Midweek Reflections

Bless the Children

 

Read:
Matthew 19:13-15 & Ephesians 6:1-4 

The nurture, care, correction, and encouragement of children is one of our highest callings in life.  Whether you are a parent, grandparent, relative, church friend, coach, or have any interaction with children of any age this responsibility should be treated with utmost respect, care, and concern.  There are too many stories in the news lately where this is not the case.

There are not many verses in the Gospels where Jesus interacts with children, but he most surely did on many occasions.  In Matthew 19 we see the care and concern that Jesus has for them.  In verse 13 people were bringing the children to Jesus so that he could bless them, and some of the adults rebuked them for distracting Jesus in that way.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-15 NIV)

Caring for children is just as important as caring for all people in need.  Mother Theresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”  And I would add churches and communities as well.

In a recent Golf Digest article several successful professional golfers shared how their parents’ encouragement, support, and uplifting words during their childhood helped them to succeed in both golf and life.  Encouragement is always a valuable asset in the life of a child.  Too often we are quick to point out their wrongs and slow to commend the things they get right.

We should be reminded that in Ephesians 6 along with children being encouraged to obey their parents verse 4 also speaks to parents.  It says, “Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 CEV)  In a world with way too many news stories of abuse, neglect, and child endangerment, we must show the care, compassion, and encouragement of Jesus who desires to bless the children.

Make it personal:  What interaction do you have with children through the week?  Whether it is in your family, church, or other places be sure to fulfill this calling well.  Be an encouragement to them, guide and direct them in loving ways, and tell them they are loved by Jesus.  And oh yes, be sure to give them a good Godly example to follow.

Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.
arthurmennonite.org



Kindness and Humility

Read: Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 3:3

Perhaps we could use a little more kindness and humility in our world?  Instead of asking that question how about we live it.  How about we show a little more kindness and humility in our world.  It is requested over and over in the Bible and the prophet Micah says that God has shown us what is required; “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

In a recent Time magazine essay, Kristin van Ogtrop tells a story from her son’s 4th grade classroom.  She writes, “My son decided to put a suggestion box in his classroom, though he wasn’t quite sure what the box would yield. The result was not so much suggestions as appeals for kindness… there was a class wide desire for compassion, if no clear sense of how to get it.”

As Kristin pondered on this exercise in her son’s classroom she noted, “The children want to be on the receiving end of kindness but have trouble handing it out.  On a daily basis they are tripped up by three obstacles: lack of impulse control; thoughtlessness; and difficulty with forgiveness, or letting things go.”

From my experience, we adults are much like those 4th graders.  We desire kindness and compassion much more than we extend it to others.  We also struggle with those three obstacles.  How many times have we revisited a situation and desired that we would have had more impulse control, thoughtfulness, and grace?

In Proverbs 3:3 Solomon says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”  If those things are around our necks and written on our hearts it will be much harder to stumble over the obstacles that keep tripping us up.  Kindness is not a Christian virtue alone, but it is definitely the guideline and example for those who seek the way of God and follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Make it Personal:  What ideas do you have for fostering kindness in your life?  If we want a world that is more kind, compassionate, and forgiving, then it must start with us.  Think about the three obstacles shared this week and work at improving them in your life.  We must begin with prayer and ask Jesus to help us do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.

Have a blessed week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes


What Should I Do?

Read: Genesis 24

Have you ever asked that question, “What should I do?”  Most everyone has asked that in some way over the course of their lives.  Many of us have asked it numerous times.  But who are we asking?  It’s good to get counsel from trusted family and friends but how often do you turn to God for that kind of guidance and direction?

A friend recently told me a story that reminded me of Genesis 24.  In Genesis, Abraham sends his servant off to his homeland to find a wife for his son Isaac.  When the servant arrived in the town of Nahor he must have asked that question, “What should I do now?”  He prayed and he asked the Lord to show him something specific so that he would know when Isaacs future wife had arrived in his presence.  Read chapter 24 to find out the ending of the story.

