Making Amends

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, let me just say this blog may be a little more personal than a lot of them. I do write personal blogs at times but this could well be “over the top.” But it’s something that is on my heart.

I’d like to talk about making amends with people we may have sinned against. In re:gen, for several weeks now, we have been going over forgiveness and making amends. When we wrapped up Step 8-forgiveness, I told our leader that I really enjoyed that aspect of things, because I have actually been working on that since I began re:gen back in February. One of the main reasons I put myself in re:gen, or maybe I should put it, that God led me to Regen was that I had a great ability to hold onto offenses done to me. Some of these went back to my early childhood and I was still holding on to them. Then we started Step 9-Amends. I told our leader that I was not sure how much I would get out of this section, because I had been working on making amends with people already and wasn’t sure there were any more people I really had to amend relationships with. But I also said that perhaps God would bring some to mind.

As I started going through the first week of Amends (two more weeks left—Agh!!!) I realized it was more than just confessing sins to someone. That’s important but attempting to amend a relationship adds another dimension. Basically when we make amends with someone, we take responsibility for our sin. True, the other person may have sinned also, but when making amends, we are only concerned with our part of things. Whether the other party forgives me, or wants to make amends with me, doesn’t matter. The important thing here is that we make the attempt to repair a relationship in obedience to our Lord. The outcome may or may not be what we think, but that doesn’t matter. Obeying the Lord is what counts.

So, last night and today I sat down and reviewed my “inventory” (oh, that inventory!) to see if there was anyone that I needed to make amends with. There was one person I already had on my mind, but I put this person in the category of “maybe later.” I thought of my parents and my wife that I would like to make amends with, but they have all died. Our leader mentioned that in that case, sometime it is good to write a letter to them. I have, and do write letters to God quite often but never really thought about doing this.

So, my assignment today was to find three people or entities on my inventory that I needed to make amends with. Two of them were supposed to be amends that I could make fairly soon and one was supposed to be a more difficult or perhaps unclear if I needed to make amends at all. For the two easy ones I picked my wife and a fellow employee here at the office. Then I should pick one to work on today.

So, chose my wife and started my letter to her. Some of you may find this a little strange, but for me it was a good experience. I started the letter by recalling some of the sins I had committed against God and her like not loving my wife according to Ephesians 6 and putting myself first most of the time. As I was writing I had a set of earphones on listening to YouTube (real spiritual, right). A song came on called Someone Like You by a singer named Van Morrison. I have always loved song and I even dedicated it to my wife as my song to her. She despised Van’s music by the way, until I told her that I dedicated this song to her. After that, she liked this song at least. We used to laugh about that. As I continued the letter I could feel a lump in my throat as I recalled some of the sinful and unkind things I did to my wife. I also recalled our last couple of months together where she told me that I was the best husband she could have ever had. I truly had a hard time accepting that. But that day was also kind of a watershed day in our marriage. I must admit, it was a good and freeing experience to do this letter.

Now for the really strange part, that I believe was the Lord. As I was wrapping up my letter to my wife, the second person I wanted to talk with stopped my desk to drop off some work for me. That was a bit strange for a couple of reasons. First, was that I had not really planned on talking with this person today. Secondly, earlier in the day I told God that when the person comes by my desk the next time, I would ask if I could talk to them. Not expecting that to be today, the person showed up. I asked if I could talk with them some time and the other person said “sure, let’s do it now.”  Not really knowing what to do, I resigned myself to the fact that maybe this was God’s time for this talk. So we went into one to the conference rooms.  I had just read in my re:gen book today we should not let fear stop us from doing God’s will. And that a healthy fear actually draws us closer to God to depend on Him. So, I put aside my fears and we had our talk even though I did not know how this person was going to react. I told them of my sin toward them and asked for forgiveness and that I wanted to make amends as much as possible. We knew that the relationship, if restored, would not be like it was previously. The person took things really well. By God’s some restoration took place I believe we can now work comfortably together whereas before it was somewhat awkward. I couldn’t help but to believe that the Lord worked this out according to His time and design.

I believe I will have more of these amending conversations to do and I am not sure they will go as well as this one did. But I do know that we are called to live as one body with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I can see in my heart the importance of being at peace as much as possible with our brothers and sisters. If we can’t love one another in the Lord, how can we possibly expect the world to know and realize that our Lord is real? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn13:35). This reminds me of the old Christian song from the 70’s; They Will Know We are Christians by our Love. Forgiveness and amends is not an easy path. But it is one that we need to pursue with our hearts. May God give us the grace to do this.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I try to write these posts about what the Lord is showing me at the time. That isn’t always easy as there are times that the Lord just seems quiet. But for this post the Lord seems to be working me in the area of forgiveness. We all know that God forgives our sins and we could quote verses to back that. First John 1:9 and Psalm 103:12 immediately come to my mind. But I would like to talk a little about another aspect of forgiveness that I have been learning about right now. In re:generation, we have been going through a series on forgiveness. But this section is talking, not about how God forgives us our sins, but the necessity for us to forgive others who have sinned against or hurt us in some way. That’s a whole different story.

