Midweek Reflections

Solomon & Wooden

Read: Proverbs 2 & 3

March Madness is half way done!  The NCAA basketball brackets that were filled out has everyone hoping that their pick to win it all makes it to the championship game on April 5th.  For me that opportunity has already passed (Thank you Illini).  Since March Madness is beginning to turn into April’s Final Four I wanted to use this week’s article to share some wisdom from legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden.  In scripture Proverbs 2 and 3 share 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 Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny’s book entitled “The Matheny Manifesto.”  In his book Matheny shares of 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.”  Here are some other favorite quotes of Mr. Wooden….  “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.  NBA star Bill Walton (who played for Wooden at UCLA) says he used to write these quotes on his son’s lunch bags when he sent them off to school.  

Make It Personal: As we continue to watch the games of this year’s NCAA tournament 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.  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 wonderful week, Glen Rhodes

How Important Is Sunday Worship?

Read: Acts 2:42-47

How important is the Sabbath and corporate worship?  Many years ago between my four years of college I lived in Holland for a year in a Mennonite exchange program.   Holland was once part of the ocean but the industrious Dutch built great dikes far out in the shallow sea, and so reclaimed the land.  As their dikes hold the ocean back, on the landward side the people occupy their homes, farmers till their land, and the wheels of commerce turn.

There is an illustration in those dikes that pertains to the Sabbath day of corporate worship.  In fact many of the rural lowlanders in Holland have a quaint way of referring to Sunday, the Christian Sabbath.  They speak of Sunday as God’s dike because what God’s people do on this day each week serves society in the same way a dike serves the land.  As the dike holds back the sea, so does Sunday and the worship experience help to hold back the flood of evil which is forever threatening to overflow the people.

God interposes the instruction and inspiration of Christian worship as a bulwark against wrong.  The Christian Sabbath is civilizations strongest social buttress against the flood of evil, fear, and despair which press up hard against us.  What we do in worship each Sunday is strengthen our dikes, to help keep them in good repair.  In worship we are not merely doing something for ourselves, we are also doing something for the world.  We are taking part in an unceasing effort which involves many millions of people and stretches over many centuries of time.  Let’s be aware of this vast body of Christ called the church that we are involved in, and let’s be glad in it just like the early believers were in Acts 2.  Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.”

Make it Personal:  How important is Sabbath day worship to you and your family?  Are you a part of it so that you can hold back the things that are trying to pull at you and pull you away from the Lord?  Worshiping together with the brothers and sisters in Christ is so very important and this past year we have realized this in a new way.  Hope to see you this Sunday!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Wisdom From Heaven

Read: James 3:13-18

In the book of James the question is asked, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”  Anyone want to raise their hand and take the first question?  The verses following this talk about humility and living a good life filled with wisdom that comes down from heaven.  This kind of wisdom is not earthly as in the knowledge of things that are temporal.  This wisdom from heaven is a pattern for living as Jesus would want us to live out our faith here on earth.

What does it look like?  Verse 17 makes it clear for us.  “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  How are we doing in those things?  They are not always easy to follow but they do make for a blessed life and a life that honors God.

Verse 18 then speaks of being peacemakers in this world.  It says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  Just like farmers will harvest in the Fall what they sow this Spring, the same is true with our lives.  If you sow the characteristics listed above you will find your life reaping the goodness of God and the blessings He has for you.  You will also find yourself getting along much better with family, friends, co-workers, and others in your life. 

Make it Personal:  Who do you need to offer mercy to right now?  Who needs you to be the peacemaker that these verses are speaking of?  The Holy Spirit will guide us each in the disbursement of this wisdom that comes from heaven.  Let’s go out and sow it plentifully.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Shared Worship Space

Read: Psalm 95:1-7

I read an interesting article this week about a new concept called “Shared Work Space.”  In this past year the pandemic has forced many people (who are able) to work from home.  Some companies have realized that this can be a workable solution and actually save the company money on office space, utilities, and other expenses.  Some workers love this setup and others have had trouble adjusting to being alone at home instead of in the presence of others.  Shared work space buildings offer a low cost office space in which workers from different industries do their jobs remotely but are still around others to converse with, share coffee breaks, talk about the days weather, or whatever else might come up in this shared work space environment.

