Preacher's 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 beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.

  • Did You Hear...?

    Several years ago I witnessed a shooting…on the six o’clock news on television. I stood in shock. It was not due to a lack of awareness of violence, but that it was televised. Not only that, it was aired at an early evening hour.


    Perhaps the airing of the shooting is a bold commentary on the impulses of man’s nature. It is not enough to hear about crime, people want to see it. Our television shows and motion pictures no longer make reference to violence, immoral sex, and other evils; they no longer simply suggest what happened; nothing is left to the imagination. For many that is still not enough. They want to participate and will not be satisfied otherwise.


    As Christians we would never participate in acts of evil. However, are we participating through literature and other entertainment choices?


    I would not expect agreement on which shows, movies, or books should be avoided, but surely we are all cautious to not go overboard. We stay away from the really bad stuff.


    So, where do we draw the line?

    Consider the Apostle Paul’s instruction for the Christians at Ephesus regarding evil:

    And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

    —Ephesians 5:11-12


    Do your conversations sometimes revolve around the violence in the world, the sexual immorality on TV or at the movies. Have we gotten so accustomed to the evil around us that we know the language? Are we educating ourselves in the unfruitful deeds of darkness?


    There are no valid rationalizations, such as:

    • “It’s in the news.”
    • “Everybody’s watching it.”
    • “I would never do anything like that.”
    • “I do think it is wrong; I don’t encourage it.”
    • “My mind filters out the bad parts.”
    • “I’m going to be exposed to it anyway.”

    Paul’s words stand in bold contrast to these rationalizations: “It is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” He is saying that Christians have no business chatting about evil.


    How do we make good conversation and entertainment choices? The “kid test” might be a practical guide. Let me explain: If kids are talking about inappropriate things, they will stop when an adult enters the room. So...If you would stop or change your conversation because someone entered the room (parents, church friends, kids) it might not be a proper topic in the first place! (This doesn’t cover every topic/situation, but it’s a worthy guide.)

    In the same letter, Paul encouraged Christians to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” (v 19). That is in stark contrast to disgraceful conversations about evil!


    We are well aware that evil exists in the world, even in our communities. The Bible warns about evil. However, we do not need to be educated in evil, and we do not need to make evil the centerpiece of any of our conversations.


    Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

    —Ephesians 5:15


     

    Mark Stinnett

    May 26, 2024

  • Never Shaken

    Have you ever experienced an earthquake so that you lost your footing? Have you ever lost your footing on a steep incline and actually fallen off the path? Have you ever tripped on a staircase with nothing to grab hold of? These are images of what the Psalmist calls shaken. Being shaken is the idea that you have lost your footing but there is nothing to help you keep or regain your balance...so you fall!


    Of course, the Psalmist is not talking about literal earthquakes and tripping. Rather, he has in mind those events in life in which we are shaken to the point of near catastrophe spiritually. It may be that our faith is weak and we wonder if God will help, or we wonder if God really cares, or we just no longer see the use in trying.


    God never promised that there will be no earthquakes in life. He does not guarantee that the path of life will always be smooth, wide and even. He does not assure us that there will be no obstacles, no enemies, and no temptations. However, he does promise that we will not be shaken. In fact, to the righteous his promise is greater:

    He who does these things will never be shaken.

    —Psalm 15:5


    The literal Hebrew text reads, “He will not be shaken, forever.”


    While it is true that God will extend his hand to help us when we fall, He is also the one who can make us surefooted so that we do not fall at all. It may seem to be an unattainable ideal, but the Psalmist assures us that God will help us so that we are never shaken, so that we never fall.


    So, how is it that we can have this kind of surefooted assurance in our lives?

    • It is because the Lord is my counsel; he is always in my thoughts; he is next to me. (Psalm 16:7-8)
    • It is because of the continual love of the Lord for me and my trust in Him. (Psalm 21:7)
    • It is because God is my strength, my rest, and my salvation. (Psalm 62:6-8)
    • It is because God’s attention is trained toward the righteous. My righteousness does not keep me from stumbling, but God remembers his righteous ones, and he will make them surefooted.  (Psalms 15:5; 55:22 and 112:6)


    In the first Psalm David declared blessings from God for the one who avoids the path of sin and evil. He declared blessings from God for the one who meditates on the instruction of the Lord.


       He is like a tree

         planted by streams of water,

       Which yields its fruit in season

         And whose leaf does not wither.

       Whatever he does prospers.

       —Psalm 1:3


    We each need to be that deep-rooted tree that withstands the storms of life year after year. To have such strength we must, send our roots deep into the refreshing word of God...

    Learning the value of trusting in the Lord;

    Gaining confidence in his strength;

    Experiencing his kindness, his rest, his salvation; and

    Growing in His righteousness.


    Then when the storms and earthquakes of life occur,


    We will NOT BE SHAKEN…

                                        FOREVER!

     

    Mark Stinnett

    May 19, 2024

  • Who Speaks the Truth to You??

    Truth has always been an elusive thing. Right?


    It was the summer after my high school graduation and mom had to have a word with me. I had become quite full of myself (arrogant) and mom could see that I needed to be taken down a notch (swallow my pride). She did a fine job!


    I didn’t want to hear it, but I needed to hear it. She spoke the truth.


    Sometimes the truth is distasteful because we are in the wrong. No one wants to hear, “You’re wrong!” “You need to change!” “You have to stop” (doing what you should not be doing). “You have to” (do what you should be doing). Yet, as distasteful as it may be, hearing the truth is better than hearing lies. It’s what we all need.


    There is an amusing story in the Old Testament about a king who didn’t like truth. King Ahab wanted to go into battle over a border dispute on the northern boundary of Israel. He asked the king of Judah to join him. He consulted all his prophets and they told him what he wanted to hear, “Go up, for the Lord will give the land into the hand of the king.”


    King Jehoshaphat of Judah asked whether there was a prophet of the Lord nearby. (The other prophets were not God’s prophets.) King Ahab replied, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”


    Messengers were sent to find the prophet named Micaiah. They coached him to agree with the other prophets, but he protested saying that he could only say what God had told him. Nevertheless he was brought before the two kings and asked to prophesy. Surprisingly, his prophecy agreed with the others!

    Then, King Ahab said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” So, Micaiah revealed God’s message of truth to the kings. And you might guess, it was not what King Ahab wanted to hear. He then complained, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”


    (You should read this entire event in 1 Kings 22. You might be surprised by the heavenly meeting that Micaiah told about.)


    King Ahab was quite peculiar. He knew that his own prophets were merely telling him what he wanted to hear. He knew the difference between truth and lies. He knew that God’s word was truth and that God’s prophet spoke the truth. He just didn’t want to hear the truth.


    Are you ever like that? Are there certain people that you simply will not listen to? Maybe it’s because of something in your past. Maybe they’ve made mistakes, and you still hold things against them. Maybe they don’t speak your language; they’re too bold and straightforward, too wordy, too soft, or something else. Maybe they’re too old or too young; not well educated or overly educated. It may be that you KNOW they’ll speak truth!


    Perhaps it’s not truth that is so elusive after all. The question may be more about whether you love the truth or prefer to live in a world of delusion that you have created for yourself. You can call it ‘your truth’ all day long, but it doesn’t change reality. You can believe or perceive whatever you want, but reality is immovable and unchangeable. Reality is called truth.


    Are you just another fool like King Ahab?

    Or, do you love truth?


    Mark Stinnett

    May 12, 2024