Midweek Meditations

“BTW, Just Between us, K?”

Read: Daniel 2:1-23

     Personal privacy is often not what we think it is.  In this day and age of internet, wifi, smartphone apps, and social media, things are more public than we sometimes would like them to be.  In the news this past week we have seen stories about CEO’s, celebrities, and an NBA team that were caught in the middle of something private going very public and causing many problems along the way.

     Then on the news yesterday I learned of a hacker group in Eastern Europe that has hacked into people’s personal home video camera’s and created an app so that anyone can see what is going on in other people’s backyards, living rooms, children’s playrooms and adult bedrooms.  The news article did not share the name of the app and that’s fine because I don’t want to know it anyway and I sure don’t want to be passing it along.

     A recent Bloomberg Business magazine article started with a headline that said, “BTW, Just between us, K?, Totally…, Not so funny now.”  It talked about this recent trend of things that people meant to be private going very public.  They often embarrass the individuals involved and sometimes cause great damage to careers, relationships and many other things.

     Personal privacy is an important matter in the public square, but we must remember that God is Omniscience.  What does that big word mean?  It means that God knows all things past, present and future. What is hidden from human sight is still known by God. Scripture stresses the wisdom of God in all his actions, and often grounds this in his all-embracing knowledge.  Before we decide to do anything in any manner we should remember this truth.

     In Daniel 2 King Nebuchadnezzar summoned Daniel to interpret his dream for him.  As the story continues Daniel seeks God’s wisdom so that the dream can be interpreted and he says, “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”  Daniel was proclaiming the truth that God is All-Knowing and that nothing can be hidden from his view.

     As we live our lives we need to guarded and careful about what we are “putting out there” for the world to see.  Sometimes what you think is private can become very public in the matter a few minutes.  With that said however, we must always remember that nothing is truly held private from the eyes of God.  We must live our lives to please the Lord and be obedient to his ways.  Anything that we call private is already known by God.

Make it personal:    As you hear the debates about personal privacy play out in the world take time to make sure your life is in a good place and where God wants you to be.  Ask Christ to help you resist temptations and encourage friends and family to keep you accountable.  Remember what the Psalmist says in Psalm 147:4-5, “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Whole Story

Read:  Acts 7

Before forming opinions and making judgements do you try to hear the whole story?  We live in a time in which people often form their next opinion to share while failing to listen to what the other person has to say.  Often we can grow, mature, become more knowledgeable, and even sometimes form a different opinion once we hear the entirety of what a person has to share.  It reminds me of a funny story I once heard……

One day an old man was casually walking along a country lane with his dog and his mule. Suddenly a speeding pick-up truck careened around the corner, knocking the man, his mule, and his dog into the ditch.  The old man decided to sue the driver of the truck, seeking to recoup the cost of the damages. While the old man was on the stand, the counsel for the defense cross-examined the man by asking a simple question: “I want you to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question: Did you or did you not say at the time of the accident that you were ‘perfectly fine'”?

And the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road … ” And the counsel for defense said, “Stop, stop, I asked you, tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’, did you say you were ‘perfectly fine’ at the time of the accident?”  “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and … ” The defense attorney appealed to the judge. “Your honor,” he said, “the man is not answering the question. Would you please insist that he answer the question?” The judge said, “Well, he obviously wants to tell us something. Let him speak.”

So the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and this truck came around the corner far too fast, knocked us into the ditch. The driver stopped, got out of his truck, saw my dog was badly injured, went back to his truck, got his rifle, and he shot it. Then he saw that my mule had broken his leg so he shot it. Then he said, ‘How are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m perfectly fine.'”

In the Bible there are many times in which the whole story needed to be told to understand what God was doing and how he works in our lives.  Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7 is a perfect example of this.  He starts with Abraham and tells the story of what God has done and is doing all the way through the life of Jesus.  In verse 52 he tells them, “And now you have betrayed and murdered him.”

Stephen of course was the first Christian martyr.  He was stoned for his testimony.  People will not always accept the whole story even when it holds truth and explanation.  As Christians we need to continue to tell the whole story of scripture to the world.  It is good news that can bring hope and salvation through Jesus Christ.  As we converse with others let’s be sure to hear them out.  Let them speak, try to hear what they are saying, and then have a pleasant and peaceful conversation.  Yes, we can agree to disagree on various things in life, but we must be respectful and willing to hear the whole story before we form opinions and make judgements.

