Midweek Reflections

Youthful Enthusiasm

Read: Romans 12:9-21

It’s summer vacation and that means it’s Vacation Bible School time! It has been a blessing to see the energy and the enthusiasm this week as the community Vacation Bible School has been taking place here at the church. Record numbers are being set each day with well over 200 children in attendance.

The numbers are great but the most important thing is that the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus are being taught, talked about, and sown into the lives of all those children. The theme of SonWest Roundup has provided a fun western theme for the week and given all of the wonderful volunteers a lot of opportunities to get creative with the activities and their attire.

It truly is amazing to sit back and watch the enthusiasm that these children have. We adults would do well sometimes to loosen up and let the excitement of being a forgiven Christian be evident in our lives. Perhaps that is what Paul was encouraging in Romans 12 when he says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

When the children this week are encouraged to yell “Yeehaw!” they do it with zeal and fervor for sure. Yes, they are excited to be at Bible School with all of their friends, but I believe they are also excited about what they are hearing about Jesus. It is Good News! It is reason to be excited! So why not show it?

What a blessing it is to see various churches, volunteers, and children come together for such a wonderful week. I must say that it has been encouraging to see the adult volunteers this week show the same zeal and fervor that the children have shown. Their commitment to sharing the stories of Jesus and planting seeds of God in these kids lives will most surely bring a harvest in the days ahead. Thank you to all of those who gave your time to make a difference in this community and in these children’s lives!

As we live our lives outside of the exciting weeks of Bible School I would like to encourage us to remember these youth and their excitement. May it encourage us to be enthusiastic about our faith as well. How can you not be thrilled when you hear truth and promises in God’s Word like these…..

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

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

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

And those are just a few. Let’s join the children at Bible School this week and show our enthusiasm and excitement for what God has done for us!

Make it personal: When you see a child show enthusiasm or excitement this week let it remind you of our need to do the same. Join with the apostle Paul and say, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!”

Have an enthusiastic week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Pride Test

Read: Proverbs 11:2 and 16:18

Pride has always been a challenge for the human race. It’s not a new problem, there is evidence all the way back to the beginning of time and the story of Cain and Able in which we see it’s destructiveness. But it somehow seems to find new ways to creep into our lives with each passing generation.

Just this past week the front cover of Time magazine had an article about the latest generation being the “Me, Me, Me” generation. I’m not so sure they share it alone though. Each generation seems to learn from the one before it. Maybe we all need to step back and take a look in the mirror?

Solomon shared many great nuggets of wisdom in the book of Proverbs. Several of those verses deal with pride. He says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace.” (11:2) He also says, “Pride goes before destruction.” (16:18) Unfortunately even Solomon forgot some of these great nuggets later on in his life.

As Christians who follow Jesus Christ we need to foster a spirit of humility in our lives as Jesus did. It is opposite of what we see in the world and unfortunately is sometimes opposite of what we see in our own lives. Because of this we need to constantly be seeking the help of the Holy Spirit in this area.

Oswald Sanders once said, “Pride is a sin of whose presence its victim is least conscious.” He then went on to give three helpful tests that can help us keep our pride in check.

1. The test of precedence. How do we react when another is selected for the assignment we expected, or for the office we coveted? When another is promoted and we are overlooked? When another outshines us in gifts and accomplishments?

2. The test of sincerity. In our moments of honest self-criticism we will say many things about ourselves, and really mean them. But how do we feel when others, especially our rivals, say exactly the same things about us?

3. The test of criticism. Does criticism arouse hostility and resentment in our hearts, and cause us to fly into immediate self-justification?

These are helpful things to think about. Sometimes we view pride as a puffed out chest or a cocky attitude. Many times it is more subtle than that and can even creep its way into our heart and minds without anyone else realizing it.

May Christ be our example. May his Spirit give us the conviction, the support, and the encouragement to cultivate humility in our lives instead of the often promoted pride that we see in the world. Perhaps we can be an example of Jesus Christ to someone that might pass our way this week.

Make it personal: Pray about what area of pride you may need to deal with this week. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your heart and bring about a Christ like attitude in that area. May humility and a gentle, loving, respect for others be our mantra. Remember, Christ is our Center!

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

In need of a miracle?

Read: John 11:38-43

How many times in your life have you faced something that seemed impossible? Most likely you have been there more than once. One time it may have been work related, another time it may have been family related, and yet another time health related or something else.

Sometimes we look at the mountain in front of us and forget that we serve a Lord that has moved many mountain. This past Sunday in the message I referred to the demon possessed man in Mark 5. He and those in the region of Gerasenes probably thought that his condition was going to be a life long sentence, until Jesus came to shore and the man fell down at his feet. He was in need of a miracle and when he called on Jesus the mountain was moved. He was healed!

In John 11 we read the story of Lazarus. Last year I visited the tomb in Bethany where this story took place. What a feeling to be standing at the place where one of Christ’s most amazing miracles took place. To Mary and Martha the mountain looked immovable. Their brother had been dead for three days and buried. But then Jesus came to town!

Those are stories in the Bible that give testimony to what Jesus did when he walked on this earth. But we still have stories today that are told in similar fashion. A mountain was moved, a fear or addiction was overcome, an obstacle defeated, and all of them in the name of Jesus Christ!

The music group Third Day has a song entitled “I need a Miracle” and the words in the chorus are a great reminder for us today. It says, “No matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own. And in your hour of desperation, Know you’re not the only one, praying Lord above, I need a miracle.”

Whatever that mountain in front of you is please remember three things. 1. You are not alone. 2. You can’t make it on your own. 3. Jesus wants to help you conquer it! Let us live out the promise of Romans 8:37 that says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Make it personal: If you need more reminders of the miracles that Jesus can perform take your Bible out this week and look through the gospels for the many cases in which Jesus moved mountains in peoples lives. He wants to do the same for you!

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

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

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