When we started this section, I had no problem knowing that this was one of my weak areas. I can go back to my childhood, over 60 years ago, and remember things done to me by others that hurt me. I also know that I am good at holding grudges against people. I have actually been working on some of this as it came up in past lessons in re:generation. But this current round has been totally different. I’d like to share a couple of quotes from our workbook that spoke to me recently:

“Without forgiveness, you will never experience the peace, unity or love God intended for relationships. Unforgiveness traps you in a cycle of pain fueled by hurts of the past and fear of the future.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.” (Stormie Omartian).

Both these quotes along with a reminder from what we commonly call The Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12)” really spoke to me this week. This verse seems to assume that we have already forgiven our debtors. Unfortunately, for me and probably for many of us, that is may not always be true.

So, what do I do with this? Well, with the guidance of our workbook, I have been doing a few things that I have found very helpful to me in this area. First and foremost, I prayed for God’s guidance to show me exactly who I needed to forgive. I prayed that I would not hold back and obey whatever God showed me. Second, I reviewed my life and wrote down people who have sinned against me. I was already aware of some of the people, but as I prayed the Lord brought others to mind that I hadn’t even thought of. That wasn’t too exciting for me. I felt rather ashamed that God even revealed more that I had already thought of. The next things, was that I started going through the list and telling God that I forgive them for whatever it was. My workbook suggested that I surrender my “rights” for apologies, paybacks, and bitterness or using this to my advantage (that last one is something I had never thought about. It seemed a little warped to think that I would do such a thing). Anyway, I started doing this for each person naming the specific infraction that I believed happened. I still have more to go through because I postponed dinner to work on this but part way through I noticed I was getting a little shaky. So I decided I better stop and eat something.

I don’t want to overplay this, but I have been experiencing a change in my heart over the last couple of months. By God’s grace, I have been more calm and feeling the peace of God. There is a difference between the peace with God and the peace of God. Romans 5:1 says, we have all experienced peace with God because of our justification through Christ. But the peace of God comes through a life of trusting Him, prayer, thanksgiving, and surrender to His will (see Philippians 4:6-7). It is difficult to experience this peace if you are holding things against your brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, I would encourage us to think about these things. Some harms done to us by others who we are supposed to be able to trust are difficult to get over. But we need to forgive them. In all honesty, when we don’t forgive them, we still have our hurts and bitterness while the offender has most likely gone on with their life and not bothered by it at all. But I would encourage us to forgive and leave any justice or vengeance to God. He will take care of it in His time and in His way.

In closing I pray, if you are like me and hold on to hurts, that you take time to pray and think about these things. Give it up. Holding on to past hurts is just not worth it and it holds us back from growing in the Lord. For those of you who read this post, I thank you and pray you will find it helpful to you in your walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Be at Peace!!

Idols and Such

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

A good part of my time lately has been spent reviewing my sin and sin patterns. It’s been a hard and tedious part of our group in re:generation and, frankly, I think we are all getting tired of it. But at the same time, it has been somewhat eye opening for me. Part of our evaluation of our ourselves has been to identify idols that might be in our lives. For our purposes, we define an idol as anything that we desire above God Himself. Some of you may be familiar with a book written by Kyle Idleman called Gods at War. It’s all about things in we hold in our hearts that we pursue more than God Himself.

To be honest with you, when I started this, I really didn’t thinkidolatry-part-2 much about me having idols. But the more and more I got into it, and thought about it, I was somewhat surprised about how much I have let idols creep into my life without really knowing it. In my thinking, it reminds me of Exodus 20:2-3 that says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Now, while in this case, God was probably talking about man made gods and goddesses, the application can still be made. If God brought us out of the slavery of sin and into salvation through Christ, why would we want to put any god before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

In this blog, I’d like to go over a little of my journey in area (it’s still not finished) that may shed some light on things. I have two areas or idols that I would like to talk about. They are, money and love. As far as money, I have never really had much and I never really thought I had much of a problem in that area. Now I need to tell you, I have always given to the Lord’s work both in time and money. Even now, I use my money to help my church and people I know who are having specific struggles. So one would think I would be doing OK in this area. Not so. Recently, since moving out here to the prairie, as I call it, I have been able to accrue more money than I have ever had. While I still use it for others, I find that in my heart, it has become kind of a security blanket (oh, Linus, where are you when we need you). I find my mind thinking, that for the first time in my life, I have some security because I have money in the bank. Having money in the bank isn’t the issue in itself, and it can certainly be taken out and used for the Lord’s good. But when my heart begins to think that I now have security in my life because I now have some money, I now have an idol that has taken first place over the Lord.

