This and That

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have to confess, I’ve had a hard time thinking of what to write this week. I’ve  had an idea or two, but when it came to actually sitting down at my laptop and writing, they just didn’t come together. It has been an interesting week, both good and bad. I have been thinking and asking God about some of my attitudes and challenges I have been facing. I don’t really know if i got answers or not. But one thing I know, I still trust Him.

So, given all my indecision and confusion, I thought I would write a little about my time in re:generation. It is a little more together than the rest of things surrounding me right now. This Monday  will mark the culmination of my sixth week. I’m not sure what will happen. My work book tells me I should let the leader look through my book to see if I am ready to move on. You see, the first six weeks in re:gen, is sort of a primer for everything else that will take place. It’s called “Groundwork.” It contains six weeks of daily lessons that we are supposed to work on and then share something from them at each meeting. Being as I just finished the the last lesson, I decided to write a summary of the past six weeks of what I think I have been learning, or at least become aware of in re:gen.

As I worked on this, I became somewhat surprised at what I could actually write down. It seemed that God did more than I thought. I pray you bear with me as I mention a few things. My hope in doing this is that it will encourage you or perhaps make you think about things in your own life that you may need to think about.

The first thing that came to mind was how impatient I am. This was brought to me in day 3 of the first week of lessons. Now that wasn’t a surprise to me. I have felt I have always been impatient. But what this lesson did, was make me more aware of it. I noted that I am very impatient with things, such as computers and printers. When they do what I think they should, I am happy but let them mess up, and I really want to toss them out the window. With people, it’s a little different. I find I can generally be patient with most anyone except myself. Patience, as you probably is one of the fruits of having the Spirit of God living in us (Galatians 5:22-23). Sadly, I quench the Spirit regularly in this. But there is hope of change.

Another area that I also knew was a problem was that I am a self-centered person. But the third day of week three brought this to me even more. One of the dreams I have had for myself for a long time is to be truly crucified with Christ and to realize that I am a dead man.How much can a dead man protest? Not at all. My heart literally aches at times to see Luke 9:23 lived out in my life: “…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” How I cry to see that reality. But my flesh just wants to please itself. May God give us the strength to fully surrender ourselves to Him. We need to have His life in us more now than ever before.

I will mention just one more area although there are any more that I have written down in my summary paper. Actually I want to do two areas together. They are: Talk to God (from Week 4 Day 3) and a lesson entitled, The heart that’s Well is the heart that Tells from Week 5, Day 2. These go together because they both involve prayer. This has been one of my weakest areas in all my days as a Christian. What these lessons call for is to talk to God honestly and openly. We need to search ourselves and honestly confess all areas of sin that He reveals. I honestly think I go brain dead when it comes to prayer. I can start praying and within two minutes I am thinking about all kinds of things I have to do. I used to really beat myself up over that. Now, by God’s grace I just let Him know that I am struggling, and I seek to continue talking with Him. Maybe not a great victory, but the bruises I gave myself in the past are at least starting to heal.

So, perhaps Monday will be my last week in “Groundwork.” I don’t really know. It depends on a lot of things such as if there are any others in our current group ready to move on, or even if the leader thinks I am ready to move on. Whatever happens, I can say it has been a great six weeks of learning about our Lord, His mercy and grace. It has also been a joy to be with other men seeking to grow in the Lord. Even though we all have different issues that we deal with, we are all seeking to be our best for the Lord’s service and to love Him with all our hearts, soul and strength (Deut. 6:4-5). God bless you!!

Vines, Branches and Friends

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

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When I came home from church today, I really sensed a need to take a bit of an in depth look at John 15:1-17. I’m not really sure why, but I decided to spend a little time there.

This passage is familiar to a lot of us and it is commonly referred to the Vine and the Branches passage. It is the last segment of Jesus’ talk with His disciples before His crucifixion, which covers chapters 13-15. I have always liked this passage, but to be honest, there are parts that I didn’t feel comfortable with and at times, even frightened by it, due to lack of understanding. This passage is too long and complex to fit into one blog post, but I would like to pick out a few things that might encourage and challenge us.

First of all, there is the Vine. In this passage Jesus plainly declares that He is the true Vine. He is not a fake. Many have come after Jesus claiming to be “the vine,” if you will, but they are all fakers. The symbolism of this passage also refers to disciples as the branches. The branches get their life from the Vine and indeed, share the life of the Vine. We have a living union with the Vine-Jesus, so that we may bear much fruit. That fact in itself, should amaze us and cause to want to do all we can to remain close to Him.

