What is your PQ – Purpose Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #22)   When were you born?  That’s a question I hear more today than I’ve ever heard in my life.  The reason is that so many business establishments have gone to the birth date as the key to a person’s identity.  I was recently at a hospital, a bank, and a chain store, and instead of asking for my driver’s license, they asked me when I was born.  They entered that into the computer and immediately came up with my records.

When I was born is important.  More important is – why I was born!  We need to know why we are here.  We only have one life, and it must count.  God has a plan and purpose for each of us.  Jeremiah says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).  Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).  Life is not a merry go round of meaningless activity.  Life is not a series of things that help fill up the day.  Temporary busy-ness can be the greatest enemy of eternal business.  (Tweet this)

When the people of France put Louis XVI and his queen to death, they set a new course of action for France.  A little boy was left behind who would have been Louis XVII if the monarchy had stood.  The people wanted to break the spirit and the future of the little boy by placing him in a prison with deplorable conditions.

They intentionally placed vile, vicious and vulgar men in his presence.  Their intent was to infiltrate his mind with vulgar thoughts so that it would translate into vulgar actions and words.  They wanted to teach him bad habits – especially with his language.

But the plans of those men never worked out because that young boy knew why he was born.  When they tried to get him to do something wrong or say a bad word, the boy would simply reply, “No, I will not say it, I will not do it.  I was born to be a king.”  Born to be a king – that was his expectation, and it motivated him to fulfill that purpose.

One of the great women of the Old Testament was Esther.  When the king of Media-Persia, a huge empire with 120 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia, was looking for a queen, he was introduced to Esther.  She was beautiful and gifted.  He didn’t realize she was a Jewess.  He made her his queen.

When an evil man constructed a plot to eliminate the Jewish people, Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, came to her and said she needed to go to the king and divulge the sinister plot in order to save her people.  She reminded him that anyone entering the king’s chamber without an invitation would be executed.  That included the queen.

Her cousin continued to plead with her for the sake of her people.  He reminded her, “And who knows but that you have attained your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)  She then realized why she was the queen.  When she discovered why she had been born, Esther knew what she had to do.  She saved her people.

One of the great men of the Old Testament was Nehemiah.  What gave him the purpose and expectation of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem?  Everyone considered that to be an impossible task.  There were a lot of evil people who did everything they could to stop his progress (Neh. 6:2).

One day he faced the temptation of giving up this task God had given him.  Some people tried to discourage him.  They told him to come down from the wall.  His comment was that he was doing such a great work that he could not come down.  He knew why God had put him in that place at that time.  When our life is driven by a great purpose, we can’t stop what we are doing.

Expectant, purposeful living produces the greatest joy, satisfaction, and meaningfulness in life!

Why are you here?  What is your PQ – Purpose Quotient?

What is your EQ – Expectation Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #21)   What you expect is what you get.  If you don’t expect much, you don’t get much.  If you expect a lot, get ready to experience more.  The good news is – you can lift your level of expectation!

I read about Dr. Henry Baker.  He taught a freshman class of physics.  About half of his students would fail his class.  At the beginning of each quarter, he would tell them that about 50% would fail in order to prepare them for the shock so they wouldn’t be disappointed.

When talking with some of the other professors, Dr. Baker noticed that nobody else had that rate of failure.  Somebody raised the whole question of expectation.  Dr. Baker decided to do something different.

He began the next quarter by telling his students that oftentimes 50% of the students failed, but he knew that this group was going to be different.  He could tell that they had more initiative, more drive, and more desire.  He felt certain that every student could pass.  He set a high level of expectation for them.

Guess what – he discovered that not a single student failed, and that the lowest grade was a “C.”  He didn’t change his style of teaching, nor his tests, nor his grading.  He only changed what he expected of the students.  They measured up to the level of expectation he set for them.

I read about a study of Southern textile mill workers several years ago.  Two new supervisors were put in charge of departments.  One supervisor was told that his department had been a “problem” group and that he would have trouble getting them to produce.  The other supervisor was told that he was being put in charge of the most efficient, productive department in the mill, and he could expect excellent results from them.

