Midweek Meditations

“We are the Church”

This Weeks Meditation:  “We are the Church!”
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

This passage from 2 Corinthians is the theme passage for this weeks Mennonite USA convention in Pittsburgh.  Today (Wednesday) was designated as “We are the Church day” here at the convention as a way to celebrate the broad and diverse face of the church in our country and world.

When we say “we” it represents people from many countries and cultures around the world.  Even in our country the cultures that we come from are very diverse and full of fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit.  This means that reconciliation and christian community must be who we are as Christ’s ambassadors.

This passage reminds us that first and foremost we must be reconciled to God.  Then we must live out the ministry of reconciliation in our daily lives.  This gives evidence to the new creation we are in Jesus Christ.

So often we allow our own preferences or our cultural traditions to dictate what we think the church should be or look like.  But God does not see us in that way.  Verse 17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.”  That means that “we” as the “church” should come together as a whole to celebrate this relationship, this reconciliation, and this family that we are a part of.

It is hard to be at a convention like this and not be reminded of the diverse people we are.  Even those who may look similar are still often different in many ways.  But because we are the church we should celebrate what God is doing instead of being critical of each other.  When Jesus reconciled us he did so with unconditional love.  May that same type of love be the testimony of the Christian church today!

Make it personal:  Find ways to connect with the MCUSA conference this week and experience a taste of this reconciliation theme that is permeating this week.  You can go to the AMC website to find various ways to connect with this weeks events.  www.arthurmennonite.org

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life



“Most Important Words”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Most Important Words”
Read: Philippians 1:1-11

Encouragement and Humility are two of the greatest virtues in life.  Not only do they lift other people up but they lift our spirits as well.  In the book of Philippians Paul shares these virtues in many ways.  If you have time try to read the whole book of Philippians to appreciate the full scope of joy, encouragement, and thanksgiving that Paul writes about.

I ran across an email this week that said:
The six most important words are…
“I admit that I was wrong!”
The five most important words are…
“You did a great job.”
The four most important words are…
“What do you think?”
The three most important words are…
“May I help?”
The two most important words are…
“Thank You!”
The most important word is…
“We.”
The least important word is…
“I”

In verse 6 Paul says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  So often we get caught up in the needs that we have as individuals and forget about the needs of those whom God places in our path each day.

Paul encourages us here that we are called to bring about good things in life and speak positive words of encouragement to each other.  That “good work” is only possible when we place ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Our positive and encouraging words to each other not only flow out of our relationship with Jesus but they also can lead others to him.

Paul says, “The fruit of righteousness” comes through Jesus Christ.  Let’s remember those important words this week and put the focus on others instead of ourselves.  After all, that is what Jesus always did.

Make it personal:  Take your most difficult relationship this week and use this text and these most important words to approach it in a different way.  By blessing others in Christ we can often turn the bad into good.

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Freeing Forgiveness”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Freeing Forgiveness”
Read: Colossians 3:1-17

One of the hardest things to do in life is to forgive someone when they have wronged you.  If you have lived very long in this world you undoubtedly have experienced this.  But one of Christ’s instructions for us in His Word is that we are to forgive others in the same unconditional way that he has forgiven us for our sins.

It may be hard, but it is so important to freeing ourselves to live the rest of our life in peace and contentment.  I am always reminded of Stormie Omartian’s quote, “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.”  We can choose to live in the bondage of unforgiveness or we can choose to live in the freedom that forgiving others can bring to us.

In verse 13 of this Colossians 3 passage Paul says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  We truly rob our own freedom and peace when he hold on to grudges for too long.  Forgiving someone may not repair a friendship right away or restore things to like they used to be but it sure frees the one who choses to forgive.

Perhaps you can relate to this old illustration about the farmer and his mule: One day a visitor leaned on the old fence around a farm while he watched an old farmer plowing with a mule. After a while, the visitor said, “I don’t like to tell you how to run your business, but you could save yourself a lot of work by saying, ’Gee’ and ’Haw’ to that mule instead of just tugging on those lines.” The old farmer pulled a big handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face. Then he said, “Reckon you’re right, but this animal kicked me five years ago and I haven’t spoke to him since.”

When we have been kicked by someone it never feels good!  But after reading this passage of scripture we are reminded that kicking back or holding a grudge for the rest of our life is not what Jesus encouraged by his example or how Paul proclaims for us to live in these verses.  Remember what Stormie says, “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.”

Make it personal:  What baggage have you been carrying around in your life?  It’s time to lay it down at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to help you truly forgive and move on with your life.  He has great things ahead for you!

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“The Blame Game”

This Week’s Meditation: “The Blame Game”
Read: Romans 12

This week I read this funny email pun. it said…
“Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what ya’ll are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault, it was the asphalt!”

It made me laugh but it also made me think about how easy it is to cast blame on others instead of being accountable and responsible for our own shortcomings. The world likes to play the blame game and often shirk responsibility if it means that pain, hardship, or even punishment might come into our lives.

Romans 12 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It also goes on to share many helpful insights into grace, mercy, responsibility, and love for others. Verse 3 says, “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” In other words, be quick to acknowledge when you mess up.

