Prayer, Faith and Spiritual Awakening

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today being Sunday, I went to church. It was great as usual as we went over Hebrews 11. I had a little time to relax between church and Journey Group so I watched a movie called Woodlawn. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it. It’s about a high school in Alabama that experienced a miraculous  spiritual awakening back in 1973 and 74 during some turbulent racial times. I really didn’t expect to like this movie as much as I did, but i found it really encouraging. As I watched, I kept asking why can’t something like that happen today. What if Stonepoint, all of a sudden, broke out unexpectedly and spontaneously in a prayer meeting that started on Friday and didn’t end for several days! People just started showing up at the building and prayed. What if we at Gospel for Asia, where I spend most of my time, fell down on our knees in a period of personal confession and repentance and came together as a staff? What would it be like if everyone in the towns of Wills Point and Edgewood became Christian. I think, we would be shocked to the core and would be wondering what happened.

As I watched the movie, one thought I kept having with myself was, “that was then, but now things are different. But then I was sort of chastised. What difference do the times make? Is God bound by time and the changes in society? I think not! What would it take to bring about Spiritual awakening in our lives and our churches. I’m no expert but I think I have a couple of ideas.

First, I think a renewal to real prayer would be needed. I have been experiencing a little of that lately (no bragging here–I have a long way to go). But as I have mentioned in recently blog posts, I have been spending time in confession and repentance. What I have noticed, is that I have a renewed interest to pray in general. One writer I read recently said that a vital prayer life requires the practice of four types of prayer: 1) Praise, thanksgiving and worship, 2) confession and repentance, 3) petition and supplication (personal needs) and 4) intercession (prayer for the needs of others). If you are like me, most of your prayer time is spent in supplication–asking God to help you, your family or your circumstances. But prayer is not just asking for things. God wants our love and devotion. That means time in worship and praise. Please know that doing these four types of prayer is not some kind of a formula or legalism. Prayer should be looked as a relationship with God and not some kind of ritual. If we are in a relationship we don’t just spend time asking the other person for things. The relationship wouldn’t last very long.

Second, there is faith. We talked about faith this morning in church. After church I came home and did a little more study of Hebrews 11. In a commentary, I found a really good definition of faith: “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and  consequences. Faith becomes stronger as we read and obey the Word.” Romans 10:17 says ”so faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Or to use Pastor Brandon’s words, “Feed your faith and your fears starve to death.” Today as we went over Hebrews 11, I became more aware that we do not always see the results of our faith right away. Some people saw results but others just suffered and died. But if they haven’t already, one day they will see the results of everything we did. We need to lose our attitude of “instant gratification” that has become so much a part of our society.

Spiritual awakening–can true prayer and exercising faith really bring spiritual awakening in our lives? Not to over simply things, but I think it can. May I leave you with a couple of challenges to try. First, make a commitment to spend more time in prayer than you do now. I hesitate to say this again because you will think I am getting legalistic. I’m not. That is why I didn’t give a minimum time to add to your prayer life like I have seen some writers do. But the bottom line, is that it takes spending time with God in order to grow in Him. So, commit to as much time in prayer as you can. It takes more than saying I’m going to spend more time, you need to plan it and make a commitment to it. Remember, prayer is a relationship, not a ritual. We need to realize that when we pray, God is here within us. Ask Him to guide you in prayer and to tell you the things you need to pray about.

Last thing. I read another question in a book I started last night. “What would happen in a church (or maybe your place of personal prayer) if Christ were bodily present as a part of the congregation?” How would that change the meeting or prayer time? I think if He showed up we would immediately worship Him, probably as never before. I think we would also have an intense sense of our sinfulness in the presence of a Holy God. We would probably take the commands to love our brothers and sisters more seriously than we do now. That is how we should approach prayer, as if Christ were bodily here with us. Increased real prayer will bring increased faith, and increased faith result in us taking some kind of action. Otherwise it is not really faith.

I pray God will put this on our hearts, starting with mine. I believe that if we just take a step of faith and commit to more prayer, real prayer, that God will do amazing things in our own lives and the life of our church. May God be with you today.