My friend was also seeking direction from the Lord.  He had a very difficult decision to make that would affect many people.  He also prayed, and he asked the Lord for something specific to happen if he was to go a certain direction.  If the Lord put that specific thing in front of him then he would know for sure that it was the Lord’s leading.  Yes, the Lord led in an amazing way.

There are many ways to seek God’s guidance in life.  These stories are two examples of how people were seeking confirmation from God on something before moving forward.  The Lord can also give us guidance through the Bible, through prayer, through direction of the Holy Spirit, and other ways as well.  The important factor is that we are seeking God’s guidance when asking, “what should I do?”

One thing you can be sure of when seeking the guidance of Jesus.  He will never lead you to go against The word of God, the will of God, or the ways of God.  However, he just might lead you in a different direction than you were anticipating or desiring to go.  When that happens remember that he loves you and he will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Make it Personal:  The next time you have a huge decision to make or are questioning what direction to go, seek after God first and foremost.  Pray for direction, guidance, and counsel on the way that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would have you go.  Then watch for your confirmation.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Vision and Goals for 2018

Read: Psalm 119:1-16           

Soon after the completion of Disney World in Florida someone said, “Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?”  Mike Vance, the creative director of Disney Studios at that time replied, “He did see it, that’s why it’s here.”  Vision and goals can help us see things and work towards things in the future.

A new year means resolutions for many people.  A resolution is usually a vision or goal that one makes for the future.  Often those goals revolve around health, family, money, or making a life change that will improve our quality of life.  But what if this year included spiritual goals and a vision for growing your faith in God?

God’s Word is full of ideas of ideas for how this can happen in your life.  Psalm 119:1-16 speaks of the importance of God’s Word, God’s ways, and God’s plan for your life.  Take some time this week to think about these suggestions from Pastor James White on how to make that happen.  Read the passages that go with each one to see what the Lord says about them.

  1. Pray more. (Zechariah 4:6)
  2. Invest in your spiritual gifts. (1Timothy 4:14-15)
  3. Get more intentional about sharing the good news. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
  4. Care for yourself spiritually. (Philippians 3:12)
  5. Make the tough decisions you know are best. (Acts 20:22-24)
  6. Confront debilitating patterns of sin. (Hebrews 12:1)
  7. Do the hard work needed to build community. (Matthew 18:15)
  8. Keep in touch with things going on in the world. (1 Chronicles 12:32)
  9. Quit comparing yourself to others. (John 21:20-23)
  10. Read more, listen more, learn more, and grow more. (2 Timothy 4:9,13)

One time a man approached a laborer who was laying bricks and asked him, “What are you doing?” The laborer said, “Can’t you see I’m laying bricks?”  The man then walked over to another bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” And the workman answered with pride, “I’m building a cathedral.” 

Both were physically doing the same thing. But the first laborer was occupied with the present task, and the other was concerned with the ultimate goal or vision of the finished project.  I once heard someone say, “Vision that looks inward becomes duty. Vision that looks outward becomes aspiration.  Vision that looks upward becomes faith.”

Make it Personal:   Many visions are cast, goals made, and resolutions proclaimed in our lives.  None are more important than those that pertain to our faith in God, trust in Jesus Christ, and our eternal destiny.  Hopefully all of us can grow in these areas in the year that lies ahead.

Have a great 2018,  Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church



Historical Truth

Read: Acts 4:1-20       

I recently ran across a Christmas quiz that tested my knowledge about some of the historical facts pertaining to the Christmas story shared in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  It was interesting to see how many of our common held perceptions of that story and the nativity are assumed truths.

In the midst of learning those things I was thankful that the historical truth of the story is not compromised by the ponderings of how many and what kinds of animals were at the nativity, or how many Magi eventually visited Bethlehem to see Jesus.  It’s good and fine to imagine what that scene looked like and recreate it with our nativity sets, but it is great news to know that the birth of Jesus our Savior is true and not some made up story.

