Culture versus Christianity

A lot of big battles are being contested today in a variety of arenas.  One obvious arena is in college and professional football.  Many have predicted the winners – we’ll know who will win the battle in a few months. 

There’s a big battle politically.  We see it here in Alabama and in our nation.  Different political ideologies are spending huge amounts of money and energy to win the battle against the “opponents.”  We also see the battle between nations.  There are a lot of major players on the world’s stage today between some big and small nations.  Who is going to win those battles?

I think one of the biggest battles going on today is between Christianity and culture.  The battle involves people, but it is more about attitude, theology, and core values.  Culture appears to be on the offensive and gaining ground.  U.S. Christianity appears to be on the defensive and losing ground.  You pick the ethical issues – then determine who is winning the battle.

The Christianity versus culture battle is not new.  It has existed since the beginning of time.  The most instructive words come from Paul in the book of Romans when he said, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold, but rather transform the world by renewing your minds and hearts through Jesus Christ” (Romans 12:1-2).  Jesus constantly taught that a person cannot serve two masters – you have to make a decision whether to follow Christ or follow the ways of the world (Matt. 6:24).

Our problem is that we Christians have become defensive and silent.  We have become desensitized by the onslaught of ideas, philosophies, and morals that run counter to the Christian faith.  We have become complacent and comfortable!

About 60 years ago, Jim Elliot and five other missionaries were killed when they went to Ecuador to bring help and hope to the natives.  Jim perfectly described our current dilemma when he wrote, “We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the 20th Century does not reckon with.  But we are ‘harmless,’ and therefore unharmed.  We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places.  The world cannot hate us because we are too much like the world.  Oh that God would make us dangerous.” 

Isn’t that even more applicable today in the 21st Century?  Are we really dangerous?  Do we realize that we are going against powers and principalities?  (Read Ephesians 6:12.)  Do we realize the importance of the outcome of this battle between Christianity and culture?  Are we overlooking the Power that culture can’t reckon with? 

In the mid-1700s, Patrick Henry was willing to stand up and speak up.  He said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”  Why did he say that?  He wrote in his Bible – “I’m a real Christian – that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.  I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and I hope to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.”  He understood the battle between culture and Christianity.

We need victory in the battle – which will bring unity.  Christians must get off the defense and begin to move forward to bring light to our world.  Jonathan Edwards, the great 18th Century New England preacher, had 70 resolutions to live by.  The first 2 summarize the other 68.  Resolution #1:  “I will live for God.”  Resolution #2: “If no one else does, I still will.”

Joshua said, “Choose today whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  Every person is important.  Mark Twain said, “To the world you might be one person, but to one person, you might be the world.  You are the key.”

Who do you think is winning – culture or Christianity?  Which side are you on?

What Is Truth?

Is it true or not?  That’s a question that pops in my mind most every time I read some article.  Today we live in an age where there are so many venues for communication, and much of the social media has no accountability.  Can you believe it or not?  Sometimes bogus reports on social media achieve more credibility than the main stream media.  We tend to believe it.  How do you know?

Is it true or is it not?  With the explosive growth of an “alternative information ecosystem,” we have witnessed fringe views that have gone main stream, and truth becomes whatever a person chooses to believe.  There are a lot of “information and conspiracy” theories that abound.  You can even find “proof” of many of the foolish notions on hundreds of websites, blogs, newsletters, etc.  For example, a bogus video, erroneous chart, a phony story, “passed on from one person to another on Facebook,” seems to have more credibility than legitimate attempts to correct the record.  What is truth?  How do you know?

This year Facebook has also tried to put a “Disputed” stamp on certain stories to help fight misinformation on its website.  But it takes time for a story to receive the disputed tag, which means it could take several days before a patently false story gets tagged.  By that time, it has already been circulated and believed by many.  Robert Mason is a University of Washington professor who is studying the false information that is publicly reported.  He sums up our present situation by saying, “If you say it loud enough or long enough, people will believe it.”

How much can we trust commercial outlets?  This year, a Federal Appeals Court declared a class action law suit accusing a boutique grocery chain of overcharging customers by “systematically and routinely” overstating the weights of prepackaged foods.  You were not getting what you were paying for.  Some news outlets started referring to the grocery chain as “Not Whole Foods.”

I love eating a good Subway sandwich.  We witnessed a class action law suit to force Subway to admit that some of its “foot-long” sandwiches were actually 11 inches long.  They now have to measure sandwiches to ensure they are at least 12 inches!

