Midweek Reflections

That’s Not Your Name

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

                  Many Sundays I deliver a sermon that is sometimes described as a message.  It is a message from God’s Word about life and declares the love, promises, truth, salvation, and redemption of God through his Son Jesus Christ.  There are many other ways that this message can be proclaimed.  The Sunday morning sermon is not, and should not be, the only medium.

The Christian music group Mercy Me has often used the phrase “the Music is the Message” to describe how they view their gift to share music and testimony as a part of God’s ministry to people.  That became very real to me recently when I heard one of their songs on the radio. The song “Greater” is a wonderful message about who you and I are in Jesus Christ.

So often the world refers to us in negative and judgmental terms.  Perhaps you have been called a failure.  Maybe people have piled shame and guilt on your shoulders.  Sometimes the world just seems to cast us off and tell us that we will never be good enough.  The message of the song “Greater” proclaims that in Jesus your name is different. 
Here are the words,

“Bring your tired, and bring your shame.  Bring your guilt, and bring your pain.  Don’t you know that’s not your name?  You will always be much more to me.  Every day I wrestle with the voices that keep telling me I’m not right, but that’s alright.  ‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed, when others say I’ll never be enough.  And greater is the One living inside of me, than he who is living in the world.  Bring your doubts and bring your fears.  Bring your hurt and bring your tears.  There will be no condemnation here.  You are holy, righteous and redeemed. Every time I fall there will be those who will call me a mistake, well that’s okay.  ‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed…”

This is a message we all need to hear!  It is a truth that we all need to embrace and proclaim in our lives.  2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old is gone, the new is here!”  When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior you can cast off those names of the world and take hold of the voice that calls you redeemed, holy, righteous, and free.

Make it Personal:  What is the name that you are known by among your family and friends?  What false names does the world pile on you from time to time?  It’s time to take hold of your name in Jesus Christ.  You are free, redeemed, and valued in the name of Christ.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

An Attitude of Celebration

Read: Nehemiah 8:9-12          

Life can be hard and difficult at times.  Sometimes we are at a loss to explain or understand things that happen.  But in the midst of those challenges we must remember to celebrate the good things and the blessings in our lives.  It’s often too easy to focus on the hard things and forget to celebrate those good things.  Truthfully, the good most often outweighs the bad.

In Nehemiah 8 we are reminded that the “Joy of the Lord is your strength.”  It is in this joy, the joy of God and the love of Jesus Christ that we find strength to make it through the hard and difficult things of life.  Joyce Meyer says “At times you have difficulties and at times you don’t.  We all deal with issues in life.  Celebrate the victories.  Focus on the things going right.”

Joyce is encouraging us to focus on an attitude of celebration instead of an attitude of defeat.  And focus is the key word there.  Where are you placing your focus?  Is it on the joyful things of life as Nehemiah mentions, or is it on the things that tend to bring you down?  Do you hang around people who drag you down or lift you up?  Where are your thoughts most of the time?

Joy in our life can be like a magnet that pulls people in.  People desire to be around those who are joyful and celebrating life.  We all have the choice to be that kind of person.  It begins by celebrating who you are in God.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Lord, as David proclaims in Psalm 139.  Celebrating life begins by celebrating God’s love for you.

No matter what your past looks like or what you are facing today, God’s love for you remains the same.  Jesus came to bring you peace, joy, contentment, and reasons to celebrate.  Dwell and focus in on those truths and don’t let the challenges of today distract you from the many reasons you have to celebrate life.  Remember, The joy of the Lord is your strength!

Make it Personal:  What is weighing you down today or this week?  Name it, but then release it to the Lord.  Ask God to help you focus on the many blessings in your life there is to celebrate.  It begins with you.  God celebrates you as his own.  Join the Lord in that celebration today.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The Weight of Worry

Read: Matthew 6:25-34 and 11:28-30         

Who hasn’t felt the weight of worry, stress, or anxiety in their lives?  It is something we all deal with, struggle to cope with, and desire to be free of.   Corrie Ten Boom once shared this truth that is good to keep in mind.  She said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Recently we have had a small bird sitting on the front window sill of our home and pecking at the window at all times of the day.  After further investigation I noticed that the bird had made a nest in one of our front porch decorations.  Inside that nest is several eggs that the bird is watching over.  Perhaps the bird is protecting its nest from those big human beings that keep coming and going out the front door?  Surely, it has no worries.

