Midweek Reflections

The Little Things

Read: Colossians 3:18-25

Some years ago when the space shuttle Discovery was getting ready to head into space the mission had to be aborted and grounded. It wasn’t technical difficulties or lack of government funding, but woodpeckers that caused the delay. Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam on the shuttle’s external fuel tank irresistible material for pecking.

The foam was critical to the shuttle’s performance. Without it, ice would form on the tank when it was filled with supercold fuel, ice that could then break free during liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft. The shuttle was grounded until the damage was repaired.

Marriages and other relationships are frequently damaged not only by big things like infidelity , abuse, or abandonment; but by little things as well like criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for granted. Those things can peck away at the relationship and keep us from loving, supporting, and caring for each other in a way that is healthy and encouraged in this passage from Colossians 3.

Wives, husbands, and children are all encouraged to love, submit, obey, and serve each other in ways that are not domineering or self-serving. Looking out for the best of the other person is always a way to foster the love of Jesus in our families instead of picking and pecking away at all of the little things that really don’t matter in the big picture.

To produce a healthy Christ-like environment in our families, marriages, and other relationships we would do well to stop and think about how we are relating to each other. Is it uplifting and encouraging or is it always deflating and discouraging? Our words and our attitudes can be very huge things sometimes even though we treat them as the little things.

Make it personal: Think about ways that you have been affecting your family or marriage with words and attitudes that are not helpful. Try to catch yourself in the midst of those and change them for the better. In the end you will be amazed at how it changes the atmosphere of your home and your relationships.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Truth in Love

Read: Ephesians 4:7-16

During my devotions this week I read this from Ruth Smith Meyer and it reminded me of something that happened when I was a very young boy. She wrote, “When necessary, a sterile needle wielded to remove the sliver in someone’s hand can be painful, even though the healer’s heart is full of love. But with the sliver gone, the ointment applied, and the would lovingly bandaged, there are two grateful hearts.”

Many years ago my family was visiting my aunt and uncle’s house in Iowa when I got a very deep splinter in my hand. As a young boy this was my first experience with the pain and terror of having to have a splinter pricked from my hand. It was so traumatic I still remember it very vividly even today, some 40 years later. If I remember correctly I was screaming and crying as my mom tried to remove that piece of wood from my finger.

As an adult looking back I am sure that it was just as painful for my mom to have to do that chore while her son was screaming and crying. However, in the end she knew it was the best thing for me. If the splinter were to remain it could cause infection and many other ongoing consequences that might be even worse than the pricking of the needle. She knew that, so in love she endured my kicking and screaming because she knew what was best.

In many ways this story plays out throughout life. Sometimes the things we need to hear are not what we really want to hear. I’m sure my mom told me that it was best to get that splinter out right then and there, but that is not what I wanted to hear, I was focused on the now instead of the then. It is true in our Christian lives as well. Sometimes we need a brother or sister in Christ to speak the truth to us in love.

Too often in our world people choose to speak the truth in other ways that are not helpful. Hate should have no place in the life of a believer even when we disagree on things. The flip-side of that is that too often people do not want to hear the truth even when it is spoken in loving and corrective ways. In Ephesians 4 Paul says that truth spoken in love can help us to grow and mature in our faith in Christ.

Make it personal: The next time someone tries to give you advice or points out something in your life pause and ask, “Is this person trying to speak the truth to me because they love and care about me?” If we approach each other in that manner we will be able to grow and become better instead of becoming instantly offended. If you have to speak the truth to someone do it without pointing a finger and accusing them, do it in love. It’s not easy for sure, but it is a part of being there for each other and being accountable.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



God Pleasers

Read: Galatians 1:6-10

Do you find yourself trying to please people too often? I think this is a common tendency, we want to be nice, friendly, and relational with people, and we should be. But sometimes that tendency leads us down the path of pleasing people when it may not coincide with our call to please God.

Perhaps this story that is told is a good example of that….. One time a large company was looking for a new marketing director. After much advertising and many application, three candidates entered the final selection process. The first to be invited in for the final interview was asked a simple question: What is 2+2. The person was surprised, thought about it for a bit, wondered if it might be a trick question and then simply answered 4. The managing director looked at the Board, shook his head and thanked him for coming, but he wasn’t the candidate they were looking for.

