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76-6224 Ali'i Drive
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740
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Living Stones Church, a church in Kona Hawaii, is a diverse group of individuals united by a common love for Jesus. Our goal is to become the kind of church described in the Bible: a culture of faith. 

Living Stones Church Blog

Be inspired and challenged by posts shared here by the pastors, staff and ministry leaders of Living Stones Church. 

The Pride Chronicles: No-Conflict Zone

Megan Mitsuda

Author: Sara Burns

Everybody knows that it’s prideful people that cause the most fights. Think of super villians. The good guy is always stealing the bad guy’s fame or power so the bad guy has to fight them. Captain Hook and Peter Pan, The Queen and Snow White, whatever that big fella’s name was and Popeye. Their pride all came out in their constant conflict. But there’s a sneaky form of pride that I have recently been investigating. It is the pride of conflict-avoidance.

What I have concluded is: Pride can be revealed by a lot of conflict around someone and also by no conflict. This little sneaky form of pride is resisting any and every form of conflict.

Here’s the test: if I am avoiding conflict for the good of another, that’s love. If I am avoiding conflict out of prudence and discretion, again, it’s a win. If, however, I am avoiding conflict because I don’t personally like conflict, then maybe I need to take a closer look at my motivations.

Bad Reasons to Avoid Conflict

What are some of the wrong reasons I have for avoiding conflict?

One, it tarnishes my perfect record. Arguments tend to expose. My emotions become a little more raw and unpredictable. I may end up saying something I didn’t want anyone to know was inside me, let alone hear. I may reveal a selfish motivation or hidden insecurity, and have now given evidence against myself. I don’t want that because I want a perfect score.

Here’s a painful truth: conflict-avoiders, like myself, are prone to self-righteousness. Since we are expert emotion-controller/concealers, we think those hidden faults are more excusable. We think that our composure and restraint render us irreproachable. Jesus liked Peter more than the Pharisees, and he let it all hang out. Just saying.

Secondly, I may avoid conflict because I just don’t want to be bothered. It’s draining and sticky and takes a lot of brain-power and emotional energy. And so, I find that in trying to avoid conflict, I often avoid contact. This especially happens with people who irritate me, people who seem antagonistic to me, or people whose problems I don’t think I can fix. I’m not only avoiding conflict, now I am avoiding potential conflict-makers.

You know who I’m talking about. You have faces from your circles of acquaintances popping to mind. There are people you view as sleeping lions and you tiptoe around them. God has amazed me, though. Some of the people with whom I assumed I would have the most conflict, have ended up being some close allies. In short, God is teaching me honesty, forthrightness, love and sacrifice will go such a long way in bringing opposites together. Love being the key ingredient.

Also, I have realized that in these situations, I haven’t stopped to ask God for help. I am pridefully relying on the resources I naturally have. But God is showing me to reject my “personality test results” if it gives me an excuse not to step boldly into new territory. I am a lion chaser, even though people have told me my whole life I am a “peace-maker”. I can’t let the assumptions I have made about my natural makeup to trump what God is challenging me to become. My personality test should just show the areas of sanctification that will be more of a challenge. I can’t say, “I don’t speak the truth in love” because I am an “I” (for introvert), or I can’t “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” because I am a “T” not an “F” (thinker, not feeler). We must embrace Jesus as our personality, though it will be expressed in many facets through our different make-ups.

Thirdly, maybe you don’t avoid contact but you try and diffuse situations and never address anything. Acquiescence may be godly wisdom and humility...and it may be the opposite. Letting things lie and not challenging people may seem like love in your eyes, but it really may be pride.

Yes, God says we are to live at peace with all men, “as long as it depends on us”. But is it lasting peace to cover things and pretend like they don’t bother us?

I was having a conversation with a friend this week who said, “I use the rule that I forgive offenses. But if there is someone in my life with a pattern of behavior that continually causes offense, I talk to them about it. It’s more loving that letting my resentment build.” This of course has to be accompanied by discernment and wisdom for the person in question and the situation, but I think it is very good advice. If I absolutely refuse to bring up a friend’s offensive behavior (and I say friend because you most likely don’t have the right to bring up a stranger or acquaintance’s faults), then you are not a loving friend.