In a couple recent online articles Ron Edmondson shared 5 wrong ways to respond to criticism and five healthy ways to respond to criticism. I found these very helpful in thinking about the subject of grace, repentance, and forgiveness.

Ron says that 5 wrongs ways to respond to criticism are:
1. Finding fault with the critic, instead of admitting there might be validity to the criticism.
2. Blaming others, and not being willing to accept responsibility.
3. Throwing back criticism and finding fault in others.
4. Ignoring an opportunity to learn.
5. Appeasing. Trying to satisfy all the critics.

He then shares 5 healthy ways to respond:
1. Consider the source before reacting or responding.
2. Listen to everyone. Don’t dismiss someone because you may not like them or agree with them totally.
3. Analyze for validity. Is the criticism true?
4. Look for common themes. Is this a trend I am hearing?
5. Give an answer. Criticism is often a question. Respond in love even if you don’t have an answer.

If you would like to read more about what Ron Edmundson has to say you can read both of these articles if you click here.

As Christians we have no reason to play this game along with the world. Why? Because we have the forgiveness of Jesus waiting on us when we mess up. Instead of blaming others or trying to get out of embrassing ourselves or not being accountable, just take it to Jesus. Be responsible for your mistake (repent) but know that Jesus has paid the ultimate price to forgive you for it!

Make it personal: Have you been criticized this week? Have you messed up this week? Read Romans 12 and consider how Jesus wants you to respond. Once we learn that blaming others only prolongs our pain and heartache we will be able to move on in the hope and grace that is ours through Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Teach Them”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Teach Them!”
Read: Deuteronomy 11:18-21

With all of the children here at Bible School this week I have been especially reminded of this passage from Deuteronomy 11.  It is so important that we teach, explain, and give example of a God centered life to the next generation and these verses testify to that.

Many parents and grandparents want their children and grandchildren to know and learn the difference between right and wrong.  We teach them how to talk, how to act, how to respond to hardships, and how to get along with other people.  But do we tell them why?

Is it just because it is the good thing to do as a neighbor, or is it because God has instructed us to live that way?  There is a difference.  We can do those things to glorify ourselves and our own names or we can do them to glorify God and Jesus’ example of how to live on this earth.

Paul Gilbert once said, “You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by the deeds that you do, by the words that you say;  People read what you write, whether faithless or true.  Say, what is the gospel, according to you?”
And our children are reading and observing as well.

In verse 19 it says that we should teach these “things of God” to our children, that we should write them on the doorposts of our homes.  If someone walks into your house what do the doorposts proclaim?  Better yet, what do the things hidden in your drawers and closets proclaim?  Our children are much more observant than we often give them credit for.

Our hope here at VBS this week is that children are learning about Jesus Christ and how to fix His words on thier hearts and minds.  Hopefully they are learning that at home, but if not maybe they can take that message home with them and share it with their parents and grandparents.

Think about this the next time you engage a conversation with a youngster in your life.  Tell them why you do the things you do and how God helps you to form the decisions and the attitudes of your life.  Remember, in 30-40 years these children will be in the place we are today.

Make it personal:  Imagine yourself as a visitor in your home.  What do you see when you walk in.  What would someone see if they opened up closets and drawers.  Are there any changes that need to happen to communicate to your children or to visitors that God is honored and followed in your life?

Blessings,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life

Arthur Mennonite Church


“Rock, Paper, Scissors”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Rock, Paper, Scissors”
Read: Matthew 7:24-27

Next week my wife and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed but it has me reflecting on some of the important values and foundations of marriage and family.  In this passage from Matthew 7 Jesus talks about foundations and the importance of making those foundations intentional instead of leaving things to chance.

Most people have played the ultimate game of chance; Rock, Paper, Scissors.  The key to winning is picking the opposite thing that will crush or cover what your opponent has picked.  Unfortunately we too often approach marriage and family conflicts in this same way.  One side wants their way, and the other side wants another way.

Ogden Nash once gave some wonderful advice about those type of conflicts and how to overcome them.  He said, “Whenever your wrong, admit it.  Whenever your right, shut up!”  In other words live in the way Jesus taught us in the gospels.  Have a repentant and forgiving heart when you are wrong, and stay humble and gentle when you are right.

In this scripture text Jesus talks about building your life, your marriage, your family on the rock so that it will not be left to chance when the storms come rolling through.  He is not promising a life without troubles and conflicts, but he is encouraging us to follow His Word and His Way’s when dealing with them.

At the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II, Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury gave the bride and groom some advice.  He said, “The ever-living Christ is here to bless you.  The nearer you keep him, the nearer you will be to one another.”  That quote echoes Matthew 7:24-27. Great advice to live by!

Please remember, God’s forgiveness is always available if you have failed in the past.  He wants to restore you, and renew your life on the rock that will not give way in the future.  But most of all he wants you to make him (Jesus Christ) the foundation that your life (Marriage and Family) is built upon.  Don’t leave it to chance!

Make it personal:  Pick one are in your marriage or in your relationship with your children that you would like to work on.  Remember the foundation that Jesus talks about and try to bring his character and his example into those relationships.

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church




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