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.
In general stubbornness is a negative trait. A stubborn person is unyielding; they simply will not change. “It’s my way or the highway,” seems to be their mindset. Yet, there are times when we really ought to be stubborn. Here are four times in which you ought to be stubborn.
Stubborn when Tempted:
James reminds us that we are tempted to sin when we are drawn away by our own desires. So, temptation is really not temptation if there is no desire. That is why temptation is so serious, it comes from a desire already within us.
After telling about a number of ways that God had dealt with evil in the past, Peter wrote:
The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.
—2 Peter 2:9 (NASB95)
The Apostle Paul encourages:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
—1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB95)
God wants us to overcome temptation and he will help! Be stubborn when tempted.
Stubborn in Faith:
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, they thought he was a ‘spirit.’
And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
—Luke 24:38 (NASB95)
Jesus had to show the scars on his hands and feet and eat some food because his disciples doubted what was standing in front of them.
Faith is about stubbornly holding to truth even when it seems unreal; even when we can’t prove it by experimentation; even when it is unseen. Whether challenged by circumstances or society, be stubborn in your faith in Jesus.
Stubborn in Doing Good:
It is easy to start thinking, “When is it going to be my turn? When will I get a little attention? Where’s my reward for doing good?”
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
—Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith.
—Galatians 6:9–10 (ISV)
Stubborn throughout Life:
Have you ever thought about giving up on Jesus? Year after year after year you watch people who have no respect for God succeed in life. They seem to have a life of pleasure and ease while you, a Christian, struggle in different ways. It seems unfair. Yet, Paul wrote...
I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The victor’s crown of righteousness is now waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on the day that he comes, and not only to me but also to all who eagerly wait for his appearing.
—2 Timothy 4:7–8 (ISV)
Generally, stubbornness is not good, but as it relates to temptation, faith, good works, and the Christian life:
March 8, 2020
Our daughter, Hannah, lives in Italy. By all accounts Kris and I should be concerned—We are. According to much of the media we should be afraid—We are NOT.
The current circumstances related to ‘the virus’ both in the world and in our country are certainly unsettling and a cause for concern and caution, but not fear.
In only a few days things have changed dramatically according to my daughter’s reports from Italy. We are feeling the effects of change in the U.S. as well. I think it is safe to say that we do not know what ‘tomorrow’ will bring.
In addition, credible reports about the virus are a cause for concern. It really is serious.
I am writing this to encourage YOU to look at things with a mature, godly perspective. While the unknown is sure to cause uneasiness, we are not a people of fear. So, remember…
God is still God.
We live in a broken world, so it should be no surprise that we do not currently exist in a state of bliss. Suffering and disease are a part of our earthly existence. We find peace as the Psalmist describes God as the one “with whom there is no change.” (55:19)
God cares for you.
Peter wrote these words while addressing younger Christian men, yet it can surely be applied more broadly. Peter calls for humility, while “casting your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) In addition, God has promised the Holy Spirit to those who have responded to the gospel. (Acts 2:38) That means that we have not been abandoned. God is still with us in the world.
We live in hope.
Listen to the words of Jesus...
Do not let you hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. —John 14:1-2
Think about it. Jesus had just told Peter that he would deny Him three times. Then Jesus told him that there was a place in God’s house prepared for him! Astonishing!
If even the worst outcome should touch the life of any one of us, we have God’s assurance of something that is literally out of this world!
We must be content.
Using his circumstances as an example, Paul said on one occasion that he knew how to live in wealth, but he also knew how to live in poverty. That followed his statement, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Note carefully; he had learned, not ‘how to be content,’ but ‘to be’ content. How could he choose to be content…?
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13
Isn’t it true that we have rock-solid confidence, not in tomorrow, but in our God!?
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Will people see you running wildly through stores with arms flailing in wide-eyed fear over a missing product? Will fear betray you as you drone on and on with your version of ‘the sky is falling’ anxiety. Or will they be baffled by your peace, not apathy, but true peace?
That’s when you tell them that your life rests confidently in the hands of the Creator of the universe.
March 15, 2020
I think I'll remember Sunday, March 22, 2020 for a long, long time.
It began like any other Sunday. I started early so I could get to the church building and have some 'alone' time as I prepared my thoughts for Sunday worship. But it was not like any other Sunday. For one thing, I wore blue jeans; but that was not what made it memorable.