Prayer Meeting and a Bicycle Mishap

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

So, Tuesday night we had prayer meeting at GFA. The weather was decent for the first time so I decided to ride my bicycle for the first time in a long time. Our prayer meeting progressed and about 9PM I started my trip home. Now, I need to tell you my bicycle and I don’t always get along. I started my trip home for the 0.2 miles I ride. I turned into my driveway and hit the brakes. For some reason I guess my bike decided that stop meant stop and the back tire literally lifted off the ground and made me lose my balance. I ended up falling down on my knees and on then on my left side. I didn’t think I was too seriously hurt but laid there for a few minutes praying that my arthritic knees weren’t going to be a problem. I then got up, parked my bike (maybe forever) and walked into the house. I felt pretty good but I noticed some pain on the right side of my stomach. I wondered if I didn’t give myself a hernia or something.

The next day at work was tough as I could barely bend my right leg as I walked. For those of you who may be old enough to remember the old Gunsmoke TV show, I reminded myself of Chester. Poor ole Chester never did get rid of that limp!! So I went home last night thinking this may possibly not be a good thing, necessarily.

So, I tell you all that to tell you this story. Today, I got up really late for me and knew that I would be late for a special morning of prayer we had from 8 to 11:30. I got up slowly and noticed the pain in my groin was gone. I thought maybe I could do my knee exercises that I am supposed to do. Bad idea! The pain in my right side came back though not as bad as yesterday. I got ready and hopped into my car for another 0.2 mile drive. Once I got into the chapel I joined the prayer time that was already in progress. For one of the segments a microphone was passed around for anyone to share things they were thankful about. I decided I was not going to say anything. But as the time went on, I heard stories of people who were going through a lot of pain of some kind. Now, pain is not my friend, and I would be happy anytime it decided to leave me. But I also know, it is a part of life especially at my age. As I listened to people share, I thought of several staff persons I know who are experiencing a lot of physical pain. After a time, I decided I needed to share.

So I put my hand up and soon a microphone was passed to me. I proceeded to tell the story of my rogue bicycle. The story made people laugh which is something I always try to do when it’s appropriate. But it ended with a point that I haven’t mentioned in this blog yet. As I was getting ready this morning, I was talking with God about being in pain. I wasn’t really complaining, but I was telling him, it makes life really tough for us, His people. As I did that, I was struck with a thought, “What about My pain??” (OK, this gets a little weird and really doesn’t happen to me much in my walk with the Lord). It’s almost like I responded, “excuse me???” Again, “what about My pain? Do you ever think what I went through to bring you to Me? If any of you saw the movie The Passion of the Christ that came out a few years ago, you got a glimpse of what Christ went through on our behalf. The physical pain of Christ came through in the movie, I’m not sure if the emotional pain of being separated from the father came through. I thought about this and just said, “Sorry, Lord. You’re right! I spent a little time in confession and repentance.

Back to the prayer time this morning. I ended my speaking time with my manly deep voice that happens to me when I start to get emotional. I told the audience that we all have our struggle with pain of some kind. Whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, we all face it. I then told them about my little episode in the paragraph above about thinking of our Lord’s pain. The bottom line, I told them, is that God is still with us no matter what we go through. Times are hard and will most likely get harder. But our God is always with us.

My little talk with God this morning reminded me of Job. I doubt if any of us have suffered as much as Job. Job got tired and even angry at God. He asked questions. But God never really answered them. Instead, in Job 38-39 God revealed his power and glory to Job. After hearing all that God had to say, Job could only come up with one small response: “Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer you? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5) It is not, by any means, pleasant to suffer pain of any kind. But God understands our pain. It may not seem like it and our prayers may not be answered the way we want. But through humility and submission to Him, there is strength. Job ended up better than he was before everything started to go wrong. That may or may not happen in our case. But through our suffering, the God of all comfort will be there with us to comfort us, so we in turn can comfort others (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). May God give us grace to endure any suffering that comes our way and may we be a comfort to others. Blessings to you my dear friends!

Thoughts and Attitudes of the Heart

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Sometimes ideas for these posts just come to me and flow. Other times I struggle to find words. This is one of those times so please forgive me if it isn’t up to standard. I’ve been thinking lately about some lessons that I have been learning lately. It probably won’t surprise any of you when I tell you that most positive changes in my life lately have come from attending re:generation at Stonepoint. Ok, I guess I just told you, so forget about that last sentence ☺.