In Matthew 6:26 when Jesus was talking about worry he said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”  The answer to his question is an obvious “YES!”  Jesus then goes on to say, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Corrie Ten Boom was directing us to what Jesus is saying in these verses.  Why should we allow our worries to sap the energy, joy, and strength of this day, when it accomplishes nothing for today, tomorrow, or any point in the future.  Instead we should place our faith in God to calm us, bring us peace, and deliver us from the things that tend to weigh on us.  At the end of his life, Sir Winston Churchill said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

The bird on my front porch pecks away without a worry in the world, I too want to live that way.  I want to take my worries, my anxiety, and my stress to Jesus.  It’s interesting how Jesus promised that exact thing in Matthew 11:28.  He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you….”  What?  REST!  Which results in worry free peace.

 Make it Personal:  Jesus wants to take the weight of your worry upon himself.  Will you give it to him?  Will you trust in Him?  Will you have faith that he will look after you even more than the birds of the air, whom already have all they need.  Perhaps today is the day to redistribute that weight to the one who promises rest for your soul.

Have a blessed week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

Honest Truth

Read: 2 Timothy 2:14-19          

This past week I heard that baseball games before 1859 had home plate umpires that would sit in  padded rocking chairs while calling balls and strikes.  After doing some in-depth research, (Google) I learned that some reports said umpires would sit in their chairs 20 feet behind home plate.  I’m not sure how accurate you could be from that far back.  I’m also not sure how accurate my research was, because how do you know what to trust and what not to trust on the internet?

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  What he meant by that was that truth remains truth, and the facts don’t need to be remembered because it will always remain true.  Falsehoods are made up and are therefore more difficult to recall.  By the way, one website claimed that a young Mark Twain was one of those early umpires that called games from a rocking chair. 

In a world filled with deceptive websites, dishonest tweets, fake Facebook posts, and biased news reporting, how are we to know what to believe as honest truth?  In each situation the answer to that might be different, but each of us needs to seek after truthful sources and not be swayed by unreliable chatter.  With life situations, God’s Word is always the source to start with.

In 2 Timothy 2:14-19 we are encouraged to handle the truth correctly and be honest in our business, relationships, and interactions with each other.  It says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

We can’t always control the honesty of others, but we can choose to be truthful and honest in our own lives.  Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”  It may not matter too much if umpires, such as Mark Twain, once relaxed on rocking chairs behind home plate.  But it does matter if our family, friends, and colleagues can count on us to be honest with them.  Make honesty something you are known for!

Make it Personal:  How is honesty and truthfulness in your life?  Some people struggle with this more than others, but for all of us the temptation is there.  Ask God to help you overcome the temptation to deceive or twist the truth.  Live a life of integrity and truth that honors God and your life will be much easier and less complicated.   In fact, Mark Twain says that you won’t have to remember anything.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Let Them Be!

This Week’s Meditation:  “Let Them Be!”
Read: James 3:1-12

Anyone else one of the committed 29 million who woke at 3:40am to watch the Royal Wedding this past Saturday? What teenage girl doesn’t dream of marrying a prince for her senior wedding project…until he gets married, that is. HA! In high school, I was so blessed to take an independent study I created titled British Women in History and Literature. Mrs. Hapgood and I would read British novels, study female British leaders, discuss and debate William & Kate’s wedding that happened that spring, and drink gallons of tea and eat an unhealthy amount of biscuits. One thing we circled back to is that every individual we studied had rumors and gossip happening around them and we don’t know today which was truth or lies. Whether they were loved or hated, people were known to talk about them. Gossip is defined as rumor or reports revealing personal or sensational facts about others.

