The Faith of a Caleb

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today at the ministry we had a half day prayer meeting. We have these every so often in addition to our regular times of prayer. During the meeting one of our leaders shared a devotional on faith and prayer. As part of the devotional he mentioned Joshua and Caleb regarding some things that destroy our faith in God. Now I need to tell you that Caleb is one of my favorite Bible characters and I pray occasionally that I can be more like him. I get this from my reading in the book of Numbers, especially chapters 13 and 14. I recently read these chapters during my regular time of Bible reading. In addition to the that, during the week and at the prayer meeting today, the name of Caleb came up several times. So, I thought maybe I should write about him.

It was mentioned today that Numbers 13 and 14 are two of the most important chapters in the Bible regarding how not to derail our faith. I would guess you know the story by heart. It is the story of sending out the 12 spies to check out the Promised land that the LORD had already given to the Israelites. The spies returned and 10 of the 12 of them gave a true albeit a negative report of what they saw. They saw that the land was indeed a good land and brought back proof of the fruit in the land. But the spies also saw high-walled cities and great armies including giants. One man tried to encourage the people: “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we well able to overcome it’” (Numbers 13:30). But he was quickly silenced by the other spies and the people.

Chapter 14 is one of the saddest and most negative chapters in the Bible. The spies got the whole congregation of Israel on their side and the people grumbled against Moses. Whenever Caleb tried to speak up, he was silenced and at one point the people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for their stand. The chapter ends with God’s judgment Israelites and sends them back into the wilderness until the current generation died out and a new generation was raised. Just before heading out, the people finally agree to go up and fight but by that time the dye had already been cast. Moses warned the people not to go fight because the LORD was no longer with them. What a sad statement! But the people went up anyway, were defeated and headed back out into the wilderness.

So, here a couple of thoughts about Caleb and faith. What made Caleb different than the rest of the people? It is summed up in Numbers 14:24: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” That’s it. Caleb had a different spirit and believed, or had faith in God.

There are a few of things we can take with us from this story and put into our lives. First, Caleb had the faith and courage to stand alone. I’ve heard it said, it costs nothing to follow a crowd, but it takes everything to stand up to one. Caleb had the courage to stand alone in his faith in God. God had already promised the land to the people. When the people saw the obstacles in front of them, their faith died. Caleb had faith in the word of God and he clung to that and did not let the circumstances cause fear in his life. I believe we should do the same.

Another thing that Caleb did to help his faith was that he didn’t listen to negative talk. Numbers 13:32 says that the spies brought a bad report of the land to Israel. The people listened and it destroyed any faith that they might have had. Think of it!! The report given by the spies destroyed the entire nation of Israel. Their corpses rotted in the wilderness. We need to know that there is power in words, both for good and bad. When we hang around negative people the only thing that can happen is that we too will follow them and become negative. Please know, I’m not talking about people who have a melancholy character type (like me) and who have times of negativism or depression. But there are people who just like to be negative and find fault in everything and everyone. In order to maintain our faith in the LORD there may be times when we need to change our friend.

There are several other points I could bring out but I will stop with this one. Caleb believed God’s word. As I said before, God had already told the people the land was theirs. All they had to do was go in, defeat the enemy and watch God work. Caleb believed God’s word and followed Him fully (Numbers 14:24). Because of their lack of belief in God, the Israelites actually ended rebelled against God by refusing to enter the land. Then they rebelled again by going up to fight after they were told not to. The bottom line is that God will not work in a person who is in rebellion. Hebrews 3:7-11 is a great passage about the rebellion of the Israelites’ rebellion in the wilderness. There is a lesson here for us. We need to believe in God’s Word and not rebel against God by not doing what the Word says.

So, we come to the end the story of Caleb. Caleb is not one of the major Bible characters we usually study. But what is said about him in these short two chapters speaks volumes about faith and believing God. What happened to Caleb? Well, when all this started Caleb was 40 years old. He went through the wilderness journey with the generation that died off and then finally entered the land. When he was 85, he was still fighting and wanted his inheritance. Caleb went to Joshua and was given the “hill country” but he still had to go up and fight for the land.

