weekly Blog

Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the end of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.

  • Wealth Can Buy Almost Anything

    Upper elementary school. The late 1960’s. Howard Hughes.


    My school buddies and I enjoyed bringing up the name Howard Hughes. We might have known that he set multiple world air speed records or that he built the ‘Hughes H-1 Racer.’ And who wouldn’t want to talk about the Spruce Goose, the nickname given to the famous wooden aircraft built by Hughes? But his name was most often mentioned in reference to his status as a millionaire.


    We talked about Howard Hughes as if we were well-informed. It gave us a sense of pride to throw out a fact about this famous film producer, pilot, engineer, businessman. He was a millionaire and the average annual U.S. household income in the 1960’s was under ten thousand dollars.


    If you work out the math, my dad would have had to save all his money for more than 100 years just to make his first million. Of course, Howard Hughes had many millions. In fact, he died a billionaire; but in 1968, that was not a part of our vocabulary.


    Wealth is alluring and intoxicating. I think most people believe that life would be better if they just had a little more money. Even Solomon seems to agree:

    Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, 

         and wine makes life merry, 

              and money is the answer to everything.

                                           —Ecclesiastes 10:19


    Remember, however, that in the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon was looking only at the created universe and asking the question, “Where can I find meaning?” So, looking only at this life, his comment about money is not surprising.

    However, Solomon also wrote a number of warnings against hoarding money and against placing one’s trust in money. Here are a few insightful proverbs about wealth:


    Proverbs 10:22

    It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, 

    And He adds no sorrow to it.


    Proverbs 11:28

    He who trusts in his riches will fall, 

    But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.


    Proverbs 22:1–2

    A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, 

    Favor is better than silver and gold. 

    The rich and the poor have a common bond, 

    The Lord is the maker of them all.


    Proverbs 23:4–5

    Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, 

    Cease from your consideration of it. 

    When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. 

    For wealth certainly makes itself wings

    Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.


    Do you remember how Jesus spoke about wealth? When observing the gifts that people were bringing to the temple treasury, He took notice of a poor widow. He commended her gift over the gifts of the wealthy because she had given from that which she needed. The wealthy had given, but only from their excess.


    Even more startling was His beatitude. Do you remember it? Do you grasp the failure of wealth? The poor of this life who are disciples of Jesus live in true bliss now because they are citizens of the kingdom of God. Money may be the answer to everything in this life, but money simply cannot buy life eternal!


    Blissful are you who are poor, 

    for yours is the kingdom of God. 

    —Luke 6:20


    Mark Stinnett

    December 19, 2021

  • Oaks of Righteousness

    How do you see things in our society? I am thinking about some of the moral changes that have taken place over the past few decades.


    I would like for you to look at our society, perhaps, our world, through a special lens. I would like for you to make an evaluation. The lens I wish to use involves a prophecy.


    The prophet Isaiah was sent to the people of God with a message, a warning.  (Chapter 58) He described the activities of God’s people:

    • They sought after God, to know His ways;
    • They acted righteous;
    • They called on God for justice;
    • They were delighted in God’s nearness;
    • They fasted and humbled themselves.

    Yet, God did not respond. And why?


    The people were guilty of strife and wickedness. They oppressed their fellow man and did not share with the homeless and poor. Then Isaiah revealed:

       Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,

          And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (59:2)


    Among other sins was the lack of justice, and no one was astonished that no one interceded for the oppressed. (59:15-16) Then came the voice of judgment: “According to their deeds, so He [God] will repay.” (59:18)


    Then came God’s message of hope for Israel, if they would turn from their sin. (Ch. 60) However, it is what God said next that has captured my attention and caused me to reflect on our society today. Isaiah then turned the focus to the oppressed, but not all who were oppressed.

       The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

          Because the Lord has anointed me

       To bring good news to the afflicted;

          He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

       To proclaim liberty to captives

          And freedom to prisoners;

       To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord

          And the day of vengeance of our God;

          To comfort all who mourn…. (61:1-2)


    Later these who were oppressed were referred to as oaks of righteousness, as ones planted in order to glorify God. These were God’s people; the ones who remained righteous in spite of the evil in their land. They were ones who were affected by the sin and wickedness. They were astonished because the ways of God had been abandoned. They witnessed the changes in their society as it degraded due to sin. They understood the necessity of God’s judgment against His people. For these things they mourned.