For several weeks now we’ve been recalling our sins and sin patterns in our lives. After we figured that out (not) we started a time of confession and repentance. I can tell you one thing I learned was that most of my sin comes from my thought life and attitude about things in my life. To be honest, I just thought these two areas were just my “character” because of the way I was brought up and other outside influences. So I thought I would talk about these two areas a little and see what the Lord brings out.

It should surprise none of you that our thought lives rule our actions. I wouldn’t like to have a recording going that would record all my thoughts, even just for one day. The play back would be excruciating! There are a couple of verses that came to mind about the heart. Just to make it clear, in Jewish thinking the heart was not a physical organ. It was the seat of everything a person is which includes the mind, emotions and will.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick, who can understand it.” That’s not good news. But when we become saved (or have a new life in Christ as we say in re:gen), our heart is renewed by the Spirit of God. I think that is why the New Testament can say in 2 Corinthians, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). In Christ, it is possible to take our thoughts captive. By God’s grace our thoughts can become honoring to Him.

One more thought on this, Proverbs 4:23 states, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I’ve known about this verse for a long time, but only recently has it begun to take root in me. How do we guard our heart? I don’t think there is a formula but I have found that first of all I need to pray for God to make me aware of my thoughts. Secondly, I have found in my life that I had to renew my scripture memorization (Ugh). Recently, I have literally caught myself thinking something that was not God honoring and by repeating a verse over and over, that the thought would actually leave and I would find myself praising God. Finally, I think we need to believe that having the Holy Spirit in us (an amazing thought, by the way), that He will work in us for our benefit and for God’s glory. I think a big part of our problem is that we just don’t believe or trust God to work in our lives. That was certainly true for me.

Attitude. It’s been said that, “attitude is everything.” I don’t think that’s quite true, but attitude is a lot. Some of the main reasons that I came to re:gen was that I was filled with bitterness, anger, lack of love, pride, hateful attitudes and many other things. My attitude had become completely negative and sour. A lot of this came out when I had to sit down and inventory my sins. I can’t understand it, but I thought my negative attitudes were perfectly normal and OK. It was not an easy process to deal with some of my attitudes. First of all, I don’t think we can really change our attitude without prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. As I began to pray, it led to confession to God, and sometimes it took going back to a person and asking for forgiveness. Again, I have found that guarding my heart (Prov. 4:23) plays a key role in what kind of attitude I have any given moment.

I’m sorry if this is not really clear. It is still a growing process within me and has a long way to go. But I have begun to learn that it all starts with honest prayer and trusting and obeying God. He can, and will bring victory over areas of our lives that we have fought against in our own power and lost the battle. God bless you!!

Jesus Among Other Relationships

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Some of you may remember the old James Taylor song, You’ve Got a Friend. Yes, my inner hippie is coming out again. I always liked this song. And in my younger life I actually tried to live out being a friend to people. There’s a verse in the song that went like this, “Hey ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend when people can be so cold. They’ll hurt and desert you. Well they’ll take your soul if you let them, oh yes, don’t you let them.” Far out, right? I guess the gist of song was that while others might let you down, James Taylor never would. He would be a true friend. From what I understand, he wasn’t.

Like I said above, I actually tried to live out this song in my early, hippie atmosphere life. But you know what, I generally failed. Oh, I could be a friend as long as we got along, had good times together, and didn’t get into arguments. But the bottom line was I was selfish and wanted my way. Friends came and went in my life.

I recently learned some things in my life regarding relationships. They are good, and God never met us to go at life alone. One of the first things He did was create a friend, of the same kind, for Adam. Yeah, as much as I enjoy cows, camels and zebras that I see out here on the prairie, they don’t make that good of a friend.

So I turned my attention to people around me. That’s not a bad thing, especially now that I have become a Christian. But there was a time last year that I got so hungry for some kind of a good relationship that I went overboard. I put seeking relationships above seeking a relation with the only true friend I can ever have, Jesus Christ.

Around Christmas last year was a totally dismal time in my life. It was the third anniversary of my wife’s death, I was (and still am) working in a place where there was no one around my same age that I could be close to. Oh yes, the students and younger staff were always around and for some reason some of them liked me (They even call me Uncle Bob). But I knew in my heart that I could not rely on them to break the pattern of isolation and loneliness I had fallen into. (Believe me. I find writing some of these posts very difficult and somewhat too revealing. But I also find out that it benefits some people, so I do it anyway). Anyway, back to my story. I later discovered, partly through Stonepoint re:generation I am in and partly through a book that I received in the mail from a friend, that I was putting relationships ahead of God.