Then there are branches. In this symbolism the branches are us, true believers in Christ. A branch can do NOTHING on its own. The sooner we learn this, the better our relationship with the true Vine (Jesus) will be. When we try to produce fruit on our own, we fail. Jesus plainly states, “…as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me (verse 4).” This passage talks about the only way  for a branch to survive is to ‘abide’ in the Vine. To abide means to that we keep in fellowship with Christ. Pastor Brandon talked about today that our relationship with Christ must take first priority in our lives. That is totally true but I wonder if we really take that to heart. If we are to be fit to fight and survive the battle, we need to realize the importance of maintaining a close relationship with God.

This passage also talks about a vine dresser and Jesus states that the work of caring for the vine is His fathers–“My Father is the Vine dresser.” What is the Vine dresser’s job? It is to prune the vine so that it will be more fruitful. He does this by cutting off dead branches, but sometimes it also requires that live branches be cut off so that the good fruit that is currently produced will even produce better fruit. God is always pruning our lives in order for us to make us more fruitful. Pruning is the most important of the process of bearing fruit. Sometimes we pray that God will make us “better followers of Christ or more fruitful” but we don’t want to go through the pruning process. It makes us evaluate things in our lives, sometimes good things, that get in our way of being more fruitful. I read today the statement that, “your heavenly Father is never nearer to you than when He is pruning you.” Pruning hurts and we don’t usually enjoy it. But it is one of the best things that God can do to and in us. What we must do is to keep abiding and let the pruning process complete itself.

Finally, there is the fruit. In my reading today I learned that branches don’t eat the fruit, it is for others to eat. Fruit is not for our enjoyment, but for the enjoyment of others. What exactly is fruit? Well, it is obviously others won to Christ. But it is also a life that grows in holiness and obedience. Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of the Spirit and when these are demonstrated in our lives, God is glorified.

There is so much more to this passage, but I don’t want to make this too long. At the end of all this Jesus also calls us friends and talks of obedience. Obedience doesn’t seem to tie into friendships but it does. But that will have to wait for another day. Suffice it for now to say that Jesus calls His disciples friends if we obey His commands (v14). You may be friends with your boss but you also serve him (at least if you want your paycheck). It is the same way with us and Christ.We are friends with the King of Kings, but we also serve the King and that takes obedience. My prayer is that we will learn that we are mere branches and can do nothing for Him on our own power. We must abide in Christ and allow His Spirit to work out our walk with Him. May we humble ourselves to God and see Him work in and  exalt us in His time. God bless you!

Valentine’s Day, Fighting and Love

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

No, we didn’t have a fight at Stonepoint today! But we did talk about being Fit to Fight and about what love really is. It was a pretty amazing Sunday morning for me as they all seem to be.

Just to recap a few things, the key verse of the day was Deuteronomy 6:5–You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.

Then Pastor Brandon talked about what love was not. there were three points:

1. Love is developed from chance.
2. Love is sensual.
3. Love is an uncontrollable force.

These three myths are not true of Biblical love. Love is not something that happens by chance. It happens as a matter of the will. More on that later. Also, if love is based just on just sensuality, there is little hope for a couple to survive over the long haul. Yes, Biblical love is both sensual and emotional, but these are not the starting point. Finally, if love is an uncontrollable force, then if one person in the marriage no longer feels they love their spouse, they can just leave. None of these three myths are what God has in mind when He talks about love.

There are also three truths about love:

1. Love is a choice–it is a matter of our will. We first make a choice to love and feelings will follow. A long time ago I read a book entitled, The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whithall Smith. If my mind serves me right Hannah Whithall Smith was a Quaker and she wrote the book in the 1800’s. The premise of the book was that the Christian life is lived in the will. Think about that. We all make choices in life. Since we have NEW LIFE IN CHRIST we have the capacity to make decisions that will please God or please ourselves. That is where the will comes in and determines which way we will choose.

2. Love doesn’t wane–1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love bears all things. This means that when things are good or bad, love remains consistent.

3. Love is eternal–Again from 1 Corinthians 13:7, it says that love endures all things. Again, whether things are going well, or going bad, love love goes on.

I know these last three truths smack against the culture of the world we live in. One thing I have learned over the past few years is this. If I am going to be a true Christian and be a Christ follower, I am going to go against the stream of our society. We might as well face this and decide now who we are going to follow, our society or God. We cannot afford to live on both sides of the fence. Sadly, I must confess to you I did that for years.

