boat!

I am glad Gideon didn’t listen when he went to battle and people told him he had no chance.  He practiced selective deafness to their comments.  He was grossly outnumbered by the enemy, except he was following God’s plan.  Guess who won! (Joshua 7)

Russell, Derrick, Derek, Wilbur, Orville, Gideon – Join their Selective Deafness Team!!!

Seeing and Hearing

People of vision are people who accomplish extraordinary things.  The Bible says, “Without a vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)  If our vision for 2015 is not so big that only God could help us accomplish it, it is not worth the effort if we can do it alone.  A God-sized vision gives a new dimension to living!

But let me warn you.  When you have a big vision people will start telling you why you can’t accomplish it.  If you set a goal that is beyond the normal, the naysayers will begin to pull you down.  I’m told that if you catch a bucket of crabs, and one crab tries to climb out, the other crabs will pull him back down.  That exercise is not limited to crabs.

I have become a fan of the Seattle Seahawks because the backup quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson from Montgomery.  He has an incredible teammate named Derrick Coleman.  He is the first legally deaf offensive player in the National Football League.

Derrick has known that he was deaf since he was about three-years-old.  He wore hearing aids and would read lips.  Children would kid him because of the hearing aids.  He said, “For people that wore glasses, they would call them four eyes – they called me four ears.”

People told him he couldn’t be a football player.  He did well in junior high school and high school, then UCLA, then went to the Seattle Seahawks.  Everybody kept telling him he would never make it.  He had a big vision, but naysayers told him it was impossible.

How did Derrick respond – he said, “I have been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen to them.”

Let me give you a term for 2015 – Selective Deafness.  When people tell you you can’t do something, just practice Selective Deafness – don’t listen to them.  Whenever you share a great dream or goal or vision, there will be a lot of folks who will begin to tell you the reasons why you can’t accomplish it.  Practice Selective Deafness!

When Moses was leading two million Israelites towards the Promised Land, he encountered the Red Sea.  There was no bridge and no way around it.  It was an impossible situation.  The Israelites knew that the Egyptians were right behind them and would kill them.

The naysayers talked about how much better off they were as slaves in Egypt, and they started forming the “back to Egypt committee.”  But Moses didn’t listen to them.  He had Selective Deafness to their voices and perfect hearing for the voice of God.  God had planned a miracle for them.  He opened the waters and they kept going forward!

The opportunities for 2015 are huge.  Practice Selective Deafness when people start the negative comments.  Derrick Coleman has an advantage – he is legally deaf.  My prayer for 2015 is that God will help make us deaf to the things we don’t need to hear, which will help us listen better to His words for us.

Practice Selective Deafness!

Memorials and Honorariums

In 2014 the following memoriam and honorarium gifts were given to John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries.

In memory of:

Wylie Poundstone                                                                                                         By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Father of Dr. Glen Yates                                                                                                    By John Ed & Lynn Mathison                                                                                       Ronnie & Linda Poole

Steve Fox                                                                                                                       By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig                                                                                       John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Helen Carothers                                                                                                             By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Wray Tomlin                                                                                                                    By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Randy Fulmer                                                                                                                By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Troy Mozingo                                                                                                                 By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Bill Tarrants                                                                                                                   By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Lamar Rawlinson                                                                                                           By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Ansley Garrard                                                                                                              By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Bea Boyett                                                                                                                      By Walker & Angie Grant                                                                                               John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Josie Terry                                                                                                                     By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

John Alley                                                                                                                      By John Ed & Lynn Mathison                                                                                        Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Evelyn Poulos                                                                                                                    By Ken & Fay Love                                                                                                      Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig                                                                                            John Ed & Lynn Mathison                                                                                           Keith & Peggy Lowery                                                                                                     Ed Hunneyman                                                                                                        Lucinda Cannon                                                                                                          Dave & Linda Precht                                                                                                   Chris & Tracey Reed

Berry Grant                                                                                                                    By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

James Hill                                                                                                                       By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Helen Williams                                                                                                               By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Anita Folmar                                                                                                                  By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig                                                                                       John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Sarah Grace Tellifero                                                                                                     By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Billy Crews                                                                                                                     By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Randal Craft                                                                                                                   By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Frank Rountree                                                                                                              By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Charles McInnis                                                                                                             By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Gene Green                                                                                                                    By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Janice Stough                                                                                                                By John Ed & Lynn Mathison                                                                                  Michael & Pamela Strickland                                                                                         Jim & Carol Walker                                                                                                       Bob & Genie Kline                                                                                                       Jerry & Linda Bassett                                                                                                 David & Dorothy Hodges                                                                                         Richard & Jacquelyn Crum                                                                                         Steve & Kathy Beck

