Midweek Reflections

Served, not Ruled

Read: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

“I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.” This was a statement made by Pope Francis recently to business and political leaders that were gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The statement was a plea for leaders to care for the poor but it also was a statement that speaks volumes to all of us about how we approach wealth, money, and the blessings the God has bestowed upon us.

Wealth and money only become gods to us when we allow our lives to be ruled by them. In other words, if our focus is all about the accumulation of things, we soon lose sight of why God may have blessed us with those things in the first place. Paul reminds us of that in 2 Corinthians 9.

He writes that each of us should give and share of those things not reluctantly or under compulsion, but with a cheerful heart and attitude. (v.7) He then quotes a verse from Psalm 112:9 that says, “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Beryl Jantzi, the Everence Director of Stewardship Education recently wrote some great thoughts about this. He wrote about a verse in Exodus 34:20b that says, “No one shall appear before me empty-handed.” He went on to say…

“Moses was clear in his expectation regarding giving. Generosity was considered an expression of worship to God and a way of reaching out to meet the needs of the community. Rules about giving, whether it was for religious sacrifice or for building materials needed for the tabernacle, were specific and clear. In Exodus 36, we read:

“Every skillful one to whom the Lord has given a skill and understanding to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 36:1

Whether it was giving gold or other precious stones or special skills of construction or weaving or artistry – you were expected to offer your first and your best to God. Here’s how the people responded to the challenge placed before them.

“The people are bringing much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do. So Moses gave the command and word was proclaimed throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing; for what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:5-7

Jantzi goes on to ask… “Can you imagine such a problem happening today?”

It got me to thinking, what if churches and organizations like MCC and World Vision had to say, “Stop giving, your giving is more than what is needed.” It seems like an impossibility and yet most likely it is not. It goes back to people, especially Christians, viewing and giving their money and wealth as a way to serve humanity instead of letting it rule our lives.

Byler concludes by writing, “There’s something about modeling generosity as a delight rather than a duty that can bring the spirit of Exodus 36 back among the people of God. Generosity is a spiritual discipline that can be expressed as an act of worship to God, as well as mutual aid to others. If this idea would grab hold, maybe one day we could say, like Moses, “Enough already! Your generosity has exceeded our needs!!” Might it be so.”

Make it personal: Consider your own attitude toward money, possessions, and wealth. What changes might God want to make in that attitude. Then think about the use of your own money. Do you give out of reluctance or under compulsion, or do you give out of the cheerful attitude that God desires? A good question for all of us to consider.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Super Bowl: “Jesus is Better!”

Read: Romans 10:8-13

Because this is the week of the Super Bowl there has been a lot of talk and interviews leading up to the big game. One particular interview seemed to get a lot negative attention after the last game that was played, but most of them this week have been far less controversial.

I was especially interested by an interview that pastor Mark Driscoll (from Seattle) did with some of the Seattle Seahawks players that are strong Christians. Their main message was, “The Super Bowl is great, but knowing Jesus is much better.” Here is a youtube link to a short 3:00 minute clip of that interview.

Since my days of growing up in New Mexico I have always been a Denver Broncos fan. So, I will be cheering for the Broncos when it comes to the game on Sunday. But I definitely support the Christian witness of all those on the field. Here is another short youtube link to a clip about Peyton Manning’s Christian faith. This was from his days with the Colts.

In Romans 10 Paul talks about declaring with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord!” These men are not only doing that, they are saying that Jesus is even more important to them than playing in the Super Bowl or anything else in life.

That only makes sense. For Romans 10:11 says that believers will never be put to shame. In verse 13 it says that believers who call on the name of the Lord will always be saved. That is a promise that is near and dear to every Christian.

I am thankful this week for Christians who are on the “Big Stage” of the world and yet are still persistent in living out their faith and testimony for Jesus. It’s a reminder for us to do the same on whatever stage God has given to us. Does our life speak the message “Jesus is Better!”?

Enjoy the big game this Sunday with family and friends and remember the testimony of both quarterbacks in the game. They believe in Jesus and follow Christ just like you and I. I support Russell Wilson 100%, but Go Peyton and Go Broncos!

Make it personal: As you watch the game this Sunday share the testimony of these players with those you are watching with. If you are not going to watch the game, share your own testimony with someone at your work or school this week. Remember, Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer us!