Most of the workers were at about the same level of ability, but there was a vast difference in what was produced.  The supervisor who had the “problem group” kept telling them about the problems, and he created more problems.  The other supervisor kept encouraging his people and motivating his people with high expectation levels, and they kept producing.

People have a way of measuring up to the level of expectation.  Good leaders are people who have high levels of expectation.  I discovered in church that the more you expected of lay people, the more they would serve and give and produce new levels of meaningful ministry.  The same is true in business, athletics, academics, and life.

Read the short New Testament letter to Philemon – just 23 verses.  Paul is writing to Philemon to ask him to receive Philemon’s slave Onesimus in a new relationship.  Onesimus had been converted under Paul’s ministry.  Philemon was to receive him back, not as a slave, but as a brother, to serve in the church.  He makes a good case to Philemon indicating that he could tell Philemon to do it, but he wants him to make that decision himself.  Forgiving a slave and receiving him as a brother was a huge expectation.

Paul lifts the level of expectation when he says in verse 21, “I know that you will do even more than what I say.”

Lifting the levels of expectation can be one of the most exciting, productive, and meaningful steps that we can take in life.  Complete the following sentence:  This week I expect . . .

What is your EQ – Expectation Quotient?

What is your TQ – Trust Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #20)  Life is a choice.  We can trust in what we think is best, or we can trust in God.  Every day, we have those two choices.  While the world teaches us to trust in ourselves and the world systems, that will not ultimately bring joy.  Trust in God carries with it huge rewards in this life and in the life to come.

This is addressed by the writer of the book of Hebrews.  In Chapter 11 he describes faith and trust as “a certainty of what we hope for is waiting for us even though we can’t see it up ahead (v. 1).  Faith is always something that is confident assurance that something we want is going to happen.”  

Look at these words – confident assurance.  It is a certainty.  That’s God’s possibility for us when we make the right choices.  The writer of Hebrews then gives about 20 examples from history.

Noah was told to build an ark.  He didn’t ask questions – he just put his trust in the fact that God knew what He was doing (v. 7).  Genesis 6:22 says, “He wasted no time and built the ark.”  The rest of the people at that time put their faith in the world systems, and they died.  Noah and his family were saved. 

I love the illustration about Joseph (v. 22 -).  As he was coming to the end of his life, he could confidently speak of God bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt.  In fact he was so sure of the security of his faith and trust, that he made them promise to carry his bones with them when they left Egypt.  It came true.  That’s certainty – no bones about it!

The writer records how the people of Israel trusted in God, and not their own instincts, and went through the Red Sea as though they were on dry land (v. 29).  The Egyptians had another mindset.  They only believed in what they could think about and visibly see.  They chased Moses and his people.  Moses was right and lived – they were wrong and drowned.

Jericho was thought to be an impenetrable city.  It was by trust that the people saw the walls come “tumbling down” after they had trusted God and followed His plan of attack (v. 30).  He even used a prostitute, Rahab (v. 31).  She was confronted by God and believed in Him and His power.  She did not die when all the others in Jericho did die, when they refused to trust God.  She chose to trust Him by giving a friendly welcome to the spies.

Throughout Chapter 11, the people who trusted God had huge rewards.  Some of those rewards were recognized in their life on earth.  It is quite clear in verse 39 that when they trusted God, they did not receive all the rewards He had promised them.  He had even better things prepared for eternity.  Abraham trusted God and followed Him, not knowing where he was going.  The reason he trusted God was because he was confidently waiting for God to bring him to that strong heavenly city whose designer and builder was God.

We can insert our names into that chronicle of people in Hebrews 11.  We have a choice.  Trust in God means we are putting our faith in something that we cannot see.  We are willing to go against the prevailing cultural values.  But trusting God is the only thing that ever wins!

In days past, people made decisions based on these two choices – trusting the world or trusting the Word.  We do the same today.  The quality of life now, and for eternity, is determined by that choice.  When doubt occurs, trust in God is just a transition to an even greater reward that He has for people who trust Him.  Hebrews 11 is a record of the results of this choice.  The results haven’t changed a bit!

It’s trusting time!  What’s your TQ – Trust Quotient?

What is Your WQ – Word Quotient?