One more thing, love. Now that sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? But let me share a little of what I have learned about myself recently. Our re:gen group was in the throws of completing an inventory of sins. Believe me this was a lot of work, but I also knew that I had plenty of sins that I committed in the past, and some that I still commit, that I could, and did list. Then in one of our weekly lessons, a question was asked. The question was “in all my valued outcome for my responses to my sins, did any of the valued outcomes reflect what the Lord would want?” That question plagued me for weeks! I went back and looked over all my inventories to see. I found that not one of them reflected anything that the Lord would desire. But instead, every one of my desired outcomes reflected something that I desired!! I wanted people to love me, I wanted to do something in the ministry that I was not asked to do, I wanted to be recognized or honored!! In other words, I wanted my desired outcome to be about me. Not that I didn’t already know I was full of the sin of selfishness and pride, I had become my own idol!! I can’t tell you how much this broke my heart. It’s something I should have been aware of, but was not until the specific question was asked of me. I’m glad God showed this to me, but I am also ashamed of what I have let myself become become in regards to selfishness, especially over the last couple of years. I am praying to God to change my heart. I know I can’t do that on my own.

So what’s the point? Well, one thing I can think of is that we need to keep a close watch over our heart. Our hearts are so easily deceived. Another thing is when we become aware of our sin of idolatry in some area, we need to confess it and lay it before the Lord. God doesn’t give us gifts (like money, in my case) to tempt us and cause us to sin. He does it to see how we will deal with it and to cause our character to grow.

My work in this area of confessing my sins is not finished by any means. But I can tell you this. As I truly bring these areas that God shows me to Him, and confess them to other people I trust who can pray with me, God brings much peace and joy to my life. Hiding sin just does not help any of us. God already knows about it. Re:generation has been a good and helpful process for me to go through. By His grace, I will continue to progress in areas where He will have all of my heart and not just pieces of it. He can and will, do the same for you if your heart is humble and honest before Him. May His grace be abundantly with us!!

Nieces & Friends, Eeyore and the Love of God

 

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, today is July 4th. A day we celebrate our hard earned freedom from the tyranny of the British. This day will be etched into my mind until I die, because it was on this day in 1983, that I received a phone call after coming in from a run, that my Father had died. I had just spent three weeks at home in New York, visiting him most every day. I finally made a decision that I needed to get back to Colorado to work, and a few days later he died. I wasn’t really shocked or surprised. I think I have mentioned some of my relation with my dad in past bEeyore_3logs. He spent most of my life at home as the “bread winner” for the family but never had much time for my older sister and me. So, we were not close and I really never felt he loved me. Over time and after I had a new life in Christ, I came to understand the situation and forgave him for the lack of the father-son relationship I always desired.

Fast forward to last week. I was talking to one of my “nieces” at work. I really love this particular “niece” and we are able to have good, honest talks together During one of our talks last weeks, she told me that I have the reputation of being an “Eeyore.” All I knew about him was that he was a character (a donkey of all things) in the Winnie the Pooh stories and was a grouch. At least that’s what I thought. We didn’t talk further that day but it stayed on my mind. So a couple days later we were talking again and I mentioned it to her. I knew she didn’t mean it badly, because I know her. But I was wondering what she meant. She told me, “You don’t know how much you are loved around here.” She’s right, I don’t think of myself as being loved around here much at all. I learned from another friend last night that, “Eeyore was very lovable. He just didn’t think he contributed much to anyone’s life. His catch phrase is, “Thaaanks for noticin’.” He thought no one would even notice or care he existed.” I replied back to my friend, “Wow!!! Your last comment is me! You hit it on the head! Eeyore and I are cousins!” So my new re:generation goal for he moment is not to be an Eeyore and to try not to keep apologizing for taking up too much air and space.

Fast forward once again to today. I had a good weekend. I spent some great time with the Lord studying and praying. I was still thinking about some of the conversations I had this past week and over the weekend. I mentioned above that I really love my “niece.” Actually I have a few “nieces” and I love them all. I would do anything for them to help them along with their lives and growth in the Lord. Also, I thought of my re:generation studies I have been doing over the weekend. One thing that re:gen does, it really enforces the fact of God’s love for us. The thought of how much God loves me keeps resonating in my mind. I don’t think I want to go over a bunch of Bible verses about this but I do want to quote one verse: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4).

