Midweek Reflections

Contentment Wednesday

Read: Philippians 4:10-20    midweekmediationforwebsite

First it was Black Friday, then it was Cyber Monday, then came Giving Tuesday.  I am worried about Wednesday and Thursday feeling left out.  How about we give the attitude of contentment to Wednesday?  I am not opposed to any of these other days even though I really don’t observe them much.  

I do most of my Christmas gift shopping on my own time, usually the week before Christmas.  I spread out my giving to church, other people, and organizations throughout the year, even though I think it’s a great idea to have a “Giving Tuesday” after a “Black Friday.”  But all of these specific days made me think about what Paul says in the book of Philippians.

Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”  What a great reminder as we head into this season of gifts, giving, and busyness.  Can we find time and space to be content?  How about starting today and calling this “Contentment Wednesday?”  How about carrying that attitude throughout the month of December and into 2017?

Alison Stewart, a former reporter and news anchor, spent three years investigating America’s unhealthy obsession with stuff. Her book, “Junk: Digging Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff,” examines the private lives and profitable businesses associated with our craving for consumer goods. Stewart explains that junk business is big business…

“Self-storage has its own association and lobbying group because it is big business, generating more than $24 billion in revenues in 2014. The United States is home to reportedly 48,500 to 52,000 self-storage units. That’s about 2.3 billion square feet of storage. It is a business that has been called recession resistant by the Wall Street Journal.”

Reality TV shows focusing on junk took off in the early 2000’s. Stewart put together a list of such shows broadcast between 2003 and the end of 2015. She writes: “The real tension that exists between the desire to buy and own, positioned against the stress created by the acquisitions, makes perfect sense for non-scripted television.” Here’s a partial list of stuff-based reality TV shows: American Pickers, Auction Hunters, Auction Kings, Buried Treasure, Flea Market Flip, Hoarders, Junk Gypsies, Junkyard Wars, Pawn Stars, Picker Sisters, Storage Wars, and its spinoff Storage War Texas.

Those shows can be very interesting but they also give evidence of how much junk we can accumulate if we are not careful.  Contentment does not mean that we are against gift giving or blessing other people.  It is good to have a giving spirit and bless others.  As Christmas comes this year let us embrace the season with a spirit of contentment and joy “in any and every situation” as Paul encourages in Philippians 4:12.

Make it personal:  When and if stress tries to overtake you during this Christmas season try to find ways to bring calm, peace, and contentment to your life.  Put on some Christmas music, light some candles, relax, watch a classic Christmas program and think about the reasons that we celebrate this time of year.  Find ways to be content whatever the circumstances.

Have a content week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Thanksgiving Dinner

Read: Romans 12:9-16midweekmediationforwebsite

This week families all over our country will be gathering together for Thanksgiving dinner.  We look forward to the great food, the fellowship, the reunions, and the time of giving thanks.  What we don’t look forward to sometimes is where the various conversations may end up going.

Following a very controversial election season and many other issues that our culture and society are dealing with right now those conversations can sometimes become tense, unloving, and spiteful.  John Stonestreet from the radio program Breakpoint recently commented about times in which people say, “Let’s just agree to disagree.”  He said, “Instead, let’s agree to love each other and to pursue the truth together. That’s a much better way forward.”

Which leads me to say, why don’t we just get together and enjoy our family and friends this Thanksgiving instead of trying to solve all of the problems in our country and world.  Show love to each other, talk about what has been going on in your life, and try to avoid the areas of conflict and disagreement.  Sure, it is good to have calm, insightful dialogue at times, but if we know that it will inflame the conversation then it’s best just not to go there.

Kristin van Ogtrop wrote this recently in a Time magazine essay.  She said, “My fellow Americans, I propose a cleansing Thanksgiving.  No, not a juice cleanse, a cleanse of our national soul.  First, turn off cable news.  Just turn it off, and don’t turn it back on until the Inauguration.  Second, absolutely no political posts on your Facebook feed.  None!  Believe it or not, you will continue to exist even if your friends (or “friends”) aren’t reminded of your political views every day.

Finally, when you sit down to dinner on Thanksgiving, look at those around you and make yourself forget who you think they voted for.  Bow your head and give thanks that you don’t live in _________ (fill in the name of any one of dozens of countries on this planet that don’t have a democratic process).  Close your eyes and take a deep breathe deep enough to clear the cobwebs.  And, silently or aloud, tell yourself that you are grateful for the people at your table.  Because we’re all human, and most us are just doing our best.”