One person here at the ministry has called me “a Caleb” at times. I believe his meaning was that I have faithfully served here for many years. While there are times I would disagree with that last statement at times my prayer is, that if I am still in this world when I am 85, I will be like Caleb. May God’s grace be with you!

April 1, 1971

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve been trying to think of a really cool title for this post, but this is all that comes to mind. Every year when April 1st rolls around I always get a little nostalgic and I look back to something that the LORD did on that date. I thought I’d write about it today.

First, I need to explain a little of my background. I grew up never seeing a Bible nor even knowing what it was about. I went to church and was “religious.” I knew there was a God and I believed in Jesus Christ, but never knew how to apply that knowledge to my life. But, strangely enough, from when I was a small child, I had this consciousness that there was a God and somehow we should please and serve Him.

Fast forward to 1970. I was 23 years old and started college in Colorado in September. I met a Christian guy the first day of Freshman orientation and over time we became friends. We spent a lot of times sitting in the Navajo Truck Stop three miles out of town late into the evening. John would talk about God, Jesus and the Bible, and I listened without grasping much.

I used to think I had been searching for God for many years but now I know better. Ephesians 1:4 says,”…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” While I thought, I was searching for God, the truth was He was pulling me toward Him.

So, with that background, let me get back to the story. It was March of 1971 and I found myself in Belle Plain, Kansas. I was helping my college roommate go home and spent some time with his family. One day, I was in a small drug store looking at a spinning book rack. You know, the ones that you stood still and the rack could be spun around. It was filled with cheap dollar books. As I was looking, a book caught my eye. It was called Peace with God by Billy Graham. I knew who he was, but never heard him preach. We weren’t supposed to listen to people like him in my church. The book was cheaply printed and on the outside cover was a Bible verse: You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). Knowing nothing about theology, I decided that verse was for me. That is what I felt I had been doing for most of my life. I bought the book. I didn’t have time to read it but that verse kept coming up in my mind.

After a week in Kansas, I took off in my car for the 9-hour drive back to Colorado and school. Strangely, I had this thought as I was driving back that something was going to happen to me when I got back to school and it was going to involve me and God. I couldn’t explain it nor could I shake it all the way back. It was the weirdest thing to me.

I arrived at school in the early evening and went into my dorm room. As I was sitting around I heard a knock on my door. It was my friend John who had come down to invite me to a “Navigators” (Christian college group) meeting on Thursday. I told him I would come and wondered if this had something to do with my thoughts in the car.

Thursday night rolled around and I went to the meeting. I was invited to come a little early and meet with some of the Christians for prayer. I felt a bit anxious about that but I was also curious. Curiosity won out and I found myself in a room with the Christian students. They started praying and all I could say was I was mesmerized. They were just talking with God as though He was in the room with them. I had never prayed like that before except maybe once when I asked God to reveal Himself to me so I could know Him. That was six years before.

During the meeting, a student named Rich who was a little older than most of us was invited to speak. I can’t remember anything he said but I know I listened. After he was finished and the meeting ended, I went up to Rich and asked him if we could talk. He said of course and we sat down. I told him about my life and he listened. Finally, at one point Rich said, “Jesus Christ is the answer to all your problems.” There was more to it than that, but I can’t remember what. I just remember those words, “Jesus Christ is the answer to all your problems.” I told Rich I truly wanted Him in my life and he explained the Gospel to me. That night, April 1, 1971, I became a son of God! Over time, God led me through many things both good and bad. I bought my first Bible and started to read it. I sought to grow in Him and have continued to do that despite all my failures and sin.

So, there you have it. You now know why April 1, 1971 is so important to me and etched in my memory. God set my life on a new course that night. And through the struggles, failures and victories, He has always been with me.

But why am I telling you all this? I would like to end with a few thoughts. First, salvation is a miracle of God. We can’t save ourselves nor can any person save us. We must not take it lightly. Second, salvation is also just the beginning, not the end. We should never look at it as a “ticket to Heaven,” as I have heard, and go about living lives our way. We must remember that we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and that price was the blood of Jesus Christ. Finally, we need to live before Christ with our lives totally surrendered to Him. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” We spend so much time trying to figure out what God is doing or where He is in our lives. The truth is that unless we become as a little child, we cannot enter the Kingdom. God is so above us that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend Him. Let us trust Him and humble ourselves to Him. He is always with us and will not let us down. Happy April Fool’s Day, a little early.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot.

