Midweek Reflections

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

Contentment and the NCAA Tourney

Read: Philippians 4:10-13

You probably think that this meditation is going to be about how my NCAA bracket is all messed up and how I am learning to be content with that. Actually, my bracket is in fine shape, it’s just the teams that I picked that are not.

Anyway, as much as I enjoy the NCAA tournament each March and trying to pick the winners, it has never been much of a test in contentment for me. That is unless the referee’s give the ball to the wrong team at the end of a close game. Illinois vs. Miami. That maybe tested me a bit.

Actually, what I am writing about this week are some of the coaches who were in the tournament again this year. Coaches who have led smaller schools to this tournament for the past several years and been very successful, and then turned down the many offers that came their way from bigger schools with more prestige and more money.

Perhaps you can name them, but if not I will help you out. Brad Stevens of Butler, Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth, Mark Few of Gonzaga, and perhaps a couple of others that I am leaving off this list. These coaches have had many opportunities to “move up” in the ranks the past several years. But each time they have decided to stay in their current situation, honor their contracts, and proclaim that they are content with their situations.

None of these coaches are “roughing it” or are having to do without much, but they are giving some example of what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4 when he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Perhaps we can learn to apply that attitude to our own lives and situations.

We live in a world that always wants to have the next best thing, the next best job, or the opportunity that provides more money. Not all of those opportunities are bad and in fact in some cases the Lord may even provide them to us. But Paul is reminding us that those opportunities should not be the guiding force of our contentment. In verse 11 he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Each and every week we are given many opportunities to be discontented with what we have or what has happened to us. Maybe this week is a good time to start finding our contentment in Jesus Christ and the peace that he can bring to us despite the circumstances.

Some of those coaches mentioned above may decide to move on to bigger schools at some point, but I truly believe that they will do that knowing that they have been content throughout each and every situation they have been in. Hopefully Christ can teach us and help us to cultivate that in our own lives as well…..Even if the team that you picked to win it all this weekend loses. Enjoy the Final Four!

Make it personal: Think of one area that you have been discontented with recently. Make it a goal to find peace with that this week and ask Jesus to help you find his peace and his blessings in every area of your life.

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

Seven Days

Read: Luke 22 to end of Gospel

I have been watching “The Bible” mini-series on the History channel the past several weeks like many of you. The ratings are the highest for a cable T.V. program this past month. Obviously many are interested in God’s Story and how it connects with our story.

I have especially enjoyed the last week or two as the mini-series got into the New Testament and shared the life and ministry of Jesus. This past week was especially emotional as it lead up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection which will air this coming Sunday on Easter.

As we read the Gospel accounts of those events we often try to visualize what it was like. When we see it acted out on the screen it brings new ideas of what the reactions and actions of the disciples and others might have been like as Jesus went through those last seven days.

The director of “The Bible” is not any more sure than we are of how they reacted or what all of the details are, but the Gospels give us a pretty descriptive account that allows us to feel like we experience that last week with Jesus and the disciples. I hope you will read from Luke 22 to the end of the chapter this week and allow yourself to be drawn into the story and what Jesus and his disciples experienced.

We know the end of the story even before it airs on the History channel this Sunday, but it never gets old! It is the reason that we celebrate, it is the reason we follow Jesus, and it is the reason we have been saved from our sins and the evils in this world.

Let’s celebrate and remember together this weekend, but let’s chose a Gospel account of those last seven days and experience them again as if we were right there beside Peter and the other disciples.

Make it personal: Put yourself in the room with Jesus and the Disciples during the last supper. Put yourself in the crowd, at the foot of the cross, and at the empty tomb. What might you have felt and experienced? What kind of emotions would you have had. By doing this we can make Holy Week even that more meaningful in our own story.

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

The Pope and the Poor

Read: Luke 10:25-37  (Click text to read passage)

Last week white smoke rolled out of the Vatican to signify that a new Pope had been elected for the Catholic Church. As the ceremonies continued throughout the week we learned that this new Pope was going to take the name Pope Francis after the patron saint Francis of Assisi.

It’s hard to judge anyone from one week in a position but this Pope does seem to truly have a heart for the poor and outcast in the world. That was at the heart of Francis of Assisi’s life (1181-1226) as well. History records that he once joined the poor in begging outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in order to better understand their situation.

I am not Catholic but I do know that my savior Jesus had a tender and compassionate heart for the poor and outcast when he walked on this earth. His parable in Luke 10 about the “Good Samaritan” is a perfect example of that compassion. His basic message in that parable was, “Don’t walk by on the other side of the road when you see someone in need.”

Christians around the world have done many wonderful things throughout history for those who are outcast and needy. Many who have been blessed with wealth have given of that wealth to help provide food, shelter, clothing, and more for those who are less fortunate. Others have sacrificed time and comforts to be the hands and feet that deliver those provisions.

Perhaps this new Pope’s attitude toward the poor can remind us once again of Jesus’ example. Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are doing with our money, our time, and our compassion to help others who are in need. It’s often easy to be judgmental when we are not in their shoes, but if we would put ourselves in their position like Saint Francis did perhaps we would see things differently.

Each day we are probably faced with the “other side of the road” scenario. Let’s be aware of it when it comes and follow the example of Jesus. Cross over the road, lend a helping hand, and provide help to someone from your blessings and abundance. The Lord will bless you when you bless others!

Make it personal: There are many wonderful organizations out there to give to in order to help those in need. Mennonite Central Committee, World Vision, Compassion International. Find one, two, or three to support monthly if that is what the Lord leads you to do. Find ways to serve those in need that allows you to develop a relationship with them and better understand their struggles. Finally, be watching for that person on the other side of the road that may need your help.”

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

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