Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

The other night, at re:generation, we were in step 11, which talked about being intimate with God. As I was preparing for the class and reading the material, I was struck about my prayer life and how very unintimate my prayer life has become. I guess I knew that, but really hadn’t given it too much thought lately.

Then a couple days later, I woke up about 5AM. I tried for a while, and after realizing sleep was a lost cause for that morning, I decided to read my Bible for a while. I happened to be in Luke 10 that morning and I came to verses 38-41:

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Now, I’ve read this many times and even heard sermons on it. But the meaning of this either went over my head or has long been forgotten. It is a rich passage worthy of our attention. I have also been told, and believe it is true, that the Bible is very practical to our everyday life. So, I wondered, “what is here that I need to see and attend to.” As I thought about this, I became aware of several things.

First, notice that the passage says that Martha was distracted (v40). Actually, she was angry at Mary for leaving her alone to do all the work. So, she brought her complaint to Jesus. Jesus gently and lovingly told Martha that she was troubled everyday matters but there is something more important than serving. More on that in a minute.

Then notice Mary. She was silent during all this. That probably made Martha even angrier. But Jesus, in His gentle response, told Martha that Mary had chosen the best response to Him being there. She sat at Jesus’ feet and took in what He was saying.

So, what about us. It is important to know that serving is not the main issue here. We are called to serve and serving is important. But we are also called to KNOW and LOVE God with all our heart and soul. Jesus is simply saying that we will serve better by knowing Him than we will be working harder. I don’t know about you, but I find myself serving and serving, and often becoming frustrated over it. That should be our first lesson here, to be aware of our hearts. If our hearts are weighed down and anxious over our serving, then we need to regroup. We need to get before the LORD, seek to know Him better and ask Him for His strength and peace.

Second, at least for me, comes the question, how do we really “sit at Jesus’ feet” and get to know Him better. I must admit, I do not find this easy but I have some suggestions to help us. Think of what it takes to get to know someone. First, it takes time. You cannot really know someone unless you sit down and talk with them. We also need to listen to the person we are talking with. God wants us to take time and talk and listen to Him. In other words, pray. I’ve learned over the years that the words we use or our posture is not as critical as just taking time to be with Him. So first and foremost, we need to make time. Actually, we need to make Him the priority of our time. Mornings are good, but there is no law that we must do that. Honestly, I think mornings are the best, but except for weekends, I usually spend my lunch hour with Jesus or I find another part of my day if lunch hour is not possible.

I probably need to bring this to a close. Can I give you one more practical step to spending time with Jesus? Many years ago (this is one of those things I have forgotten until recently), I was taught that reading meditatively in the Psalms is a great way to learn to praise God. The first Psalm I ever really tried that with was Psalm 103. Since then, I have found many more Psalms such as 111, 139 and 145 to be great Psalms of praise. I also think it is important to know that praise and thanksgiving are not the same. Simply put, thanksgiving is to thank God for his blessings to us (family, jobs, health, etc.). Praise is acknowledging who God is in his person. As you read the Psalms meditatively, you will learn a lot about who God is. We often call this “God’s attributes.” For example, some of God’s attributes are His eternalness, His wisdom, His love, His faithfulness, His mercy…I could go on and on. The simple thing to do is when you read passages that exhibit God’s attributes, pray them back to Him. Just sit at humbly at His feet and acknowledge how great our LORD is. Soon, we will have developed that habit of doing this. But if our praise is from the heart, God will always be pleased. He desires for us to praise Him!!!

I hope this doesn’t sound preachy but I wanted to show this in a practical way. The decisions we make in life will determine the quality of our walks with God. May we learn to make the right decisions and sit at our LORD’s feet and worship Him. Blessings.