I would be the first person to admit that I don’t understand God’s love for me. It took me several years after I was a Christian just to stop trying to earn God’s love like I had to do with my father. I have finally, I believe, come to just accept the fact that God does love me and accepts me with all my sins, faults and imperfections! Yay, for my re:generation class! God certainly doesn’t need me or you. He CHOSE us!! Unbelievable!! Not only that, but he chose us before He created the world, according to Ephesians 1:4. If you keep reading down to verse 14 in Ephesians 1 you read about a lot more things God did for us that we don’t deserve.

Maybe the world does look at me as an Eeyore just taking up breathable air. But in God’s eyes, I am perfect, Holy and blameless before Him. My friends, it doesn’t get any better than that on this earth. Francis Chan puts it this way: “The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God’s one goal for me is Himself. The Good News–the best news in the world, in fact–is that you can have God Himself.”

God loves you. We hear it in church all the time, we read in books and we read it in God’s Word, the Bible. But do we really believe it and accept it? I encourage you to please read Ephesians 1. But don’t just read it. Meditate on it and apply it to your life by faith. The only way the Word can be a sharp, two edged sword to us, is when we apply faith to what we read. If we don’t believe that God loves us so much and so unconditionally, how can we ever share His love in a meaningful way with others, even to other believers? It’s something to think about. God bless you are and have a truly blessed 4th of July.

Two Friends & The Book of James

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I know I’ve mentioned to you before about some of my times in re:generation at church. I have been in it for around six months now and we are just getting heavily into step 4-Inventory. I must confess, this is the most difficult and hurtful part of the course for me since I started. We are taking inventory of our lives regarding our sins and sinful patterns. The book says of this part, “We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Holy Cow!!!! That’s an understatement, if I ever read one!

It has been somewhat surprising of some of the past, and present sins that the Lord has brought to life. Some of them I thought I had dealt with many years ago, and have done so, yet they still come back to my memory. One thing that has been a part of my life, and probably the main reason I came to re:gen, is that I have a tendency to hold on to grudges against people who I feel have wronged me in some way. I know some people that can take a “so what” attitude to wrongs. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

Anyway, I was reading the other day in the book of James, chapter 3, verses 13-14: “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness and wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.” I don’t know why, but for some reason when I read that, my heart melted a little. I have always sought to have a gentle spirit that serves God and wants no recognition or thought of self. I have also been aware I am far from that. But reading this the other day spurred me to really pray and seek God to change me in the areas I wrote down in my Regeneration Journal.

I have a couple of friends, whom I have never actually met in person. But they are friends that I trust and will share things with, and they reciprocate by sharing about themselves. One of these friends lives on the East coast and I them know through their sister and Facebook. Yes, I selectively chat on Facebook. Oh my!! The other friend I met through GFA. This friend is on the West coast and is a newer friend than the first friend. Both these friendships started in a strange way but I believe God is in it. As one of these friends mentioned to me the other day, the way I meet people is a little “unconventional, but so what.” I told them that “unconventional” would describe my whole life.

Anyway, this friend shared a prayer request with me a week or so ago that I wrote in my prayer notebook. It was this: “Pray that God would shine through me and for me to draw attention to God and not myself. Also for me to serve and not to be served.” Since I received that prayer request, I can’t get it out of my mind. I have prayed similar things for my own life but this friend has a way of putting thoughts, sometimes my thoughts, into words that I can’t. That is what happened here. I have been praying this request for myself as well as praying for my friend.

Just a couple days ago, I wrote my other friend an email and quoted James 3:13-14 just as an encouragement or challenge to them. I ended the email with, “Oh, to live this way.” My friend responded with a quote of their own, “Oh, for more of Him and less of me!  To no longer have any jealous or selfish thoughts. Until I started to do some serious heart work and dig deep to find the sin in my life, I couldn’t see the extent to which sin was holding me in bondage. When I got to the heart of my sin, I felt as if my eyes had just been opened to see the sin to which I’d been blind for so long.  And I realized it all was rooted in SELF.” Please take a minute and reread that. Both my friends have a way of putting thoughts into words that have a way of just gripping me and bringing me to repentance.

So, let me go back to my original purpose for this writing today. The inventory I have been taken has shown me how much into SELF I am! I have at least one person I need to get with and ask forgiveness and by God’s grace, I will do that soon. As I said, this part of re:generation is not fun, nor easy. But it lets God’s regenerative power come to life. At least it does in me. I pray that God will rip the selfishness out of my life, no matter what it takes. Friends, I have said this before and you are probably tired of hearing it. But I’ll say it again. There is so little time and, at least for me, I need to get out of thinking of SELF and start putting Philippians 2:3-4 at work in my life.

