Making Amends

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, let me just say this blog may be a little more personal than a lot of them. I do write personal blogs at times but this could well be “over the top.” But it’s something that is on my heart.

I’d like to talk about making amends with people we may have sinned against. In re:gen, for several weeks now, we have been going over forgiveness and making amends. When we wrapped up Step 8-forgiveness, I told our leader that I really enjoyed that aspect of things, because I have actually been working on that since I began re:gen back in February. One of the main reasons I put myself in re:gen, or maybe I should put it, that God led me to Regen was that I had a great ability to hold onto offenses done to me. Some of these went back to my early childhood and I was still holding on to them. Then we started Step 9-Amends. I told our leader that I was not sure how much I would get out of this section, because I had been working on making amends with people already and wasn’t sure there were any more people I really had to amend relationships with. But I also said that perhaps God would bring some to mind.

As I started going through the first week of Amends (two more weeks left—Agh!!!) I realized it was more than just confessing sins to someone. That’s important but attempting to amend a relationship adds another dimension. Basically when we make amends with someone, we take responsibility for our sin. True, the other person may have sinned also, but when making amends, we are only concerned with our part of things. Whether the other party forgives me, or wants to make amends with me, doesn’t matter. The important thing here is that we make the attempt to repair a relationship in obedience to our Lord. The outcome may or may not be what we think, but that doesn’t matter. Obeying the Lord is what counts.

So, last night and today I sat down and reviewed my “inventory” (oh, that inventory!) to see if there was anyone that I needed to make amends with. There was one person I already had on my mind, but I put this person in the category of “maybe later.” I thought of my parents and my wife that I would like to make amends with, but they have all died. Our leader mentioned that in that case, sometime it is good to write a letter to them. I have, and do write letters to God quite often but never really thought about doing this.

So, my assignment today was to find three people or entities on my inventory that I needed to make amends with. Two of them were supposed to be amends that I could make fairly soon and one was supposed to be a more difficult or perhaps unclear if I needed to make amends at all. For the two easy ones I picked my wife and a fellow employee here at the office. Then I should pick one to work on today.

So, chose my wife and started my letter to her. Some of you may find this a little strange, but for me it was a good experience. I started the letter by recalling some of the sins I had committed against God and her like not loving my wife according to Ephesians 6 and putting myself first most of the time. As I was writing I had a set of earphones on listening to YouTube (real spiritual, right). A song came on called Someone Like You by a singer named Van Morrison. I have always loved song and I even dedicated it to my wife as my song to her. She despised Van’s music by the way, until I told her that I dedicated this song to her. After that, she liked this song at least. We used to laugh about that. As I continued the letter I could feel a lump in my throat as I recalled some of the sinful and unkind things I did to my wife. I also recalled our last couple of months together where she told me that I was the best husband she could have ever had. I truly had a hard time accepting that. But that day was also kind of a watershed day in our marriage. I must admit, it was a good and freeing experience to do this letter.

Now for the really strange part, that I believe was the Lord. As I was wrapping up my letter to my wife, the second person I wanted to talk with stopped my desk to drop off some work for me. That was a bit strange for a couple of reasons. First, was that I had not really planned on talking with this person today. Secondly, earlier in the day I told God that when the person comes by my desk the next time, I would ask if I could talk to them. Not expecting that to be today, the person showed up. I asked if I could talk with them some time and the other person said “sure, let’s do it now.”  Not really knowing what to do, I resigned myself to the fact that maybe this was God’s time for this talk. So we went into one to the conference rooms.  I had just read in my re:gen book today we should not let fear stop us from doing God’s will. And that a healthy fear actually draws us closer to God to depend on Him. So, I put aside my fears and we had our talk even though I did not know how this person was going to react. I told them of my sin toward them and asked for forgiveness and that I wanted to make amends as much as possible. We knew that the relationship, if restored, would not be like it was previously. The person took things really well. By God’s some restoration took place I believe we can now work comfortably together whereas before it was somewhat awkward. I couldn’t help but to believe that the Lord worked this out according to His time and design.

I believe I will have more of these amending conversations to do and I am not sure they will go as well as this one did. But I do know that we are called to live as one body with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I can see in my heart the importance of being at peace as much as possible with our brothers and sisters. If we can’t love one another in the Lord, how can we possibly expect the world to know and realize that our Lord is real? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn13:35). This reminds me of the old Christian song from the 70’s; They Will Know We are Christians by our Love. Forgiveness and amends is not an easy path. But it is one that we need to pursue with our hearts. May God give us the grace to do this.

