Anger, Fear and Depression

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have been trying to write a blog post for a few days now, but have been struggling a bit. I have had this subject on my mind for a few days, but really didn’t want to write about it. But it didn’t go away. So here goes.

Going back to my year in re:generation, when we speak to the group we say something like, “hello, my name is Bob, I have a new life in Christ. I struggle with (in my case) anger, fear and depression. So, for the past year, I have been asking God to work in my life in these areas. And He has been working. But one-day last week, I came home from working at the ministry, and just sat down and told God I can’t take it anymore. What made it worse was that I could not really find a reason to be depressed. I have my usual problems with my knees, but over all have been feeling pretty good and things have been going good with the ministry. I guess I had been fixating my mind that day on one area that in my life that has been a struggle for me. Anyway that night, I just fell into a deep depression, or maybe it was a “blue funk” as we used to call it back in the day. The next day, it was a struggle just to get out of bed and get into the ministry. But I got there.

Over the weekend, I did what I could to not let this rule my life. I prayed, read and studied the Bible, surrendered things to the Lord. The Lord was faithful and brought me out of things a bit, for which I was grateful. I began to wonder what happened, because I really thought I was getting on top of this sort of thing. I used to blame these episodes on my “temperament type” which is basically a melancholy/phlegmatic temperament, if you know what that is. I would tell myself that since I inherited this temperament from my parents and grandparents, there was nothing I could do about it, so I would just ride it out so to speak. But that was not the case this time. I have been seeking the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit and to follow Christ, instead.

So, here comes the hard part of this blog post to write. Given the three areas in my life I have been struggling with; anger, fear and depression, I wondered what the “real” cause of these were. So I have been reading up on the subject, being careful what I read so as not to make things worse.

Of course, there is no one cause for any problem area in our lives, but I believe that for the Christ follower, there is a basic cause. Not to oversimplify things here is the basic causes I discovered for my three issues that I have been struggling for years: Anger-selfishness; Fear-selfishness; Depression-self-pity which by the way, is also selfishness. What??? none of that sounds very good! What about all the wrongs that have been done to me? What about the hard or sad circumstances of my life? This isn’t comforting at all!

I’d like to mention a couple of things I have learned from my time of reflection and study that may be a help to us. First, let me say, these three; anger, fear and depression are universal problems for almost every one of us on this planet. Also, these three are no respecter of persons. They strike the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick. Another thing I have learned is that anger, fear and depression are connected. When you become angry at someone or something, it can cause you to fear whatever it is and will ultimately cause depression.

So, what can we do about this? There is some good news. I have come to believe, that anger, fear and depression are basically caused by selfishness and at Believers, selfishness can be overcome because the Holy Spirit lives within us. I don’t want to minimize what may have happened to you in your life or what your problems may be. Nor do I want to oversimplify things. But, here my take on this. When we think of selfishness, what does it mean? In short, it is focusing our lives around ourselves rather than God. When we focus on ourselves, we cannot love others.

In our most recent service at Stonepoint, the pastor focused on the book of Jonah. Now, I have heard a lot of messages on this book and figured I had learned all I could about Jonah. But ever since I came to Stonepoint, time after time God has blown my socks off of me. This last service was no exception. Just briefly, At the end of Jonah 3, God relented on his plans to destroy Nineveh because the people repented. As the preacher, you would think you would be ecstatic. But Jonah was angry (4:1). In verse 2 of chapter 4 we read that Jonah knew this was going to happen and that is exactly what Jonah did not want to happen! In other words, Jonah had no love for these people, and rightly so in his mind. They had done terrible things to the Jewish people.

So, we finally come to the lesson. Sorry it took so long. I think one of the best ways to get rid of selfishness is to replace it with love. Sounds simple enough, but if you have struggled in this area, you know how difficult it can be. In John 13, Jesus issued a command to His Disciples, to love one another. And He further said that the people of the world will know we belong to Christ by our love for our brothers and sisters. We have a hard enough time just doing that, much love less love the world. How can we ever love as Jesus wanted us to?  I’d like to close this with a couple practical steps that I learned from my study and the latest messages church.

First, start serving others generously. Men, if you are married, I would suggest that you serve your spouse and family. One of my biggest sins and regret is that I did not always serve my wife out of love as the scripture commands. She is now with the Lord and it is too late for me to do that. She no longer needs me to serve her. But God has dealt with me in His mercy and I’ve repented and know God has forgiven me. But there is still sadness on my part that may never go away. We need to look for ways to generously serve others.