In November 1914, Financial Times ran an article about how successful the British were at selling war bonds and funding WWI.  A correction was just issued, 103 years later, after examining original documents at the Bank of England.  They discovered that the attempt to sell war bonds was actually a “spectacular failure.”  They surmised that part of the reason the article was “fake news” was that the real news might hand Germany a propaganda victory, so the Bank of England secretly funneled money to close that gap.  The Financial Times is now “happy to make clear that none of the 1914 news item was true.”

The Bible is very clear about telling the truth.  Proverbs 12:13-14 says, “Lies will get any man into trouble, but honesty is its own defense.  Telling the truth gives a man great satisfaction.”  Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truth stands the test of time.  Lies are soon exposed.”  Proverbs 25:18 says, “Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with an ax or wounding him with a sword, or shooting him with a sharp arrow.”

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).  He also said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Always speak truth.  Henry David Thoreau said, “Truth hurts, but then heals, while falsehood soothes, but destroys.”

Truth is a lousy club – but a great sword! (Read Hebrews 4:12)

Please Open the Door

Doors can keep people in, keep people out, let people in, or let people out.

A fascinating thing happened in Alabama to start off the month of August.  Walker County Sheriff James Underwood said a dozen inmates escaped from jail by using peanut butter to trick a new prison employee into opening an outside door.  They took the peanut butter from the jail sandwiches, used it to change the numbers above an inmate’s cell to the number identifying the door leading outside the jail.  An inmate then asked a new, inexperienced jailer to open the cell’s door.  The new jailer didn’t realize he was opening a door of escape! 

The 12 escapees, including two who were in jail for attempted murder, were recaptured immediately, except one, Brady Andrew Kilpatrick.  Kilpatrick had been jailed on drug charges.  He was recaptured 2 days later. 

The sheriff said you could not believe how smart some criminals are at knowing how to get out.  The new deputy thought he was opening a door for the men to go through to a cell, but in fact he opened the outside door.  A lot of people become captive to addictions, problems and sins that tie them up.  There seems to be no way out.  Too many people resign themselves to just living “a captured life.”

Jesus said that He came to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18).  He’s the one who can open the door and release a person from anything that has control of him.  His desire is to always open doors to set people free.

I understand a door is constructed with four panels separated by a long upright center board and a shorter horizontal board.  These two boards actually form a cross.  This was the standard plan for making doors that comes from a carpenters’ guild in England in the Middle Ages.  These craftsmen took as their motto, “I am the door.”

They worked the sign of the cross into doors, and it is still done today.  The cross and the door are a combination of symbols that show there is hope for anybody held captive behind a closed door.  God assures us that any door can be opened through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Jesus doesn’t need peanut butter to open doors!  Jesus doesn’t knock doors down to enter.  He never takes a battering rod to bust His way in.  The Bible says that He simply knocks on the door.  Revelation says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anybody hears my voice and will open the door, I will come in and fellowship with them” (Rev. 3:20).  He gently knocks.

Jesus at the door knockingHere is a beautiful picture by Warner Sallman that shows Jesus gently knocking on the door of a house inside a garden.  The interesting thing is there’s no handle on that outside door.  A little boy asked his father about that, and the father informed him that the door always has to be opened from the inside.  The doorknob is on the inside of the door.

God’s greatest desire is to gently knock at the door of your life and let you open it so He can come in.  When the power of His presence fills your heart, the door stays open.  He then sends you out as a new person.

You don’t have to be extremely creative like those prisoners in the Walker County jail.  You don’t need peanut butter – you just need the cross of Jesus Christ.  And when you walk through the doors that Jesus opens, you won’t be captured again.  As smart as those guys thought they were, they were free for only a few hours.

The Bible said that when Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed!  (Read John 8:36)

How Is Your GPS Working?

When Jesus wanted to teach us about trust, faith and security, and give us a formula for not worrying and being anxious, He used birds as an example.  He said that the birds don’t worry about what to eat.  They don’t need to plant or reap or store up food.  They know that their Heavenly Father is going to take care of them.  Jesus then reminds us that we are far more valuable to God than little birds.  (Read Matthew 6:26, 27.)

A very popular sport today is bird watching.  If we really watch the birds, we can learn a lot of good lessons of life.  One especially important lesson is how God guides the birds and us in our lives. 

Through our television ministry at Frazer I was introduced to a lot of interesting people.  A wonderful lady named Nancy Floyd from Charlottesville, Virginia worshiped each week by television.  She volunteered from Virginia for things at Frazer.  She was known as “the quill lady.”  She made quill pens from Czechoslovakian goose feathers.  Nancy sent me some of those quill pens.  She always signed her notes, “On the shadow of God’s wings.”