The Great I Am

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I don’t know about you, but I have always been intrigued about how God introduced Himself to Moses. When God called Moses to go back to Egypt to bring the people out of that land, Moses balked. The first thing he asked was who are you or what kind of god are you. he knew the people would be asking. God answered with a simple, “I AM WHO I AM.” For years, every time I read that, I’m like, “what kind of an answer is that!!” It turns out, it’s a great answer. When God introduced Himself, he used a word that simply means, “to be.” To the orthodox Jew, it is the secret, unspeakable name for GOD and they use the four letters, YHWH. in our modern Bibles we get the word Jehovah or some translations use the word LORD in all capital letters for this name. In any event, the name proclaims YHWH as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal and sovereign. I kind of doubt if Moses had anything to add to that.

I seems like I read in one of the e-bulletins we received recently that Pastor Brandon is going to be starting a series on the “I Am” statements of Jesus. If so, If I have this right, I’m excited because the more I learn about them,  the more I understand that they point to the deity of Jesus. Seven times in the book of John, Jesus used a completed “I AM” statement to talk about Himself. In doing so, he basically said, I am God in the flesh. No wonder the Pharisees got so angry and looked for opportunities to kill him. After all, this was heresy. Let’s look at a couple of these.

The first first “I AM” statement is found in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus was saying that by coming to Him, a person would have all his spiritual hunger and thirst totally quenched. By using I AM He was claiming that he was equal with YHWH or Jehovah, God Himself.

Another time, Jesus said “I am the the good shepherd.” (John 10:11 & 14). Again, He compared Himself to YHWH. The ordinary shepherd usually didn’t lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus, as we all know would later lay down His life for His flock. A hired person would have none of that. In verse 14, Jesus again called himself the good shepherd. But this time he talks about the relationship He has with his sheep. He knows His sheep and they know Him. Jesus had an intimate relationship with His sheep.

So, how does all this apply to our lives. I’d like to close this with a couple of thoughts. First, Jesus had no qualms in talking about His deity. He told the people often, I and the Father are one. Or said in today’s language, I am God. But so many of the people had their hearts closed to this. We need to take this knowledge and put it into our hearts, not just our heads. We need to realize who we worship. We worship the one true God who is totally separated from us, but who also reaches down to sinful people like me and you! What a Savior we have!

Not only that, But God wants to have a close and intimate relationship with us. My question to myself is, “do I want to have an intimate relationship with Him?” Our God is not small, yet we often treat Him as if He is. May God enlarge our hearts to realize that we love and serve the Holy and sovereign God of the universe, but one who, by His own sovereign choice, reaches down to sinful people like us and draws us into a close relationship with Him. May we fall humbly before him in worship and praise and not harden our hearts. May God bless and encourage your heart today!

A Week of Contemplation

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I know the week isn’t over yet, but so far, this has been a week of thinking about things. First of all I have been thinking about blog writing. Basically, I feel I am in the valley of dry bones. My mind is tired and distracted with many things. But God had Ezekiel prophesy to the dry bones and they came to life. So, maybe that will happen to me ☺. But in the meantime, I’m still thinking.

We had a staff meeting this morning with our director, KP Yohannan. It was a little hard for me to follow (part of my distractions, I guess) but at the end of his talk he mentioned several items of application from the book of Philippians. Here are a few of them: 1. “we should fight for the unity of the saints.” The Body of Christ needs unity. “What are we doing to bring about that unity?” 2. “be humble. Let others pull you down.” I thought that was rather a strange statement, but when you think about it, it’s not. I believe this comes from Philippians 2:3-11. It says we should consider others more important than ourselves. We don’t necessarily like that. But that’s what it says. Further, the passage goes on to talk about how Jesus emptied Himself of his Godly privileges for our benefit, died on the cross, but then was exalted by God. To me, this means we need to die in order to live and be pleasing to God. Maybe not die in the physical sense but certainly in the spiritual sense.

