A Sense of Wonder

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, that title is from an old Van Morrison song that I like. Sorry to keep going back to “the day” all the time. I just have that music in my blood. But I have been wondering about this lately. Not about the song, but about having “sense of wonder” about our God! Maybe I should name this A Sense of Awe!

I’ve been reading a book about the attributes of God. Actually, I have read it before and am re-reading it. I must say, the second time is better than the first. I don’t know how many of you have read such books, but they basically just talk about who God is. The chapters of this particular book talk about God’s goodness; God’s justice; God’s Mercy; God’s Holiness, etc. I’m only on chapter 3 but am already challenged by many things I have read.

One thing that started coming to my mind several months ago, is my approach to the Word of God, the Bible. For years I have always tried to read the Bible through once a year. I would start off with great zeal and try to read several chapters a day. I don’t know if I have ever gotten through the Old Testament in a year, but I can usually read the New Testament twice in a year. But after a while, my mind gravitates to just getting the Bible read in the timeframe I made for myself. I totally lose the sense of why I should be reading the Bible in the first place; to learn about, and spend time with God! In other words, it becomes a project and loses it’s original purpose.

But this time, I am not concerned as much as how much I get read, as I am, does any of this reading change me or get me closer to God. I have a fear that I need to confess. That fear is for the American church and perhaps for the American style of Christianity itself. Now I need to tell you, I’m not on a crusade, and I don’t want to be preachy, but I know my own life is weak when it comes to having a deep love, trust and awe of our Lord. So, let me ask what do we think about when we think about God? Is God absolutely Holy? Is He totally just? Is God all powerful and in control of the world? Just what is my (and your) concept of God?

The reason this is important to us is that our success or failure in the Christian life depends on our concept of God. I’d like to share a few quotes from the book I am reading that struck me:

Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God.

Our religion is little because our god is little. Our religion is weak because our god is weak. Our religion is ignoble (of low birth or common origin) because the god we serve is ignoble.  

The local church will only be as great as its conception of God.

What the author is saying in all this is that our concept of God is too small. I don’t for one minute think that we do this on purpose. And I know we are all at different places in our walk with our Lord. But it’s important that we grow in our concept of God. We need to learn to trust God above all else. I have been learning and working on this for over a year. To be honest, I thought I was fine in this area of trust until we came to Step 3 in the Regeneration class I was in last year. People say this step is the most important step in the whole program because every other step that follows depends on our having absolute trust in God. I ended up confessing to our group at the the time, that I had problems in this area.

Let’s end this by just taking one attribute of God from Isaiah chapter 6. You are probably familiar with this chapter. It talks about Isaiah’s call to ministry. In the first verse, Isaiah writes, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe tilled the temple.” Then he starts talking about seraphim who flew around praising God’s holiness. Then, if that wasn’t enough, the whole room became filled with smoke. In other words, it was filled with the Glory of God! What was Isaiah’s reaction. To be perfectly clear, he was filled with awe and fear. His reaction was, “Woe is me. For I am lost.” Isaiah recognized that this God was absolutely Holy and he himself, was anything but holy. Isaiah was totally broken in God’s presence. Holiness is just one aspect of God’s. And Isaiah was blown away by what he witnessed. I wonder what would happen to us if we saw all the characteristics of God at one time!! I think it would be too much to bear!!

OK. Here is the crux of the matter. If the author is right by saying, “The local church will only be as great as its conception of God,” Then what should our concept of God be? I think in our individual lives, and in the church, we need to have a high concept of God. Yes, God is our friend, our Good Shepard, and all that. But that  should not diminish who God is. God is PERFECT is all respects. He is perfect in His goodness, justice, righteousness, love and holiness. If He were not perfect in all these characteristics, He would not be God at all. Might I suggest that you take a few moments and read Psalm 139. I’m sure you have read this Psalm before, but please, just pray and ask God to reveal it to you as never before. When I was in my teens, I used to think that God made a mistake in creating me the way He did. After all, why would he make me so I stuttered severely from the age of five, so much that I could hardly speak. Why would he allow me to be fearful and insecure. I was sure he blew it. But verses 13-16 say otherwise. God formed me as it pleased Him! Can I trust that?