She told me that each feather has a barrel, a shaft, and a body.  Each bird’s feathers have a distinctive body shape.  Inside the barrel of each feather is a filament.  This is God’s computer chip.  This enables the birds to have uncanny directional skills like a GPS.

God has placed a tremendous directional device into many of His creatures!  I remember reading about some amazing birds at Midway Island.  These birds built their nests too close to the American air strip.  The military didn’t want to injure or kill the birds, so they caught them and moved them to the Philippines.

It was certainly a safe distance from Midway Island.  It was over 4,000 miles, which is greater than the width of the United States.  Surprisingly, in less than 30 days the flock of albatrosses had flown back to Midway Island.  They flew over open sea and unfamiliar territory.  How did they do that?  How could they navigate night and day in good weather and bad weather to come back home?  That special GPS God gave these birds can do a fantastic thing!

I have been out to Stuttgart, Arkansas to speak several times and met some of the finest Christian leaders anywhere.  Stuttgart only has about 10,000 people, but is considered the rice capital of the world, and also the duck-hunting capital of the world.  Those two go together.

Every year, the ducks come back to Stuttgart.  The duck hunting business is worth over $60 Million to Stuttgart during its 60-day season.  How do those ducks keep coming back there?  I wonder if somewhere high in the sky there must be some road signs or directional lights.  Did the ducks get a GPS before us?   

Faithful little birds named Swallows always come back to the mission at San Juan Capistrano, California on March 19th.  About dawn, the little birds arrive and begin building mud nests amidst the ruins of the great stone church.  The church becomes the house for those little birds that St. Francis of Assisi loved so much.  In the middle of summer, they leave, but everybody knows they are coming back the next March 19.   How do they know to do that?  How do they always find their way back to that church?  It’s their home.

Buzzards have been caricatured as dumb birds, but they are pretty smart!  Something guides them back to Hinckley, Ohio on March 15 every year.  This tradition actually goes back to 1818 when a judge named Hinckley and a dozen of his friends had a roundup and killed a lot of predators on their property.  They took what food they wanted and left the carcasses.  Guess which birds came in to “clean up?”  That was almost 200 years ago.  The buzzards still come back to Hinckley on the same date.  You can count on it.  They are coming home.

God has a great destination for you – a great plan for your life.  Be sure that He is your GPS!  He will lead you safely Home! (Read 2 Peter 3:13.)

What is Your HQ – Heart Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #28)   A couple of my friends have recently died unexpectedly from heart failure.  I had been with them in normal social settings just a couple days before their sudden death.  The heart is a strategic part of the human anatomy.  It must function effectively or we won’t stay alive.  About one in four deaths are the result of heart disease. 

I read about a new $100 electrocardiogram machine about the size of two sticks of gum.  A person at risk with a heart condition can use this device to monitor their “ticker” without bulky equipment or frequent doctor’s visits.  Pressing his/her finger to the device for 30 seconds transmits a medical-grade EKG to their smartphone.

The AliveCor device is referred to as Kardia.  The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze their data and build the profile.  If the device detects a potential problem, the doctor is alerted to take a closer look.  Technology is helping to keep the heart healthy.  Kardia is experimenting with building this technology into smartphones, sensor-laden clothing, etc.  The goal is to make checking your heart as easy as checking your temperature. 

Artificial hearts also have been developed.  These are used when a person is waiting on a heart transplant.  One biotech company is conducting clinical trials on an artificial heart developed from synthetic materials and cow-heart tissues and powered by tiny electric motors.  The first patient lived 74 days, but the second patient has exceeded that.  If further clinical trials are successful and the device receives Federal approval for commercial use, each artificial heart will cost about $180,000.

An artificial heart can be a substitute for a limited amount of time.  I understand there are about 4,000 donor hearts that come available each year, but 100,000 people are waiting for a heart transplant!

A Michigan man has a healthy heart but it’s in the wrong place!  When the man entered the hospital for tests, X-ray technicians thought they had put the film in backwards.  They discovered that the man’s heart was on the right side of his chest instead of the left side.  He had a rare, reversed-organ condition.  Figuratively speaking, always check to see that your heart is in the “right place!” 

The essential contribution of our hearts to our physical condition is important to everyone.  But there is a spiritual dimension to the heart also.  I would suggest that it is more important than the physical function because the spiritual function is for this life but also for all eternity.  The spiritually healthy heart never stops beating!

