Mike Stubbs

What I said at the cemetery service for my friend Mike Stubbs

Mike Stubbs

Mike Stubbs was Born January 18, 1956 at Harlingen Air Force base to  Lloyd Franklin Stubbs and Susie Marie Stubbs, the oldest of 8 siblings Kathy, Jackie, Cindy, Roger, Martha, Bessie, and Brian. Mike departed from this life August 31, 2021 at the age of 65 in McAllen, TX.

During their 45 year marriage, Mike and Karen had 5 children. Michael, Benjamin, Beth, Kara, and Amy and 5 grandchildren Matthew, Peyton, Tyler, Corbin and Cohen. His children and grandchildren were the delight of his life.

He is survived by his wife Karen, children and their spouses Michael and Jennifer Stubbs, Beth and James Boone, Kara and Ian Longen, and Amy and Chris Cole, his 5 grandchildren, siblings Kathy, Cindy, Roger, Martha, Bessie and Brian and many nephews, nieces and cousins.

Mike’s lifelong interest in spiritual matters began when he was 15 and started attending a bible study with Christians in McAllen, tx. He was baptized at 16 and from then on, made it a point to always seek out Christians wherever he went and participate in the work and worship however he could, whether it was song leading, giving short talks, teaching bible classes, or preaching sermons.

He attended Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL for a semester, then joined the Airforce where he served 4 years as a radar repair instructor.

In Dec 1975, he married Karen Gully whom he met at one of the Bible studies in McAllen. After he left the Airforce, he received his Bachelor of Science and teaching certificate from Pan American University in 1983. He worked as a math teacher and football, basketball and track coach during his 22 years teaching career. After leaving teaching, he worked as a football and basketball official for 15 years during which he was not ashamed to admit that sometimes as a coach, he was not always right … the ref may have made the right call. He told me once that was a change in perspective.

In 2012, he made the decision that he HAD to preach or teach in some way and decided to go through a year of intensive study with a longtime preacher friend to learn to be a more effective preacher. When the year was over, he started working with the North Main church of Christ in Gladewater, TX where he spent 6 years preaching the gospel. The next 2 years until his death, he was the minister for the Grant street Iglesias de Cristo in Harlingen,TX.

Some of his other interests in life besides teaching were reading, especially Louis L’amour, growing things, landscaping, traveling and connecting with family and friends across the country.

He is predeceased by both parents, son Benjamin Stubbs and sister Jackie Stubbs.

He loved his family, he was proud to serve his country and proud to serve his God.

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1 Thess. 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

My wife and I first met Mike and Karen, about 32 years ago when we first arrived in McAllen. Not many days after we met them, Mike wanted me to accompany him for a Bible study with some of his neighbors. I don’t remember everything about that.

But what is clear in my memory is, Mike’s interests and dedication to share the Word of God with his neighbors. All through the years of my experience with Mike, that never changed. Above every other consideration, motive or activity – Mike wanted people to hear the gospel of Christ. To have the hope I just read about, in 1st Thessalonians.

He was doing what others had done for him. Members of the Laurel Heights church, like Ney and Joan Reiber – took young people into their home and powerful influences for good came from that experience. Mike obeyed the gospel and from then on, wanted others to hear that message. Not his story, but Christ’s story. That passion Mike and Karen took with them wherever they went.

Mike Stubbs had a valuable life characterized by some remarkable variety, that not everybody would embrace. Manual labor, Air Force, College, Public School Teaching, Sports Official, Preaching … raising goats and chickens … and children.

Foundational to every activity of his life – his devotion to God, his love for Karen, his care for his kids and their families, grandchildren, church members and neighbors.

I believe in a time of loss such as this – we should reflect back on his life and see value. There may be loss now, but his life was a gain … for him, his family and all who interacted with him. And, of course, while we regard this as a loss – we must not overlook or dismiss, for those who live in Christ, Phil. 1:21 affirms that death is gain. And that’s how our sorrow is managed.

A few years ago, I believe it was 2012, after Mike retired from teaching, he called me. They were in Bastrop at the time. Mike said he wanted to equip himself to do some preaching, perhaps find a small church that needed a preacher. But before taking on that task, he wanted to come to the Valley and spend a year with me in an intern study arrangement. I said, “Mike, that would be great. But we don’t have the budget to support you.” Mike said, “I know that. I don’t need any financial support. I just want you to help me prepare to be a local preacher.” So, we worked that out. Mike and Karen came back to the Valley for a year or so, before moving to Gladewater, to serve the church there for six years. Then, more recently at Grant Street in Harlingen.

