Midweek Reflections

The Danger Zone

Read: Proverbs 23:29-35   

    Is drinking alcohol a sin?  In both secular and Christian circles you might get a variety of responses when asking this question.  Some might refer to times in the Bible when it is discouraged (as in Proverbs 23 and many others) and some might refer to times in the Bible when it is mentioned as a very common drink during biblical times (In John 2 Jesus turns the water into wine).  But everyone can agree that it has the potential to cause destruction in our lives.

For several years I have followed the internet blog, sermons, and ministry of pastor Perry Noble and Newspring Church in Anderson, South Carolina.  I appreciated his insights, thoughts, comments, and even referred to them from time to time in these midweek meditations.  I was very sad this past week when I learned this news as reported by the Greenville, South Carolina newspaper,  “The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor.  Early in Sunday’s 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1… after Noble “had made unfortunate choices,” and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol.”

It’s hard to know what all of the “unfortunate choices” were that led to this, but it is obvious that alcohol was a contributing factor.  In another news report I read that marital problems were also part of the issue.  The alcohol piece could have also played a part in that as well.  But it saddens me that alcohol has caused all of this pain and heartache for Perry, his family, his church, and many others.

We live in a world in which beer, wine, and other stronger alcoholic beverages are too often treated as a god instead of a beverage.  Often times people cannot gather, socialize, or have a celebration without them being present.  As a sports fan I am often times disappointed about the presence of so much drinking and drunkenness.  I am not sharing this to be in judgement of others, but I am sharing it because of the dangers this can have on individuals, families, children, churches, and society in general.

So many instances in the Bible suggest that it is better to avoid the danger zone of drunkenness.  In Genesis 19 drinking results in Lot’s debauchery and incest of his own daughters.  In Genesis 27 Isaac was drinking when he mistakenly blessed Jacob.  In 1 Samuel 25 Nabal, a rich man who opposed David and had lost his wife’s respect died after a drunken spree.  In Deuteronomy 21:20 it speaks of how drinking leads to stubbornness, rebellion, and gluttony which brings dishonor to parents.  One source says that there are more verses in the Bible about drinking and drunkenness than can be found on the subject of lying, adultery, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, pride, cheating, stealing, hypocrisy or even blasphemy.

When I was growing up my father had a very intentional way of letting me know about the dangers that drinking alcohol can have.  This was before we had a television with a remote control.  When an ad for alcoholic beverages would come on during commercial breaks he would get up out of his chair, go over to the television, and turn the channel until the program was back on the air.  Then he would go back over and sit in his chair.  He didn’t say a word but he didn’t have to.

The truth is, for some people the only way to avoid the danger zones of alcohol is to abstain from it.  Whether you agree or disagree about calling it a sin or not, I think everyone can agree that it is heartbreaking to see the destruction that it can cause.  I am going to pray for Perry Noble, his family, and his church.  Jesus can bring them through this and bring them to a brighter day ahead.  If you struggle with alcohol and would like to get help, I hope that you will reach out and find the help that you need.  God will forgive you and set you on a path of freedom from the chains of dependence and addiction.

Make it personal:  If you or someone in your family needs help in this area of life here are some organizations that you might want to look into.  Recovering Redemption, Celebrate Recovery, and Alcoholics Anonymous are just a few.  As Ed Stetzer said when commenting about the Perry Noble story, “You don’t have to suffer alone and it won’t end well if you don’t get help. You do not have to hide. Alcohol isn’t freedom, and hiding isn’t the way out. We can stand together in the power of the gospel and see the way forward in hope.”  And to that I say AMEN!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Real Gift-Giver

Read: John 1:1-18   

     When something good happens in your life or when you are blessed beyond expectation who gets the credit?  Too often we are quick to pass these blessings off as good fortune, good luck, or just the way circumstances worked out.  If you are a Christian your response should be much different than that.  You have the Lord looking after you and providing for you in all areas of life.

Recently I heard someone share about a wonderful blessing that happened to them.  As the story continued the credit for this gift was immediately given to God.  This person gave thanks to God over and over as the provider of this blessing that could only have been from the Almighty.  It made me think about how I respond to these kind of blessings.  Do I immediately raise my hands of praise to the Lord as I should or am I too busy moving on to the next task at hand?

To illustrate how we often fail to give God the thanks he deserves, Pastor and Author Chuck Swindoll told the following story of a man he visited in the hospital:  “The day I arrived to visit, I saw a touching scene. This man had a young son, and during his confinement in the hospital, he had made a little wooden truck for his boy. Since the boy was not allowed to go into the ward and visit his father, an orderly had brought the gift down to the child, who was waiting in front of the hospital with his mother. The father was looking out of a fifth-floor window, watching his son unwrap the gift.

