Small Words, Big Impact

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

At re:generation when we speak on stage, we usually start off by saying something like, “Hi, my name is Bob and I have a new life in Christ. I struggle with….” Then we go on from there and do whatever we’re supposed to talk about. We say and here, “I have a new life in Christ,” so often that, if we are not careful, it can tend to become a cliché. But having a new life in Christ is such a glorious thing that we must not take it lightly. I’d like to talk a little about that today.

There are two little words in the Bible that make all the difference for us as believers. One word is a conjunction and the other is a noun. When I thought about this, I wasn’t really sure what a conjunction was. So, I looked it up. It means: “a word used to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause (e.g., and, but, if). A noun of course, is a word used to identify people, places or things. I’m sure by now that you are wondering what this is all about. So much for the English lesson for today.

Ephesians 2:1-10 is a great passage and the that talks about God’s people and the new life He gives us. Paul starts this passage off by giving us a review of our old life in verses 1-3. He says we were dead; that we followed Satan; that we lived to feed our own desires of our body and our mind; and that we were children marked for God’s wrath! How would we like that as our epitaph written on our gravestone! Basically, Paul says we had a predisposition to live in our sins. Actually, a better way to say it is that we were slaves to sin.

But then there is this great transition that comes in two small but powerful words. Those words: “But God.” These words form one of the most significant and beautiful transitional phrases in the whole Bible. The words “But God,” connects verses 1-3, our old life, with verses 4-10, which talks about our new life in Christ. The phrase ties in what we once were to what has taken place and it is truly glorious!

The rest of the passage talks a lot about God’s character and how we obtain this new life. First, God is full of mercy and love. He owes us nothing but wrath. But because of His mercy and love He chose to give us a new life. He did not have to do it, He chose to do it! Have you ever asked God why He chose you? it’s a fairly simple question to answer but I find it a hard it a hard one to believe. It was simply out of His mercy. He didn’t need us on His team. He is totally self-sufficient. But he chose us because He wanted to, and He did this while we were still dead in our sins! God doesn’t wait until we clean up or lives before He gives us new life. If that were the case, we would never become good enough. Instead, as soon as we truly humble ourselves before God, repent of our sins and admit our helplessness to save ourselves, He brings us into His family and we become His children.

One more point I just can’t pass up about salvation, even though it comes from another part of the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose us in Christ before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. I don’t know about you, but I cannot fathom the depths of this verse. It brings back the question, why did you choose me, God? While I said above that it was because of his Mercy, I still cannot understand it. All I can do is accept it. God is so good!!

My final thought is this. God did not just save us FROM something; He saved us TO something. In verse 10 of chapter 2, God says we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. He further says that these works were picked out for us beforehand, that we should walk in them. In other words, God saved us for a purpose that He had already determined for us. He didn’t save us just so we could go on with our lives as we once did. We now have choices, whereas before salvation we had no choice at all. We were dead and we were going to follow Satan. But now, God has made it possible to make decisions toward righteousness. Try as I did before God saved me, I could do the right things even though I sometimes wanted to do so. Now, God gives us the power through His Holy Spirit to make and do right choices. I think for us in re:gen, that is something we need to realize. WE NEED TO STOP THINKING OF OURSELVES AS SINNERS! That may sound strange, but it is true! Do we sin? Absolutely!!! Are we Sinners? Not if we are truly saved by His mercy and grace. Yes, we may fall, and fall hard. But if we are truly saved, God will bring us back. We have an enemy who would keep us in bondage. But God has truly freed from that bondage. We need not fear. We need to follow.

It has taken me a lifetime to see some of these things. We complicate our lives so much by our decisions at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. My take home from all this would actually be step 7 (I didn’t mean to do this, but it fits): We humbly ask God’s spirit to change our hearts and minds in order to follow Christ fully. May God give us the grace to choose Christ’s way over our own desires. Victory is found in Christ and Christ alone! Amen and Amen!!

The Titanic

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

titanicpaint

For many years now, the name Titanic has always fascinated me. I’ve been hooked ever since I found a book at a library on the air force base we lived on in Shreveport, LA, called A Night to Remember. I was probably 13 years old at the time. I’ve followed anything I could find on the Titanic for years after that. When the press started showing photos of the ship when Bob Ballard found it in the 80’s I was truly mesmerized! I later bought a coffee table size book of all the color plates that Ballard took of the ship. They were mysterious and ghostly and I can still recall many of

them from memory of looking though that book. After I came to Texas I gave the book to one of our staff persons who used it as a teaching aid for his home-schooled children.

Like many people, I know I tend to romanticize the sinking of the Titanic. Hollywood has helped us do that along with several books written about it. But the bottom line was that this giant ship collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sunk is about 2 hours. More than 1,500 people tragically died that night of April 15, 1912. Around 700 people were saved.

I’ve read many accounts of the people who drowned and watched several TV documentaries where survivors were interviewed. Several of the richest people in the world were on board the Titanic that night, as well as some of the poorest people in the world. The one thing they had in common was that none of them expected to die that night.

