Midweek Reflections

The Vertical & Horizontal

Read: Matthew 7:24-27
I attended a conference last month in which Duane Litfen, President Emeritus of Wheaton College was one of the main speakers.  He spoke about the challenges of understanding these confusing times we live in and what Christians should be doing in relation to them.  He said, “We are vertical Christians living in a horizontal world.”
What he means by that is we live in a world that has a “just us” worldview.  Horizontal means that we are the focus of all things and there is nothing outside of ourselves.  As followers of Jesus we know this is not how our resurrected Lord lived or taught us to live. Duane was encouraging us to live with a vertical focus on God in everything we do.
In 1 Chronicles 1 there is a list of the many tribes of Judah.  Of Issachar’s tribe it says that they understood the times and knew what they should do.  This is a good reminder for Christians today as we live in these confusing times. We need to understand the horizontal slant of the world and be able to retain our vertical transcendent focus on the ways of Jesus.  His desire for us is to seek after God instead of subscribing to the “just us” worldview that tends to ignore the creator and focuses only on what we want and desire.
Jesus warned us about this in Matthew 7 when he shared the parable of the wise and foolish builders.  Those who build their lives on the shifting sands of culture and the world will find their house soon washed away because it was not built on the rock solid foundation of God’s plan and purpose.  In other words, if we turn our back on the vertical to go along with the horizontal the consequences could be disastrous. C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote, “Everything that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”
Make it Personal:  Before you accept the blowing winds of culture be sure to consider the vertical implications involved.  Is it pulling you away from God’s purpose and plan? Does it line up with what God’s Word says? Are you focusing more on the horizontal (worldly) things in life than the vertical (transcendent) things?  Jesus is asking, “Where and on what are you building your life?”
Have a vertically focused week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

How You See It

Read: Psalm 118:15-24

For many years churches have sung the song “This is the Day” during their times of worship and praise.  “This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made, I will rejoice, I will rejoice, and be glad in it.”  I’m not sure who takes the credit for first putting music to the words, but we do know that the Psalmist in Psalm 118 wrote the lyrics because they are found in verse 24.

The question is really how well do we apply that attitude to our daily lives as we live, move, and have our being?  How often do you face the day ahead and say, “I am going to rejoice in this day that the Lord has given to me and be glad in it, whatever may come.”  Psalm 118:15-24 gives us reminders of how an uplifting and positive attitude about our faith in God can change how we see each day.

I have seen several reminders of this kind of attitude recently.  A friend who always says, “Make it a great day!” when saying goodbye.  A stroke victim who said, “I still do everything I want to do, I just changed what I want to do.”  A mom who asked her young child on the way to school, “How do you know this is going to be a good day?” and the child responded with, “Because we decided today will be good.”

These are great examples of people living out the praise of Psalm 118:24 and saying, “This is the day my Lord has made for me, I am going to rejoice in it and be glad for it!”  You see, this praise really begins with the attitude you choose to see your day with. How you see it most often determines how you experience it. Let’s choose to join my friends this week as we rejoice and be glad in each day!
Make it Personal:  How do you start each day?  This is an important thing to think about because it often times will shape how you approach the day as you get out of bed or walk out the door.  Get your day off to a good and positive start with prayer, scripture, and reminders that the Lord has made this day and given it to you. Remember, how you see it can determine how you experience it.

Have a joy-filled week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

A Bitter Root

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

Not long ago Ed Stetzer tweeted out a short quote that we all need to take note of.  He said, “Bitterness eventually destroys you.” Bitterness, anger, and rage can become dangerous attitudes and actions in our lives if we allow them to take root and overtake any of our relationships, interactions, and conversations.  If we allow them to take root they will create problems far and wide.

Often times roots are referred to as positive examples of nourishment, growth, and the sustaining of life.  This is true if the roots are bringing forth Godly and positive growth in our lives. However, some things such as anger and bitterness can also take root and affect us in negative ways.  As Stetzer reminds us, these things can destroy us if we allow them to take root.

In Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul gives us some good instructions for Christian living.  He speaks of honesty, reconciliation, wholesome talk, kindness, and compassion. He also points out things that can deter us from living a Christian life that brings forth these positive characteristics.  He says, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude.” (Eph. 4:31 CEV)

Whether in person or on social media we need to take heed of what Paul encourages.  We must not promote bitterness and rage, instead we need to be the voice of calm, peace, and compassion.  We must not allow the root of bitterness to seep into the soil of our lives and bring destruction. It will if we allow it to and if we continuously feed it without restraint.
Make it Personal:  Think about some things in your life that cause anger and bitterness.  Have you let it overtake you, consume you, and destroy the goodness that God wants to cultivate in your life and relationships?  As Paul encourages, get rid of it, and ask Jesus to help you overcome it.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Historic Cathedrals

Read: Numbers 9:15-23

On two separate occasions I have been able to visit the historic and world famous Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, also known as “Our Lady of Paris.”  As video and pictures of this iconic cathedral on fire were filling our screens this week, I had to think of how much this place of worship has been through since its original construction in 1260 A.D.  It had been through the French Revolution when it was damaged and partly destroyed. It was the site of Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor of France in 1804. It has seen the funerals of many past French presidents.  It had been through World War 2. Needless to say much has happened in the past hundreds of years since it was built.

