Paul’s Life?

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulation await me.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24

This passage has greatly intrigued me ever since I since I really looked at it a few years ago. Paul’s life is so intriguing to me. It seems he learned the key to having great faith in God.

Paul learned not to let himself be moved by people, circumstances or his environment. No matter where he was or what was happening around him, he would not be moved from what God had called him to do.

The other thing about Paul was that he did not count his life dear to himself. He knew his life belonged to the Lord.

I wondered what it was that allowed Paul to come to this in his life. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Like Jesus, Paul had a surrendered life to the will of the Father. How else could he come to the place where nothing would move him from what God had called him to do.

2. The other thing I see is that Paul did not hold on to his life too tightly, or maybe in his case, not at all.

I don’t know about you, but I really desire to have this kind of life. How can it ever come about? I believe by only keep our eyes on our Lord Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-3 is my encouragement in this. We live in a time and country where we are bombarded from every angle to walk away from the Lord. Only by keeping our eyes on the end. As our director, Brother KP says, “our time here is not long, soon we will be with our Lord.” May God give us the grace and strength to finish the race with joy!!!

Prayer

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Prayer. I don’t know about you, but prayer is not one of my strong suits. I do pray of course, but often it is more of a struggle than a joy of coming into the presence of the Lord! Still, It is something I do because I know God yearns to have us pray to Him. But then, once in a great while, something happens that just totally blows me away.

Such was a time last Tuesday. The ministry closed toe office from 9AM to 12 noon, and we had a three hour prayer meeting. We have done these before, but I can truly say this time of prayer was one of the best times of prayer we have had here at the ministry in a long time. I don’t really know what made it so, other than to give credit to the Holy Spirit. There was really no agenda as such. It started with one of our leaders opening in prayer, then we had a time of worship which seemed really good. After that we had a devotional where the leader referenced Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Basically the teaching was that we do have an enemy, but he is defeated. This was followed by a time of praying for one another.

But the highlight of the prayer meeting for me was when we took time to pray for the sick in our midst. Two of our leaders stood up front with some oil and staff and families got in one of the two lines if they wanted to be anointed and have prayer. While this was going on we played worship music and sang to the Lord. It was so restful and the peace of the Lord was there like I haven’t experienced in some time. Talk about a time of refreshing!! This part of the meeting took about 1 and one half hours but no one seemed to mind. Probably three fourths of the staff went forward. We have a lot of people who suffer various ailments in silence for the most part. I must admit, knowing some of the people and their problems my heart broke a bit. Most of them were young people.

At one point I felt lead to go pray for one of my “nieces” who was sitting a few rows ahead of me. She was kneeling on the floor and worshiping when I approached her. She saw me and put her head on my knee as I prayed. We really didn’t say anything else, except that I told her she was a blessing to me. This young lady is 19 or so and I know her family. Most of the family suffers from one thing or another. It saddened my heart to think about the pain some of them are in.

We talk a lot about unity in the ministry around here. Well, today we had a little taste of what it is like to be united for a purpose. Don’t get me wrong. Times like I am describing are wonderful and renewing to the spirit. But I am not one who believes that you have to experiences times such as we did on Tuesday to have good times of prayer. While these times are especially memorable, prayer, like everything else in our Christian life, is a matter of faith. Brother KP tells us that our times of prayer where we experience no emotions or excitement, are actually our best times because they are done in faith. And this, brothers and sisters, pleases our Lord greatly. My conclusion, God loves to hear from us…let us pray!!

Covenant vs Contract

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today was week two of a five part marriage series. Again, I was greatly surprised at the direction the pastor took on this subject. The basic passage today was Genesis 24 Abraham makes a covenant with his most trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. Covenants were very important in the Old Testament and they should be today.

In our day, instead of covenants, we have contracts. A contract is a document based on the mutual distrust of the two parties. When you make a contract with some one you usually have a mediator because the parties don’t fully trust each other. Take a contract to purchase a house, for instance. The buyer doesn’t believe everything the seller says, so he gets an independent inspector. The seller doesn’t fully trust the buyer that he will not back out of the contract, or will come up with the agreed upon price.

