Growing with God’s People

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

I have had many opportunities recently to reflect back on my days of growing up in the church. I grew up in a medium sized (75-80 people) Mennonite church in Carlsbad, New Mexico. When the church doors were open you could pretty much be sure that our family was going to be walking through them.

As a child I didn’t get the impression that it was seen as a legalistic obligation to go to church; but as an opportunity to worship the Lord and grow with God’s people together. This is an opportunity that many people in our world could cherish and benefit from as well if they would give it a try. In a world that becomes busier by the week it takes a conscious effort and desire to make the church family a part of our lives.

Many people have heard the African Proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Susan Allison-Jones reminded me of that concept of the village in a recent article I read and I realized how well it relates to the church. She shared her own experiences of how important the church family was in forming her children and their outlook on life. She shared stories in which the church friends would support them, care for them, encourage them, and help them as a family. She writes, “The village gives us perspective, relief, and peace of heart and mind. The village gives our children an inter-generational group of people not found in many other settings in our busy, complex world.”

Relationships can sometimes be challenging and difficult in any setting, but by placing ourselves around God’s people we allow our families to bless others and be blessed by others in so many ways. I realize now how valuable that was in my growing up years and how valuable that has been for my own children as they grew up in the church. I am very thankful that my parents made our church family a part of the village that helped me along the way and I know that our own church has done the same for our children.

There are so many wonderful church families in this community! I hope you will find one to connect with if you are not connected already. May the Lord continue to help all of us grow together as his people and for his purposes! I agree with Susan when she ends her article by saying, “It does take a village to raise a child. And we are thankful for those who have been and are a part of our village.” “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church

Jesus Sat Here!

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

For ten days at the beginning of May I was blessed to be able to make the trip of a lifetime to Isreal and the Holy Lands.  I had often said that this was a trip I wanted to make at some point in my life.  I called my recently retired father in New Mexico to see if he wanted to join me for this wonderful experience and he jumped at the opportunity.  So, off we went with 40 other people.

Our tour was organized by John Walsh and his Bible Telling ministry out of Bloomington, Illinois.  This provided an additional benefit because along with our tour guide giving us the history and details of each site we also had 10 professional storytellers along to tell the story from scripture at each site we visited.  It was very powerful and undoubtedly will benefit my reading and study of the Bible in the future.

During our trip we visited around 50 Biblical sites and heard over 130 stories told at those sites.  It was incredible to think about each setting and what had occurred there many years ago.  The sites in which we knew for sure that this was the place that Jesus walked, or that Jesus called his first disciples on the shores of Galilee were especially moving.

One of the most memorable places was the site of Jacob’s Well in Sychar.  This well is most likely around 4,000 years old dating back to the time of Jacob in the Old Testament.  The well is best known from the encounter in John 4 when Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman who is drawing water from the well.  Jesus says to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

As our group heard this story told and stood around this well, our tour guide sat on the brick well and said, “This is one of those sites in which we can truly say, Jesus sat here.”  You could hear our whole group gasp in awe about what we had just heard.  Before we left I had to go and sit in that spot myself.  I had to drink some of the water that we were drawing up as we sang “Fill my Cup Lord” (You can still draw fresh water from Jacob’s well today).

What Jesus was explaining to the woman at that well is that he can provide us spiritually what the world cannot provide.  His source of strength and help will never pass away like the kings and kingdoms of this world pass away.  That thought kept going through my mind throughout the rest of our trip.  Yes, it is powerful to sit where Jesus sat, but it is even more powerful to realize that His presence lives on in our world and in our lives.  Even if you never have the opportunity to travel to the Holy Lands, I hope that you will tap into the eternal “living water” that is offered through Jesus Christ.  His well is one that never runs dry!

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church

Will I See You Today?

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

One of the most talked about subjects the past year or two has been the end of the world.  Predictions were made, movies were produced, and as the Bible reminds us, “no one knows the hour or the day,” except God. (Matthew 24:36)

That scripture itself is not necessarily talking about the end of the world, but the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Many times Jesus himself encourages us to “keep watch,” because we do not know the day or hour that he will return to take to heaven those who have received him as their Lord and Savior.  Billy Graham once said, “Many times when I go to bed at night I think to myself that before I awaken Christ may come.”

This watching however, is not encouraging us to put our lives in neutral and be idle.  We are to continue to live our lives and look for ways to share the love, joy, peace, and salvation that Jesus came to bring to us, and the world.  It is no coincidence that one chapter after Jesus talks about his return to earth he talks about helping those who are hungry and thirsty in our world.  He says that when we do that we are doing it for him.

In the past year there has been a lot of talk about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and his Christian faith.  I recently finished reading his book in which he shares about his life from the days of being a missionary child in the Philippines, to his days of junior high and high school, and then up to his days of playing football in college and the NFL.  Two things really left an impression on me.  One, Tebow did not get to where he is today by being idle in his physical or spiritual life. And two, I truly believe that he sees his physical gifts from God (his platform in football) as a way to share his relationship with Jesus with others.  Like each of us, he is not perfect, but he is doing what he can to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others.

I recently heard well-known pastor Chuck Swindoll talking about this subject of Christ’s return and the call upon our lives while waiting.  He shared about something he does each morning as he awakes.  He said, “I go to the window in my bedroom and look out the slates in the blinds and say, “Good Morning Lord, will I see you today?”  He said that by doing that simple thing it prepares him for two things, the Lord’s return, and/or the person or people that he will come across that day that represent Jesus.

None of us know the future, but we do know how Jesus wants us to live it.  His desire is for us to put our faith in action each and every day.  You don’t have to be an NFL quarterback or a well-known person to do that.  In fact, if we are watching we will realize that every day we see Jesus in someone who crosses our path.  Let’s be ready!

Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church