Words are the tools we use to communicate.  New words are recognized each year by the Oxford Dictionaries.  Some words are old.  Some words change.  Some words have different meanings in different languages.

English has produced a lot of words that are difficult to explain.  For example, there’s no egg in eggplant; nor ham in hamburger; nor apple or pine in pineapple.  English muffins were not invented in England; nor French fries in France.  We speak about quicksand, but it works slowly.  Boxing rings are square; a Guinea Pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig!

You have to understand the meaning of words to know what they are communicating.  In English we drive on our parkways and park on our driveways.  People recite in a play and play in a recital.  We talk about shipping by truck and sending cargo by ship.  We have noses that run and feet that smell.  We talk about someone having a slim chance or a fat chance, but they both mean the same.

Words can be extremely confusing.  The New Oxford Dictionary has included some new words for 2017.  One new word is “haterade.”  It is a noun, and it means excessive negativity, criticism or resentment.  Our world is already loaded with haterade.  Take that word out of your vocabulary!

Another new word is “fitspiration.”  It is a noun and refers to a person or thing that serves as motivation for someone to sustain or improve health and fitness.  We need a lot of fitspiration, especially in the spiritual realm.  Add that word to your vocabulary!

 “Yas!” is a wonderful new word this year.   It is an exclamation that expresses great pleasure or excitement.  Living life in God’s purpose everyday will prompt you to exclaim “YAS!” really often!

Some words are not new, but they have a tremendous impact.  The best way to build a good life is with already existing words like love, forgiveness, faith, trust, truth, hope.  These are old words but they can give new meaning to life!

The Bible teaches us that words are powerful.  Words can either build or destroy.  We are reminded that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me,” but that is a falsehood.  “Haterade” words can be extremely harmful or damaging to people.  The best words ever to receive and give are “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Words carry power when we hear “I believe in you.”  Powerful words are when you hear someone say, “I love you.”  One of the great words is God’s promise that He has plans for you.  Read Jeremiah 29:11-13.

Allow me to rank some very important words: 

The 6 most important words – “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.”

The 5 most important words – “I am proud of you.”

The 4 most important words – “What do you think?”

The 3 most important words – “I can understand.”

The 2 most important words – “Thank you.”

The 1 most important word  – “We.”

The least important word  – “I.”

We have to choose our words carefully.  It’s a terrible thing to speak wrong words when we should have remained silent.  You can’t take back words.  You cannot un-ring a bell.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 4:29). 

What’s your WQ – Word Quotient?

Forgive and Live

After writing recently about forgiveness, I received a lot of responses.  One person said that when he learned to forgive, it was a key that unlocked a future for his Christian growth.  Another person said it was the most important thing he had learned.  Forgiving opens a door for a new relationship with God and with people.

A couple of people raised the question, why should I forgive?  Let me offer 7 reasons – 

1.      We must forgive because the Bible teaches it.  Matthew 6:14 says that if we forgive other people, God will forgive us.  If we fail to forgive others, God does not forgive us.  Wow, that’s dangerous.  We seek God’s forgiveness, but it becomes real when we forgive others.  Someone has said that forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

2.      We forgive because unforgiveness is a sin.  We don’t like to think of it in those terms.  We would much rather identify sins with sexual infidelity, murder, stealing, lying, etc.  1 John 3:15 equates unforgiveness with murder.  Putting a nice dress on unforgiveness doesn’t change its nature.

3.      We forgive because revenge will never even the score.  It differs from the world.  While the world might say we treat “an eye for an eye,” the Christian approach is “an eye for forgiveness.”  If we live by “an eye for an eye,” then the world would be blind! (Tweet this)

4.      We forgive because forgiveness is an expression of strength and Christian character.  The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche really confused people about forgiveness because he described it as “forgiveness is for weaklings.”  He felt that forgiveness was bowing down to the feet of those more powerful than you were.  That is a gross misunderstanding.  It takes extraordinary courage and strength to forgive.  

5.      We must forgive because unforgiveness is hazardous to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.  Unforgiveness creates anger and resentment.  It brings a huge sense of guilt.  Studies are showing that physical pain is directly related to unforgiveness.  Studies also show that heart rate, blood pressure, and other factors react negatively to unforgiveness.  Physical pain can be the result of unforgiveness.  It can create emotional insulation and a selfish attitude.

