Midweek Reflections

Pete and Repeat

Read: John 19 and 20

Perhaps you have heard about Pete and his brother Repeat. They were walking together one day and Pete fell in a hole.  Who was left?  Repeat!  Ok, Pete and Repeat were walking together one day and Pete fell in a hole.  Who was left?  Repeat!  And it goes on…..    I have also heard this joke told with Pete and Repeat in a boat.  Pete falls out and who is left in the boat?  Repeat!  Okay……

Repetition can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing.  It depends on what you are repeating.  Poh Fang Chia tells the story about a journalist who had a quirky habit of not using blue pens.  So when his colleague asked him if he needed anything from the store, he asked for some pens.  “But not the blue pens,” he said.  “I don’t want blue pens.  I don’t like blue.  Blue is too heavy.  So please purchase 12 ballpoint pens for me, anything but blue!”  The next day his colleague passed him the pens, and they were all blue.  He had heard the word “blue” repeated so much that it was the word that stuck in his mind when he got to the store.

Each year we remember and celebrate Good Friday and Easter.  Each year we celebrate Christmas.  Each year we remember Pentecost.  These are good things to remember and repeat.  These are great things to have impressed on our hearts and minds.  God has sent his Son Jesus to us, to die for our sins, to be raised to life again, and to send us the Holy Spirit.  We must never forget or never take these blessings lightly.

This is also why weekly church attendance is important.  Each week we set aside a time to gather together and worship the Lord for what has been done for us.  Without times of pause and remembrance we tend to repeat the other things in life that are not nearly as valuable as praise, worship, adoration, and calling out to God.  Being together with other Christians can also be a time of encouragement, growth, and discernment for our lives.

I would imagine that all of us can think of things in our life that need to get repeated less.  Bad habits, dangerous addictions, and unhealthy attitudes are some that come to mind.  It is important for us to repeat the important things often and leave the other things behind.  Jesus wants to help us with that!  The more we repeat something the more it gets ingrained into who we are, who we will become, and what we represent.  Let’s repeat the Good News of Jesus in our life as often as we can!

Make it Personal:  Read John 19 and 20 this week and recall the story of Good Friday and Easter once again. May it inspire you to leave the things of the world behind and continuously repeat the things of God in your life.  Attend a worship service this Easter Sunday and then repeat it each Sunday after that.  God is good all the time, all the time God is good!  That’s another phrase we have been know to repeat.  That’s a good one!

Have a blessed Easter,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Jesus Cover Us

Read:  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

What does a political election, a semi-trailer, and a song have in common?  Usually not very much, but yesterday as I traveled along the interstate those three came together to remind me of God’s promise to be with us, of Jesus’ assurance to cover us, and our calling to share that message with others.  Let me explain…

As I was driving along I was thinking of all the people that day who were headed to the polls to vote for presidential candidates, state and local politicians, and local issues.  The current political climate and some of the issues that were being voted on have caused many people and candidates to act in ways that are quite unbecoming.  Those things sometimes make us feel scared, disappointed, and maybe even depressed at times.  As those thoughts went through my mind I started to pay attention to the words of the song that was playing on my car’s CD Player.

David Crowder’s song “Hands of Love” was playing and here are some of the lyrics I was hearing.  “In His hands that hung the sky, In His hands that touched the blind, In His hands, He is holding me.  In His hands that flung the stars, In His hands that bear the scars, In His hands, He is holding me. Oh, Jesus, the One who frees us, the One who holds us all up.  Jesus, the One who saves us, the One who holds us all In His hands of love.”

And then the chorus came…  “Come cover us, come cover us, come cover us, in Your hands of love. Come cover us, come cover us, come cover us, in Your hands of love.  He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands.”   What a reminder that in the midst of our insecurity and fear Jesus can come and cover us.  The one who has the whole world in his hands.  The one who is in control is not controlled by our politics, our votes, or our fears about such things.

What about that Semi-trailer?  Well as the words to these songs were ringing in my ears I looked over at the Semi that I was passing.  It was a Sherman-Williams Paint truck.  On the side of their trucks their logo has a can of paint that is pouring out over the earth and their slogan says, “Cover the Earth.”  How perfect.  All three things came together at the same time to remind me of my Savior Jesus Christ who covers me, covers my country, and covers the entire world.  Why should I worry?  What have I to fear?

Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s something that you are going through in your life, sometimes it’s that ongoing sense of anxiety in your life.  Whatever it is, my prayer is that God will bring things together in some way or form to remind you that the Lord is in control and Jesus is there to cover you and be with you through it all.  Sherman-Williams may want to cover the world in paint, but as Christians we should desire to cover the world with this truth.  I hope that you will cover yourself, your family, your friends, and all your circumstances in Jesus’ hands of love.

Here is a link to that song by David Crowder if you would like to listen to it and I have attached a picture of a Sherman-Williams paint truck below if you want to see what that looks like.

 

 

Make it personal:  What can you do this week to remind yourself that God is in control and you are safe in the hands and love of Jesus.  Make sure to live in the promise of God that you are covered by Him.  Join David in Psalm 16:1 when he says, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.”

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



March Wisdom

Read: Proverbs 2 and 3

March Madness is upon us!  The NCAA basketball brackets will be out soon and everyone will try to pick their teams to a championship.  Since March is here I wanted to use this week’s meditation to share some wisdom from legendary basketball coach John Wooden.  Proverbs 2 and 3 extol 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 St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s book entitled “The Matheny Manifesto.”  He shares in that entire chapter 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.”  To end this week I would like to share some of the wise sayings that John Wooden imparted over the years.  They testify that this man was a man of faith even before he was the greatest basketball coach that has ever lived.

John Wooden’s Maxims….

“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.  “Bill Walton says he used to write these quotes on his son’s lunch bags when he sent them off to school.”  As we watch the games this March 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.

Make it Personal:  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 blessed week (and Month), Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Fill it Up!

Read: 2 Peter 3:14-18

Do you ever find it hard to find time to fill up your vehicle with gas?  Or maybe you just don’t like to do it?  According to a recent news story your solution may have arrived.  There is a new app for smartphones and tablets that allows you to hire someone to fill your vehicle with gas while you are at work, or even overnight while you’re home sleeping.   You place the order on the app and the delivery person simply pulls alongside your vehicle in a pickup truck with a gasoline container in the bed, unrolls the hose with a nozzle and fills your tank.

The price does include a markup for the service but at current gas prices that still makes this very affordable.  Here’s the catch though, right now this service is only available in a few larger cities in the U.S..  It might be a while before you can take advantage of this in Arthur or other rural communities, but then again it may provide an opportunity for someone as well.  Create your own app, buy a pickup truck, a tank, and you are in business.

After I read about this new service I was inclined to ask myself, “Have we really become that busy that we can’t even find the time or the energy to put gas in our vehicles?”  If we are getting to that point then I am concerned about some of the other necessities in life.  I mean who can we hire to go and buy our milk and bread the next time a snow storm is approaching?  Hmmm.  Maybe there is another business opportunity for someone.

All joking aside, we do need to think about how overbooked and stressed out our schedules might be.  In 2 Peter 3 we are encouraged to find time to grow in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus.  In verse 18 Peter says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  How do we do that?  What does that look like?  And can we find time for it?

One of the first ways to grow spiritually is to increase our desire to grow.  When we have a desire and we see the benefits of this we will be sure to make time for it.  Times of prayer, opportunities to read or listen to God’s Word, attending church to learn, grow, and fellowship with other believers, loving and serving others in the name of Christ, all of these provide us opportunities to grow spiritually.

In our lives I hope that we are keeping things in the correct perspective and the right order.  I hope that we find time to grow spiritually and desire a closer walk with Jesus in our lives.  I hope that we turn to God instead of all the other worldly options available that leave us empty and wanting more.  Finally, I hope that someone does not have to create an app in order for us to do these things.

Make it Personal:  Think about your own schedule and the time you are devoting to your life with Christ.  How is your time of prayer and Bible reading?  How is your church attendance?  How is your desire to grow spiritually?  If the Holy Spirit is encouraging you to make a change in any of those areas I would encourage you to listen to that voice.  Let’s grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus together!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



White as Snow

Read:  Isaiah 1

On a day that snow is falling in Central Illinois I am reminded of the times in God’s Word that the phrase “White as Snow” is used.  The description is used to describe different things in scripture but the most well known use is from Isaiah 1:18 when it says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..”