I’ve heard that God has an upside down kingdom. The way down, is the way up. This passage certainly supports that. God really loves it when His people are humble. I could go on talking about this for hours. But for now, let me give you one more statement from the message this morning. 3. “Don’t look back, look forward.” This spoke to me because I have spent a good part of my life looking back. I look back at my life to figure out why I am the way I am. I look back at times of sin and the resulting guilt from it. I look back at unintentional mistakes and feel really dumb, and there is more but I’ll stop here. But nothing I do when I look back helps me grow in Christ. I’ve learned a lot about that from re:generation (OK there was another spontaneous plug for re:gen). I like the thought from Hebrews 12:1, in this regard, of laying aside every weight that encumbers our spiritual progress in the Lord and run what is left of my life with endurance. These are all things for me to think about and Lord willing, apply to my life.

One more strange event and thought for today. At the end of the staff meeting meeting this morning, one of our director’s secretaries brought a nicely wrapped package up to Dr. KP. I knew exactly was. I had a hint last night because I missed our Tuesday night prayer meeting, but I was streaming it from home. Last night, the first thing Dr. KP did when he got up to talk was to ask, “Where’s Bob?” My heart sank, as I was literally getting ready to go to bed out of exhaustion. He made a short announcement that I had been here for 20 years. So I wondered if they would try again after the staff meeting today. THEY DID!! So, Dr. KP got the package and called out my name to come up front. The funny thing about this whole thing was that my 20th anniversary was in March of this year. I emailed our HR department and asked them not to do anything in remembrance of that. My only reason for that was that I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. They graciously did that and my anniversary passed without any fanfare or recognition. So I don’t know where this event today came from. But I walked up front from the back row where I was sitting and received my photo book. Dr. KP said some nice things about me and overall it was very nice. But at the same time it was a bit difficult because the Lord has been working in me on the area of pride and being the not center of attention. I’m glad to say that I did not become prideful nor did I glory in the attention. But it was a nice thing they did, nonetheless.

So for now, I will go on contemplating. I was asked a question today by Pastor Brandon that I need to answer in a week or two that really has me thinking and contemplating. Maybe I can tell you about that later. We will need to see. So, thank you for reading my blog today. Hopefully, the next one will be more substantive. My hope for these blogs is that they will contain something for all of us to bring all of us closer to the Lord! Blessings!

Fit to Fight

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Does the title of this blog post sound familiar? It should. It’s from a 7 week series that Pastor Brandon and others taught early this year. I remember it well because of some Holy Spirit moments that occurred during the series. But this blog is about a person who was fit to fight. I’ll explain soon but first I want to let you know how this idea for the blog came about.

When I woke up this morning, I was not “fit to fight.” More truthful, it took a lot of energy just to get up. Yesterday (September 15) was a bad day for some reason. I left work thinking that I’m really no good around G.F.A. I thought, “They can easily find somebody to replace me. Maybe it’s time I just hang it up. After all, I’ve worked the equivalent of two 20 year careers in my life.” Yeah, there was a little self-pity in this, but that wasn’t the main issue. I just felt really tired, burned out, useless and yes, having a bit of self-pity going on. But I got up finally and dragged myself into work arriving about 8:30. Morning Prayer was nearly over and I was going to just go upstairs to my office. But something told me to go to prayer. So I parked my car as close to the chapel as I could and walked in. I sat in the very back of the chapel with another staff member and as I watched the prayer meeting, I was wondering why I felt the urge to come. Nothing was really going on. Then it was nearly time to end prayer meeting and one of the leaders walked up to the podium. I thought he was going to just close in prayer. But instead he did a short devotional which is usually done much earlier in the prayer meeting. In fact the leader even mentioned that things were turned around this morning. I would not have been at the meeting if the devotional was given at its normal time.

His devotional was on Numbers 13-14. Now this has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible, mostly because of one verse that talked about Caleb. Caleb is also one of my favorite characters because of Numbers 14:24, “but My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” That verse has always intrigued and excited me. I first became aware of it in 2002 when I was in India. I was actually able to teach some of our trainees on it that year and have been able to teach on it again twice more since then. Every time I have taught on it, the response from the Bible school leaders and the trainees was one of excitement and I received many “praise the Lord!” from the trainees. (In India, we usually have to teach through an interpreter. “Praise the Lord” is one phrase that all the trainees can say in English and it is always accompanied by a big smile of thanksgiving and gratefulness.