As a part of the body of Christ, may we at Stonepoint grow in our love and knowledge of God. May we not grow in this knowledge just so we can spout it off to someone or let it make us proud. But may this knowledge become part of our inner being and bring change in our lives. May we know and see Him in all His glory! “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His Glory!” Amen!!

The Dry Desert, Sheep and Things

Supposedly, King George III made a comment in his diary on July 4, 1776. He is purported to have written, “Nothing significant happened today.” (OK, I first heard of this on an old episode of The X-Files. But I did some research and there is some credence of its validity). Regardless, if King George III actually wrote this, he had it wrong. Across the sea in Philadelphia, something significant did happen that day. The event of signing the Declaration of Independence changed the course of history for the United States and for England as well.

SONY DSCLately, I feel a little like King George. It’s strange, but I go through my days, and if anyone asks me how my day went, all I can think of is “nothing significant happened today.” The strange thing is that things aren’t going too bad for me at the moment. Most of my lunch hour at the ministry is spent reading and studying the Word. On Saturday and Sunday, I have an extended time with the Lord for about two hours that I really love. I am praying more than I used to and I try to keep my heart right before the Lord. And I’m seeking to be a person of good character and to love those around me. Sounds like I’ve finally made it, huh? No. No Christ follower ever really “makes it,” at least not while we are here in this world.

Yet, while all this good spiritual activity is going on, I have this dryness and emptiness within that I am struggling with. I pray for God to reveal Himself in His Word, and I keep on praying even when it seems like my prayers go nowhere. But for the most part, it’s dry and empty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not seeking some ecstatic experience or some great emotional feeling. But I have this yearning have God speak to me and allow me to just sit at His feet and learn of Him. Personally, I think I can thank the Lord for using Regeneration to change that in my life.

So, all this makes me wonder, what’s going on? Am I out of Sync? Is there some sin that I’m not aware of that I need to confess? (My habit of late is that whenever I realize I might be in sin, I confess it immediately). So, just what does one do in times of dryness desert experiences like this?

I just have a few thoughts about desert or dry times that I’d like to share. The first thing is that the Christian life is a life of faith. If you are a true follower of Christ you started, by grace, through Faith (Ephesians 2:7-8). And we need to live our life, day by day, by grace and in faith. It is written in God’s Word that the just shall live by faith. So, my thought here is that whether our times with God are what we would like or not, we need to continue in faith and leave the results to God. When we pray, we need to pray by faith. I’ve had to learn to ignore how I feel about things and pray in faith. I truly believe that when we pray when it is the last thing we want to do, that God takes those prayers and uses them mightily. Why, perhaps it’s because in those times that we are truly praying by faith.

My second thought is that God always has a reason for what he does. You all know about Moses’ 40-year desert experience. Going out every day and sitting around with a bunch of sheep has to wear on you after a while. Going to visit the desert is OK, but the thing is not to live there. Don’t just pitch your tent and have mutton for dinner. The time in the desert may last only a few days or it may last longer. But the thing we need to do is to trust God by faith that He has a reason for this desert time and to trust Him to bring us out of it. I told someone the other day that I think some of the dry and desert things in my life lately are because God wants to break me of my pride, stubbornness and to soften my heart. I truly believe that. Desert times can be some of our best times of learning from God, even when we don’t feel like it.

Third, don’t let situations, circumstances or satan (I used a small s on purpose) dictate our reaction to the desert. Our God is above and beyond all circumstances or situations. There are things that can be learned in the desert that we can’t learn anywhere else. At least Moses learned how to take care of sheep. Metaphorically, we can learn how to take care of others in the desert. I described my current times with the Lord in a paragraph above. I mentioned things like struggle and listed a lot of questions that I have been asking myself. But notice I never said any of this is bad. Even in the desert I do find little gems here and there that God does to let me know He is right here with me.