Make it Personal:  Try to be a better listener this week.  Let someone speak without forming your next words in your mind while they are talking to you.  Be peaceful and loving in your conversations with others and try to see the situation in their context or through their lens.  You may not always agree, but if you hear them out they may just hear you out as a witness of God’s story and God’s work in the world.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Pete and Repeat

Read: John 19 and 20

Perhaps you have heard about Pete and his brother Repeat. They were walking together one day and Pete fell in a hole.  Who was left?  Repeat!  Ok, Pete and Repeat were walking together one day and Pete fell in a hole.  Who was left?  Repeat!  And it goes on…..    I have also heard this joke told with Pete and Repeat in a boat.  Pete falls out and who is left in the boat?  Repeat!  Okay……

Repetition can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing.  It depends on what you are repeating.  Poh Fang Chia tells the story about a journalist who had a quirky habit of not using blue pens.  So when his colleague asked him if he needed anything from the store, he asked for some pens.  “But not the blue pens,” he said.  “I don’t want blue pens.  I don’t like blue.  Blue is too heavy.  So please purchase 12 ballpoint pens for me, anything but blue!”  The next day his colleague passed him the pens, and they were all blue.  He had heard the word “blue” repeated so much that it was the word that stuck in his mind when he got to the store.

Each year we remember and celebrate Good Friday and Easter.  Each year we celebrate Christmas.  Each year we remember Pentecost.  These are good things to remember and repeat.  These are great things to have impressed on our hearts and minds.  God has sent his Son Jesus to us, to die for our sins, to be raised to life again, and to send us the Holy Spirit.  We must never forget or never take these blessings lightly.

This is also why weekly church attendance is important.  Each week we set aside a time to gather together and worship the Lord for what has been done for us.  Without times of pause and remembrance we tend to repeat the other things in life that are not nearly as valuable as praise, worship, adoration, and calling out to God.  Being together with other Christians can also be a time of encouragement, growth, and discernment for our lives.

I would imagine that all of us can think of things in our life that need to get repeated less.  Bad habits, dangerous addictions, and unhealthy attitudes are some that come to mind.  It is important for us to repeat the important things often and leave the other things behind.  Jesus wants to help us with that!  The more we repeat something the more it gets ingrained into who we are, who we will become, and what we represent.  Let’s repeat the Good News of Jesus in our life as often as we can!

Make it Personal:  Read John 19 and 20 this week and recall the story of Good Friday and Easter once again. May it inspire you to leave the things of the world behind and continuously repeat the things of God in your life.  Attend a worship service this Easter Sunday and then repeat it each Sunday after that.  God is good all the time, all the time God is good!  That’s another phrase we have been know to repeat.  That’s a good one!

Have a blessed Easter,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Jesus Cover Us

Read:  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

What does a political election, a semi-trailer, and a song have in common?  Usually not very much, but yesterday as I traveled along the interstate those three came together to remind me of God’s promise to be with us, of Jesus’ assurance to cover us, and our calling to share that message with others.  Let me explain…

As I was driving along I was thinking of all the people that day who were headed to the polls to vote for presidential candidates, state and local politicians, and local issues.  The current political climate and some of the issues that were being voted on have caused many people and candidates to act in ways that are quite unbecoming.  Those things sometimes make us feel scared, disappointed, and maybe even depressed at times.  As those thoughts went through my mind I started to pay attention to the words of the song that was playing on my car’s CD Player.

David Crowder’s song “Hands of Love” was playing and here are some of the lyrics I was hearing.  “In His hands that hung the sky, In His hands that touched the blind, In His hands, He is holding me.  In His hands that flung the stars, In His hands that bear the scars, In His hands, He is holding me. Oh, Jesus, the One who frees us, the One who holds us all up.  Jesus, the One who saves us, the One who holds us all In His hands of love.”

And then the chorus came…  “Come cover us, come cover us, come cover us, in Your hands of love. Come cover us, come cover us, come cover us, in Your hands of love.  He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands.”   What a reminder that in the midst of our insecurity and fear Jesus can come and cover us.  The one who has the whole world in his hands.  The one who is in control is not controlled by our politics, our votes, or our fears about such things.

What about that Semi-trailer?  Well as the words to these songs were ringing in my ears I looked over at the Semi that I was passing.  It was a Sherman-Williams Paint truck.  On the side of their trucks their logo has a can of paint that is pouring out over the earth and their slogan says, “Cover the Earth.”  How perfect.  All three things came together at the same time to remind me of my Savior Jesus Christ who covers me, covers my country, and covers the entire world.  Why should I worry?  What have I to fear?

Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s something that you are going through in your life, sometimes it’s that ongoing sense of anxiety in your life.  Whatever it is, my prayer is that God will bring things together in some way or form to remind you that the Lord is in control and Jesus is there to cover you and be with you through it all.  Sherman-Williams may want to cover the world in paint, but as Christians we should desire to cover the world with this truth.  I hope that you will cover yourself, your family, your friends, and all your circumstances in Jesus’ hands of love.

Here is a link to that song by David Crowder if you would like to listen to it and I have attached a picture of a Sherman-Williams paint truck below if you want to see what that looks like.

 

 

Make it personal:  What can you do this week to remind yourself that God is in control and you are safe in the hands and love of Jesus.  Make sure to live in the promise of God that you are covered by Him.  Join David in Psalm 16:1 when he says, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.”