So, why does this excite me so much? I need to be short here because of space limitation. Caleb was not a major Bible character. He was one of 12 spies who went to spy out the land before the Israelites were supposed to enter in and take over. But as you probably know, 10 of the 12 spies came back with a “negative report” and filled the hearts of the people with fear. Only Joshua and Caleb had a different opinion of things. Then God singled out Caleb and said that he had “a different spirit and followed God fully.” There are a few things about Caleb’s different spirit that I would like to mention. First, the Bible says he followed God fully with a full heart. Another way to say that is that he was not double-minded. Caleb trusted God. God had said the land would be inhabited by the Israelites and that was good enough. Caleb’s attitude was, God said it, let’s go for it! Second, Caleb had courage to stand alone and go against the crowd. He saw the same things the rest of the spies saw. He saw the giant and the high walls of the cities. But rather than fearing, he saw through faith that the land was already conquered. This reminds me of Hebrews 11:10 that says of Abraham, “for he was looking for the city which has foundations whose architect and builder was the Lord.” Caleb had a spirit to believe God for things that seemed impossible and that other people just could not see. Third, He did not rebel against God. He and Joshua begged the people not to rebel. They said that if the Lord was pleased with them, the inhabitants of the land would be their prey (see 14:9). Another way of saying this in our vernacular is, “we will have them for lunch!” But Joshua and Caleb were over ruled and nearly killed for their stance.

So what was Caleb’s end? He fought the enemy for 40 years but in the end, he was given his inheritance in the land just as God had promised. Caleb was 40 years old when all this started.  He went through the years of wilderness wanderings along with the rest of the people. He fought along with the new generation that went into the land. By the time Caleb received his inheritance, he was 80 years old. He said that he was as fit at 80 as he was when he was 40.

Here was a man who was fit to fight. Not just because he had a long life and was healthy, but because he had a different spirit and followed God fully. My prayer for us is that we will be known as a people who have a “different spirit and follow God fully.” What will that look like? It will be different for all of us. But I do believe it will require courage, faith and following Christ with all our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). And finally, it will take sacrifice. I fully believe that we need to be a sacrificial people if we are going to walk with God. You can’t fully follow something without sacrificing something else. I.e. you can’t become an Olympic athlete and eat a large stuff crust pizza every night for dinner. One or the other has to go. It is the same in the spiritual realm. May God humble us and show us the way to have a different spirit.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I try to write these posts about what the Lord is showing me at the time. That isn’t always easy as there are times that the Lord just seems quiet. But for this post the Lord seems to be working me in the area of forgiveness. We all know that God forgives our sins and we could quote verses to back that. First John 1:9 and Psalm 103:12 immediately come to my mind. But I would like to talk a little about another aspect of forgiveness that I have been learning about right now. In re:generation, we have been going through a series on forgiveness. But this section is talking, not about how God forgives us our sins, but the necessity for us to forgive others who have sinned against or hurt us in some way. That’s a whole different story.

When we started this section, I had no problem knowing that this was one of my weak areas. I can go back to my childhood, over 60 years ago, and remember things done to me by others that hurt me. I also know that I am good at holding grudges against people. I have actually been working on some of this as it came up in past lessons in re:generation. But this current round has been totally different. I’d like to share a couple of quotes from our workbook that spoke to me recently:

“Without forgiveness, you will never experience the peace, unity or love God intended for relationships. Unforgiveness traps you in a cycle of pain fueled by hurts of the past and fear of the future.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.” (Stormie Omartian).

Both these quotes along with a reminder from what we commonly call The Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12)” really spoke to me this week. This verse seems to assume that we have already forgiven our debtors. Unfortunately, for me and probably for many of us, that is may not always be true.

So, what do I do with this? Well, with the guidance of our workbook, I have been doing a few things that I have found very helpful to me in this area. First and foremost, I prayed for God’s guidance to show me exactly who I needed to forgive. I prayed that I would not hold back and obey whatever God showed me. Second, I reviewed my life and wrote down people who have sinned against me. I was already aware of some of the people, but as I prayed the Lord brought others to mind that I hadn’t even thought of. That wasn’t too exciting for me. I felt rather ashamed that God even revealed more that I had already thought of. The next things, was that I started going through the list and telling God that I forgive them for whatever it was. My workbook suggested that I surrender my “rights” for apologies, paybacks, and bitterness or using this to my advantage (that last one is something I had never thought about. It seemed a little warped to think that I would do such a thing). Anyway, I started doing this for each person naming the specific infraction that I believed happened. I still have more to go through because I postponed dinner to work on this but part way through I noticed I was getting a little shaky. So I decided I better stop and eat something.

