Building Up the Wall

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

man building a brick wall

I started doing a study of the book of Ezekiel just recently, mostly because I have read it several times but couldn’t tell anyone what it is about. So I guess that could be an application from this blog. I am learning that to really grasp the meaning of God’s Word, you have to do more than just read and maybe memorize a verse here and there. It takes a prayerful study, and perhaps a trusted commentary too.

Anyway, I just finished studying chapter 22 and came across verse 30. “And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE.” (emphasis mine). Now I have read and heard preaching on this verse before, but it never struck me as it did this time. Just to give you a little background, from what I have learned about the book of Ezekiel so far, all 22 of the chapters I have studied so far have something to do with the judgments of Jerusalem and Israel (the Southern and Northern kingdoms). God laid out just what the problems were to Ezekiel who passed them on to the rulers and the people. But no one really paid attention. Then false prophets came in and assured the people that Ezekiel was wrong anyway, that God would never let Jerusalem and the temple be destroyed. But God had finally had enough. In chapters 22-24 God basically says the time is up. And indeed, it was. Soon the Assyrians would defeat Israel and Babylon would destroy both Jerusalem and the temple. To this day the temple has never been rebuilt.

With that background, Ezekiel 22:30 becomes all the more interesting. The people had gone so far from the Lord that there was not even one person who would stand in the gap and invoke God to save the city. Ezekiel 22:31 reveals the results of this problem: “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads, declares the Lord.” Yes, God judged His people, and quite severely I might add.

So let’s try to personalize this a little. Let me ask you again, how’s your prayer life? If you regularly read these blog posts you know that my prayer life is pretty bad a lot of the time. Oh yes, I pray. But my thoughts about it, is that my prayers don’t always please God. I don’t want to make this a post of judgment. But I wonder if your prayer life is like mine at times, somewhat short in time and a lot about myself. How much do you (or I) pray for Stonepoint and the leadership team? Do we look up websites that share about how our Brothers and Sisters around the world are faring? I used to do that a lot. I have always liked the BBC news Website because it breaks Asia (which is where the ministry I work serves) into various countries. There is also a section for the Middle East.

I would like to leave you with some personal applications I have been working on. Please don’t take this as a judgment on your personal prayer life. And this is not intended to make anyone feel guilty. That’s one of my problems though and I will mention it briefly. Anyway, here goes.

  • Ask God to teach you how to pray. The disciples did that with Jesus and he taught them. We call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” If you study it you will find that it breaks out nicely into segments: worship, supplication, confession, etc.
  • God delights in our prayers. I have discovered over many years of struggle in this area, that we need to pray like we are to live our lives, by faith. We do not need a “spiritual high” to believe that our prayers are heard by God. In fact, the opposite is true. When you pray when you don’t feel anything or just don’t want to pray, the better your prayers are. Why? Because, whether we realize it or not, we are empty and are praying by faith.
  • Look for ways to pray about things outside of your own need. I’m not saying not to pray about your needs. But when you look at Paul’s Epistles, he told his readers that he constantly prayed for them. My prayer for myself is that I learn the art of supplication, just praying for the needs of others. Our country needs prayer, as does every country in the world. Our church needs prayer. As much as I believe Stonepoint is on a good path, we still need to rely on the Lord to guide us. Our pastors and leaders have trials and struggles that we may or may not know about. I believe discouragement is one of the big struggles of pastors in general. Why? I believe it is one of Satan’s best tools to take God’s people out of the race.
  • Last one. Watch out for guilt. I have shared that I feel really bad about my prayer life at times. Then follows the guilt. Again, guilt is another great tool of Satan. Rather than feeling guilty, can I suggest that we fall at the feet of Jesus and just confess our failure in this area. God will work in our lives!! That is his promise (for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)). I think what this is saying is that God puts the desire, or will in us to have a holy life and live at the foot of the Cross. But we find the work too difficult. Why is that? It’s because we try in the flesh. We make promises like, “I will get up extra early and spend 30 minutes in prayer. I will guard my temper. I will not lust at another man or woman.” Friends, anything you try to do in your own power will fail. We must come to the point where we realize we cannot please God in our flesh (self). If God gives us the desire to live for Him, He will also work in and through us to make that happen.

Friends, I want to be a wall builder. I am asking God to work out whatever that takes in me. Prayer is our best weapon we have in our arsenal. I know it’s hard, but is there any surprise in that? If prayer is as important as I think it is, don’t we know Satan will do all he can to keep us from praying? Friends, let’s trust God and pray!!