Angels and Shepherds

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Yesterday, I finished up reading through the New Testament for the second time this year. So today, I had the hard time of deciding where to approach my NT reading again. So, as I sat down to have some time with the Lord this morning, I decided to start with the Gospel of Luke. My totally spiritual reason for this decision was because Luke is often the most difficult Gospel for me to read, so why not start with that. I’m sure God was totally pleased with my thinking process in that (that’s sarcasm, if you didn’t get that). Anyway, this morning I started by reading and thinking about Luke chapter 1 and 2.

I hope it’s not too early to start writing blogs with a Christmas theme, but I would like to talk about a couple of things that struck me this morning about the Birth of Jesus from Luke chapter 2. As a child growing up in the Catholic church, Luke 2:1-14 was always an exciting passage to me. Our family had the  tradition of going to midnight Mass on Christmas eve. It was always a “High Mass” with a choir to sing the chants, etc., and the priest would read from Luke 2. I never really knew where the reading was from, until many years later after I became a Christ follower and was reading my very own Bible for the first time. I came to Luke 2, and there it was!! While I really liked the passage and story I never really took time to look into on a deeper level.

So, here are a couple of things that struck me today. First, was the timing of Jesus’ birth. It seemed innocent enough, A decree by Caesar was given that made everyone go to their own town to register. He had no idea he was fulfilling an ancient prophecy by doing this. So, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem and ended up staying in the only place they could find, a dirty, stinky manger. It was here that the Savior of the world was born as a human and entered our world! He was called “Christ the Lord in Luke 2. Christ, because because He was the anointed of God to be the Savior of Israel and the Gentile world, for that matter. He was Lord because he was God, manifested in the flesh! This is not just a story that we tend to romanticize, it’s fulfilled prophecy from God Himself. To see this, we need to go to Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” This prophesy was written sometime between 733 and 701 BC and was fulfilled in Gods perfect timing!

Then, there is the way the Savior came into the world. Imagine yourself as an angel in God’s heavenly choir. I read an imaginary scenario of this in a book once. Here you are in the heavenly choir practicing for what will be the glorious entry of God into the world. Your thoughts are full of excitement and anticipation of this once in a life-time, and momentous event. Then the time finally comes. The assembly of angels comes down to earth and “the glory of the Lord shown around them.” Then the angels look out of their audience. Not the kings and potentates of the world as you might expect, and not even the religious leaders of Israel, but a few scum of the earth shepherds!! What a let down this could have been!! This passage shows us a couple of things. First, it shows the only way we can come to know Christ. We can only come to Him as He came into the world, as a child born of humble circumstances. We have nothing to offer Him, He has everything to offer us. We can only come in true humility. Second, it shows us the type of Savior He would be. He would be lowly and humble while here on earth, but He will ultimately be the King of kings and the Lord of lords over all the earth!

I must admit, this passage takes on a whole new meaning for me this this time around. I am truly humbled that God would reach down to call a selfish, proud person like me to be able to know Him as my Savior. I pray that this season of Christmas will have new meaning for us. I also pray that it will not be just for “the season.” May our hearts and wills be drawn ever nearer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!!

Others May

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I thought I would do a little something different in this blog post. Many years ago, when I first came to GFA, I was given the below text written by a man named George Douglas Watson. I had never heard of him back then, but I have saved his little writing since I first received it. I pull it out every now and then to remind me of my pride and self-life. It always humbles and makes me renew myself to the LORD. One of our leaders wrote the staff an email recently with this writing attached, and once again it had a humbling effect on me. So, I thought I would share it with you. It is written in old English so it may be a little hard to read. But I urge you to give it a try and see what the Spirit does in you.

Please know that I am not taking aim at anyone by sharing this, except myself. So, please take this post in the light that I give it, in the grace and love of our LORD. So, for this blog just before Thanksgiving, I offer you “Others May, You Cannot” by George Douglas Watson. May it speak to you as it does to me every time I read it:

If God has called you to be really like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

 Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it; and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

 Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

 Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

 The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants you to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He may let others get the credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater then Jesus comes.

 The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

 Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now when you are so possessed with the loving God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.