The next person came in and and the managing director asked him the simple question as well: What is 2+2. He paused, thought about it for a bit and then replied that statistically it was a number between 3 and 5. The managing director smiled and those on the board were quite impressed. The candidate was thanked and ushered out.

The last candidate was then invited in to the interview and the managing director asked him too the simple question: What is 2+2. Without batting an eyelid he replied: “What do you want it to be”. Without hesitation he was promptly hired on the spot.

Too often that is how people respond to things when they try to be people pleasers. “Whatever you want is fine, as long as it makes you happy.” Sometimes there is nothing wrong with that phrase, but when it leads us away from pleasing God it becomes a spiritual roadblock in our lives. Sometimes doing whatever we want is not what God would want for us or desire for us.

In the book of Galatians Paul was writing to several churches that were started during his first missionary journey to southern Galatia. The people were being deceived by a counterfeit gospel or a false message that was being spread. He said, “Really, it is no gospel at all.” Paul encourages them to not abandon the true message of Christ for the false teachings of those who were leading them away from what truly pleases God.

Our culture today is no different than southern Galatia in A.D. 50 when Paul wrote this letter. The temptation to follow after people pleasing things instead of God pleasing things remains today. We must stay grounded in God’s Word and pray for the discernment of the Holy Spirit to help us remain obedient to God. Isaiah and Peter would agree when they say, “For all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25)

Make it personal: Think about the people pleasing actions and attitudes that you have been tempted to give into. If they allow you to continue pleasing God then by all means be a people pleaser. However, if they keep you from pleasing God and following his will for your life as laid out in God’s Word, then think twice about being a people pleaser. As Christians our first allegiance is to the Lord.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Nomophobia

Read: Isaiah 41

If your not aware of what Nomophobia is then the title of today’s meditation probably caught your attention. I was not aware of it until I read an article in the Champaign News-Gazette newspaper last week. Nomophobia is the fear of being without your smartphone, that is if you have one. It was confirmation that we as humans have become way to reliant on those little machines of technological genius.

I use my smartphone a lot and I love the many ways it allows me to stay in touch with people and keep up on things such as my schedule, emails, breaking news, sports scores, etc. (the list could be endless because the new Samsung Galaxy S5 can now even tell you your current heart rate) But to have fear of it not being by my side at all times seems a bit compulsive.

This meditation however is not about smartphones, it is about the ways that we too often allow fear to rule our days and how our dependence on worldly things can sometimes take us away from focusing on the things that are truly important. Simon Hill in an Android Authority article said, “The Morningside Recovery Center in California is a drug and alcohol recovery facility, but it has added nomophobia to its list of conditions treated. It is placing mobile phone addiction on a par with alcohol and drug addiction in terms of the powerful dependence people can build up and the fact that they may need help to overcome it.”

In Isaiah 41 we read of God’s presence with us and his protection over his people. It provides us with great counsel about why those who follow God and believe in Christ have no need to worry, fear, or even become obsessed over things of this world. Verse 10 says, “So do not fear, I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There are many phobias out there, apparently we have added yet another one with our smartphones. The reminder of Isaiah 41 is that the Lord can help us to overcome any kind of worldly fear or addiction if we turn to him and rely on his peace and his contentment to reign in our hearts and in our lives. We are surrounded by much of the bad news that goes on in our world and our smartphones often makes that news even more accessible.

Make it Personal: We can allow that news or other things in our life to promote fear or we can trust in the Lord and place those things in his hands. Nomophobia may be the newest defined fear we have, but we must remember the oldest and most faithful promise that God’s Word continuously reminds us of, “Do not fear, I am with you!” Let’s become obsessed with Christ and his benefits, not our technology or the fear of being without it!

Blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Honestly

Read: Matthew 5:33-37

A recent Bloomberg Business Week article shared a Cornell University professor’s survey of 30 undergraduates and their communications with others. He found that lies were told in 37% of their phone calls, 25% of face to face conversations, and only 14% of emails. He went on to share the reason for this by saying that it is because emails leave a permanent trail and the other forms of communication do not.