The Bible gives high significance to the healthy spiritual heart.  John 7:37 says, “Out of the believer’s heart flows living waters.”  Romans 5:5 says, “God’s love is poured in our hearts.”  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life.”  Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is there will be your heart also.”  If you want to know how healthy your heart is, look at how you use your money, time, ability, and resources.  Where you put your possessions indicates where your heart really is.

One day I received a phone call from one of my grandchildren.  He had just been attending a church function and was riding home.  He was very excited and said to me, “Pop Pop, I had to call you.  I wanted to tell you that I invited Jesus into my heart today.”  That was the best news that I could ever hear!  The health of the heart where Jesus resides is indescribable!

We all need to go to the Great Physician and have a heart check-up.  Is my heart in the right place?  Am I trying to stumble along with an artificial heart?  Can I check how healthy my heart is by examining what I do with my time and treasure?  Who resides in my heart?  Am I willing to follow the heart-healthy prescriptions of God’s Word?  The Great Physician is always ready to perform a heart transplant and give us a new heart!

What’s your HQ – Heart Quotient?

Special Prayer Request

Dear Friends,
Please pray for John Ed as he will be preaching at the morning worship at Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, NC this Sunday, August 6.  He will then be participating in a 4-day seminar, Monday through Thursday, entitled “Festival of Wisdom and Grace” at Lake Junaluska.  He will be speaking each day.
Upon returning home, he will speak at a business in Montgomery on Friday morning, August 11, then drive to Andalusia, Alabama for the Iron Works “Men of Steel” Conference.  It will be held at the Covington Center Arena.  He will join Crawford Loritts and Sid Bream and Matt Papa.  He will be speaking Friday night and Saturday morning.
John Ed will be then speaking at the Springhill United Methodist Church Homecoming in Greenville, Alabama on Sunday morning, August 13.  Jake Fannin is their pastor.
(Below is a promotional flyer for the Iron Works event.)
Needless to say, these are excellent opportunities for our ministry.  Thank you for your prayers!
Board of Directors,
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
Men of Steel flyer 7-17 (1)

What is Your AQ – Age Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #27 – If you didn’t know how old you are, how old would you be?  That’s a very interesting question that has been phrased in different ways, and it has always stuck with me.

Our age is not just about a number of days.  How much living we put into our days is more important than how many days we live. (Tweet this)  Age is a relative term.  Some people are old at 40 – others are still young at 90!

I recently preached at Felders Camp Meeting which is near McComb, Mississippi.  The camp ground has 68 large cabins, and each one is filled with people of all ages.  They must have had 200 bicycles, and kids were riding them everywhere.  There were also a lot of rocking chairs for the older crowd, and they were being well used.

The worship services were held in a big tabernacle that seats about 500-plus people.  It is open air and has about 20 ceiling fans.  They meet in July – and that’s not the coolest time in Mississippi!

One night at the worship service, the host pastor asked people to stand from their home states.  People stood representing about 18 different states including Washington State and Arizona.

He then said he would like to determine the oldest and youngest person there.  The youngest was a 5-week old baby who enjoyed sleeping during my sermons.  The oldest person was a 102-year old lady from Atlanta, Georgia who attended every morning and evening worship service.  In talking to her, I asked her what was one of her biggest challenges, and she said, “It’s driving my car in Atlanta.”  She said she tries to avoid the interstates there. She’s still young at 102 years old!  She’s going strong.

Johanna Quaas is a German 91-year old gymnast.  She is amazing.  This former sports teacher works out an hour every day and competes in gymnastic events all over the world.  At a Berlin contest, she recently demonstrated her prowess on the parallel bars, holding her body in a perfect horizontal plank and lifting her legs in a split above her head.  Wow!  She’s still young at 91.

Robert Marchand is officially dubbed the fastest 105-year old on two wheels.  He is a veteran French cyclist.  This year he set a new World record in his age category.  He rode 14 miles in one hour.  When he completed 92 laps at a velodrome outside Paris, he received a standing ovation.  His first comment was that he could have done better.  He said, “I didn’t see the sign warning me I had ten minutes left, otherwise I could have gone faster.”  He’s still young at 105 years old!

One of the most encouraging statements I ever received came from my grandson, Si, whose nickname is Mat.  On  my 79th birthday, he said to me, “Wow Pop Pop, you got a lot of living left in you!”  I feel pretty young!