One of the small things that He did happened yesterday at work. I was working this rather large list of friends of our ministry that I needed to contact. I had been having computer problems (later to learn they were self-imposed) and just couldn’t get the computer to do what it was supposed to on a case I was working on. I almost told myself it is not worth spending all this time just to send an email out to this one person. Finally, I did a “work-around” just to get my email out. Rather disgusted, my thought was, “well that’s finally done, but what good it will do (ok, negativity).” Soon after I sent the email, I noticed a return email came into my inbox. I opened it, and realized it was from the person I was having all the system problems with. They thanked me profusely for writing them and shared a prayer request with me. I responded by thanking them for responding and assured them that I would pray for them. That was cause for another response of more thanks. I wonder as I write this, if the enemy wasn’t causing all my self-imposed computer problems just to keep me from touching base with this person who need prayer and to be encouraged.

Remember, Jesus said he was “the Good Shepard.” He goes after one lost sheep and brings him back into the fold. We never know why things happen like they do. We only see glimpses of it, but the Christian life is truly lived on a spiritual plain. The desert too, can be a spiritual plain for us.

So, that’s it. I’m still somewhat in the desert. But I’m not complaining about it. It’s dry, hot and somewhat uncomfortable. But I’m thankful that God seems to be teaching me not to question and complain so much and just trust Him. That’s not as easy as I just made that sound, by the way. I question and complain a lot. But at least now God is bringing that to mind and allowing me to confess it when necessary.

I don’t know how you respond to desert experiences. But I pray you just endure and hang on to God’s Word and see Him work. I pray this is meaningful to you in some small way. May God just strengthen us and allow us to see that He is still in charge of both the small and big things in our lives. Enjoy the desert!!

 

 

Broken Pieces of Pottery

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

In 1952, my mom, older sister and I boarded a military transport ship and 11 days later we arrived in Japan to join my father and live there for three years. We settled in a large city called Nagoya and that became home for our time there. Even though I was only five years old when we arrived, my three years there is still with me. The people, the culture, the scenery all left an impression on my life. One of the things that I remember is broken pottery. We lived in a walled in housing area for military745-pottery-repairs-1 personnel and our house was the first house inside one of the gates. On the inside of the wall there were trees planted all the way around the wall for about 20 feet or so wide. I would go there and play and dig holes. I guess that’s what young kids did in my day—dig holes. Anyway, when I would dig down a foot or so, I would start finding broken pieces of statues, and other pottery. I remembered about that for many years and always wondered how they came to be buried there.

Many years later, when I was around 22, I got into reading history books and was reading a book about the Pacific theater of the war with Japan in World War II. I was nearly finished with the book and it was talking about trying to defeat Japan after Germany had surrendered. It seems that one of the Generals had the idea to start a saturation bombing campaign in several large cities. It didn’t matter where the bombs fell and the attacks were not limited to military targets. This was total war and the idea was to break the will and back of Japan. The bombs fell on houses, schools and shopping areas. The firestorms would burn for days.

As I read the book, I learned that Nagoya was one of the cities in the bombing campaigns. Then it struck me. The broken pieces of pottery I discovered as a kid could have been the result of these bombings. I could imagine small shops being fire bombed and destroyed and many people killed. Then the area could have been just plowed under and our housing area could have been built over it all. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but it’s a good possibility. I still think about it even today. As bad as the bombings were, the general’s plan was a failure. The bombings did not break the hearts or the spirits of the Japanese people. So, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in history. Soon, the will of the government was finally broken and Japan was forced to surrender. The will and back of the country was finally broken.

