How is your GPS working?


Dr. John Ed Mathison

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 VQ – Value Quotient?


John Ed Mathison

By John Ed Mathison

Sir Ernest Shackleton spearheaded an expedition to the South Pole.  The group ran into tremendous trouble and unexpected circumstances.  Lives were in jeopardy as they started to return to safety.  It became necessary to discard many of the items they carried with them in order to survive.

Sir Ernest began to notice the way his group chose what they would hold onto and what they would discard.  The first thing to go was their money.  It was not as important as life.  The second thing to go was the food they carried in their backpacks.  They discarded everything that added weight and hindered their survival.  The items they chose to carry with them were pictures of their loved ones and letters from home.

We have to make decisions about the value of life in relation to the things that we choose to carry with us.  While we are not on an expedition to the South Pole, we make those kinds of decisions every day.  It may not always be for survival, but our decisions about values do determine the quality, fulfillment and meaningfulness of life.  It is a challenge to avoid hanging on to things of little value and discarding things of great value.

We remember well the Olympics in Rio last year.  Athletes spent years of rigorous training (and a huge portion of their lives) to win a gold medal.  Even though the gold medals were only gold plated, they are greatly valued by all athletes!

A recent report is showing that those medals are beginning to fall apart.  Like many Olympic facilities in Rio, the medals are disintegrating and losing their value.   We all make value decisions about the things that are important.  Some things in which we invest our time, energy and resources are not really things that increase in value.

In May 2017, a man from South Dakota saw his apartment complex on fire, and he knocked over police and firefighters to get back into his apartment.  He actually interfered with emergency workers.  When he came out of the building, he was hand-cuffed and charged with obstruction.  The man, Michael Casteel, 56 years old, barged back into the apartment building just to get two cans of Bud Ice Premium!  He risked his life and the lives of others to save two cans of beer.  Sad!

Be sure you know what things are valuable in life and what things are not.  Lloyd Jack and Ruairi Gray are 22-year old students in Scotland.  They were visiting an art exhibition and decided to see how much people knew about real values.  These two guys bought a pineapple and placed it on an empty display stand as a joke.  They came back four days later and found that the fruit was now encased in glass and made part of the modern art exhibit.  They paid $1.30 for the pineapple, and the “experts” had obviously mistaken it for real art.

Jesus honored a woman who dropped in the smallest amount into the treasury when He said she knew about value – it was the best she had.  She knew value.  A rich man asked Jesus about how to enter the Kingdom of God.  He chose not to follow Jesus because he was not willing to give up his money.  He didn’t know about value.  Jesus invites all of us to follow Him.  We discover the greatest values in life when we “seek first His kingdom, and anything we need will be given to us” (Matthew 6:33).

Here are some valuable questions:  If life is like the expedition to the South Pole, what are you going to discard and what are you going to keep?  Are the medals that you compete for each day deteriorating or gaining in value?  What are you willing to go back into a burning apartment to retrieve?  In choosing your values of life, can you differentiate between false displays and the displays that have value?

What is your VQ – Value Quotient?



What is your EQ – Expectation Quotient? 



Dr. John Ed Mathison

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 . . .