The little boy opened the package, and his eyes got wide when he saw that wonderful little truck. He hugged it to his chest.  Meanwhile, the father was walking back and forth waving his arms behind the windowpane, trying to get his son’s attention.  The little boy put the truck down and reached up and hugged the orderly and thanked him for the truck. And all the while the frustrated father was going through these dramatic gestures, trying to say, “It’s me, son. I made the truck for you. I gave that to you. Look up here!” I could almost read his lips.

Finally the mother and the orderly turned the boy’s attention up to that fifth-floor window. It was then the boy cried, “Daddy! Oh, thank you! I miss you, Daddy! Come home, Daddy. Thank you for my truck.”  And the father stood in the window with tears pouring down his cheeks.  How much like that child we are.”

In John 1 we read about The Word becoming Flesh.  It speaks of how Jesus was, is, and always will be.  In verse 3 it says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  Jesus is the real gift-giver in our life.  He is the one that creates, provides, and sustains the many blessings we experience in this life.  He is also the one who comforts, cares, and loves us when difficult things in life come our way.  The next time you are overwhelmed with a blessing or blessed by God’s love take time to give thanks to Jesus who made that blessing and that love a reality in your life.

Make it personal:  Take time this week to think about some of the recent blessings you have experienced.  Think about some of the difficult things you have faced.  Then take time to thank God for providing for you in all situations.  Give praise to the Lord for the blessings and give thanks to the Lord for being with you when you needed love and support.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Spiritual Dryness

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18    

    My wife and I just returned from a trip to California where a current drought has everyone concerned and thinking about how they use their water.  Water is one of our most crucial resources and when things become dry and parched it causes people to think about not only how valuable it is but how they are using it in their own lives.  The same can be said about our spiritual lives as well.  It is often in those times of spiritual dryness that we discover things that might need our attention or appreciation.

In 1986 two brothers who lived in kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee made an incredible discovery.  As these two Israeli fishermen monitored their equipment on the beaches of Genesaret, they noticed something they had not seen before.  Something covered in mud glistened in the sun.  Upon examination, archaeologists determined that what the brothers had discovered was a fishing boat dating from the time of Jesus.  The only reason the artifact was discovered was because of a 3 year drought, resulting in unusually low water in the lake. 

The Bible tells us that in times of spiritual dryness, God may uncover something of fabulous value within his presence.  In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul is speaking of the many struggles that come along in life.  He says that in life we are often pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.  But then he reminds us that those times of difficulty are refining us and shaping us into the person that God wants us to be.  Physical and Spiritual dryness can lead to times of a renewed life.

Paul reminds us that it is in those times when we discover that our troubles are moving us to an eternal glory that far outweighs those drought stricken times in our life.  He says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  I’m not sure if you are at a spiritual mountain or valley as you read this today, but I do know that God’s desire is to shape you and mold you into his eternal glory.

Make it personal:  Drink a glass of water today and think about its physical value for life.  Read God’s Word today and think about it’s spiritual value for life.  Then pray and ask Jesus to help you grow in whatever place or situation you find yourself in right now.  Jesus can help to lead you from spiritual dryness to a place where you are renewed day by day, just as Paul reminds us in verse 16 of today’s scripture.

Have a refreshing week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Comfort and Peace

Read: Psalm 34 and Psalm 46    

    This past Sunday we learned of a terrible tragedy in Orlando, Florida that had happened as we slept.  The details are all over the news so I won’t elaborate on that.  What I would like to talk about is how we as believers respond to the tragedy’s the disappointments, the confusion, and the chaos of this world that we live in.  Sometimes these things happen in far away places and other times they happen much closer.  Sometimes they involve people we don’t know and at other times they involve people who are very close to us.

But no matter the circumstances they still cause us to mourn and ask why someone or why something such as this could happen.  It is at times like this that we can only turn to God for the comfort and peace that we need.  Sin, hatred, and violence are a part of this fallen world in which we live.  God’s Word has many words of counsel for us to turn to in times like this.

Some years ago I put together a booklet to give to individuals and families who were experiencing times of loss, disappointment, and difficulty.  It is a booklet of many of the best verses from God’s Word for such a time as this.  This week I myself turned to those verses for a reminder of God’s promise to be with us in even the most difficult of times.  Here are some of those verses that might be helpful for you this week.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”  Psalm 46:1-2

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  Psalm 55:22

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  Nahum 1:7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

May these verses and others bring comfort and peace to you now and in the midst of whatever happens next in this world.