So, that’s it for now. As I write this I’m not sure this should even be in a public blog. I’ll let the pastors decide that. But I know at least some the Stonepoint members read these blogs. My prayer is that Stonepoint will be known as a church that loves. Only then will the world around us be attracted to the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. SELF must go! May God give us the grace to take this to heart.  God bless you all!

 

Randomness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

First of all, I believe Pastor Brandon is starting a new series on Sunday on the book of Hebrews. At least I think I heard that. If not, I guess I’ll have my own study on it, as I have already started. Book of Hebrews used to scare me a little. But while there is much I don’t understand about the book at this point, I do know that the Holy Spirit did not have this book penned to scare us. The last couple of times I’ve read Hebrews I’ve found to be a book of encouragement and exultation. I’m looking forward to the study of it this summer.

Resentments. I’ve had a few in my life. In re:generation, we are starting what is known as inventory. At it’s core, our workbook describes our inventory as an honest record of the impact of sin on our lives. While I worked through the first inventory on resentments, I was impressed with a couple of things. First, resentments really hold you to your past. Some thoughts came to mind of things that happened to me back in my high school days and even back to my early childhood. The fact that they came to mind was a little scary, actually. I don’t want to be held captive by my past resentments. The only person it affects is me, and it hinders my moving forward in my walk. The second thought I had, at least for me, was that i don’t have time to keep struggling with resentments that have occurred. My thought for myself is that there is little time left, and there is still work for me to do. When I let my mind dwell on “wrongs” that have been done to me, I have noticed lately that it really effects my serving the Lord in a negative way. It’s time for that to stop. We can talk about how that will happen another time.

Fear is another area that I have been working on in re:generation. I have had a lot of fears and insecurities in my life and they only get stronger as we age. At least they have for me. Fear in our lives seems to speak to trust. To what or whom do we trust? Are we willing to take chances for God? I can tell you that I have pretty much taken the safe route in life. Now, there have been exceptions to that in my life. But over all, I have played it safe. One thing I know… at least I think it’s true, that in order for the Gospel to go forward, there is always someone who has to sacrifice. I think of some of the early missionaries like Judson, Hudson Taylor and many others. Today, around the world, there are countless unnamed Christians who have given up everything to preach the Gospel. Question: Is it worth giving up everything we have to follow Jesus? We need to think hard and honestly before we answer that question. It’s time for me, and perhaps you, to rid ourselves from our fears and step out for God. Just a simple example, God helped me I had to over come my fear just to walk into the church on the first night I felt His leading to go to re:generation. But God used that small act to start new growth in me.

Well, I have more but I think this is enough for today. I pray God will give us grace and courage to analyze our lives in light of the Gospel. Then please don’t just jump in and start trying to make changes on your own. Whatever God brings to our minds and hearts that need to be changed will be revealed as we pray for His Guidance and as the Holy Spirit directs us. Then we can go forward in faith and confidence that God is leading us. God bless you!

A Trip to the Paint Store

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

This spring we are painting the exterior of our house.

The front part of our house dates to the 1930s and has typical issues of a structure of that age. A quick look reveals ‘here’s where some termite damage was, here’s where even a lousy modern homebuilder would put at least some insulation in the walls’…that sort of thing.

FullSizeRenderOne of the missions of painting is to cover up some of those flaws. We know we’re not going to make it look like a pristine new home, but we can make it presentable and pretty in an ‘old house that’s not historic and has a bunch of nasty chickens running around’ sort of way.

My wife got an e-mail coupon from Sherwin-Williams offering us a discount on paint since we have been loyal customers and spent roughly a million dollars with them over the past 24 years doing paint projects in the three houses we’ve owned over that time.

The trip to the paint store got me thinking about covering things up and how we do the same thing in our lives.

We cover up our hurts, our bad habits and the hang ups that separate us from God and each other, and for some reason, it seems to be accentuated when we walk through the doors of a church building, especially by those of us who grew up in church. We feel we need to hang a sign around our necks that says “i’m okay” or “don’t ask.”

A large part of painting is prep work—caulking, scraping, power washing, taping around places you don’t want that color of paint, or any paint to go—that’s the part of painting that we all seem to dread. All that tedious stuff won’t be visible like a coat of fresh, different colored paint will, but without it, the new paint is just a waste of time and money.

So, when you come before God, are you going to hope that a fresh coat of paint is enough? Have you said a ‘sinner’s prayer’ and pretty much stayed the same since?