 

The Pride of Life

The Pride of Life: Becoming a Nobody

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I had lunch with a friend the other day. We were having a good time talking and laughing when I said something like, “let me tell you what I really want for what’s left of my life.” I then said I didn’t want to tell her after all, because she would think I was stupid. We talked a little longer and then I said, “I’m just going to do it and tell you anyway.” I then said, “I want to be a nobody.” I could tell by my friend’s reaction that she wasn’t sure what to make of it. I also didn’t explain it to her, but I want to talk about this a little bit today.

I’ve been thinking and praying about this for some time. I come from a background of working hard for 40 years. Twenty years were with the State of Colorado and twenty years have been with a Christian ministry. In Colorado, I was always looking for a better job, more responsibility, more money, etc. At the ministry, that changed a bit and I, at least somewhat, did not take pride in having a job title or overseeing a department or things like that. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have pride in whatever I achieved. Pride is such a subtle disease, if I can call it that. Over the last two years, I have had some struggles the Lord over the way things have been going with my life. I must admit, some of what was going on made me angry. So, over time, my attitude became one of anger, frustration and bitterness.

By God’s grace during part of all this, God led me to re:generation for all of 2016. While there, I began to see a lot of the sin in my life. Again, by God’s grace, I was able to look at my sin and pray over it and ask forgiveness. Like it or not, I found the biggest sin I had could be summed up in one word: PRIDE!! 

As I spent time praying about this and asking God to change my heart and I began to find my attitude changing. Thus, I could tell my friend the other day, I want to be a nobody.What do I mean by that? I don’t mean that I want to feel I am no good, I can’t do anything right, I’m just too sinful or anything like that. I truly am those things in my flesh but that’s not the point. God has given me a new life in Christ, I am chosen, I am redeemed, forgiven and I have the Holy Spirit in my life. That’s all good stuff, but my heart is that I now want to be a bond-servant to Jesus Christ. (It sounds boastful even to talk like this). Here is a straight forward verse that talks about this: “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 10:38.

I cannot say it any better. May God truly humble us to be this kind of servant for Jesus Christ. Whether I get recognized for anything or not, whether I get thanked for something or not, whether I ever get to do the things that I think are important to me in ministry or not, don’t matter. Please know I’m not bragging about this new change that I believe God has wrought in my life. I am more surprised by it than I could explain.

I had the privilege to give my re:generation testimony a few days ago. One of the things I said a few times was that my sins were hidden and respectable. They are not overt things that people would notice. They are sins of the heart that I can hide from others. I can look like I am being a good servant on the outside while my heart can be as black as coal. I don’t want to look good! I want Jesus to make me good from the inside out! Being a servant to Jesus is a choice we make. We can serve Jesus or serve ourselves. May our hearts so break over our sins so much that we fall at the foot of His Cross and surrender ourselves to Him. It’s not an easy choice, but it is a choice that will bring joy to our lives that we have never understood before. May we learn what it truly means when Jesus says: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.I can honestly tell you I am not there at this point. But I am truly asking God to make this kind of life a reality to me. I truly want to be a nobody!

Give Me Jesus

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I had a little bit of a different weekend this past week. For one thing, I have this friend named Sarah. Another friend of Sarah’s bought her an airline ticket to come down here for the weekend. Now, that’s a good friend! Anyway, I figured I would not have an opportunity to see Sarah, but there was an open house on Saturday afternoon. Even though I was busy on Saturday, I decided I needed to stop by and see Sarah.

As with most open-house events, there were several people there but we got to visit for a little while. Sarah, is now a 25-year-old young lady who came down to GFA for our School of Discipleship when she was 18. That is when I first met her. She graduated and decided to come back on staff and over time, we became friends.

