Stars and Such

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I heard a story about stars from oStars-fixedur worship pastor at church today. The story goes that when he and his family first moved out to the country, they would go outside at night and just look at the stars. They had always lived in the city before and you could not see the stars. But out here, it was different. There were stars and wonders in the sky to look at and be amazed at. But now, they don’t go look at the stars any more like they used to. They have become accustomed to them and take them for granted. The story ended with a plea not to handle our our worship of our Lord that way. We should not take it for granted.

I remember similar experiences when I was younger. When I was about 12, my parents bought me an astronomical telescope. It wasn’t terribly powerful, but it brought a whole new realm into my young life. I especially enjoyed looking at the moon. I could see shadows, craters and mountains. There were times I would just go out in my back yard and lie down and stare up at the night sky. I would see several meteors shoot by as I did this. It fascinated and amazed me! I still have an interest in the universe, but like my worship leader friend, I rarely go out and just look at the stars and see God’s glorious creation, even though I too can see the stars now. Yea for Wills Point! I too, have become accustomed to the stars and take them for granted.

It’s curious how our natural inclination on things is just to become accustomed to them. Even though we have God living in us via the Holy Spirit, we seldom give Him a second thought. We tend to go about our lives by our own ability and ideas. Then when we fail, we wonder why.

This week in my re:generation book we are studying about the God of the Bible who is all-knowing, all-powerful and the all-present creator. Generally, if someone asked me if I see God that way, I would say, “yes, of course.” But then the lesson gets personal. It wants to know if I believe God can restore me. So, we arrive at the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” In mind I say, yes. But my heart always questions my mind. I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about God changing people. Some of the stories are even from people I know. But I keep asking, “will God really change me?”

My answer to the above question, by faith, is yes. God can and will change me! And he can and will change you, too, if we only allow Him to do so. I am convinced that God has the power, the knowledge and the ability to practically and truly change me to be more and more like Him. I won’t try to explain all that now, but let me close this with a few verses of scripture:

Genesis 1:1-In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:16-God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.

Jeremiah 32:17-“Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made he heavens and the earth you Your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too difficult for You,”

God is  for us, not against us. You’ve probably heard that before. But don’t let yourself get accustomed to it. Take time to praise and worship God as the all-powerful God of the universe. Then exercise faith that He has the power and ability to change and make you more like Him. He won’t let you down!! Blessings to all of you!

Is Your Heart Breaking?

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Do you ever wake up in the morning and just feel like your heart is breaking? You may not understand this, but I woke up this morning with just that, a broken heart. It was not my usual thing that I am prone to like, “oh poor me,” or “why can’t I do anything right,” or anything like that. This week has been really hectic and busy but over all I did alright. I could not think of anything that was troubling me. I just woke up thinking about things that break my heart.

Now I admit I am a sensitive dude. Some people around here think too much, but that’s another story. But for some reason when I got up this morning I just hurt for the church in America in general I hurt for the suffering and persecuted Christians around the world and the pains and hurts of individual Christians. I also hurt for all the wrongs that the body of Christ is doing to each other. There seems to be such a lack of true Christian love, grace and unity even within an individual church much less between churches. I know it seems pretty weird to wake up like this, but that is exactly what happened this morning.

But then, another thought crossed my mind. At first I thought that it was weird having these thoughts because there wasn’t really much I could do about them. Yeah, I can pray and should pray, but other than that, what can I do. Then I had another thought, “what about the things you can do something about.” What about disunity in the body? Am I part of the problem? What about loving people who I don’t see eye to eye with? Do I love them? Then even worse, there are some Christians who actually persecute other Christians. Do I pray for them? I don’t mean pray against them, I mean actually pray for them, that God would bless them and so forth. The Bible unapologetically says that we are to do just that. There is a verse that I’ve read many, many times that has just been on my mind a lot lately: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18). Bottom line, I can be, and sometimes am that man!! I am that person who does these things, sometimes without even think I am in the wrong. It’s taken me a long time, but I have finally to believe what this verse says, NOTHING good dwells in my flesh.

I don’t say any of this in from despair or depression. That would have been the case had I written this several months ago. But no more. It stems from a “holy dissatisfaction” with my walk with the Lord. I think I stole that from Paul in Philippians:  Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14). Yes, these last few months have been a bit of a struggle. But I think I have begun to learn at least three positive things that I pray will become a big part of my life. First, we cannot trust our flesh, we need to live and walk in the Spirit. Second, we need to quit letting our sins and shame of our past rule over us. Our past sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. Finally, we need to have a forward look. We need to start looking at ourselves as complete in Christ (Colossians 3:10). Not that we are or ever will be perfect on this earth. But to realize we have everything we need from Christ to have victory over our sinful patterns. May God help us to become the people He desires in His

 

 

God’s Army

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

At our Tuesday night prayer meeting recently I was asked to share a segment to pray for the Maldives Islands. I am somewhat familiar with the islands as we had a small work there several years ago. As part of my sharing, I wanted to have a verse to read to the staff that would be appropriate. As I was reading my Bible one morning before the prayer meeting I came across 1 Samuel 14:6:

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few (italics mine).

