The Significance of the Number 55

Christian Neal, Stonepoint Member

It started when I was on my way to Journey Group. It was Thursday evening. My Journey Group leaders, Welcome and Debbie Edwards, pulled up toward my house like they did every Thursday evening after 5:30pm. Debbie always stepped out of the car with a smile, hugged me and sat herself in the back seat to give me more leg room. (I’m without a car right now, so it’s been super helpful that my JG leaders have given me a ride to and from our group meeting Thursday nights.) In the front seat, I’d always sit back and let Welcome badger me with insults. I’ve learned to take them by now, and I give them right back. (Well, maybe “insults” is a strong word here. Welcome and I have real conversation, too, I promise.) main-qimg-4a733d79a76e5023c37c098c49527e0b-c

Driving down FM 47 to the building, I glance over at the car’s digital dashboard. I only half-listened to whatever Welcome was saying at the time as my eyes read the numbers on the little screen above the gear shift. (Fancy cars these days. They tell you the time and the temperature outside and everything.) It was 5:55pm and 55 degrees outside. Interesting.

I didn’t think much about that. Until the next Journey Group on Thursday night, the night played out again. The Edwards pull up to my driveway, Debbie gets out—you get the idea. And driving down FM 47 once again to the church, the digital dashboard reads: 5:55pm and 55 degrees outside.

‘Maybe their car’s thermostat is broken,’ I wonder. But it wasn’t. The following days it would show anywhere from the thirties to the seventies. (That’s Texas weather for you.)

But, oddly enough, it didn’t stop there.

Days later, some friends and I attended a concert, and on our way home, we stopped at a fast-food restaurant to eat a meal. I’m not really sure why, but a friend of mine raised her arm, pointing to the menu over our heads and told me, “Oh look! They have a deal on three sliders for $5.55!”

Then I go to order a fried chicken sandwich and two scoops of ice cream, and my total rings out to be $5.50 exactly. Talk about weird.

This pattern continued. I heard someone share their testimony and they lived 55 years before God changed their lives. Someone gave me a business card, and the phone number on the card literally had five 5’s in the 8-digit cell number. And it just keeps happening like that. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

So, what’s the point in me telling you all this? What is the significance of the number 55? To be honest, I’m not completely sure. Maybe God will give me a huge revelation using this number—I just haven’t seen it yet. But, I did find something that maybe ties this all together. Maybe this is the reason I saw 55, maybe not. Maybe I’m waiting in vain for some grandiose thing to be revealed, when in reality, God just wanted to show me this seemingly small thing.

I work at a ministry, and I regularly receive updates about different regions where missionaries are working. Now, for security reasons I can’t say what region it’s from, but I found a report sitting in my mailbox just a few weeks ago. I get quite a few of them, and to be honest, I don’t read many of them. But this time I happened to open up the newsletter update.

I unfolded the page and quickly scanned through the stories. I wish my heart were more moved by these stories from the field, but somehow I find myself feeling somewhat detached.

But then, in a left column, you’ll never guess what number I saw. (If you guessed 82, you’re wrong.) The number 55. But this time, the number was more significant. It was the number of people who came to know Jesus in this one region in three months’ time. 

Honestly, I feel like this number hasn’t really sunk into my heart yet. 55 people who gave their hearts to Jesus in just a few months. And somehow, working at the U.S. office of this ministry in the middle-of-nowhere Texas, I took part in helping them follow Christ.

It’s funny. Now, when I see the number 55, sometimes I remember those people who are walking with Jesus now. But, more often than not, I’m starting to get annoyed at the number 55. (Just being honest.) I’m pretty tired of seeing the 55mph speed-limit sign on 2965 every time I drive home (in a borrowed car, no less. Still don’t have a vehicle yet). And it seems like so often I’ll look down at my phone to check the time, and it’ll be 11:55am, 2:55pm, 6:55pm, and so on.

But I wonder how those 55 believers are doing. It’s very likely some are still overcoming sinful patterns like alcoholism, lust, and pride. I hope God helps me make room in my heart to pray for new believers and unbelievers in some of the most difficult places in the world. And somehow, through my prayers, God is doing miracles across nations, bringing people to Himself.

I know in my own story, it’s a miracle I am walking with Jesus and beginning to become more like Him. It’s such a journey, and it seems the more I go down this road, the more I find out about myself, the more I realize how wretched I am and how much I desperately need Jesus to be my Savior.