I set up a curriculum, goals, reading lists and a schedule. Mike did everything I asked him to do. Always on time for our sessions together. In some cases he would say to me, “give me more work.”

We read the Bible from cover to cover in a 90-day reading plan. We prepared sermons together, talked about good ways to read and study the text, how to organize class material, dealing with people, maintaining your own life of devotion to God … all the various aspects of being a local preacher.

Mike was right there every step of the way, and then took what he learned to Gladewater to help those people. AND, That year I spent with Mike helped Mike and helped Warren – and perhaps helped those we were teaching and serving.

Mike and Karen are “salt of the earth people.” We are hurt by Mike’s departure. But we celebrate the good he did while here. It becomes our duty now, to help Karen in every way we are able. To comfort the family, and to hold such people as Mike and Karen in high esteem for their response to the grace of God and their devotion to spread the gospel of Christ.

In 2015, Jon Quinn and I edited a book called CHRISTIANITY IN TWELVE WORDS, still available for order at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Mike wrote the chapter on the word IMAGE. I want to use this excerpt from his chapter to conclude: Mike wrote …

Through the Gospels and up to Acts 11:26 those who followed Jesus and His teachings were called disciples.

There are two parts to being a disciple. The first is that of a learner of the way of life taught by the Master. The second part is not just to learn it, but to live that way of life. A disciple shapes himself in the image of the Master. No one starts out from the very beginning instantly fully integrating the teachings of the Master into his life. It is a gradual process that is faster for some than others and easier for some than others, but nobody’s change is immediate.

For Christians, or disciples of Christ, we see that “He [Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,” (Hebrews 1:3a). Jesus shows to us the nature of God. Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And, in Romans 8:29 we have the word of God tell us that He wants us to be conformed into the image of His Son.

…  And, in John 14:9, Jesus answers Philip who had asked for Jesus to show the apostles the Father. Jesus says in part, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” So, part of what we need to do to make ourselves into the image of God is to understand Jesus and imitate Him to our greatest extent (1 Corinthians 11;1, 1 Thessalonians 1:6). Peter tells us … some ways we can imitate the Son. 1 Peter 2:21-23 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. Jesus is our example.

We test ourselves and test the words of all our preachers and teachers (2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 John 4:1), yes, even the words of our friends, to make sure we all are hearing the word of the Lord, not some philosophy of man. This will ensure that we are following the Creator not the creature. All of this ensures that we are transforming our character into the image of God.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for good, noble men, wherever they are – at whatever stage in life – who submit humbly to Thy will, transforming their character into the image of Thy Son, relying on His blood for salvation – and zealously seeking to take that message to others. Help us to be comforted about Mike’s passing by remembering what he accomplished, how he lived and all the valuable impressions and influences that now become his legacy.

Bless his loved ones and friends and brethren from whom he is now separated for a while. When days are dark and hard for Karen, uphold her. When the family needs each other, may their love for each other and confidence in Thee result in strength and perseverance.

As for us, who survive, may we finish our course and be ready to lay aside our earthly burdens, and find rest in Christ, who now leads us and consoles us. In His name we pray, Amen.

Beating The Enemy, by Dee Bowman

Front Lines

How To Beat The Enemy

Dee Bowman

Here are seven suggestions for beating the devil:

  1. Don’t get very far away from God. Drifting is easy, takes no effort and no plan. All you have to do is just sit there. On the other hand, it’s hard to keep on being close to God when there are all kinds of voices telling you you can’t do it. Make up your mind to be in the presence of God as often as you can. It just makes good sense. “Draw nigh unto God and he will draw night unto you” (James 4:8).
  2. Don’t be bedazzled by the shiny trinkets of life. Was it Shakespeare who first wrote that “all that glitters is not gold.” There are lots of things that shine, glow, glitter and they are attractive. But they’re fake; they’re not real. Counterfeit joy is everywhere. Fake happiness—the kind that looks great and offers no longevity, is being promoted at every turn. True joy is found in peace, not trinkets. True blessedness is possible only in putting what you have—time, talent, even money—at the disposal of those who need you. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world …” (1 John 2:15).
  3. Make that decision. Indecision is used effectively by the devil. You see, he doesn’t have to get you to make an immediate decision to do evil, all he has to do is get you to put off making a decision to do good. Indecision is the basis for indifference, the reason for procrastination, the first choice of the lazy person. You have to make up your mind if you’re going to serve God. He doesn’t have time for you to wait. You have to make that choice (Joshua 24:15).
  4. Be a part. To be involved is equal to being intertwined with others. There is strength in being part of a greater whole. You can’t draw strength from the rest of the body if you have only a slight connection to it. The closer your connection the greater your strength. The tighter your attachment, the stronger the relationship. Visit stronger members and you will become stronger. Lend your own strength to weaker members and you will you lift them up to greater usefulness. Make yourself available and you will soon find your place (1 Corinthians 12:25).
  5. Look out. Yes, look out. The world is dying in sin and the only hope they have is not to be found in new medications and new methods for health, or in new technology or greater scientific knowledge. You are the hope of the world. Salvation from sin is the hope of the world. Can we sit and let what we have never find its way? Can we fritter away the time while the world perishes? We must reach out to those who need us, care for those who are lost, provide for those who flounder in sin. Where there is opportunity there is responsibility (Galatians 6:10).
  6. Stay calm. Over zealousness has always been a problem among restorationists. Being right is no good if it causes self-righteousness. We can get so carried away with our vision that we try and force people into our self-constructed molds and end up making the very creeds we’re fighting. We can become so enamored with the party that we construct a party line. We need patience, understanding, kind dispositions, a compassionate spirit. Not compromise, mind you, but tolerance (they are not the same thing, you know). We can be right and still be wrong. We are to restore “in the spirit of meekness …” (Galatians 6:1).
  7. Get hope. Hope is the anchor for the soul. It keeps us from drifting, from being too impressed by the present current. Get hope so that your soul can have some ease. Hope does that: it promotes self-confidence without arrogance, brings assurance without over-confidence. It produces quietude in the midst of turbulence and helps us look up when the world gets us down. Hope is a rock. It keeps us from moving away from the good. Get hope. It helps (Hebrews 6:19).
    Serious suggestion for conquering the evil one. Good wishes in your effort to do so.

Bowman, D. (1999). Front Lines: How to Beat the Enemy. Christianity Magazine, 16(2), 2.

Community Aid In The Forest

Community Aid In The Forest

Warren E. Berkley

It is hard to imagine. Some trees not only communicate with each other, they help each other. I hadn’t known this or thought of it, until our recent trip to Utah.

A dynamic illustration of this is the underground root network system of the “Quaking Aspen” Tree. When you look out into the forest you see individual trees. While they are grouped together, what you see is individual trees. Underneath the surface there is a root system connecting the group. If one tree has an abundant supply of nutrients, that thriving tree is able to share the nutrients with struggling trees. It is sometimes described as a compassionate system of communication.

Stronger trees “look after” the weaker trees. Weaker trees are able to “tell” the stronger trees that they need help. So, what you see isn’t really independent trees but a group, a family, like a healthy church – where the strong help the weak and where the weak do not hesitate to seek the help of the more mature trees. Growth and longevity depends on the “fellowship” or unselfish generosity of the members. 

This is what God built into His creation. These trees could not have lived without this “organic” system of mutual assistance and community aid. I do not believe this system of community aid could have slowly evolved (how could the trees have survived before the system evolved?). God built this into nature in the beginning.

Likewise, God has ordained that this system of shared assistance be active in families and local churches. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Rom. 15:1

Fair Fighting

Comments On Fair Fighting

We’ve heard these legendary sayings. “Fight fire with fire,” “Whatever it takes,” and recently I heard, “get your hands on their karma and turn it on them early.” 

These expressions may seem to carry the sound of loyalty, commitment to a cause and perseverance. I want to raise the possibility that these remarks may also reflect ill-conceived attitudes that can take us into reactions that miss the mark of what is right and just.

Friedrich W. Nietzsche warned, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster … for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Along the same line, Richard Rohr offered that “We all become well-disguised mirror images of anything that we fight too long or too directly. That which we oppose determines the energy and frames the questions after a while. Most frontal attacks on evil just produce another kind of evil in yourself, along with a very inflated self-image to boot.”

I want to point out to us (Christians) that we must carefully and prayerfully guard our militance. In resisting evil, opposing humanism and exposing sin whether in personal behavior, institutional doctrine or in the culture, we can become so obsessed with fighting our enemy, we begin to use his tactics.

Isn’t there the danger that we become so emotional, so locked into the aim of defeating what is wrong, maturity, discipline and balance slips away from us and we gradually begin to use the same methods we oppose in the enemy camp?

There is a form of situation ethics that can subtlety get in the way of righteous zeal. For instance, we oppose lying but may be tempted to distort the truth when we are under fire or in intense moments of debate. We may accuse our opponent of ignoring contexts, leaving out pertinent facts and leaning away from objectivity. Shouldn’t we examine ourselves by that same criteria?

