The Great Physician

Stephen Blackwell, Stonepoint Member

My wife and I have two sons. Unfortunately, my boys have been blessed with my lungs. Dodge has asthma, and it looks like Truett is heading the same direction. Often when they are on the front end of bronchitis or an asthma attack we give them breathing treatments, which helps break down the mucus and open up their lungs. Dodge is at the age where he understands the need for treatment; so he sits and takes it without argument. Truett on the other hand, is not at the age where he understands; so there are times when we have to physically hold him, so that he will take the medicine. He often fights the whole time, not realizing that the medicine will help with his sickness.  If we let him go, he will run and hide in hopes that we will forget about the treatment.

As I look at my life, I can relate to both Dodge and Truett; especially when it comes to my own spiritual growth or healing. There are days when I wake up, drink my coffee and begin my day with God.  Not only is this what I need, I relish the time alone with God. Everything seems to click and just comes together. I pray the whole way to school, and even listen to a little Andy Stanley Sermon or Podcast. However, there are other days where I wake up and it’s the last thing on my mind. I’m either not prepared, running late, or sin has kept me away from God.  Often times, my first instinct is to run. I know what I need and I know how I need to spend my time, but I run. Instead of getting the “spiritual medicine” I need, I become sicker.

As I reflect, I have noticed that there are two main differences between my scenario and my son’s. For one, my two year old doesn’t realize the medicine will help him. He sees it as an inconvenience, so he fights. The second difference is that when we run, God doesn’t try holding us down to force feed us. As a two year old, Truett doesn’t understand that if he wants to get better he needs the treatment; therefore, we hold him down because we love him. God DOESN’T hold us down and force-feed us because He loves us, and wants us to reciprocate that same love.

1 John 5:3 tells us, that “if we love God, we will keep His commands.”  Matthew 22:37 says, “The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” I love my wife, but if I run from her, (like Truett runs from medicine) then when things get tough, we’d have serious marital issues. Instead, I run to her so that we can work things out. This helps solidify and strengthen our relationship. The same goes for our relationship with God.

There’s a scene in the great theological epic, The Break-up that explains this concept better. Brooke Meyer (Jennifer Aniston) wanted Gary Grobowski (Vince Vaughn) to help her with the dishes. After constant nagging, he finally complies with, “Okay, I’ll help”. Despite his change of heart, she tells him to forget about it. In her frustration, Brooke (Aniston) explains, “I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”  The same application is true with God. John 14:23 states plainly, “that if we love Him we will obey His teachings.” God WANTS us to obey Him because that reflects our love for Him.  God could have force-fed us, but as followers of Christ we know what we need and who we need to go to for healing.

The next time you are sick and in need of healing, I encourage you to run TO the Great Physician. What you need may be tough to swallow; but it will strengthen your relationship with the Father and bring healing to your spiritual life.

Two Things Satan Hates in Marriage

Nick Harris, Guest Writer

I have learned that two things Satan hates in marriage is healthy communication and genuine intimacy. It is not incidental that God is love (intimacy) and Jesus is the Word (communication).

Every Christian married couple will suffer attacks in these two areas. Satan wants to bring coldness, isolation, distrust, and discouragement (or even despair) while God works to bring warmth (even heat), unity, trust, and hope (remember love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never ends–1 Corinthians 13). The fight we have personally is the fight of faith. We must believe what God is telling us and not the lies of Satan. Many times his lies are not to make us do wicked things, but to get our focus of off the love, intimacy, freedom, joy, and openness that God wants for us individually and as a couple. He delights in getting us to focus on law rather than grace.

There is no area where those lies are more effective than in the areas of intimacy and communication. Wives need to delight in their husband the way we delight in Jesus as we honor and worship Him. In the same way that intimacy comes to us in worship, so emotional and physical intimacy should come to a Christian couple in the expression of love-making. There should be freedom, delight, joy and fulfillment as Christian husbands and wives become one flesh in the God-designed act of marriage.

Mark 10:6-9- “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

The  Perils of Pride

Brandon Bachtel, Lead Pastor

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem, like radar malfunction–or even a thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

Pride is very dangerous. It has pierced the lives of many people over the years.  It has ruined relationships, marriages, and even brought about sin in our lives.  Matter of fact, it is our pride that prompts us to believe in our own merit; while constantly seeking the esteem of others because of our ambition, prestige, strength, and personal success.  Not only is pride detrimental, it is often difficult for us to identify in our lives.  We truly want to believe that we are not prideful; however, we often find that our lives are surrounded by discord, bickering, disunity, and separation from God; all of which are symptoms of pride. It is pride that has corrupted people, ruined businesses, brought about the downfall of countries, and kept people from experiencing the forgiving power of Jesus in their lives.

Both James (the half brother of Jesus) and Peter (a disciple), encourage us to “clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””

Romans 12:16 says “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Our pride has kept us from associating with certain people, and it has kept us from living in harmony with others.  As people, we must resist the desire to be arrogant and prideful.  We should seek to live with humility, compassion, and love towards others.  Sometimes, that means that we should submit to others and seek harmony; regardless of whether or not we are right or wrong.

