Dirt Clods

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

When i was in second grade, i got into trouble at school.

I know some of you are thinking ‘what’s the big deal’ or ‘what took you so long,’ but you’ve got to understand this was a huge thing to me at the time.

The weather was hot and the top of the ground had cracked on the school playground. A bunch of kids over by the swings started throwing dirt clods at those of us by the blacktop, so we retaliated. It was so much fun! Cracked EarthI was kinda sheltered by a tree, so my chances of getting hit were minimal, and the air was filled with projectiles for several minutes before some teacher yelled at us and told us to stop.

A little while later, back in the classroom, Mrs. Anders directed our attention to the front of the room, where a first grade teacher had brought in a sobbing little boy who had gotten hit near the eye by someone’s dirt clod. She asked all of the boys who had been involved to stand up, and a few of us nervously did, giving dirty looks to the others we knew were a party to it, but didn’t stand.

She told us how disappointed she was in us, and explained that we could have put this little boy’s eye out. The threat of life with an eyepatch made him cry even harder, imagining how close he’d come. (One of the biggest fears we had as kids in the 60s was losing an eye—well…that, and riots, Vietnam, assassinations and nuclear holocaust.) And since i grew up in church, i was ladled with a good degree of natural guilt from Sunday School, and felt horrible for the kid.

Those of us who ‘fessed up’ had to miss recess the next day, but i think that was the only consequence to our crime. I knew i deserved it, and it really affected my behavior in school from that point on…at least until Junior High rolled around.

I got in trouble for throwing dirt clods all those years ago, and it affected me. But after a while, the possibility that other people could be hurt by my actions rarely crossed my mind anymore.

In re:generation, Step 9 is called Amends. Amends is a time for participants to look back at the Inventories they’ve done of their lives and make restitution to the people they’ve hurt over the years…to find the people we’ve hit with things far worse than dirt clods and tell them how sorry we are, and ask them for forgiveness for the harm we’ve caused.

Sounds simple, right?

Now, i’m not saying i need to try to find the kid that i may or may not have bopped in the face with a dirt clod in 1969 and remind him of the awful scene he’s probably tried to blot out of his memory for all of these years. And to be honest, i don’t think i ever actually knew his name, and if i did bother to find it out back then, it’s been lost in the recesses of my mind.

But there are people in my life that i’ve caused harm to, that i have treated poorly, that i need to seek forgiveness from. I need to acknowledge the pain that i’ve caused in my selfishness and pride and innate desire to put my needs way before the needs of others.

Most of those people, i happen to be married to.

Matthew 5:23 says this:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 

What if the flip side is true—that someone has hurt you, maybe years ago, that altered the course of your life in ways that you feel you can’t forgive?

Colossians 3:12 tells us this:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

What would it look like if we came clean? Came clean with our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our families. What if we said ‘i’ve thrown hundreds of dirt clods at you over the years. I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?’

What would a church of forgiven, forgiving people look like to the rest of Van Zandt County?

Look, we’ve all made mistakes. The Bible says we “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23.) The way we react to those sins, the ones we’ve committed, as well as the ones that we’ve been on the receiving end of, sets us apart in a way the world can’t help but notice.

We’ve all lobbed a few dirt clods in our lives, and had them chunked at us. What’s your next move?

Re:generation and a Lesson in Pride

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

It was a bit of a different night at re:generation this week. The first thing that happened (just as a sidelight) was that we had three men graduate, so we had a ceremony for that. More on that in a minute. Usually, since I am one of the helpers, I’m supposed to be there at 5:30PM, one and one half hours before re:generation starts at 7PM. As a group, we usually have a dinner then we meet for a half hour or so before the doors open at 6:30. All that to say, I forgot that when we have graduation, we skip dinner and just have our meeting. So, by the time the graduation ended, and we actually had snacks with everyone who was there, I was getting seriously hungry! But I was able to grab a few snacks and take them into class with me, so I survived my hunger.

The graduation itself was also a little different and quite good. First of all, as I was sitting waiting for the meeting to start I noticed several GFA staff coming in! That, in itself was strange, until I remembered that one of our GFA staff was graduating. He invited several of his friends from the ministry and I think they all came. The three guys did a great job with sharing something about their year in re:gen. If you don’t already know, most re:generation participants aren’t really big on being on a stage before a crowd of people. But they all did great. The graduation ended with my friend from GFA singing a song that the Lord gave him, I would say, specifically for his graduation. It was moving and well done and the audience really loved it. I was pretty happy and proud for my friend from GFA.