Perhaps one day I’ll discover that the number 55 has an even deeper meaning than what I’ve found so far. Or perhaps there really is nothing special about the number 55. If anything, I guess writing all this out has helped me to process, to think deeply and to take time to abide with Jesus through it all.

Poison Control

Mark Johnston, Connections PastorBottle of Poison

When he was little, our son, like a lot of kids, had a habit of sticking things in his mouth that didn’t belong there.

He was our only boy, and he was just…different than the girls had been. Years later we found out that his older sister, who had not wanted to give up her ‘binky’ when the proper time came, would snatch his from his mouth every chance she got, use it herself for a few seconds, and plop it back in his mouth when we looked around. He was not the type to complain, but, in hindsight, we think this trauma led to him wanting to eat & drink things he shouldn’t.

Angie was giving him a bath once, and he burped out a gigantic soap bubble. Turned out, he’d drank a glug of shampoo while her back was turned, and after a frantic call to Poison Control, screaming unpronounceable ingredients over the phone, they analyzed them and eventually deemed him alright and not in need of a trip to the Emergency Room.

Another time, he ate some flowers or leaves off an oleander bush in the back yard, but according to the Poison Control people, not enough to make him sick, or kill him.

The advice on most occasions was ‘just watch him for a while and call 911 if he starts having a reaction.’

When he was a little older, he accidentally swallowed a ball bearing from his Connetix kit, which prompted another call, and the reassurance that, while eating one magnetic ball is not a huge deal, two can cause major intestinal problems, and she was going to have to make sure that it ‘passed’ over the course of the next couple of days.

Not fun. At all. (Angie in the background: “What are you talking about? You were at work! I was the one having to inspect the poo!”)

So, she kept Poison Control on speed dial on our clunky old wireless house phone, and used it so much, she was probably on the ‘frequent caller list’ with the evening operator. “Hello, Mrs. Johnston—what has Spencer swallowed this time?”

This morning i was thinking about those days and how we sometimes try to use God like she used Poison Control back then—something potentially horrible happened, so she made a crazed phone call for reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

She never called the lady unless she needed something.

Now of course, that’s silly—an emergency operator is far too busy to engage in small talk like a manicurist or hairdresser, but what if they weren’t? What if we each had our own operator that wanted to know the events of our day, what our struggles were, and was genuinely interested in how he could be of help to us, not only in times of crisis?

A personal relationship with the real 911.

God shows us how this whole thing was supposed to work in the book of Genesis. Even after the fall, which apparently didn’t take much time at all (Chapter 3) part of the original design shined through.

I used this passage from Genesis 5 in a blog post a couple on months ago, but think about it again for a second: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

So, as jacked up as the world was (and is) it was still possible for this man, Enoch, to ‘walk with God’ enough in his daily life…so much so that God himself basically just said ‘hey, enough of this mess on earth for you, Enoch. Come up here and commune with me all the time.

I know—the world was less complicated then. We don’t get a glimpse of what everyday life was like, but from our modern prospective, it sorta looks like living a long time, probably farming…milking the goat so your 200 year old kid can have it on his cereal (yeah…i’m speculating here) and having a fair amount of time on your hands to think about spiritual matters, which had been handed down through the generations.

These days, we have all the information in history at our fingertips. In this 24 hour cable news and ‘how many likes will this get me on Instagram’ world, with jobs where communication with other people is what many of us do most of the day; most of us don’t really make time to ‘commune’ with God the way, say, a solitary tentmaker, or a guy plowing a few acres behind an ox would. Those extended times of solitude are few and far between for most of us, so it’s hard for us to relate to the original design.

So we have to make time with God a priority.

I understand that if you’re in the office, or working a job, your boss or client is not going to be too understanding if you spend half your time looking up at the sky and praying instead of performing the task at hand. But what about listening to a podcast or finding some good Christian music (it does exist) to listen to on the way to the job? How about simply talking to Him about things you’re struggling with in life?

I promise you, it will change your attitude about the jerk that just pulled over into your lane or drove on the median to get around the traffic jam. You end up saying quick, honest prayers for those people, that they’ll be able to slow down, see the blessings around them, and realize that those things are all provided by a loving, caring God who just wants a relationship with them.

What about keeping a prayer list on your phone and genuinely saying quick prayers for those folks when they come to mind throughout your day?

I know it’s hard. You’re busier. The kids have baseball practice and dinner has to be made, you have to get those taxes ready to file…life will beat you up if you let it.