So, there’s your history class for the week. But I do have a reason for telling you all of this. The reason I have been thinking of this story lately is because I have been struggling with brokenness or being broken. In re:generation, we talk a lot about our lives being broken. There are many reasons we can be broken and most of it is pretty much because we live in a sin-filled world. Sometimes our lives are broken because of wrong decisions we have made and sinful things we have done. The result is often a life-time of guilt. Other times bad things are done to us and just leave scars that we must deal with all our lives. Other times bad things are done to us or against us without our consent. These happen just because we live in a fallen world.

While all that is real kind of brokenness, that is not what I’m not talking about here. There is another type of brokenness that is a necessity to our walk with Jesus. That brokenness is a conscious choice we make to allow God to break our stubborn hearts to His will. We cannot fully follow God unless we allow Him to break our wills. Why is this so important? Because God hates pride!! That may sound a bit strong but it is scriptural. Most of the problems in the world today, and in our own lives, are there because of pride.

Just what does it mean to be broken in our daily experience. Roy Hession wrote a classic book some time ago called The Calvary Road. In it he gives a good definition of brokenness. He says, “Brokenness in daily experience is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God.” I’ve mentioned before in some of my blogs that God is always for the humble and meek. I’m not talking about weakness. True humility and meekness are just the opposite of that. But that begs the question: if brokenness is all that important, how do we attain it?

I’m no expert on being broken but I do have a few thoughts. First, I think that we need to have a teachable heart. God, through the Word, will convict us of areas in our lives that need to be given to Him. Let’s get real. What about our thought lives? I would be totally humiliated to tell you the thoughts that have been coming to my mind lately. God tells us to “put to death” things like sexual immorality, impurity passion, evil desires and covetousness. He adds to that list things like anger, wrath, malice wrath and filthy talk. He also says to “put on” things like compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness. How in this world can we put these characteristics into our lives!!  I’d like to close with a few thoughts:

  1. First, realize that we have died to self on the cross with Christ. That may be hard to grasp but Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him. Believe it or not, He has taken care of his part and that victory cannot be lost.
  1. Second, “put off.” There are two sides of this brokenness. Jesus has his part, and we have ours. When God brings conviction in our lives, we need to put off whatever it is that we are convicted of. In other words, we need to make a choice. If we are open to His conviction, we can count on Him to show us areas of our lives that need to be given to Him. Then we make the choice. We can either go our way or choose to go His.
  1. Third, “put on.” I kind of already covered this above. We then need to put on the right characteristic. This happens when we choose to go Jesus’ way rather than ours. We “put on” when we choose to obey the Word and do things that please Jesus. About the best thing I can think of in this is to guard your heart. I believe that each time we respond to something in the right way that God uses that in our life to change our character. Any positive change in our lives will come from within us, within our heart. Outside stimulus or pressure to change may last for a little while, but it will never last. Changing our behavior without a change of heart will fail every time. The Christian life is very practical and God loves us enough to stop us in our tracks when we are seeking to walk righteously with Him in our hearts.

Every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to make a choice. Will we yield to God or will we follow our own desires? Everything God brings into our lives, whether good or bad, is an opportunity for us to grow in Him. I pray we make the best of these by making the right choices. Jesus’ death on the cross opened the door that allows us to make the right choices where before we were slaves to our flesh and sin. We now have His spirit within us to empower us. I pray that we will make choices that will change our stubborn hearts to be humble before Him. God bless you all!!

Ghosts

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

My parents were married and childless for almost 15 years before i was born. They had gone through several ‘lives’ by the time i came around, and early in their marriage they were farmers. The first little place they had was north of Barry, Texas, and during their time there, they became close friends with the people who owned the larger place next to them.
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Their names were Henry Ray and Ethylene, and my parents remained great friends with them throughout the years, even after they gave up farming and moved to Dallas. Every few months, we’d  go and spend a Saturday with them on their farm, hanging out and listening to stories from their past. I’d fish and play with their grandkids, Tim and Sheila, who i thought were my cousins until i was probably 10 or 12.