Don’t let the preservation of your personal peace bubble supercede your love for a friend and passion to see them walk in the fullness of the Lord. Desire their good always. If something is ruffling your feathers and it’s more than just your irritable nature, they deserve to have a loving friend point it out so they don’t walk around offending others in the same way. You know the friend that points out when you have spaghetti sauce on your cheek or spinach in your teeth? Same idea. Help them avoid future embarrassment. Lay down your own uncomfortableness. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to take the chance of having misread them, even. Maybe in the process, you will learn something about yourself that you can change, and that’s a bonus, right? Yes, right.

Be prepared for people to rage, qualify, or flat out deny the things you bring up, but here again will be a glorious chance to lay down your life and its pride, and take up your cross of self-denial. There will be times that God calls you to be a loving voice of conscience in someone’s life and you still walk away blamed and with a tarnished reputation in some circles. As long as from start to finish you were humble and full of generous love that wanted reconciliation, then it’s okay. It’s okay if you weren’t proven right in front of others. It’s okay if it wasn’t immediately well-received. Jesus was maligned, ridiculed and scoffed at for bringing loving truth. It’s your inheritance too. Follow it out in love. Keep walking away in love and never stop the love when they have stopped theirs. Hope for the best, pray for the best, and be humble.

 

 

Hidden Weapons

Megan Mitsuda

Author: Sara Burns

I have discovered a new source of personal revival. It’s in my kids’ room at night when we are putting them to sleep. Many nights I throw them in their pajamas, hug them, kiss them, and hightail it out to enjoy the first few minutes of peace and quiet of the day. But on the nights that I pause and spend time praying with them, Jesus meets us. I have realized a powerful secret through these times. Holy Spirit has things to tell me through their voices. This is for you too. Holy Spirit has things for us to discover that will be found as our kids’ spirits unite with their Father. The kids in our body. If the body of Christ is made of many parts and each one is essential, then we can’t afford to set aside our children as inconsequential members. There is more in their prayers than cute voices (and they are cute) and endearing naivete.

You may have heard, but it merits being repeated: there is no junior Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that moves in us and changes us and releases miracles and comforts and counsels, does the same in our children, in the same measure. We as parents and church family members have the duty and privilege to not only walk them into greater intimacy and communion with their God, but experience what God has to speak to us through them.

What if they pitch fits, stick out their tongues at their brothers, and disobey their mommies? Are they disqualified from listening to the voice of God? I’m going to pause and let you think about that one. I’m just going to wait and let you think about it…

Ok, now that you’ve pondered, what did you come up with? Whatever your decision, make sure you apply the same principle to your own life now. If you said yes, then that means next time you honk your horn in anger, send a spiteful text, or jaywalk (law-breaker!), you are disqualified from hearing God. But that isn’t walking in the grace and forgiveness Jesus purchased for you! He died for you to have a close relationship with God despite your sinfulness. If you said no, then the next time you misbehave, make sure you are also not disqualifying yourself from directly seeking His forgiveness and staying close to Him.

That said, the wonderful thing is our kids have built in safeguards just in the fact that they are kids! We adults who finally start trying to live the normal supernatural lifestyle have to make some pretty silly and embarrassing mistakes...and we don’t have the excuse of being kids. Just think, kids can take risks for Jesus and in most people’s eyes it is totally forgiveable. Because they’re cuter than you and me.

Not only do they have the cuteness factor as a protective perk in their first faultering steps in the Spirit, but they also have adults (parents, Sunday School teachers, and others) who can mentor them in their spiritual growth. We all have a mandate to raise the upcoming generation to walk closely to God. There are two parts to this job. We challenge them to take fun risks of faith, and we mentor them in knowing God.

What does this look like? This looks like leading by example in stepping out in faith: praying for the sick man at Safeway and bringing them along; prophesying goodness over their lives and encouraging them to do so in their sibling’s and friend’s lives. This looks like encouraging them to receive the Holy Spirit and then listen to His voice. (It’s not rocket science, folks. These are the basics.) It looks like helping them distinguish what’s God’s voice and what’s their own imagination; walking them through the Bible and teaching them what it says and how God thinks and feels about things. It looks like being an understanding ear to their struggles and feelings and giving wise, compassionate counsel. Don’t we want all the same in our walks? We want coaches who push us forward! Wouldn’t it be cool if we each had “parents” to whom we could bring everything we think God says and have them help us understand it? Our own personal spiritual mentor available 24/7! We need to help our kids take full advantage of this time of life.

