Midweek Reflections

Praying at Meal Time

Read: Romans 14:1-12

Several Sunday’s ago I preached a message on this text from Romans 14 about disputable matters and having conversations in grace with those who may not agree with us on some things. Just this week however I was reading it again and noticed how verse 6 refers to us giving thanks to God for our daily food.

We know in the Lord’s prayer Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” But when he actually does, do we take the time to give thanks to him? So often today our culture has us in such a hurried state that families seldom sit down and eat meals together anymore. This is a sad development that someday we will look back on and regret.

Not only are we missing out on valuable family time and the opportunity to catch up on each others day, but most likely when people eat on their own or on the run they are likely skipping the time of thanks to God before they consume their meal. Meal time prayers are also a great opportunity to lift up that person that you said you would pray for earlier in the day.

It reminds me of the story of the young seven year old boy who one night at supper asked his dad why he thanked God before eating food that came from the grocery store. The father picked up a roll and asked, “Where did this come from?”

“From the store,” the boy said.
“Where did they get it?”
“I dunno. From the bakery?”
“Where did they get it?”
“They made it.”
“From what?” asked the father.
“From flour.”
“Where did that come from?”
“From wheat.”
“Where did the wheat come from?”
“The farmers.”
“And where did the farmer get it?”
“He grew it,” said the boy.
“From what?”
“And who made the seed?”
“God, I guess,” said the little boy.
“And that,” said the father, “is why we thank Him.”

There are many things to thank the Lord for! But if we don’t start with the meal time I’m concerned about what all else we may be leaving out. Just like God provided manna in the desert for the Israelites, he provides the daily bread for us. Let’s give him thanks before we eat!

Make it personal: Perhaps your meal times have become rushed and separated from the rest of your family. Try to plan meal times together when possible and make the opening prayer a time of thanksgiving and lifting others before the Lord. Someday we will be glad we did!

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

What is a Mother?

Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. A time to celebrate Motherhood and be thankful for the family unit that God has created. In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul compares a mother’s care to how we should treat each other as brothers and sisters.

In honor of Mothers Day I would like to share a writing by Fred Kruse with you this week. He entitles it “What is a Mother?

What is a Mother?
Somewhere between the youthful energy of a teenager and the golden years of a woman’s life, there lives a marvelous and loving person known as “Mother.”

A Mother is a curious mixture of patience, kindness, understanding, discipline, industriousness, purity, and love. A mother can be at one and the same time, both “lovelorn counselor” to a heartsick daughter, and “head football coach” to an athletic son.

A mother can sew the tiniest stitch in the material for that dainty prom dress and she is equally experienced in threading through the heaviest traffic with her vehicle. A mother is the only creature on earth who can cry when she’s happy, laugh when she’s heartbroken, and work when she’s feeling ill.

A mother is gentle as a lamb and as strong as a giant. Only a mother can appear so weak and helpless and yet be the same one who puts the fruit jar cover on so tightly even Dad can’t get it off. A mother is a picture of helplessness when Dad is near, and a marvel of resourcefulness when she’s all alone.

A mother has the angelic voice of a member in the celestial choir as she sings Brahms lullaby to a baby held tight in her arms; yet this same voice can dwarf the sound of an amplifier when she calls her boys in for supper.

A mother has the fascinating ability to be almost everywhere at once and she alone can somehow squeeze an enormous amount of living into an average day. A mother is “Old fashioned” to her teenager; just “Mom” to her third-grader; and simply “Mama” to little two-year old sister.

But there is no greater thrill in life, than to point to that wonderful woman and be able to say to all the world, “That’s my mother!” – Fred Kruse

Make it personal: Thank your mom this weekend for all that she is, does, and thank you to all the mothers out there who hold such a special place in our hearts and lives! Happy Mother’s Day!

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

Letters to God

Read: Philippians 4:4-7

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. It is important to pray everyday of course, but on this first Thursday of May each year we are encouraged and reminded to pray without ceasing. What an incredible thing to think about; millions of people praying for their families, their church, their community, our nation, and the world. Sending out prayers as we communicate with our loving and gracious Lord.

Several years ago the movie “Letters to God” touched many people. It was the story of a young boy who continued to pour out his thoughts and prayers to God through writing letters to God and putting them in his mailbox each day. In many ways this is what we do when we pray.

Sometimes we speak them out loud, sometimes quietly, and sometime silently. Sometimes people like to write their prayers out, or speak them as they go about their day. However we pray, it is as if millions of people are flooding God’s mailbox with thanksgiving, petition, worship, and various other types of prayers.

If you have a college student you know how the mailbox gets flooded with letters from colleges as your student becomes a junior and senior in high school. The reason is that they all want your child to come to their college. Therefore they keep asking, time, after time, after time.

I recently read an article in Sports Illustrated that talked about how some college teams will send their recruits hundreds of letters in the course of trying to get them to come and play for their team. One team even flooded a recruits mailbox with hundreds of letters in one day in order to really get their attention. Imagine the poor mail person trying to deliver all of those.

But that is the kind of effort we should use when praying to God. We need to let him know our heart and share with him our praise, our needs, and our desire to see a spiritual change and awakening come over us and those around us. This passage in Philippians 4 does exactly that.