One of the families we used to vacation with every year had an aunt who was not the average woman size. As a youngin’ with no filter, I stated out loud where she could hear me, “She is fat.” Even as I relive that horrid comment of mine, my face turns red from embarrassment. But as you can imagine, my mom yanked me aside and scolded me, “We don’t call people that!” “But she is, Mom! Don’t you tell us we need to not eat more than we need because it’s not healthy to get fat?”

I don’t remember my mom’s whole explanation, but I do remember her teaching me that it doesn’t matter what we say about others, whether it’s true or not; it’s not our place to share their story. She taught me young that gossip and rumors did nothing good. As I grew through my school years and into adulthood, I continued to hear gossip and rumors and even caught myself sharing information that wasn’t mine to share. It’s such an easy trap to get caught in when everyone around me was doing it without hesitation. It may have been easy for parents to teach kids that, but a whole other story to actually set the example for our kids.

I thought of this as I was listening to the commentary leading up to the Royal Wedding. Meghan’s dad was not able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding because of his health, is what the Kensington Palace officially issued in a statement last week. But of course, everyone was creating more details as to why. I was tempted to type in a Google search to find more details, but then I realized that it’s not my business to know her family life. It does not affect me in any way, why am I so curious? This is their wedding day, can’t we just let them be blissfully happy for a few hours! Why can’t all these reporters just LET THEM BE! Because culture tells us that everything is our business and knowledge is power, with celebrities or our local friends whom we interact with. But if we look to God’s Word, it teaches us that we have enough to discuss in our own lives, rather than dig our hands into other peoples. James says that if we could control our tongues, we could be perfect…but no one can tame the tongue. Psalms and Proverbs gives us wisdom on this subject too:

Proverbs 16:28 “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Proverbs 26:22: Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.”

Psalms 15:3,5b: “Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends…such people will stand firm forever.”

How often do I look to other people’s lives to compare or comment on INSTEAD of just focusing on what God has put in my life to focus on? This world shows us hatred and gives us trouble…but God is our peace and shows us truth. We need to constantly be redirecting our attention back to what God has put in front of us daily to do. It’s as simple as that!

Make it Personal:  Do you ever catch yourself falling into this worldly trap of gossip/rumors/sharing? What might you be avoiding or missing in your own life when your focus is pulled in that different direction?

Have a great week, Pastor Ashley Litwiller
Arthur Mennonite Church, 
710 E. Park St.

Thoughts and Prayers


Read: Ephesians 6:18-24           

Whoever thought the day would come when people would be criticized for offering up thoughts and prayers for those in need?  And yet that is the current trend in some circles.  I understand their point is to move people towards action, like passing a law, or making an injustice right, but we should never discount the power of prayer in any situation.

In Ephesians 6 Paul says that it is important for us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Whether it is a situation close to home, a disaster in our country, or a dangerous situation in our world, we should always be inclined to pray for those affected by those things.  We can also pray for change to happen when change needs to happen.  Thoughts and prayers don’t mean inaction, instead they call into action the God of the universe.

Eric Metaxas recently wrote on this subject and he brought up the life of William Wilberforce.   Eric has written a book about Wilberforce and said, “One of my heroes, the great William Wilberforce, accomplished more thoughtful action than most, as the key figure in abolishing the British slave trade.  But Wilberforce was also a man of prayer, prayer that fueled his faith in Jesus and compelled him to act for the good of his fellow man.  It was Wilberforce who said, “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”’

The Apostle Paul was a man of prayer and we should take his encouragement to heart in Ephesians 6 and always pray for those in need.  We should never be ashamed to offer up our thoughts and prayers in any situation.  Perhaps Adoniram Gordon said it best, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” 

Make it Personal:  Who do you need to pray for today?  What do you need to pray about?  Whatever your answer is to those questions, the action must begin with prayer.  When you pray you cannot help but think about those you are praying for or the situations in life you are praying about.  It does make a difference!

Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.

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