During this season of Lent we are encouraged to think about our sins, to have repentant hearts, and to change our focus back to the things that God wants us to focus on.  This is why people often give things up for the 40 days of Lent that lead us up to Good Friday and Easter.  It helps us to think about sacrifice and the things that really are important in our lives.

Lent can be a valuable time for spiritual growth, but if we are not careful it can also be another period of time that just passes by and finds us going back to what we did before.  The things we gave up we quickly start back up, the things we took on we quickly forget, and the things we were sorry for can quickly fade from our minds.  Perhaps Lent would be even more meaningful for us if we really gave something up and never took it back.  Or started something new and it then became a new part of our daily walk with the Lord.

Isaiah 1:18 is a wonderful reminder that Christ came to wash our sins “white as snow.”  He delivers us and keeps us from going through life with the permanent scarlet stains of sin.  When we turn to Jesus and repent of those sins they are not permanent, they are gone, they are washed as white as the snow I am watching fall outside my window.

Not everyone likes the snow, but when we compare it to the grace and forgiveness of Jesus what is there not to like.  If you have been living with guilt, shame, and the heavy weight of sin in your life, I hope that you will cast all of that at the feet of Jesus.  He wants to take it, redeem you, and make your life as white and unblemished as the fresh fallen snow.

Make it personal:  If you have a snow day today take some time to read Isaiah 1.  Then move on to the New Testament and read more about the grace of Jesus.  The book of Romans is a great place to start.  Romans 7:25 says, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Freely, Freely

Read: Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Last night as I watched the evening news I was struck by a story from the small country in Africa of Lesotho.  It was about the terrible drought that is taking place there due to this year’s El Nino weather patterns.  Water and food are so scarce that many are dying with no relief in sight.  The news story focused on a grandmother who is trying to raise her 5 grandchildren who have been orphaned because of Aids.

They live in a small mud hut that is maybe a quarter of the size of most of our garages.  Her garden for food is dried up and the nearby river is dried up as well.  But in this news story she and the children seemed to be so loving and caring for each other as well as those around them.  If you would like to see the story I am providing the link here.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/el-nino-drought-leaves-millions-hungry-in-southern-africa/

In Deuteronomy 15 and many other places in scripture we are encouraged to be open handed and freely help those in need.  In verse 7 it says, “Do not be hardhearted or tightfisted.”  As Christians we are called to do what we can to help the poor in our neighborhoods and around the world.  We can’t make a difference by ourselves but we can if we all do our part.  Too often we get comfortable in our North American lifestyle and forget about the many people in need like the family that was highlighted in this news story.

Here are some other stats I ran across about world hunger…..

  1. Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk; it kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
  2. Some 925 million people do not have enough to eat.
  3. Ninety-eight percent of them live in the developing world.
  4. One in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.
  5. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of the U.S., Canada, and the European Union.
  6. Undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries.
  7. If we took the money Americans spend annually on potato and tortilla chips ($13.6 billion), we could reach 90 percent of stunted children in the 36 highest-burden countries.
  8. Worldwide, 115 million children under the age of 5 are underweight.
  9. The Asian and Pacific regions contain over half the world’s population and nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.
  10. Supplementation with vitamins could reduce the risk of child mortality from all causes by 23 percent.

As I am writing this I am reminded of the favorite song the church has sung through the years.  The words go something like this, “Freely, Freely, you have received, Freely, Freely, give!”

I would like to encourage you to think of ways to help.  Mennonite Central Committee, World Vision, Compassion International, and many other reputable Christian organizations are trying to make a difference in these areas around the world.  If you don’t already give a monthly contribution to help the hungry, poor, and destitute around the world I would like to encourage you to consider it.  They need our help and Jesus teaches us to help them.  Even if you start with a small amount and work up to a larger amount, your part will make a difference.

Make it personal:  Watch the news story provided above and try to imagine what it would be like to live like this grandmother and her 5 grandchildren do.  My hope and prayer is that it will encourage all of us to do something on an ongoing basis to make a difference in this world that we live in.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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