The result is we will see kids who are walking in the strength of the Lord into adulthood. They will be taking up their own callings at earlier and earlier ages and living fully in the awareness of a God who loves them personally and uniquely. They won’t need to question, “Is God really real?” when they hit their teenage years. They will know Him personally and will have tested their faith already.

Isaiah 54:13 says:

All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children.

God desires relationship with His children of all ages and He earnestly desires fellowship with them. He wants to bring them wholeness. It is our jobs as parents and adults of the church to present a feast of the Lord’s presence before our kids. We need to let them taste and see that the Lord is good. He is ready to show them.

There is Kingdom ground waiting to be taken by children. There are nations whose false gods will crumble at the prayers of our kids. There is a great catch of fish that children will pull in for God’s great name. We cannot underestimate the power God wants to display in the humble form of children. His power is made great in their weakness. He has ordained praise from infants, not because it’s cute. It will humble the mighty and put the great of the world to shame. Children are one of God’s mighty hidden weapons.

Be Bold

Megan Mitsuda

Author: Maclain Boss

Our God is so great and amazing! While traveling to Fiji on an outreach this summer, God showed our team so many glimpses of Himself and His work. We saw His beauty in the vast and breathtaking nature around us- the sparkle of the bright sun on rivers surrounded by rolling green hills just before sunset, the warm grains of sand beneath our feet on the beaches, the cool rain and morning dew dripping into our tents. We saw His servants at work in the missionaries we stayed with our first two nights. Their passion and fire for the people of Fiji to know Christ was inspiring and their enthusiasm for loving the Lord infectious. We saw Him heal a man we prayed over, which was actually really cool because it was two of our students that the Lord used, and in my journal just that morning I had asked God to call hearts to Him and provide miraculous healings. We had the opportunity to share Christ and the hope that only come from Him with so many different individuals- Fijians, Hindus, children, parents, hospital patients, and basically everyone we encountered. Everyone we asked to pray for allowed us to pray for them, and I fully believe God is answering those prayers even this moment drawing hearts closer to Himself and healing physical ailments. I saw team members come so much more alive in their faith and boldly proclaim and live it out.

For instance, one evening we were driving past a Hindu temple that was lit up with the words on the building glowing green, and it was actually pretty creepy looking. In the backseat of the car, a high schooler started praying over that place and the people who would go there- that Christ would take over and become Lord and Savior in their lives. It was so cool and encouraging to see him take the initiative like that and trust God to hear and answer his words. On another occasion as we were walking around the hospital praying for patients, I was amazed by the authority with which each of the high schoolers were praying. They spoke life and hope into each individual’s life that they prayed over and it was all through the Spirit working in them!

Conviction hit home for me that day when we went to the hospital and prayed for patients. And note that this is a third-world hospital where everyone is laying on beds in one large room, divided by a few short walls you can see over, sometimes with very unsanitary conditions and few nurses or doctors. As we split into pairs and set out walking through the different wards I began to feel guilty because I didn’t want to be there. I was uncomfortable; I didn’t know how to approach people let alone know what to say once we did approach them. I didn’t have fancy words or prayers to offer. And I was the leader. I was supposed to know what I was doing. I was supposed to be the example to the students. But somehow there was no excitement in going up and sharing Christ with people and praying for them because I was more focused on my own insecurities. What if I say something wrong? What if it’s awkward or I make them feel uncomfortable? What if I don’t offer them what they need (knowing that Christ is more than enough but somehow not feeling like those words were enough)? The world of what ifs is a dangerous world to live in and we can easily get trapped there forever if we allow ourselves to.

But fears aside, I knew this was why we came to Fiji- to share the hope that we have within us (or at least claim to have within us). If we really believe everything we say we do about Christ and if He really is the hope we hold to, I knew that we had no reason to keep that to ourselves, uncomfortable or not. So uncertain and hesitant we continued onward going up and talking to people and asking how and if we could pray for them. And it got easier as we went along, maybe not less awkward, but we certainly were more confident. Even more amazing is the fact that everyone, including the Hindus, allowed us to pray. God’s going to totally change their lives and they won’t even know what amazingness hit them!  

