Our BIG God Who Does Little Things

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I don’t know about you, but I have been impressed for many years about the magnitude of God. There are many places is the Bible that talk about this, but one of my favorites is Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declarers the LORD.” Think about this!! God, does not need us. He created everything, controls everything, He is eternal, He knows everything, He can be everywhere at once (try that Superman). We can study and search for for God and never really come to know His magnitude. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Being a great God, I sometime wonder why he even bothers with us. But He does!! So…I hope we are clear that our God is BIG!

But there is another part to the Isaiah verse I quoted above. It’s the very next verse, Isaiah 66:2, “But this is the one to whom I will look. He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” I have a hard time believing this love, that God would look down on people like us. Not just look down, but actually intervene in our lives for our good. If we think about it, there are probably a many little things that God does that in our lives that we don’t even think about. I’d like to share about one that happened to me recently.

I was working at the ministry, and it was a pretty routine day. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard, at times, to believe that doing what I do really makes a difference. I feel removed from the mission field that I came here to serve and my main interaction is with my computer. Just to make it clear, I know down deep in my heart that what God has called me here for is making a difference in eternity. But still, there are these times. But this day, I was feeling pretty discouraged and just thinking of myself. I did make a quick prayer to the Lord that I wish He would show me, even some small thing, that would encourage my heart.

So, here I am on this particular day, keeping my computer company and a bit discouraged. Suddenly late in the afternoon an email pops up on my screen and I immediately recognize it as coming from one of our key leaders. I couldn’t imagine why he would be emailing me as, except for a few brief chats in the hallway, we really have no interaction. I opened the mail and read the following, “I have had a desire to write you a poem today.  I’m not sure why, but after I made my first attempt (which I threw away), I couldn’t shake the thought to do it.  So here goes. I mean the words from my heart.  I type them rather than write them because it’s easier to think while typing for some reason.” 

Following that short statement, was the poem. I don’t think I will share it with you for concern of embarrassing this brother. But I can tell you he talked about parts of my life here, some recent, some from the past. He mentioned me being faithful and taking a low place in my life with the Lord, he mentioned watching me from a distance while I cared for my wife until her death. He mentioned seeing me in one of our small meeting rooms during my lunch hour reading and studying the word. In the last stanza, he just wrote some words of encouragement and how he wanted to be more like what he was talking about. I can’t adequately tell you how much this little poem met for me that day.

I thought about this and realized that our God cares about the small things in our lives. So, here is me, sitting around feeling sorry for myself. That happens quite often. So, I make a short prayer and then soon after I find myself reading that my friend had “a desire to write me…. but he was not sure why.” Over the years I have come to realize that our lives are not one of a series of coincidences, but they are a series of God’s intervention in our lives, even in the smallest or insignificant ways. Does this kind of thing happen to me every time I get discouraged? No, but it happens enough that I know that it is a small gift from God.

So I hope this little story is that it will be an encouragement to you. About the only lesson I can think of for this post today is that we need to trust God’s work in our lives, even when we don’t understand it or it is unpleasant. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

My last lesson, is really a suggestion. Maybe today, if you read this, you could encourage someone in a similar way. I will confess, I don’t do it enough. Some of God’s people, like me, don’t feel that we make a great impact for God. But remember that no small kindness or act of love goes unnoticed by God. One day, perhaps, we will see what affect our lives have had on people. It could be as simple as taking out the garbage for your spouse, or praying with them. It could be just getting a cup of coffee for someone. Remember, we have a BIG God who does little things for us. God bless you!

 

How Might We Pray Differently?

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

The subject of prayer seems to be coming up a lot in my life lately. It has come from sermons I have been listening to on the Web, at re:generation meetings and also just from my own thinking. So I thought I would address a little of what has been impressed upon me of late. I’d like to start by quoting a verse from Ephesians 3:14-19 in the ESV.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Let me ask you a question I think I have asked before. How’s your prayer life? I was at the Stonepoint prayer meeting last week and a nice young and eloquent speaking man and I shared our prayer lives. Neither of us seemed to be doing too well. Now, in all honesty, I keep telling people that since re:gen, I am doing better than I used to. That’s a true statement, but I have to confess that most of my prayer live is about me, my needs and my healing with some quick prayers here and there for others.

Paul starts out this passage by saying “for this reason.” Commentators say he was thinking back to chapter 2 where he talked about what the Gentiles were in their lives, and what they had now become through their union with Christ. He also says he bowed his knees. In other words, he prayed with humility and reverence.  Paul is not saying we can pray only when kneeling, but the posture of our hearts should be of falling at the feet of God. Prayer is not a causal chat with someone. We are praying to our Lord and Savior who is the God of the universe!