Have you given Him the authority to scrape away the layers of junk that life has built up on your walls, or have you just tried to slap a layer of “Christian” on top of it? Have you done the necessary prep work (dying to your selfish desires, laying aside old habits, quit hanging around the people who drag you down) so you can allow God to complete the good work He began in you? Have you realized that those things are extremely hard to do and that some barriers are impossible to break down on your own and thought about coming to re:generation on Monday nights, where you can meet other people who are admitting their brokenness and walking alongside each other and spurring each other on to a greater relationship with Christ?

At Stonepoint, we want to be a church where people aren’t afraid to talk about their junk, and are willing to admit that a fresh coat of paint isn’t going to help the messes that their lives are in.

Don’t try to hide your flaws, admit them to God and to Christ-following friend who will hold you accountable, and let’s start repairing what’s broken instead of covering it up.

Lessons in Selfishness and Forgiveness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I’ve been doing some thinking about the sin of selfishness or self-centeredness lately. I know for myself it is a sin that I am well aware I have and struggle with for years. We all struggle with selfishness to some degree. Some people like me excel in it. I can easily blame my problems on others and blame them for my circumstances. What we don’t see is how many of our problems in life are caused by our own self-centeredness.

I’ve been going through re:generation at Stonepoint and I recently came a lesson called  “Facing Self-centeredness.” In that lesson there was a question asked: “When things don’t go your way, do you blame others, get bitter, angry or hold onto hurt?” When I read that, all I could say was “wow, that’s me.” Over the years here at the ministry I work with, I have transferred to a few different departments. Most of the time I was asked by leadership to pray and consider changing departments. I always told the leaders that I would change if that’s what the ministry wanted. But there was one time that I was just straight out told that I was being transferred. No discussion, no explanation. I was just transferred. In my selfishness, I really didn’t take this too well. My mind started thinking things like, they just didn’t want or need me here any more and I was just being pushed into a corner. For months, I was angry and held a grudge against our leaders who were involved.

This went on for several months until I realized something. Whether I had a right to be angry or not wasn’t the real issue. The main issue is forgiveness. Do you know it says in the Bible that when we don’t forgive others that God doesn’t forgive us? When I really started thinking about that I got scared. Think about it. God forgave us!!!! Don’t just skip over those words. God gave His only Son on the cross who cried: “Father, forgive them;  for they do not know what they are doing.” The God of the universe forgave!!! And here I sit, being angry and bitter at others for my circumstances. That very day, I got with God in prayer and told Him I forgive my leaders for my perceived mistreatment no matter how I feel. For the first time since it started several months ago, I had peace. I also prayed that God would fill me with His Spirit and allow me to love and pray for any and all leaders involved.

Trust me, this is not easy. Especially when you have a life long habit of holding grudges and blaming others for your problems. But how can we live at peace with our brothers and sisters if we don’t forgive each other. God can take the smallest, humblest act of forgiveness and change our lives and attitudes whether our circumstances change or not.

I don’t mean this to be an advertisement for re:gen on Monday nights at Stonepoint, but I really don’t think if I hadn’t taken the step I did three weeks ago to attend class that night, I would be writing this post now. I would also still be angry and holding grudges. I pray that have the grace and strength to continue. I am not even into the heart of the class yet and to leave now, I would lose any gain I have made. Please keep me and my fellow classmates in your prayers. Our God is a miracle working, life-changing God. We need to learn to trust him with every part of our lives. May He give us the grace. God bless you, my friends.

A Monday Night at Stonepoint

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I know in my blog posts I talk a lot about Stonepoint and the messages we hear. I thought I would expand upon that and talk about some of the things that brought me to Stonepoint and that I continue to learn here. I have been a Christian for some 44 years now. At least that is what I claim since I “accepted Jesus” and committed my life to Him on April 1, 1971 At the time, I knew nothing about what that commitment meant. I was raised Catholic and knew nothing about what a true Christian was. I did know however, that i was a sinner. I just didn’t know how to stReGen Mondaysop. After college, I moved to Denver and started attending church. Sadly, what had begun to be an exciting change in my life after that April 1st, quickly fell into a dull routine of attending Sunday school, church and Bible studies. Not that this was bad in itself. I just never seemed to fit into any church I went to. I always tried to serve and even felt that was my calling…to be a servant. But I continually had this sinking feeling that something was lacking and there had to be more to being a Christian than what I was experiencing.

Fast forward a little. In 1990 I became aware of a missionary agency called Gospel for Asia. I read a book called: Road to Reality and it brought a lot of things in my life and led me to believe that I was a lukewarm Christian at best. Little did I know that six years later, that I would be packing up all our belongings, and along with my wife and dog, moving to Texas to serve with GFA. It will be 20 years in March since I started serving here.

