Everyone is excited in the beginning of a venture, but after the newness wears off, dejection can take its place. Students who enthusiastically begin a new semester often feel overwhelmed when they reach the middle of the term. A young man’s patriotic fervor may turn to depression halfway through boot camp. An idealistic woman who transfers to a new job will discover within a few months that her new company is not without its flaws. Passionate couples who gaze into each other’s eyes as they exchange vows of devotion will soon realize that marriage is no fairy-tale cruise on the love boat.
Every enterprise enters a phase when idealism comes face to face with reality. Romantic notions give way to the hard facts of life. The experience may be gradual or abrupt, but, in either case, it is a real danger point. Encouragement is what keeps a student from dropping out, a soldier from going AWOL, a worker from job-hopping, or a couple from divorcing.
Nehemiah helped dejected workers look beyond the rubbish at their feet to the final result. He reminded them of the importance of their work and the power of God to sustain their efforts. His words gave wavering workers the strength needed to keep on keeping on.
Barnabas Factor, by Aubrey Johnson, p.#115. Published by GOSPEL ADVOCATE.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?”
I’ve been writing lately about the downward spiral into acrimony that seems to stand out on social media and in a variety of news feeds. My purpose is to identify some of the obvious causes, suggest some of the less obvious causes and propose the Biblical model of thought and conduct as the remedy. I’m not certain yet when, how or where this material will be published. But I’m getting a lot of my thoughts recorded, which I hope will be of value to those who read it.
I will likely not put the word “acrimony” in the title. It isn’t a common word in our daily vernacular. I may borrow from James: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you,” (Jas. 4:1).
Acrimony is “anger and bitterness: harsh or biting sharpness especially of words, manner or feelings.”
As I was reading up on this rather broad subject, I ran across these observations by a preacher who has long passed to his reward. I’m going to share that with you today.
Editor’s Note: The following article is excerpted from Book, Chapter & Verse, an about-to-be-published book of sermons of the late Floyd Thompson of California. His widow, Ruth Thompson, a frequent contributor to this magazine, has spent several years preparing a book of some 34 full-length sermons as well as other material. It will be well worth securing. She may be reached at 429 Eastside Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701.
I have said many times that I think I have seen demonstrated in the lives of some people, that their idea of being sound in the faith was to be insulting and obnoxious. I don’t believe that. I think a person can be amiable, and at the same time not compromise an inch insofar as the teaching of God’s word is concerned. There is where the fight ought to be made. I just cannot imagine the apostle Paul getting up in the presence of any audience and feeling that he had to insult them to prove his soundness. Now, if his stating a truth brought the wrath of the whole crowd down upon him, he would have stated the truth, and then said, “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
The thing that I am saying is this: There is a warfare going on and we must be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Our work consists of more than fighting: we are to be sheep, teachers, many other things that we are to perform. But there are some people, I am afraid, that have actually never recognized the fact that there is a portion of time in our lives when we will have to be involved in a fight. Some people detest that; they had rather someone have his way, even if a false doctrine is being taught, than to have a fight. They think that fighting is the worst thing in the world, they think we can never, never, never get anything accomplished by fighting. If a situation comes about where fighting becomes necessary, and you tuck tail and run, you need not call yourself a Christian. That’s not what you are. I can give you a one-word description of what you care; it begins with a “C” also, but it’s not Christian.
There is part of our lives that needs to be given over to the defense of truth. When it comes, you’ve got to fight. We are soldiers. God gave us an armor for that purpose. There is no use at all to put on armor, if what you are going to do is retreat. Just serves no purpose at all. There is a time to be as gentle as a nurse with a child, a time to be long-suffering, but there is also a time when we ought to learn to fight.
I want to read these two verses of Scripture, Judges 3:1–2, in harmony with what I have just said about our knowing how to fight, and the responsibility that is laid upon us as soldiers of Jesus Christ. Consider this carefully: “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof.” Now, that wasn’t put there accidentally. Do you see what that says? When God brought His people out of Egyptian bondage, and conquered the Canaanites, it would have been just as easy for them to have cleaned out the whole land and possessed it. But God had a purpose for leaving some of the heathen in the land. In times to come, when these children grew to manhood, and were threatened by raiding armies, they would not have had any experience in fighting. They could have been easily taken. They needed to learn to fight. They could not have protected their homes, nor retained possession of their inheritance.
I think there is a great lesson in this example. I know our warfare is not carnal, but we have a spiritual warfare that we must be prepared for. Paul says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty before God to the pulling down of strongholds:) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4–5.
How can we make a stand against the things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God unless we have on the armor of God, and are willing to stand and fight?