Monday night was also a little different for me. My role in re:generation is that of a learner and a back-up teacher. I have been at this for nine months and have had to fill in exactly twice. But this night turned out to be my third time. I did not know I would be leading for sure until our leaders meeting when the regular teacher called in to say he had to work. I did have some pre-warning so I had was at least somewhat prepared. But it’s always a bit scary for me to be the teacher here.

There are three in our class right now and we just passed the halfway point. As the guys were sharing I became aware that a lot of the discussion was around anger and pride. As I listened, I thought of a passage in the Bible that is probably familiar to all of you. Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) says this: 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 interest of others. As the guys were sharing, I was carried back to my own re:gen group in 2016. I really love those guys and we got to be close during our year together. When it is your turn to speak in the group we usually say something like, “my name is Bob and I struggle with… (we give two or three things). At one of our meetings one of the guys said, he was wrong with sharing his two or three things. He had discovered that he could sum up all his problems in one word: PRIDE! The rest of us looked around and almost as a group, decided that that is all any of us need to say in the future. “Hi, I’m Bob and I struggle with PRIDE! It was actually kind of funny.

What I shared with the class this week was that pride in our lives needs to be crucified. I asked them if they could imagine what their lives would be if we could actually count others more significant that ourselves. What a difference that would make with our wives and children, with our co-workers and our bosses or leaders. My wife died in December of 2012, and today I still think back to times where I was just proud and stubborn with her. While I know God, and my wife, has forgiven me. I still live with the hurt I caused.

But there is a more important reason why we need to be get rid of our pride. God actually opposes the proud! No surprise there. You can’t read the Word without seeing how damaging pride is to others and ourselves. Satan fell because of pride! God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and made him go crazy for a while until he humbled himself to the true God! Pride separates friends, hurts others and turns God against us! Here, in no set order, are a few verses that that talk about pride and humility: James 4:6; Romans 11:20; Proverbs 16:18 & 29:13; Mt. 23:12. There are many, many more.

Just a little bit of self-disclosure, I struggle in this area way more than most people realize. I can seem so laid back and humble. While that is true some of the times, there are other times where it is just a smoke-screen to hide anger, rebellion, shyness and fear. In a word, pride. Ugh! That is hard to admit. I wish I had a three-step program that would get rid of pride in all our lives. But there is no such thing. The best I can tell you is to learn and take steps to humble yourselves before God. Confess sin when it occurs, let God cleanse and forgive you, make apologies when and where necessary. Trust God to reveal your steps. I know for sure that God loves us more deeply than we can ever know and will help us do this. But we need to be willing to be crucified.

I started this with quoting Philippians 2:3-4. I’ll end it with Philippians 2:5-8. I won’t quote it here but please take a couple minutes to look at it. Paul basically tells us to have the mind of Christ Jesus. Then he talks about Jesus’ journey into humility for our sake. Just writing about this fills my heart with remorse for my failures in this, and fills me with joy, thankfulness and peace at the same time. Jesus Christ humbled himself and died on the cross, for what? For people like you and me! When I think about this, it makes me just want to fall at His feet in shame, humility and gratefulness. Our lives need to be more about Jesus and less about ourselves. I guess that about sums it up. Love you all!!

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.

Ghosts

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

My parents were married and childless for almost 15 years before i was born. They had gone through several ‘lives’ by the time i came around, and early in their marriage they were farmers. The first little place they had was north of Barry, Texas, and during their time there, they became close friends with the people who owned the larger place next to them.
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Their names were Henry Ray and Ethylene, and my parents remained great friends with them throughout the years, even after they gave up farming and moved to Dallas. Every few months, we’d  go and spend a Saturday with them on their farm, hanging out and listening to stories from their past. I’d fish and play with their grandkids, Tim and Sheila, who i thought were my cousins until i was probably 10 or 12.

I loved them and loved going there. The problem with going to visit them, was that we had to drive home at night.

There were two or three ways to get there, and my dad, since he missed living in the country, didn’t necessarily take the shortest distance home. In fact, he’d usually take the pooh bear way both directions, so he could look at crops and land and trees and cows, and generally not see houses every few feet.

The main way we’d come home had this hard 90 degree curve. Now, i liked scary stories growing up. I loved The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and this short-lived 70’s show called Ghost Story, which was basically, well…stories about ghosts.