Now let me ask you another question. When is the last time you (or I) prayed for someone like this passage points out? When I do pray for others it’s about their healing, their family, to find a job, etc. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with praying for personal needs of people, including ourselves. But this passage is such a heartfelt prayer for others and ourselves. I’d like to take a little time and analyze this prayer a little. Paul makes several requests for those he is praying for and they kind of build upon one another:

  1. First, he prays for power through the Holy Spirit in our INNER MAN. He is talking about our spirit. Man is made up of a body, soul (mind, emotions and will) and our Spirit. When Paul talks about the inner man, he is talking about our spirit. Brothers and sisters, we need to be changed from the inside out. Our God is in the business of doing that. Yes, these people were in need of God’s grace, healing and protection from persecution and so forth. But to have God’s power through the Holy Spirit seemed to be more important. Also, we cannot change ourselves. That is why God gave us the Holy Spirit in the first place, so that we would have the power to live for Him as we should.
  2. Then Paul prays, that Christ may dwell in our heart through FAITH. In order for us to change, we have to have faith and trust that God loves us and will change us. God only works through people who follow Him. Even though the Spirit has taken up residence in us, He will only work as we live by faith.
  3. Then Paul talks about being grounded in love. The new commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples in John 13 was to love one another. But it is difficult to love someone you don’t really know. Do we REALLY love God? Or are we just going through the motions. The way we come to love a person is we spend time with him or her. The Bible makes it pretty clear that we show our love for God by our obedience to Him. The way we learn obedience is spending time with Him in the Word and in prayer. I’m not aware of any other way.
  4. Paul then says (short version), that we might strength to comprehend how much Christ loves us. I had several battles while going through re:gen, but two really big battles stand out. I needed to learn to trust God and I needed to realize that my past sins had no effect on how much God loved me. I’m still working on these, but I have come to the place of trusting God’s love for me. This is for all of us, our past doesn’t have to rule our present or future. But it only comes from spending time with Him and allowing His Spirit to change us from the inside.
  5. Lastly, Paul prays that the Ephesians would be filled with all the Fullness of God. Yes, it is true that God is in us. But it is also true that we quench and grieve the Spirit through our sin. Again, God will only fill us with his Spirit and give the power to live for Him when we are living as a clean vessel.

I wonder what would happen at Stonepoint if we started praying this way. I know I’m a bit of a dreamer, but I can see the people of Stonepoint coming alive. I can see in my mind a praying church, an encouraging church, a believing church and a witnessing church. I can see our leaders being encouraged by the actions of the body. I can see them have strength to keep going and not become discouraged because we just don’t seem to “get it.” So, church, By the riches of God’s glory, may we be strengthened with power through His Holy Spirit in our inner being. May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith. May we be rooted and grounded in love and may we comprehend the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. And may we be filled with all the fullness of God (paraphrase of Ephesians 3:14-19)!

IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES!!!!!

 

Do What Matters

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Our life is a journey, In the Light of Eternity. I italicized that last part because it’s actually the title of a video put out by Francis Chan that I watched on RightNow Media, that I got in an email from Stonepoint. Thank you pastors for allowing us to have access to this free resource.

I don’t know how many of you might have had the opportunity to watch this video. I saw it was from Pastor Chan and he is one of the few “big name” guys in Christianity that I still consider to be one of my heroes. I wrote a blog some time ago about my heroes. The list is small because I don’t know the names of most of them. But146736 my heroes are people who give up all and seek to live for Christ. They are people I see every day who, in spite of their struggles, have a heart for the LORD, a heart for the lost, who take care of their wives and children. No books, no glory (except to the LORD), no fame or money. Put simply, my heroes are called Christ Followers.

I don’t know why I got off on that. Let’s get back to the point of this. I have experienced a few things this week that made me think a lot. They could be con
sidered small things but they made me take a look at my life. Don’t worry, this blog is not about me. But I pray it has something for all of us. The first thing that happened was I watched the video I mentioned above. It opened with a quote from D.L. Moody, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” The video went on to talk about a ministry that was started by a business man in the US who just wanted to do something practical about two overwhelming problems. The video took me to Africa and looked at two things: malnutrition and starvation and the red light district in a large city in Africa.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but to think of where I am in this season of life. People have told me that I gave up a lot in my life to work for God full time. I don’t see it that way, but they say things like, I sacrificed a job where that I enjoyed and had pretty good salary: that I left a comfortable life and gave up a larger retirement than I now receive to come and work at Gospel for Asia; that I sold my house and gave all the profits to my employer so I could quit my job early and come and serve the LORD. While I did do those things with a sold-out heart, I can’t help but to be bothered lately how far my life has gone from doing all that to thinking about me, my comfort, my problems, my work, my loneliness, my money, etc.

