Like sands through the hourglass…

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As I sat in the doctor’s office, I heard these words, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.” I laugh to myself because I used to be addicted to that show in my twenties. Heck, I even named my daughter after one of the characters (Alexandra aka Lexie)! And now as I am watching the cast, I realize that half of those actors are still on that show some 20+ years later. What a waste of time! Countless hours spent daily watching people lie, cheat, deceive, manipulate, kill and destroy each other all for the sake entertainment? Isn’t that what we watch in our real lives every day?

I quit watching TV over 15 years ago. It began when I divorced my kid’s father. I had noticed that as a single mom, TV became a babysitter and I didn’t want that, so we shut off the TV and limited ourselves to a weekly movie night. I challenged them to read or use their imaginations. As they grew older and moved out of the house, I used that time to work on my crafts or refinish furniture. But in the last few years, I have finally found the significance in my free time once I rededicated myself to the Lord, and thus set out on a mission to learn as much about Him as I could. Having VERY limited screen time has allowed me to dive into His Word and can I tell ya it’s been a complete game changer??

Joshua 1:8 – Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to do everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 

According to Google, Americans spend 10+ hours PER DAY on screen time. And we wonder why we are so negative and cynical and full of gossip and hate? God doesn’t intend for our lives to be led full of confusion!

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God (YOU) may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

Now I’m not “dissing” those who watch TV – there are some cute shows out there. (I once binge watched the entire Downton Abbey series in one week while recovering from lung surgery!) All I’m trying to convey is, that for me and my family, having very limited screen time has most importantly, brought me closer to God. It has strengthened my marriage beyond measure and made our family unit incredibly strong, because we are not consuming our time with the ways of the world. And I know that it is making us much better and healthier people for it.

“The secret to a happy life is giving God the first part of your day, the first priority to every decision, and the first place in your heart.”

I challenge YOU to see what God can do for your life and with your time!

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of MY life…🙏

The Significance of the Number 55

Christian Neal, Stonepoint Member

It started when I was on my way to Journey Group. It was Thursday evening. My Journey Group leaders, Welcome and Debbie Edwards, pulled up toward my house like they did every Thursday evening after 5:30pm. Debbie always stepped out of the car with a smile, hugged me and sat herself in the back seat to give me more leg room. (I’m without a car right now, so it’s been super helpful that my JG leaders have given me a ride to and from our group meeting Thursday nights.) In the front seat, I’d always sit back and let Welcome badger me with insults. I’ve learned to take them by now, and I give them right back. (Well, maybe “insults” is a strong word here. Welcome and I have real conversation, too, I promise.) main-qimg-4a733d79a76e5023c37c098c49527e0b-c

Driving down FM 47 to the building, I glance over at the car’s digital dashboard. I only half-listened to whatever Welcome was saying at the time as my eyes read the numbers on the little screen above the gear shift. (Fancy cars these days. They tell you the time and the temperature outside and everything.) It was 5:55pm and 55 degrees outside. Interesting.

I didn’t think much about that. Until the next Journey Group on Thursday night, the night played out again. The Edwards pull up to my driveway, Debbie gets out—you get the idea. And driving down FM 47 once again to the church, the digital dashboard reads: 5:55pm and 55 degrees outside.

‘Maybe their car’s thermostat is broken,’ I wonder. But it wasn’t. The following days it would show anywhere from the thirties to the seventies. (That’s Texas weather for you.)

But, oddly enough, it didn’t stop there.

Days later, some friends and I attended a concert, and on our way home, we stopped at a fast-food restaurant to eat a meal. I’m not really sure why, but a friend of mine raised her arm, pointing to the menu over our heads and told me, “Oh look! They have a deal on three sliders for $5.55!”

Then I go to order a fried chicken sandwich and two scoops of ice cream, and my total rings out to be $5.50 exactly. Talk about weird.

This pattern continued. I heard someone share their testimony and they lived 55 years before God changed their lives. Someone gave me a business card, and the phone number on the card literally had five 5’s in the 8-digit cell number. And it just keeps happening like that. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

So, what’s the point in me telling you all this? What is the significance of the number 55? To be honest, I’m not completely sure. Maybe God will give me a huge revelation using this number—I just haven’t seen it yet. But, I did find something that maybe ties this all together. Maybe this is the reason I saw 55, maybe not. Maybe I’m waiting in vain for some grandiose thing to be revealed, when in reality, God just wanted to show me this seemingly small thing.

I work at a ministry, and I regularly receive updates about different regions where missionaries are working. Now, for security reasons I can’t say what region it’s from, but I found a report sitting in my mailbox just a few weeks ago. I get quite a few of them, and to be honest, I don’t read many of them. But this time I happened to open up the newsletter update.

I unfolded the page and quickly scanned through the stories. I wish my heart were more moved by these stories from the field, but somehow I find myself feeling somewhat detached.

But then, in a left column, you’ll never guess what number I saw. (If you guessed 82, you’re wrong.) The number 55. But this time, the number was more significant. It was the number of people who came to know Jesus in this one region in three months’ time. 

Honestly, I feel like this number hasn’t really sunk into my heart yet. 55 people who gave their hearts to Jesus in just a few months. And somehow, working at the U.S. office of this ministry in the middle-of-nowhere Texas, I took part in helping them follow Christ.

It’s funny. Now, when I see the number 55, sometimes I remember those people who are walking with Jesus now. But, more often than not, I’m starting to get annoyed at the number 55. (Just being honest.) I’m pretty tired of seeing the 55mph speed-limit sign on 2965 every time I drive home (in a borrowed car, no less. Still don’t have a vehicle yet). And it seems like so often I’ll look down at my phone to check the time, and it’ll be 11:55am, 2:55pm, 6:55pm, and so on.