Sometimes we become so blind with trying to fix our lives that we forget the only One who can really fix us. Is there anything wrong with seeking help and comfort from others? Of course not! But there is something wrong in putting your friendships and relationships above our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without realizing I had done this, that is exactly what I was doing. I confessed this to God and asked Him help me change my ways.

I can tell you for a fact, that when you ask God to change you to be more like Him, He will act. The problem, at least for me, was to get to the place where I trusted God to take care of everything in my life. No, my situation hasn’t really changed. I still spend a lot of time in solitude. But I have discovered ways of using solitude to God’s glory rather than turn into myself. What God had changed was my attitude about my situation. That made all the difference.

Now, I fully expect to struggle with this for the rest of my life. I think Satan uses loneliness and depression as a tool to cause us to isolate ourselves. Once we let that happen, we’ve lost the battle and Satan wins again. But I also fully believe that God is trustworthy and has my best on His mind. One of my favorite parables the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7. Jesus, being the good Shepard, would leave all the other sheep under His care, in order to find the one sheep that is lost. Are you that lost sheep? Just before I became a Christian, I bought a little ninety-nine cent book in a drug store by Billy Graham called Peace with God. On the cover was written this verse: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. I can still remember that little book with the rather poor photo of Billy Graham on it. But that was probably the first verse I saw that meant something to me. Soon after that day, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as a Christian Navigator meeting at my college.

Friends, please take time to search your life and ask God if there are any areas you are putting ahead of Him. If He reveals anything to you, please take time to confess and repent of it. A true Christian will be one who seeks to be Holy before God. I believe a first step toward holiness is to confess anything that God reveals that you or I have placed ahead of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Enough said. God bless you all.

Lessons from a Trip to the Coast

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

As many of you know, I recently took a road trip to South Carolina for a few days. It has been a long time since I was on any kind of a road trip and I wasn’t sure how I would like driving that far. But I really enjoyed it. The reason for the trip was two fold. One, to visit my friend Kayla (she likes Kay, but this is my blog post) and the other was to 13902773_10206961896188974_1134276198460748855_nvisit my brother. Seeing Kay was sort of “unique” as we like to say. Kay is a 22 year old college student at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. I sort of “met” her through her sister Melody, who came to Texas and spent a couple of years with us here at the ministry. We became Facebook friends and just enjoyed talking with each other. but we had never really met. So I took advantage of the trip to stop by and meet her.

We spent most of our time in Starbucks just talking for hours. Kay is a young, bright and godly lady and I really enjoyed meeting her. At one of our visits to Starbucks I noticed that Kay started drawing on some of the napkins in the store. She made three of these all together and I snatched them up and kept them. One of them had some designs on it and also contained the following saying: “What God knows about me is more important than what others think about me.” When I read that, it reminded me of a couple of things I have been thinking about and learning in my re:generation class.

The first thing it made me think of is how much God really knows about us. Of course, He know EVERYTHING about us. There is nothing we can hide, there is no place we can hide. Actually, this is a great comfort to me, personally. If God knows me so well, I can be open and honest with Him. I can confess anything. I can come to Him when I am happy, sad, angry or bitter. He will  listen because he knows all about me and loves me anyway. Enough said.

The other thing this little saying makes me thinks about is that I need to stop worrying about what others think about me. God works with us as individuals. While we go through a lot of the same problems here on this earth, we don’t usually handle them the same way. Nor does God deal with me the same way He does someone else. He loves us individually, the way we are. What a glorious God we have!

Do you worry what others think about you? I do at times. It’s pretty common, I think. On the other hand, I look at the lives of others around me and find myself comparing myself to them, usually in a negative way. This is especially true when I look at someone as a greatly spiritual person and I compare my mediocre spiritual life and wish I measured up to them. I can tell you from experience, that is a terrible way to spend your life. I first saw Kay’s drawing, I thought of this verse, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (or, “they are not wise.” KJV) 2 Corinthians 10:12. I haven’t thought of this verse for a long time, but I think Jesus is saying, “don’t look at each other to find your value!!! Find your value by looking at Me.” God’s timing is different with everyone. Over the years, I have seen some new Christians grow almost over night. Others, like Moses, take 40 years. God works with each of us individually. The important thing is to keep growing.