While the ministry was good and growing, I still did not know what it was like to be in a local church. In Carrollton, you couldn’t walk down the street without almost passing a church on every corner. I tried several of them out, but my mentality was that I was here for one reason, to reach as many people through the ministry as possible who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. It gave little time to be involved in a local church.

Another jump forward. In August 2014 GFA moved out to the country in Wills Point. It was rather a strange move for a guy that had been living on air force bases and in large metropolitan cities for all his life. After a few months I heard about Stonepoint from some staff members who had started attending there. I had also met this guy named Archie at Brookshire’s Supermarket in Wills Point. He was always friendly and greeted me (and everyone else) when I came into the store. He also told me about Stonepoint and invited me to come.

So one Sunday morning in October 2014, I got my courage up and drove over to the church. I don’t think I will ever get over that day. I recounted my thoughts and experiences in a Facebook post, which I believe later became my first blog post for Stonepoint. i won’t waste time to recount that here but the message was so different from the hundreds I have heard all my life that I was challenged to come back. Over the next few months, I joined the church and started serving as a greeter and a blog writer. Both of these were, and are, out of my comfort zone. But I made a commitment that I would serve in this way.

So what does all this have to do with a Monday night at Stonepoint? Please bear with me for a little longer. Ever since I started coming here I could not understand why I liked it so much. I knew I was hungry to grow in the Lord and the church seemed to be an avenue to help me in that. I can honestly says that there has hardly been a Sunday where I was not convicted in some area of my walk with the Lord that I needed to bring to Jesus. This is not an exaggeration! Every time I came home I would spend time with the Lord about what I had just heard. Again in all honesty, I have not had this kind of experience before in my life. I kept trying to figure out, why was this happening in this strange church?

So what does all this have to do with a Monday night meeting at Stonepoint? Well, if you have been coming to church lately you know we are currently on a series called re:generation. In both meetings so far, Pastor Brandon has mentioned about a Regen group that meets on Monday nights. I was aware of the meeting, but figured it was not for me. Besides I was already involved full time with the ministry and figured I didn’t have time. But after the first time Pastor Brandon mentioned it I was strangely drawn to try it out. I had an obligation the first opportunity so I couldn’t attend. But I kept telling myself all the next week that I was going to attend the next Monday no matter what. Again, last Monday, I gathered up my courage and drove out on a cold and wet Monday. So I will close with my thoughts of that meeting.

I figured that the meeting was for those who had serious problems like alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, etc. But Pastor Brandon brought out in the messages that it was not just for that. He said we all need regeneration in our lives over one thing or another. I already knew I had sin in my life. Things like anger, bitterness, lack of love, depression, self-pity and lust were all sins that I have been more than aware of in my life. But being aware of sin and getting victory over it are two different things. I came to the meeting hoping that I might learn from the Lord about getting victory over these and other sins.

When I got inside the church I was given a name tag and i sat down. We started out with singing a few songs and going over some of the points of the re:gen program. Then Pastor Brandon got up and gave a short message. After that we broke up into different level groups. I was in the new dude’s group. After a short introduction, we went around the circle and told some of the reasons we were at the meeting. As I listened to men explain their reasons, I was deeply moved with their openness and honesty. I found none of it surprising or distasteful, no matter what they said.

One more impression of the meeting, and of Stonepoint for that matter. I mentioned earlier I could not figure why I was so attracted to this church. After all, I’m not a country boy or a farmer. In fact, the only job I have ever got fired from was when I worked on a farm during college for two months. I don’t own a gun and have only fired one twice in my life (once in basic training–I qualified by some miracle, and once in the desert of Colorado when I was out with a friend firing at cans–I missed). Obviously, I am not a hunter. The only thing I know about cows is that I want to stop my car when I am driving by and pet them (I really want to pet the camels and zebra that hang out in the fields off of highway 47). Bottom line, at Stonepoint I am like a misplaced hippie in a group of cowboys and ranchers. But the funny thing as I looked around the circle the other night, I kept telling myself (and meaning it), “I belong with these guys. I’m one of them. I am a sinner who wants to have victory and be useful to God, whatever that may mean. I’m one of them! I may not be a drug addict but my hidden sins are no different or better than anything else. I am a sinner and falling short of God!!” I have never had such an experience in any church I have ever attended.

OK. Time to end this. So what am I going to do from here? Between my Lord and myself, I have made a commitment to go back to re:gen and allow the Lord to work in me and hopefully heal me. There is hurt and problems in my life that I have tried for years to get over. This is the first time in my life that I have hope and faith that God can heal me of my sins. No perfection anticipated. I believe it will be a long-term and difficult commitment. But I believe it is a worthwhile spiritual investment. So, anyone who reads this please pray for me!!! I will be happy to return the favor and return for you. May God be with us become the people He desires us to be. Amen!