While we were walking through the children’s ward we came to this family eating lunch outside. The father’s name was Thomas and he was there with his 5 children who all had Tuberculosis, which they had contracted from their mother. She died from the same disease nearly a month ago. Immediately my heart went out to them and I wanted to make things better for them all. We spoke with him for a few minutes and then prayed for him and the children. And as we walked away I started thinking how I wish I could have offered him something more- more hope, more comfort, something, anything. But then I caught myself and realized that yes perhaps we could have offered more specific words of comfort, but ultimately through speaking Christ and praying for them we gave the ultimate gift of hope. Did I really not believe that God is big enough to use even our simple words and prayer? No our God is so big and great and powerful. He can use any vessel of His message. It may be awkward and uncomfortable; we may not feel like we said things right or eloquently, but that leaves more room for Him to work. Paul says His strength is made perfect through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). When it’s not all perfect words it leaves no question of it being our human eloquence that brings about transformation but rather it has to be God’s work.

I don’t know that going from bed to bed in hospitals or house to house in neighborhoods (as we did in the villages) are the most effective means to share the gospel and reach people in our culture. After all, Paul said he became all things to all men; he used different methods in different places to reach different people, always meeting them where they were (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). I think that direct evangelism such as we did in Fiji meets the culture where it’s at because the people are so open and welcoming, and perhaps even desperate for a message of hope. There you could share your entire life story and faith, hear theirs, and pray for them and their family, all within the first 30 minutes of meeting someone and before ever knowing their name. Here everyone (including Christians) is much more individualistic and closed off from sharing such “personal” things. You wouldn’t want to offend anyone or shove your faith down his or her throat, right? And somehow that closed off culture has given us an excuse to stay comfortable in our church circles never taking risks and being bold in sharing our faith, not wanting to ruffle any feathers or be seen as weird. But we need to share. We need to go. The call was universal to all of us to go out and share the gospel in all nations, which includes the strangers at Target and the orphans in Uganda (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). I am so thankful for the reminder in that hospital that we do have the hope that everyone needs. We know the cure to people’s search for meaning, we know the One who will heal all their diseases, we know Who loves each and every one of them with a greater love than they’ve ever known, we know the way to a full life. And we have a responsibility to share that.

As one of the high schoolers said at the testimony night reflecting upon the trip, “We need to be bold. We have nothing to be afraid of.” Let’s go when God says go and be bold in our faith. We have nothing to fear.

What's in your closet?

Megan Mitsuda

Author: Andrew West

"What’s in your closet”? This is one of the strangest questions the Lord has ever asked me.

I had heard the question before, in Cambodia in 1995 whilst building a fish farm for orphans and widows in that war ravaged land. I couldn’t believe that a blind, (former prostitute) widow was a better evangelist than I was, taking every possible opportunity to share the gospel. The children in that shelter also seemed to love the Lord more than me. I saw them eating fried cockroaches and rats, yet they beamed with a joy that was obviously heavenly, they seemed content with their simple life there.

I asked the Lord “Why do they seem to love you more than me, Lord?” I have set my career aside to be a missionary, trained hard at various bible colleges, but they seem to have a fire in their belly for the Lord that I didn’t have (well, the fire in me wasn’t as obvious anymore!).

The Lord then showed me a very distinct picture: I was standing there with my “stuff”, it was actually a closet full of the things. Things that I am and had earned, things like athletic awards, academic degrees etc. These things that are a part of who I am. There is nothing wrong with these things, and I had always asked the Lord if I was to pursue them, and I had given them all to Him. The Lord was also there, a very big part of who I am.

I then felt the Lord say to me “ Now look in her closet” and the closet of the blind widow was pretty barren, except for the Lord. He was ALL she had, and He wasn’t being cluttered out by other “stuff”, as good as the “stuff” may be.

“This is why she holds onto me with such fervor, I am all she has, I am everything to her”.

This wasn’t a rebuke, but my life suddenly snapped into perspective.