But I wonder how those 55 believers are doing. It’s very likely some are still overcoming sinful patterns like alcoholism, lust, and pride. I hope God helps me make room in my heart to pray for new believers and unbelievers in some of the most difficult places in the world. And somehow, through my prayers, God is doing miracles across nations, bringing people to Himself.

I know in my own story, it’s a miracle I am walking with Jesus and beginning to become more like Him. It’s such a journey, and it seems the more I go down this road, the more I find out about myself, the more I realize how wretched I am and how much I desperately need Jesus to be my Savior.

Perhaps one day I’ll discover that the number 55 has an even deeper meaning than what I’ve found so far. Or perhaps there really is nothing special about the number 55. If anything, I guess writing all this out has helped me to process, to think deeply and to take time to abide with Jesus through it all.

Poison Control

Mark Johnston, Connections PastorBottle of Poison

When he was little, our son, like a lot of kids, had a habit of sticking things in his mouth that didn’t belong there.

He was our only boy, and he was just…different than the girls had been. Years later we found out that his older sister, who had not wanted to give up her ‘binky’ when the proper time came, would snatch his from his mouth every chance she got, use it herself for a few seconds, and plop it back in his mouth when we looked around. He was not the type to complain, but, in hindsight, we think this trauma led to him wanting to eat & drink things he shouldn’t.

Angie was giving him a bath once, and he burped out a gigantic soap bubble. Turned out, he’d drank a glug of shampoo while her back was turned, and after a frantic call to Poison Control, screaming unpronounceable ingredients over the phone, they analyzed them and eventually deemed him alright and not in need of a trip to the Emergency Room.

Another time, he ate some flowers or leaves off an oleander bush in the back yard, but according to the Poison Control people, not enough to make him sick, or kill him.

The advice on most occasions was ‘just watch him for a while and call 911 if he starts having a reaction.’

When he was a little older, he accidentally swallowed a ball bearing from his Connetix kit, which prompted another call, and the reassurance that, while eating one magnetic ball is not a huge deal, two can cause major intestinal problems, and she was going to have to make sure that it ‘passed’ over the course of the next couple of days.

Not fun. At all. (Angie in the background: “What are you talking about? You were at work! I was the one having to inspect the poo!”)

So, she kept Poison Control on speed dial on our clunky old wireless house phone, and used it so much, she was probably on the ‘frequent caller list’ with the evening operator. “Hello, Mrs. Johnston—what has Spencer swallowed this time?”

This morning i was thinking about those days and how we sometimes try to use God like she used Poison Control back then—something potentially horrible happened, so she made a crazed phone call for reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

She never called the lady unless she needed something.

Now of course, that’s silly—an emergency operator is far too busy to engage in small talk like a manicurist or hairdresser, but what if they weren’t? What if we each had our own operator that wanted to know the events of our day, what our struggles were, and was genuinely interested in how he could be of help to us, not only in times of crisis?

A personal relationship with the real 911.

God shows us how this whole thing was supposed to work in the book of Genesis. Even after the fall, which apparently didn’t take much time at all (Chapter 3) part of the original design shined through.

I used this passage from Genesis 5 in a blog post a couple on months ago, but think about it again for a second: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

So, as jacked up as the world was (and is) it was still possible for this man, Enoch, to ‘walk with God’ enough in his daily life…so much so that God himself basically just said ‘hey, enough of this mess on earth for you, Enoch. Come up here and commune with me all the time.

I know—the world was less complicated then. We don’t get a glimpse of what everyday life was like, but from our modern prospective, it sorta looks like living a long time, probably farming…milking the goat so your 200 year old kid can have it on his cereal (yeah…i’m speculating here) and having a fair amount of time on your hands to think about spiritual matters, which had been handed down through the generations.

These days, we have all the information in history at our fingertips. In this 24 hour cable news and ‘how many likes will this get me on Instagram’ world, with jobs where communication with other people is what many of us do most of the day; most of us don’t really make time to ‘commune’ with God the way, say, a solitary tentmaker, or a guy plowing a few acres behind an ox would. Those extended times of solitude are few and far between for most of us, so it’s hard for us to relate to the original design.

So we have to make time with God a priority.

I understand that if you’re in the office, or working a job, your boss or client is not going to be too understanding if you spend half your time looking up at the sky and praying instead of performing the task at hand. But what about listening to a podcast or finding some good Christian music (it does exist) to listen to on the way to the job? How about simply talking to Him about things you’re struggling with in life?

I promise you, it will change your attitude about the jerk that just pulled over into your lane or drove on the median to get around the traffic jam. You end up saying quick, honest prayers for those people, that they’ll be able to slow down, see the blessings around them, and realize that those things are all provided by a loving, caring God who just wants a relationship with them.

What about keeping a prayer list on your phone and genuinely saying quick prayers for those folks when they come to mind throughout your day?

I know it’s hard. You’re busier. The kids have baseball practice and dinner has to be made, you have to get those taxes ready to file…life will beat you up if you let it.

If you stop trying to use God the way we used to use Poison Control, slow down a few steps and see Him for who He really is, it’ll change.

Some resources are available here:

The Stonepoint Podcast—audio of our Sunday messages, past and current:

http://podcast.stonepointchurch.com

A choice of Bible reading plans:

http://stonepointchurch.com/resources/bible-reading-plan

The awesome You Version Bible App has the option to read the passages to you (perfect for commuters):

https://www.youversion.com

Join the Journey through Watermark Church in Dallas (also available in the App Store or Google Play Store)

http://wmcc.jointhejourney.com