A Christmas Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcjuK5KUe4M

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I wanted to try this for the blog this week. I actually sent this out last year in written form. It’s called The Story of the Birds, and is told by a newscaster named Paul Harvey. He gave really good and honest newscasts that I used to listen to between classes while I was in college in the 70’s. I’m not sure if the link will work on the church blog site but I hope so. And I hope you will take five minutes to listen to it. But if it doesn’t work I put the written story below. Things are pretty busy here at the ministry right now and I am trying to keep up with things. So this may be my last post until after Chrismas. So I wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and New Year. May this story bless and encourage your heart. I think we tend to romanticize the Christmas story somewhat in our traditions. But to me, the reality of the story just causes me to become awestruck at the wonder of God in that He would send His Son, born as a man to redeem us. May we not take what God has done for granted this Christmas! God bless you all, and Merry Chirstmas. It truly is a time of Joy!!

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

“The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

And he sank to his knees in the snow.

A Year of Learning

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I was going to title this, “THE END,” but I was afraid people wouldn’t know what to make of it. So I thought of “A YEAR OF LEARNING.” So, believe it or not, next Monday, December 12th is my last class and graduation in re:generation! Lots of mixed feelings going on here. It has been a good year of learning and by His grace, growing in the LORD. There may be an opportunity to write this out a little more in-depth later, but I wanted to try summarizing some of the things that I believe the Lord has been teaching me.

TRUSTING GOD—one of the first things I remember being impressed with is that I did not really trust God. If you were to ask me if I did, I would have stated emphatically, “why of course I trust God.” But as we got into Step 3-Trust (we call the different areas “Steps”), I was impressed that I really did not trust God for my life any longer. I felt as though my life was going a bit out of control and I really needed to “take care of business.” So I would try things that I thought I needed to do in my own strength with no regard for God.

I can’t remember exactly what caused me to change, but at one point, I came to the realization that I did not really trust God with my life. This started me on a course of several things. First, I started looking at my life (still am, actually) and asking God to take back areas of my life that I had taken over from Him. This included any type of future I might have; my friendships and relationships if any; my money; my health and even my death and my going Home to Him. The one thing I noticed as I was doing this was that my life slowly became a lot more peaceful. I found I could actually rest in the LORD. This was something new to me. Let me leave you with a short passage: “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 straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8. 

INVENTORY, CONFESSION, REPENTENCE, FORGIVENESS, AMENDS—this is actually five steps rolled into one. Although we went over them individually, over time they seemed to me to be interconnected. I know inventory was the step that nearly wiped out all of us in the group (there are six of us). We stayed on Inventory for a long time and basically asked God to reveal any sin from our entire lives (my life of course was longer than anyone else’s) and we wrote them down on a chart.

I thought all this was rather silly at first, but when I prayed, I started to remember sins I had kind of put aside. Soon I had several pages on my inventory chart. The next step was to confess them to God. Now I figured I had done that but I did it again. The sins I started to remember were not the visible sins that everyone could see. They were more sins of the heart. Things like holding grudges; bitterness; anger; evil thoughts, etc. I realized what I had done since becoming a child of God that was my sins became more sophisticated and acceptable. Instead of acting out my sins, I just held them in my heart. I became a good Pharisee. I could look quite nice on the outside but my heart was as black as coal.

So from confession we went to repentance, turning from our sin. This was quite a challenge. It was one thing to take yourself out of a physical sin, like to avoid places and people where you might be prone to sin. But how do you deal with a thought, or pattern that no one knows about except you and God? I had no clue but I kept asking God to change my heart (that is pretty much a daily prayer now). From there we moved to forgiveness and making amends. Now, for sure, I thought I had this one taken care of. Well no, not exactly. Working in a Christian ministry for the past 20 years I had some experience in asking forgiveness and trying to make amends with people. But God, over time showed me a few more people I needed to ask for their forgiveness. I did so with two people here in the ministry.

The other side of the coin was the need to forgive others. I had to decide if I needed to go talk with them or if I just needed to forgive them between me and God. I did some of both. One person I needed to ask forgiveness of was my wife, Alice. While we both needed to grow in the LORD when we got married, there were times that I was just a terrible husband to her. We did grow in our marriage and in one of our conversations shortly before Alice died, she told me I was the best husband she could have ever had, and she explained why. To be honest, I couldn’t accept it, but I hid that fact from her because I could sense something in her that made me wonder if she wasn’t longing for home. It wasn’t too long after that that she did indeed go home. I could only thank and praise God for taking her in her sleep as He did. At the time I wrote the letter I was still filled with shame and guilt. The letter was almost as difficult as it would have been if I talked with her face to face. But writing the letter was not just an exercise and God used it to bring freedom to my heart. I must confess that it would have been nice to talk with her face-to-face over this but it didn’t work out that way. On December 23rd, it will be four years since her home going.