On the way home, as we approached the curve, i’d lean forward from my un-seatbelted spot in the back seat. The headlights of our Oldsmobile would hit this rusted out, smashed up 1950s station wagon sitting by the bar ditch in front of the house of a man they had known during their time living there.

Every single time we drove by, my mother, like it was scripted, would say the exact same phrase upon seeing the brown, mangled remains of the car: “I don’t know why Herschel keeps that old car that Ruthelle got killed in…” and as her voice trailed off, my eyes would widen as this ‘death car’ came into full view on the side of the two lane road, under the eerie glow of a nearby light pole. It scared me out of my mind, but i couldn’t look away! I would envision old Ruthelle’s ghost climbing out of it, or worse, imagine seeing her out of the corner of my eye sitting next to me in the back seat like a scene from one of those TV shows. My heart would race a thousand miles an hour until we’d gotten a safe distance away and my mind would finally start to focus on the Southwest Conference football game or country music on the AM radio in the car.

Apparently Herschel’s wife had died in some horrific car accident many years before, and in his grief, he’d had someone tow the vehicle back to his house where it came to rest in it’s scary spot by the side of the road. I don’t know the details of the story—if he’d been in the car with her and survived, if she’d gone out alone one rainy night and he thought if he’d been there the outcome would have been different…and i was afraid to ask my folks the particulars. All i know is that she died and the car she died in sat there scaring the bejabbers out of me every time we drove by it. That and we never drove by it in the daylight.

As i got older, i came to see the inherent sadness in the story, how he’d been unable to ‘let go’ of his beloved and kept her reminder sitting there for some twenty years. There’s no such thing as ghosts, but in this man’s life he held on to an imaginary one instead of letting go, as if somehow, the car kept her around in a strange way. (In case you’re wondering, he finally remarried when i was teenager and i’m guessing the new wife gave him a ‘me or the car’ ultimatum as part of accepting the proposal, so the wreckage went away and he did move on at some point.)

So, why am i reliving a childhood trauma in the Stonepoint Blog? As far as i know, none of you have your spouse’s deathmobile sitting in your yard.

But is there something from your past that you can’t let go of? Is there some sin that you think is too big for God to forgive, so it keeps sitting there in the weeds as a reminder of your past life? Is there wreckage that you keep around as a reminder of something that you just can’t seem to get rid of? Have you lost something or someone valuable, and you feel so much sadness that you keep reminders of them—mementos that, instead of bringing back happy memories, simply point out the void?

Are there ghosts in your past that you can’t, or won’t face and tell that you don’t believe in them anymore?

There’s hope in Jesus. Stonepoint offers re:generation on Monday nights where other believers who are fighting their own ghosts gather to encourage, admonish and share with one another how hard it is to have someone take away the rusty remains, but how God fills the void when you do. What would it look like to have a life free from those things that have haunted you, to get rid of the junk and wreckage of past relationships and hurts that don’t seem to have an end?

Don’t let twenty years pass by before you let someone drag your old car away.

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!

Anger, Fear and Depression

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I have been trying to write a blog post for a few days now, but have been struggling a bit. I have had this subject on my mind for a few days, but really didn’t want to write about it. But it didn’t go away. So here goes.

Going back to my year in re:generation, when we speak to the group we say something like, “hello, my name is Bob, I have a new life in Christ. I struggle with (in my case) anger, fear and depression. So, for the past year, I have been asking God to work in my life in these areas. And He has been working. But one-day last week, I came home from working at the ministry, and just sat down and told God I can’t take it anymore. What made it worse was that I could not really find a reason to be depressed. I have my usual problems with my knees, but over all have been feeling pretty good and things have been going good with the ministry. I guess I had been fixating my mind that day on one area that in my life that has been a struggle for me. Anyway that night, I just fell into a deep depression, or maybe it was a “blue funk” as we used to call it back in the day. The next day, it was a struggle just to get out of bed and get into the ministry. But I got there.

Over the weekend, I did what I could to not let this rule my life. I prayed, read and studied the Bible, surrendered things to the Lord. The Lord was faithful and brought me out of things a bit, for which I was grateful. I began to wonder what happened, because I really thought I was getting on top of this sort of thing. I used to blame these episodes on my “temperament type” which is basically a melancholy/phlegmatic temperament, if you know what that is. I would tell myself that since I inherited this temperament from my parents and grandparents, there was nothing I could do about it, so I would just ride it out so to speak. But that was not the case this time. I have been seeking the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit and to follow Christ, instead.