6.      We forgive because it drastically changes the future.  Forgiveness does not change the past, but it drastically changes the future!  Forgiving helps us to move on and no longer be held captive by the shackles of the past.

7.      Some people confuse forgiveness with forgetting.  I read a Sunday School lesson in which David Housel pointed out that the idea of “forgive and forget” came from Shakespeare and not the Bible.  He reminds us that we are made to forgive, but we were not made to forget.  God has the capacity to totally forget.  Read Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 8:15.   Forgiveness changes the whole necessity of forgetting. 

In the 1990’s, one of the great movements in our country was Promise Keepers.  My life and many of my friends were impacted by that ministry founded by Coach Bill McCartney.  The movement centered on receiving the forgiveness of God and the willingness to forgive others.  Coach McCartney developed a powerful formula that he used at all the PK conferences to help people know something special about God, themselves, and God’s purpose for their lives.  His formula was “forgive + give = live.” 

It’s time to FORGIVE and LIVE!

What Is Your CQ – Count Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #18)  Do you remember as a kid playing the game seeing who could count the highest?  You would get to some huge number, then your opponent would add another number to it?  Nobody could win because there was always a higher number.  Is there any limit of numbers when counting? 

That game might have taught me that estimating was easier than counting.  I was always accused of being able to estimate more people at a gathering than the actual number there.  At Frazer, we could have 5,000 people counted in attendance, but I could estimate there were at least 7,000!  Our ushers would always take the headcounts instead of my estimate.  I should have been hired to estimate the recent Presidential Inauguration crowd! 

The Catholic Church in Norway got into trouble recently because of the way it counted people.  In Norway, the government subsidizes religion, so the numbers influence their financial aid.  They were fined $142,000 by the government.  The church was actually taking Polish-sounding names from the phone book and padding the parish lists. 

They recorded 65,500 new members for the Diocese of Oslo from 2010 to 2014, but they discovered that 56,500 were added through questionable methods.  Some U.S. churches also practice that evangelism strategy! 

I have always wondered about how some things are counted.  After I had hip surgery, as a precaution, I had to take some very heavy antibiotics for 6 weeks.  The doctor suggested that I also take some probiotics because antibiotics would deplete a lot of good things out of my system.  The probiotics would replace them.

When I went to the store to inquire about probiotics, they asked me what kind of count I wanted.  I figured one pill per day.  They said, “We have pills that have 5 billion, or 30 billion, or 50 billion, or 80 billion count.”  I chose the 80 billion count because I figured, “the more, the better!”  I was curious and wanted to check out the count on one of the pills, but I can’t even count to 80 billion!  How do they do that counting? 

I also have gained a little weight since my surgery.  I think I have found the reason.  Each good bacteria must weigh something.  If I’m adding 80 billion of those little things each day, that’s where my weight gain has come from!  Maybe I need to cut back to the 5 billion count!

Count the things that really count, and don’t count the things that don’t really count.  Ask God to help show you the difference.  Maybe knowing what to count is more important than how to count.  Read Matthew 6:19-34.

Counting the right things puts us in the right frame of mind to live each day.  If you count the wrong things, you’ll discover you’ve got more burdens, problems and challenges than really exist.  Count your friends, count your blessings, count your opportunities, count your Kingdom endeavors . . . etc.

Through my participation in the Billion Soul Vision events, I met a fascinating man, Bruce Buckingham.  It was his voice that you always heard on television counting down when space shuttles were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  I always kidded him because he counted backwards. 

He told me about the different microphones in his ears and computers in front of his eyes.  He would count “T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 . . .” and then a decision had to be made – “Go / No Go.”  When he said “2, 1,” you would see the blast off to the moon or an orbit around the earth.  The lives of astronauts were dependent upon his precise and accurate countdown.  He could count backwards and never made a mistake!

Copy my friend, Bruce Buckingham.  Countdown – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and blast off to a blessed day that counts!

What is your CQ – Count Quotient?