Tired of Wrestling??

Bob Mayo. Stonepoint Member

I made a blog on Facebook last night that said, “I’m tired of wrestling with God. I always get pinned. It’s time for a change in strategy.” I seemed to get some interest in it, so I thought I would try to expand on it a bit. The post was based on a couple of things. One was I was reading in Genesis 32, where it talks about Jacob wrestling all night with God. The other thing was that we have been doing a series at Stonepoint entitled re:generation. Both of these have started me on a path that I really didn’t expect.

First, a little on Jacob. Actually, it seems like to me that Jacob had been wrestling with God all his life. In Chapter 32, after being gone from his home for over 20 years, he is going to have a run in with Esau for the first time since stealing his Birthright and Blessing. He is a afraid for what Esau might do. In verse 24 of the chapter it says that Jacob was left alone and he wrestled with God all night.  At one point, the passage says God was not prevailing against Jacob so He dislocated his thigh.Toward morning, God told Jacob to let Him go but Jacob said he would not let go until God blessed him. Then we have this touching scent where God Changes Jacob’s name from Jacob (heel grabber) to Israel (one who wrestled with God). Then God blessed him.

I don’t know about you, but, especially in this last year, I feel like I have been wrestling with God. It has not been a pleasant match. 2015 was a year of being so aware of my sins and my inability to find victory, that I was at the point of giving up. Discouragement, self-pity and depression followed. And the problem was that few people knew about how much I was struggling. In my day to day encounters with people, I looked just fine and could put on a pretty good front. But down deep, I was dying inside. I don’t know if I ever thought of all this as wrestling with God, but I was aware that I was struggling with God to have my way in my life over His. I didn’t like all the struggles of the ministry and just felt like the responses of leadership to our problems were just wrong. At the same time,  I didn’t particularly like what was happening to me in the ministry. It got so bad that I convinced myself that if I were to quit the ministry or die, none of the leaders would care one bit. I was fighting against my feelings about things and reality. I could see that I was becoming angry, unloving and bitter.  I guess I could call this my time of wrestling with God. While I wanted to be godly and handle all this in a godly manner, at the same time I was aware of all the sins I mentioned above (anger, bitterness, etc.) and having no victory over them.

I apologize for making this a bit too personal and too much about me. But at the same time, I believe that we need to be honest and open about our struggles. So, all the above is the struggle. What is the answer? In my last blog, I talked about Pastor Brandon’s message last Sunday. He mentioned three steps that we need to take to begin to have victory over our sins and addictions. They were: 1. we need to admit that we are powerless to break our sins in our own power; 2. We need tobelieve that God has the power to fully restore us; and 3. We need to trust God with our lives and wills by accepting His grace through Jesus Christ.

This week’s message was a continuation of what Pastor Brandon covered last week. There are three more steps that he talked about. First, we need to take inventory. We need to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of our lives. If we don’t do this we will continue in the same sin pattern. When we do that, we hurt the people around us. God wants us to be healthy from the inside out (Ps. 51:6). But this can’t happen unless we take inventory of where we are. Second, we need toconfess. This requires that we confess to God, ourselves and others. This is not easy stuff. Why, 1 John 1:6-8 is important here. It says, if we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we are not truthful. Confession exposes the darkness. The passage also says, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another. Finally, there is repentance. We repent when we are ready to turn around from our current pattern of sin. We make a decision that I will not remain in this sin pattern any longer. I am not talking about perfection here. But we do need to make the decision, that with God’s enabling grace, We will give up our sin and surrender ourselves totally to God.

Brothers and sisters, God wants us healed and healthy!! But as Pastor Brandon said this morning, it needs to be from the inside out. It needs to begin in our hearts. I am not pretending that this is a six step program to success. While our struggles and sins may be common to many, God works in each of us individually.

Regeneration is for all of us. It is not just for people with obvious problems like drug or alcohol addictions or other public sins. It is for us with sins of the heart and mind also. These can be so hidden from those around us. But it only causes struggles and disunity. In the movie Gettysburg (I knew I would fit something historical in here somewhere) there is this scene when General Stuart was called to General Lee’s office. Stuart was a good cavalry officer but he had let the infantry down. Stuart tried, in his pride to hand General Lee his sward. Lee retorted, “there is no time!!!” The battle was in danger of being lost and there was no time for personal pride or hurt. Sometimes I can imaging God saying to me, “Bob. there is no time for this. There is work to be done before I come back!!!” Don’t let your sins weigh you down. Do an inventory, confess them to God and to whomever else you may need to. Then repent and turn around and serve our LORD in what He has for you!!!