This made me realize once again how important shared worship space is for God’s people.  I think we have all realized that this past year (during the pandemic) when at times we were worshiping on our phones and laptops each Sunday.  We can worship Jesus alone and we can worship Jesus in our day to day responsibilities.  We should do that throughout our week, but there is something powerful about the gathered church coming together in person to worship, fellowship, and be together that is irreplaceable.  That’s one thing we have learned to appreciate even more this past year if we didn’t before.

Psalm 95 says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord.”  Several other verses in this Psalm stress the word “Come” and the phrase “let us” as it speaks of worshiping the Lord, bowing down before the Lord, and praising the Lord’s name together.  This is a reminder that shared worship space, and shared worship times together as God’s people was important then and is also important today.  We need people, we need each other, and we need the church to gather together basically because we can’t do this on our own.  We need Jesus and we need to be with each other, in person!

Make it Personal:  The reason we have had to worship in different ways this past year is due to safety and precaution on the part of many.  This is understandable and each person must do what they are most comfortable with during these difficult times.  But we can never forget about the longing people have and need for fellowship, touch, and shared worship space. Let’s move forward together and worship together in the days ahead.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

God’s Side

Read: Matthew 12:22-37

We often like to talk about whose side we are on when it comes to sports, politics, and world events.  How often do we consider our side when it comes to God vs. Other?  Back in 1984 then President Ronald Reagan said, “I’ve said that we must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question we must answer is, are we on God’s side?”  Friends, this question is much more important than if you are a Cubs fan or a Cardinals fan.

In Matthew 12 Jesus heals a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute.  The people who witnessed this were amazed and astonished.  The Pharisees, however, began to ridicule Jesus and ask him by whose power he claims to do these miracles in.  Jesus then begins a teaching (v.25-37) about being on God’s side instead of the alternatives.  In verse 30 Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, “The call comes to each of us individually, to you and to me.  Are we with God or are we against Him?  Are we on His side or are we on the other side?  Are we going to give our lives to Him, or are we going to give our lives to something else?  How you answer these questions determines everything important about your life.”  Perhaps it’s time to concern ourselves more about this side of things than any other.  In John 15:5 Jesus warned, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  It is true to say that apart from Jesus we can do nothing of eternal value or significance.  Let’s be on God’s side!

Make it Personal:  The next time someone asks you whose side you are on respond by saying, “God’s Side.”  It might be interesting to see where that takes the conversation depending on what subject matter you are discussing.  I would like to think that God is a St. Louis Cardinals fan but I’m sure God loves Cubs fans just as much.  With that, let the baseball season begin!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Repent & Turn To God

Read: Acts 3:11-26

At some point today you will probably hear a reference to Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which continues through Easter Sunday.  It is observed by some Christians with ashes that are marked as a cross on ones forehead.  The more important observance is the prayer and fasting that is encouraged during the season of Lent which leads to repentance and a turning back to God.  In Acts 3 Peter preaches this message by saying, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”

Repentance is an ongoing and important theme throughout scripture.  When we stray from the promises and ways of God repentance is what draws us back and shows us the grace of Jesus.  Without times of confession or repentance we keep going on with life not paying attention to the things that have led us away from the path we need to be on.  If we continue down those paths with no realization, acknowledgement, or remorse of our ignorance and sin we suffer the consequences.  This too is an ongoing story in the Bible of people either realizing their need for God and turning back or continuing on down a path of ignoring God.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are a time for to us to think about the path we are currently on.  What needs to change?  What needs to be reordered in your life?  Who have you been living for and what have you been living for?  Many times these questions will lead us to repentance and help us to restore a right relationship with Jesus Christ our Savior.  Fasting can be an important part of this.  Fasting from food, media, technology, or other things that distract us can help us to focus and allow the Lord to speak to us about things in our life that may need to be repented of.  What will you do during this Lent season to help you turn to God?

Make it Personal:  Fasting is an important spiritual discipline in the Bible.  Jesus himself fasted 40 days and nights in the wilderness when Satan tempted him.  I am not suggesting a 40 day fast but I would encourage you to try a fast if you have never done it before.  Food is a great place to start if you can, but fasting from other things can be helpful as well.  Whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do during Lent let’s be sure to “repent and turn to God.”

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Reflection Archives