What is Your FQ – Forgiveness Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #17)  Forgiving other people is one of the fundamental core values of the Christian faith.  It is also one of the toughest.  When Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, the only part on which He commented was the subject of forgiveness.  He said, “If you forgive others, God will forgive you.  If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you.”  That’s tough truth!  Here are four examples of forgiveness practiced in March and April 2017.

On Palm Sunday 2017, 44 Coptic Christians were murdered and 100 injured in terrorist bombings in Egypt.  An Egyptian guard died protecting Coptic Orthodox leader Tawadros II.  The widow of the guard said to her husband’s killers, “I forgive you, and I ask God to forgive you.”

Several family members who lost loved ones in the bombings were attending worship at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Jersey City, NJ.  They began praying for forgiveness for the ones who had carried out the attacks.  They said, “The sadness a lot of us feel is more for the terrorists and their perishing souls.  We don’t ask for vengeance.  We pray that the blinds are taken off their eyes that they can see again.”  Wow.  That’s forgiveness!

We saw it again on Easter Sunday 2017.  Robert Goodwin, Sr., who had grown up in Alabama and moved to Detroit, was planning a trip back to Alabama to be with his mother on Mother’s Day.  On Easter Sunday, he was killed in a senseless murder that the killer, Steve Stephens, recorded on Facebook.  Robert was the father of ten and soon to become a grandfather.  Stephens showed no remorse for the killing and said he was going out to kill others.  The Goodwin family chose to offer forgiveness to Stephens.  Robert’s daughter, Tonya, said, “The thing that I would take away most from my father is what he had taught us about God – how to fear God, how to love God, and how to forgive.  And each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer.”  Wow!  That’s forgiveness!  (see photo)

Robert Goodwin and daughter

One of the most influential Supreme Court decisions in American history was in 1857 when Dred Scott v. Sanford ruled that a black man could not ever be a free man or become a U.S. citizen.  It energized the abolition movement and contributed to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

In March 2017, Charles Taney III, the great-great-great nephew of Justice Roger B. Taney who authored the Dred Scott decision, met with Lyn Jackson, the great-great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, in front of the Maryland State House and Justice Taney’s statue.   It was 160 years later, but Charles Taney III made an apology and asked for forgiveness. There is no statute of limitations on forgiveness!  (see photo)

Taney & Scott embrace

In 1999, Kenneth Williams escaped from prison while serving a life sentence for murder.  He then killed Michael Greenwood and another man.  Williams was recaptured, imprisoned and executed in Arkansas April 27, 2017.

Michael Greenwood’s 22-year old daughter, Kayla, discovered that Kenneth had a daughter, Jasmine, in Washington State whom he hadn’t seen in 17 years, and he had never met his granddaughter.  Kayla bought plane tickets for Kenneth’s daughter and granddaughter and flew them to Little Rock the day before Kenneth’s execution so he could visit with them.  The young mothers met at the airport and embraced.  Kayla’s words to Jasmine were, “We forgive him.”  Wow, that’s forgiveness! (see photo)

Greenwood forgives Williams

Forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future.  (Tweet this)  Someone has said, “Forgiveness is not a case of holy amnesia that wipes out the past.  Instead, it is the experience of healing that drains the poison from the wound.”

Jesus not only taught forgiveness – He lived it.  On the cross He looked at the people who had beaten Him and nailed Him to a cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Is there somebody you need to call, visit, or write and offer forgiveness?  Forgiven people are forgiving people!

What’s your FQ – Forgiveness Quotient?

 

What is your DMQ – Difference Making Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #16)  Last week I wrote about the 2-year-old Valiant Cross Academy and the difference it is making in the lives of 60 young students.  The two men behind this dream are Frederick and Anthony Brock.  These brothers were great athletes in high school and college. 

I was one of the people they approached 5 years ago about their vision to make a difference in the lives of young African American boys in Montgomery.  They had a God-sized vision.  They didn’t have any money, but I have learned that when God gives us a vision and we obey, the money will follow that vision!  They wanted to start a school that would be a different educational model.  They rented the historic Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church. 

In 2016, they opened a sixth grade class with 30 boys.  In 2017, those sixth graders graduated to seventh grade, and they started another sixth grade class with 30 boys.  They plan to start another new class each year. 