If you stop trying to use God the way we used to use Poison Control, slow down a few steps and see Him for who He really is, it’ll change.

Some resources are available here:

The Stonepoint Podcast—audio of our Sunday messages, past and current:

A choice of Bible reading plans:

The awesome You Version Bible App has the option to read the passages to you (perfect for commuters):

Join the Journey through Watermark Church in Dallas (also available in the App Store or Google Play Store)

Dirt Clods

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

When i was in second grade, i got into trouble at school.

I know some of you are thinking ‘what’s the big deal’ or ‘what took you so long,’ but you’ve got to understand this was a huge thing to me at the time.

The weather was hot and the top of the ground had cracked on the school playground. A bunch of kids over by the swings started throwing dirt clods at those of us by the blacktop, so we retaliated. It was so much fun! Cracked EarthI was kinda sheltered by a tree, so my chances of getting hit were minimal, and the air was filled with projectiles for several minutes before some teacher yelled at us and told us to stop.

A little while later, back in the classroom, Mrs. Anders directed our attention to the front of the room, where a first grade teacher had brought in a sobbing little boy who had gotten hit near the eye by someone’s dirt clod. She asked all of the boys who had been involved to stand up, and a few of us nervously did, giving dirty looks to the others we knew were a party to it, but didn’t stand.

She told us how disappointed she was in us, and explained that we could have put this little boy’s eye out. The threat of life with an eyepatch made him cry even harder, imagining how close he’d come. (One of the biggest fears we had as kids in the 60s was losing an eye—well…that, and riots, Vietnam, assassinations and nuclear holocaust.) And since i grew up in church, i was ladled with a good degree of natural guilt from Sunday School, and felt horrible for the kid.

Those of us who ‘fessed up’ had to miss recess the next day, but i think that was the only consequence to our crime. I knew i deserved it, and it really affected my behavior in school from that point on…at least until Junior High rolled around.

I got in trouble for throwing dirt clods all those years ago, and it affected me. But after a while, the possibility that other people could be hurt by my actions rarely crossed my mind anymore.

In re:generation, Step 9 is called Amends. Amends is a time for participants to look back at the Inventories they’ve done of their lives and make restitution to the people they’ve hurt over the years…to find the people we’ve hit with things far worse than dirt clods and tell them how sorry we are, and ask them for forgiveness for the harm we’ve caused.

Sounds simple, right?

Now, i’m not saying i need to try to find the kid that i may or may not have bopped in the face with a dirt clod in 1969 and remind him of the awful scene he’s probably tried to blot out of his memory for all of these years. And to be honest, i don’t think i ever actually knew his name, and if i did bother to find it out back then, it’s been lost in the recesses of my mind.

But there are people in my life that i’ve caused harm to, that i have treated poorly, that i need to seek forgiveness from. I need to acknowledge the pain that i’ve caused in my selfishness and pride and innate desire to put my needs way before the needs of others.

Most of those people, i happen to be married to.

Matthew 5:23 says this:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 

What if the flip side is true—that someone has hurt you, maybe years ago, that altered the course of your life in ways that you feel you can’t forgive?

Colossians 3:12 tells us this:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

What would it look like if we came clean? Came clean with our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our families. What if we said ‘i’ve thrown hundreds of dirt clods at you over the years. I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?’

What would a church of forgiven, forgiving people look like to the rest of Van Zandt County?

Look, we’ve all made mistakes. The Bible says we “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23.) The way we react to those sins, the ones we’ve committed, as well as the ones that we’ve been on the receiving end of, sets us apart in a way the world can’t help but notice.

We’ve all lobbed a few dirt clods in our lives, and had them chunked at us. What’s your next move?

August and Everything After

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor 

IMG_8608I hate cold weather. I don’t like snow, i can’t stand freezing wind, i hate just about everything about winter.

Now, i know, it never gets really cold here. I have a childhood friend who is crazy enough to live in Alaska. He posts Facebook pictures of his thermometer at -28 or some nonsense that in my mind says ‘i’m calling in sick today…and every day for the next three months.’

That’s just ‘Thursday’ up there…nothing out of the ordinary.

My wife, who used to brag about playing in icy cold West Virginia creeks when she was a kid, has succumbed to my cold weather complaining from November to February and has decided that she, now also hates the cold. (‘Mama’s come around to daddy’s way of thinkin’’ to rewrite the old country song.) We’re really making plans to retire to some coast somewhere—just to be warm year-round, walking the beach with a metal detector and trying not to get skin cancer.