Second, we can read and memorize Philippians 2:3-4 and ask God to incorporate it into our lives. If we could just make this passage part of our lives, we would no longer have selfish motives in what we do.

Finally, as Pastor Brandon mentioned this past Sunday, we can come out of our comfort zones. This is very difficult for some of us. But we can, by God’s grace, abandon ourselves and serve others with true and pure motives. Our recent service ended with this quote: “missions isn’t something we do, it’s something we are.” God help us to be missionaries. Whether it is to our families, our church, the local community or around the world!

May God make us people who serve with abandonment. Through the Spirit of God may we seek to rid ourselves of selfishness, self-seeking, self-gratification, self- righteousness, and may we radically love others and serve others. This can only come as we get to know and trust God more in our lives. But it can happen! Blessings to you!

Building the Wall (2017 Edition)

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

In December I wrote a blog with this title and based it on my study of Ezekiel. But this edition is a little different and it is based on the message that Pastor Brandon gave on January 21st. While I don’t usually base my blog posts on a recent message (it kind of feels like cheating), this particular message spoke to my heart in several ways. So, I thought it was worth repeating some of the things from the sermon that were most meaningful.

I must be honest, when I came into the church on Sunday, I wasn’t real excited. Nothing was really wrong, I was just having a few internal struggles about some things and not really being thankful to the Lord. But I was scheduled to greet this morning so I put on my ‘happy face’ and did my duty. (That sounds terrible, I know!!)

But when Pastor Brandon got up and started giving the message that the Lord gave him, things began to change. If you were there, the message was from the book of Nehemiah. I have gone through a couple of studies on this book and it has been meaningful to me in the past. But over time, it has pretty much been forgotten. One of the first things that hit me was the statement that “harmony is found when everyone does what they are supposed to do.” 

Pastor Brandon elaborated by saying that what we are doing for the Lord may not be what we want to do or we may even think it is not doing any good. I thought back to some times when I complained about the things I do here at the ministry and even at Stonepoint. Sadly, when I complained, It wasn’t just to myself, but I shared it with others. Whatever happened to, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14). Then It struck me that I am doing what is needed by the church at this time. It may change, it may not, but I Think God would have us do what is there before us. There is an old saying, “it’s not about me.” But, how often we make about us. I went home and talked to God about this.

He then then gave an overview of some of the things that Nehemiah and the Jews faced while they were rebuilding the wall. He summed up this overview by giving six points that God’s people need to remember from the book of Nehemiah when serving Him. I’d like to paraphrase them below:

1. Every work of God will face opposition. This opposition will come both from outside as well as inside the church. We should not be surprised at this. Jesus Himself suffered persecution from the very people who should have rejoiced at His coming. Instead, the say Him as a competitor.

2. If God has called you to a work, He will protect you in it (Nehemiah 4:15). As God protected the Israelites as they rebuilt the wall, so to, He will protect us as we serve Him.

3. God’s work cannot be accomplished in your own strength (Ephesians 6). We will wear out if it is done on our strength. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God. Without that, we may become discouraged and give up.

4. God’s work cannot be accomplished without tireless grit. The greatest works are accomplished when God is at the center and the people work. Serving God is not fun and games. It is sometimes hard, tedious and sometimes boring. Satan will come in during our weak times and tell us it’s not worth it, or that we need a break. But if Christ is the center of our lives we will have His power to go on.

5. When God calls you to a great work, don’t get distracted. His enemies tried to distract him and invited him to meet with them. But Nehemiah knew that they “only wanted to do him harm.” He then told them that he had work to do and would not come down and meet with them (see Nehemiah 6: 2-3). Satan will go to great lengths to put up roadblocks so that we will give up serving our Lord. we need to be aware of that fact and rely on His grace and strength.

6. Lastly we cannot invest your energy for ourselves, we need to invest our energy for our great and awesome God. May we do whatever we do for His glory alone.

I will grant you that my attempt to capture what this Sunday morning message was like, is poor at best. If you are interested, you might consider going to the Stonepoint website and listening to the message. May God give us the grace to be a people of unity and who serve Him from our Hearts. May God bless you all.

God in Ordinary Days

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

The day started out pretty much like other days in the ministry. I came in, started the coffee for our department and went to my desk and started working. My task of late is to write a lot of emails and note cards to our sponsors and donors for their donations during the Christmas season. Even though my emails and note cards say pretty much the same thing, God seems to use them in our donors lives. In my correspondences, I thank the donors for their gifts and let them know we appreciate them. Then I invite them to contact me if they have any questions or prayer requests. The responses I get from these little emails and notes have become a sub ministry for me. When I started this process of writing to donors, I was surprised of the numbers of responses I receive. Some just write back and say thank you for writing them, others have questions but most of them have some kind of a prayer request. I always make it a point to respond to the donor and assure them I will be praying. I don’t just pray once and forget the request. I put them on a running list and pray as often as I can. So while the process may seem routine, what our Lord does with these notes is sometimes quite amazing. I’d like to tell you about one response I received the other day.