Make it personal:  If you would like a copy of this booklet with these verses and others just let me know and I would be glad to print you a copy.  They are of great help when you just need some verses to remind you of God’s love and care for you in this life.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church


Read: John 3:1-21    

    Most of us have heard of Mark Twain’s quote  “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  This past week I heard it quoted a bit differently.  Cynthia Swindoll said that she likes to tweak that quote a bit to say, The two most important days in your life are the day you are born again and the day you find out why.”  This is what Nicodemus and the rest of us find out in the 3rd chapter of John.  I would encourage you to read it again this week.

My wife Rhonda and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage today.  I have been so very blessed to live life with this wonderful woman for the past 25 years.  That day on June 8, 1991 was definitely one of the most important days of my life.  As I recall and celebrate all of the memories and things of the past 25 years I have to pause and think about the “most important” days of our lives.

Yes, my wedding day was very important.  Yes, the day our daughter was born and the day we adopted our son from Romania were very important.  Yes, the day I was ordained as a pastor was very important.  Yes, celebrating 25 years of marriage is very important.  But the day I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior and decided to live my life for him is the day that my eternal life in heaven was confirmed.

It’s often difficult to rank those important times of our life, but as we hold the Community Vacation Bible School at our church this week I realize what Cynthia Swindoll is saying.  These children are being taught the Good News of Jesus and hopefully taking it home to their parents and families.  The Good News is that God loved this world, and each of us, so much that he gave his Son Jesus, so that whoever believes in him and is born again will not perish but have eternal life in heaven.  That is Great News for this life on earth and the eternal life ahead.

I am so thankful for my wife, my children, and the rest of my extended family.  We have many great memories to share in this life together.  I am so very thankful they are followers of Jesus and they know the importance of being born again in Jesus Christ and knowing why.  I pray that this may be the goal of all our efforts in the ministry of Christ.  To share the light of Jesus, spread the good news, and help people realize the importance of being born again.

Make it personal:  Think about this quote and then think about your life.  The two most important days in your life are the day you are born again and the day you find out why.”  God has a plan for each and every one us.  His blessings in this life come in many different ways, but no blessing can be greater than being saved from this world and finding salvation in God’s son Jesus Christ.  Don’t let another day go by without celebrating this important day in your life!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

God Bless You!

Read: Numbers 6:22-27    

    The phrase “God Bless You!” is used in many different situations.  We often say it when someone sneezes, we say it when someone leaves our presence, we often use it in prayers, and we use it to bless our family and friends.  National Geographic magazine once reported that during the plague of AD 590, Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession. Part of his command was that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately (“God bless you”), since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.  They said that by AD 750, it became customary to say “God bless you” as a response to someone sneezing.

Blessings are extended throughout the Bible in various ways and to various people but the main origin of this phrase comes from Numbers 6:24 when the Lord tells Moses how Aaron and his sons are to bless the Israelites. This blessing is often used at the close of worship and at other times that Christians gather.  “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

This past week I ran across this description on a website from an anonymous source.  It said, “God’s original design in creation was for His creatures, including mankind, to experience prosperity, peace, and fulfillment, but that design was ruined when sin entered the world. Statements of blessing are a wish for God to restore His favor on others or a declaration of His inherent goodness. The ultimate blessing that God has given is the new life and forgiveness that comes through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The material blessings we enjoy from day to day are temporary, but the spiritual blessings available to us in Christ encompass time and eternity, as well as material and immaterial things.”  As the Psalmist said, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalm 146:5)

One important thing that scripture refers to often is the importance of walking with God and seeking after God in order to find his blessing. In Psalm 1 the Psalmist writes “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”  (Psalm 1:1-2)  Scripture is clear that God does not and cannot bless sin and wickedness that are in direct disobedience to his will.

It is very important that we pray God’s blessings over our children, grandchildren, churches, marriages, relationships, and many other areas of life.  It also important that we are careful to seek after God in order to receive those blessings in full.  I have shared a lot of scripture in this week’s meditation and I still have not included any of Jesus’ words in the beatitudes which all begin with “Blessed are…”  Matthew 5:6 seems like a fitting one to end with…  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Make it Personal:  Take time this week to pray God’s blessings over your life and others.  Pray for a new hunger for God’s righteousness, that you might be filled with and blessed with his presence, protection, power, and hope.  May the Lord shine his face on you and be gracious to you!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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