I have read this passage before, and I wasn’t sure it was appropriate for the segment or not, but the verse caught my attention for some reason. You may be familiar with the story. The Philistines were harassing the Israelites when Jonathan, King Saul’s son, got this bright idea. He and his armor bearer should climb up to the other side of the valley and attack the Philistines, single handed. I think if I were the armor bearer I would have not been too excited, but look at what he said: “Do all that is in your heart; …I am with you according to your desire.” The passage does not say that Jonathan actually prayed about this (but I suspect he did). But he did come up with a plan that if the Philistines called them to come up to them that would be a sign that the LORD was with them. That is exactly what happened! The passage goes on to say that Jonathan went up with the armor bearer and Jonathan struck the Philistines and that the armor bearer helped kill some of them after they fell.  I guess you could call him the “clean-up” hitter. The passage says the “first slaughter” was about 20 men. It says nothing about a second slaughter, but we can infer from the text that there was one.

Now, a little information about the Maldives. As far as Christian work goes, there is very little going on. The Maldives is said to be one of the most unevangelized places on earth. There are strict laws that anyone who professes anything except Islam is imprisoned and most likely tortured. Years ago, we had one missionary who felt a burden to go to the Maldives. He got into the country through his wife, as she was a nurse. So the country let them in with a work visa for her. The wife went to work and our brother began his secret work. But in a short while, he was turned in for preaching the Gospel and arrested. When we heard the news we were really thinking he would imprisoned for 20 years or so. But, by God’s grace they decided to deport the family instead. Our missionary was never able to go back.

So, last Tuesday night we prayed for the Maldives that our Lord would bring some kind of a breakthrough. I believe that there are some Christians in the Maldives but they are either in prison or in hiding. Indeed, God’s army in the Maldives is small. But who knows what could be done by one soldier who is empowered and protected by God. God doesn’t need a large army. He has shown that time and time again. Look at Gideon. He had a pretty good army of 22,000 men, yet God pared it down to just 300 and they won the victory. Jesus was never interested in a lot of followers, even though for a while there were big crowds who followed. But when the going got tough as we say, the crowds dwindled down. In the end he had just 11 men left and told them to start a new movement. That movement is still here today and the cost of it has been much blood and sacrifice.

What about you and me? Can God use one man or woman to reach out to the many? Of course He can. What about Stonepoint? Can Stonepoint be used mightily by the Lord to not only reach people in Van Zandt and Kaufman Counties but around the world? The answer again, is YES. But there is a cost. It will cost time and energy. It will mean death to our flesh. It will mean sacrifice. It will mean walking a narrow road that many, if not most Christians do not choose to walk. I use the word “choose” purposely, because that’s exactly what it is, a choice. Stonepoint can be used of God to be a light and an example to the rest of the Body of Christ, if we will only trust God and surrender ourselves to Him for the purpose of reaching the lost.

Dear Lord Jesus, make it so! Make us a people who sacrifice in order to reach those who need to know You as their Lord and Savior!

A Trip to the Paint Store

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

This spring we are painting the exterior of our house.

The front part of our house dates to the 1930s and has typical issues of a structure of that age. A quick look reveals ‘here’s where some termite damage was, here’s where even a lousy modern homebuilder would put at least some insulation in the walls’…that sort of thing.

FullSizeRenderOne of the missions of painting is to cover up some of those flaws. We know we’re not going to make it look like a pristine new home, but we can make it presentable and pretty in an ‘old house that’s not historic and has a bunch of nasty chickens running around’ sort of way.

My wife got an e-mail coupon from Sherwin-Williams offering us a discount on paint since we have been loyal customers and spent roughly a million dollars with them over the past 24 years doing paint projects in the three houses we’ve owned over that time.

The trip to the paint store got me thinking about covering things up and how we do the same thing in our lives.

We cover up our hurts, our bad habits and the hang ups that separate us from God and each other, and for some reason, it seems to be accentuated when we walk through the doors of a church building, especially by those of us who grew up in church. We feel we need to hang a sign around our necks that says “i’m okay” or “don’t ask.”

A large part of painting is prep work—caulking, scraping, power washing, taping around places you don’t want that color of paint, or any paint to go—that’s the part of painting that we all seem to dread. All that tedious stuff won’t be visible like a coat of fresh, different colored paint will, but without it, the new paint is just a waste of time and money.

So, when you come before God, are you going to hope that a fresh coat of paint is enough? Have you said a ‘sinner’s prayer’ and pretty much stayed the same since?

Have you given Him the authority to scrape away the layers of junk that life has built up on your walls, or have you just tried to slap a layer of “Christian” on top of it? Have you done the necessary prep work (dying to your selfish desires, laying aside old habits, quit hanging around the people who drag you down) so you can allow God to complete the good work He began in you? Have you realized that those things are extremely hard to do and that some barriers are impossible to break down on your own and thought about coming to re:generation on Monday nights, where you can meet other people who are admitting their brokenness and walking alongside each other and spurring each other on to a greater relationship with Christ?