Our cause may be righteous, but our methods unrighteous. Our beliefs may be biblical but expressed with such anger we defeat ourselves. Our purposes may be holy, but our tactics unholy. 

We must resist the devil without using his tactics. Stand for truth without compromising in our presentation. Debate to inform, not just to win at any cost. Have the glory of God at the highest point of intent.

TRUTH CONNECTION: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds,” and “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, (2 Cor. 10:1,2, Eph. 4:15).

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Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #8

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#8

The first time you discover this passage, it may seem out of place. If you are familiar with “red-letter edition” Bibles, the direct words Jesus spoke are printed in red. As you are reading through the book of Acts, there is this one sentence printed in red in those editions of the Scripture: “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35). Paul was speaking to the brethren in Ephesus, reminding them to work hard and help the weak AND to remember these words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

What Did Jesus Believe About Giving?

Our first response to that question is obvious. There has never been anyone to walk on the earth who illustrated giving more than Jesus. He “gave Himself a ransom for all,” (1 Tim. 2:6). He “gave Himself for our sins,” (Gal. 1:4). Paul said, He “gave himself up for her,” the church (Eph. 5:25). And, He “gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Eph. 5:25). When Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember that He gave Himself for us (Lk. 22:19-20).

God’s grace (perfect mercy combined with generosity) is perfectly witnessed in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus believed in giving.

He expects His people to imitate that spirit that freely gives. He instructed His disciples to give what they had received (Matt. 10:8); a genuine but quiet benevolence (Matt. 6:2-4). We are to give encouragement and spiritual help: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:2). “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward,” (Matt. 10:42).

When it comes to “givers” and “receivers,” Jesus confers the greater blessing on the givers. That’s what He believed. What about us?

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #7

#7

The ancient world of the Roman Empire was not a child-friendly zone. There were laws, leaders and lazy people who accepted no responsibility toward children. To the contrary. There was an ancient practice called “exposure,” that is equivalent to the modern practice of abortion.

There is, first, the well-known case of Herod’s response to news of Jesus’ birth. “When king Herod heard this,” he was so troubled, he ordered that “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under,” be “killed,” (see Matt. 2:1-18). Parents and friends were unable to protect those children, thus the prophecy of Jeremiah came to pass; the “weeping and great mourning” written by the prophet (Jer. 31:15). Jesus’ parents would flee to Egypt.

In the ancient, status-ordered world, children were at the bottom of the ladder. (Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? (p. 24). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

What Did Jesus Believe About Children?

Jesus did not see people through the cruel lens of economic benefit, self-interests or cultural correct structure and language. There was a dignity He perceived as Creator (Heb. 1:2), knowing people were made in the image of God. He didn’t ignore or reject someone as useless or worthless because others imposed their hate on their fellows.

In Ortberg’s book (cited above), this is hard to read but boldly historical.

Many babies did not grow up at all. In the ancient world, unwanted children were often simply left to die, a practice called “exposure.” The head of the household had the legal right to decide the life or death of other members of the family. This decision was usually made during the first eight or so days of life. (Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? (p. 28). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

What did Jesus believe? “Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and went away.” Matt. 18:13-15

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #6

#6

So many people express their love for and confidence in Jesus Christ. He is admired and some of His well-known statements have been quoted repeatedly through the years since His time. The question raised in this series is: Do you believe what Jesus believed?

What did Jesus believe about false teachers and false religion?

Here’s what He said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:15-20)

One expanding trend in our culture is blind diversity or celebrated plurality. This isn’t new. I remember in my childhood hearing people say, “Attend the church of your choice.” I was taught by my parents and teachers that this was not wise. Christ has His church. We should read what is written in the Bible and identify with a local group of people who follow what is written to the best of their ability. Denominational diversity became the artificial unity of that post war time.

Today, this importance placed on unity in diversity has been exaggerated a hundred times. Through the evolution of this agenda, the reality of false teachers and false religion has become almost laughable. The modern attitude is, “who cares.”

Jesus cared. He not only acknowledged the reality of false teachers, He said these two things about them: (1) they are false, and (2) they are deceptively disguised. Then He told the people: “Beware” of them. They are like bad fruit from a diseased tree.

Do you believe what Jesus believed about false teachers and false religion? Do you use the Bible to test what religious teachers say or write? Discernment is a necessary discipline for everyone who seeks to please God. “…test everything: hold fast what is good,” (1 Thess. 5:21).