So, here comes the hard part of this blog post to write. Given the three areas in my life I have been struggling with; anger, fear and depression, I wondered what the “real” cause of these were. So I have been reading up on the subject, being careful what I read so as not to make things worse.

Of course, there is no one cause for any problem area in our lives, but I believe that for the Christ follower, there is a basic cause. Not to oversimplify things here is the basic causes I discovered for my three issues that I have been struggling for years: Anger-selfishness; Fear-selfishness; Depression-self-pity which by the way, is also selfishness. What??? none of that sounds very good! What about all the wrongs that have been done to me? What about the hard or sad circumstances of my life? This isn’t comforting at all!

I’d like to mention a couple of things I have learned from my time of reflection and study that may be a help to us. First, let me say, these three; anger, fear and depression are universal problems for almost every one of us on this planet. Also, these three are no respecter of persons. They strike the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick. Another thing I have learned is that anger, fear and depression are connected. When you become angry at someone or something, it can cause you to fear whatever it is and will ultimately cause depression.

So, what can we do about this? There is some good news. I have come to believe, that anger, fear and depression are basically caused by selfishness and at Believers, selfishness can be overcome because the Holy Spirit lives within us. I don’t want to minimize what may have happened to you in your life or what your problems may be. Nor do I want to oversimplify things. But, here my take on this. When we think of selfishness, what does it mean? In short, it is focusing our lives around ourselves rather than God. When we focus on ourselves, we cannot love others.

In our most recent service at Stonepoint, the pastor focused on the book of Jonah. Now, I have heard a lot of messages on this book and figured I had learned all I could about Jonah. But ever since I came to Stonepoint, time after time God has blown my socks off of me. This last service was no exception. Just briefly, At the end of Jonah 3, God relented on his plans to destroy Nineveh because the people repented. As the preacher, you would think you would be ecstatic. But Jonah was angry (4:1). In verse 2 of chapter 4 we read that Jonah knew this was going to happen and that is exactly what Jonah did not want to happen! In other words, Jonah had no love for these people, and rightly so in his mind. They had done terrible things to the Jewish people.

So, we finally come to the lesson. Sorry it took so long. I think one of the best ways to get rid of selfishness is to replace it with love. Sounds simple enough, but if you have struggled in this area, you know how difficult it can be. In John 13, Jesus issued a command to His Disciples, to love one another. And He further said that the people of the world will know we belong to Christ by our love for our brothers and sisters. We have a hard enough time just doing that, much love less love the world. How can we ever love as Jesus wanted us to?  I’d like to close this with a couple practical steps that I learned from my study and the latest messages church.

First, start serving others generously. Men, if you are married, I would suggest that you serve your spouse and family. One of my biggest sins and regret is that I did not always serve my wife out of love as the scripture commands. She is now with the Lord and it is too late for me to do that. She no longer needs me to serve her. But God has dealt with me in His mercy and I’ve repented and know God has forgiven me. But there is still sadness on my part that may never go away. We need to look for ways to generously serve others.

Second, we can read and memorize Philippians 2:3-4 and ask God to incorporate it into our lives. If we could just make this passage part of our lives, we would no longer have selfish motives in what we do.

Finally, as Pastor Brandon mentioned this past Sunday, we can come out of our comfort zones. This is very difficult for some of us. But we can, by God’s grace, abandon ourselves and serve others with true and pure motives. Our recent service ended with this quote: “missions isn’t something we do, it’s something we are.” God help us to be missionaries. Whether it is to our families, our church, the local community or around the world!

May God make us people who serve with abandonment. Through the Spirit of God may we seek to rid ourselves of selfishness, self-seeking, self-gratification, self- righteousness, and may we radically love others and serve others. This can only come as we get to know and trust God more in our lives. But it can happen! Blessings to you!

A Year of Learning

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I was going to title this, “THE END,” but I was afraid people wouldn’t know what to make of it. So I thought of “A YEAR OF LEARNING.” So, believe it or not, next Monday, December 12th is my last class and graduation in re:generation! Lots of mixed feelings going on here. It has been a good year of learning and by His grace, growing in the LORD. There may be an opportunity to write this out a little more in-depth later, but I wanted to try summarizing some of the things that I believe the Lord has been teaching me.