Virtually all New Testament scholars and Near East historians, applying the standard criteria of historical investigation, find that the historical truth of Jesus is certain.  Those who follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior will tell you that the presence of Jesus in their lives and world is truly a light shining in the darkness.  The Bible and the lives of those who believe are full of these accounts.

One of them is found in Acts 4.  Peter and John are standing before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law in Jerusalem and proclaiming the truth about who Jesus is, what they have witnessed Jesus do, and how Jesus is the Son of God.  These were the things that followed that wonderful night in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  Peter boldly proclaims in verse 12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

We may not know all of the exact details of Christ’s birth; how many animals, how many wise men and where they found Jesus, or what the night of his birth looked like for sure.  But we do know the most important part.  Jesus was born as God’s Son, lived a perfect life of love and compassion, died on the cross for our sins, and was resurrected to life.  Even the authorities listening to Peter testify could not deny the historical truth in front of them.  And yet they did.

Make it personal:  The most important part of this Holiday Season is that we embrace the truth of what Christmas means for us and our world. Receiving the salvation and saving grace of Jesus and believing on him as God’s Son can truly bring new light and hope to your new year ahead.  I’m not exactly sure what that first nativity looked like, but I’m sure of what happened there!

Happy New Year, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Christmas Donkey

Read:   Luke 2:15-40       

Recently at our church Christmas program one of the children dressed up as a donkey at the manger scene during the birth of Jesus.  Our donkey was active and into his part, making donkey noises as the Christmas story was being read.  It brought laughter and interest among those who were in attendance.  Then the next morning I read a recent Christmas post by author and pastor Max Lucado that spoke of those who volunteer to be the donkey. Here is what Max wrote…

“Beneath a suspended star a baby will be born, the angels will sing, the wise men will kneel and children of all ages will go home telling their parents that next year they want a part in the nativity play. Little boys want to be Joseph. Little girls want to be Mary. Some want to wear the angel wings or bear gifts from a distant land. A few might even offer to be the hard-hearted Herod or the hassled innkeeper.

But no one, ever, as far as I know, volunteers to be the donkey. Which is odd, actually, for what greater honor could exist than to do what the donkey did? He carried Jesus. I know, Joseph is better looking and Mary is quite stunning. Wise men get the cool hats and angels have the hallelujahs. And the donkey? He just stands to the side and chews on hay.

But look at him. Do you not see contentment in those big, brown eyes? A look of satisfaction on his face? He just delivered history’s greatest gift! Before Santa had a sleigh or UPS had trucks, God had a donkey. Thanks, in no small part, to him, the choir can sing “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.”

I know, I know. We’d rather be Joseph, rugged and bearded. We’d rather be Mary, faithful, beautiful, and immaculate. But somebody needs to be the donkey. I’m thinking a donkey at Christmas is a good thing to be.  The Christmas donkey did his work. He delivered Jesus so Jesus could be delivered.  He plodded. He didn’t gallop or giddy-up. He did what donkeys do. He steadily stepped in the direction the master directed.

And, upon arrival, he stepped to the side. He demanded no recognition, expected no compensation. He isn’t even mentioned in the Bible.  He was happy to do his job and let Jesus have all the attention.  Perhaps we could learn a lesson from the Christmas donkey? There is always a place in the nativity, God’s nativity story, for the person who will plod along expecting no applause, bear up under the weight of the long haul, and carry the One who will carry us all.  So here’s to the donkeys of the story. May your ride be faithful and your rest be fruitful. And we will do our best to follow your example.”

… Like always Max Lucado has a way with words.  I hope his story and his thoughts this week can help us to think about the Nativity and the Christmas story in a little different way.

Make it Personal:  No matter who you are, what you do, or what your past looks like, Jesus came to carry you as Max says.  He can carry you and help you through whatever you face in this life.  Jesus, the best gift ever, was sent to save us all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone,  Pastor Glen Rhodes




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