These young men wear blue blazers, white shirts and ties.  They begin the day with Bible at 7:30 am.  At 8:00 am they transition to the church’s sanctuary.  They come up to the altar and kneel and pray.  Anthony Brock stands at the end of the altar, and each young man gets up from praying and shakes Mr. Brock’s hand and hears the headmaster say, “I love you, man.” (see photo students)

Valiant Cross students

After a brief devotional, they move outside into the courtyard.  As they go out the door, they shake Frederick’s hand, and again he tells each student, “I love you.”   They line up in formation in the small courtyard.  It is highly visible from Dexter Avenue, the Federal building, the State buildings, etc.  The leader barks out a question, and they all answer in unison with a clapping routine.  One of the routines goes like this:  The leader says, “Who’s got my back?”  They respond, “I got your back, bro, I got your back!”  Then they clap.  Then the leader asks, “Who’s got everybody’s back?”  They all shout out, “Jesus!”   They clap again.

Each student turns to a fellow student and says, “God loves you! And I love you!”  Now get this – that’s three times in the morning that each student has had someone tell him that they love him.  Together they quote Colossians 3:2 and Colossians 3:23.  The leader says, “When we make mistakes, do we make excuses?”  They shout out, “No, we don’t make excuses!  We don’t make excuses!”  They clap again.  I’ve spoken there a couple of times.  When I finish, they say, “Good job!” and clap.  They repeat “Good job!” and clap.  Even the speaker is encouraged!  (see photo John Ed and Larry Chapman)

Valiant Cross courtyard with Chapman

 “Rise Above” is Valiant Cross Academy’s theme.  The purpose is to give young men a vision to “rise above.”  They place big visions in front of them.  In formation, the leader says, “If you are a student, raise your hand.”  No hands go up.  Then he says, “If you are a scholar, raise your hand.”  Every hand goes up!  They place in the minds of these young men the highest opportunities and aspirations.  (see photo Bible)

Valiant Cross pledging to Bible

The purpose of the school is based on Christian principles with an intentional culture of structure and discipline.  Their mission statement in part is, “The world does not need super men, it needs supernatural men; men who will learn from their youth, to let go of self, to let the power of the Holy Spirit raise them to new heights – courageous men, righteous men, committed men, loving men who will rise up to lead, serve, to inspire.  Our mission, our purpose, our promise, is to help raise up such men.” (see photo headmaster)

Valiant Cross headmaster

You can learn more about Valiant Cross Academy from their website, www.valiantcross.org/about.  The academic program includes small class sizes, longer school days, double the math and triple the literacy time, differentiated instruction, aggressive tutoring, a daily after-school program, Saturday school, and a daily chapel service.  You are welcome and encouraged to come and sit at the back of the sanctuary when they gather at 7:50 am, then go outside for the morning formation.  You will be inspired and challenged.  (see photo John Ed praying)

Valiant Cross praying

Valiant Cross Academy is making a difference.  Pray for and consider supporting them.   I can see in a few years great African American leaders in the River Region, Alabama, and the United States who are Valiant Cross graduates!

What’s your DMQ – Difference-Making Quotient?

Ministry Report – April 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

I want to thank you so much for your prayers and support for this ministry.  I like to try to keep you informed about the results of your efforts.

In the past quarter, I had major hip surgery for the third time.  I blocked out some extra time not knowing how long I would be out.  I mentioned that God really showed me favor in leading me to a great doctor – Dr. Todd Sheils.  It is a fascinating story about how all that happened that I might share in the future.  As a result, I have done far better than expected.  I am actually walking about a mile and a half, 3 or 4 times a week.  I am walking without a limp and have no pain.  I’m not on any antibiotics.  I feel great!

