A World in Search of Truth

The following article was published in the Arthur Graphic-Clarion in
January 2013.

The Bible should always be our first source for answers when the big questions of life arise. It has the uncompromisable wisdom of God that is for all people. But just like Nicodemus in John 3 our world is often on a journey of discovering God’s truth and God’s plan for their lives.

We sometimes see that in our culture in interesting ways. Two examples that came to my mind recently were the musical Les Miserables and the Irish band U2. Both of these are great examples of secular artists in search of larger answers to life.

In Les Miserables (which is now a movie in theaters) the original French author Victor Hugo wrote his story in 1862 about the many struggles, evils, triumphs, and stories of grace and redemption that so often surround us in this world. Many of those cause us to ask and consider important ideals such as justice, grace, and forgiveness that find their home in the words of scripture.

The music group U2 also uses the art of music to search for answers and provide insights on many themes found in the teachings of Christ and in the Bible as a whole. One of their songs entitled “Grace” has a very powerful chorus that says: “What once was hurt, what once was friction, what left a mark no longer stings, because grace makes beauty out of ugly things.” Other songs ask difficult questions that remind us of Nicodemus’ search for Jesus and his questions such as “how can a man be born again when he is old?” (John 3:1-21)

You see, Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He was not suppose to be hanging out with Jesus in the dark and asking these important questions, but he wanted to know. As we go through life it helps us to ask difficult questions and seek the truth. It’s a truth that the world longs for and searches after.

We know that truth is found in God’s Word and in the life of Christ. It’s encouraging to know that even secular culture can’t hide from that. Not all things in this world are of redeeming quality, not all things help us to ponder God’s work in our world, but when it does we can step back and appreciate that the themes of God’s story are truly evident and important to us all.

As you watch television, movies, and read books be looking for themes of God’s story in them. Grace, forgiveness, justice, redemption, searching, finding, overcoming evil, longing for eternal life. Perhaps these themes in pop culture are ways that you can engage your friends in a dialogue about faith in Jesus Christ, the one true answer!

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church

Directed to the Savior

The following article was published in the Arthur Graphic-Clarion in
December 2012.

One of the most popular Christmas gifts of the past several years has been GPS (Global Positioning System) units for our vehicles.  I sometimes wonder how long those units will continue to be sold now that those same capabilities are available on most smart phones.  One feature on those units is the woman’s voice that tells you when to turn and when you have arrived at your destination.  At this point she still doesn’t tell you when to stop for gas or when to use the restroom but that day may be coming soon.

A common word we hear from this GPS voice is “recalculating.”  She says this word anytime you take a different route than the one she thinks is best for you.  I have switched that voice to mute on my phone so I don’t have to listen to her.  I would much rather listen to my wife’s directions from the passenger’s seat (wink).

This whole GPS phenomena at Christmas has reminded me about the Magi (The Wise Men) that came to see Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth (Matthew 2:1-12).  God gave them a star in the sky to guide them to the Savior of the world.  They followed that guiding light and ended up at Jesus’ side.  In verses 10 and 11 of Matthew 2 it says, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Because the wise Magi from the east followed the star (God’s directions) they found the Savior that God had sent to the world in Jesus.

The lesson for me was this:  It’s okay to mute the voice on my GPS unit, but I need to make sure I am not doing the same to God.  The Lord wants to give us direction and guidance in our lives and we need to listen and follow that direction at all times.  Those Magi in the Bible have come to be known as wise men.  We would be wise as well if we allow God to lead us to our Savior Jesus Christ.  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone,

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church

Voting with Confidence

The following article was published in the Arthur Graphic-Clarion in
October 2012.

Next Tuesday our country will be having a Presidential election in case you haven’t heard by now.  Many of us will be glad when all of the ads, emails, and facebook posts about the election finally calm down and allow our blood pressure to level out.  But as Christians in a free country we should be thankful that we have the privilege to vote, even if it doesn’t always turn out the way we had hoped for.

I recently read how many things in history would have been different if it had not been for just one vote.  One vote made Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth and gave him control of England in 1645.  One vote caused Charles I to be executed in 1649.  One vote kept Aaron Burr – later charged with treason – from becoming President in 1800.  One vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts in 1839.  One vote made Texas part of the United States in 1845.  One vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment in 1868, and one vote made Adolf Hitler head of the Nazi Party in 1923.  Despite your passion or lack of it for politics it is important to exercise your right and your freedom to vote next Tuesday.  Many people in the world still wish that they had that freedom.

With that said, we must also keep things in perspective.  God is still in control no matter who wins any of the elections!  In Ephesians 3:20-21 the apostle Paul reminds us of this when he writes, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  God is the one who can do what is immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, and it is to him that we should pray and make our hopes and desires known!

When we vote it should be bathed in prayer, in our faith, in God’s Word, and in the example that Jesus taught in the New Testament.  That way when we leave the voting booth we can be confident that despite the “choice of the people” our choice as Christians will always be to proclaim that God is in control and Jesus is Lord.

The prophet Jeremiah gives us great council in the Old Testament when it comes to these types of things.  He was remembering the big picture as he saw Jerusalem under attack and the people being exiled.  He says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)  And to that we can all say, Amen!

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church

Restored to Life

The following article was published in the Arthur Graphic-Clarion in
September 2012.

This summer has been very dry! Perhaps I should have used two or three exclamation points there? It was hard to see the grass dying, the gardens struggling, and the crops in the field gasping for moisture. I sometimes wondered if the grass would ever return to the lush green color that we are used to in Central Illinois.

But then a couple of weeks ago we received a little rain, and then several days later it rained a little more, and then the remnants of hurricane Isaac showed up, and before you knew it the lawns began to come back to life. Even though we still need more rain to catch up to our yearly average, it was amazing to see how quickly the green was restored in our lawns.

In one way, this quick restoration has been a reminder for me about the restoring power that Jesus has! We see it often in scripture where someone’s life is barren, dry, and sometimes even dead, and Jesus restores them to life. In the story of Lazarus (John 11) Jesus raised him from the grave; in the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-18) Jesus restores the people’s skin and heals them of leprosy; in the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) Jesus restores his sight from blindness; and the stories go on and on.  We see it often in our own lives today as well; enter your restoration story here ____________.

In verse 25 of John 11 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” You see, Jesus wants to see everyone restored to life. This is why he has promised eternal life in heaven to those who believe in him as God’s Son, repent of their sins, and place their faith in him as their Savior.

That restoration even takes place while we live in this world. We all have difficult times come into our lives. Times that we would describe as a drought or a very hard situation. Jesus wants to help us through those times and bring life and restoration to those dry times.  We have prayed for rain this summer so that God’s creation could be restored, are we praying for that same type of restoration in our own lives? Jesus has the power to do it!

What would you define as a drought area in your life right now? Have you prayed for rain? Have you asked the one who is the resurrection and the life to bring restoration and life to you and that situation? The Lord is faithful and hears us when we call.

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church