May God give us the grace and courage, to come to Him with everything in our lives and to keep our eyes on Him. God bless you!!

A Little About Stonepoint

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I hesitated to put that out there as the title for this post, but it fits what I want to say. This will probably be my last post for a few weeks as I will be making a short trip to the East coast for a couple of weeks to visit a friend and my brother. If you think about it, please pray for my time with my brother. We are not close, we like each other, but I have gone one way in life and Chuck has gone the other. He is basically “living the good life” and has not necessity for God, Jesus or any of that stuff. I assume this will be my last time to ever see him on this earth, so I would like to talk to him if possible.

Now, about Stonepoint Church…this is not to tout the glories of Stonepoint, but I have a few things to share. In many respects, I am surprised to be here. It will be two years now this coming October (or November-I can’t remember for sure) I arrived on a cool damp morning for the first time and parked my car in the lot. I sat in my car to purposely go in late, and kept asking myself if I really wanted to do this.

See, I had been to many churches and never felt at home in any of them. It is not that there was anything wrong with the churches in themselves. It was probably more that things were more wrong with me. Wherever I went, I always tried to “fit in” and serve. I mostly served because of a need and the church begging for someone to do something, somewhere. I assisted teaching 3 year olds for a couple years. In one church, a little guy bit the snot out of my thigh. I still remember that. The little guy’s mom had just died recently and I guess he was just acting out, trying to figure things out. So my thigh became a target. Some other things I did were I taught Bible study lessons on occasions and led ministry to find homes and jobs for a homeless family at one church. But for some reason, I just had this feeling that I never fit in.

So, back to my first Sunday at Stonepoint. After sitting in my car for about 10 minutes, I saw a herd of cows out back. They were just hanging out and grazing on the nice green grass. I watched them for a while and finally said to myself that the cows feel at rest here so the church must have something going for it. So, with the cow’s encouragement, I got out of my car and slinked in. I don’t remember what the sermon was but I remember the pastor saying that he loved the people but if they just wanted to come and sit for an hour, drink coffee, and go home, that “maybe this was not the church for you.” I looked up from my notes in a bit of a shock and realized that the pastor just mentioned that might be good for people to go to another church. I thought, “Wow! This pastor sounds serous about church; I think I need to come back.” While some of you might think that sounds kind of hard and unloving on the part of the pastor, I did not take it that way. He was encouraging people to take their walk with the Lord in a serious manner. That requires a response on our part both to the Lord and also to the church.

So I came back and over time got involved with the church body. As I have mentioned a few times I felt like a Yankee invading the South. But every time I came I was either encouraged or blessed by what I had heard and by the music. I believed that God was moving in this church like no other I had attended. I believe He still is. In January of this year I took further steps and became involved in a Journey group and a program called re:generation, that is, at it’s core, a discipleship program. Both have been a further blessing.

Stonepoint has several distinctive things that are different to me from other churches I have attended. For one, they recognize that we are all broken people. The important thing is that we have a desire to grow in Christ, not that we are 100% there. Another thing I have noticed is that people really love each other. Just seeing what my Journey Group does to help and encourage people is amazing to me (I have been a beneficiary of their love in very practical ways.) The love and concern is not just for people in the group and the church as a whole, but others in the community who are not necessarily involved with the church.

One more thing that I really like about this church is the way the pastoral leadership has a desire to outreach into the community and beyond. It is refreshing to see that at times the services for a Sunday will be cancelled and the body will gather just to go out in the community and help people, doing civic projects, painting houses or picking up trash on the highway. I also like the attitude not just to have a bigger and better church building. Yes, there is the necessity for more space just because the church is growing and there are needs for various improvements. But there is a minimalist attitude about things.

Stonepoint is not a perfect church. I don’t believe there is such a thing unless the only participants were puppies, who tend to love unconditionally. The church leadership is the first to admit that they are not perfect. But there is a heart for the Lord and to see others come to know and grow in Christ. May God bless you, and I will see you in a couple of weeks, Lord willing.