Later, after I gave my life to the Lord, I heard another somewhat unknown story about the Titanic. I first heard it when one of the leaders in our ministry gave a devotional at one of our morning prayer meetings. I hadn’t thought about the Titanic much since I arrived here but that devotional peaked my interest again. I’d like to share a little of it with you.

There was a British pastor on the Titanic that night. His name was John Harper. In all the material I read and saw on the Titanic, I had never heard this story. But after I was saved, I wondered if there were any Christians on the ship. I received my answer when I listened to the devotional on him from our leader. I’ve copied part of the story about John Harper from the internet, below:

(John) Harper’s reputation as an evangelist was so well known that he was invited to speak at The Moody Church in 1910. I (the person writing the article) have in my possession a photocopy of a letter, in his own handwriting, which reads, “I have been in Chicago for three months, God gave us a very precious and wonderful revival of continuous services each day and sometimes even more often.” He went on to say that he now had been invited back to The Moody Church for another three months of meetings.

And so, it was that John Harper, his sister, and his six-year-old daughter (his wife had died) found themselves on the great ship, the Titanic. Survivors later reported that as Titanic began to sink, Harper admonished people to be prepared to die. He made sure his sister and daughter were in a lifeboat even as he continued to share the Gospel with whoever would listen. And when he found himself in the icy water with a life jacket, floating near another man, Harper asked, “Are you saved?”

“No, I’m not saved!” the desperate man replied.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” Harper shouted.

One report says Harper, knowing he could not survive long in the icy water, took off his life jacket and threw it to another person with the words, “You need this more than I do!” Moments later, Harper disappeared beneath the water. Four years later, when there was a reunion of the survivors of the Titanic, the man to whom Harper had witnessed told the story of his rescue and gave a testimony of his conversion recorded in a tract, I was John Harper’s Last Convert.

As I thought about this the other day, a couple of thoughts came to mind that I think would be good for us to remember.

First, we never know when, or how, we our Lord will call us home. I’m sure the 1500 people who died never gave that a thought until the ship hit the iceberg. The Bible talks about being sober-minded. I think having a view of our mortality in mind is part of being sober-minded. I heard it said it said a few times that, “you can never really live until you are ready to die.” It was something like that, anyway. Our time is not our own. It is in God’s hands. May we spend what time we have here on this earth to His glory. That is not always easy as you probably know. But it is something we should aim for. Otherwise we hit nothing and live for ourselves.

The other thing this story shows me, is that God is always working. Think about Mr. Harper’s last encounter. God wanted to save that man in the water and He used John Harper to do it. The story also says, that before the ship sank that Mr. Harper went around talking to all that he could. We don’t know if any of them took his advice and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. But we do know that at least one person was saved that night.

Take that and apply it to your own life. What did our LORD do in your life to bring you to Him. I’ve heard some of your stories and I know you, like me, had pretty much hit rock bottom. But, by His grace, we responded to His call. Each story is different but has one element that is true for all of us. We believed, we confessed, and we humbled ourselves to Jesus. He did the saving. Praise God! We have a glorious God who looked on us and said “I want him. I want her.” He never forced us. He called and we responded. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful and humbled that our LORD would called me to be his son. What about you?

A Story of a Good King

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Once upon a time, there was a young man who became king of a great country. His name was Bubba (OK, it’s really not Bubba, but let’s pretend). Bubba was a good king. He believed in God and did things to make God happy and bring His blessings on the people. The king before him was not very nice and did not do the right things for God. But Bubba cleaned up all his mess which made God happy. Bubba’s kingdom had rest from all kinds of wars and other nasty things.

Later, there was a king from another country that came to make war with Bubba. King Bubba took stock of his army and he had around 500,000 men. That was a big army, but the other king had a million men!! This made King Bubba a bit nervous. The only thing Bubba could think of to do was to pray and ask for God’s help. It was a short prayer. The battle was about to start so there was no time for a long, drawn out prayer. And guess what? God heard Bubba’s prayer and defeated the enemy.

After that battle, Bubba kept making reforms and improvements in his kingdom. He tore down idols and places of worship of other gods. He even made his grandmother stop being the queen mother because she made a detestable image of a false God. Bubba was indeed, a very good king.

Then later, another king wanted to make war with King Bubba. This time King Bubba made an alliance with a third king who was not really following God. To cement this alliance, Bubba took treasures from the house that they built for God and his own house and gave them to the king. When the king who wanted to make war heard of the alliance, he got scared and took off running. So, this enemy was defeated just like the first time. The crisis was over!

But this time God was not happy. So, He sent a prophet to King Bubba to explain what he did wrong. The prophet said, “at the time of the first battle, you prayed to God and He defeated the enemy for you. But this time, you relied on man rather than God. Even though things ended well, God is angry at you!” King Bubba used to listen to the prophets, but this time he got angry and threw the prophet in jail.

After that, King Bubba was not the same good king he used to be. He became cruel to some of the people. Sometime later, Bubba started having trouble with his feet. It finally got so bad that he died from it. During his illness, he never even prayed to God one time about his illness. How sad. But God declared that Bubba was still a good king overall. Sadly, the people of the kingdom did NOT live happily ever after.