    Yet, they would be comforted because God would make an everlasting covenant with them. Isaiah’s prophecy was looking forward to the new covenant that would be established by the Messiah. God’s promise would bring comfort.


    I know that America is not God’s chosen nation as was Israel. Yet, I wonder how the degrading conditions of our society affect you? In recent years we have seen behaviors that God considers sinful to be legalized, promoted as normal, and even presented as good. How does all that affect you? Do you think God will not judge our nation? Do you pray for our nation?


    Will you remain faithful? Do you hate sin? Are you deeply affected by the condition of our society? Jesus assured...

       Blessed are those who mourn, 

          for they shall be comforted.



    Mark Stinnett

    December 26, 2021

  • Gentleness or Aggression?

    I’ll bet you know someone who could be described as assertive or aggressive or overpowering or intimidating or maybe even violent. Not all of those descriptive words are to be taken negatively. For example, there are times when we need to assert ourselves. A person might also make a case for occasional  aggressiveness.


    It is a general human perception that strength will motivate people. Bosses, coaches, teachers, military leaders and even parents often assert themselves in their position of authority to get things done. After all, it is often thought that those under their authority need a firm hand.


    While that may be true, how often do we resort to aggression, intimidation, etc. to get things done? I am referring more to times when things are not going our way. We want to make adjustments so that our circumstances are more favorable, more to our liking.


    Some people are experts at making demands by asking questions. Their questions are crafted in such a way that forces others to be accountable to them. This kind of behavior is nothing more than mental manipulation. In the end, they are just trying to get their way.


    Some people are experts at leveraging situations to their own advantage. In a negative sense, leveraging is a way of pressuring others into doing things the way you want. In many cases, leveraging is the same as exploitation, another kind of manipulation.


    Another way that some people find success is through the use of force. They want what they want and they will do whatever it takes to get it. They don’t use mental strategies of subtle manipulation; they don’t take the time to leverage things to their advantage. They use simple intimidation or brute force. They want! And now is a good time to get what they want!


    We live in a society that teaches assertive behavior. Aggression, manipulation and exploitation are often justified and rewarded when the outcome is success. Yet, when we give in to that way of thinking, we may have second thoughts regarding the poor way we have treated others.


    Parents feel the struggle when coaching their children in sports. On the field of play they want their kids to be aggressive: get the ball, score, tear the opponent limb from limb! Yet, at a friend’s birthday party they expect their kids to be cordial, patient and kind.


    We all feel the struggle when trying to balance the way we ought to treat people with a way of aggression in order to succeed and getting what we want out of life. We don’t want the reputation of running over the little guy, but we don’t want others to see us as weak or unsuccessful.


    Maybe we are going about things the wrong way. Maybe we need to adjust our goals, our desires, our attitudes.

    The words of Jesus bring clarity:

       Blessed are the gentle, 

          for they shall inherit the earth. 

                                       —Matthew 5:5


    The voices of our society tell us that meekness is weakness. However...

    The prophets foretold the Messiah who would be gentle. (Matthew 12:17-21) 

    Jesus said that He was “gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) 

    Paul appealed to the “meekness and gentleness” of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:1) 

    Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, that is, a natural outgrowth of the Spirit of God dwelling in a Christian. (Galatians 5:23)


    Jesus, 

          deity in the flesh...

                                       meek.


    What will you gain through aggression??

    The meek will inherit the earth.

    Are you making the better choice?


    Mark Stinnett

    January 9, 2022

  • The Desire for Satisfaction

    Have you ever walked out of a restaurant and smelled the savory offerings of a neighboring restaurant, only to think, “Ahh! that smells so good, I’d like to eat that”? Then, of course, you immediately recognize, “But, I just ate.”


    That might be a key idea to marketing any product: Appeal to people’s senses so that they want what you have to offer whether they need it or not. It is the idea of creating the sense of a need and then proposing to offer a way to satisfy that perceived need.


    When is the last time you saw a magazine ad, billboard or television commercial for fasting!?


    Self-restraint just does not seem to be something that will bring happiness. Rather, happiness is to be found by engaging in all things fun and exciting and pleasurable and filling.


    As kids my sister and I would ask mom if we could sprinkle salt into the palm of one hand and lick it up. Satisfying…. We had to ask permission because of what dad always said, “Too much of anything is bad for you.” Salt was his ’go-to’ example. “Our bodies need salt, but too much salt can harm your body.” Yet, we craved salt as well as fruit flavored sugar balls (lemon drops and other sweets). We had little self-restraint. That was mom’s job.