How old would you be if you didn’t know your birth date?  Ben Franklin said, “Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.”  King David said, “Now that I am old and my hair is gray, don’t leave me, God.  I must tell the next generation about your power and greatness” (Psalm 71:18).   Love deeply and tell people about what God is doing in your life – that will keep you young!

I figure most everybody reading this is somewhere between the ages of that 5-week old baby and that 102-year old lady from Atlanta.  Whatever your age – ask God what He wants you to do today – and do it.

What’s your AQ – Age Quotient?

What is Your TQ – Talk Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #26)   Earl Andrews was the Senior Chaplain at the West Point Academy.  Upon his retirement, he came to Montgomery, and I had the privilege of working with him at Frazer for many years.   Earl told some great stories. 

One I’ll never forget was about a woman who went to a pet shop and bought a parrot.  The pet store owner assured her that the parrot could talk.  She carried the parrot home, but he never said a word.  She came back to the pet store the next day and complained about his not talking.  The owner said he would talk if he had a mirror in his cage so he could look at himself.  She bought a mirror and put it in the cage, but the parrot still didn’t talk.

She came back the next day and complained.  The pet store owner said he needed a ladder in the cage so he could climb.  That would induce him to talk.  She put a ladder in the cage, but nothing happened.  The next day the pet store owner said the parrot would talk if he could play with a tennis ball in the cage.  She got the ball, but nothing happened.  He suggested that the parrot needed a swing so he could relax and exercise.  She bought a swing for the cage, but the parrot still didn’t talk. 

The next day the parrot died.  The lady brought the dead parrot back to the pet store.  The man apologized and asked the lady if the parrot ever said a single word.  She replied, “Yes, just before he died, the parrot talked.  He said, ‘Don’t they have any food at that pet store?’”

I laughed a lot when Earl would tell that story.  It also made me think about some important life lessons in that story about what is really important in life.

God has a plan and purpose for each of us.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10).  The Bible gives the perfect recipe for life through Jesus.

But we try to find our joy and fulfillment in the wrong ways.  Like that parrot, we put a mirror in front of us to see how good we look and how we can improve our outward appearance.  We think that fulfillment and joy come in our physical appearance.  We spend a lot of money trying to look better.  It doesn’t “help us talk.” 

We try to climb the ladder of success.  We work hard going up one rung to another.  We want to get ahead of everybody else.  Somebody said that we climb the ladder of life, and when we get to the top we discover that it’s not leaning against anything!   Ladder-climbing doesn’t “help us talk.”

We also think we can find joy and fulfillment if we can play ball, and if we can excel in some kind of athletic accomplishments.  In today’s culture, some schools have over 60% of their students playing on some school team.  That’s good, but winning state championships and becoming most valuable players won’t bring that joy.  Trophies tarnish and silver platters grow dull.

Some people think happiness will come from playing on a swing.  Young people think swinging is the key.  You can visit nightclubs, be with the “in group,” and try to live a lavish lifestyle, but it still won’t “help you talk.”

No mirrors or ladders or balls or swings will bring us joy.  Joy comes when we submit to God’s will and allow ourselves to be fed by God’s word and God’s values and God’s plan and purpose for our life.  Don’t be like that pet store owner and the woman who tried everything to help the parrot talk – except to feed him – which was what he really needed.

God has a lot of “talking” for you and me to do.  Stay focused on and practice God’s purpose and plan for your life.  Surrender to that plan – feed on it – then start talking!

What is your TQ – Talk Quotient?

What is Your PQ – Purpose Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #25)   A perceptive teacher noticed one day that a little girl was having trouble with her math assignment.  She knew that the girl was shy and wouldn’t ask for help.  The teacher went to the child and offered her assistance.

After she had helped the child work through the math problem, the little girl thanked the teacher.  The teacher replied, “That’s one of the reasons I am here.”  The little girl thought about that for a moment and then asked, “What’s the other reason?”

What is the reason you are here?  God doesn’t make mistakes and put people in the wrong place.  He creates people and gives them a plan and a purpose. 

I live in a state that loves sports.  Players and teams work hard and train for the purpose of performing well in a game.  Champions are not made in the middle of a game but in the middle of practice for the game.  Big victories are always the result of a series of small decisions made in practice sessions.  Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said it’s not the will to win that’s important – it’s the will to prepare to win!  Winners prepare because they know why they are there. 

A couple of years ago, University of Oklahoma’s coaches gave a blank iPad to all its players.  They handed out digital playbooks the first of August.  Each player was to take the iPad and write out what that player thought would be his purpose on the team.  I like the response of Michael Honnicutt, who was Oklahoma’s Senior kicker.  He said his purpose is to “kick the ball through the uprights.”