In Philippians 2:3-8, Paul encourages us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

As you conclude this blog, I dare you to ask yourself these questions: “Lord, is there any area of my life that is harboring pride?” If so, “who has been affected by my pride?”

When we seek to possess humility over pride, it means that we refuse to have a stalemate with others, or remain on a collision course of destruction because of selfish motives. Many of us, including me, need to seek God’s forgiveness because of the pride in our life. Some of us may need to seek the forgiveness of a spouse, a friend, a child, a co-worker, or even an enemy; because pride has poisoned the relationship. Some of us need to humble ourselves before the Lord, and truly seek Him for the first time in our life.  A relationship with Jesus changes everything. He changes our purpose, desires, and a hardened heart.  Today, I am thankful that Jesus was not proud; He was a servant, who gave Himself for the lowly and disqualified like me.

The Boiling Point

Jonathan Farnsworth, Stonepoint Member

Jeremiah 4:31-32 says, “I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a women giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out, “Help! I’m being murdered!””

Over a period of many years, our country has begun to change. We have slowly lost our identity as a nation, and we have become desensitized to the ramifications of change.  Look at the past 10 years; our entire culture has changed.  Take for example:  movies, television, commercials, video games, politics, and even the Church. It’s almost like the “frog in boiling water” scenario. The water is beginning to boil and people are crying out. We have become a society spiritually starved… and the sad part, we have done it to ourselves.  Jeremiah 4:18 states, “Your actions have brought this upon you.”

We, as a nation, and individuals have been called according to God’s purpose and not our own. He has set us apart for His glory and we need to return to our love; both as individuals and as a nation.  We need to desperately plead with God to ”return to us The joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12)

Every nation throughout history that has turned their back on God and Israel has experienced destruction, and we are on that same path.  We need to “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. (Romans 12:2a) As a people, we should seek God with a broken and contrite heart, and truly pray for the nation of America!

Our future depends on it…

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Mark Johnston, Stonepoint Worship Pastor

My wife, Angelia is an excellent cook.

She is the Wednesday night chef at a church in Dallas and prepares a meal for 125 people, doing almost all the cooking and prep work like it’s no big deal. She gets an occasional catering job and can set up and cook for 80 folks without much worry, and if I say “Honey, can we have the Praise Band and AV team over next Saturday for a sit-down dinner at the house, and can you make your most complicated dish?,” she says “sure.”

It hasn’t always been like this.

The first 8 years of our marriage, we lived on frozen meals, Ragu sauce poured over either overcooked or undercooked spaghetti and went out to eat four nights a week because she couldn’t cook. At all. She made biscuits one time that were like little boulders because she didn’t have any baking powder and used baking soda instead. She once melted the entire corner off a big plastic spoon stirring something in a saucepan, saw what happened and then still served the dish to me!

Sydney (our oldest daughter) and I couldn’t wait for Sunday lunch, because we got to go to my mom’s house and eat real food.

Why am I telling you these dirty little family secrets?

Because Angie saw it was a need and got equipped to change things. She signed up for the culinary arts program at a community college in Dallas and took classes. She started over and learned everything she could about cooking. Now she is a great cook and is able to serve people doing something she loves to do.

I know what you’re thinking—“nice story, but what does any of this have to do with me?”

The staff at Stonepoint needs your help in areas of service and ministry all over the church. If you’re not involved in serving others, you’re missing out on a tremendous blessing, and those areas of service are suffering because you’re not there to do the job.

Pray about it. Spend some time reading your Bible and ask God to show you areas that you might be able to fill a need, and then tell us where you want to serve.

Our staff will do everything we can to equip you, and I promise that you will receive a greater blessing than the owners of the house you’re painting, the children you’re reading the story to, or the baby that you’re rolling the ball with—because that’s the way ministry works. With God, you get more than you give.

Jesus’ disciples—the same group of guys who had run, hid and even denied knowing Him at the time of the crucifixion, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit, were bold in their faith and did amazing things for God.

Acts 4:13, when Peter and John testified before the elders and teachers known as the Sanhedrin says, “When they (the Sanhedrin) saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

God wants to use Stonepoint Church to further His kingdom and bring glory to Himself. He wants to bring about change in Van Zandt County through our church that will make folks look at us and say “who are you people?” and “why are you doing this?” Then we can give them the simple answer “it’s because we’ve been with Jesus.”

The Rest of the Story

Amanda Wallace, Stonepoint Member

Even as a kid, I was so fascinated by the stories told by the radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. He took stories about people, as well as ideas and told them in a way that captured the attention of many Americans. People tuned in every day because they knew they would end up either being inspired or entertained. As most know, at the end of his broadcast, Mr. Harvey would reveal the ah-ha moment…the moral….or “The Rest of the Story”.