A covenant is different. It is made based the mutual TRUST of the two parties. When Abraham’s servant agreed to find a wife for Isaac, there was no doubt that the servant would do everything possible to fulfill the covenant. Also, once he agreed to this, there was no backing out. It was binding on the two parties.

It’s sad that we don’t have “covenants” today, especially in marriage. I remember back some nearly 40 years ago, when my soon to be wife were courting. We were both nearing 30 years old and, to be honest, were not all that strong of Christians. I remember one evening we were talking. During the talk we made a promise to each other that, whatever happened, we would not allow divorce to be an option in our lives. We then, bowed in prayer and made that promise to each other before God. We didn’t call it a covenant nor were we even thinking covenants. I doubt if we were even aware of the Biblical concept at the time. But we, inadvertently or not, had made a covenant.

That covenant was tested several times during our marriage. My wife getting these mysterious pains soon after we were married caused a lot of stress and fears. There were times I thought I wanted to get out of the situation. But every time I would have such a thought, God always brought that night back to my mind where we prayed over our “covenant,” and I kept going. My wife, I am sure, had plenty of reasons to be challenged too, but never told me. Toward her death two years ago, she would often tell me that I was the perfect husband. While I appreciated what she said, I knew I was far from that. She even told me once that no one would have stayed with her given he sickness and the things she put me through. That really struck me. Have we come that far in Christianity when a spouse has to be surprised that the other spouse would stay with the marriage? I guess when the divorce rate is around 50% within the church, there is good reason to be surprised. I wonder if couples need to go back to making covenants with each other before getting married? I know it made a difference and bound me to my wife because I had given her that pledge and I had a reverence to God not to break that covenant.

I am finding this series at Stonepoint both interesting and challenging even though I am now a widower and out of the realm of marriage. Thinking of “the covenant” it makes me want to be a man of integrity and that my Yes will be yes and my no will be no. I pray all of us Stonepointers will make every effort to attend this series and that we will have soft hearts toward the Lord to make changes in our lives. May God’s grace be with us.

Would You Like To Be a Butterfly?

blueMorphoZ

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

One of the fun things I get to do here at the ministry is to read student newsletters as part of them being approved to send out. Once in a while I find one I really like. Below is a section of a letter written by a young lady from our August 2015 class. When I read it, it really encouraged me. The reason was, we throw terms like “dying to yourself;” taking up your cross and following Christ,” quite a lot. So I wanted to share a little of this young lady’s letter with you:

“Before a butterfly is a butterfly it is a caterpillar. The caterpillar’s whole life surrounds eating; just eating – never satisfied, always looking for more. Until one day it becomes a butterfly. Just as the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, shrugging off the old, we too can live like a butterfly. It is not an easy process and can be painful as we die to our old self and look forward into the eyes of Jesus. With His strength He helps us overcome our self. Then we glance back at the caterpillar and glorify God as we see how he transformed that caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

God has been shaping and molding me into a butterfly. He sees the deepest parts of my heart and changes what shouldn’t be there. Some of the things God is changing in me is being honest and real with others and God about my struggles and not hiding. We can’t grow if we are trying to hide things and are holding onto them. It’s scary letting go, but it’s even scarier holding on to that hurt, pain, or sin. God heals and when we trust Him, He is faithful to answer.”

What I think about is, do the students (or any of us for that matter). really grasp this concept of dying to self? The fact of the matter is that we cannot really live for Christ unless we truly die to self. Dying to self is not the same as self-denial. Anyone can discipline themselves to do that. But it is a work of the self-life and done in our own strength. Dying to self is totally different. The only true way to die to yourself is to bow our stiff-necked self in complete humility and repentance before Christ, so that he can reign in our lives. It means recognizing that I have no rights and am deserving only of hell. When we come to that point in our life, in an attitude of humility and repentance, He will honor our act of humility, and act on our behalf. Then, as the young lady says, He transforms us from a caterpillar into a butterfly. A couple of my favorite verses in regards to this are Galatians 2:20 and Isaiah 66:1-2. May we come to realize how important humility and true repentance to our walk with our Lord!