I started going through the Bible again, as I usually do, at the beginning of 2016. Today I happen to be reading in John chapter 13. This chapter and the two after, are a discussion Jesus had with his disciples just before his crucifixion. A good part of the dialog is about love. Here are a few things I learned today about God’s love for us.

The first thing that struck me was that the chapter starts out by saying that Jesus, knowing that His time had come, that He would leave the world and go back to the Father, that He loved His own that were in the world, and that He loved them until the end (See John 13:1). He then went on to demonstrate His love for them by taking the place of a servant and washing the disciples feet. Chapter 13 ends with Jesus giving the disciples a commandment in verses 34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as i have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Now, here’s the point. How can we love the Body of Christ if we can’t even love our own spouses and children? There are plenty of evidences of the Body biting and devouring each other today, both in our homes and in the church. Sadly, it gives the world more reason to laugh at us and even to hate us and call us hypocrites. What is it going to take for the us to overcome this? I think as Pastor Brandon has mentioned, it must begin in our homes with our spouses and children.

I pray that this series will spur us on to fight. Not fight with each other but for each other. May we fall at our Lord’s feet in humility and confession and come up renewed in our spirits and Fit to Fight!!! I hope we come back next week for the next segment.

Worry and Fear

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I was looking through my re:gen lessons for this week and came across a lesson called Living in Fear. We don’t like to admit it, but we all struggle with worry or fear of some kind or another. If you are married you worry about your spouse and children. We have fears of illness, finances, and our future. As we age, it’s pretty normal to worry about what will happen as we can do less and less to take care of ourselves. If you are a Christian we know where we will spend eternity but we most likely fear the doorway: death. I guess the bottom line is that worry and fear can consume us. We can almost become immobilized to do anything.

God, in His Word has plenty to say about worry and fear. I won’t go over everything in the Bible about that (some 366 times we are told not to fear or worry), but here are a couple verses that stand out to me.

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.

Matthew 6:27—And who among you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

1 Peter 5:6-7—Therefor humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Now, some of you you probably know these verses by heart. But do we really look at these and other verses and do what they say? I will end with a few thoughts about how these verses apply to our lives.

First, we need to trust God. Even in our darkest hours, God says He is with us. Indeed, he says He is our God (Isaiah 41:10). Do we really trust God in the tough times? And worse, when times are good, we think we don’t need Him.

Second, the Bible simply commands us not to fear. It’s not something that would be a nice thing to do. God plainly says, “Do Not Fear.” I have heard that if God commands something, He makes it possible for us to obey that command. Can we trust Him to do that?

Third, in 1 Peter we are told to do a couple of things. We are to humble ourselves before God and then to cast our anxiety on Him. I don’t know, but I wonder if sometimes we just try to do the casting without doing the humbling. I think it is important to humble ourselves because it makes us put all our hope and trust in Him. The verse goes on to say “He cares for us.” He won’t let us down!

Finally, in Matthew 6:27,  Jesus says that our worry and fear can’t change anything. I am slowly beginning to learn that God has our lives totally in His hands. He knows everything about us and we don’t. Not to get maudlin, but he knows exactly when and how we are going to enter into his presence. No matter what happens, He is there with us. I can’t find anything more peaceful in my life than to know that.

Well, that’s about all I have. I believe as time goes by that we will have more and more reasons to fear and be worried. If you read this, I hope it will give you courage to trust God completely in everything and will give you peace because God has everything all under control. Talk to ya, later. God bless you.

 

Stonepoint Church and House Cleaning

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Sometimes blog posts come to me in a strange way. Today was one of those days. Today at Stonepoint we started a new series that Pastor Brandon called Fit to Fight. Today was just the introduction and all I can say is that it was SMOKE!! But for today, As I understand it, the series is going to be about reclaiming and leading our families. I don’t have a family any longer but there will still be things I can apply to my life and I am excited about it. But today, I just want to take one small part of of the sermon and tell you about it. It’s actually a bit funny and I present it to you as my story of the week.

So, after the 8:30 service, I went out to my car feeling beat up a little bit. Not because Pastor Brandon beat up on us, but most every Sunday, I come out with things the Lord challenged or convicted me about. Today was no different. I hurried down Texas 47 past my camel friends and got on I-20 for a few miles toward home. I wanted to get home and read and pray about things, which I did. One of the points Pastor Brandon made was kind of funny to me. He said around his home when they clean, they have to pray first. Then they have to play music and sing as they clean. I thought that was an interesting approach to cleaning and I thought I would try it out today. As I was driving home I was playing a CD by Will Reagan & the United Pursuit Band. I doubt if many of you have heard him, but I like him. I remembered that the CD envelope also contained a DVD in it. So I brought the DVD into the house with me.

