What I said at the cemetery service for my friend 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.
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.
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.