Kristin hits on many other things in her essay but it reminds me of Romans 12:9-10 that says, “Love must be sincere.  Hate was evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  Let’s practice those things around the Thanksgiving dinner table this week!  Cling to what is good and cling to what you love about those you have gathered together with to give thanks.

Make it personal:  When people try to bring up controversial subjects that might not end well this week try to steer the conversation in a different direction.   Find positive things to talk about, find positive things to affirm in the other person, if nothing else just talk about the weather outside.  Just remember to honor the other person.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

In a Time of Change

Read:  James 1:11-18midweekmediationforwebsite

This past Sunday I started my message by talking about how things in this world are constantly changing.  I said, “From world powers, to economic structures, to how people live, nothing really ever stays the same.  Nothing that is except for God and his Kingdom.”  As I have thought more about that I was drawn to James 1 which says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Perhaps some words from the past might reinforce this truth in our minds.  In his classic book “Knowing God,” J.I. Packer says, “God does not change.  Let us draw out this thought.”  He then proceeds with these points….

– God’s love does not change.  He is from everlasting to everlasting.
– God’s character does not change.
– God’s truth does not change.  It is forever settled in the heavens.
– God’s ways do not change.  He still deals with people today as He did in the Scriptures.
– God’s purpose does not change.
– God’s Son does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

That last statement comes from Hebrews 13:8.  A.W. Tozer also had some wonderful things to say about this changelessness of God in “The Knowledge of the Holy.”  Tozer points out, “God cannot change, for all change must be in one of three directions: 1) From better to worse; 2) From worse to better; 3) From one order of being to another.  God’s perfections rule out all three possibilities.  Tozer goes on to say, “The law of mutation belongs to a fallen world, but God is immutable, and in Him people of faith find at last eternal permanence.”

As things in our world change for better or for worse we must always turn our attention to God.  The Lord is our help in times of need as well as in times of blessing.  We must not despair or become overconfident in the things of this world.  They will change, but God will not.  Where do you want to place your trust and hope?

We should also be reminded of what the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed during his time of lament.  He said, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Make it personal:  In times of change we need to look to God for our help and strength.  No matter what you face in life right now I hope that you will remember that the Lord is your help, an ever present source of strength.  It’s time to get on our knees and pray in a spirit of humility, repentance, and worship.  God is on the Throne!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Best Medicine

Read: Psalm 126

After a long election night that produced a variety of emotions I had to think long and hard about what to share in this week’s midweek meditation.  Last Sunday I preached a message that addressed what our attitude and approach to this election should be as Christians.  If you missed that message you can find the video of it on the church website at this link.
“A Posture of Godly Faith” Isaiah 41: 8-13

So, no matter what your feelings are about last night I hope you can take some time to laugh and add some humor to your day today.  Psalm 126 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”  And as they often say “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”  Here are some other quotes that encourage us to laugh daily….

  • “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” 
  • “Life’s better when you’re laughing.”
  • “Laughter is poison to fear.” 
  • “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Here are some funny thoughts I ran across this week….

~ I’m starting meetings at my house for people with OCD. I’m hoping they’ll take one look and start cleaning.
~ Minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you.
~ My friend was cold, so I told her to go sit in the corner. Corners are always 90 degrees.
~ Noah was a trusting soul. Imagine going out in a wooden boat with two woodpeckers and two termites.
~ Nobody is perfect, until you fall in love with them.
~ One nice thing about going the extra mile: It’s never crowded.

And here are these….

Two surgeons and a dermatologist were having lunch in the hospital cafeteria when the first two doctors began to laugh hysterically.  “What’s so funny?” the dermatologist asked, confused.  “Sorry, you wouldn’t understand,” one of the surgeons said, “It’s an inside joke.”

A job seeker was filling out an application one day.  After writing in his address, he was asked “Length of Residence?”  The applicant wrote “One acre.”

A note was put on a pop machine in a work break room that said, “Diet cola isn’t working.”  Beneath that, someone else had written, “Try exercise and a low-carb diet.”

I just watched my dog chase his tail for ten minutes, and I thought to myself, “Wow, dogs are easily entertained.”  Then I realized:  I just watched my dog chase his tail for ten minutes.

I hope these have helped to lighten your load today.  Make sure to find time in each day to laugh and enjoy life even in the midst of all the things going on in your life and in our world.  The Joy of the Lord is our strength!

Make it personal:  You can bring a smile and laughter to someone else today. Share a good joke, a funny story, or a humorous riddle with another person.  By making each other laugh we can lighten each other’s load.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

How Long?