I stepped out the back door to walk to my car and the familiar sound of passing cars was missing. No, the streets were not desolate; no tumbleweed. But it was more like a hike in the woods; the sounds of nature. Yet that was not what made it a memorable day.
I turned half a block from my house onto State St. and drove three miles to the church building which is also on State St. All four traffic lights were green, and that almost never happens. I passed only one car, and that never happens. Yet, that was not what made it a memorable day.
I entered the church building and it was dark, just like any other day. However, I did not walk through turning on lights as I normally do on a Sunday morning. I did not unlock the doors. Government officials and health officials had recommended that group gatherings dismiss due to the Coronavirus. No one would be coming that Sunday.
I had arrived two hours before meeting time. Meeting time? Yes.
I wanted to go back through my sermon one more time and get things set up before everyone started gathering.
We were not meeting at our church building; we were not even meeting together physically. One of our church members introduced me to a computer application that allowed multiple individuals to join in an interactive video conference call. It was different than streaming live or watching a worship assembly on TV. We could interact as if we were in the same room.
I know that this is not new technology. It is used in business and education all the time. But it was the first time any of us had 'gathered' online for a period of worship and fellowship. I was able to share songs via audio and video from my computer so that we could all join together in a period of singing. Other men of the congregation were able to lead the whole group in prayer and share thoughts when we paused for the Lord's Supper. At the end of our worship fellowship, we stayed in our virtual assembly to share prayer requests and relate updates relevant to our church group.
I saw something on that day that we didn't 'assemble.'
Before I tell you what I saw, I have to relate a recent experience I had while a part of a religious group on Facebook. I saw a few posts about a particular Bible verse about the Christian 'assembly.' Here's the verse (the discussion focused on the section in boldface type):
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NASB95)
There were basically two views: Some insisted that the verse was a command for Christians to meet every Sunday. 'Going to church' was something a good Christian had to do. Their rigid stance makes me sad; I think they missed the point.
Those opposing that view countered with statements like: "It's not a command" and "It doesn't say every Sunday" and "It doesn't even say Sunday" and "It doesn't say anything about worship." Their rigid opposition makes me sad; I think they also missed the point.
Both positions stripped the Scripture of meaning. The command viewpoint made it something that even a robot or a dog could obey. The opposing viewpoint, however, lacked substance by merely pointing out what the verse 'did not' say. Those with both viewpoints approached the Scriptures as a legal document. Both figuratively rolled up the scroll of Scripture and whacked the other on the head. Shame! Shame on both!
As long as we discuss Bible verses in legal terms we will only construct religious traditions that are not unlike the traditions of the Jewish elders at the time of Jesus. Rather, we ought to search for meaning and relevance in all the things God has spoken. Why did God say anything about "not forsaking our own assembling together"?
I saw something on Sunday, March 22, 2020, that day that we didn't 'assemble.'
I saw Hebrews 10:25 in a deeper way because I was given a different perspective. For the first time ever we were kept from meeting together and it had nothing to do with inclement weather, building renovations, etc. Our circumstances profoundly emphasized that meeting together is important for the life of the church.
With the help of one of our tech savvy church members, forty-two families and individuals met together in an online video conference meeting. I started the meeting 15 minutes early and several had already joined the meeting. One couple amused us by volunteering to be official 'greeters' as other folks joined. After our 'scheduled assembly' many folks remained in the online meeting to chat. This didn't happen because we were "commanded" or because "we didn't have to meet every Sunday." It happened because we wanted to assemble together. No, actually, we HAD TO ASSEMBLE because that is who we are.
That little phrase, "not forsaking our own assembling together" IS God's way of telling us that coming together in the name of Jesus is rich and powerful. Our assemblies have meaning because of the intent of our hearts toward God and toward each other.
I weary of the voices of critics who tell us that our worship assemblies today are nothing like the assemblies of the 1st Century Christians. Maybe so, but God really did mean something in Hebrews 10:25 and I think I will never look at our 'church assembly' quite the same way.
Our small congregation assembled online on Sunday, March 22, 2020. We prayed together; we sang together; we shared in the Lord's Supper together, we considered some thoughts from God's word together and we just sat around and talked together.
It was unusual in may ways. But we were together...and we are richer for our experience.
That is a day I will always remember.
And we will continue to meet online...every Sunday...until we can once again join together in person.
God was so wise in giving us instruction reminding us of the importance of being together.
March 23, 2020