Midweek Meditations

Still.

This Week’s Meditation: “Still.”
Read: Luke 10: 38-42; Galatians 1:6-10; Psalm 46:10

Welcome August! As the hustle and bustle of summer starts to ebb, the hustle and bustle of fall is getting ready to flow. Are you prepared for it? Are you ready to serve like Martha? Ready to Grow like Mary?

SWAP has always encouraged a Mary attitude in me. I’m always reminded of my Martha-ness when I go there. It’s just a reminder how we need to both Mary & Martha qualities in us at times. On the Friday morning of our recent trip there, I looked back to my first trip there in 2010 with my MYF (Mennonite Youth Fellowship). Back then, it didn’t seem as cross-cultural of an experience for me because that was back when I would babysit all day everyday which most days, didn’t seem like work at all to me. Now, my outlook has changed a bit. I’m running from job 1 to job 2 and then sleep a little bit and wake up to work on job 3 before job 1 again. I catch myself in this never-ending cycle.

No matter what our responsibilities are, our culture whispers to us to keep going: just finish that one project, or that one email, or that one more ____ (fill in the blank).

Jeff pointed out in the scripture last Sunday that just when the people were going to make Jesus their earthly King, he withdrew to the mountain to find quiet, despite what others thought of him. I mean he’s Jesus, right? If he’s God, he shouldn’t get tired! And back at creation, when God created the heavens, the earth, the winged things, scaly things and big-pawed things, and human beings…on the seventh day, He took a break. As disciples of Christ, let’s follow His leading, because He is the Way, The Truth, and The Life. So, he’s probably doing what is best.

In our Vision scripture, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet despite what others thought of her. As a woman in the Jewish tradition, she was supposed to hang out in the background or in the kitchen. She wasn’t supposed to sit out with the guys and listen to the Rabbi. Yet, she chose to prioritize Jesus over social convention and others’ opinions. Mary was so unreserved in her love for Jesus; she worshiped Him, but not a casual, what’s-next-on-the-agenda worship. But an extravagant worship where she didn’t count the cost. Instead of looking at the people (even at her sister) around her, she gazed at Jesus. In Galatians 1:10, Paul asks, “Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God?…If I were trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Mary allowed Jesus to fill her vision and eclipse everything else around her. Her whole posture was one of humility. Her body language reads: “I need Thee, oh I need Thee” rather than “I got this.” She was embodying Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” The Hebrew of “be still” translates to let go of your grip, to make oneself weak. What a freeing idea! In our complete dependence on a God who won’t ever fail us, we find freedom!

So today, I challenge you to stop. Stop hustling through your to-do list, stop freaking out that the start of August means schools almost here and you’ll have to start packing lunches or bookbags, or that with the hint of fall in the air means that the harvest hustle will begin soon. Stop. Just for a Moment. Be.

Bonus Challenge: Do this reflection exercise with me.

(Close Your eyes and quiet your soul for 20 seconds.)

Be.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am God.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be.

(silence for 20 seconds)

 

Have a blessed week, Pastor Ashley Litwiller
Arthur Mennonite Church



RAOK or NAOK?

Read:  Ruth 2

         Our world is hungry for acts of kindness!  In a time in which social media rears its ugly head time and time again, we need people who will step up and pronounce encouraging, uplifting, compassionate, and kind words to people.  We hear way too much discouragement.  We need more kindness in the world.

Back in 1982, Anne Herbert coined a simple phrase that caught on.  Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK).  The idea took root, and then took off.  In 1992 a book was published with that title and imagined a world filled with an outbreak of random kindness being shared from one human to another.  The book became an instant best-seller and gave birth to many movements that encouraged people to share kindness on a daily basis.

Long before that book was published there was another book that encourages this kind of life as well.  The Bible gives us many stories, examples, and encouragements to bless others with kindness, care, and compassion.  In the book of Ruth we see how the successful businessman Boaz shared his kindness with Ruth and Naomi.  He provided for their needs and made them feel welcomed among strangers.