I loved them and loved going there. The problem with going to visit them, was that we had to drive home at night.

There were two or three ways to get there, and my dad, since he missed living in the country, didn’t necessarily take the shortest distance home. In fact, he’d usually take the pooh bear way both directions, so he could look at crops and land and trees and cows, and generally not see houses every few feet.

The main way we’d come home had this hard 90 degree curve. Now, i liked scary stories growing up. I loved The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and this short-lived 70’s show called Ghost Story, which was basically, well…stories about ghosts.

On the way home, as we approached the curve, i’d lean forward from my un-seatbelted spot in the back seat. The headlights of our Oldsmobile would hit this rusted out, smashed up 1950s station wagon sitting by the bar ditch in front of the house of a man they had known during their time living there.

Every single time we drove by, my mother, like it was scripted, would say the exact same phrase upon seeing the brown, mangled remains of the car: “I don’t know why Herschel keeps that old car that Ruthelle got killed in…” and as her voice trailed off, my eyes would widen as this ‘death car’ came into full view on the side of the two lane road, under the eerie glow of a nearby light pole. It scared me out of my mind, but i couldn’t look away! I would envision old Ruthelle’s ghost climbing out of it, or worse, imagine seeing her out of the corner of my eye sitting next to me in the back seat like a scene from one of those TV shows. My heart would race a thousand miles an hour until we’d gotten a safe distance away and my mind would finally start to focus on the Southwest Conference football game or country music on the AM radio in the car.

Apparently Herschel’s wife had died in some horrific car accident many years before, and in his grief, he’d had someone tow the vehicle back to his house where it came to rest in it’s scary spot by the side of the road. I don’t know the details of the story—if he’d been in the car with her and survived, if she’d gone out alone one rainy night and he thought if he’d been there the outcome would have been different…and i was afraid to ask my folks the particulars. All i know is that she died and the car she died in sat there scaring the bejabbers out of me every time we drove by it. That and we never drove by it in the daylight.

As i got older, i came to see the inherent sadness in the story, how he’d been unable to ‘let go’ of his beloved and kept her reminder sitting there for some twenty years. There’s no such thing as ghosts, but in this man’s life he held on to an imaginary one instead of letting go, as if somehow, the car kept her around in a strange way. (In case you’re wondering, he finally remarried when i was teenager and i’m guessing the new wife gave him a ‘me or the car’ ultimatum as part of accepting the proposal, so the wreckage went away and he did move on at some point.)

So, why am i reliving a childhood trauma in the Stonepoint Blog? As far as i know, none of you have your spouse’s deathmobile sitting in your yard.

But is there something from your past that you can’t let go of? Is there some sin that you think is too big for God to forgive, so it keeps sitting there in the weeds as a reminder of your past life? Is there wreckage that you keep around as a reminder of something that you just can’t seem to get rid of? Have you lost something or someone valuable, and you feel so much sadness that you keep reminders of them—mementos that, instead of bringing back happy memories, simply point out the void?

Are there ghosts in your past that you can’t, or won’t face and tell that you don’t believe in them anymore?

There’s hope in Jesus. Stonepoint offers re:generation on Monday nights where other believers who are fighting their own ghosts gather to encourage, admonish and share with one another how hard it is to have someone take away the rusty remains, but how God fills the void when you do. What would it look like to have a life free from those things that have haunted you, to get rid of the junk and wreckage of past relationships and hurts that don’t seem to have an end?

Don’t let twenty years pass by before you let someone drag your old car away.

The Prayer Life of a Struggling Christian

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve had this stirring within me ever since I attended “Secret Church” on April 21st. The meeting was very good and I have been trying to get back into the booklet we received and go through it again. But that hasn’t happened as yet. Instead, a word has been stirring in my mind over and over again. That word, PRAY. I’d like to write about that and tell you a little of my journey in this.