OK. It’s time to close this. As you can probably tell, I don’t have all my thoughts wrapped around all this yet. Last night at re:gen I was given some instructions on how to write a Recovery Testimony. Hopefully somewhere down the road, I can work on that. But for now, I just want to keep going on the path the Lord has put me on with Him. When I first started nearly a year ago, I really didn’t think it was going to be much help. But God made me stick it out week after week and over time I could actually sense God working in me. I have a long way to go and I pray that I don’t lose the ground I have gained thus far. I don’t know if there will be anything in this blog for any of you, if you read this. I do hope that it is not a waste of your time, and if you have any question about anything, that you would feel comfortable enough to ask me. You will find me pretty open to answering just about any question. You see, it’s not the re:generation program that is the star here, nor is it Bob Mayo. It’s our Lord Jesus Christ!! He has set us free, and we are free indeed, if we will just trust and follow Him with all our hearts. Sometimes, we need a tune-up to get back on track with Him. re:generation was a great help to me to rediscover following Christ with my heart!

 

Our Awesome God

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I started a new study just yesterday. I decided to work through the book of Ezekiel, mostly because I have never understood it. I found a commentary written by J. Vernon McGee (He’s home with the Lord now). I remember him on the radio when I first became a Christian in 1971 but never really listened to or read anything from him. But I have heard from others that he was quite insightful in his Bible knowledge.

Like I said, I just started yesterday and worked a little more on it today. But I am already seeing a blessing from studying Ezekiel. Below are a few verses I would like to share:

Ezekiel 1:28b—Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and heard a voice of one speaking. 

Isaiah 6:5—And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Revelation 1:17—When I saw him, I fell as his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last.”

In all three of these instances, the prophet saw a likeness of God! What impresses me is the response to all three of these men. They all fell on their faces. Each of these visions had a profound effect on the prophet who had it. McGee says, “This vision had a tremendous effect upon Ezekiel, and it should have this effect upon us: “Oh, God, I am undone, I’m lost and I need You. I turn to You and accept You.” When we realize who God is, we should be low and humbled in His presence. I get concerned for myself sometimes, because I have such a dim view of who God is. It is not that I don’t know about God. I know he is all-powerful, all knowing, not held capture by time and space and so forth. The question is: do my little glimpses of the glory of God cause me to fall down and worship Him? If not, why not! God desires our worship. He craves our love just as we crave the love of our families and friends. Oh, how little I know of bowing down and worshiping our LORD! May He fill my heart with worship and love for Him. Our God is so far above and beyond us, that it is only because he allows Himself to be somewhat known by us, that we can know Him at all. I pray we won’t take that fact too lightly.

Just to change the subject a little, I have been reading another book. It is titled Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. His books are really deep and this is one of the deepest in my opinion. I actually bought this book in an updated English version some time ago and read it. But this time I purposely bought a version that uses more of Murray’s original English. It’s harder to read and understand but it is totally worth the struggle.

While the title of the book is about total surrender, the text of the book so far is more about relying on the Holy Spirit of God. Murray spends a lot of time talking about “the fruit of the Spirit is Love.” He basically says that without Love, it is impossible to do our work the way God would have us do it. And the kind of love he is talking about can only come by being filled with the Spirit. In one part he talks about intercessory prayer. In fact, I believe Andrew Murray has an entire book by that title. He says intercessory prayer is the one thing we should never put off. I’d like to wrap this up with a quote from Mr. Murray:

“I have said that love must fit us for our work. Do you know what the hardest and the most important work is that has to be done for this sinful world? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God and taking time to lay hold on Him. A man (or woman) may be an earnest Christian, an earnest minister and a man who may do good, but alas! how often he has to confess that he knows but little of what it is to tarry with God. May God give us the great gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Let me ask you in the name of Jesus not let a day pass without praying for all saints, and for all God’s people.”

I think that’s all I have for today. I offer these just as some things to think about and to pray to God that we would be filled with awe for Him and would become more of a praying people, especially when it comes to intercession. Please don’t let anything of what I have just said make you feel guilty or like a failure. That is a trap of Satan and I have fallen into it many times. The important thing is that we just honestly seek God with all our hearts. Some of our best times of prayer can be when we feel nothing. Why? Because it’s in those times that we truly pray by faith. God takes even what we believe are failures or weaknesses and uses them for His glory. As the song goes, “Our God is an Awesome God!” Amen!!