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.
Do you belong to the Regret Club?
I don’t really know of a Regret Club. (I made it up.) Yet, if there was one, most of us would qualify for membership, regardless of age.
Regret is a consuming creature. It keeps our minds locked in the past. We may regret missed opportunities. That is especially true at mid-life and beyond. We reflect back on life and wonder how the years passed so quickly. Younger people might not have that many years behind them, but they still have regrets. We think about goals never met, important events missed, relationships never developed, opportunities missed because of fear.
In general, regret exists because lost opportunities cannot be reclaimed. You might say, “That ship has sailed.” The bite of regret is sharp because it is a loss of hope.
We may also feel regret over things we wish we had not done. We ought to feel regret over sin. Yet, not all regret is connected to sin. Because of a foolish decision, we might have done something that tarnished our reputation, destroyed a friendship, resulted in an injury with long-term effects, or caused a significant financial debt.
A friend of regret is if-only thinking:
- If only I had not said that.
- If only I had not done that.
- If only things were different.
The destructive force of regret is not just that it keeps our minds focused on the past; it keeps our minds focused on self.
When writing to the Christians at Philippi, the Apostle Paul looked at his past accomplishments and his personal credentials. He said that it was all rubbish (trash) when he considered the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He went on to say that he was in pursuit of “the power of His resurrection.” Then he wrote...
13Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. —Philippians 3:13–16 (NASB95)
After reading what Paul wrote, do you think he was eaten up with regret? Do you think he qualified for membership in the Regret Club?
I think we all have regrets. However, the key is in not living in the past. There is no such thing as ‘undo.’ Paul encouraged Christians to keep their focus on “the prize of the upward call of God.” He said that he let the past stay in the past by “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
THAT is how you deal with regret.
- Did Paul have regrets? Absolutely!
- Do I have regrets? Yes! And it’s a burden.
- Do you have regrets? Of course!
However, living in the past is just another way of living in selfishness. Do you want to be rid of regret? The first step is in obtaining God’s forgiveness. Once your sin debt is cleared, then you must keep your focus forward on the promises of God. For all the things which you may regret, the one regret you cannot afford is to miss out on the resurrection from the dead.
Set your focus. Embrace hope.
May 23, 2021
The Bible tells us about God:
God is love. (1 John 4:8)
God is holy. (Leviticus 11:44)
What do you think when you read those words?
I think people are comfortable talking about “God is love.” After all, love is good; love is sweet. Unfortunately, some people have watered down God’s love to fit their own personal preferences. God’s holiness, I think, is not as easily manipulated.
It is important to understand both of these statements about the character of God. After all, God expects His people to love as He loves and to be holy as He is holy.
We should first recognize that we are thinking about God’s nature. To say that God is love means that the very nature of God is love. So, God does not have to think about loving someone or try to love. There is no internal struggle within God when it comes to love. Love describes of the very essence of God’s being.
Holiness is similar. God is holy by nature. He does not have to think about being holy or try to be holy. For God, there is no internal struggle to be holy. Holiness describes the very essence of God’s being.
We should also recognize that God does not balance love and holiness. Balance implies tension, as if love and holiness pull in different directions. Yet, in every thought, in every word and in every action, God is both loving and holy.
We are called to love as God loves!
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:7-8
So what does it take to love as God loves?
God not only communicated His love through creation and through His interaction with ancient Israel; He ultimately communicated His love through Jesus Christ.
On which day did Jesus live for Himself? When did He tell everyone to back off because He was tired of helping people? His alone time was spent in prayer to His Father, not vacationing. The rare moments in which Jesus appeared to refuse someone’s request, He was focused on God’s will...and yet still stopped and helped when He observed genuine faith and humility.
Of course, Jesus’ ultimate act of love was far from soft and fuzzy; it involved a beating, mocking, spitting, splinters, thorns, nails and blood.
God is love demands sacrifice!
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” —1 Peter 1:15-16
Holiness doesn’t get as much press as love. Holiness has to do with morality, purity, devotion and goodness. The Son of God, just like His Father, was holy. He saturated His mind with the word of God. He was completely given over to the accomplishment of God’s will. To be an acceptable sacrifice to God, He had to be pure in His motives and sinless in word and action.
When tempted, He did not indulge Himself. His desire to do God’s will overruled His personal desires. He gave everything to be holy.
God is holy demands sacrifice!
To love as God loves, we must sacrifice.
To be holy as God is holy, we must sacrifice.
Only in sacrifice are we truly like our God.
May 30, 2021
Children are not reasonable people.
That might be one of the reasons we have laughed at “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Peanuts,” “The Family Circus,” “Baby Blues” and other comic strips featuring children.
The younger the child, the more likely they are to have a complete lack of understanding of consequences. They lack life experience, understanding and knowledge. For that reason children are vulnerable to many dangers. For example, they do not recognize the consequences of touching a hot stove or sticking a metal object in an electrical outlet. While entertaining in the comic strips, the consequences of real life are often much more serious and sometimes painfully lasting.
Parents struggle with the task of instructing, training, and disciplining their children so that they will be able to avoid physical dangers in life. Parents also teach their children how to avoid financial pitfalls, academic failure, and common health problems. These are all necessary lessons. Yet, as Christians we must never rest from providing our children moral and spiritual training.
A significant part of moral and spiritual training is that of teaching consequences. Oftentimes, spiritual and moral offenses are not followed by immediate consequences. So, parents must apply consequences. Otherwise, their children will grow up spiritually immature and unable to see the ultimate consequences of their moral and spiritual choices.
At the end of a lengthy admonition to his son regarding the adulteress, Solomon considered the future of the one who had not listened to instruction. In the end, the young man's life was destroyed because he had wasted his energy and forfeited his possessions to strangers. Awakened by the reality of the moment, the young man cried out:
How I have hated instruction,
And my heart despised correction!
--Proverbs 5:12 (NKJV)
After experiencing devastating consequences, the eyes of the young man were opened to reality. Instruction and correction had not failed, but only after reaping the consequences of his poor attitude and rebellious behavior did the young man realize that he had failed.
The Bible, God’s revelation to mankind, allows us to peer into the future and learn the consequences of our choices. Many of the teachings in the Proverbs apply directly to our physical lives in the here and now. Yet, the overall message of scripture deals with spiritual life and spiritual consequences reaching into the afterlife.
The simple point is this: Instruction has already been revealed. Correction has already been written. God still disciplines his children today. (See Hebrews 12:4-10.) So, listen and follow God’s instruction NOW. At times of failure, when God corrects you through His word, listen and follow!
Experience may be the best teacher in some areas of life. However, no one wants experience to teach them that they hated instruction and despised correction. The eternal consequences are devastating and irreversible.
Be wise, now.
June 13, 2021