At Stonepoint, we want to be a church where people aren’t afraid to talk about their junk, and are willing to admit that a fresh coat of paint isn’t going to help the messes that their lives are in.

Don’t try to hide your flaws, admit them to God and to Christ-following friend who will hold you accountable, and let’s start repairing what’s broken instead of covering it up.

Peace With God

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I read Romans chapter 5 today. It’s one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. It talks about another big word that we banter around in our Christian circles. That word is, JUSTIFICATION. It’s a rich full word with a lot of meaning. I’d like to talk a little about it in the post.

When justification is mentioned, I often hear it defined with words like, “just as if I had never sinned.” Surely, that is a part of it, but there is so much more. Here is a definition of justification I came across today. “Justification means that God declares us righteous, which is a declaration of peace, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross” (Wiersbe). What justification means is that we have a guarantee of Heaven because of the act of God to justify the sinner through the work of Christ on the cross. As great as that is in itself, there is more to what it means to be Justified by Christ.

Romans 5:1-11 mentions several blessings that we have as a result of our justification, right now. Here they are:

1. Peace with God (v1a)-Before we were saved, we were actually at war with God. But all that changed at salvation. The Christian is at peace with God, whether we believe or feel it or not.

2. Access to God (v2a)-Heb. 4:16 says, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Since we are seen as righteous, we can come to God, any
time or any place.

3. A glorious hope (v2b)-we have a future glory to look forward to. A day is coming when we will share in Christ’s glory.

4. Christian character (v3-4)-we do not escape trials because of our justification. Trials will always come as long as we are in this world. But our trials can actually make us more like our Lord. Tribulation works patience, patience works proven character and proven character works hope.

5. God’s love within (v5-8)-we have God’s love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We do not just have God’s love. The passage says that Christ’s love was poured out to us. His love toward us is greater than we can ever imagine.

6. Salvation from future wrath (v9-10)-“having been justified, we shall be saved from the wrath to come….” We all have tribulation while we are here on this earth. But a wrath is coming that is far worse than anything we have or will experience.

7. Reconciliation with God (v11)-reconciliation means we have been brought back into fellowship with God. The true Christian will always have access to that fellowship and will never lose it.

There is so much to being justified by Christ. It occurred apart from anything we could make happen through obedience to the law or by good works. When Christ justified us, it took care of our past, present and future. Our sins were forgiven and we counted as righteous in the sight of God. We can go through this life and become more like our Lord. And we will one day see the glorified Christ. What a glorious Savior and what a great salvation we have. Lord, may we come to fully understand Your great work of justification in our lives! Amen.

The Shadow of Martyrdom

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
“My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of communist bandits. Whether we will be released or not no one knows. May God be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20″

These words were penned by John Stam who, along with his wife Betty, were martyred for their faith in China in 1934. They were serving the Lord in an isolated village when Communist bandits broke into their home and arrested them. On December 8, 1934 both John and Betty were executed by the bandits. The night before, Betty hid their small baby in a sleeping bag in the hopes that she might be spared. By God’s grace, the bandits forgot about the baby and she was found alive two days later by a Chinese Christian who managed to rescue her.

I tell you this story because I came across some notes today that I had taken about two years ago from a book named True Discipleship by William MacDonald. One of the chapters in the book was titled “The Shadow of Martyrdom.” I am not sure why this struck a cord with me today but I thought I should write about it,

In True Discipleship, Mr. MacDonald gives a few descriptions of the attitude one must have about their life if we are to follow Christ closely. Credit for the following goes to the author, although I have have paraphrased and added some thoughts to them for clarity:

First, our lives do not belong to us anyway. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Our life is not our own, it belongs to Christ. We were bought for a price like a slave. Only the price wasn’t money, it was Christ’s blood. Our life is His.

Second, the author says, we are going to die anyway if Christ does not return for us first. So, it seems it would be better to die this way rather than to be just another statistic. I think we need to adopt the attitude of not hanging on to our lives too dearly. Jim Elliot, another martyred missionary said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Third, logic dictates if Christ gave up His life for us, we should be willing to give up ours for Him. No sacrifice should be too much for Him.

Finally, through abandoning our lives to Christ, eternal blessing might flow to those around us. Today at church, Pastor Brandon asked people who were brought to eternal life during the five year life of Stonepoint to stand up. A good part of the 8:30 service participants stood up. Basically, the people were brought to eternity through the church. Now take that and apply it to our own lives and ask a question: What are the souls of men and women worth to us?

To be honest, I don’t know how many of you who see this post will take time to read it. The word martyrdom frightens us. But I think if we could live our lives in total abandonment to Christ, we would be much better off than we are now. I think the church, our families and we ourselves would be strengthened and have a more powerful and Spirit filled life for the Lord if we could live in the shadow of martyrdom. May God be with us to love and serve Him to the end, however He may choose. God bless you!