Midweek Reflections

The Politics of Freedom

Read:  John 8:31-47

The political process is in high gear in the United States right now.  The race to elect the next President often feels like a circus, a professional wrestling match, and a valet service all wrapped up in one.  Some people thrive on this, some pay attention to it, some care, and others are oblivious to it.  But no matter where you find yourself there are things to be thankful for in the midst of it all.

Just this week Chris Horst of Christianity Today wrote an article about why we should celebrate this time in our country’s life.  He reminds us that in the midst of the negative things, the election season promotes healthy discussions and gives we the people the opportunity to have a voice in the leadership of our country.  

This is not the case for many people around the world.  Mr. Horst writes, “In places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and Zimbabwe, voters have little to no voice in determining the future of their countries. In many instances, dissent is not only forbidden, but squelched.”  He writes more about this, but then ends that section by saying this about the U.S., “But despite its flaws, our system stands in contrast to countries where all the power is controlled by a handful of self-appointed tyrants.”

For Christians it is sometimes hard to separate faith and politics in our world.  Some say we should separate them while others say it is impossible to separate them.  Christian books have been written with the titles of “God’s Politics” and “The Politics of Jesus.”  These and others are reminders that believers should not totally ignore the culture or political landscape that changes and shifts around us.  It does matter, it’s just not the be all and end all.

In fact, that’s where John 8 and the words of Jesus come in.  Jesus says that as believers if he has set us free, we are free indeed.  That is a freedom that goes beyond the borders of countries and political structures and transforms the heart.  It is a reminder that even those in the most ruthless, dictator controlled countries can still find freedom from the things of this world in Jesus Christ.

Yes, we should celebrate the democracy of the U.S. and other countries.  Yes, we should work for political freedom and justice for the people in those countries where that freedom is held captive.  We should also pray for them at all times.  But, in the midst of it all we should proclaim the ultimate Good News that Jesus is Lord and he is the only one that can truly save us all.  No matter who becomes the next President of the United States, like them or not, Jesus is still the King of kings.
 
Make it personal:  As the political process plays out in the U.S. this year don’t allow it to consume your every thought, care, or concern.  Pray about it, be involved if you would like, cast your vote, and celebrate the freedom that you have to do so.  But more importantly celebrate the freedom you have as a believer in Jesus Christ.  If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are free indeed!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Consistent Balance

Read: Genesis 2:1-3 and Mark 6:30-32

Recently I have started a new habit of eating instant oatmeal for breakfast. For a long time I went without eating any breakfast until several people reminded me how breakfast get’s your day off to a good healthy start. I have enjoyed the daily challenge of trying to mix just the right amount of oatmeal, with just the right amount of milk, and just the right amount of time in the microwave. This morning’s had a perfectly consistent balance and it was delicious!

It made me think about the rest of our lives. It also made me think about the two scripture passeges in today’s Bible readings. God rested after creation (Genesis 2) and Jesus knew the importance of he and his disciples getting away for some time of rest and renewal (Mark 6). How well are we balancing our physical, spiritual, mental, and relational parts of life? It reminded me of a recent illustration I ran across about “hurry sickness.”

“Half a century ago, an upholsterer from San Francisco made a curious discovery. He was called to a cardiologist’s office to reupholster some chairs in the waiting room. When he looked at the furniture, he wondered immediately what was wrong with the patients. Only the front edge of the seats and the first few inches of the armrests were worn out. “People don’t wear out chairs this way,” he said.

Five years later, in 1959, Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman began to put the pieces together. They had noticed an odd pattern shared by many of their cardiac patients, a pattern that centered on a “chronic sense of time urgency.” Patients showed irritability at being made to wait in line, had difficulty relaxing, and were anxious over delays. Obsessed with not wasting a moment, they spoke quickly, interrupted often, hurried those around them, and were forever rushing. Hence the waiting room chairs: the patients sat on the edge of their seats, nervously fidgeting at the arms of the chairs as they watched time tick by.

