Living for a Different World

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have always loved the book of Philippians in the Bible. It would take way too much to go over all the passages that have spoken to me over the years. But a few thoughts come to mind from the series on Disciple that Pastor Brandon just finished. The particular verse I am thinking of is Philippians 1:27: ”Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

First of all, just for review we need to remind ourselves, what a disciple is. A disciple is one who follows someone or some thing with all their heart. You can be a disciple of football or some other sport. You can study games and players and make it your life work. You can also be a disciple of a person. You are a disciple of anyone you give your allegiance to. It could be a coach, or your yoga teacher, or a politician. In our case we should be disciples of Jesus Christ.

Second, what does it take to become a disciple of Christ? As you may remember, Pastor Brandon gave nine marks of a disciple. For this post I will just mention the first mark. A disciple is one who counts the cost to follow Christ, then denies himself and takes up the cross. Denying self is not the same as self denial. Anyone can implement self denial in their lives for some cause. Dieting is a prime example. You set a goal and calculate what you have to do to reach it. Self denial is usually for a specific period until the goal is reached. Then it’s time to celebrate.

Denial of self on the other hand is a day by day decision to take actions that will make you more like the one you are following, in our case, Christ. It is slugging it out in the mud day by day so that we can conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our calling.

I have been reading a book by Matt Chandler that talks about this: He says of living a life worthy of the gospel that: “It looks like dying with Christ to one’s self and being raised in Christ to walk in newness of life with our brothers and sisters. It means living grace-filled lives that grant patience and mercy and gentleness for the spiritual journeys of others and a respect for the differences and idiosyncrasies we all bring to the Lord’s table.”

I’ll end this with another quote from Matt Chandler that is really meaningful: “The gospel of Jesus Christ is worth living for, yes, and it is worth dying for, of course, but we show it is supremely valuable to us when we deny ourselves and take up our crosses to be a blessing to the people who the gospel is calling us to. No more ideological pendulum swings. No more being swayed by every wind of false doctrine. No more being moved to and fro by speculations and myths and doubts of self-interest. Instead we (together) stand “firm in one spirit” (Phil. 1:27)”

I pray the Holy Spirit will make us all better disciples of Christ and show us how to live a life worthy of the gospel.

Disciple-Week 2

Disciple Series_ppt

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

2 Timothy 2:2–The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

At Stonepoint today, Pastor Brandon talked to us about who can be a disciple of Christ. The text he used was Mark 8:27-38. I have been a Christian for nearly 44 years. I was saved while in college through a Christian group called The Navigators. One of the key verses concerning discipleship is 2 Timothy 2:2, something Pastor Brandon talked about today without really mentioning the verse.

The Navigators are very big on growth by 1 to 1 discipleship. It is a process that if everyone does his part, to be a disciple and to disciple at least one other, that over time, the world can be reached. But the problem is, generally we don’t do our part. Possibly, had I stayed on with the Navigators, I might have caught on with the principle and done a better job at discipline. But when I graduate college and went on with my life, I joined a church. Nothing wrong with that, but as Pastor Brandon said today: the church has failed miserably at making disciples.

I have thought of, and called myself a disciple of Christ for many years. But hearing what I heard today, I am either a very bad disciple, or no disciple at all. Don’t take me wrong, was not on a guilt trip while listening to the message, but I did see how very far I am from what a true disciple should be. There are nine points from the message I would like to share about who can be a disciple and what the life of a disciple should look like:

1. Disciples are those who deny self and take up the cross. It starts there.

2. Disciples are those who love God completely.

3. Disciples are people who love others. 1 John 4:7-8.

4. Disciples are those who can communicate a solid Biblical world view.

5. Disciples are those who have a sense of eternal values.

6. Disciples are committed to the local church Heb 10:23-25.

7. Disciples are those who live in truth. 1 Peter 5:2-4.

8. Disciples are those who can reprove gently.

9. Disciples are those who possess tenacity, discipline and perseverance.

I learned today, like most things in Christianity, that if we are going to be a disciple of Christ, we must count the cost. Jesus never wanted a big following. A quick read of John 6 shows that. Jesus gave a hard and difficult the multitude. So much so that they stopped following Him. Jesus even asked the 12 if they were going to leave too, but they stayed on and followed Him. I pray, that by God’s grace, we as the body of Christ will become better disciples. I fully believe that the cost is worth it. God bless you all!

Pain!?!