But why?

Why Lord was she born into a family (that was going to die in the war) in that situation and time? In a small developing Asian nation, in a poor rural society with dirt floors, with little chance of education, and only prostitution to feed her kids, then malaria, then blindness.

And why Lord, was I so blessed to be born into a Christian family, in a wealthy nation, with good education, good health, and access to a good career?

Yes, why was I so “blessed”, and she so “un-blessed”? 

I asked the Lord: “Was it sin Lord? … Sin in her life, or her family’s life”? 

The answer came “No

“Is it because You love me more than her Lord”?

The answer came again “No”

Then WHY? Why the disparity in our lives?

The Lords answer was kind, profound, and simple:

“To whom much is given much is required.” (Luke 12:48)

I wish I hadn’t heard that!    …  because I owe A LOT

Twenty one years later I found myself in Northern Uganda with Living Stones Church’s first African outreach. What a place! What a team! And what a beautiful bunch of orphans and widows! The love of Jesus in that place is tangible.

Again, a land scarred by man’s atrocities. But looking into the eyes of such beautiful innocent kids makes the trip worth it! Many of these innocent eyes had witnessed the killing of their own parents by the rebels. 

But looking into their eyes I see hope and a future. Man’s killing fields are once more being transformed into God's healing fields. But it has not happened by itself, It has happened because a faithful missionary couple “rescued” a bunch of orphans (some child soldiers) ten years ago and set up “Otino Waa” Children’s home. Totally putting feet to Gods word, James 1:27: "Pure and undefiled religion is to take care of the widows and orphans in distress.”

Again, God was dealing with my self-centered, proud, over-entitled heart. Placing everything again into perspective.

Each of our team were given eight kids, a house Mum (a widow) to eat with and be a part of for the entirety of our trip. Eight boys with only one bible between them, but they seemed to know the scriptures so well. 

My boys took me to their room and proudly showed me their neatly made beds (with ripped mosquito nets). Then one proudly showed me his closet, and in this closet I didn’t see much, for he was wearing the only pair of shoes and socks he owned. I saw a few little items, pictures he had drawn, and a few knick-knacks. But he had Jesus. How can they love Jesus so much? Having lived through so much hurt in their short little lives … and possessing so little?

Again, that’s precisely why ... Because Jesus is EVERYTHING to them.

Maybe one of the most impactful things occurred walking with the team back from an open-air market. The amount of trash in the dirty ditch besides the road is pretty appalling. This road-side ditch had muddy, brown. stinky water slowly trickling through it. I witnessed a man in ragged trousers pawing at something in the mud. Curious, I slowed to see if the old gentleman was collecting plastic to recycle. But I was puzzled, as they don’t recycle here. As he fished out an old plastic cup from the muck I saw him “wash” it in the putrid water. Then to my absolute horror he dipped it in the disgusting flow and started drinking. I yelled “Please no, don’t drink that!” and with that I gave him my water bottle. He took the water and immediately shot out his other hand for money.  I gave him a 1000 shilling note (approx. 30 US cents) and he beamed. Then I heard mocking laughter around me and I looked up to see derision on faces oflocals watching me. Their faces said it all “Why waste any amount of money on such a worthless guy?” 

OK, in all likelihood that man is already dead.  Did the meager effort on my part do anything? … probably not. He was born in obscurity and he probably died in obscurity, but one thing is for certain; He was made in the image of God. He is also loved by God as much as me, and valued as much as me, AND to quote the words of John Bradford (and later Wesley): “But by the grace of God, there go I.” So every time I look at the orphans and think of the road that they have had to tread, I too recite “But by the grace of God, there go I”

More to the point, what would you have me do Lord? Because To whom much is given, much is owed. 

… and I owe so, SO much.

We are going back to Uganda next year. There are projects we feel that we are to partner with:

- Expanding the medical clinic

- Building a sustainable farm with a well 

- College sponsorships for the orphans (only $5K to become a doctor)

- Helping a fledgling local church in a nearby district called “Kona” (seriously!)

But most importantly; we are simply being called to be the hands of Jesus. Some people may say “Why Africa? Why so far away?” … I say “Why not”? The word says: 

“You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8