In the Gospels we see many examples of this kindness in the life of Jesus.  Paul and James encourage us often to show compassion to the widow, orphan, and those in need.  These examples are reminders that the Christian life should flow freely with random acts of kindness.  William Penn once said, “I expect to pass through life once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

 My prayer is that our acts of kindness become normal and not just random.  I would love to open up Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram each day and see words of hope, kindness, and encouragement instead of negativity and hatred.  Let’s be the ones to lead the way!

 Make it Personal:  
How is your kindness scale reading these days?  We all have days that seem better than others.  Try to use kindness as a way of brightening the day of another, so that your day too can be brightened.  May your Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) then turn into Normal Acts of Kindness (NAOK).

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.


Five to a Hill

Read: Acts 8:26-40

         Recently I was with a friend who is a generation older than I am.  When I asked him how he was doing, he responded with a phrase I had never heard.  He said “Oh, about two in a hill”.  I was confused by this response so I asked him to explain what it meant.  

My friend wasn’t sure how the expression came to be, but it has to do with bean plants.  In former days, beans were often planted four or five to a hill.  If two of these seeds sprouted to produce beans, then you don’t have an abundant crop, but you at least have something.  So in other words, my friend was doing “fair” or “so-so”.  Not a full five-to-a-hill day, just a mediocre two-to-a-hill day.  I then understood the answer to my first question of,  “How are you?”  I was glad I asked for an explanation.

As Christians, there will be things we say or do that might cause others to ask for an explanation.  Readily forgiving those who hurt us, speaking of others kindly, reaching out to those in need, responding to trying times with patience, or showing joy in hard situations are all actions that do not come naturally.  When others see these actions, or especially when others receive these actions, they may inquire why.  We need to be ready to explain.  Only God living through us can produce this kind of fruit.  A relationship with his son Jesus is the source of this kind of life.  

In Acts 8, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian is another example of this.  The Ethiopian man is reading from scripture and asks Philip to explain it to him further.  Upon hearing the message about Jesus from his conversations with Philip, he began to understand.  He asked Philip to baptize him in the water right there along the side of the road.  The message of Jesus was clear, and it was one that the Ethiopian man could not resist.  

Talking about scripture with others is time well-spent.  Talking about the life available through a relationship with Jesus is a fruitful conversation to have.  And, the fruit it will produce in our lives and the lives of others will be bountiful.  It will go way beyond the five-to-a-hill crop!    

 Make it Personal:  Find ways to read, study, and learn about God’s Word in new and different ways.  There are many books, translations of the Bible, paraphrases, and commentaries that help to expand your understanding of God’s life-changing story.  Most of all be sure you are sharing the message clearly with your family and friends.  It will change their life!

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.



Second Fiddle

Read: James 4:10-17

           A famous conductor was once asked which instrument he considered the most difficult to play.  His reply: “Second fiddle.”  On March 4, 1861, after Abraham Lincoln had defeated Stephen A. Douglas for the presidency, the two were together on the East Portico of the Capitol for Lincoln’s inauguration.  The President-elect was introduced by Senator Edward E. Baker of Oregon.  Lincoln stood beside him, carrying the manuscript of his speech, a cane, and his tall silk hat.

As he was ready to speak, he looked around for a place to put the hat.  Stephen Douglas quickly stepped forward, took the hat, and returned to his seat.  He later said, “If I can’t be President I can at least hold his hat for him.”  In the current political climate in our country I found this old-fashion moment of humility very refreshing.

God’s Word proclaims over and over that a humble life is a life of love, service, and witness to a world that is so often self-centered and preoccupied with themselves and their own affairs.  Others tend to look at the sins and faults of others without seeing the shortcomings in their own lives.  John MacArthur once said, “Some people get so caught up in their own holiness that they look at the Trinity for a possible vacancy.”  