Pastor Chan has a couple of quotes in his book Crazy Love, that I reread parts of this past week. The first is, “On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day, we don’t consider God very much. On the average day, we forget that our life truly is a vapor.”  Pastor Chan goes on with the chapter and talks about worry and stress and how God made the “movie of life” and how we have made it about us. A little later, he makes one more quote that plagues me, “Frankly, you need to get over yourself. It might sound harsh, but that’s seriously what I mean.”

I’d like to mention one more quick thing about this week and then I’ll wrap this up. I managed to drag myself to the monthly Stonepoint prayer meeting this week. I don’t mean that badly, but drag myself is a correct statement. I have attended one or two of these meetings and have enjoyed them. But, I find it difficult for me to make it to make these meetings and I come up with some pretty good excuses. But I asked God all week to please give me the stamina to attend no matter what, and he did. The “take home” I got out of the meeting was when Pastor Dick Patterson was on stage and spoke about how great it was to pray to our God. He also mentioned that prayer is just talking with our Father as we would to a friend. That’s not new news, but how many of us actually just sit and talk with God like that! I admit it is difficult for me. But that’s not the point. The point is, no matter if it is difficult for ME or not, it’s not about me. I’m not the star of this movie of life, God is! We cannot make it in our walk without praying to our LORD. Yes, scripture commands us to pray, but God’s heart is that He just wants to spend time with us. We do that through reading the Bible and praying to Him.

OK. Let’s wrap this up with a few points that have been on my mind this week:

  1. None of us is guaranteed another minute of life. I heard about a pastor from a church in Plano who died recently. He was playing basketball with friends. He sat down to rest a few minutes and fell over dead. We know in our minds that we will all die, but we really don’t make that knowledge part of our lives. Our life is truly a vapor. The question is, how will we spend it?
  2. Our life may be going really well right now or it may be going really poorly, full of worry and stress. But that isn’t the point. The question is, does our life glorify God. Whatever we do, our lives should bring God glory and not ourselves.
  3. I’d like to address this point to young single Christians. I told a friend at lunch yesterday about the video I watched and what the ministry was doing. I heard myself say, “boy, I would love to do something like that.” Now I am already serving full time, but lately I have been thinking, am I really doing what I should be doing? Am I doing enough? Only God can answer that. So for you young, single people who may read this, please seek God to do things that really matter! I know several young single people who are doing great things, at least in my opinion, for the Lord. One of them is in Greece ministering to refugees fleeing from hostile countries. Another is in Jordan serving there doing similar things. Both these young people will probably never be famous or write a book. But I know them both, and I know they are doing this out of a true heart’s desire to do what the LORD would have them do. Young people, please make your life count while you can. Don’t succeed at things that don’t matter. 
  4. One more and I’ll close. As I mentioned above, we need to get over ourselves. The movie is not about us. I don’t know all the answers but briefly, we need to ask God to fill us with His Spirit and we need to purpose ourselves to serve sacrificially. In being a Christ follower, we often need to go against our will. When we find ourselves thinking about and doing what we want, we need to consciously think of ways to counter that thinking.

May our LORD guide us in doing things that really matter. Ask God to direct your lives and, 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. (Proverbs 3:5-6). Blessings to you all.

Do You Want to Be a Donkey?

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I imagine most of you know way more about donkeys than I do. All I know is that I have met a couple of them when I go to one of the houses for Journey Group on Sunday nights. I find them to be the gentlest and sweetest creatures I have met since we have moved out here. When I stop to pet my two friends I sometimes think that it imy-donkey-buddiess no wonder Jesus picked a donkey to make his final entrance into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. Jesus said to His disciples, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:29.

I had a lesson in meekness the other day that I would like to share with you. I had a “chance” (it was from the Lord, actually) encounter with one of our leaders in the ministry. Now, I truly love this leader and have considered him my friend for more than 20 years. I was cleaning up our break room about 5 PM when he came in to get some hot water for a little tea. I haven’t really talked to this leader in a long time and have missed those opportunities. In all honesty, this has been a source of frustration and sometimes discouragement for me. I have also known what this brother has been a lot of stress and has been very busy working on this project for nearly two years now. I try to pray for him when I see him in the hallways or whenever he comes to mind, which is often.