TRUSTING GOD—one of the first things I remember being impressed with is that I did not really trust God. If you were to ask me if I did, I would have stated emphatically, “why of course I trust God.” But as we got into Step 3-Trust (we call the different areas “Steps”), I was impressed that I really did not trust God for my life any longer. I felt as though my life was going a bit out of control and I really needed to “take care of business.” So I would try things that I thought I needed to do in my own strength with no regard for God.

I can’t remember exactly what caused me to change, but at one point, I came to the realization that I did not really trust God with my life. This started me on a course of several things. First, I started looking at my life (still am, actually) and asking God to take back areas of my life that I had taken over from Him. This included any type of future I might have; my friendships and relationships if any; my money; my health and even my death and my going Home to Him. The one thing I noticed as I was doing this was that my life slowly became a lot more peaceful. I found I could actually rest in the LORD. This was something new to me. Let me leave you with a short passage: “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. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8. 

INVENTORY, CONFESSION, REPENTENCE, FORGIVENESS, AMENDS—this is actually five steps rolled into one. Although we went over them individually, over time they seemed to me to be interconnected. I know inventory was the step that nearly wiped out all of us in the group (there are six of us). We stayed on Inventory for a long time and basically asked God to reveal any sin from our entire lives (my life of course was longer than anyone else’s) and we wrote them down on a chart.

I thought all this was rather silly at first, but when I prayed, I started to remember sins I had kind of put aside. Soon I had several pages on my inventory chart. The next step was to confess them to God. Now I figured I had done that but I did it again. The sins I started to remember were not the visible sins that everyone could see. They were more sins of the heart. Things like holding grudges; bitterness; anger; evil thoughts, etc. I realized what I had done since becoming a child of God that was my sins became more sophisticated and acceptable. Instead of acting out my sins, I just held them in my heart. I became a good Pharisee. I could look quite nice on the outside but my heart was as black as coal.

So from confession we went to repentance, turning from our sin. This was quite a challenge. It was one thing to take yourself out of a physical sin, like to avoid places and people where you might be prone to sin. But how do you deal with a thought, or pattern that no one knows about except you and God? I had no clue but I kept asking God to change my heart (that is pretty much a daily prayer now). From there we moved to forgiveness and making amends. Now, for sure, I thought I had this one taken care of. Well no, not exactly. Working in a Christian ministry for the past 20 years I had some experience in asking forgiveness and trying to make amends with people. But God, over time showed me a few more people I needed to ask for their forgiveness. I did so with two people here in the ministry.

The other side of the coin was the need to forgive others. I had to decide if I needed to go talk with them or if I just needed to forgive them between me and God. I did some of both. One person I needed to ask forgiveness of was my wife, Alice. While we both needed to grow in the LORD when we got married, there were times that I was just a terrible husband to her. We did grow in our marriage and in one of our conversations shortly before Alice died, she told me I was the best husband she could have ever had, and she explained why. To be honest, I couldn’t accept it, but I hid that fact from her because I could sense something in her that made me wonder if she wasn’t longing for home. It wasn’t too long after that that she did indeed go home. I could only thank and praise God for taking her in her sleep as He did. At the time I wrote the letter I was still filled with shame and guilt. The letter was almost as difficult as it would have been if I talked with her face to face. But writing the letter was not just an exercise and God used it to bring freedom to my heart. I must confess that it would have been nice to talk with her face-to-face over this but it didn’t work out that way. On December 23rd, it will be four years since her home going.

OK. It’s time to close this. As you can probably tell, I don’t have all my thoughts wrapped around all this yet. Last night at re:gen I was given some instructions on how to write a Recovery Testimony. Hopefully somewhere down the road, I can work on that. But for now, I just want to keep going on the path the Lord has put me on with Him. When I first started nearly a year ago, I really didn’t think it was going to be much help. But God made me stick it out week after week and over time I could actually sense God working in me. I have a long way to go and I pray that I don’t lose the ground I have gained thus far. I don’t know if there will be anything in this blog for any of you, if you read this. I do hope that it is not a waste of your time, and if you have any question about anything, that you would feel comfortable enough to ask me. You will find me pretty open to answering just about any question. You see, it’s not the re:generation program that is the star here, nor is it Bob Mayo. It’s our Lord Jesus Christ!! He has set us free, and we are free indeed, if we will just trust and follow Him with all our hearts. Sometimes, we need a tune-up to get back on track with Him. re:generation was a great help to me to rediscover following Christ with my heart!