I don’t want to overplay this, but I have been experiencing a change in my heart over the last couple of months. By God’s grace, I have been more calm and feeling the peace of God. There is a difference between the peace with God and the peace of God. Romans 5:1 says, we have all experienced peace with God because of our justification through Christ. But the peace of God comes through a life of trusting Him, prayer, thanksgiving, and surrender to His will (see Philippians 4:6-7). It is difficult to experience this peace if you are holding things against your brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, I would encourage us to think about these things. Some harms done to us by others who we are supposed to be able to trust are difficult to get over. But we need to forgive them. In all honesty, when we don’t forgive them, we still have our hurts and bitterness while the offender has most likely gone on with their life and not bothered by it at all. But I would encourage us to forgive and leave any justice or vengeance to God. He will take care of it in His time and in His way.

In closing I pray, if you are like me and hold on to hurts, that you take time to pray and think about these things. Give it up. Holding on to past hurts is just not worth it and it holds us back from growing in the Lord. For those of you who read this post, I thank you and pray you will find it helpful to you in your walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Be at Peace!!

A Morning at Stonepoint

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve been sitting here today off and on, trying to write something. Not because I have to, but because I want to. But the words, aren’t coming very readily. All I can really think of is a couple of prayers I wrote this morning after hearing the sermon today at church. I found today’s message to be particular meaningful to me today. Not in a powerful, lightning bolt kind of way. But more in a quiet and humbling way. But I can say my heart was moved mightily. So, when I got home this morning, I sat down and wrote out a prayer to God. I often do this now because when I try to verbalize my prayer times, my mind just roams all over the place and my prayers become mindless jabber. I really despise it when that happens. So, below is a bit of confession that came out of today’s message at Stonepoint.

First, I was struck by pastor’s comments about facing fears and wanting to hang around here just a little longer. I think I talked this some in my last blog. Our director at GFA, Brother KP once told us “not to hold on to our lives too tightly.” For 20 years now I have been hearing reports about the sufferings and sometimes death of some of our missionaries on the field. I’ve always wondered if I was faced with what our missionaries are faced with,  if I would have the faith and the courage they had. Today, I learned that God has our times, mine and yours, in his Hands. My prayer and confession this morning was to confess my fears in this order and to surrender my life, and death, anew to God There is nothing greater than being in God’s presence.

Second, I had to confess my fear of man when it comes to sharing my faith. Yes, I have done that on occasions, But mostly, I have a fear in this area. There really isn’t much I need to say about this. It is just one of my fears and I can only ask God to change this.

Third. The third area I thought about today after the message was pride. I could go on for pages on this, but hopefully, I won’t. I continually struggle with wanting to feel useful, to be known as a good teacher, and to have an impact on people’s lives. I guess in some sense there is nothing wrong with that, depending on the motivation. As I said, it would take pages to go through what God has brought me through in this area over the past year. As I look back on it, I find a lot of things that have happened to me recently are a result of God stripping away layers of pride from my life. It has been a painful and agonizing process. I confessed all of this today and asked God to keep breaking me. Yesterday, I wrote a personal mission statement for myself (something I needed to do for re:gen). Part of it stated “To love the LORD with all my heart, soul and mind and to love others more than myself. To live humbly before God.” This is taken from Matthew 22:37-39 and Philippians 2:3-4.

Finally, making leaders groan. I have never really thought of this before today. How much have I made pastors and leaders grown because of my attitude and actions. God has placed some of us in the body as leaders and some as followers. From my early years as a Christ follower, I have always told myself that I just want to be a true servant of God. But down deep, I have these secret desires to be a leader and to be noticed for my contributions. (It is a bit shameful to talk about this). I believe, by God’s grace, that He may be bringing me back to my original thoughts from my early days, to be a servant. May I just state what Pastor Brandon said about this area today, “If you have said demeaning things about any pastor or leader, you need to repent.” I needed to repent today.

So, that was my day. Not really upbeat or joyful, but I thank God for making me think, or re-think about some of these things. May God give us the grace to be His servants and truly serve others, in and out of the Body. God bless you!