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

This may be a strange post but I have been thinking a bit of pain and loss lately.

The pain has been stemming from the degenerative arthritis in my knees. I must confess the pain sometimes reaches the point of being excruciating. I walk with a limp, I have to prop my legs up on my computer box at the office just to make it possible for me to serve through the day. Sometimes I bring a cane with me to work. By God’s grace I haven’t had to use it too much. Now, I need to tell you, in the last 20 years of my life, I have hardly ever been sick. So this pain is quite a change for me. I have prayed, people have prayed for me, I have been doing everything my doctor says I should, and still it persists. But the strange thing is, at least to date, I have not become frustrated or angry about it. I feel this strange peace that I can’t explain, other than it is the peace of the Lord.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for sympathy. It is just that experience physical pain in my life has been a rare thing. But it does make me think. I am no saint, but I keep wondering about the pain our Lord went through. I think of his time in the garden just before He was arrested. The agony of his prayers to His Father can break your heart if you really let the Word sink in. Jesus knew that on that cross, He would be totally alone. “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me.” What a cry of agony! Yet he bore the pain for you and me. Honestly, it makes me just cry out to the Lord in thanksgiving and gratefulness for his suffering on my behalf. I have often asked, why. Not, Lord why am I in pain, but why Lord, did you choose me to be your child! It is probably a fruitless question. God is God, and He does what he does for His purposes. I verse that just takes my breath away is Ephesians 1:4. “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” That phrase “before the foundations of the world,” gets me every time I read it. I can’t really can’t fathom a God like that! It blows my mind, as we used to say back in the day. While I don’t grasp it fully, the verse does say that God chose me to be His child before he even created the world! We take the depth of God’s love so lightly. I just want to humbly fall at His feet in worship Him.

I pray that we at Stonepoint will be known as a people who love. Jesus said that His disciples would be know by the world because of their love for one another. I am new to Stonepoint, but I am being totally honest when I say that for all the years I have been “in Christ (44 years on April 1st), I have never attended a church that I have enjoyed attending as much as this one. I just sense the Spirit of the Lord here. May we never lose that!

Discipleship

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

We have embarked on a new series on discipleship here at Stonepoint. I for one, am looking forward to it. Even though I have read books and even taught on the subject of discipleship, I believe to be a disciple of Christ goes far deeper than I have delved into.

Here is a quote from a book I have been teaching on with our School of Discipleship students:

“It is one thing to make a decision for Christ in the warm emotion of a mass evangelist rally. But it is quite another thing to deny one’s self, and take up the cross daily, and follow Christ. Although it costs nothing to become a Christian, it costs plenty to be a consistent believer walking in a path of sacrifice, separation and suffering for Christ’s sake. It is one thing to begin the Christian race well, but it is quite another thing to slug it out day after day, through fair weather and foul, through prosperity and adversity, through joy and through grief.” From True Discipleship by William MacDonald.

Discipleship is no easy road. Many start out well, but few finish the race well, or perhaps at all. We don’t often think of following Christ as being in a war, but that’s exactly what it is. We fight against “the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). How do we fight against such an enemy. Only by using Spiritual weapons. Christ’s people are soldiers whether we want to be or not. I think our problem is that we forget that fact too easily.

My hope and prayer for this series is that we will have Open hearts and ears that here the Word that Pastor Brandon will bring to us. At the end, may we be able to say along with Paul in Acts 20:24–“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”

Take a Vow: Week 5

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

A Rainy Day at Stonepoint

Today was the final day of a five part series on marriage. I reallTake A Vow_ppty enjoyed this series way more than I thought I would. Being in my stage of life I thought there was not much of a reason for me to attend. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Today’s message concentrated on Genesis 24 and how the person of Rebekah mirrored how the Bride of Christ should be. There were five points:

1. The bride came to learn of the son (Isaac) through his representative. Just as Rebekah learned of Isaac through the faithful servant, so too does the church. Today, the church learns about our Husband, through the representative of the Holy Spirit in our lives. See 1 Corinthians 2: 7-10

2. Rebekah had to leave her old life behind to be with the son. By faith, Rebekah left her old life believing that she would find a lift that he didn’t have in her present situation. The parallel is obvious. To truly know and follow Christ, we need to leave our old life. A life with Christ is far better than anything we can have on our own.

3. Rebekah had to make a journey with the servant before seeing the son. We too, are on a journey with the Holy Spirit. Becoming a Christian does not take away suffering and pain. They will still be with us as long as we are on the journey (1 Peter 3:3-7).