Boys Will Be Boys

Stephen Blackwell, Stonepoint Member

As a father, some of my favorite things to do are listen to my children.  Just last night, my oldest confessed he had a crush on a girl at basketball practice.  My youngest constantly asks for something and when we say no he replies,”I mean in the morning!” But  I don’t mean just when they are talking to me.  Sometimes, I sit on my couch and just listen to them playing.  I hear them run through the living room and talk about being The Flash, or they’ll come kicking through being Super Samurai Power Rangers.  Usually, they’ll be in their room playing with action figures or their Hot Wheels, and sometimes when it’s all going right I hear laughter.  Not just giggles, like full on bust-a-gut belly laughter, so infectious that before long Robin and I are laughing too.

But THEN I usually, hear a smack, and it all breaks loose. Yelling, fighting, and then most of the time it ends in someone crying.  So of course, I have to step in and make sure no one draws blood, and then dish out a punishment.  When all is said and done, the argument or fight usually began for a silly reason, but then again, they are children.

From viewing Facebook, I see people who begin arguments for silly reasons.  I see posts of cryptic messages about being wronged, for the sole purpose of wanting to throw drama out there.  I have read blogs that are disguised as informative that are only to make people angry, and to get attention via comments. (As a blogger, I’m treading on thin ice.)  When I’m sitting at children’s sporting events, I overhear people yelling and talking about refs and coaches for silly reasons. (Kinda just stepped on my own toes.) And unfortunately, I have seen people who have started arguments in a church for unbiblical reasons, i.e. Pew color, carpet color, song choice, too many events, not enough events and ,well, fill in the blank. Unlike my sons, most of the silly arguments I see are not between children, but adults.

Here is what the bible says about silly arguments.

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Tim. 2:23-24

This was a letter of encouragement and instruction from Paul to Timothy.  This was one of the last letters he wrote before his death, and some believe he was settling his accounts, so to speak.  He was encouraging and teaching still in these last days, giving Timothy an account of encouragement and fortitude for when he faced trials.  He warned Timothy not to get involved with people who create these arguments.

We all know people that love to start arguments for the sake of arguing.  They strive to see people get riled up and mostly they aren’t happy unless they are angry at something.  I am, at the heart of it, a pretty non confrontational person, but there is something about the internets and Facebook that make me super opinionated, where I feel like I need to let people know how I feel on certain topics, not in the same vein of this blog though.  I’ve caught myself in the middle of a political argument that doesn’t matter.  I’ve caught myself defending the honor of Tony Romo, knowing he doesn’t need my help.  I’ve even found myself in the past arguing about things in the church that don’t matter.

Paul warned about stupid arguments, i.e. red vs. orange carpet,  too many vs not enough events, church getting too big, contemporary vs. Traditional. These are the arguments that I have seen split churches or at least have caused some church migration.  They cause descent and strife in the church that’s not needed.  There is plenty for the church to be concerned with that doesn’t concern upholstery and music styles.

I like how The Message translates verse 24:

God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey.

As a teacher, I have students that will say the sky is blue, and another will chime in just to be argumentative and say it’s pink. We mustn’t be argumentative, especially over trivial stuff.  Of course we must stand up for our faith.  We must believe strongly in who we are in Christ, and not let anyone tell us otherwise, but at some point you must just do as 2 Timothy 2:25-26 tells us…

25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil,who has taken them captive to do his will.

I love hearing my sons get along.  When they do, they create, they encourage, they teach, they defend, they comfort, they console, they love, and harmony makes for beautiful music.  They achieve so much when they work together and don’t argue.  In the same way the church creates, encourages, teaches, defends comforts, consoles, loves, and does everything it can to connect people to God, then connect them to others, and then connects them to help reach the world for the cause of Christ, not upholstery.