But, as much as i hate the cold, as you know, the summers around here are just brutal.

June is bad, July is worse—bone dry, like opening the door to a pizza oven every time you go outside. Everyone kinda drags around, sweats and bears it best they can, knowing that at some point, usually in August, we get one day with a high under 90, and see a tiny sliver of the end in sight. Then we get ten more horrible days before the next reprieve. And right before you call the realtor to put the house on the market, September rolls around and we get one of those glorious days that makes you forget about how awful June, July and August were.

Ever go through a summer in your spiritual life?

Where you’re just not ‘in tune’ with the messages preached, the scriptures read, the songs sung—where it all just feels ‘dry’ for some reason. Where you want God to send some rain, or a bucket of ice water to splash you in the face, and He just…doesn’t.

For whatever reason, He doesn’t. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, a secret sin that you’re trying to hide that keeps you at a distance from God. Other times you can’t pinpoint a reason, or a sin issue, but God just seems far away, and you’re stuck in the middle of a desert island with no refreshing coastline in sight.

King David went through those times, and thankfully for us, he wrote about them in the book of Psalms.

In Psalm 143 he says “I reach out for you. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens; don’t turn away from me or I shall die.” (ESV)

Yeah, sounds like David spent a summer in Texas, doesn’t it?

David doesn’t describe dryness, but distance from God in Psalm 13 this way:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?”

So, this feeling we have from time to time is nothing new. David, described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ felt this way, and wrote it down for all of us to share.

But the inverse is also true: Psalm 68:10 says You sent abundant rain upon your land, O God, to refresh it in its weariness!” (The Living Bible)

In the Gospel of John in Chapter 7, Jesus knows that ‘dry spells’ are coming for his disciples. “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

So keep in mind, if you’re going through a spiritual summer right now, that drawing closer to Jesus is the answer. (If you read this blog often, or much time at spend time hanging around Stonepoint, you’re gonna discover that we believe that drawing closer to Jesus is the answer to everything.)

The problem for us is that there is no such thing as ‘Instant Godliness’ that we can pull off the shelf and mix up to quickly fix it all. It oftentimes takes work—time in the word, time in prayer, time with fellow believers who, believe me, have been through the same desert at some point in their lives, and would love to help you through it. That’s why we push community so hard here at Stonepoint—hard times, dry times are on the way—they’re part of life, and God never intended for us to go through this world without other people encouraging us and spurring us on.

Even in the drought, God is still who He says He is. There’s a cooling rain on the way, and everything after August is gonna be better…until the next summer comes along.

(And except for that stinkin’ Winter!)

Our next GroupLink, where we put people and Journey Groups together is scheduled for this Sunday at 2PM. You can sign up for GroupLink HERE

Skill Set

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

I have a very, very narrow skill set.

If you’ve attended Stonepoint, you have probably seen it on display on Sunday mornings. I can play musical instruments and carry a tune…but that is seriously just about the extent of what God has gifted me to do with any high level of skill.

Developing Skills

If you don’t believe me, come over to the house and look at the chicken run that my wife and i constructed a few years back. I mis-measured a little bit, and the whole top structure now rests precariously on a T-post that i wedged in the middle to keep it from collapsing. I bought a new wooden post to fix the problem, but the T-post is working alright, and i really don’t want to dig another hole and buy more concrete, so ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ right?

My dad was an airplane mechanic at one time, and was pretty handy around the house, although he and i did shoot water all over my kitchen working on plumbing one time, and singed a few holes in the bathroom tile changing out light switches on another occasion. My grandfather on my mom’s side was a carpenter, and basically built his garage in Oak Cliff by himself, but absolutely none of those skills found their way down the gene pool to me. I can barely hammer a nail into a board, and apparently can’t measure a chicken run.

In the big picture of things, it really doesn’t matter to us what it looks like, the chickens certainly don’t care, as long as nothing breaks in and eats them. And if you haven’t spent much time around them, i’ll let you in on a little secret, chickens are nasty and in reality, they’re just gonna poop everywhere anyway.

Maybe you’re one of those people who know how to do a little bit of everything, can fix stuff, work on cars, build things…or maybe you’re like me and basically just have one or two things that you’re good at. I believe everyone is good at something. God gives us each certain gifts, to use for the furtherance of His kingdom here on earth.

Romans 12:6-8 says this: “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

That is a wide, weird range of skill sets, just like you and i possess a wide variety of things we are gifted in. One of the things we want to do at Stonepoint is to find people’s areas of Spiritual Giftedness, plug them into places where they can use those gifts, and equip them to do ministry in those areas. Basically give them the tools they need for the job, and see where God leads them.