Have a Super week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

A Permanent Attitude

Read: Matthew 18:21-35

This week our nation is celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and his unwavering dream that some day all people would be free from racism and ready to embrace forgiveness. I tweeted out one of my favorite MLK quotes on Monday that says, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”

Our brother Martin Luther King Jr. stood for so much. It is hard to put just one title or label on what he did and what he stood for. Most importantly he encouraged people to walk in the shoes of someone else and ask, “How does it feel?”

In Matthew 18 Jesus gives us a perfect example of that in his parable about the unmerciful servant. He is forgiven of all his great debts by the master, and then he still goes out and demands someone to pay him back for a debt that was much less than what his master had forgiven him for.

It doesn’t seem right to anyone who reads the story and yet I wonder how many times in our world that same situation plays itself out. We often desire to be forgiven, but we are much less willing to forgive ourselves. MLK encouraged us to make forgiveness a lifestyle, and do what Jesus told us to do by forgiving not only seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Pastor Brent Eelman once shared about a story from Philip Yancy’s book entitled “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” “Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, and yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ. He lived a libertine life that most of us would call “dissolute”… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression.

A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The father, in a moment of remorse, takes out this ad in El Libro, a newspaper. “Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday… All is forgiven… Papa.”

When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeting his son, he found eight hundred Paco’s waiting to be reunited with their father. Was Paco such a popular name? Or is a father’s forgiveness the salve for every soul?”

The ability to forgive someone is not only salve for the relationship between a father and son, it can heal and restore any relationship. As Jesus encourages in this passage from Matthew 18 lets make it a lifestyle, lets make it a permanent attitude, lets make it make a difference in our lives and in those we need to forgive. The results will never disappoint when we choose to live a life of forgiveness.

Make it personal: Think about who you may be holding back forgiveness from today. Pray about it and ask the Lord to reveal to you what needs to happen to heal that wound and bring forth restoration.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes

Raising Children

Read: Proverbs 4

One the highest callings and responsibilities in the life of a parent is the raising up of our children. Yes, we want to teach them right from wrong and how to make difficult decisions; but teaching them the truth about God and about his Son Jesus Christ should be at the top of our list as well.

At each stage of parenting you can talk to parents who will tell you that each of those stages has had their own unique and different challenges. Diapers are hard, but so is deciding on college and how to pay for it. As parents we need to embrace each of these stages by wearing our faith in Jesus on our sleeves.

In other words, we need to engage our children in talk about Christ and why our faith is important to us. We need to take them to church where they can hear and learn more about Christ and get to know other Christ followers as mentors.

I once read a story about a pastor who engaged a young boy as he was eating his lunch on a park bench. He was around 8 years old. They entered into a friendly conversation and the boy soon learned that he was a pastor who preached each Sunday.

The boy said, “what does it mean to preach?” The pastor told him that it means to tell people about Jesus. About that time the boy put his hand over his mouth and said, “mister, don’t you know?” “Know what,” the pastor said. “That’s a cuss word.” It then dawned on the pastor that the only time this boy had heard the name of Jesus in his home was when his parents had used it as a profanity.”

In Proverbs 4 we read about instructions to a son. But those instructions can be just as important for parents to read. Are we “instructing our children in the way of wisdom” as verse 11 says? Are we teaching our children about the paths that are dangerous to walk down? (v.14) Do we talk with our children about guarding their heart and keeping their mouths from perverse talk? (v.23-24)

From research and study it is obvious that much of this is formed in the first six years of a child’s life. Those years are very important in instilling these life lessons and values from scripture. But there is still much work to do once our children enter into adolescence. The conversation must continue in order to help them grasp the important lessons of life and faith.

These things are not always easy as parents but they are crucial. My prayer is that we would look to Christ to help us teach, lead, and direct our children in the ways of Scripture. In the ways of Christ; and that when they grow up they will not depart from them. (Proverbs 22:6)

Make it personal: Prayer is of utmost importance when we talk about our children. Make it a priority to not only teach your children the ways of Christ but to lift them up to Christ daily in prayer. Ask for his protection, guidance, direction, for them and for you also as a parent. May the Lord be with you!

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling, Worship, and Community Life at Arthur Mennonite Church

Welcome to the New Year!

