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 beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
What Is Profanity??
Defining profanity seems simple to some. To others it is might be difficult or confusing.
I remember words from my youth that were acceptable, but are now forbidden. I remember other words that were once considered profanity but, for many people today, no longer are.
A friend of our family, a deacon in the church, once told a joke to folks who had gathered in his home. The punchline included a term that was considered profanity. Yet, in his youth, growing up on a farm, it was the normal vocabulary used to describe a female dog.
Language is fluid. In other words, it is a living thing that changes with our society. And yet, even with these changes, we all have a sense of appropriateness. Comedians get a laugh when they use bold vulgarities. Why? Because everyone knows that vulgarities are inappropriate. Laughter is one way that we express surprise.
On a few occasions individuals who have used profanity have apologized after finding out that my dad was a preacher, or that I was a preacher, or that I was a Christian. How did they know what profanity was? We don’t need to drag out a dictionary. People have a sense of what kind of language is appropriate and what is not. (Of course, some people just don’t care even though they know.)
Let me suggest two broad categories into which most profanity falls:
Obscenities are words or phrases that, in general, naturally offend people. It might be simplified as bathroom talk. We understand that there is a time and place in which it is appropriate to discuss human waste, private body parts, and sexuality. Even when speaking to health care professionals we refrain from offensive terms or slang, even more so when having a discussion with our children.
The word profane is an adverb from which the word profanity grew. It refers to things that are not sacred, that is, not holy. Of course, we are not talking about things that are neutral, like light bulbs, puppies, or river water. Profane speech is unholy speech. It is anything that degrades God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or things specifically related to them. Profane speech brings deity from a lofty place of holiness and degrades deity into something common. Examples would include shouting God’s name when you injure yourself, or loudly saying the name of Jesus when hearing surprising news. We call upon the name of the Lord for the salvation of our souls. We praise the name of our Creator. We give thanks to God. We are baptized in the name of Jesus. God is never elevated by jokes. So, don’t tell God jokes or Jesus jokes. The Holy Spirt is our divine helper and should never be used to generate laughter.
It is true that sometimes people do not know that a word or phrase belongs to that class of terminology called profanity. That is especially true of younger kids who are naïve. And yet, it is not necessary for me to generate and publish a list of obscenities and profane speech. So, if you are truly uncertain…the following saying applies: ”If in doubt, leave it out.” That’s man’s wisdom. Here’s what God says...
Let no unwholesome (rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. —Ephesians 4:29
May 21, 2023
Do you generally trust others?
On one extreme are those who trust no one until trust can be earned. On the other extreme are those who trust everyone until trust has been violated. Many fall in between.
Trustworthiness is vital. And yet, you can’t trust everyone. You can’t trust everything you read. With the video manipulation tools of our day, you can’t trust everything you see. Trustworthiness is important, but often elusive.
The Bible claims to be true and to offer truth.
Many people reject the Bible because they think it clashes with science. That’s silly. Science arrives at truth by testing and measuring and analyzing material things. Yet, the message and purpose of the Bible stands beyond the boundaries of the physical universe. Science is not equipped to evaluate the message of the Bible.
The Bible is not a history book, and yet, it does have relevant and accurate historical statements. So, it should hold up to historical scrutiny. And yet, history has not, and perhaps cannot, validate all the historical information in Scripture. Yet, the absence of information proves little. For example, at one time some scholars doubted the existence of the Hittite nation because the Hittites were not known outside of the biblical record. Eventually, evidence of the Hittite nation was discovered. So, just because the truth had not been validated by history did not make is false. So, historical proof may not exist for all things biblical.
It is important to understand that the Bible makes the claim of being a revelation from the God who created the universe. This revelation is about God and His relationship to created mankind.
Within the Bible are statements about truth and the evaluation of truth. God gave the Israelites a law in which they were told how to evaluate the word of a prophet claiming to speak a message from God. In short, if a prophet spoke of future events that did not come true, that prophet had not spoken God’s word and was untrustworthy. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
Years later a prophet communicated God’s promised that He would provide for His people. God then challenged them to test Him to see if He was being honest with them. (Malachi 3:10)
God is perfectly willing for you to investigate Him and His word. However, you need to use the right instrument for investigating. Remarkably, God invites you inside. He allows you to personally investigate His claims. This is far different from a demanding leap of blind faith based on nothing more than one’s desire. And it is different from standing on the outside and looking in with science and history as judges.
The first words of the Bible challenge the mind, “In the beginning, God created….” Science and history are ill-equipped to evaluate that statement. If a person decides to reject it, then nothing in the Bible will make sense because that first statement is the foundation to all that follows. That first verse of the Bible must not be rejected arbitrarily. If rejected, there must be a reason, and it must be a reasonable reason.
Science evaluates material things; history, events which have been recorded. God invites each person to look at Him and look at His record, and to personally evaluate His trustworthiness. If His past is trustworthy, then so also are His future warnings and promises.
If God is trustworthy, all must respond.
May 14, 2023
The Attitude for Finding Truth
How do you know that truth is truth?
Many feel betrayed by our government because of the recent pandemic. Credible reports draw into question the involvement of our government, the CDC, ‘Big Pharma,’ and even our health care system. Truth seems elusive.
How am I supposed to find the truth? I do not have the background and skill to analyze and evaluate all the medical claims that are being made. Many claim to have the truth and claim to report the truth. I don’t know who to trust.
It is my guess that if we have a future pandemic scare, many people, like me, simply will not believe, will not listen unless people are falling down in the streets with obvious ailments.
Many feel betrayed by religion, especially after the many reports of trusted church leaders committing crimes. And then there was the highly publicized split in the Methodist church. On top of that, the history of Christianity is not stellar. There are so many different churches that a person can find a church that will teach what he/she already believes. Truth seems elusive. In fact, for every preacher, pastor, priest, pope, commentator, or scholar that claims to have the truth, someone out there will validate it and someone else will raise doubts about it.
Like wading through the mire of medical misinformation, trying to discover truth through religious institutions can be mind-numbing. So, how do you find truth?
One’s attitude is of greatest importance regarding the question of truth.
Personally, I don’t expect to find truth in the area of health and medicine because I’ve given up. Sadly, many have adopted that attitude regarding God and spiritual truth. That was the attitude of Pontius Pilate when Jesus spoke about truth. He asked Jesus, “What is truth?” but did not wait for an answer. His was a question of exasperation not expecting to be able to discover truth.
Some people have put up a wall of rejection as if to say, “You can’t tell me anything.” They are like the Pharisees of Jesus day who would not listen to anyone. (Read John 9.) Their minds are already made up.
Some people are pretenders. They will talk about God and spiritual things, but they will only tell you what they think. Other pretenders make verbal jabs by presenting impossible-to-answer questions or by contradicting things spoken by others. Some of the Pharisees and Sadducees were like that. (Read Matthew 22.)
A person who truly wishes to find truth must have the proper attitude toward truth.
- Those who are exasperated and no longer believe truth can be found will never find truth. They are not even looking.
- Those who already have their minds made up will never find truth. They possess it!
- The pretenders are just that, pretending to be interested in truth. They are really only interested in themselves.
Jesus told a parable about “a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46) Those who are truly interested in truth search for with the same attitude as that of the pearl merchant.
Truth is found by those who diligently search for it because they know it exists, and because they understand its value.
Truth is priceless.
May 7, 2023