Honestly!!!! In other words, students were afraid of being found out about their lies. I would assume this study would translate into our broader culture with close to the same percentages, which means one thing, people are much more willing to be dishonest or to lie if they know that it won’t come back to bite them in the future.

In Matthew 5 Jesus says that we are to be so honest that we shouldn’t even have to swear to someone that we are being truthful. In other words, our lives are to be a testimony of honesty so that others do not doubt for even one minute whether we are telling them the truth or not. And when we think that we are the only one that knows about a lie that we have told we are forgetting about the “all knowing” power of God.

This coming weekend is the U.S Open Golf Championship. Earlier this week I read an article on GolfChannel.com that shows how much dishonesty and truthfulness can affect the rest of our comings and goings. Here is what the article said….

“Five days after earning a spot in the U.S. Open, Jason Millard disqualified himself after he admitted to grounding his club in a bunker during a sectional qualifier.

Millard carded rounds of 68-68 Monday at Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tenn., and qualified by a shot. Saturday he admitted that on the 27th hole of his 36-hole qualifier he grounded his club in a greenside bunker on the 18th hole of Colonial’s North Course.

“I’m pretty sure I grounded my club in the bunker,” Millard told the USGA. “I didn’t see anything for sure, but I felt something and I saw a small indentation. It happened so fast, I really don’t know 100 percent but deep down, I believe I did.

“I couldn’t find peace about it. For five days, I practiced and I couldn’t get it off my mind.”

You see, Millard was the only person who knew that he violated this rule, but he could not find peace until he came forward and told the truth about it. He won’t be playing at the U.S. Open this weekend but his example is a great reminder for all of us about how honesty can truly bring us peace in life.

Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Be sure of yourself, be honest and truthful, and live your life with those character traits being evident to all those around you. When people describe us may they say, “She is a woman of her word” or “He is a man of his word.”

Make it personal: As you go about this week think about the temptations that come from Satan about lying. When you sense them coming, ask Jesus to help you be honest even if you and Jesus are the only ones that know about it. In the long run this will allow you live a much more peaceful life.

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



Let Go

Psalm 23

This Psalm is one of the most favorite scriptures in our Bibles. When we go through valleys and situations in our life it is a comfort for us to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. That he is there for us, cares for us, and will lead us through whatever we are going through.

Two years ago when I was in Israel I was reminded of this Psalm as we drove by many shepherds in the fields. Yes, this image still holds true today in the Israel. Young boys were out watching over the herd and staying close to them as they traveled across the countryside. It might not be as prominent today as it was in the time of David but it is still a part of many families daily lifestyle.

One thing that strikes us about the sheep is how they must trust the shepherd. If they go off on their own they lose the care and protection the shepherd provides. Sometimes we do that in life and it takes a certain circumstance to make us realize that we have taken over control of things instead of following Christ’s leading.

A story is told about a college student who once took some post cards and wrote letters on each card to spell out the phrase “L-E-T G-O-D” He put them up on his wall where he could see them each day. As his life went on he began to live life by his own preferences without giving God or his faith in Christ a second thought. He made decisions by holding on to his own ideas instead of praying about them and letting the Lord lead him.

One day as he went into his room he noticed that a breeze from his open window had blown one of the letters off of the wall. Interestingly enough it was the letter D. His cards now read “L-E-T G-O.” It was a quick reminder to him that he was the one in control and he was not allowing God to be the true shepherd of his life. He took this as a message that he was to let go of some things and allow God to carry out His will in his life.

The same can be true for us. We often like to be in control of things. It takes faith to let things go and trust that Jesus Christ, the good shepherd will lead us. Verse 1 of this Psalm says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” Perhaps we need to put an “if” at the beginning of that verse to make us realize that we need to allow the Lord to be our shepherd instead of being our own. Things definitely will work out better that way.

Make it personal: Name a couple things in your life that you have been obsessed over. Are you trying to control those things? Have you given Jesus the opportunity to control them for you? He will guide you along the right paths for his name’s sake….. if you let him.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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