It’s funny, I guess. But when I got home from the open-house, I started thinking back a little and took myself back to my wife, Alice’s memorial service in 2013 that was held at GFA. It was a pretty hard time for me but the ministry did a great job of preparing the service so I wouldn’t have to. About the only thing I had to do, as I remember, was to ask someone to do the music. I’m not sure why, but I thought of Sarah who back then was a younger lady who had just turned 21. I asked Sarah to pick out a couple of songs that she might think appropriate, but did ask her to please sing Give Me Jesus. I left the rest up to her. As I was thinking about things after the open-house, I thought what a great young lady, Sarah was to do that. Sarah is very musically talented but being such a young lady at that time, I think I put some pressure on her. We never talked about it. She just said she would do it and my only other task was to show up at the service. I remember sitting there when Sarah started singing this song. I had to choke back tears and keep my composure because at the end of the service I was supposed to say a few words. I got through it and was very thankful to Sarah and the ministry for their help with the memorial service.

Give Me Jesus!! I have liked that song ever since I first saw Fernando Ortega sing it during a concert at a large Baptist church in here in Plano. But it’s funny, I haven’t thought about it for some time. But seeing Sarah brought it back to my mind for some reason. It’s a simple song, really. There are only three short verses: one starts with “In the morning when I rise…”; the second verse says: “and when I am alone…” and the third starts out with “and when I come to die…” and they all end with Give me Jesus. It is truly glorious in its simplicity! Give me Jesus. Is He enough! Does our heart want to burst at the thought of Him?

I can’t say that was always the case for me, but lately, but lately I am becoming aware of all that Jesus is. I have sometimes asked myself, “If Jesus never answered another prayer, would I still want to follow Him? Of course, I want to say yes to that question. But I must confess, there are times that when my heart is either weak or breaking or just cold, that I just wonder how I can keep going. This is not always just selfishness on my part. Sometimes I read articles about God’s people around the world who are going through intense persecution and I just cry out to God for them. (By the way, I heard the other day that our good old USA made it to a Christian persecution watch list). Sometimes I hear about people in around me suffering from sickness or loss, and I just cry out for God to comfort them.

Again, is Jesus enough for us? Or do we just want Him for the benefits we can get from Him? Large crowds were following Jesus through most of His ministry, but he gave Himself to only twelve. And they certainly the “cream of the crop.” I’ve been reading the Gospels lately. Some of the scenes in the Garden are just heart breaking if we take the time to think about them. I can just picture Jesus leaving his disciples in one spot then taking Peter and two others a little distance and asking them to watch and pray with Him because His heart was heavy. They slept. Jesus then went on alone and talked to His Father. Talking isn’t quite the word, pleading is more like it. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” In essence, Jesus said, if there was any other possibility, other than being crucified, for God to take it away. But He also knew His purpose and surrendered to the will of the Father.

Jesus Gave up everything for us! Sometimes that thought just blows me away. He emptied Himself of his equality with the Father. He put Himself under the authority of His earthly parents. He was mocked, beaten and finally crucified for us so that we might have life now, and eternal life with Him, later. What a God we serve!! We don’t understand His ways, totally. We want peace when He seems to bring nothing but trial and struggle. We want to do things our way, when Jesus says we need to crucify ourselves at the cross and follow Him. May we drop at the feet of Jesus in repentance, submission and humility. GIVE ME JESUS!!! We need nothing else!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rZ8k9m2hwo 

 

 

Hockey Sticks

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

The other night i had a dream. (Yeah, another blog post about a dream, but this one contains no 70’s musical references.)

In this one, i was picking up limbs at the house i grew up in in Northeast Dallas. The house is down in a valley and had a lot of tall trees back then; several pecans and a huge cottonwood in the backyard that rained down that annoying cotton stuff on the whole neighborhood. In the dream, i was picking up limbs alone in the front yard, gathering them up for the bulk trash pickup.

hqdefaultIn the city we had a truck that came by once a month to pick up large items, and brush. Out here where we live now, we just burn all that stuff in a bonfire, but they frown on that sort of thing in the city.

In the dream, along with of all the tree limbs were five or six old hockey sticks.