Just a few words to fill you in on my prayer life. It has always been a struggle and sometimes non-existent. I set aside time for prayer nearly every day, but almost always struggle with my thoughts wandering off someplace. Sometimes I take walks just to keep me from being distracted. That works somewhat. But there is another problem that I’m a bit ashamed to confess. That is the lack of belief that prayer does any good. I continue to fight this and pray for a stronger faith. God, in His mercy has been teaching me in this area for a couple of years now. It has been slow and hard, but growing nonetheless.

My new prayer life actually started a while ago. In my latest job at GFA, I have been working with a group of people who support the ministry. Basically, I write emails, notes and sometimes call them to thank them for gifts that they have sent in to us and asking if I can pray for them. As I started out in this new position, I noticed that when I would send an email out to a person I would often get a return email sharing some prayer requests. Some of the requests are heartbreaking. One of the downsides of having a sensitive personality is that my heart breaks and I struggle not to get down about the requests. After all, all I can do about it is to pray. But later I began to be impressed to with the thought that praying is the best thing I can do. After a while I started to compile these requests into a prayer list. I would always write back and assure the person that I would pray. So, I make sure I do. This has grown over the past year and a half and now I try to follow-up with some of them to check in to see how they are doing. In all honesty, this has turned into a small prayer ministry for me and is becoming a joyous part of my work here.

The second thing that has begun to change my prayer life is some emails I receive and things in the news. The most recent news item is the bombings in the UK. We have friends in the UK. By God’s grace, they are all safe. But the threat of more bombings continues. Then there are other ministries I receive emails from. Two of them are Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. Both these ministries work in very difficult areas of the world. Again, it is heartbreaking to receive their emails and hear about the struggles of our brothers and sisters in these countries. Recently, I have been impressed that I need to look at these emails a little closer and prayer seriously over them.

The third thing that made me think and change my prayer times was re-reading David Platt’s book Radical. I just finished the book a few days ago. The last chapter talks about a year-long challenge. While I didn’t commit to doing the whole challenge, there are some parts I am already doing and some I want to start. One of the points was to read through the Bible in a year. I have already started that, but told God I was not going to restrict myself to finishing in a year. You see, I am a project oriented person, to a fault. If I set myself a goal to complete something in a year I will do everything I can to make that happen. But the results have always been disappointing. When I have read the Bible in a year, that’s about all I accomplished. I took no time to think about or pray over what I had read. So now I read the Bible nearly every day but I also ask God to teach me what I need to know and soften my heart.

But there was another part of the challenge I haven’t ever seriously thought about. That was to pray for the whole world in a year. Again, I am not limiting myself to a year, but I took a book I have on my bookshelf, called Operation World, and dusted it off (shameful on my part). I have used this book before, but until I read this in Pastor Platt’s book it never dawned on me to just pray for the world. So, I now I am praying for the world from A to Z (the book covers every country in the world and gives a description and how to pray for each country).

Well, there you have it. I’m not telling you all this to make you think how cool I am (or how not so cool I am, either). Nor am I bragging about these changes in my life. In fact, I struggle with shame that they are coming to me at this point in my life. But I do want to tell you this because I think we are in an urgent time. I don’t think it will get easier. I believe for myself, at a minimum, I need to read God’s Word for all it’s worth. And I need to pray. But not just pray like I always have. I think I need to have “focused prayer.” I read or heard somewhere that all revivals we have heard about in the history of Christianity happened because a group of people somewhere started focused prayer for their town, village, state or nation. Can that be what we need here in East Texas, focused prayer? How could that ever happen? It won’t happen by wishing that we were better at prayer. It will happen by us praying with focus, by fighting against our chief enemy as he whispers how foolish we are to think this will change things, and fighting our flesh that wants to not commit to this. May God forgive us our prayerlessness and give us His grace to PRAY!! God bless you!