This particular day, I decided I was going to spend a lot of my day just doing this one project. So I wrote a lot of emails and notes that day and started to receive responses during the day. One response was pretty long and had several prayer requests on it. I took a break when I saw it and decide to read it. The person who responded had several prayer requests for different people in their family. Some of the requests were pretty deep and personal. This is not the first time this has happened, and I always take special care of these requests, because I figure if the person would write such personal requests, it is obviously important to them. And thus, it becomes important to me.

But this one ended a little differently. When I got down to the last paragraph of the email, I read this: So there you have it – pretty personal for a total stranger, but I trust you do desire prayer requests when you ask, and that God will use this correspondence for His purposes.  If it’s you that writes a blog for Stonepoint Church, I think you can at least relate to some of these requests. Thank you!  When I read this last part I figured the person must have some kind of a WillsPoint/Stonepoint connection. They were from a state up north. As a matter of fact, a Yankee state.

So I decided to write back and ask the person about this possible connection. They responded but the response surprised me a bit. They said: As far as a Stonepoint connection, I have none.  Just before I pressed send on my email, I hesitated and so decided to do a search of your name 🙂  Reading the first post I came to encouraged me to go ahead and send my email.  I thought, “well, this is a first!” I couldn’t imagine I would even be on the internet. But when I checked later, there I was. I had to search a bit to find me, but eventually I did. Most of the information was about a Bob Mayo who was a musician back in the day who is now dead. So I knew that wasn’t me. But nonetheless, I found some of my Facebook posts. I still don’t know what they are doing there. I was quite shocked, actually, but this whole event caused me to think about some things for myself and maybe for all of us at Stonepoint.

First, I was struck by the courage of this person to write these requests to me, a perfect stranger. Then it struck me that people put a lot of trust in me with their requests. It made me realize that I have to treat these requests with the utmost respect.

I also thought how difficult it is to share what is really going on in one’s life. From my own experience, I have found it is difficult to “put yourself out there” and let people know what is really going on. I must admit, blog writing for Stonepoint brought that to a whole new level for me. I even asked the pastors once if I was making them too personal. They basically said no, that it made the posts more real to life. It seems to me that we Christians could use a little transparency in our lives. Transparency does not come easy and it certainly takes time. I believe that in order to be a true “community” of Christians it needs to happen. God can change us; He can make us brave like my friend with the prayer requests. He can soften our hearts and give us extreme love for others. But he won’t force us. we have to be willing to humble and submit ourselves totally to Him. 98% won’t do. God wants all of us. Thank you for your time. May God bless you!!

Crickets and a Trip to the Doctor

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

OK. This may sound a little strange, but it really happened.

As I was getting ready to come into the ministry the other day, I looked down and saw something that didn’t belong on the carpet. I reached down and picked up and it happened to be a cricket leg. One thing I have learned in my two plus years out here on the prairie is that crickets tend to break into your house and die, if I don’t catch them first. When they die, they tend to fall apart and leave pieces of themselves around my house. I actually have a cricket graveyard under a cabinet in my dining area that seems to be a favorite place for crickets to go and die.

Hope that’s not too gross, but thanks to some recent messages at church lately, I had a thought about this. I was looking at the cricket leg I thought, “this is kind of what we are like when we become disjointed from the Lord and the church. We are no longer whole. If I have learned anything during my year in re:generation, it is that we can do nothing, on a spiritual level, in our flesh. Suffice it to say, we need to be filled with the Spirit and we need to walk in the Spirit. Apart from that, we will go through motions and rituals and just be miserable people. I spent years doing just that. I knew as a Christian, I should do certain things like read the Bible, pray, attend church and serve where I could. But most of it was done out of doing my duty to God or out of guilt because the church I was attending needed help. Try as I did, I could not really break out of that pattern of works. Recently, I have been discovering the new joy of doing these things that I have always done. Even prayer, my big battle, is becoming a joyful experience. Reading and studying the Word is no longer a thing I must do, but something I have a deep desire to do. Lord willing I can talk more about this later. In the meantime here is a suggestion. Do all you can not to become disjointed. Keep praying, keep reading and keep serving as the Lord leads.