    As adults we all realize that it is no longer our moms’ job to force self-restraint on us. Yet, for the most part, our society is no friend to self-restraint.

    Tolerance: Everyone, including yourself, should be able do as he/she pleases. For many people today, the greatest injustice is in keeping someone from doing what they want to do or telling them to do something they prefer not to do.


    From sex to drugs and alcohol to entertainment, “Don’t tell me I can’t have what I want.”

    From vaccinations to taxes, “Don’t tell me what I have to do.”


    Our society has created for itself an atmosphere of satisfaction that practically abhors restraint. We cannot seem to grasp the contradiction that so many of us live out in our day:

    • We eat to our satisfaction with the selection, quantity, quality we want, but destroy our health and find it difficult to function. We are not satisfied.
    • We buy, buy, buy; then, rent storage and buy more. We take out loans and work more. All of our stuff consumes our time and our thoughts. The momentary satisfaction fades long before we (or our kids) sell our stuff at huge discounts at an estate sale. We are not satisfied.
    • Our society is full of people who follow their fleshly desires for intimacy. (Wait! Let’s call it what it is...sexual pleasure.) Yet, our society is full of people lacking meaningful relationships. The momentary pleasure does not satisfy.
    • Money itself does not satisfy.

    Self-control...

       It is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5;23). 

          It is a mark of spiritual maturity (1 Peter 1:6). 

             It is a matter of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).


    Would you like satisfaction that is not fleeting? 

    Would you like to be truly filled in a way that has lasting results? 

    It will require self-restraint regarding the dazzling promises of happiness in this life. It will require a different perception of what is good. It will require that you ignore your fleshly impulses; that you ignore the gluttonous marketing of our day. You must value true life.


    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they shall be satisfied.

    —Matthew 5:6


    Mark Stinnett

    January 16, 2022

  • Mercy Triumps over Judgment

    The driver didn’t even slow down. He ran a stop sign and turned into my lane just ahead of me. 

    Can you believe that!? 

    Where were the police!?


    Driving home from a Christmas gathering with friends, I let our car coast down a long hill as we approached an intersection. In my rear-view mirror flashing lights appeared; I had coasted too fast. I hoped the officer would only give me a warning, not a speeding ticket.


    I think my examples are typical. We most often want justice when we know that someone has broken the law. But, for ourselves, we want to be an exception to justice. We want mercy.


    Justice means that everyone gets what they deserve. The punishment fits the crime. Appropriate consequences follow sin. Wrongdoing is not swept under the rug (ignored). Related words are: fairness, equity and vengeance.


    Mercy means that you do not get what you deserve. You do not have to pay the price for a mistake. For example, the owner of the tool you borrowed and broke bears the expense for repairing or replacing it. It means that you do not have to endure the consequences for doing something wrong. For example, you get a warning instead of a traffic ticket. Related words are pardon and forgiveness.


    In ancient times, God was infuriated when His people played favorites, when His people oppressed the poor and denied justice to some. Solomon commented on this problem:

    If you see the oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. —Ecclesiastes 5:8


    Officials play favorites and watch out for each other as if to think, I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Exercising the power of their position they ignore justice...because they can. Solomon simply informed us that, though justice should be expected, we should not be surprised when injustice occurs.


    Even so, we should give careful attention to the words of James. Warning against showing partiality, he wrote:

    Judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. —James 2:13


    God is just. 

    God is merciful.


    How can justice and mercy exit in harmony in the character of God?

    God is the very definition of justice. Sin cannot be ignored, there must be payment. Sin demands death. God has never let anyone escape the penalty for sin.


    However, God is also the definition of mercy. He has provided the payment for sin. He provided the sacrificial lamb that would pay the sin debt for every sinner. With the sin debt paid, no sinner has to pay for his own sin. That is mercy.


    At the death of Jesus on the cross, justice was served; payment was made for sin. At the same moment, mercy triumphed over judgment.


    Do you know why God instructed: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay”? Humans are just like the governing officials of Solomon’s day. We parcel out justice and mercy according to our whims.


    So, what does God expect of us, we who have been shown mercy?

    Jesus taught His disciples:


    Blissful are the merciful,

    for they shall receive mercy.

    --Matthew 5;7


    Mark Stinnett

    January 23, 2022