Tired of Fighting

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

We all have them. Sometimes they just make us angry, short tempered, feeling like we are worthless, feeling that we are displeasing God, and they make us just to want to give up. What are these things? Basically, at least for this blog post, they are tough days and tough weeks. Times where we just seem to be fighting negative thoughts and discouragement.

It’s Thursday as I write this and each day of this week has compounded upon the day before it and it has just been a struggle. First, there is just general and “normal” pain. I seem to be in physical pain all the time. Those of you who experience this know how tiring that can be. Then there is just are just people I talk to and things I read that make me sad or angry. Just hearing of the problems of others can bring us down. Then there is my work itself. I basically enjoy my work at the ministry, but there are times where I just can’t do another note or send another email when it seems like I have already done a thousand of them in one day. Then I think that my problems this week are not nearly as significant as some I have heard or read about. So why am I complaining? Then, the guilt and shame set it. It’s a vicious cycle. And what’s the end result? EMPTINESS AND DISCOURAGEMENT!!  That’s pretty much me, this past week.

What are some of the causes of my discouragement? I’ve listed them above but let me go into a little detail. First, was just being exhausted physically. Pain, lack of sleep, health problems can all wear us down. That is what happened to me this week. While I am aware that pain is a part of my life, sometimes to be constantly fighting it to keep going just gets to be too much. Then, there is people I talk with and things I read. We all have struggles at time, but most of the time, we don’t want to talk about them. But in my job, I get prayer requests from people and a lot of them go from sad to heart-wrenching. Being a sensitive type, I tend to take them to heart. But when that gets too heavy, it drains our strength and energy. Finally, there is “hitting the wall.” That is what happened on my job this week. For some reason, what is usually no big deal, became something that I am just sick and tired of doing. Even though I could see a few results from my work, the process of working to get there was getting to be a problem to me. Like I said, I couldn’t write one more note card or email. My thoughts came in and I started thinking, “what a drag, man” (I guess that’s left over from my living in the hippie days). I got to the place where it seemed impossible to keep going, yet knowing that I had to.

So, before you all start thinking that I’m just moaning and complaining (OK, so I guess I am), I have a purpose for writing all this. Discouragement, is something we all face at one time or another. The question is, how do we handle it? The answer to that question can set the course to the rest of our lives. I just want to end today with a few thoughts of what I have been doing this week to overcome being discouraged. I take no claim to these; they are just things I have been doing to battle this time of discouragement.

First, I keep remembering that God is in control. All I know is that times of trial and struggle are a part of this life. Sometimes they come to us because of our selfishness and sometimes they come just to help us to grow closer to the Lord. Remembering what our Lord went through helps me. I read recently that we don’t realize how much Jesus went through in the garden of Gethsemane. He was in absolute agony! But he still submitted Himself to the Father and went through with suffering and dying on the Cross of Calvary. He knew that when it was over He would be gloriously reunited with His Father. We have the same thing in our future. We will be united with Jesus Christ forever. It’s important to see past the present

Second, I have been fighting against my thoughts. While in times past I can remember just giving into my negative thoughts, this time, by God’s grace, I did my best to fight against them. Proverbs 4:23 says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I wonder if another way to say this is, “we are what we think.” Guarding our hearts from negative thinking help us come out of discouragement.

Third and last, we need to remember we have an enemy. Satan, is our mortal enemy. He wants to do everything he can to take us out of the battle. Discouragement is one of his best weapons in his arsenal. And he will not hesitate to use it. We need to remember that there is a spiritual, unseen war going on around us. We don’t understand it and we can’t see it. But it’s there. But we fight from a place of victory, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

I feel somewhat silly telling you about my little problems this week. If you read this, you may think that I’m just a wimp. I’ll take that chance. We are all different and we all have different breaking points. Personally, I have been through a lot worse than I am going through right now. It really doesn’t matter how big or small the problems are. What matters is that we handle the problems through faith in our Lord, through the power of our Lord who is in us, and by trusting His Word. God bless you!