Next time you feel like being divisive remember What the great theologian, Yo Momma, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Take it, and it will save the church, and it’s leaders some heartache.

Marriage: Take a Vow.

Take A Vow_pptBob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I got up a little early today to go to church today. I was starting work as a greeter and I was supposed to arrive a little early. It was fun shaking hands and saying hello to people.

When the service started I sat down like I usually do. I knew that pastor Brandon was starting a series on marriage. In all honesty, I feel I am a little beyond that. I am 67 years old, a widower and marriage does not seem to be in my future. But I realized since coming here, that I no longer come for the music, sermon or for any other reason except to worship our Lord.

As usual, by God’s grace to open my eyes and ears, the message was a blessing. This may be a little long, but if you stay with it, I think you well be blessed as I was.

Pastor Brandon used Revelation 19:7-9 as a starting point. Kind of unusual for a message on marriage. After laying the ground work using the “marriage supper of the Lamb,” Pastor Brandon went over what happens at a Jewish wedding. Here are some highlights:

First, the groom’s father, or his representative, goes out looking for a bride for his son.

2. Once found, they give her a dowry

3. The Bride’s father then assumes the responsibility to keep the bride pure. The bride doesn’t know when the groom will be coming for her.

4. Then there is the “betrothal.” Our closest thing to this is the engagement. But you can always break an engagement, a betrothal cannot be broken.

5. Finally, when everything is ready. There is the wedding celebration.

I hope you can see some parallels here with what God has done, and is doing, for us.

First, God chose us. 1 Thess. 1:4.

Second, He offers us a betrothal covenant.

Third, There is a payment 1 Cor. 6:20.

Fourth, as the bride of His Son, we are kept by the Father. Eph. 5:26-27. We love the idea of God being out there for us, but we hate dying to ourselves.

Fifth, Jesus is building a dwelling place for us. Jn. 14:2.

Sixth, He is sending his Son back for His bride. We need only to be ready.

Matthew 25:1-13.

Finally, the wedding feast. Matthew 26-26-29. Note in verse 29 notice that Jesus will not feast again until that day when He drinks it new until he drinks it with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom.

Final thought: If we model our marriages and relationships the way that Christ did, our lives will be less about ourselves and more about others.

Servanthood

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

One of the joys that the Lord has given me is that I have the privilege to teach our School of Discipleship students on occasions. My latest assignment is to teach four chapters from a book entitled The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. Many of you may not have heard of it, but it is a book that we cherish in the ministry where I work. We cherish it because it is a book that encourages us to be closer to Christ.

One of the Chapters is titled: “Are You Willing to be a Servant?” In this chapter the author gives five characteristics of a bond servant. A bond-servant is one who has no rights, receives no wages and has no appeal. Here are the five points of a bond servant that the author brings out:

1. A bond-servant must be willing to have one thing on top of another put upon him, without any consideration being given to him.

2. In doing this he must be willing not to be thanked for it.

3. Having done all this, he must not charge the other with selfishness.

4. Having done all that, there is no ground for pride or self-congratulation, but we must confess that we are unprofitable servants, that is, that we are of no real use to God or man in ourselves.

5. We must admit that doing and bearing what we have in the way of meekness and humility, we have not done one thing more than it was our duty to do.

As much as I admire these qualities of a bond-servant, and would like to confess that they were all a part of my life, I cannot do so. Christ was God’s Bond-Servant. Should we be any less to Christ? While these things seem too difficult for us, remember that Christ’s kingdom is an upside down kingdom. The way up, is the way down.

I’ll close with a couple verses from Philippians Chapter 2:

Verse 7: but (Christ) emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Verse 9: For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.

As it was for Christ, so it should be for us. The way up, is the way down. As Jesus was our forerunner in showing us the way of service and humility, may we follow in His footsteps and be His bond-servant to the world around us. God bless you all.