I would guess you know that this is the story of King Asa taken from 2 Chronicles 14-16. I like reading a lot of the stories in 2 Chronicles. It talks about good and bad kings, victories, defeat and judgment among other subjects. But I don’t think they are meant just to be interesting stories There are things we can learn from the actions of the kings, both good and bad. Here are a few I learned from the story of King Asa.

  1. Doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord is a good thing. Whether we see blessings from them with our eyes or not, it is just good to please the Lord from our hearts. I’m not sure if I said this already, but I have this new prayer that I try to keep in mind and pray. “Lord, let me have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to follow you completely.” Spend time in the Word. But approach it from your heart. Ask God to show you what He wants you to see as you read.
  1. When we are up against a problem, trial or crisis, we need to pray and trust God to help us through it. A lot of our problems, especially for us men, comes from trying to run our lives. I know, we are good John Wayne Americans and we can handle our lives. Friends, that is nothing but a lie from satan.
  1. Watch out for idols in our lives. The Bible says that Asa did not take down the “High Places” in Israel. For the most part, these places were a stumbling block to the people in worshiping the true God. I think we all have idols of some kind. It may be food, TV or movies, sports, shopping, friendships or something else. May God show us our idols that need to be surrendered to Him. What stands in our way of following God fully?
  1. It’s funny, even though Asa didn’t take down the high places and he ended his kingship badly, 2 Chron. 15:17 says that “nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days. I’m not sure I understand that, except when I look at it through the heart of grace of God! Maybe God knows we are but dust and will never follow Him fully. I’m not sure. I do things that I think constantly displease God. But when He shows me, I always try to keep a short account and confess it. Grace is so much more that we can imagine with our minds.
  1. Lastly, I think we should never give up hope and prayer. The Bible says that when Asa had the disease in his feet, he did not seek the Lord. We need to pray, and pray and pray! There are times when I find prayer most difficult to do. Even today, it was difficult. But the Bible says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” 2 Chron. 16:9. This kind of reminds me of something Pastor Bryan said last Sunday. He said, people will say all kinds of bad things about you. But don’t give them an opportunity to question your integrity. That’s a paraphrase but I think I have the point.

None of these five things are easy, and we may not always see the results, at least here on this earth. But God who is everywhere at all times (wrap that around your brains) will be pleased. Let’s seek Him with all our hearts! Amen.

 

Sick

ToiletMark Johnston, Connections Pastor

A while back I got sick in the middle of the night.

Really sick.

We’re talking drunk freshman in college, ‘i’m never eating that again,’ lying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, looking like one of those really awful extras in The Walking Dead, crying out to God kind of sick.

I’ll spare you the details, but believe me, it was bad.

I made all kinds of promises to the Lord while lying there, and i did live through it, although i haven’t had the chance to tell my two youngest kids that they’re going to have to be missionaries to Africa. I’ll try to find an appropriate time for that in the future, maybe one night over pizza.

What’s my reason for telling you this?

Over these fifty some-odd years, i’ve learned a few things in this life—never keep your bottle of Chloraseptic next to the glasses cleaning spray on the nightstand when it’s dark (that one works out badly either way), that no matter how much i love my wife’s curly hair, getting it out of the shower drain is not a job for the faint of heart, that i have zero business living in the country, and that who I am when I’m lying on the bathroom floor at 3:00 in the morning is who I should be all the time.

Desperate. Crying out to God because I can’t do this on my own.

The more i’m in tune with what the Bible says, what God’s word tells me that i am…weak, sinful, prone to wander…the more i can see that bathroom floor kind of helplessness every day. And i need that constant reminder. Despite how big a mess of things that i have made this life, on multiple occasions, and found God’s grace as the only solution to my predicaments, i still tend to think that i have this under control. That somehow i am smart enough to navigate these waters, even though the very One who created those waters, and the storms that stir them up tells me in His word that i am not, and that He’s got this if i’ll just stop being stupid. But i continually forget.

Spiritual Alzheimer’s.

But here’s the deal—i know i’m not alone in this. Most of us, if left to our own devices, tend to forget how helpless we really are in this life. Our pride steps up and says ‘we can handle this’ unless we continually squash it down and feed it the Truth of scripture.

If you’re struggling with letting God have His way in your life, you don’t need to end up hugging a toilet to get your spiritual system cleaned out. Stonepoint Church offers a great ministry called re:generation that meets on Monday nights at 7PM at our Wills Point Campus. re:generation is called a ‘recovery’ ministry, and unfortunately, that paints a picture of people that are going through struggles with drugs or alcohol. And while it’s a great program for people with those struggles, the honest truth is that we are all recovering from something, and that re:gen is really a discipleship ministry, pointing people to the truth that is in God’s word and teaching them to rely on Him for strength in every day life.

I have said on many occasions that in re:gen, people come through the doors acknowledging their brokenness, and in just about all of our other ministries, we are trying to convince people that they are broken.

re:gen has shown countless people that sometimes in life, the bathroom floor is not the worst place you can be.