Early on, we just needed warm bodies to plug all the holes in our ministry areas. Heck, my nine year old daughter and eleven year old son were helping watch smaller kids during the preview services because we didn’t have enough people. They basically blew bubbles and played with the little ones for an hour, and it helped. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then, and now they serve on the Worship Team.

Some people don’t like the idea of serving in church. They may think their time is so precious, or so limited that they can’t do anything to help out. But God is calling them to serve, has given them abilities and the church needs them to fulfill our mission.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans says it this way: ‘And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Romans 4:11-12)

That means ministry is not just something the pastors are supposed to do. It means all of us have a part to play.

At Starting Point, i use the example of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, a hundred volunteers hold a rope to keep some helium inflated balloon of a cartoon character in line, going down the parade route. Everyone holds one rope. If one person fails to show up, or falls down, the other rope-holders take up the slack. But, let’s say twenty of them suddenly fail to do their part, everything goes to shambles…Sonic the Hedgehog or Hello Kitty crashes into buildings on 6th Avenue, rips apart and gives a generation of New York children, and those watching on TV an unhealthy fear of balloons that could last their entire lives.

That brings us to Stonepoint. What does holding a rope look like in Wills Point and Edgewood?

Can you greet someone with a smile? Can you wave at a car as it pulls into the parking lot, and maybe help get someone’s car out of the mud on a monsoon Sunday? That’s serving the Kingdom. If you’re the ‘behind the scenes’ type, can you help us run computers, or set up the hospitality area? If you’re an outgoing ‘people person,’ how about handing out T-shirts to first time guests for 15 minutes after a service, get to know something about them and maybe start building a friendship from the encounter?

Can you write? Bob Mayo wrote almost all the blog posts here. I get inspired a few times a year, but will probably never be prolific at it like he was. It would be great for us to have a fresh voice in the mix, sharing spiritual insights and what God is teaching them through His word.

Here’s the thing—once you figure out what your skills are, and you have the ability to use them for the Lord, work really doesn’t seem like work anymore. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to serve in God’s kingdom, for his purposes. It’s fulfilling our mission here on earth, and it will change the wiring in your brain and make you look for opportunities to do more.

Let’s define our skill sets, narrow as they may be, and find a way to use the gifts God has given us this year to make His name famous in our little corner of the world.

Interested in finding out what your spiritual gifts are? Take our spiritual gifts survey HERE.

The Next Thing

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

When Gospel for Asia moved their headquarters to Wills Point, Stonepoint had a large influx of new people who were checking out churches in the area. One of those people was Bob Mayo.


Bob was a tall, shy man at the ‘north end’ of the demographic of people who were attracted to Stonepoint. He didn’t like crowds, and actually stayed in his car without coming in the building for a couple of weeks before he built up his resolve to come inside and check it out. He had served at GFA for years, was a widower, and really sort of searching for the ‘next thing’ that God would have him do in life.

After finally coming inside the building, a few weeks passed and Brian Tate noticed him taking meticulous notes during the messages, and asked him if he’d be interested in writing some posts for our little-known Stonepoint Blog. Bob reluctantly agreed and started translating those notes into ‘what i got from today’s message’ posts that started appearing on the blog in January of 2015.

I don’t think he really knew what ‘blogging’ was when he first started. His first posts were pretty short, and littered with attempts at being ‘folksy.’ Those posts eventually morphed into stories about being a ‘yankee’ in Texas, tales from history, some personal things mixed in with stories about hobbits, donkeys and whatever else struck him to write about. He wrote candidly about his struggles with his prayer life, despite being in ministry full-time. As we gerrymandered our staff responsibilities, i inherited the blog editing, and every couple of weeks, Bob would e-mail me, always with the same disclaimer:

Pastor Mark, (refusing to just call me Mark like i asked him to)

I wrote a new post for the blog.

I don’t know if you’ll want to use it or not, but the Lord laid it on my heart, so here it is.

I always used them.

Bob wrote in kind of a ‘stream of consciousness’ style, and after i broke up his Andre the Giant sized paragraphs into something a little more readable and added a few commas here and there (the man was not a fan of punctuation!) i’d post them.

