Stepping Out in Faith

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I missed the message at church on August 16th due to being out of town. Pastor Brandon gave a little hint the week before and I was sad I would have to miss it. But I had the opportunity to listen to it online today. I must admit, it encouraged and excited my heart.

As Pastor Brandon started the message, all I could think of was Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I memorized this verse many years ago just after becoming a Christian. I had grown up to be fearful of many things and I really wanted to overcome that. But knowing a verse or passage of the Bible isn’t the same as living it. I must confess, while God has graciously allowed me to step out in some things, I still live in fear. One of my biggest fears is getting out there and sharing my faith. I sometimes feel like I live in a bubble here at the ministry I serve with, but God still gives me small opportunities to open up about my faith which I rarely take advantage of.

Listening to Pastor Brandon’s message today gave me a great hope for Stonepoint. In October, it will be a year since I have been attending here. I still remember that first time, where I sat in my car for 10 minutes so I would purposely be late. I remember writing about watching the cows in the field behind the church who quickly became my friends. The reason I wanted to be late? Fear. It is so hard for me to put myself into new situations. But the message I heard that day made me want to return and I have been doing so ever since. In the meantime I have had the privilege of serving as a greeter and have been given the opportunity to write on the church blog.

So what does all this have to do with Pastor Brandon‘s message? Everything. Gideon was a man of great fear. After all, he was pretty much hiding from the Midianites. But the angel greeted him with the words: “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” And as Pastor Brandon pointed out, from that point on, the LORD used Gideon to defeat the idianites. Even in his fear, Gideon timidly walked by faith. He gave the LORD two tests and the LORD graciously went along with them to give Gideon the assurance he lacked. At the end, a small army of 300 men defeated a great army. God had Gideon’s back!

I believe the LORD can and will use Stonepoint to bring many to Himself in Van Zandt County. I knew in my mind that there would have to come a time when the church would have to make some decisions regarding church growth. But unlike other churches I have been in, the ideas of how and why to go about this were different. Most things about “doing church” here at Stonepoint seem different to me. That is main reason that I find attractive. It is hard to put my finger on why it is different here; it just seems that the heart and attitude of the pastors is always to reach out to the people in the area and they do practical things to bring that about.

My prayer for myself, and the rest of us is that we will, not just support, but will become participators in the plans for Stonepoint whatever that may be. Things will be different and we may wish that wouldn’t be so. But I am convinced that if we are to reach the people around us, we must be willing to participate in the changes. We also need to step out in faith both in our own lives and the lives of the church. A quote from the message last week was: “You cannot walk forward until you are ready to step out in faith.” May our LORD give us strength and boldness to step out in faith in our own lives and in the life of Stonepoint Church.

Psalm 139

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I had the joy of reading Psalm 139 today. It has been a long time since I have read it and I was reminded of how great a Psalm it is. I would like to share a few thoughts about it.

Verses 1-6 lets us know that God is all knowing or omnipotent. Can you imagine someone knowing everything about you! I think we all have things in our lives that we share with only the most trusted of our friends. But this passage says that God knows everything, our words before we say them, out thoughts, our actions. The Psalm says He scrutinizes our paths, meaning that He examines our paths in detail and with careful or critical attention. The psalmist goes on to say that this knowledge that God knows everything is too wonderful and too high that he cannot understand it. Neither can I, but it is true none the less. And the great thing is that God loves us in spite of what He sees in us. Only one word comes to mind, unfathomable!

Verses 7-12—the psalmist then talks about another aspect of God. He is everywhere all at once. We cannot hide from God. We can run, try to hide in the darkness, we can even hide in the remotest part of the sea, but God is there with us. When I was a kid I wanted to be able to go down into the ocean and swim around on the Titanic (ok, so I was a little weird, but I thought that would be so cool and as far away from things as I could find). I find this part of the Psalm truly comforting. I have tried to run from God at times. I remember telling Him once in my youth that I was angry and finished with Him and that I quit. I still remember that as soon as I said those words something flooded in my mind and said, “but where will you go? I called you and I want you.” God will never leave or forsake us! Trials will come, but He will go through them with us. What a marvelous God we have!

Verses 13-17 are a little hard for me to swallow at times. God says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” That he formed me in the womb. To be honest, it has been hard for me to accept this. As a child I stuttered so bad that I wouldn’t even talk if I could help it (and it is still with me today, although much improved). While I looked like a healthy specimen on the outside, my heart was full of hurt and anger. And yet, God says that He made me like this. Time has passed and I have now come to accept and even thank God for how he made me. Even though I am still socially awkward. He is there and He understands it. One more thing. It says that our life time is written in God’s book. He knows our past, present and our future. If you are like me, you may fear the future somewhat. But God says, not to worry, I have your back. Our hearts should cry out in praise for such a God!!

Verses 17-18 tell us that God’s thoughts about us are good and many. The psalmist uses the word precious. I sometimes believe that God must be ashamed of me (goes back to my legalistic days). I was always on a performance mode with God, in my younger days. I have come, over time, to realize that a performance mode with God is deadly to our spiritual lives. One can never answer the question, how much is enough? God thinks good thoughts about us and they are innumerable.

Verses 19-24—personally, I have always found this section a bit out of place in this Psalm of echoing the praises of God. But I believe the psalmist (probably David) is looking for a perfect world where there is no more evil or distractions or destruction. He wants nothing to interfere with his closeness with his God and those who are enemies of God are his enemies.

Verses 23-24—these verses are quite familiar to us. The psalmist asks God to search him and know his heart and let there be no hurtful way in him. In other words, the psalmist asks that God would make known his sins so he can be confessed and that he can be pure before God. It impresses me that the psalmist takes coming into God’s presence very seriously. Do we?? Something to think about. May God bless us and humble our hearts toward Him.