So while he was getting his tea we spent a couple minutes talking. He asked how I was doing and, in so many words, I said I am tired physically, emotionally and mentally. He basically said the same thing about himself, which of course I knew. We continued talking for a few minutes and I asked him a couple questions. Somehow in our talk, I mentioned to him that the best part of my job was getting prayer requests from donors that I write to and praying for them. I told him I have a little “ministry” of my own just doing that and that it has been a blessing to me and to them. My friend was quite encouraged to hear this and was glad that I mentioned it to him. We walked down the hall a bit and stopped. I prayed for him and he for me, then we parted ways.

I walked away from this meeting concerned for my friend but feeling encouraged from the encounter. I had a new desire to not be weary in praying for him. But I was also feeling chastised by the Lord. What my friend didn’t know was how selfish and angry I had been feeling all week. I asked myself what it takes to get out of selfishness and to think about others more than yourself. Basically I was wondering how a person like me could ever live out Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

If there is one thing I have learned from reading the Bible and especially the life of Jesus, is that He highly regards humility in our lives. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb. He demonstrated His humility by washing the disciple’s feet and then told them, now that He went back to the Father, to wash one another’s feet. The King chose a donkey to ride into town with rather than a white stallion. How can I miss such a demonstration of humility from Jesus and have such trouble getting rid of my own selfishness? I wish I could talk to my donkey friends about this. If I could I would ask them how they handle this problem. I wonder what they would tell me?

I think some of the answer can be learned from looking at Matthew 11:29 that I quoted above. Here Jesus talks about humble service. First He says take my yoke on yourself. I believe this means that we need to humbly submit ourselves to His will and turn every area of our lives over to Him. Then He says learn from Me. As we surrender ourselves to Him, He will train us in His ways. Jesus has already sent the Holy Spirit to give us the power to live in a way that pleases God. Third, Jesus says that He is gentle and lowly. He demonstrated that throughout His life here on earth. If we take this low road, we too will be gentle and lowly. Finally, Jesus says we will find rest for our souls. I think I just need to quote one of my commentator friends here, “Here it is not the rest of Conscience but the rest of heart that is found by taking the lowest place before God and man. It is also the rest that one experiences in the service of Christ when he stops trying to be great” (William MacDonald). Please know that what this does not mean that there won’t problems, trials, labor and hurt. But by taking the yoke of Jesus, we have someone who will always walk with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

So, are you struggling with selfishness like I am? If so, may I suggest that you don’t quit seeking the Lord in this? We need to face selfishness as a sin just like any other sin. While it is true that some personality temperaments are more prone to this than others toward selfishness, that does not excuse us from seeking God and humbly asking Him to change us…keep seeking to be humble and faithful. In other words, BE A DONKEY!!

The Butterfly Effect

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

This past summer, i pulled up to the building, and when i got out of my truck, i noticed that i’d hit a butterfly on the trip there. It was caught in the grille, dead as a doornail, but still intact. It was beautiful, even in it’s lifeless state, brown, but with perfectly round colorful spots on each of its wings. Stunning, even in death.brown-butterfly_3

I pulled it off the grille, looked it over for a few seconds, showed it to my daughter, the Unpaid Intern, who is not crazy about butterflies, especially dead ones, so i gave it an un-ceremonial toss to the concrete and went about my business for the day.

A couple of days later, a plain brown butterfly landed on the  cement next to my car. (Some days, Angelia allows me to drive her car to work.) There was nothing that stood out about this little guy. He was brown, with some lighter brown shading and some brown highlights. No spots, no ringlets…just brown. One step above a moth on the butterfly beauty scale that i just made up in my head.

He is able to fly, something mankind has only dreamed of for thousands of years, and do it on incredibly thin, delicate wings, against wind and other elements, avoiding birds, vehicles and predators all around him. He was painstakingly designed and crafted by our Creator, and that is a miracle in itself, but unlike his shockingly attractive relative, i paid him very little attention.

As a human being, i put more value on the pretty butterfly, even though it was dead, than i did the living, nondescript one.

The prophet Isaiah says this in his foretelling of the Messiah:

       “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”

So apparently in his physical appearance, Jesus Christ, God on earth in the form of a man, was a lot more like my plain, brown butterfly buddy than the beautiful one that i’d paid so much attention to. He was more “Average Joe” than whatever movie star is the latest heartthrob. (Insert your own pop-culture reference here, i am really out of touch with movies these days.)