After my time of reading and prayer I decided it was time to start cleaning. You see, I’m hosting a John Movie Night for a few of our School of Discipleship students this coming Friday (we are watching Hatari), so I knew I had to do some cleaning. My theory about cleaning seems to be, “Why bother, you clean once and six months later you have to do it all over again.” OK, I’m not quite that bad but close. But I knew I was having guests and while they know I am a single dude, I thought they would still appreciate a clean house. So I put my Will Reagan DVD on and decided to start with washing the bathrooms and laundry room floors. I got my handy dandy bucket, squirted a little germicide and cleaner in, and put the bucket in the kitchen sink to fill. After filling the bucket about half full, I grabbed the handle, took about three steps and (I bet you know where this is going), snap! The handle popped out from the bucket and my kitchen and dining area were covered in about a quarter of an inch of water. Meanwhile, Will Reagan and friends were still playing on my TV.

Usually, I have no patience when things like this happen. But this time, I just thought, “OK, maybe I’ll start in the kitchen and dining area rather than the bathrooms like I wanted, and I started singing along with my friend Will. As you might imagine it took quite awhile to pick up all the water but the good news is, I don’t think my floors were ever cleaned so well! I managed to pick up a lot of dead bug parts, thanks to the flood that went under furniture and flushed them out. Another bonus, as I started mopping up around my dining room table, I noticed all the chairs were quite dusty. I thought, “wow, I don’t know if I would have noticed that if this little accident hadn’t happened. God knows what he is doing.” More singing as I dusted the chairs. Finally, after about 45 minutes, for a job that would usually 10, I figured I picked up as much water as I could and started on my other floors. Since I didn’t put the handle bucket this time (I wasn’t falling for that again), the two bathrooms and the laundry room were cleaned without a hitch. Will and Friends sang and talked throughout the whole cleaning process.

So, there’s my practical lesson form today’s sermon. PRAY AND PLAY MUSIC WHEN YOU CLEAN!! For today at least, it made a huge difference in attitude and action and I think the Lord was glorified. Something that would have normally angered and frustrate me, actually turned out to a lot of fun! Great lesson Pastor Brandon!!

So, I still have more cleaning to do. I pray it will go as well. Fortunately I have prayer and another DVD by All Sons and Daughters I can play. I don’t know why they call themselves that because there are only two of them. So I think they should be called One Son and Daughter!! But then what do I know.

A Prayer Meeting Story

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Last night was the first Friday of February. As usual we gathered in the evening for a time of extended prayer. I was not particularly excited to be there, but I had decided I would go. I came into the chapel and took a seat by myself in the last row. The meeting started off pretty normal. We had a time of worship, then various staff members started took turns leading us in prayer for various areas of the ministry.

Sometime during the meeting one of the staff got up and shared about training centers in Asia. They shared a PowerPoint presentation of various aspects of life in the centers then a slide or two of prayer requests. We broke up into small groups and started praying. I joined a group of two others and that is when the story I want to share with you came into mind. I had totally forgotten about the incident until we started praying.

My story isn’t really exciting or filled with action. But it turned my time at that particular training center on it’s head. My story starts with trip to Asia I made in 2002. There were about 8 or so of us on the tour and at one of our stops we were taken to a training center. It was a pretty large center and the leader said there were 365 students. “One for everyday of the year, ” the leader said. We were greeted by two long lines of students and we walked down the middle of the lines while the students sang and threw flower petals at us. This was a typical greeting for this area. After having tea, we were taking on a tour of the campus. At one point, we were taken into the boys dormitory. It was a large two story building and we went upstairs to see the sleeping quarters. It was just a big room with  several bunk beds. At one end of the building was a balcony. I walked out on it and looked down and noticed there was a patio underneath us on the bottom floor. There were several young men on the patio. When they saw me they looked up and smiled at me. I thought that was cool.