Another strange thing, recently I made a normal trip to my doctor in Kaufman for my four month checkup. I stumbled upon this particular doctor as a result of someone at the ministry telling me about him and I was not really happy with the clinic I was going to at the time. The first time I went to see him, I waited about two hours. Normally, that would have been the end of my time there, but when he came in, there was something about him. He spent at least a full hour just talking to me. He was a Christian and we talked about spiritual matters and made a few changes to what I was doing medically. I realized that if he did this with me he spent as much time as necessary with his patients. I decided that I would stay.

At this appointment things went a little faster. I got called back early and the doctor was only a few minutes late. But the strange thing was that we hardly talked about medical things at all. We started talking about spiritual things again. He is familiar with the ministry I work with and he asked how things were going. I told him that things were about the same but my attitude seems to be better than it was before. He asked me if anything had changed and I told him nothing really, other than my attitude. I seem to be more at peace about things. We talked about this a little more. I mentioned a book I have been reading by a Christian writer about temperaments. You know, those fun tests you can take on the internet, like I have to determine what temperament you are. Here’s a secret; I’m an ISFJ (Introvert-Sensing-Feeling-Judgmental). I’ve never liked the weaknesses of my ISFJ and have tried to change. But here’s another bit of news, you cannot change your temperament. It’s inherited and part of your DNA. All you can do is realize the strengths of your temperament and seek to develop your strengths and not live in your weaknesses. From a worldly point of view, I don’t think that ever works. But from a Spiritual view, because we have the Holy Spirit residing in us (a true mystery), we have His strength and power to live as God would have us live.

So here is the thing. Have you ever really looked at Galatians 5:22-23 seriously. “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; ….” Lately, as I have been looking at these, I think, there is no way I could live this in full on my own power. Let’s just take a quick look at peace. I don’t think I am alone in this, but I don’t think many of us live a very peaceful life. It’s been said that only one out of thirteen Christians really experience the peace of God.

When it comes to peace it is actually two fold. There is the “peace with God,” and the “peace of God.” Every true follower of Jesus has experienced “peace with God.” Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have no say about this peace. If we are a Christian, we have peace with God. Before, we were at war with God, whether we knew it or not. But now, the war is over. We may not know it, or feel it or even believe it. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is true.

But there is another peace, the “peace of God.” This peace is God given through the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the spirit is…peace.” This is a kind of peace that is untroubled by circumstances or the trials of life, and I think very few of us experience it on a regular basis. Since it is considered one of the fruit of a Spirit filled life, the Holy Spirit is the source of the peace of God. We cannot work for it and we cannot make it happen by an act of our will. This peace will come when we are filled with and walk in the Spirit. I know the filling of the Spirit can be a controversial subject. That’s sad. I don’t have time to talk about this now and my thoughts on this may not satisfy you anyway. But I can give you one verse that I think sums it up pretty well. Luke 11:13, If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” I believe this filling happens when we confess any known sin, submit ourselves to God and ask God in faith to fill us with His Spirit.

The Christian life is not a matter of knowing the right doctrines, adhering to a set of norms or rituals, joining a church or… (Fill in your own thoughts here). The Christian life is Spiritual and supernatural. It has to be lived on a spiritual and supernatural level. I am fully convinced that the nine fruit of the Spirit can be lived out by us. Lately, I have found myself praying literally throughout the day, sometimes without even being aware of it. I have asked God specifically to fill me with His Spirit and give me peace in my heart about various things. And I have been experiencing that on a level never before experienced in my life before, despite the circumstances I may be in.

My prayer for us today is that we will all take God and His Word more seriously than we may have ever done before. We like to use the phrase “go to the Cross” a lot in Christianity. May God allow us to humble ourselves, fall on our knees at the Cross, and submit ourselves to Him. I believe it will revolutionize our walks with our Lord. Blessings to you all!

The Rhythm of Sunday Morning

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

I’ve always been kind of embarrassed by my guitar playing abilities.

When i started playing, i was around 13, and since i played piano, i picked it up immediately. Strumming patterns were no big deal, since my right hand was used to doing complicated stuff on the piano, so i got pretty proficient pretty quickly. My left hand learned the basic shapes, and once i traded up from the first piece of junk guitar i had, learned most of the complicated ones as well.

Problem was, i never got any better.

The excuse i used was ‘i’m REALLY a piano player’ and since my parents had only paid for a few months of group lessons (that came with the aforementioned first piece of junk guitar) i never asked anyone to show me scales and riffs and things i couldn’t figure out on my own (which was MOST things.) So, over time, i just decided that my lot in life was to be a good rhythm guitarist. Over the years, i’ve learned how to play to my strengths.