Trusting God and His Guidance

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I came across another passage in Proverbs that has been staying with me lately. I’m not sure how it started but I wrote the verse on an index card and started memorizing and meditating on it. Actually I had memorized this verse when I was a young Christian many years ago. I was good at memorizing scripture in those days. But I just left it at memorization and didn’t really think about the deeper meaning of a the verses I memorized. I just memorized as many verses as I could like some kind of a project. That wasn’t bad, but it is only now I am starting to rethink about some of the verses. So, here goes. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

For some reason, this passage has been on my mind and thoughts since I started re-memorizing it a few days ago. Then this morning I woke up from a weird dream. Something about losing my car in a parking lot in downtown Denver where I worked so many years ago. I don’t know if the dream has anything to do with this post, except that I woke really disturbed about it. Then I started thinking all kinds of thoughts about what is going to happen in the future for me. Now, most of you aren’t here yet, but I’m 69 years old, and it’s pretty common for me to be thinking of my short time here and what will happen. Anyway, I started thinking, and fearing about things like what I am going to do when I lose my independence. What if the Lord keeps me around here long enough that I need to go into a nursing home, etc. I don’t know why, but I was pretty fearful of these thoughts. But, I did the right thing and prayed about this and told God he was still in control of my future. As I got to the office about 8:30, I walked up to my work area. Then I started walking down to our break room to make coffee for the gang. As I walked by one area I saw this big white board with a verse written on it. Yep! You guessed it. It was Proverb 3:5-6. I thought, “What is going on with me concerning this passage?”

So, that’s a long introduction into what I want to say. Verse 5 of Proverbs 3 talks about trusting the Lord. Spiritually speaking, a dictionary is a poor source for looking up the meaning of words. But the Oxford dictionary says that trust is, “to have confidence in something, or to believe in someone.” But the spiritual meaning here is much deeper. The word TRUST itself means, “To lie helpless, facedown.” I like that. It means we are empty of any self-will and have put our trust totally in the LORD GOD. Trust is a total submission to God and His will!! That is a scary thought for a lot of us. We are Americans! We are used to doing our own thing, making our own plans and living our own lives. Trusting God in this way is a bit foreign to us. But, there is no other way for a Christian. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” God wants our hearts. And our hearts need to be in submission to Him and His will.

Verse 5 goes on to say, “And do not lean on your own understanding.” So the whole thought is trust God and don’t trust yourself. But, in our flesh, we like to have things our own way. Many of us have lived a lot of our lives trying to please ourselves and make ourselves happy. What has that accomplished for us other than a lifetime of a broken life and broken people around us? It is impossible to be submitted totally to God and yet try to live our life to please ourselves.

Finally, verse 6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I’ve heard people say, and have said myself, things like, “I don’t know what God’s will for me is for me. How do I find His will?” I’ve asked that of the young students that I get to know here. While I mean well, I’m not sure if it is the best questions I can ask. Verse 6, gives us a clue to know God’s will. It is to acknowledge Him in every aspect of our lives. I believe that means our lives need to be totally surrendered to Him He must have all of us. Making plans for our lives is not a wrong thing. But when we make plans, do we ask God to show if our plan is His will for us? This brings one more thing to bear. According to this passage, how does God show or reveal His will for us? I don’t think we can ever say that there is one given way how God reveals something to us. Of course the most basic way is the Word of God. But He can also use Godly advice, circumstances, spiritual peace or any combination of these things. The important thing is that we keep asking God for His guidance in our plans. I heard once a long time ago, that for things that are not revealed in scripture regarding God’s will for us, that what we should do is act on whatever we think God is leading us. We should then move in that direction, trusting God either to make that happen or to block it.

I just spoke to a young lady yesterday from our School of Discipleship. She will be graduating in December and moving on with her life. So I asked my standard question, “What do you plan to do next.” She indicated that she wanted to go to China, teach English and use every opportunity she can to witness Christ. Now I knew a couple of things about this young lady. I knew that since age 12 she had been studying Chinese and reads from a Chinese Bible. I also knew that since that age, she has been working toward going to China and learning everything she can about China. It’s rare indeed for such a young child to have a goal like that. But it thrilled my heart as I heard it and that it is still with her. Whether this really is God’s will for her, I don’t know. But I like the fact that she is pursuing what she thinks is God’s will and leaving it up to Him to work it out. I learn a lot from these young people☺. So, here is the bottom line, at least for me: Learn to Trust God with all your heart. Seek His will and work toward whatever you think that may be. And leave the results to God! God would have us walk with Him day-by-day in faith. When we look to ourselves, our tendency is to live by sight. Trust Him, my friends! He will not let us down. Blessings to you!