Read: Revelation 21:1-8

The past year has held many memories. Some of them very good, some of them difficult, and others that were very hard. I would imagine that all of us could think of things that happened to fit each of those categories.

As the New Year came in we celebrated with family and friends. Some shot off fireworks, others watched bowl games, and some made resolutions to start the New Year. And some were glad that 2013 was behind them. For some people this has been a very difficult year!

That is why we welcome in a New Year with the hope and expectations of a new beginning. Not that we forget what is past but we look ahead to the new beginning that God will give us in 2014. In Revelation 21:5 it says, “See, I am making all things new.”

Just like Christ takes the repentant sinner and makes their life new by his grace and forgiveness, a New Year provides a fresh start for us. Let’s take that fresh start and make it multiply day after day.

Let’s start by asking the question, In what way can I grow spiritually in 2014? By naming that we can be more intentional about growing in that specific area. Many people start diets, new habits, etc. in January; for the Christian we should think about ways that we can grow closer to Christ in the days ahead.

Hymnist Frances Ridley Havergal once wrote a poem during New Years to send to her friends. She wrote it on a greeting card to send to them and it has since become very well known. It goes like this….

Another year is dawning:
Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

I hope your New Year is filled with all those things! Most of all I pray that we may feel the Lord’s presence with us at all times through his Holy Spirit. Whether it be good, bad, or difficult in the year ahead, may we turn to Christ to help us and see us through. You may look back on 2014 in December and say, “That was the best year of my life!” I hope so!

Make it personal: After you name the ways that you would like to grow spiritually in 2014, write them down and keep them in your Bible or somewhere close so that it can be a reminder. Through prayer and being intentional the Lord will help us accomplish that growth!

Happy New Year,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling, Worship, and Community Life

The 12 Days of Christmas


Read: Luke 2

One of the best known songs of this Christmas season is the
song entitled “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I ran across an
interesting story recently about that song and thought it
would be a good story to share right before Christmas. The
story goes like this…

Many historians believe the well-known song, The Twelve Days
of Christmas, is actually a Christian hymn in disguise. During
the reign of England’s Queen Elizabeth I, a staunch
protestant, English Catholics were oppressed and persecuted.
Priests met secretly with small groups of Catholics, risking
their lives to conduct worship and observe mass.

Under such circumstances, it was difficult to train or teach
Catholic children. But an unknown, clever priest found a
unique way of teaching the Gospel to children,
using the theme of the twelve days between Christmas and
Epiphany, when the Wise Men, according to tradition, arrived
with their gifts for the Christ child.

The priest hid biblical truth in the symbols he used in his
carol, beginning with the words “On the first day of Christmas
my true love gave to me…” The “True Love” referred to God
the Father, and the “Me” represents the Christian who receives
the gifts. The “Partridge in the Pear tree” is Jesus. Why a
partridge? Mother partridges are known for feigning injury to
decoy predators from their babies. The children were thereby
taught about Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

The two turtle doves represented the Old and New Testaments.
The three French hens symbolized faith, hope, and love – the
three great virtues we should display as we come to know
Christ as Lord and read the Old and New Testaments.

The other symbols:

• Four calling birds – the four Gospels

• Five golden rings – the first five books of the Bible, the

• Six geese a laying – the six days of creation

• Seven swans a swimming – the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

• Eight maids a milking – the eight Beatitudes of Matthew 5

• Nine ladies dancing – nine choirs of angels

• Ten lords a leaping – the Ten Commandments

• Eleven pipers piping – the eleven faithful apostles

• Twelve drummers drumming – the twelve articles of the
Apostles’ Creed’

We can be thankful today that we are not forced to hide the
Gospel message in such a way, but this story does show the
creativity that one can develop when limitations are put on
someone’s faith. If you never had heard this story before
perhaps this will bring a new appreciation to the songs
history and meaning for you.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a
very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings and
possibilities. Christmas reminds us that God is with us in
every aspect of life. He will never leave you or forsake you
if you make Jesus the Lord of your life.

Make it personal: Have a little fun with that song above.
Can you come up with some other meanings that could lead
people to the Biblical story like the priest above did? Share
this story with your children and grand children and see if
they can help you.

Due to Christmas and New Years being on Wednesday’s the next 

two weeks the Mid-week meditation is going to take a two week break and return on January 8.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

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