—George Douglas Watson, 1845-1924 (public domain)
May our LORD draw us ever nearer to Him during this season we call Thanksgiving. May we be truly thankful for the blessings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving.

No More War

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

November 11th is a very historical day in our country. Originally It marked the end of World War I in 1918. Being a history buff, this day in 1918 is always vivid in my mind when it comes around each year. Forgive me for doing a short history lesson, but it fits what I want to talk about. As I said, November 11, 1918 was the day the fighting stopped in “the war to end all wars.” It brought to an end the bloodiest war ever fought up to that time. Historians say an entire generation of young men was wiped out. The exact end to the war has been romanticized somewhat by writers by using the phrase, “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918, the guns were silenced.”

What actually happened on that day was that, in the hours before 11am, both sides tried to use up all their ammunition and kill off as many of the other side that they could. Officers ordered senseless charges across “no man’s land” and many were killed in the atrocities that occurred. War is a terrible thing to romanticize! But finally, at 11am, peace came. The guns became silent, the charges stopped and men stopped dying. The peace was so pronounced in its silence, that men actually went insane because of it. They had become so used to the noise and carnage that they couldn’t handle it.

Not long after, November 11th became known as Armistice Day and later became a national holiday when in 1954, Congress changed the day to Veteran’s Day in honor of all the soldiers who died in any war. Sadly, “the war to end all wars” gave birth to World War II and the Korean War, and on and on it goes.

When I reflect on all this, it always brings to mind a passage that has always had meaning to me, although I have found it hard to apply to my life. The passage is Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the Glory of God.” A few things come to my mind from this passage that I would like to share.

As with the original Armistice Day in 1918 marking the end of WWI, our salvation marks the end of our war with God! Like on that fateful day, our surrender to the LORD may have come with great struggles. Scripture talks about us being enemies of God before our salvation. We may not have thought about it in that light, but we were at war with God. But when we finally surrendered ourselves to God, the fighting stopped. God said, “enough! The war is now over and there is now peace! You can have rest. You are now my children and I love you as much as I love my own Son!” What a glorious day!

But sadly, at least for me, for so many years, I have kept my fight with God going. Not because He was my enemy, but because I could not truly believe in His grace and that He had made peace with me. I was more a prisoner of war of my own making. I could not get over the guilt and shame of a lot of things in my life and I believed that I had to keep trying to earn God’s favor to get out of the legalistic prison I had put myself in. Through a single act called Justification, God made it possible for you and me to have a permanent peace with Him. All I had to do was accept it. Through Justification, God pronounced me righteous, clean and holy before Him. But I kept saying, “No!!! This cannot be!!! How can I be justified before a holy God!!” And that is just the point, I can’t, at least in my own right, be holy and righteous before Him. But because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is true whether I believed it or not.

So, for many years, I continued to live in my legalistic prison, trying to make myself acceptable to God. It has taken a lot of years for me to finally see my problem, and a year in Regeneration, to begin to come out of my guilt ridden and legalistic life style that I had bound myself with. But now, by God’s grace, I am finally beginning to see!! I have this strange peace and freedom that I had never realized before. I tried to describe this to my re:generation group at church once but I did a poor job. During this past year, I can still see where I fail and displease God. But as I see this and confess my fear and failures to God, there is now this strange peace that I recognize from years ago. It’s almost like God’s voice saying, “We are not at war! We are at peace. Stop trying to make it something that it is not. Come to me and find rest! We have truly fought our last war and have come through the “war to end all wars!

By God’s grace, I am beginning to learn what John 8:36 means when it says, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” For God’s people, Veteran’s Day should happen every day, not just on November 11th of each year. When peace came after WWI, it was only temporary, even though that war was supposed to be the last one. Our peace with God is permanent! Our war of God is over!!! Praise God!!! I guess that is all I have to share with you today. If you haven’t made this peace with God yet, why not take that step today your first Veteran’s Day. All God asks us to do is surrender ourselves to Him and believe on His Son, Jesus Christ!