We came down from the second floor and walked on the patio. The guys were still there gathered together on one end, and we were on the other end where the leader was explaining things to us. I was half listening and half watching the guy on the other side. They were dressed in their very best, black slacks and a white shirt. I kept looking at them and as I did that a thought suddenly came into my mind. it was this: “these guys are going to graduate before long and then be sent out as sheep among wolves. They were going to face danger and hostility that i (I was going to correct the lower case i that I just typed but I thought I would leave it, in honor of Pastor Mark’s recent post) had no clue what it would be like.” Suddenly, these guys were no longer just a bunch of excited young students. They brothers and missionaries whom my wife and I had given up our lives in Colorado for, to come down to Texas and serve these brothers in any way we could. It became a poignant and moving moment for me. I kept looking at them and started praying for them under my breath.

Then one of the young men noticed I was looking at them. I caught his eye and he looked back at me. Suddenly, I couldn’t help my self, I walked across the patio, threw my arms around the young man and said, “praise the Lord! That’s about the only English the young men knew and the only way we could connect. The young man I hugged had a big smile on his face and returned my greeting with, “praise the Lord!” Suddenly, I was surrounded by about 20 young men all smiling,laughing with me and shouting, “praise the Lord!” I shook hands and hugged each one and then our group started to leave, and I had to get going. The rest of the afternoon and evening is a bit of a blur. I couldn’t get the moment out of my head for several days.

Over 13 years have passed since that day. The memory and the poignancy of the moment had long since disappeared from my memory. I don’t really brought it up last night. I do know that after nearly 20 years here, a lot of the excitement and enthusiasm I had has waned. Maybe the Lord gave me these thoughts just to renew my heart a little and remind me about the call He gave me so long ago. I don’t know. What I do know is that it changed my attitude in the prayer meeting and gave me some excitement about praying and being here. Whatever the reason, I was glad it happened and for a few moments at least it brought back some of the excitement I originally had when I came down here so long ago.

Well, that’s my little story. I hope you enjoyed it and found it somewhat meaningful in some small way. You know, we can be missionaries to those around us. Stonepoint is a missions minded church. For both in and around Wills Point and around the world. May we be Jesus’ hands and feet until He returns. Blessings!

Lessons in Selfishness and Forgiveness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve been doing some thinking about the sin of selfishness or self-centeredness lately. I know for myself it is a sin that I am well aware I have and struggle with for years. We all struggle with selfishness to some degree. Some people like me excel in it. I can easily blame my problems on others and blame them for my circumstances. What we don’t see is how many of our problems in life are caused by our own self-centeredness.

I’ve been going through re:generation at Stonepoint and I recently came a lesson called  “Facing Self-centeredness.” In that lesson there was a question asked: “When things don’t go your way, do you blame others, get bitter, angry or hold onto hurt?” When I read that, all I could say was “wow, that’s me.” Over the years here at the ministry I work with, I have transferred to a few different departments. Most of the time I was asked by leadership to pray and consider changing departments. I always told the leaders that I would change if that’s what the ministry wanted. But there was one time that I was just straight out told that I was being transferred. No discussion, no explanation. I was just transferred. In my selfishness, I really didn’t take this too well. My mind started thinking things like, they just didn’t want or need me here any more and I was just being pushed into a corner. For months, I was angry and held a grudge against our leaders who were involved.

This went on for several months until I realized something. Whether I had a right to be angry or not wasn’t the real issue. The main issue is forgiveness. Do you know it says in the Bible that when we don’t forgive others that God doesn’t forgive us? When I really started thinking about that I got scared. Think about it. God forgave us!!!! Don’t just skip over those words. God gave His only Son on the cross who cried: “Father, forgive them;  for they do not know what they are doing.” The God of the universe forgave!!! And here I sit, being angry and bitter at others for my circumstances. That very day, I got with God in prayer and told Him I forgive my leaders for my perceived mistreatment no matter how I feel. For the first time since it started several months ago, I had peace. I also prayed that God would fill me with His Spirit and allow me to love and pray for any and all leaders involved.

Trust me, this is not easy. Especially when you have a life long habit of holding grudges and blaming others for your problems. But how can we live at peace with our brothers and sisters if we don’t forgive each other. God can take the smallest, humblest act of forgiveness and change our lives and attitudes whether our circumstances change or not.

I don’t mean this to be an advertisement for re:gen on Monday nights at Stonepoint, but I really don’t think if I hadn’t taken the step I did three weeks ago to attend class that night, I would be writing this post now. I would also still be angry and holding grudges. I pray that have the grace and strength to continue. I am not even into the heart of the class yet and to leave now, I would lose any gain I have made. Please keep me and my fellow classmates in your prayers. Our God is a miracle working, life-changing God. We need to learn to trust him with every part of our lives. May He give us the grace. God bless you, my friends.