Working in the Dark

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I had a strange thing happen to me this morning. At least it was strange to me. I’ve been praying off and on for a week or so, for God to give me an idea to write about, but I was getting nothing. Today, I got up about five minutes before my alarm went off. As I was getting ready for work, my radio alarm came on as usual. Most of the time I just turn it off but since I was already up and starting to get ready, I just let it go. As I was getting ready, one of the morning show people told a story about the Secretary of State. It wasn’t really about her; it was about her speech writer. You see, the Secretary was supposed to speak at a college graduation ceremony. But because she couldn’t make it, she sent the speech writer who had actually written her speech. When he started speaking, he mentioned the usual about how he knew the audience would be disappointed that the Secretary couldn’t make it. And he also said he was as surprised as any of them that he was given the assignment. But his reasoning wasn’t just because he got the assignment. He admitted to the audience that this would probably be the first and last time he ever was out “in front” like he was on that day. He went on to explain and said that he is one of those people who “works in the dark,” behind the scenes. Then he said something that really hit me. He said, for people who work in the dark, their achievements go unseen. In other words, the average person in an audience is not even aware of them or of what they achieve.

This got me to thinking about things. How much do we (or for that matter, I) just take the service of God’s people for granted? I was trying to keep myself out of this blog but I need to give you a little background. For about 18 years of my time here at the ministry, I have been what we call a Department Coordinator. I had varied responsibilities and most of what I did was visible to our leaders. Then a couple years ago, because of a need, I was asked take another job that I had been helping with on a part-time basis. I worked there for just about a year then was asked to move again to another department. In both these changes the first thing I had to adjust to was that I was now an unseen person here in the ministry. Few people knew what I did and what my “accomplishments” were. For the first time in most of my 40 year work career, I became a person who works in the dark. To be honest, for a while my pride got in the way and I struggled with this. I was used of having a lot of varied responsibilities and in all honesty worked in a lot of chaos at times. Now my job seemed dull and routine. But during this time, I was also in the middle of going through re:generation and by God’s grace, I began to see my problem. Yes, it was nothing more than that my pride was hurt. Over time God showed me my sin. I was able, again by His grace, to confess it and my attitude slowly changed.

Now, back to what I want to write about. As I think about this, there are many people who work in the dark. They aren’t less important than those who “get all the glory.” In fact, they actually make things happen that allows other people can get the glory. Just in our ministry I think of people like Mark, Shareen and Savannah who have important jobs but rarely get in the light. The same is true for many who serve here at Stonepoint. People who serve the coffee and work in the children’s ministry or work in the audio-visual area (I think the AV people only get noticed when they make a mistake during the church service). But there can be a problem that many people who work in the dark can have. And the problem can go unnoticed unless God makes us aware of it. That problem is pride and it can make us angry and bitter over our situation. Even though we have surrendered our lives to Christ and want to humbly serve Him, our flesh is still with us. That’s what happened to me and for some time, I struggled with it. But because of our “new life in Christ” we don’t have to let our pride rule us. We have the power of the Gospel that can overcome that. We can repent and humble ourselves to God as it says in the book of James: “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6). And, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:10). Over time, God brought me to the point of repentance and humility in my life over my situation. I began to see that God had reasons for putting me where I am. Who am I to question that? I am honestly grateful for what God did and the glory of all that goes to Him alone.

So, this is my tribute to those many unnamed people who humbly serve our Lord with little or no recognition. You are so valuable to the Body of Christ! Thank you so much for your humble and service to our Lord. Let us throw off our pride and just serve Him with all our hearts. If you work in the kitchen of some ministry, do it with all your heart. If you make coffee and serve donuts (didn’t that used to be doughnuts?) serve them to the glory of our Lord. He will be pleased and he will exalt you in His time. So, serve on, brothers and sisters of the dark, our Lord is with you and is pleased with your service to Him!! God bless you all!