The Grave: What Are You Working For?

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

The day we moved into our house in Edgewood, the real estate lady who represented the sellers came by to pull her sign out of the yard. We exchanged pleasantries for a minute, and then she said something that no new homeowner wants to hear.

Tombstone

“Did they tell you about the grave?”

My immediate thought was ‘oh, gosh…we bought the Poltergeist house.’

I said something like “no—i don’t remember seeing anything about that on the disclosure notice and i really think i would have noticed something like that on the paperwork and we’re getting out of here before sundown ‘cause blood dripping down the walls is not something i’m prepared to deal with right now!”

She then pointed to a solitary tombstone across the road from our pasture and explained that the previous owner had gone over with his weed eater periodically and cleaned up around it, out of respect for the body laid under the earth there. The dead man’s name was Mr. Tracy.

I decided that since it was across the road, it was not the deal breaker i had first imagined. But for several days, every time the house creaked, we blamed it on Mr. Tracy. The kids giggled, nervously.

A few days that felt like dog years later, when our Internet finally got hooked up, i did some Googling and found a website that features “graves in weird places in Texas” or something along those lines. And there on the website was a picture of the tombstone that sits in front of our property along with the pieced together tale of Thomas Tracy.

Back in the day, the section house for the railroad was located on what is now our land. The story goes that he was a section foreman for the Texas and Pacific and was last seen in Wills Point, possibly intoxicated, boarding an eastbound train. His mangled body was discovered on the tracks the next morning, right across the road from his destination. The other railroad workers just decided to bury him right there next to the tracks, dug a hole and put him in it.

I’m assuming that T&P put up a tombstone since it’s on their right-of-way and people still stop there periodically to take a gander at it. It was even geocached a few months ago, and called The Iron Horse Tragedy to spice up the destination for folks who like to drive around and look at weird things. For some reason, Cracked Tombstone on Front Street wouldn’t sound nearly as interesting to the geocaching community.

History is funny like that, and i guess i’ve been thinking about it and where i fit into it all morning, as i’ve started three blog posts, all dealing with death and legacy, like some sanitized, faith-based 70’s Woody Allen movie.

It’s full of people who fell off trains, but also those who gave their lives ‘for the greater good’—expanding the horizons of mankind by connecting our country through the railroads, or building highways and bridges. Think of the 22,000 men who died linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Panama, or the 100 who died building the Hoover Dam so the Southwestern US could have drinking water and keep the golf courses in Las Vegas and Phoenix nice and green. None of them started those jobs thinking they’d end up as tragedies, but knew there was risk involved, and somehow believed a steady paycheck was worth it.

So what are you living for? Is it your job? I sat in an office for half my life making sure paper came out of machines. Watching architects and engineer’s visions print out, so that eventually people could have nice hospitals, which seems noble enough, and even nicer places to sit and watch millionaires play baseball, football and basketball, and ridiculously extravagant vacation resorts, hotels and casinos, which does not. Places i would never see or set foot in.

Someone had to make sure things printed, and it was going to happen whether i was there getting paid well to do it or not, but after a while, it just seemed so…pointless.

It wasn’t hard labor like the railroads or the canal, or treacherous bridges spanning a body of water, it was office work. I basically sat there making sure my employees did their jobs and the paper kept coming out.

But back when people worked the land by the sweat of their brow, they also saw the futility of it. Slaves sang songs about the glories of the life to come, as they worked someone else’s field under duress and hardship, in clear opposition to the lives they were living here on earth.

With all of our luxuries, we don’t see that anymore.

Are you living for something more than the (hopefully) seventy or eighty years you have here? Do you see an eternal purpose in raising your children or grandchildren? Can you pour that eternal life view into them and help shape their futures as people who see their jobs as just a way to pay bills, but not defining who they are?

James 4 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Who are you pouring something that has eternal ramifications into? Something bigger than this earth can hold, that points to the life beyond this one.

This life is short. Ask Mr. Tracy.