He loved to underline things. If you read the blog with any regularity, you’ll note that hyperlinks (links to websites) are the only thing we underline. Underlining is a throwback to the bygone typewriter era, like two spaces after a period that we just don’t use anymore. I’d spend 15 minutes replacing the underlined things with italics and bold text, to emphasize his points, polish a couple of spots and hit publish. Like over 150 times the last two years. The man was prolific— the Stephen King of blogging, without the blood, the foul language and everything being set in Maine.

(I, on the other hand, sit in my robe at the MacBook at 3 in the morning, sipping Maalox, debating on whether to use ‘and’ or ‘or’ in a sentence like my conjunctions are gonna cause worldwide mayhem if i make the wrong decision.)

He joined the church, and despite his shyness, got involved in a Journey Group and served faithfully as a greeter on Sundays. He started attending our re:generation ministry on Monday nights and eventually became one of the leaders in that ministry here at Stonepoint.

Bob went to be with the Lord, suddenly on December 18th.

We miss him.

As i said earlier, he’d been looking for the ‘next thing’ the Lord wanted him to do and i think he found it that Monday night.

In the book of Genesis, when they’re going through the genealogy section in Chapter 5, there’s a brief mention of a man named Enoch, starting in verse 21.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

I like to think that’s what we can say about Bob. Despite his admitted struggles with his prayer life, maybe Bob Mayo walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

I Corinthians 13:12 says For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” The King James Version says that first part this way, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”

We see God through a glass, darkly. We talk to Him, surrounded by the distractions of this world…the noise, the static that hampers our listening of His responses to us.

At some point, maybe our heavenly Father said, ‘Bob, we talk so much, yet you say it’s difficult for you. Why don’t we lose this less than perfect form of communication we’ve been using all these years, and just do this in person?’

What more can you ask for? Bob’s reunited with his beloved wife, Alice, and talking face to face with his Creator.

How’s that for a ‘next thing?’

For all of Bob’s blog posts, you can follow this link:


Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

When i was a kid, i loved maps.

I remember being 5 or so, just able to read, laying in the living room floor in our little house in Oak Cliff, with the entire city of Dallas unfolded before me, in full color glory. My parents gave me some felt-tipped pens and i would color on them, fascinated by parks and golf courses and divided roadways with grass in the middle, as opposed to the boring old street we lived on.


My dad also had a Mapsco, which was a little, wire-bound, gridded book with an even closer view of everything in the city, but he didn’t let me mess with that one. It cost more money, and he used in in his job.

All this study came in handy a year or so later, when we moved to Northeast Dallas, where the streets don’t follow a grid of any sort, because of the lake, and my mother was always getting us lost coming back home from the discount store or somewhere in Mesquite, where the roads have no rhyme or reason. (“Mom, Gus Thomasson just turned…we’re on Maylee Blvd. now!!”)

Now that 95% of us carry around a smartphone with GPS, nobody really uses printed maps anymore—heck, most kids these days would probably have a hard time figuring out how to refold one. I still like looking at the ones in the glass case at rest stops (You are HERE) marveling at how many hours we’ve driven and how little of Texas we’ve covered in that time.

Most of us, when going somewhere we’ve never gone before, or are not sure of, pull out our phone and figure out the best way, check where the traffic is, or even get turn-by-turn navigation from Siri, or whoever is the assistant for people with other phones.

How ridiculous would it be to figure out the best route and then choose to go another direction?

But that’s exactly what we do in life.

God has given us a roadmap, but for some reason, we think we know how to get from Point A to Point B without it. What is intended to be a straight path takes crazy detours because of our stubbornness and rebellion and refusal to consult the paper laid out before us, in this case, The Bible.

For example, Proverbs 5 warns us about the adulteress:

And now, O sons, listen to me,

    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

Keep your way far from her,

    and do not go near the door of her house

…and so what do we do? We walk down the street of temptation, and when nothing bad happens, cross over to the other side, even closer to where we are warned not to go. And when nothing too bad happens there, we decide the porch looks inviting, then peek inside the front door…and before we know it, are in the middle of a mess we can’t get out of and were warned about in the map we’ve been given.

Everyone has done it. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But what we sometimes don’t realize is that God provides us with an ‘out’ in every temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says ‘No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.’

Next time you’re tempted with your favorite ‘sin-issue,’ something is going to happen where you have a few seconds of clarity, where the Holy Spirit will say ‘you shouldn’t be doing this’ and you will have an opportunity to steer clear of the temptation, pray, and ask God for help in not giving in to the sin.

So there’s your means of escape. At that point, you have to decide if you’re going to follow the map or not.