In James 4:10 the Bible says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  There are also reminders from Jesus in the gospels that the last will be first and the least of these should be lifted up.  In a narcissistic world full of self-promotion, we could all use a little reminder about the importance of humility.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is one of the best-known verses in the Bible about humility.  May these words and actions become the desire of our hearts.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Make it Personal:  Pay attention to humility in your life.  Are you focused on yourself and your own desires more than the needs of others?  Are you worried more about how you will look on social media than how well you are serving and helping those closest to you?  Humility is not always easy, but it is definitely the Godly way to live.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


Fake Moves

Read: 1 John 1:5-10

                  I am a sports fan, but not much of a soccer fan.  I find it hard to stay interested for 90 minutes with very few goals scored.  I am also not a fan of leaving the score a tie after all the effort that goes into a game.  However, I do enjoy following the World Cup that is currently being played in Russia.  There is something about the big stage of many countries coming together to compete that draws me in.  Next to the Olympics the World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world.

One of the intriguing things about soccer is always the dramatic falls, or fake moves that players make in order to get a foul called by the referee.  I have seen some good flop moves in NBA basketball games, but nothing quite compares to those in soccer.  Acting talent along with soccer skills must be a requirement to play big time soccer.

As I was watching those fake moves during recent World Cup games I was reminded of what John says about being “real” in the Bible.  Being fake in life is not recommended.  John speaks about the claims we sometimes make in order to make ourselves look better to others.  If we claim to be perfect and sinless, or if our heart does not match up with our outward appearances, we are not being honest with ourselves or others.

John says, “If we claim to have fellowship with him (Jesus) and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” (1 John 1:6)  A couple verses later he says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)  John is encouraging us to not be fake.  He is encouraging us to be honest, truthful, and real with people.

The heart of the message in these verses is that Jesus Christ has purified us from our sinful nature.  We should confess our sins and mistakes and ask Jesus to purify us and make us new.  If we are a follower of Jesus Christ, then we need to make sure that our lives present who we truly are and not some fake persona.  Fake moves will probably always be a part of soccer, but they should never be a part of living the Christian life.

Make it Personal:  Often it is easier to notice fakeness in others than it is in ourselves.  Think about how you come across to family, friends, and others.  Does it give true witness to what is in your heart?  As John says, we should not claim one thing and bring deception.  Instead, we should be who we truly are.

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


Remind Me Again

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

              One of the things I have been known for around our house is being “The Reminder.” I get teased about it, and I probably do go overboard with it sometimes. I want to always be sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

In some ways that is what Deuteronomy 6 is telling us to do with the tenants of our faith in God. Impress them upon your children, talk about them often, write them on the door frames of your houses it says. In other words, keep your faith and the Lord’s promises in the forefront of all that you do, say, and see.

An article I read one time talked about keeping items from your favorite vacation destination around your house as decorations. They said that this was a way to always feel like you are on vacation while being at home. It’s an interesting idea, and it is amazing how it parallels what this passage is saying.

If it works for vacation destinations why wouldn’t it work for our faith as well? As you look around your home how many reminders are there about your life in Christ? If someone walks in your home would they immediately know that you believe in God and that you follow Jesus Christ? Think about that the next time you choose a decoration.

The concept of this Old Testament text is that we should keep these things in front of us at all times. They remind us of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us. It encourages us on a bad day, they can lift our spirits when we receive bad news, and they are a reminder that God will not leave us or forsake us.

The walls are not the only place that should be decorated with these reminders. Our lives in the family home and the public square should be a testimony to our faith. This text gives us the idea that it should encompass every facet of our lives. And why wouldn’t we want it to? It is the will of our Father in heaven and by following and obeying his will we are reminded daily, even hourly, of his love for us.

Make it personal: Find some things to place around your house that will be reminders of God’s promises to you and your family. On the walls, on the dressers, in your closet. It’s really more about reminders than it is decor.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



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