Midweek Reflections

“Hold on Tight”

Read: John 16:16-33

A couple weeks ago we were getting ready for a garage sale at our house when I ran across an old CD that I used to listen to all the time. That’s one good thing about garage sales, you end up finding some old treasures of your own. This CD was Rich Mullins album “Never Picture Perfect.”

Rich was a very talented Christian musician before his life tragically ended in an automobile accident in 1997. He and a friend were headed to a Mennonite college (Tabor) in Kansas for a benefit concert when their Jeep left the road on I-39 just south of Bloomington, Illinois and flipped several times. Rich was killed but his friend Mitch survived.

Rich Mullins is probably best known for the popular worship songs “Awesome God” and “Sometimes by Step,” but he had many other songs with lyrics that spoke openly and passionately about his Christian faith and our relationship with Jesus. One of those was “Bound to come some trouble” from this album.

The song is based on John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” Here is a link to youtube if you would like to listen to this powerful song.

Life is filled with troubles just like Jesus said. Sometimes it is a tragedy, sometimes it is a disease, sometimes it is a difficult relationship, sometimes it can be a financial problem, and sometimes it can be all the above and more. As Christians we need to realize that Jesus promises to stand with us through those times of pain and heartache.

One line in this song says, “I know there’s bound to come some trouble to your life, But reach out to Jesus, hold on tight, He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like,
You’ll find He’s there.” It’s great to have family and friends stand by us in those difficult times, but nothing compares to the presence of Jesus who knows exactly what we are feeling and what we are dealing with.

As this song says, often people will give us maybes. Maybe it will end tomorrow, or maybe things will get better. But when those maybes aren’t enough and you need something more to hold on to, Jesus says “Hold on tight to me, I have overcome the world!” That’s a promise we need to claim, in the good times, and the very difficult ones as well.

Make it personal: I hope you will take 3 minutes of your day to click on the link above and listen to this song. It is powerful, it is true, and it may just be what you need today. Take Heart! Your Jesus will help you be an overcomer!

Peace and Blessings,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



“Not in Vain”

Read: Exodus 20:7 and James 1:19-26

Yesterday as I was reading the newspaper an interesting article jumped out at me. The headline read “Massachusetts town votes to punish use of profanity.” I guess the town of Middleborough, Mass. decided to put a penalty on foul-mouthed swearing in public.

Each time the police hear someone using obscene and profane language in public they will be issued a ticket for $20. Downtown store owners are happy about it, but some people are questioning whether this violates first amendment rights.

Laws aside, I think many would agree that obscene and profane language is not good. It does nothing to make the people speaking those words or hearing those words feel better about themselves or the other person. And yet it is shocking how often we hear them in the course of everyday life.

It is especially heartbreaking when we hear the Lord’s name used in a profane manner. One of the Ten Commandments specifically says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” In the King James Version most people know it to say, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

In James 1 the Bible is very clear that our tongue is a powerful force. In verse 26 James says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” After all, why would we want to curse the God who made us in his image and created all that is?

Some people think it is “cool” to cuss, maybe because that’s what they do in the movies. When they cuss around their friends for some reason it makes them feel like one of the crowd. But actually they are damaging their witness, and as I said above, nobody actually feels good when profane language is uttered.

I’m not sure how I feel about a law for cursing, but I know how God feels about it, and as a Christian and follower of Jesus, that’s all I need to know. Christian’s, let’s keep our language pure, holy, and acceptable to God… even when we’re angry or things aren’t going our way.

Make it personal: If you have had trouble keeping a tight reign on your tongue (profanity, gossip, etc.), ask a friend to hold you accountable. If they hear those words coming out, they should remind you about God’s desire for your speech. Changing bad habits is sometimes a process, but if you don’t start, the process will not start either.

Blessings in your Speech,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



“God is Like…”

This Weeks Meditation: “God is like…”
Read: Mark 4:35-41

This week my wife Rhonda and I have been leading the Junior High Bible School group on various adventures around the Arthur area. These adventures always have to do with our scripture lesson for the day. We were pleasantly surprised that the 15 passenger church van was not large enough to haul all the kids, so we had to incorportate a few extra vehicles for transportation.

We are talking each day about different “Pictures of God.” One day we talked about how God is a servant (we went to the Arthur Home to serve) and we see that in the life of Jesus his Son. One day we talked about how God is our guide (we went to Brad O Clen campsite and walked the trails) and can lead us down the right paths.

The first day we looked at this passage from Mark 4 where Jesus calms the storm. That day we talked about the many instances in the Bible where water is present. Jesus calmed the storm, he called his disciples to be fishers of people, he walked on the water, and the kids mentioned many more.

The theme that day was that God is like a Lifegaurd. We talked about how he protects us, and saves us. I shared with them a story about my father in which he recently recounted for me. When he was young (11) his family was visiting the Atlantic ocean and he was playing out in the water when a rip tide pulled him out further than he could touch.

He didn’t know how to swim and began to yell for help, much like the disciples might have done in the storm on the sea of Galilee. Fortunately some people near by, along with his father, were able to save him from drowning.

In our lives we often face storms or rip tides that come along, but do we think about God being there to save us? Do we call out to him for help and turn to him in prayer and submission? Just like a lifegaurd is always watching those swimming, God is watching over us. He is ready and able to rescue us from whatever storm life seems to send.

Don’t you want to hear the words of verse 39 proclaimed in your life, in your storm? “Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be Still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39)

Make it personal: What is your storm right now? Name it and take it to God. He wants to save you and bring quietness and stillness to your life and that situation. In this world we will have trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world! Praise the Lord!