The cardiologists called the new disease “hurry sickness.” According to Friedman, hurry sickness “arises from an insatiable desire to accomplish too much or take part in too many events in the amount of time available.” The hurry-sick person is unable to acknowledge that he can do only a finite number of things. “As a consequence, he never ceases trying to ‘stuff’ more and more events in his constantly shrinking reserves of time.”
(David W. Henderson, Tranquility; Baker Books, page 131)

Keeping a consistent balance in our lives is so very important. Jesus would encourage us to do that. Whether it is church attendance, serving others, exercising, spending an evening out with friends, or doing something you really enjoy, we must find time for all of it. When the right mix is found life is wonderful to enjoy. Just like my oatmeal this morning.

Make it Personal: Take a moment this week to think about the balance in your life. What needs more time and exposure and what needs less? If Christ, Church, and God’s call and purpose for your life has got pushed aside I would encourage you to add some more of that. If health and exercise have taken a back seat, I encourage you to add some more of that. If work, stress, worrying, and going around like the Energizer bunny define you of late, then take time to rest, relax, and enjoy one of your hobbies. God gave us the example of balance, Jesus showed us that example, and now it is up to us.

Have a well-balanced week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Stop, Look, and Listen

Read:  I Chronicles 29:1-20
 
This will be the final week of my sharing a devotional from the 30 Days of Generosity material that our church is currently experiencing together.  These thoughts are shared by Gord Gooderman.  He writes…..
 
Their big old farmhouse was gradually being restored, and the family loved their home. Then they heard about homeless children in Bangladesh. It didn’t seem right that they should have so much and others so little. The children discovered that a house in Bangladesh could be built for $350. The family prayed about this need. They pooled their Christmas and birthday money and came up with $60. What else could be done?
 
When the local Christian radio station offered two concert tickets as a prize for answering a Bible question, the 10-year-old daughter phoned in and won. She donated the tickets back to the station to be auctioned to raise money to build a Bangladeshi home. The highest bid came in at $1,000! Now there was enough for three homes.
 
But the family didn’t stop. They baked and sold pies to raise more money for even more houses. Then a local church joined in the fundraising effort with a contribution of $2,600 to the cause. One family’s generosity inspired an entire community to joyful giving.
 
Pray:  Dear God, your Son taught that it is more blessed to give than receive, and this is a hard truth for me to accept. I confess wanting to hold on to the things I have – as though it is all about me. Give me the grace to willingly and joyfully give to you. Amen.
 

Make it personal:  Stop, look, and listen for an opportunity to join in an extreme stewardship adventure by seeking out a giving opportunity that will stretch you beyond your weekly commitment to your local church ministry.

Have a great week filled with generous acts, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church


Godliness with Contentment

Read:  I Timothy 6:6-10
 
This week for my midweek meditation I am continuing to share devotionals from our church’s current 30 Days of Generosity material.  This meditation was written by Kathlee Leadley.
 
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  1 Timothy 6:10
An ambitious businessman who survived the 2001 World Trade Center disaster said, “I have now learned to hold all things loosely.” Hopefully it won’t take a tragedy such as this for the rest of us to learn the biblical principle of holding things loosely.  In this letter, Paul warns the young pastor Timothy against false teachings that were prominent in the church at Ephesus and specifically the wrong-headed notion that godliness leads to financial wealth.
 
“No,” Paul wrote, “It is godliness with contentment that leads to great gain” (verse 6). The word “content” in Greek refers to a perfect condition in life. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, the same word describes a sufficiency in the necessities of life. Contentment is one of the greatest assets in life.  Real contentment comes when we switch our service from things, to God only.
 
Paul stresses that the love of money is a starting place of all evils. Let me emphasize: Money is neither good nor bad, but the love of it may lead to all kinds of evil. Being entrusted with financial wealth brings great responsibility, and we can exercise that responsibility for both good and for evil. The Jewish rabbis have a saying: “Who is rich? He who is contented with his lot.”
 
Pray:  Heavenly Father, today I ask for the gift of contentment. Set me free from the love of money so I can love you more fully. Replace my selfishness with a spirit of gratitude, and teach me to hold onto the things of this world loosely. Amen.
Make it Personal:  Take out a piece of paper and list the things of this world that you can let go of now. Tuck the list into the back of this booklet. Check back at the end of the month to see if you have begun to let go of the items on your list.
 