4. Rebekah desired purity before meeting her bridegroom. She covered her head before meeting Isaac. In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 Paul explained that he betrothed the Corinthians (currently the church) to Christ so that we might be presented as a pure virgin.

5. Rebekah was loved and cared for by the son (Isaac) Genesis 24:66-67. Again, the parallel is obvious. We are betrothed to a bridegroom who loves and cares for us. He has promised to never leave or forsake us.

This was truly a blessed and encouraging series. I pray the lessons from it will be life changing for us at Stonepoint and to the Bride of Christ at large. Blessings.

Unnamed Servant

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, here it is, Sunday on the Prairie again. It has been a wet, cold and yes, actually snowy week here. I hitched up the Toyota wagon and turned on the horse power and started my way to church. I took the longer trail to get to church because my normal trail head to the church is full of holes, and when wet, quite muddy. Once at church, I did my greeter time, than sat down in the last row as usual.

The message today was particularly good but I can’t do it justice in this blog post. But please allow me to try to highlight one part of it at least. Today was the fourth week of a five week series on marriage. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I thought about taking a break during this series, but I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I think it was of the Lord because I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot that I could incorporate into my life.

Today’s message was about Abraham’s unnamed servant from Genesis 24 and how he is a picture of the Holy Spirit. I must confess I had never thought about that before. Just briefly, the servant made a covenant with Abraham to go find a wife for Isaac. As you read the account, a couple things stand out:

1. In Gen. 24:10-20 you find the servant praying. But he is not praying for himself. He is interceding for Abraham. As he prays, he also the bride he would be choosing for Isaac. He didn’t look for outward beauty, but looked for a bride with a good heart. He had a specific test in mind where the potential bride would go beyond and above giving him a drink but would also water the camels. Rebecca did just that. In the same way, the Holy Spirit looks at our heart, and draws us to Jesus Christ. What a great picture of the Spirit bringing us to salvation. Our natural heart is so hardened about seeking salvation, that unless the Spirit softens our heart, we will not come. But with God, all things are possible, as the scripture says!

2. One more thing for today. In Genesis 24:37 and beyond, the servant speaks, but he only speaks in behalf of his master. The servant knew the heart of his master and spoke accordingly. When we have the Holy Spirit, we have the heart of the Master. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

The God Who Does Not Hold a Grudge

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Mark 16:7–“But go, tell His disciples AND PETER, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.”

You are probably familiar with this verse. Jesus has risen and several women come to the grave and find an angel sitting in the tomb. The angel uttered those amazing words, “He is risen.” Then came verse 7. I find it fascinating that the angel singled out Peter in this passage. It’s almost as if Jesus told the angel, “when you tell My disciples to come meet Me in Galilee, tell them to be sure to bring Peter. He won’t want to come but bring him anyway. I have plans for him and he is still my disciple and friend.”

Now think about Peter. Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times and it happened just as He said. Scripture says that Peter ran out and wept bitterly. Put yourself in Peter’s place. You hear your friends telling you that Jesus is alive and wants all of them, especially Peter, to meet Him in Galilee. How would you feel? Would you want to go? I don’t think I would. “How could Jesus have anything to do with me after I denied him like I did,” Peter would probably say.

Yet, Jesus really wanted to see Peter and in the book of John, we have that wonderful scene by the sea where Jesus restores Peter to the ministry. What a God we serve!!

Now, let’s think of ourselves. How many times have we sinned against our Lord? How many times have we committed the same sin over and over, and yet we still come to God and ask for forgiveness? I know I come in shame and wonder how many times will He forgive me for committing the same sin over and over. The answer is 70 times 7, as Jesus answered the disciples when they asked Him how many times shall I forgive my brother. Obviously, Jesus didn’t mean 490 times, then that is enough. No more! No, He meant that we need to forgive our brother or sister as many times as they come and ask for forgiveness.

Jesus won’t do any less for us. If we just come to Him in brokenness and humility, he will always be there to forgive. Jesus holds no grudges or bitterness toward us. Yes, when we sin, it grieves Him. But when we come to him in repentance, he is always ready to forgive.

Peter could have gone the way of Judas and gone out and hung himself. But instead he chose to go with the disciples when they came to get him. What did he find? A God of love, grace and forgiveness. We will find the same thing, if we just come to Him. We truly have a great God!!! Blessings.