Have a wonderful week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



“Prayer Position”

This Weeks Meditation: “Prayer Position”
Read: Luke 18:9-14

What is the correct posture or position for us to pray? Perhaps you have heard about the three pastors who were discussing this question while a telephone repairperson worked nearby. “Kneeling is definitely the best,” claimed one. “No,” another contended. “I concentrate better while standing with my hands outstretched to heaven.”

“You’re both wrong,” the third pastor insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying humbly, facedown on the floor.” The repairperson could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interuppted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was hangin upside down from a telephone pole.”

Truthfully there is no correct posture or position for us to pray. In fact you can be working very hard at your job and still be in a spirit of prayer and communication with God. You can be driving (with eyes open) and be praying to the Lord. You can also be in the most safe or challenging situation in your life and your prayers of petition and thanksgiving will be heard.

When Jesus told this parable in Luke 18 he was reminding the disciples (us), and others that their attitude of prayer was more important than the position in which they prayed. The Tax Collector in this parable prayed that God would forgive him of his sins while the Pharisee (the religious person) was more worried about making sure that people saw and heard his prayers.

In verse 14 Jesus says, “I tell you that this man (the Tax Collector), rather than the other (the Pharisee), went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Praying to God is a vital part of our Christian life. I hope you pray in many different ways and often, but I hope that it is to communicate with God and not just another task to check off your to do list. God hears the prayers of his people and God loves it when we turn to him for help, for worship, for thanksgiving, for confession, and for anything else in life.

Make it personal: Think about your attitude when you pray. Are most of your prayers filled with petitions to God or some other request? Do you take the time to include thanksgiving, worship, and adoration in your prayers? Don’t worry necessarily about what position your in, just focus on what attitude you have and God will be there with you.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

 



“Trinity”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Trinity”
Read: Acts 2:1-40

What do you think of when you hear the word “Trinity?”  Do you
think of the name of a church? Actually, it is a key part of
our Christian theology.  It proclaims God as three divine
persons mentioned throughout scripture. The Father (God), The
Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit (Sent when Jesus
ascended to heaven). The three persons are distinct yet
coexist in unity, and are co-equal, and co-eternal.

Although the word “Trinity” is not used in scripture it is
clearly referenced many, many times throughout the Old and New
Testament.  In the Old Testament prophets would prophesy about
the coming Messiah and the Spirit of God, in the New Testament
we see those prophecies become reality. This coming Sunday is
Pentecost Sunday in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy
Spirit mentioned in Acts 2.

In his book “God in Three Persons: A Doctrine We Barely
Understand,” Dr. Ray Pritchard shares an interesting
illustration of the Trinity that comes from world-renowned
scientist Dr. Henry Morris.

He notes that the entire universe is trinitarian by design.
The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and
time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would
cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion
Space = length + height + breadth
Time = past + present + future

Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God
who made it.  It brings Psalm 19:1 to life that says, “The
heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work
of his hands.”

As we celebrate Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit in
our lives and in our world we should also celebrate the fact
that God is The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Three
persons, One God, and an ongoing flow of power, strength,
forgiveness, and whatever else we need to live our lives.

It is often said that the Trinity is a mystery of the
Christian faith.  But if you have experienced the love of God,
the healing and grace of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, there is no mystery about it.  Therefore, let’s live
in the truth of the Trinity!

Make it personal:  I encourage you to do a little more
studying and learning this week on the doctrine of the
Trinity.  With Study Bibles, Google, Bing, the internet, and
smartphones, we have an unlimited amount of ways to study and
learn, but they are only helpful if we use them in ways that
help us to learn and grow in our Christian walk.

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“What a Trip!”

Read: Luke 5:1-11

The last Midweek Meditation I wrote was on April 25.  Since then I have had the incredible opportunity of visiting the places in Israel where Jesus himself walked, taught, healed, and provided the way of salvation to all people.  I can’t thank my church family enough for supporting me financially and spiritually in this wonderful opportunity!

I traveled with a tour organized by John Walsh and Bible Telling ministries (www.bibletelling.org).  We miraculously visited over 50 Biblical sites in 10 days and heard over 170 Biblical stories told by professional storytellers from those sites. It was a tour of the Holy Lands like no other!  I also had the privilege of experiencing this with my father who made the trip with me.

Since I have been back I have been asked many times, “What was the best or most moving place from your trip?”  That’s a hard question to answer because each day there was an experience that was as unique and meaningful as the day before.  Sure, there were a few that stand out, like standing on the sea of Galilee and thinking about this passage from Luke 5.

As our group took our shoes off and waded out into the water where this calling of the first disciples took place, it was impossible not to break out in song.  We sang several songs, but one song really stood out to me.  In the song “There’s something about that name,” there is a line that says, “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name (Jesus)!”

We had seen many ruins of past kings and kingdoms but they had all passed away and there were mainly stones left to mark their long ago existence.  But, the name, the power, the ministry of Jesus lives on!  When he called those first disciples on that shore it was just the first of millions who would be called to follow him and be his disciples (followers).

The main reason a trip like this is so powerful is because it reminds you of the power of God that is still alive in our world through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Ages will pass away, stones will crumble, but the Good News of salvation for all people is still alive, and this was the place where it all started or happened. All I can say is, “What a trip!”

For those interested in hearing more about my trip, I will be sharing my many pictures and experiences at Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St., Arthur, IL on Sunday night, May 27 at 6:00 pm.  I promise I will not share all 1,200 pictures.
🙂

Make it personal:  In John 20 the disciple Thomas had to see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands to believe that he had risen from the dead.  After that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Not everyone will get the chance to see the Holy Lands in their lifetime, but even so, blessed are those who believe!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minster of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church




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