But i secretly wished i could be the lead guitar player guy. The one with his fingers flying all over the fretboard, taking solos, throwing in spectacular riffs in the spaces between the vocal lines…you know, that obnoxious, but cool guy. Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen…or when i got older, be like Brad Paisley and sing and play ridiculously well, too.

For the past couple of years, i’ve really been working on it, practicing scales, keeping a guitar on the sofa so my son and i can noodle during commercials. I got a pedal board and have a great old tube amp, and a bunch of electric guitars, so there’s always one handy. No more excuses.

So, why blog about it?

Well, i was reading this morning an online article with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. In the interview she said she’d never wanted to play lead, that what got her interested in guitar was the old James Brown records where the rhythm player set the groove and the tone for the whole band.

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In other words, there’s no shame in being the rhythm player. I need to be reminded of that some times.

Now, since 93.6% of you don’t play guitar, you’re probably asking “what has any of this got to do with me?”

Embrace what you do in the body of Christ.

People who help folks find a parking spot are playing rhythm.

People who greet and do check-ins are playing rhythm.

People who make coffee and set out donut holes and clean up spills are rhythm players, too.

Don’t worry that somebody else is onstage singing (okay…in this case, it’s me… most of my analogies break down at some point) or that someone else is preaching; someone else is doing the job you think would be cool, and continue to do what YOU do to help make ‘the band’ sound good. To bring people to Christ. To make the atmosphere welcoming. To wrap your arms around some little child when their world may appear to be falling apart.

Ephesians 5 tells us to ‘be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.’

Stonepoint Church can’t continue to make God famous without you.

And it sounds awful if you’re not playing your part.

The Pharisees and the Written Word

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
 

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2017! Since I’m off work today, I thought I would take a little time share a few thoughts about some Bible studying I have been doing. I’m actually studying in two places, Ezekiel and the Gospel of John. Today I’d like to share from my study in John.

With my Bible and the help of a commentary, I just finished up chapter 5 today and would like to specifically some things I learned specifically from John 5:37-47. In this part, Jesus is giving the Pharisees testimonies of His claims to being the “Son of God.” The He has already given two testimonies (John the Baptist and the miracles that Jesus worked), and the final one is the “Word of the Father.” The Jewish had a high reverence for God’s written word. There were scribes whose full time job was to meticulously transcribe the Word onto scrolls to better preserve them. They would work hard not to make many mistakes and would count the very letters of the text along with “jots and tittles.” But they missed the truths of what they were transcribing. Here are some of the problems they sere experiencing.

They would not allow the Word to generate faith in them (John 5:38). Verse 39 is telling. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” The Scribes and Pharisees were proud of their knowledge and accuracy of their study and work. But they missed the Lord of the Bible (John 5:38). As a younger Christian I was always taught that I had to read the Bible through in a year. There is nothing wrong with that and I did that year after year. But at the end of the year, I shamefully confess that I did not know God any better. I accomplished my goal but missed the purpose for my goal.

The leaders also had a problem with their minds. They were proud that they were the keepers of the Scriptures, but they did not see Christ in their own Scriptures. They studied so they could be revered by the people but had no interest in humbling themselves and learning about Jesus, the Savior of the world. The Bible is totally true when it says that “knowledge” puffs up (makes us proud).

The Pharisees third problem was a “heart” problem. They did not have love in their hearts (John 5:42). The leaders claimed to love God but their actions proved otherwise.

After looking up this I thought of a few applications for my life:

First, before reading or studying the Bible, I need to ask for the Spirit’s guidance and leading. It doesn’t matter if I pray this for 15 minutes or 15 seconds. I need to do this and the prayer need to come from the heart.

Second, Bible reading or study can never be a project. It must come from the heart, as God always teaches from the inside out. I wonder if Matthew 12:7 would apply to this, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” I believe this is saying that God would rather have our hearts than a multitude of sacrifices for Him. 

Finally, when I read or study the Bible, it needs for the purpose of knowing and loving Jesus more. If our time in the Word doesn’t draw us closer to Jesus, then we miss the fruit of our efforts.

I pray this will encourage and be helpful to us to spend time in God’s Word. He wants to meet with us and is ready, through the Holy Spirit, to reveal Himself to us. Do we believe that? Read John 16:12-15. Then after reading it, apply faith and believe it. Our God is truly a great God who wants us to know Him and to live in Him by faith. I think this is the most glorious life we can have in 2017. God bless you all in this new year!!