As you read through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you notice that when Jesus’ teachings were recorded, He spoke in stories, or parables, about the truth of God. Many who followed Him during those days were very inspired by His teachings, but there were some people that didn’t understand what He was saying and why he used parables. They didn’t understand why he would be direct sometimes, but other times, he would teach using stories. Why didn’t He just say what He meant? At one point, his disciples asked him, “Why do you speak in parables?” (Matthew 13:10)

Jesus answered, “The knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. This is why I speak to them in parables, Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (vs 11-13)

Jesus is not withholding the truth from everyone, but he knows that some people understand spiritual truth and some do not. Through the use of parables, Jesus is making a comment on the spiritual condition of people. Parables contain graphic analogies; they often contain strong symbolism and interesting characters, and are easier to remember.  With that said, there are some people that simply do not understand the teachings of Jesus because their hearts aren’t open to spiritual truth. Some have eyes to see and ears to hear; others do not.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul wrote, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

Do you ever read through the bible and think to yourself, I just don’t understand what this means?! The same goes today as it did back then.  The Holy Spirit opens eyes to the light of the truth and the ears to the words of eternal life, but there are some people that lack the connection to the Holy Spirit; therefore, they cannot discern the meaning of scripture. Is your heart open to hear and understand God’s word? Do you pray that God will reveal His truth through His word before you start reading? God promises that if we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us.  Pray that God will open the hearts of people who seek the truth and to understand the message God has through His word.

After three months of being off the air in 2001 due to losing his voice, Mr. Harvey stated that God healed his voice one last time so that he was able to address the country and help put 9/11 in perspective and revive the resiliency of people through faith. And still today, many people remember his stories and the footprint he left on America.  And now you know THE REST OF THE STORY!

Lessons from a Farmer

Angelia Johnston, Stonepoint Member

The Post Office called me at 6:23 AM last Monday morning and I groggily, yet cheerfully answered on the first ring with, “My chicks!! You’re calling about my chicks!!! My chicks are in right?!?!”  I didn’t give her a chance to say more than a few words before I squeaked out, “I’ll be there as soon as the sun is up!!”

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We recently purchased twenty-nine chicks to put in the coop that Mark (my husband) and I have spent our weekends repairing since we moved to Edgewood.  Who said you can’t nail or screw some type of fastener in petrified, fifty year old wood? Or that chicken wire and 4,000 staples can’t make a hen house secure? The kids and I oohed and ahhed over each furry, LOUD, needy, ditzy ball of fluff as we took them out of the shipping box and put them into a bigger box in our bathtub. I took video and numerous pics, and obnoxiously posted them to Facebook all morning!  The kids and I carefully set up the heat lamp, making sure it was close enough to the chicks for the required heat of 95 degrees they needed the first week, mixed in the electrolytes in their water and their special feed mix sprinkled over their feed.   Spencer (my son) and I carefully dipped each tiny beak into their water bowl and gingerly set them on the dry, warm shavings as we went on to the next chick.  As we set them down, we each bonded to a special chick and even picked out our favorites.  I picked the Salmon Faverolles, (somehow rhymes with Chevrolet) a rooster I picked specifically when ordering for its caring nature, sweet temperament, and quiet leadership of the hens.  It was fluffy yellow with two dark spots on its back. I was always cuddling it because it was sleepy and was always being jumped over, stepped on, and didn’t keep up with the others.

Later that night the kids came running to me and said he was sprawled out on his stomach and not really moving. I rushed in there, and we spent the next few hours taking extra care of him; trying to get him to drink and eat…but we lost him. We cared and provided for him…yet we still lost him.  It was deflating, tiring, and sad. Sheridan, our youngest, later crawled into bed with Mark and I, bawling and exclaiming, ‘if this was what it was going to be like living in the country, I want to move back to Dallas!!’ It broke our heart that she was hurting so much for the loss of a chick she had nurtured, loved, fed, watered, and spent so much time with.

It made me think of how God is, with us.

If our heart breaks at the loss of one, tiny chick we barely knew…what is His pain toward losing us? Consider the care, devotion, and the sacrificial gift of His Son Jesus, and yet we carelessly slap Him away in favor of “doing it ourselves”; and perhaps never knowing Him or, worse yet, being told about Him and His free gift of salvation, but choosing not to accept it?  I can’t begin to fathom the condition of God’s heart when we reject His Son and miss out on His glorious care, grace, and love during this lifetime, as well as the opportunity to spend eternity with Him when this life comes to an end.

The Bible declares that we are so much important than a baby chick, which He even cares for more than we did.

“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” (Matthew 10:29-31 MSG)

Did you get that? He knows the numbers of hairs on each one of the heads of the billion people through time that He calls His own!!! He clothes, feeds, gives good gifts, talents, family, health, profession, and possessions. What seems like would be exhausting care…is really His exhaustive care.

“God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.” (Psalm 36:5, 6 MSG)

There are those who feel worthless, unworthy, small.

Broken.

Those who think God can’t love them because of past mistakes or because of how messed up they feel they currently are. Jesus came specifically for us, while we are ‘messed up’ and while we’re in our sinful nature. We don’t slip through the cracks under His watchful care.

I may think I’m on the way to being a great farmer…and look; already I’m losing my livestock. I’m obviously not even close…but I am humbly, eternally grateful for being under the watch care of the ‘Great Farmer,’  of being a part of his flock and never being lost.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. (John 10:14 MSG)

Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it. It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” (Romans 10:11-13 MSG)