Growing up, we had paintings of Jesus in the Sunday School classrooms at church. He was always slightly dark-complected, with long flowing hair…sort of an Americanized, cleaned up hippie with a few slight nods to his Jewish ancestry. In the movies, he was played by handsome blue-eyed Englishmen who always seemed to be looking up towards heaven, only slightly distracted by the goings on around him down here on earth.

But, in reality, people were drawn to him. Apparently not from his physical appearance, but by his compassion, his charisma—it was clear to everyone—even those that despised him, that he was different and he had something they wanted. People were attracted to him, yes…initially by the miracles, but when his ministry turned toward Jerusalem and the coming crucifixion, there was still something that made people, even his enemies, want to be around him.

So what’s the lesson here?

In our Photoshopped, ‘don’t post that one on Facebook,’ ‘you’ll tell me if i have something in my teeth, won’t you?’ world where physical appearance is your ticket to the big time, as believers, we need to look deeper. Not at butterflies, but at those around us, those who are hurting, those who didn’t take very good care of themselves when they were younger and are paying the price now. Those who are lost and hurting and don’t know where else to turn.

There is so much brokenness in this world, in this county…i pray that Stonepoint will continue to be a place that accepts the plain brown butterflies and embraces them, sees the value in them, points them to God and loves them the way Jesus would.

And that we would toss pretty, dead things to the ground.

Transformed!!!

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve had this word on my mind for a few days now and it keeps coming back. Many of you probably know Romans 12:2 by heart. This verse has been running through my mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I’ve known about this verse for some years, even committed it to memory but never really applied it to my life.

This verse says several important things to us. Basically it seems we have two roads we can follow. We can be conformed or transformed. Which road we take is the difference between living a life that pleases God or a life that pleases ourselves. When “world” is used in this context, it has the meaning of “the society or system that man has built in order to make himself happy without God (MacDonald).” As we know, this world system for now is under the control of Satan. There was a book written many years ago called The Battle for the Mind or something like that. It was about how Satan most important tactic in the life of a man or woman is to win their minds. Why? Because if he can win our mind, he wins everything.

What does transform mean anyway. The Cambridge dictionary defines transform as “to change completely the appearance or character of something or someone.” The word used in Romans 12:2 is actually the same as metamorphosis. Do you remember that word from your science classes in your school days? The picture is of a furry caterpillar morphing into a beautiful butterfly. God wants to transform us like that caterpillar. He wants our minds to be transformed so that we will love and submit to Him with all our hearts. My deep desire for myself is to have my heart (mind, emotions and will) changed from the inside out so as to love and please the Lord. I am tired of wrestling with God.

How does a transformed mind happen? I only know of one way. we need to think the way God thinks. That can only come through the Word of God as the Holy Spirit of God enlightens our hearts (mind). It means prayer, Bible reading and study, memorizating and meditating on the Word.

I have always liked the comparison of Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters. You know the story. Martha was the service queen of the family. Mary was the pensive and contemplative one always sitting at Jesus’ feet. If we are not careful when we read the narrative, we can think that Martha was blowing it. We need to be careful here. Jesus never chastised Martha for her work. Work and service is a necessary part of the Christian walk. What Jesus did tell Martha was to keep her service in perspective. We need to serve from a God’s perspective, not just serve for service’s sake.

The things mentioned above about (prayer, Bible study, etc.) are all necessary things to grow close to Jesus. But they cannot be done as a “work.” Then it becomes drudgery and we soon give up. Unless I forget, I always pray that the Spirit will enlighten my mind before I get into the Word. Mary had the physical presence of Jesus with her, thus she just clung to Him. But we have something more and better. We Have Jesus with us at all times because He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. I don’t know if it sinks into our minds what a difference that fact should in our lives. We just take it for granted or don’t think about it at all. I think if we would think about more often, we would make better choices with our lives.

According to Romans 12:1-2 there are keys to knowing God’s will. The first key is actually found in verse 1. It is a yielded body. Theologians tell us, and I believe the Bible confirms it, that there are three parts to man: body, soul (mind, emotions and will) and spirit. It is important to yield our bodies to the Lord. The second key is a separated life. This is found in verse 2 where we are told not to be conformed to the world. If we are to truly follow Christ, we must be separated from the world. The third key is to have a transformed mind. A transformed mind will want to follow and serve Christ. The idea of pleasing our self-live will fade and we will be in a loving and close relationship with our Lord. I pray that we will allow the Spirit to transform our minds to submit ourselves and follow Him at all costs. Time is short. May we love our Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our might. I believe that love for Him will transform our lives into faithful service to a broken and hurting world around us.