Have a blessed and generous week everyone, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church


Loyalties

Read: 1 Corinthians 4:7-14

During our churches “30 Days of Generosity” I plan to share a devotional/meditation that goes along with the material we are using. This week’s is written by Doug Sider Jr. He writes….

“The church at Corinth was racked with conflicting loyalties and claims to fame. Paul reminded the church that there is no human basis for pride. “What makes you think you are different from everybody else? After all, everything you have comes from God,” he wrote. We 21st century Christians are not so different from those early believers.

We boast in our abilities, our upbringing, our educational background, forgetting that these are gifts from God. We would not be where we are without the constant and countless interventions of God. God’s greatest gift, of course, is his only Son as a sacrifice for our sins and mistakes. Salvation is the most precious gift any of us will ever receive, and we have done nothing to deserve it.

The truth is, our natural bent is rebellion against God, and yet Christ died for us, carried our sins, and gave us his holiness. He didn’t have to do it. His is a gift of grace. We are his children, and he loves us with an unconditional love. He gives us what we need and what we can use to further his kingdom and to spread his grace even more. When we forget Jesus’ sacrifice, we become selfish and full of pride.

Pray: Give me a renewed and joyful heart, dear God. As the words from Psalm 100 remind me, it is you who made me, and I am yours. Thank you for including me among your people, for being my shepherd, and for inviting me to “graze” in your bountiful pastures. Amen.

Make it Personal: Make a conscious effort to think about your possessions as though they belonged to someone else. Notice whether you find yourself treating the things in your life differently.”

Have a great week everyone, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Speak Lord!

Read: 1 Samuel 3

How do you talk to God?  When asked this question people would provide us with many different answers.  Most would mention prayer, some might speak of quiet times in nature, and others may talk about visions, dreams, and worship.  There is not only one way, but we must make sure we are finding our way to communicate with our Lord.

In 1 Samuel 3 we read the story of Samuel.  He was ministering as a young boy in the house of Eli who had spent his entire life in service to God.  One night he hears a voice and thinks it is coming from Eli’s room.  After this happens several times during the night Eli finally realizes that it is the Lord’s voice Samuel is hearing.  He instructs Samuel to answer back the next time he hears the voice and say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel does this and the Lord speaks.  This made me realize how important it is for us to respond to God.  When I get a text message from someone on my phone I almost always respond back in some manner.  If I don’t then it leaves the person on the other end wondering if I received the message or what my reply back to them might be.  Common texting etiquette suggests that you should make the communication a two-way street.

When spending time in prayer, Bible study, and worship before the Lord we need to open ourselves up to what the Lord may be wanting to speak into our lives.  By using the words that Samuel used (Speak Lord!) we can open ourselves up to this valuable source of guidance, wisdom, strength, and direction from God.  Not only does it open ourselves up to God but it also acknowledges to him that we are willing listeners.

Sometimes it can be too easy to fail to recognize God’s voice when he is speaking.  One time Mark Twain was going to speak in a small town and before his speaking engagement that night he stopped in at a local barber shop to get a cut and and trim.  As he sat down to wait his turn the barber failed to recognize who he was.

He went on to tell him that Mark Twain was speaking tonight and and the place was sold out.  As the conversation went on and Twain informed him that he was going to go, the barber said, “Well, since it’s sold out I guess you will have to stand to hear him speak.  “Just my luck,” said Mark Twain. “I always have to stand to hear that fella speak.”

When we speak to the Lord and listen for his voice there is no certain posture, position, or manner in which we must act.  We simply must speak to him and let him know that we are listening.  We never know what the Lord may speak to us when we open ourselves up to his leading, but when the Lord speaks we need to be ready to listen and act.

Make it personal:  In your times of prayer or communicating with God try to use Samuel’s approach and say, “Speak Lord!”  Then take time to be silent and wait on his response.  It may not always be an audible voice but God is not limited by sound waves.  Your heart may sense his direction.  Your fear may sense his peace.  Your mind may receive his direction.  And who knows what else…..

Blessings in your New Year!  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




Reflection Archives

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010