To the “Heart” of the Matter

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Yesterday I was thinking about writing a blog regarding Proverbs 4:23-27. I never started it because I couldn’t think of how to put it together. Later, a funny thing happened. I was looking through INSTAGRAM. Most of you know about that. People post all kinds of pictures. I haven’t figured out how to really use it, but I go through and look at my friends pictures. As I was doing that there was a picture from a friend who lives in Pennsylvania. It was of a page in the Bible showing Proverbs 4:23-27 underlined. I smiled, as I don’t believe that things in our lives are a coincidence. So today, I would like to talk about this passage.

I have recently become reacquainted with Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” In my case, I paired this verse with 2 Corinthians 10:5 that talks about taking every thought captive. My thought life is one of the reasons I put myself into re:generation at church. While that was good and helpful, after looking at Proverbs 4:23-27, I think it should be taken as a whole. So this blog will be my attempt to do that.

First, verse 23. When God works in us, he always works from the inside out. So in this passage he begins with the heart. I think I mentioned this in a previous blog, but in Jewish thinking, the heart is beginning of everything we are as people. Our heart  comprises our mind, thoughts motives and desires. In other words, the heart describes our “inner life.” Verse 23 goes on to say that from the heart, flow the springs of life. This means that the heart (or mind) drives our actions. Our outward actions spring from our inner life. That is why this is so important. Proverbs 23:7a says,”For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” So, putting all this together, verse 23 speaks of the importance of having our thought life controlled by God. The best way I have experienced this is to be in the Word and prayer. There is no easy path, but memorizing and meditating on scripture seems to be a key, at least for me.

Verses 24-25 moves from the inner life to the outer life. This part talks about our mouths and eyes. It says to put aside a deceitful mouth and devious speech away from us. This means that our conversation should be honest and with integrity. Integrity is not  word that is bantered about much in our time. There used to be a saying, “my word is my bond” or something like that. That meant that you can trust what I say. If I say I will do something, I will do it. You can count on it. Our lives as God’s people need to reflect that. But it starts from having a pure inner life. Verse 25 talks about having eyes that look straight ahead and our gaze fixed in front of us. Matthew chapter 7 talks about entering through the narrow gate. I think that is the picture here. We need to keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak. There is so much out there today to distract and arouse us. By God’s grace, we need to keep our focus and keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

Finally, verses 26-27. This is similar to that above but it speaks more of our walk with the Lord more than what we say. The road we walk has a lot of side paths. Again our world doesn’t make it easy for a Christ follower. It takes courage and strength to say “no” to all the side roads. But again, at the end, the rewards will be far greater than we can imagine. I read in one of my commentaries, “When tempted to go to a questionable place, ask yourself, ‘Would I like to be found there when Jesus comes back?” (William MacDonald-Believer’s Commentary).

Following Christ is a serious venture and we are not as strong as we think we are. We cannot follow Christ in our own strength. But remember, if we are “in Christ” we are new creations, or as we say in re:gen, we ‘have a new life in Christ.’ We need to believe that and trust God that He will lead us. He leads his sheep. of which we are. Our shepherd is not hireling. He already gave his life for His sheep. Dear God, please change us from the inside out and give us the strength and grace to follow you with all our hearts. Amen. God bless you all!

The God of Our Refuge and Encouragement

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

This week has been a week of distractions for me. I’ve been praying and trying to figure out what to write about but nothing seemed to come to mind. One of my “distractions” this week revolved around some injuries I sustained due to a mishap with my bicycle. We don’t always get along, my bike and me. One night coming back from prayer meeting, my bike and I had a disagreement about how hard to hit the bakes and my bike decided to show me a lesson and throw me off. I was slightly injured but nothing too bad. But the incident showed me that my body is older than my mind allows me to think it is, and I found myself yearning for my younger days. It was a bid discouraging.