If a member of the church feels that all the debating is over, all the battles have been won, all the discussions have ceased, all the false teachers have been brought to an end, and there will never be any problems or difficulties come up regarding teaching, they simply need to restudy the admonitions given by the Lord about our need to stand for the truth, and fight error.
Paul said to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses,” 1 Timothy 6:12. I do not think that fighting is the whole of one’s life as a Christian. Some people think they are supposed to get up fighting and go to bed fighting, and dream about fighting while they sleep. It is not a fight all the time, but when the situation demands it, and when there is time for a contest, don’t you run. You be there. If nothing else, you can hand ammunition to somebody who is able to throw it like you ought to throw it. But don’t run! Stand there. There is a fight going on, and there will be a fight going on between the forces of truth and the forces of false doctrine, righteousness and unrighteousness, right and wrong, and it’s going on today. It was going on yesterday. And it will be going on tomorrow.
 Thompson, F. (1988). On Fighting. Christianity Magazine, 5(8), 30.
Everyone has issues. Everyone has unexpressed pain. Everyone has a story.
I know that it is good to talk about what bothers us to those whom we know will listen and care. We need to be able to unload a bit. We need those who will listen with a mind toward bearing one another’s burdens. And we need to be willing to listen as well.
I also know that it is easy to fall into a trap of thinking that no one else understands what I am going through. I am alone in my pain. Think Elijah.
What I need to remind myself of is that everyone has issues they are dealing with. I may be in emotional, spiritual, or physical pain, but so also might be the one to whom I try to vent. Is it possible that in my own expressions of pain that I am saying something that could trigger pain in another?
I don’t know everyone’s story. Very few know mine. Let us be mindful that others may be suffering silently, too, and that we ought to be careful about how we vent our own emotions. This includes how we vent our personal pain on social media. I’m not saying there is no outlet for it. I am saying that we need to be careful because we won’t know how we might be affecting others.
Beyond all that, let us remember that Jesus does know and understand.
“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb 2:18). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16).
The world is concerned about shortages of workers, computer chips, construction material, electronics, food materials, etc.Christians should be concerned about shortages like these:
1. Workers in the kingdom (Matt. 9:37). The harvest is plentiful in many places, but the workers few. Yes, there is a “preacher shortage.”
2. Spiritually mature young men (1 Tim. 4:12). Many seem to be in perpetual puberty because of addiction to video games and even pornography. An increasing number of godly young women have few prospects for marriage because of this shortage.
3. Inwardly beautiful and modest young women (Titus 2:4,5). Too many are obsessed with outer beauty and even worse, with provocative poses for selfies on Facebook and Instagram.
4. Children in churches (Ps. 127:3) – Though some congregations are full of kids, others have almost none!
5. Men qualified to be elders (1 Tim. 3:1) – Increasing numbers of family challenges and worldly distractions have shrunk the pool of qualified men.
6. True humility (James 4:10) – The emphasis on “loving yourself” has produced several generations of self-focused narcissists.
7. Disciples with an other-worldly focus (Phil. 3:20) – Thus, the squabbles over politics, culture and traditions.
When I got out of the army, for a few months, I worked as a salesman selling what was called Hi-Fi equipment (not WIFI; stereo components).
The easiest sale was when a customer would listen to some music being played on the equipment, like the sound of it and buy it on the spot. We called those THE QUICK SALE.
The hard sale was the man who, while listening to the music, asked about the electronic board, technical specifications of the equipment, warranty, etc.
“How long will this amplifier last? Will it work with my pre-amp? Will it push to my set of speakers which are 15 feet away? What is the maintenance record for this turntable? What about access to parts?”
These customers were not impulse shoppers. They would not buy just because the system sounded good in the store. They took their time. They applied thought and discipline in their purchases.
The devil is annoyed when we stop to think about all that is packed into a given temptation. When we start thinking of long-term consequences; when we study; consult with good spiritual advisors; pray and pause – the devil may just move on.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” (James 4:7)
My sermon a few days ago (Sept. 19th) was prepared and delivered to remind parents and all of us, of the necessary resolve to teach our children the truth about God – His existence, His love, His expectations. We can start with these simple truths about God, then continue as they mature, to teach them and show them who God is.
I have one example. Age appropriate children can learn this: “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God,” (Heb. 3:4). Having taught this verse to the children, when you are out, simply point to a house and ask if that house was built. Though no human builder is standing there, they will admit the house had a builder.
Next, point to the sky, the earth, the universe, and ask the same question: “Was there a builder?” Here is a simple entrance into the mind of a child, about the existence of God. Kids can think. While they may not use all the adult terminology, they know that houses don’t just pop up out of the ground. The universe didn’t just happen, or gradually grow through a random, unattended evolutionary process.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
Talk to your children about the certainty of God’s existence. If you don’t, someone will.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.