Mildred Benton Channell                                                                                               By Jules & Jane Davis

Dorothy Eckermann                                                                                                      By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

Jane Reinhardt                                                                                                              By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Mike Morgan                                                                                                                  By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Ann Lyerly                                                                                                                      By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

James Hall                                                                                                                      By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

Ernestine Taylor                                                                                                            By John Ed & Lynn Mathison

In Honor of:

Wedding of Hunter Smith & Ballard Lander                                                               By Darrell & Pennie Smith                                                                                              Steve & Terri Lander

Phil & Marilee Tankersley                                                                                             By Mike & Jenny Lynn Henig

 

 

Shooting At the Wrong Goal!

The Philadelphia 76ers had a difficult time determining at which goal to shoot.  On December 3, 2014, they had to replay the first 16 seconds because the 76ers were shooting at the wrong goal!  Can you imagine that – a professional basketball team shooting for 16 seconds at the wrong goal?

One thing that might explain just a little bit is that their record for the year was 0-17.  They hadn’t won a game all year.  I can understand this record if they don’t know at which goal they needed to be shooting!  Interestingly enough, they came back in that very game and beat the Timberwolves 85-77 to break that 0-17 start!

The only time I’ve see teams shoot at the wrong goal has been in Upward Basketball with elementary school teams.  I think I did witness a Junior High game where it happened once.

Before we are too hard on the Philadelphia 76ers, it is good to stop and ask how much time, effort and energy are we using at shooting at the wrong goals.  What is really important in life?  What do we want to accomplish in 2015?  Is it really a worthy goal?

Athletic teams have different goals for a season.  Some teams just want to win more then they lose.  The big goal for some football programs is to win six games and qualify for a Bowl.  Some programs set a goal of winning eight games in a season.  Could you imagine Auburn or Alabama having a goal of winning only eight games?  The last two years are indicative that both of them set a goal of winning the National Championship.  They weren’t going to shoot at any other goal.

How big are the goals you set for 2015?  Do you settle for mediocrity?  Do you allow your business to just set a goal to “stay in business?”  The most successful businesses are those who are willing to take the risk of setting a huge goal, then committing the resources to go for that goal.

Oftentimes we might set a goal just to be a little bit better than somebody in our peer group.  I remember how one time I brought a report card home, and it wasn’t the very best.  When my dad confronted me about that report card, my first response was, “well my report card was better than Jimmy Allen in my class.”  My Dad taught me a great lesson – “don’t ever set your goals compared to what somebody else is doing.  What does God want you to accomplish?”

At which basket are you shooting?  Even the professional team was shooting at the wrong basket.  You might have to replay a few days, but when you get the right basket you can be a winner – as the 76ers discovered.

The Apostle Paul summed up his life by stating his goal of, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  His life would shoot at the right goal by focusing on “this one thing, forgetting the past, reaching forward to what lies ahead, and pressing on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:13, 14)

Remember – both goals look the same, but produce vastly different results.  Don’t get confused or fooled.  Shooting at the right goal can end a losing streak!

Correct goal?

2014 Recap – Thank You for Your Support

 

As 2014 comes to a close I wanted to give a brief recap of the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries for 2014 to those of you who are so supportive through your prayers and finances.  Here are some of the highlights of preaching/teaching:

· 4-day Pastors Conference in Bogota, Columbia                                                    · 5-day Pastors Conference in New Delhi, India                                                     · 5-day Pastors Conference in Chennai, India                                                   · Coaches Conference for High School and College Coaches in Alabama-West Florida · Memphis Theological Seminary                                                                                   · E. Stanley Jones Ashram in West Monroe, LA                                                   · Synergy Conference for International Pastors in Orlando                                   · African American Episcopal Pastors and Lay Leaders of Alabama                         · Creativity Conference at Disney in Orlando                                                        · African-American History month on leadership at Troy University                        · United Methodists Foundation Directors for the Southeast                                     · Holy Spirit Conference at Blue Lake                                                              · President’s weekend in Florida for Oakland City University                            · Preached twice at Vaughn Forest Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL                   · 3-day Preaching Mission at First United Methodist Church, Manchester, TN        · 3-day Preaching Mission at First Baptist Church, Eufaula, AL                               · 3-day Preaching Mission at First United Methodist Church, Florence, AL              · 3-day Preaching Mission at Danville, VA                                                                · 3-day Preaching Mission at First United Methodist Church, Stuttgart, AR              · 3-day Preaching Mission at First United Methodist Church, Monroe, LA               · 3-day Preaching Mission at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church, Clanton, AL · Bethlehem Camp Meeting in Bonifay, FL                                                               · Shiloh Camp Meeting in Brandon, MS                                                                  · Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church , Montgomery, AL                                  · Millbrook United Methodist Church                                                                          · New Prospect United Methodist Church, Dadeville, AL                                      · Eclectic United Methodist Church                                                                                 · 4 Sundays at Auburn United Methodist Church                                                       · First United Methodist Church, Dalton, GA                                                         · Church in the Pines at Lake Martin                                                                       · Ramer United Methodist Church                                                                       · Camden United Methodist Church                                                                             · Mt. Gillard Missionary Baptist in Montgomery                                                                · Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC                                              · First United Methodist Church, Lawrenceville, GA                                              · Eclectic Baptist Church                                                                                  · Graduation address at Oakland City University in Indiana                                       · Officiated at 6 weddings and 5 funerals                                                         · Opportunities to speak in several civic clubs, athletic teams, Sunday School classes,  etc.                                                                                                                            · Each week day 1-minute audio devotional thought which is placed on my Facebook page and is carried by four radio stations                                                                       · A weekly blog which most of you receive and is carried in a couple of newspapers · Individual coaching for some Pastors

God has opened a lot of doors in 2014.  Your support has made it possible to walk through those doors.  Thank you!

Please pray for us in 2015.

John Ed Mathison

 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?” The nursery rhyme and English lullaby raises the interesting question about what a star really is.

Matthew records that the wise men saw a star and started to follow it.  The star is a very integral part of the Christmas story.  The star has always intrigued me.

Gordon Govier points out that for 400 years astronomers have tried to explain the phenomenon  of the star that led the wise men to the birth of Jesus.  In 1614 the pioneer of modern astronomy, Johannes Kepler, was the first to analyze it.  In recent days a Rutgers University astronomer, Michael Molnar, has come up with a widely accepted explanation.

Molnar has a coin collecting hobby.  Recently he purchased an ancient coin minted in Antioch in the early 1st century that gave him a new clue.  I can’t explain his findings except to say that many scholars today give plausibility to Molnar’s theory that it was not an extremely bright shooting comet, but a more subdued light from a ancient configuration of the planets.  It was not a supernova, but something that appeared to which one had to be looking in order to see it.

I am not advocating any particular perspective, except I’m intrigued by the idea that it might have been obvious, but subtle, and it was something that the wise men saw that thousands of other people did not see.  Even King Herod didn’t see it and was taken by surprise when he heard about it.

Wise men look for and see the Star of Bethlehem.  Do you see it today?  It is there, though most people don’t see it.  It’s not flashing like a commercial sign, but it is in sight for people who are looking for it.  It is the star that leads to the real meaning of Christmas.

The wise men followed the star.  I am sure other people saw it, but were not willing to follow it.  The Christmas star is something that gets us out of our comfort zone and causes us to go experience the reality of the birth of Christ.

At one point Matthew says that the wise men came to Jerusalem and did not see the star.  They did not pack up and go home, but Matthew says that they kept going forward.  In life when God’s plan is not so extremely evident to us, it is not time to quit and pack up, but to keep going forward.  We can have the experience of the wise men who “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10) when they saw the star again.

I am not sure about the original Star of Bethlehem and what it might have been.  More importantly I am concerned that each of us sees the star today that leads to the birth of Christ.  That is what the meaning of Christmas is.  We have to be willing to see it, then follow it, then keep going forward even when the star is not evident.

The star might not be extremely bright like a shooting comet, but it is there.  Molnar says, “From our modern point of view, it was not very impressive, but it must have been spectacular from their point of view.”

The star was the key for wise men to witness the presence of God in the form of a Baby.  It’s twinkling.  The star leads to the manger.  The manger leads to life!  Do you see it?  Are you following it?

It’s twinkling!!!

Don’t Pretend

Remember playing the child’s game “Let’s Pretend.”  Each participant would “pretend” to be somebody or something else.  Sadly, it is a game also played by adults.

Some visitors were enjoying the public zoo in the third largest province in China.  They were shocked to discover that the zoo’s lion was actually a dog posing as a lion.  A mother and her young son were observing the “African lion,” but then it starting barking.  The mother said, “The zoo is absolutely cheating us…I paid good money for the tickets and I feel defrauded.”