Then at work on Friday, one of our leaders sent out an email with the below devotional. I read it and thought, “how timely. It was a good reminder for me at least, to keep looking forward. In Philippians 3:12-16 Paul talks about what has become known by some as a “holy dissatisfaction” with where he was with the LORD. He was always growing, always reaching and always striving to move forward. That is how I want to be at this point in my life. I thought I would share the devotional with you today along with another interesting thing that happened to me recently. I hope they are an encouragement to you in your daily walk with the Lord, whether you are young or old. He indeed is our refuge and encouragement. First, below is the devotional I mentioned:

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

Are the best days of your life behind or in front of you? Our outlook on life—and our answer to that question—can change with time. When we’re younger, we look ahead, wanting to grow up. And once we’ve grown older, we yearn for the past, wanting to be young again. But when we walk with God, whatever our age, the best is yet to come! Over the course of his long life, Moses witnessed the amazing things God did, and many of those amazing things happened when he was no longer a young man. Moses was 80 years old when he confronted Pharaoh and saw God miraculously set His people free from slavery (Exodus 3–13). Moses saw the Red Sea part, saw manna fall from heaven, and even spoke with God “face to face” (14:21; 16:4; 33:11). Throughout his life, Moses lived expectantly, looking ahead to what God would do (Hebrews 11:24–27). He was 120 years old in his final year of life on this earth, and even then he understood that his life with God was just getting started and that he would never see an end to God’s greatness and love. Regardless of our age, “the eternal God is [our] refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27) that faithfully carry us into His joy each day.

O Lord my God, I praise You for all You have done in the past. I look forward with thankfulness for all You will do in the future. And I thank You for today and all Your blessings.

“When we walk with God, the best is yet to come.”

Insight:  Although Moses walked with God, he wasn’t perfect. In response to the grumbling Israelites, he got angry and acted in disobedience. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it. This impulsive act called attention to him rather than to God, and he lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:1–12). ”

The second thing i’d like to share is something that the Lord did just to encourage me. I am beginning to see that sometimes, God does small things that are just for us. Our problem is that we don’t always have eyes to see them. These small things may not mean anything to others, but God does it just for you and me. Allow me to explain.

I believe it was August 22nd and I was driving to re:generation as usual on a Monday evening. I wasn’t despondent or even discouraged necessarily, but praying (complaining, really) on my way to the meeting about writing these blog posts. I was thinking things like, “I’ve been writing these a long time now and I’m running out of ideas. Maybe I need to take a break.” And, “is it really worth it?” I walked into the meeting feeling a little sorry for myself. I came in and sat in my usual area by myself. Soon a lady came up to me and thanked me for writing them and said they were really meaningful and helpful to her. Then a few minutes later, another lady came up and said something similar. I sat there thanking God for showing this to me on the very day I was struggling with writing these blog posts! Just a small thing, but I knew God was in it.

Something else happened about the same thing today. I went to Walmart as usual for a Saturday morning. I usually run into a nice lady named Tana there. I think you from Stonepoint know her. Tana is in my Journey Group and it’s fun to run into her, like I sometimes do on Saturdays. Anyway, I was walking up to the checkout counter thinking that I missed her today. I turned a corner to get in line, at the checkout counter and there was Tana, just ahead of me. Tana has been having back problems and recently told me she was trying out a new kind of chiropractic care in Forney. As we talked we discovered that it was the same place I just went through a month ago. I told her about my experience and a little about the Chiropractor who is a 29 year old kid (as we called him) and was a Christian.

As we were standing in line I asked her about it and she said as she was talking with the chiropractor, she mentioned that she was from Stonepoint. Tana asked him if he knew me and he said yes, and asked Tana if knew that I wrote blog posts for the church. I found that really amazing as well as amusing! Tana said that she did know that and the chiropractor said that he reads them all the time and enjoys them. I don’t know about you, but I found the whole story quite amazing!!

Please know that I am in no way talking about the blog posts themselves. I’m not looking for recognition or anything else like that. I write these as a service to God and Stonepoint. What amazes me is that God does so much more behind the scenes than we can imagine. Even in small things like I mention here. Yes, there is work involved in any service for the Lord. But we should never take it for granted or think of it as just something we have to do.

We need to keep 1 Corinthians 15:58 in mind, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work in the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Friends, God is our refuge, our strength and our encouragement.

But even if He seem silent at times, please know that our service for the Lord is always accomplishing what He wants. Our part is just to do our service out of love for Him and leave the results to God. He will use our service to His glory. Be encouraged!!!