It reminds us that instead of being anxious about things in our lives and in our world, we should choose to pray about those situations. It says, “present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know how you prefer to pray, but I hope that you will. Let’s let God know that we are going to come to him instead of being anxious. Let’s not only flood his mailbox tomorrow but let’s continue to do it each and every day!

Make it personal: Make a list of specific things you want to pray about tomorrow on the National Day of Prayer. Personal things, church things, things in your community, in our nation, and in our world. Then use that list each day as you spend time praying to the Lord.

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

Outside intervention

Read: John 3:16-21

One of the best known verses in all of scripture is John 3:16 where it tells us that God “sent” his Son into the world to save us. That intervention into our world has offered us salvation from the sins of this world for those who receive Jesus as their Savior and believe in him.

I ran across a dramatic story that was published in the Reader’s Digest some years ago that reminded me of God’s saving grace for us. It was told like this…..

“Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr. only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beech-craft. With only a compass and a hand held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds.

When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plan below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away.

Suddenly Wyatt’s right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 pm Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water. Wyatt survived the crash, but his plan disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest.

With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours.

In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him again. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion.

Then he heard the hum of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilots dropped a smoke canister and radioed the cutter Cape York, which was twelve minutes away; “Get moving, cutter! There’s a shark targeting this guy!”

As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob’s ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck.”

Wyatt had been saved! It’s hard to place ourselves in Wyatt’s predicament, but Life often sends many types of challenges at us because of sin and disobedience in our world. The great news for those who believe in Jesus is that he came and intervened in our world to save us. I don’t know if you have been kicking sharks away this week, but I hope you will realize the salvation that Jesus came to bring you. You have been saved from sin, if you will accept it!

“For God so loved the world that he gave (and sent) his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Make it personal: What’s your story? If you were to tell an unbeliever about how Jesus rescued you and saved you from sin and this world, what would you share with them? Think about that and be prepared, because you never know when you might be called upon to be Christ’s messenger of his good news.

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

Hear our prayers, O Lord

Read: Psalm 86

It’s hard to imagine how someone would have the desire to set off a bomb in the middle of innocent people who are doing nothing more than enjoying their day and celebrating friends and family; and yet that is what we saw happen this week in Boston and continue to see happen around the world.

As terrible as the Boston tragedy is we also need to remember that people in some other countries deal with these type of bombings on a weekly or even daily basis. In Syria it is ongoing and just two days ago a car bomb in Iraq killed over 50 people.

As we pray for all of these people affected we need to pray for strength, trust, love, and hope to prevail. In Psalm 86 David writes about that trust in his time of deep trouble. King Saul was pursuing him to kill him and he often called on the Lord to hear his prayers of deliverance and help. Here are a few verses from Psalm 86

“Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.” v.6
“In the day of trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.” v.7
“For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” v.13
“Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” v.17

We live in a world that is filled with fear, sorrow, and evil acts, and our only hope is to turn to God who truly can deliver us and save us from the world. Just like David did, we too can turn to God for help when we don’t understand. We may not totally understand why or how someone could do such terrible things to others, but as Christians we do know where to find peace and hope in the midst of it all.

Marty Haugen once said, “Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.” That seems to be a perfect word for us this week.

Our prayers are lifted for those in Boston, Iraq, Syria, and other places where evil has impacted people’s lives this week. May the comfort, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ be real to them in the midst of their pain and sorrow. In the end, we know that Jesus will overcome the evil in our world.

Make it personal: As you pray this week for all of these other people affected by evil, pray that Christ will give you peace to overcome your fear, and hope to take you beyond your sorrow. As David writes in verse 5, “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Have a peace filled week everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

Living Water

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:38

Two years ago our congregation raised money to provide new community water wells in Mozambique, Africa.  We knew the promise of Jesus as our living water in the spiritual sense, but we also realized that many people around the world, especially in Africa, do not have physical water that is clean, safe, and sanitary.

It is so easy for us in North America to just go to the faucet and expect clean water to come out.  For many in Africa it requires the average of a 3 mile walk one way and even that does not promise clean and healthy water.

I saw a picture just this past week of a boy holding up a clean glass of water and the dirty water that his community had been drinking.  It’s no wonder so many children die each day of disease and sickness when they are forced to drink this contaminated water.  I have included that picture with this meditation.

dirty water

We are thankful that Jesus promises to be our living water for our everyday spiritual needs.  He is also that living water even to those who don’t have the clean physical water that they need.  But Jesus wants us to help those in need.  We see his example in the Gospels and we know that he mentioned many times that we are to help the outcast, the needy, and the poor.

We are to help them not only by giving one time gifts but by finding ways to help them survive long term.  This week I ran across an organization called water.org that is trying to help with this.  They along with many others are trying to help secure loans, wells, and other ways that provide long term help to these communities in need of clean water.  You can watch their short youtube video by clicking on this link.


We have been blessed in so many ways!  We need to always be on the lookout for how we can continue to bless and help others in this world who are less fortunate. My prayer is that we each find a way to do something to provide a clean cup of water for this boy and many others.

Make it personal:  Mennonite Central Committee also has a water ministry that you can help with as well.  You can visit their website for more information.  Let’s not only be thankful, lets be proactive in sharing our time, money, and talents to help others in the name of Jesus.

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

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