In Numbers 9 the Bible tells of the Tabernacle the Israelites worshiped at during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Each time God led them to a new place on the journey, this tabernacle had to be taken down and reconstructed in their new place of residence.  Many years later when they finally reached the promised land a permanent temple was built in Jerusalem as their place of worship. It too became damaged and destroyed after various attacks from enemy lands.

While we still have churches, cathedrals, and places of worship today, Jesus came to provide us his spirit and presence which is available to us in all places.  While it is wonderful and important to gather together in places of worship as followers of Jesus, it is most important to remember that we have the spirit of the living God within us.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says that each believer and follower of Jesus is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

French President Emmanuel Macron has already said that the Notre Dame cathedral will be repaired, rebuilt, and restored in the years ahead.  But as the news focuses on this historic landmark of worship, it would do all of us good to remember the millions of temples/cathedrals that God has placed all over this world.  We are God’s people, we have the Spirit of Christ living within us, and yes, you and I are and always will be historic cathedrals of God’s hope, grace, and salvation.

Make it Personal:  Take some time this week to search online or on your phone for the scriptures in God’s Word that speak about believers being the temple of the living God.  As you watch the news coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral think about your place in God’s story and God’s history.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Nothing Less

Read: Revelation 3:14-22

This past Monday night when the final buzzer sounded on the NCAA Basketball Championship game the Virginia Cavaliers walked away with the trophy.  It was a tight game that went into overtime with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but coach Tony Bennett and his team won the championship and ended the season with a record of 29-2.

Coach Bennett is known as a great basketball coach, but he would be the first to tell you that his Christian faith and his family come before his profession.  In fact, his faith guides his approach to coaching and how he relates to his players. He is “all in” as a follower of Jesus and he carries that passion into his calling as a coach.  Tony and his team learned a valuable lesson in last year’s tournament when they were upset and became the first number one seed to ever lose a first round game in NCAA history.

That loss inspired them to not become lukewarm in their approach and preparation for this year’s tournament.  When they found themselves down by 14 points in the first round, coach Bennett told his players, “I can accept losing, but I can’t accept anything less than every single thing we have to give.”  In other words, stay true, stay committed, stay strong, and give it your best.

In Revelation 3, the letter to the church in Laodicea is a warning about becoming lukewarm in our faith and our commitment to God.  In these verses Jesus is encouraging us to stay true, stay committed, stay strong, and give our best to God. As coach Bennett said, we can accept what may come in life but we need to have our priorities in line and give God our best.  That includes our faith, our attitude, our time, our finances, our church, and our family and friends. We should give nothing less than our all!

Make it Personal:  How do you assess things in your life right now?  Are you giving your best to God, to Jesus, to your family, to your church, to your job?  Pray to Christ and ask him to help you from becoming complacent or lukewarm in any area of your life.

Have a blessed week everyone,Pastor Glen Rhodes

Golden Calves

Read: 1 Kings 12:25-33

A story from many years ago is told about some small farmers in Scotland.  Being superstitious, one year they kept a corner of their fields uncultivated in order to pacify certain evil spirits (this was before the current weed control options farmers have today).  These Scottish farmers believed that by sacrificing this one corner to the spirits, the remainder of the field would be left undisturbed and fertile.

What really happened, is that the weeds in the uncultivated corners went to seed, which was, in turn, carried by the wind and scattered across their entire fields.  This illustration is a reminder of how a person’s life and witness can be infected and ruined if they allow unrestrained sin and disobedience towards God to dominate even one small corner of their life.

In 1 Kings 12 we read the story of King Jeroboam.  This King set up golden calves in the cities of Bethel and Dan in order to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship God.  He deceived the people into thinking that these more convenient gods closer to home could replace the worship of the one true God in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t long before that deception began to have harmful consequences.

In our culture today we are offered many golden calves that promise pleasure, convenience, prosperity, and protection.  We must be careful to not let these false gods replace the promises of the one true God of the Bible. Just like the farmers in Scotland years ago, we today can be tempted to try things that will take us away from trust in Jesus and obedience to God.  We must be careful that these golden calves of the 21st century do not lead us away from the Lord who truly loves us.

Make it Personal:  What things in your life have become golden calves or have the potential to become golden calves and distract you from your faith in Christ?  The world can make us many promises, but sometimes those promises can leave us with fields of weeds to overcome. Final Reflection: Stay focused on God and not the golden calves of the world.

Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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