Because of limiting my travel, I concentrated the last quarter on a lot of things mostly within the state of Alabama.  Below are some of the ministry opportunities in which I was involved this last quarter:

  • I spoke at a state baseball coaches conference in Birmingham with 450 coaches attending.
  • I spoke at Troy University to the capstone leadership class, which is comprised of 45 outstanding seniors.
  • I spoke at a prayer conference at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN.
  • I spoke at the Female Factor at Troy with about 200 women attending.
  • I participated in the River Region Sports Commission meetings and planning for events in Montgomery, including the Camellia Bowl, all-star games, etc. 
  • I met to help plan a summer conference for high school baseball coaches and their wives.
  • I officiated at four funerals and one wedding.
  • I preached at the Maundy Thursday communion service at Wesley Gardens UMC Retirement Home.
  • I stayed current with 60 daily radio and Facebook audio devotions.
  • I wrote 13 weekly blogs for newspapers and social media publication.
  • I was able to participate in a monthly telephone prayer time with some leaders of large para-church organizations in the United States.
  • I continued writing the fund-raising letters for The Confessing Movement.
  • I met with pastors from Georgia and prepared a podcast for ministers concerning the ways in which churches must respond to change.
  • I’ve participated in video segments of Unsung Heroes to be used in many venues in the near future.
  • I did short-term coaching for 3 pastors.  I did leadership consulting with 4 churches.
  • I met with the coordinator of a National Civility Leadership Congress to plan a national program.

Thank you so much for your support.  I have a lot of great opportunities this summer and fall.  Please pray that I will always be focused to see God’s doors open and courageous to walk through them.

For the Cause of causes,

John Ed Mathison

 

 

 

 

What’s Your SPQ – Seed-Planting Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #15)  Life is about planting seeds.  We don’t always have the opportunity to see the seeds flourish into plants.  I was blessed to experience seeing the result of seed-planting recently.  (see photo below)

JE planting seeds in shorts

I was at the Valiant Cross Academy which is housed in the old historic Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Montgomery.  About five years ago two brothers, Anthony and Frederick Brock, came to meet with me and share their vision for a school that would meet a special need in Montgomery to give African American boys a better chance in life.  We prayed together.  I encouraged them.  God opened doors for them to start Valiant Cross Academy.  It is one of the most positive and effective educational ministries in Montgomery.  Here’s their website – http://www.valiantcross.org/about. 

I was speaking at their daily chapel service recently, and the two brothers shared with me a seed I had planted.  I had been invited to speak at the state-wide African Methodist Episcopal pastors and lay leaders meeting about 8 years ago.  One of the brothers attended that session with his father, and he took a lot of notes.  I was not aware of that!

In the course of the conference, I was asked about a servant leadership principle concerning my parking space at Frazer.  I simply shared that at Frazer, parking near the church entrances was always at a premium.  I suggested the staff not park near the church building on Sundays.  I started to park across the Atlanta Highway in the Hobby Lobby parking lot.  Our staff followed, and other people followed suit.  I didn’t need a private parking space.  As a leader I should walk as far as anybody else on Sunday morning, including rainy and cold and hot Sundays.

Anthony Brock heard that.  He was the principal of the St. Jude High School in Montgomery at the time, and he decided to put it into practice.  There was a private parking spot for him as the school principal.  He went back and pulled up the sign and gave that “Principal’s parking space” to a teacher.  He thanked me for that lesson. 

Frederick then told me about Willie Spears, the new head football coach at Carver High School in Montgomery.  He was a friend of the Brock brothers and was very excited about the leadership opportunity to coach the football program, but also teach students about life.  Frederick shared with him his experience about the parking place.

Coach Willie Spears took him seriously and went back to Carver High School where he had been given a private parking space.  He decided to give up his private parking space as head football coach, and selected a person who served on the janitorial staff for some 20 years and gave that spot to him!  He said he wanted to demonstrate servant leadership.

Following that chapel service, Frederick Brock began to tell me about some of the seeds I had planted that had helped make a difference in his life.  He remembered when I went every week to speak to the Jeff Davis football team when he played.  Every month I still cross paths with some student who played on one of those football teams, and he makes some positive comments about our time together.  To be honest, I had no idea that I was planting seeds.  I wish I had taken time to plant more seeds!

What kind of seeds are we planting?   Jesus tells in Mark 4 about a man who scattered seeds.  Some seed fell on hard ground and perished.  Some seed fell on soft ground but developed no roots and soon died.  Some seed fell on good ground and produced fruit.  It is our responsibility to plant the seeds faithfully.  We must plant the seeds.  God has a way of taking the smallest seeds and turning them into the biggest plants.  Robert Lewis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” 

It’s planting time!  What’s your SPQ – Seed-Planting Quotient?