Now, a little back story is necessary here. I don’t play hockey. I never played hockey. I have never even ice skated at all. Something about seeing those thin little blades, and assuming my ankles would snap like twigs if i tried to stand on them got it scratched off the list of things i wanted to try very early in life.

Despite being a life-long non-skater, and in spite of the fact that i haven’t been to, or even watched a game on TV in years, i do have a hockey stick. An autographed one.

Back when i was a kid, my dad worked in the mailroom of a finance company. One of the other men there had some sort of side job with the Dallas Black Hawks, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Black Hawks of the NHL. They played in the old State Fair Coliseum, an arena filled on game night with so much cigarette smoke that it would make executives at RJ Reynolds queasy.

When i was in the second or third grade, my dad starting getting us tickets to see games. The Central Hockey League basically existed for guys who never made the big time to finish out their careers drawing a check in the minors, but mostly to polish their fists on each other’s faces. Every game had a fight or two…or ten. There were only six teams in the league, and that much familiarity breeds a lot of contempt in sports. They mixed a little hockey in with the fighting, but the fisticuffs were the main draw for the chain smoking fans in the Coliseum.

My dad’s co-worker also got me and my friend from school a couple of pucks that had flown over the glass in practice, and got us each a hockey stick autographed by JP LeBlanc and Oscar Gaudet. You don’t know them, but in my 10 year old world, it might as well have been Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr. (If you don’t follow hockey, they’re two of the all-time greats. My hockey stick signers are some guys that only old-time Dallas hockey fans would remember.) We also got an autographed picture of the goalie, Kenny Somebody.

So in my dream, hockey sticks are mixed in with the tree limbs and i’m taking them all to the street.

I’m no Daniel, but it doesn’t take an Old Testament dream interpreting genius to see the metaphor. I have no use for hockey sticks, so i was getting rid of them.

So, what else is cluttering up my life that i need to get rid of?

What else is cluttering up your life that you need to get rid of?

Maybe it’s something physical. I will admit to having some hoarding tendencies…i still have the stick autographed by two career minor leaguers in my home office, for cryin’ out loud. (In my defense, when my friend Brad came to my fiftieth birthday party, after not seeing each other for years, one of the first things he asked was ‘do you still have your stick?’ He had held on to his, as well.) We have a storage shed mostly full of my stuff that i’m going to go through and possibly get rid of…someday. Some of it has some value, but a lot of it is just (it pains me to say it) junk.

But maybe it’s something else altogether. Maybe your ‘hockey stick’ is a dependency, an addiction, a habit…something cluttering up your life that goes much deeper than the physical. Something you’re having a hard time letting go of.

Are there things in your life that God wants you to take to the curb?

In Exodus, Chapter 20, God gave Moses his Ten Commandments for his people to live by. The first four deal specifically with the way we view and respect him, and the first two of those deal specifically with our human tendency to put things on the throne where God belongs.

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.

When i was younger, i always saw that second one as outdated—something aimed at those stupid people at the bottom of the mountain who were in the process of building and worshipping a golden calf at the same time these commandments were being inscribed to Moses by the One who had miraculously led them out of Egypt and was daily supplying their every need.

We don’t bow down and worship idols these days, not in the ‘golden calf/ statue of Zeus’ sense, but we put plenty of things in our lives that take the place on the throne where God should be. Other people that we’re so codependent on that we don’t believe we can breathe without them nearby, substances, treasures, houses, jobs, money, food, sex…anything that takes our time and focus away from our relationship with God can be an idol. Some things that are good things on their own, or under the right circumstances can be given a position of too much importance if we’re not careful to stay in God’s word and maintain our relationship with him daily.

So what’s your hockey stick?

Maybe you just need to clean out the junk drawer in your kitchen. Maybe you need to clean out the junk closet of your life. Take some inventory of what God wants you to let go of this year. If you think you might need help, Stonepoint offers re:generation on Monday nights, where you can find that you are not alone in your struggle to let go of things. It’s a great place to share the story of your junk in a judgement-free environment and get into God’s word with a group of people that will give you encouragement and accountability.

Just think of the bonfire we could make out here in the country with all those hockey sticks.