The zoo keepers admitted that the so-called lion was actually a Tibetan mastiff, which is a large dog with a furry brown coat.  Upon further study it was revealed that other zoo animals had been misrepresented.  Another dog was passed off as a wolf and a white fox was in a leopard’s den.  Two giant sea cucumbers were posing as two snakes in the reptile house.

The explanation was that the lion was away at a breeding facility.  The dog used to represent the lion actually belonged to an employee and was put there for “safety reasons.”  The zoo spokesman said, “We’re doing our best in tough economic times.”

Pretending – trying to fool the public.  The Bible calls it hypocrisy.

Recently two Israelis were indicted in the most successful counterfeit money operation on record. Some of the most authentic $100 bills ever made had been flooding the markets for the last 15 years.  The FBI found the people responsible, which included 13 suspects, $2.5 million in bills, and an elaborate printing press.  The money really looked good and authentic, but it was fake.

Pretending – trying to make something look like something it is not.  The Bible calls it hypocrisy.

I read about a minister in Michigan, whose wife Trudy did not like to go to church.  Trudy saw a lady at Kohl’s that looked just like her.  She asked the lady if she would like to make a hundred bucks a week to impersonate her in church.  The woman accepted her offer.

Trudy’s impostor played the role successfully.  She greeted people, listened to the sermon, took copious notes.  Even her husband Nevin did not know.  She fooled people for over two years and earned almost $10,000!  She was discovered when one day Nevin invited her to the pulpit area for a spontaneous rendition of an old hymn they sang earlier in their ministry.  She was caught.

I guess Trudy will be going back to church.  I feel sorry for her husband (glad he wasn’t a Methodist) because she said, “It was worth every penny.”

Pretending –posing to be someone that she’s not.  The Bible calls it hypocrisy.

A hypocrite is one who wears a mask.  It conceals true identity.  Actually the mask can be taken off and another mask placed on the face so that the person can try to pretend to be multiple people.

Check your money – check your animals – check your wife – check yourself.  Jesus clearly condemns hypocritical pretending.  He describes hypocrites by saying, “They shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public.”  Mark 12:40

Don’t Pretend!

What’s the Score?

We live in a very competitive world.  So much of this competitive spirit plays out in high school, college and professional sports.  If we are not careful, a competitive spirit can override the command of Jesus to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 19:19)

Football has really been big in Mississippi this year.  For a while Mississippi State and Ole Miss were ranked in the top four of all the college football polls.  Nobody ever dreamed of that.

Let me share with you where the real football was played in Mississippi.  In October the Brandon Bulldogs were playing the Northwest Rankin Cougars.  During the first half of the game the Cougars lost their only quarterback to an injury.

Rather than just make it an easy victory, the Bulldogs decided to send one of their two quarterbacks, Mason Mathieu, over to the Cougars in order to level the playing field.  The Bulldogs still won the game, but Mathieu commented, “It was great playing with them.  They’re a great group of guys.”  He did pass for two touchdowns!

But the Brandon Bulldogs won twice – they won not only on the scoreboard, but in the game of life that teaches the importance of people.  Their concern for other people was not negated by an over emphasis on competition.

Back in October the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team arrived in the U.S. for the World Cup qualifying match.  The T&T coach, Randy Waldrum, realized that his squad did not have enough money for breakfast, or much else.  He simply posted that need on Twitter for some help from the “home folks” in Trinidad and Tobago.

The rival Haitian national team saw the tweet.  The Haitian national team had its own financial woes, but it donated all the $1,316 it had collected through fundraising.  Wow!  The Haitian coach Shek Borkowski said, “My players saw the difficulties faced by T&T.  They wanted to help, so I did what they asked.”

The real winner in the women’s national soccer competition was Haiti, not in the number of goals scored, but in a benevolent gesture that will last a lifetime for those participating.

Whether it is competition at a high school football game or at a World Cup qualifying match, some people learned that winning is more than simply beating someone on the field.  It is also helping a rival team through a tough time.  Solomon writes, “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.”  (Proverbs 11:30)

I am very competitive.  This whole idea really convicts me.  At a time in our year when competition dominates the headlines, and some football teams get left out of the play-offs and bowl selection, may we remember Jesus words about how we treat other people is more important than if we score more points than they do.  Christmas is about the greatest win ever when God gave the winning Gift of His Son!

What’s the score in your game of life?