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



March Wisdom

Read: Proverbs 2 and 3

March Madness is upon us!  The NCAA basketball brackets will be out soon and everyone will try to pick their teams to a championship.  Since March is here I wanted to use this week’s meditation to share some wisdom from legendary basketball coach John Wooden.  Proverbs 2 and 3 extol the importance of wisdom and the benefits that it brings to our lives.  One of the most beloved verses in all of scripture comes from chapter 3, verse 5 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Some of the excerpts that I will be sharing come from the 6th chapter of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s book entitled “The Matheny Manifesto.”  He shares in that entire chapter how basketball coach John Wooden had such a profound impact on his life and the way he manages his team today.  He writes….

“Just in case you don’t know who John Wooden was: As head basketball coach of UCLA from 1948 to 1975, he led the Bruins to 10 NCAA national championships in his last twelve years, seven of those in a row, something never done before or since. During that time, the Bruins once won a record 88 straight games, and Wooden was named national coach of the year six times.”

Matheny writes that Wooden was a great teacher, mentor, coach, and person.  He also shares that John Wooden was a devout Christian.  Matheny writes, “He was a devout Christian and often said his beliefs were more important to him than basketball.  Wooden said, “Basketball is not the ultimate.  It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live.  There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.”

Matheny writes more, “John was a daily Bible reader and a member of the First Christian Church.  He once said “If I were ever persecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”  To end this week I would like to share some of the wise sayings that John Wooden imparted over the years.  They testify that this man was a man of faith even before he was the greatest basketball coach that has ever lived.

John Wooden’s Maxims….

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
“Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
“If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.”
“You can do more good by being good than any other way.”
“I never yelled at my players much.  Artificial stimulation doesn’t last long.  It’s like love and passion.  Passion won’t last as long as love.  It’s the same with yelling.”
“You discipline those under your supervision in order to correct, to help, to improve, not to punish.”
“Kindness makes for much better teamwork.”
“Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.”
“Be slow to correct and quick to commend.”

There are many more where those come from.  Matheny mentions that coach Wooden never claimed that any of his many quotes were all original with him, but it seemed he had one for every occasion.  “Bill Walton says he used to write these quotes on his son’s lunch bags when he sent them off to school.”  As we watch the games this March and pull for our teams let’s remember the importance of wise teaching, wise examples, and Godly character.  Coach Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010, four months short of his 100th birthday.

Make it Personal:  Wise and valuable quotes are always inspiring and helpful but coach Wooden would be the first to tell us that none of those can compare to the wisdom and value of the Bible.  Many of his quotes were actually inspired by scripture.  Read Proverbs 2 and 3 this week and renew your value in Godly Wisdom!

Have a blessed week (and Month), Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Fill it Up!

Read: 2 Peter 3:14-18

Do you ever find it hard to find time to fill up your vehicle with gas?  Or maybe you just don’t like to do it?  According to a recent news story your solution may have arrived.  There is a new app for smartphones and tablets that allows you to hire someone to fill your vehicle with gas while you are at work, or even overnight while you’re home sleeping.   You place the order on the app and the delivery person simply pulls alongside your vehicle in a pickup truck with a gasoline container in the bed, unrolls the hose with a nozzle and fills your tank.

The price does include a markup for the service but at current gas prices that still makes this very affordable.  Here’s the catch though, right now this service is only available in a few larger cities in the U.S..  It might be a while before you can take advantage of this in Arthur or other rural communities, but then again it may provide an opportunity for someone as well.  Create your own app, buy a pickup truck, a tank, and you are in business.

After I read about this new service I was inclined to ask myself, “Have we really become that busy that we can’t even find the time or the energy to put gas in our vehicles?”  If we are getting to that point then I am concerned about some of the other necessities in life.  I mean who can we hire to go and buy our milk and bread the next time a snow storm is approaching?  Hmmm.  Maybe there is another business opportunity for someone.

All joking aside, we do need to think about how overbooked and stressed out our schedules might be.  In 2 Peter 3 we are encouraged to find time to grow in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus.  In verse 18 Peter says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  How do we do that?  What does that look like?  And can we find time for it?

One of the first ways to grow spiritually is to increase our desire to grow.  When we have a desire and we see the benefits of this we will be sure to make time for it.  Times of prayer, opportunities to read or listen to God’s Word, attending church to learn, grow, and fellowship with other believers, loving and serving others in the name of Christ, all of these provide us opportunities to grow spiritually.

In our lives I hope that we are keeping things in the correct perspective and the right order.  I hope that we find time to grow spiritually and desire a closer walk with Jesus in our lives.  I hope that we turn to God instead of all the other worldly options available that leave us empty and wanting more.  Finally, I hope that someone does not have to create an app in order for us to do these things.

Make it Personal:  Think about your own schedule and the time you are devoting to your life with Christ.  How is your time of prayer and Bible reading?  How is your church attendance?  How is your desire to grow spiritually?  If the Holy Spirit is encouraging you to make a change in any of those areas I would encourage you to listen to that voice.  Let’s grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus together!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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