One of my favorite people in history is George Washington Carver.  About 50 years ago, I bought a mantle for our house from an old store in Tuskegee where George Washington Carver went every day.  He and a group of men would drink coffee sitting around the fireplace.  I wish that mantle could talk!  I keep a couple of peanuts on it. 

George Washington Carver had many career opportunities. When he finished his doctorate at Iowa State, he chose to go to Tuskegee Institute.  The salary was small, but he knew his purpose in life came from an invitation from Booker T. Washington to work and make a difference.  He knew why he was going to Tuskegee. 

George Washington Carver wrote, “No individual has the right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinctive legitimate reasons for having passed through it.  I pray my work at Tuskegee became my reason for living.”  He made a difference, not only in Tuskegee, but the world, and he always knew it was God’s purpose for his life.

I have heard about a beautiful highway outside of Bryson City, North Carolina.  People refer to it as the “road to nowhere.”  It was intended to be a highway between Bryson City and Townsend, Tennessee, but environmental concerns stopped the project.  People who travel the road talk about the beautiful scenery, how smooth the highway is, but it is simply going nowhere.  It comes to a 58 Million dollar dead end at an uncompleted tunnel through a mountain.  God created everyone with a life designed to go somewhere – fulfilling the purpose He has for us.

At age 12, Jesus knew His purpose.  When His parents found Him in the Temple teaching the Pharisees, He said, “Don’t you know that I must be about my father’s business” (Luke 2:49).  On the last night that He lived, Jesus prayed in the garden, “Father, please let this cup pass from me.  Nevertheless, not what I want but what You want” (Mat. 26:39).  Jesus knew why He had come, and His Father’s purpose for His life was His focus.

What is your reason for being here?

What is your PQ – Purpose Quotient?

What is Your LQ – Legacy Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #24) When people think back on your life, what do they remember?  What lasting legacy are you leaving? 

Many people will be remembered for different things.  James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  But before he died of prostate cancer at age 55, he outlined specifically how he wanted to be remembered. 

When he died, Smith’s body was placed in his recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand.  He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe.  Cigarettes and beer were at his side, and a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers’ highlights.  Friends at the viewing said it depicted him exactly as he was in life.  That is a unique legacy – but pitiful.

Jack Reynolds is from northern England.  He celebrated his 105th birthday in April 2017.  He wanted to ride a roller coaster and be remembered as the oldest person ever to ride a roller coaster.  He had a sweatshirt printed which said, “It’s my party and I’ll scream if I want to.”

Jack actually changed his idea of how he wanted to be remembered.  At 104, he got a tattoo.  At that time he wanted to be remembered as the oldest man ever to get a tattoo.  That’s a unique legacy – but pitiful.

Some people live their whole life and never do anything significant.  Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping of Galveston, Texas, died of cancer at age 75.  I doubt he’ll be missed by many people because his family wrote an on-line obituary that said he “lived 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”  His family wrote that his hobbies were “being abusive to his family . . . and fishing,” and his life “served no obvious purpose.”  What a sad commentary on a person’s life.

We don’t know how many days we have to live.  Some have a few days, some have many more.  Each of us is making a legacy to leave.  Each of us is doing things for which we will be remembered.  It’s a good thing to stop and ask ourselves, “How will folks remember me?”

We remember Judas because he betrayed Jesus.  We remember King Agrippa because he was almost persuaded to be a Christian.  We remember Herod’s daughter because she was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist.  We remember Lot’s wife because she disobeyed God.  History is filled with people who left bad legacies.

There are also people who left great legacies.  We remember Moses because he obeyed God and led His people through the Red Sea.  We remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego because they obeyed God, and He delivered them from the fiery furnace.  We remember Enoch because he walked with God.  We remember Esther because she confronted the king and saved her people.  We remember Dorcas because she was full of good works.  We remember Peter because of his powerful preaching at Pentecost.

We remember Paul because he fought a good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith.  We remember the woman who bought the most expensive perfume and used it to wash the feet of Jesus.  We remember a poor woman because she gave what was the smallest amount to others but turned out to be the biggest amount to God because it was everything she had. 

We remember Jesus because He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death for us, rose from the grave on the third day, and is alive today.  We remember Him today because He ascended into Heaven and promised that He would return.  His legacy lasts forever and ever and ever.

How will you be remembered?  What is your LQ – Legacy Quotient?