Read: Psalm 13 and Revelation 22:12-21

Tonight the eyes of the sports world will be focused on game 7 of the World Series.  The Chicago Cubs have come back from 3-1 deficit to force a winner take all game 7 in Cleveland tonight against the Indians. Whoever wins will overcome one of the longest championship droughts in all of sports.  It has been 39,465 days since the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.  For Cleveland it has been 24,820 days.  They last won it in 1948.  How long has it been for both of these teams?  A long time!

This question of how long is a common theme in scripture.  It isn’t concerned with world championships but how long until certain things will happen in our lives and in our world.  In Psalm 13 David is wondering how long he will have to wait to see God move in his situation.  While he waits he proclaims his faith that God will show up.  In verse 5 he says, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

In the book of Revelation and other books of the New Testament we read about the second coming of Christ.  It doesn’t tell us how long or when Jesus will come back to take believers up to heaven, but it promises that someday it will happen.  As Christians we are to remain ready and in anticipation of that day at all times.  Waiting is not always easy but it makes the day of blessing all the better.

In his book “It Happens After Prayer” Pastor H. B. Charles Jr. provides the following helpful illustration of why God often makes us wait for the answer to our prayers.  “One hot afternoon, a certain woman walked to her neighbor’s produce stand to buy grapes. The line was long. And each person seemed to get special attention. But she waited patiently. When she finally made it to the front of the line, the owner asked for her order. She asked for grapes. “Please excuse me for a minute,” was the answer.

Then the owner walked away and disappeared behind a building. For some reason, this rubbed the woman the wrong way. Everyone in line before her was greeted warmly. They were given special attention. And, most importantly, they were served immediately. But she was forced to wait. And when she got to the front of the line, she was forced to wait some more. She was offended. She felt the owner took her regular business for granted. The longer she waited, the angrier she became.

Finally, the produce stand owner reappeared. And with a big smile, he presented her with the most beautiful grapes she had ever seen. He invited her to taste them. She had never tasted grapes so good. As she turned to leave with her delicious grapes, he stopped her. “Oh yeah, I’m sorry I kept you waiting,” said the farmer. “But I needed the time to get you my very best.”

Maybe you have been waiting on something to happen in your life or the life of someone else for a long time.  Keep lifting it in prayer to God and keep anticipating what God is going to do.  God doesn’t always answer our prayers exactly like we want but he does answer them within his perfect will.  In Philippians 4:9 is this promise, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Make it Personal:  How long have you been in line waiting on God to get to your request? How long have you been waiting in line for God to meet a need, solve a problem, or open a door? Whatever you do, don’t get out of line. And don’t stop praying. Wait on God.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The In’s and Out’s of Conflict

Read: Genesis 33

Conflict is something that we often try to avoid.  If a wrong has been committed and two sides are at odds they often will go to extreme lengths to try and avoid each other.  While conflict is usually not a healthy thing it can at times provide a wonderful opportunity for healing and restoration between two people.  Those times of healing and restoration can bring much needed contentment and peace to both involved.

Jonathan Sacks once said, “As long as there is conflict within us there will be conflict around us.”  The opposite of that can be true as well,  as long as there is conflict around us there is often conflict within us.”  In Genesis 33 we read the story of when Jacob approached his brother Esau after a long bitter family dispute.  Jacob had taken Esau’s blessing from their father and now years later they are about to meet again.

Jacob had gifts prepared for Esau and his family in hopes of a peaceful meeting.  He prayed that God would save him and his family from the retaliation of Esau.  Then in chapter 33 the meeting takes place.  As Esau approaches Jacob bows down to the ground seven times.  To Jacob’s surprise Esau comes running to greet him with a hug and a brotherly kiss.  Verse 4 says that they wept together over this new found peace and restoration between them.

This story reminds us that restoration takes place when at least one of the people involved in the conflict humbly goes to the other to make things right.  If the other person desires a restored relationship you often end up with peace and contentment on both sides.  If the other person refuses to have grace and forgive then we must move on with the realization that we have done what we could and God will bless us for our efforts at making peace and making things right.

There is truth that we will have more inner peace if we work at making peace with those in which we have conflict.  Nothing feels better than restoring a broken relationship and forgiving another person.  It is the same thing that we have received from  Jesus Christ.  Our sin causes conflict in our relationship with God, but Jesus died on the cross so that our conflict could be resolved and our relationship with God restored.  Praise the Lord!

Make it Personal:  Who comes to mind as you read this meditation today?  God is placing them on your heart for a reason.  Pray that the Lord will help you mend that relationship and bring restoration.  Pray that Christ will also forgive you of your sins and restore your relationship with God to its rightful place.

Be Restored This Week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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