Midweek Reflections

Love, Peace, and the Baseball Playoffs

Read: Romans 12:3-16

This past week in Central Illinois has been filled with fun banter between the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.  For the first time in history they have played each other in a Major League Baseball playoff series. By the way, in case you have not heard, the Cubs won the series last night.

This series has tested devoted fans of each team as they tried to balance between cheering on their teams and yet remaining respectful and on good terms with their friends and neighbors who hold different loyalties. 

This week was a reminder of how different people with different upbringings (and teams) could still call each other brothers and sisters in Christ.  We may cheer for different baseball teams (among other things) but we still work together in the church to foster Christ’s Kingdom here on this earth.

In Romans 12 Paul reminds the church in Rome that they all have different gifts that can be used by God to further the Good News of Christ in this world.  He goes on to encourage them to love each other, honor each other, and bless each other as they work together in the body of Christ. 

This reminded me of the story about the tool conference that took place in the Carpenters workshop.  Brother Hammer presided.  Several suggested he leave the meeting because he was too noisy.  Mr. Hammer replied and said, “If I have to leave then Brother Screw must go also.  You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.”

Brother Screw then spoke up, “If you wish, I’ll leave.  But Sister Plane must leave too.  All her work is on the surface.  Her efforts have no depth.”  To this Sister Plane responded, “Brother Ruler will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.”

Brother Ruler then complained against Sister Sandpaper, “You ought to leave too because you’re so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way.”  In the midst of all the discussion, in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth.  He had arrived to start His day’s work.  Putting on his apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the Gospel.

He employed the hammer, screw, plane, ruler, sandpaper, and all the other tools.  After the days work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked, “Friends, I observe that all of us are workers with the Lord!”

As the series between the Cards and Cubs comes to an end, I would like to remind all fans (even White Sox fans and all others) that we are all workers together with the Lord.  We may cheer for different teams but we follow the same Lord.  We may enjoy friendly banter but let’s keep it friendly and in the spirit of love, peace, and good sportsmanship. 

In verses 5 and 16 of Romans 12 Paul writes, “So in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others…. Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud…. do not be conceited.”  May this hold true in all areas of our lives, especially in the church!

Make it personal:  Whether it’s baseball or other things I hope that we can find ways to be the church in the midst of our differences.  No two people will ever agree on all things but lets take the words of Paul in Romans 12 to heart and be the church that God has called us to be.  Think about how you can foster that in your own life this week.

Do You Know Joseph?

Read: Genesis 37-50

One of my favorite stories in the whole Bible is the story of Joseph! This Sunday I am going to begin a four week message series at Arthur Mennonite Church focused on his life and the many lessons we can learn from his life example and experiences. That got me to thinking… how well do most people know the story of Joseph? Here is a short quiz of ten questions to test yourself.

1. Who was Joseph’s mother?
2. What was Joseph’s dream about?
3. What did Joseph’s brothers do to him?
4. When Joseph was a slave in Egypt what was his position?
5. Who was Joseph in prison with?
6. How did Joseph make sure Egypt had enough food during the famine?
7. Which brother did Joseph want brought to Egypt?
8. What was planted in the youngest brothers sack?
9. What area did Joseph’s family end up living in Egypt?
10. What is the one lesson that sticks out to you from the life of Joseph?

I encourage you to come to church the next four Sunday’s to learn the answers to these questions and how this story can be applied to your life today. There are many things in life that hold us back, keep us down, or tempt us to go off the path that God has planned for us.

Joseph’s example is that we embrace the positive, forgive the negative, and look forward to what God has for us tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and beyond. I recently heard a quote that said, “Broken things can become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” I think that sums up this story and this man in the Bible very well. May God do the same in our lives!

In Philippians 2:14-15 it says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” This describes well how Joseph was used by God to save his people, noticed by Pharaoh, and reconciled to his family. I hope that we too can shine bright for Jesus Christ in a broken and troubled world.

Make it personal: I did not offer the answers to the ten questions above on purpose. I hope that you will read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 and come to worship the next four Sunday’s at Arthur Mennonite. After that you should not only know the answers to the questions but know how they apply to your life situations today. May God show us the way through his servant Joseph!

Blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

This I Know

Read: John 20:24-29;  1 John 4:13-16

The other day my wife and I were discussing bluetooth technology.  I proclaimed that I knew how it works because I could turn it on with one device and immediately it would connect with the other.  She wanted a more detailed explanation.  She said, “No, I really want you to explain in detail how that works.  How is that possible?”

I will be the first to admit that there are many things I do not know.  If I started to list all of them this short meditation would end up being longer than anyone would ever want to read.  I don’t know everything about creation, about this world, about how everything works, about who will win the World Series this year (hopefully the Cardinals), or who will be the next U.S President.  

In fact, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about God or the Christian faith.  In a recent small group conversation we discussed the importance of being able to say “I don’t know” sometimes when we really don’t know.  Honesty is more respectable than trying to act like we know the answers to everything.  We need to remember that as we share our faith with others.

There are some things that only God knows and God intends for it to be that way for our own good.  However, there are things revealed to us that help us to understand the incredible love and grace that God has shown to us through his Son Jesus Christ.  Doubting Thomas in John 20 had his doubt of Christ’s resurrection changed to “My Lord and my God!” when he saw the crucifixion wounds of Jesus for himself.  Right after that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The day after my wife and I had the conversation about bluetooth technology I heard a song by Christian artist David Crowder that proclaimed over and over “This I Know!”  I thought to myself. “There are a lot of things in life I don’t know (including how bluetooth works) but some of the fundamental and most important things I definitely do know.”

In the book of 1st John there are quite a few verses that begin with the words, “This is how we know….”  As believers we know that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for our sins; we know he rose from the grave to defeat death; we know he lives in our lives today with power and truth; we know that he has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, empower us, and give us strength to face everything that this life brings.  

This we know…. because we are witnesses and have experienced the difference that Jesus makes in our day to day lives.  Let’s share that with a world that so desperately needs to hear it!

Make it personal:  Life can filled with so much doubt.  Life can be filled with so many questions.  Try to move past the things that you don’t know and can’t explain and embrace the truth that can truly set you free.  God loved you so much that he sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to bring you salvation from all the other things that bother you in this life.  Leave those other things behind and embrace Jesus as your Lord and Savior each and every day.  This I know…. you will be glad that you did!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

International Peace

Read: Scriptures included below

This past Monday was designated as International Peace Day.  It seems like the phrase “International Peace” is an oxymoron.  I say that because in the history of the world there have been very few times if any where we have truly had international peace.  But this does not keep us from praying, hoping, working, and striving for peace in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our relationships, in our families, and in our personal lives.  After all, this is what Jesus lived, taught, and provides for everyone who will listen and receive his salvation.

This week I wanted to provide some scriptures and quotes that can help you be reminded of the importance of peace.  May God help us to live with peace in our lives and in peace with others.

Matthew 5:9    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 11:28-30    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 14:27    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33   I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 20:19    On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,  “Peace be with you.”

“We who were formerly no people at all, and who knew of no peace, are now called to be…a church…of peace. True Christians do not know vengeance. They are the children of peace. Their hearts overflow with peace. Their mouths speak peace, and they walk in the way of peace.”
 – Menno Simons

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace”  – Nelson Mandela

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”   –  C.S. Lewis

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal”  – Martin Luther King Jr

Make it personal:  Find ways to foster peace in your life.  Start with Jesus and then apply his peace to each and every part of your life.  Jesus can give us personal peace, peace about what is going on with family and friends, and peace with things that are going on around the world.  When you have the opportunity to promote and live out the peace of Christ, take that opportunity and make a difference in our world.

Peace to all,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Menno Simons Quote

True Freedom

Read: Romans 6

There has been a lot of talk recently about freedoms, or lack of them.  From religious freedom, to freedom of expression, to thousands of people fleeing their homeland in search of it; freedom is something most everyone values as a great treasure to have.  But in Romans 6 the apostle Paul reminds us of a freedom that is greater and more valuable than any.  Freedom from sin’s grasp.

Throughout the history of the world freedom’s have come and gone as countries and leaders have come and gone.  Some have upheld the banner of freedom while others have destroyed it.  But despite our situation, country, or manner of worldly leadership there is one freedom that no human person or leader can take away from us.  The freedom we (you) have through Jesus Christ.

Sin and disobedience toward God has the power to defeat us, conquer us, and destroy us.  But God sent his only son Jesus to free us from those end results.  True freedom from our sin comes when we repent of our wrongs to Christ and ask him to forgive us.  His grace is then what covers us and washes away the sins and mistakes of our past.  This brings us true freedom even when earthly powers try to take it away from us.  In verse 14 Paul says, “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Freedom and justice in this world are definitely important and Christians should work to encourage citizens, leaders, and ourselves to help promote them.  But as we do that let’s not forget the one true freedom that rings louder than any.  Freedom in Christ is the message we need to proclaim the loudest.  This is the freedom that saves us, delivers us, and prepares us for our eternal home in heaven.  And “Us” includes anyone you cross paths with this week.

Make it personal:  As you hear talk of freedom (or lack of it) in the news be sure to remind yourself of the freedom you have in your Savior Jesus Christ.  No one can take that away from you and it will stand through all of eternity.  If you have any sin in your life right now that needs repented of take time to talk to Jesus.  You will come under his grace and be washed clean by the blood that he shed for you on the cross of Calvary.  Praise the Lord!

Live in the Freedom of Jesus this week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

To God be the Glory

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:7-34

Our church at Arthur Mennonite is preparing to celebrate our 75th anniversary this coming Sunday. It will be a day filled with memories, stories, and many other things that give cause for celebration and praise. As we have been busy preparing for that at the church recently one phrase from a song continues to keep going through my mind. It even has caused me to sing the phrase over and over out loud recently. The phrase? “To God be the Glory.”

In 1 Chronicles 16 David and the Israelites celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David prepares the people to blow trumpets, sing songs, and sound the cymbals. However, if you read verses 8-34 you will notice a repeating theme. Glory and praise are offered to God. It is only through God that these things were made possible. It is only through his faithfulness that the people have cause to celebrate.

As our church prepares to celebrate that same faithfulness this Sunday verses 28-30 seem to be a great proclamation for us to make. They read, “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”

Yes, let’s celebrate. But let’s remember who we celebrate. God is so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways. He has saved us through his Son Jesus Christ and he is with us through the journeys and experiences of this life. To God be the Glory!

Make it personal: Whatever you celebrate, make sure God is given the glory for bringing you to that moment of celebration. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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