Midweek Reflections

“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

“This is the Day!”

This Weeks Meditation:  “This is the Day!”
Read: Psalm 118

We sing the song, we love the Psalm, but do we appreciate the day for what it is?  A gift from God, given to us to celebrate, enjoy, and appreciate.  In his book “Out live your life,” Max Lucado tells this story about how our busy days can sometimes keep us from appreciating what is right in front of us.

Max writes, “At 7:54 am, January 12, 2007, a young musician took his position against a wall in a Washington D.C. metro station.  He wore jeans, a long sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap.  He opened his violin case, removed his instrument, threw a few dollars and pocket change into the case as seed money, and began to play.

He played for the next 43 minutes.  He performed 6 classical pieces.  During that time, 1,097 people passed by.  They tossed money to the total of $32.17.  Of the 1,097 people, seven, only seven, paused longer than 60 seconds.  And of the seven, one, only one, recognized the violinist Joshua Bell. Three days prior to this metro appearance staged  by the Washington Post, Bell filled Boston’s Symphony hall, where the cheap tickets went for $100 a seat.  Two weeks after the experiment he played for a standing room only audience in Bethesda, Maryland.  Joshua Bell’s talents can command $1,000 a minute.  That day, in the subway station, he barely earned enough to buy a cheap pair of shoes.

You can’t fault the instrument.  He played a Stradivarius built in the golden period of Stradivari’s career.  It’s worth $3.5 million.  You can’t fault the music.  Bell successfully played a piece from Johann Sebastian Bach that Bell called “one of the greatest achievements of any man in history.”

But scarcely anyone noticed.  No one expected majesty in such a context.  Shoeshine stand to one side, kiosk to the other. People buying magazines, newspapers, chocolate bars, and Lotto tickets.  And who had time?  This was a workday.  This was the Washington workforce.  Government workers mainly, on their way to budget meetings and management sessions.  Who had time to notice beauty in the midst of busyness?  Most did not.

Most of us will someday realize that we didn’t either.  From the perspective of heaven, we’ll look back on these days, these busy, cluttered days, and realize, that Jesus was playing the violin.”

The picture I attached with this weeks meditation is a wonderful example of what it looks like to cherish the moment, cherish the day, cherish the gift, and say thank you Jesus. The young girl has a wonderful smile, is at peace, and seems grateful for her place in this world.  Can we do the same?

Make it personal:  Allow the peace, the presence, and the glory of Christ to transform your day and your week into a new appreciation for the gift of each day we have to live.  Read this Psalm over and over if that will help.

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

“The Waiting Game”

This Weeks Meditation:  “The Waiting Game”
Read: James 5:7-12

I have often heard the term “The waiting game” used but I think I gained a new perspective on it this week when I learned about the Chinese bamboo tree.

You see, the first year that the Chinese bamboo tree is planted nothing happens.  It must be watered and fertilized but nothing comes through the ground.  The second year is the same, the third year, the same, the fourth year, the same.
But during the course of the fifth year, in a period of only 6  weeks, the Chinese bamboo tree will grow around 90 feet high.  Yes, I had to read it twice as well.  Over four years of waiting and then the finished product comes to fruition in only six weeks.  90 Feet!  Wow!

That gives new meaning to “patience is a virtue.” In the book of James we are told to be patient as we wait on the Lord’s return. James refers to the concept of planting a crop and waiting through the sun and rain for the eventual harvest.  We see much of that planting going on right now in Central Illinois.  But we know that we won’t see combines in the field for months.
But with other things in life it seems that our patience often wears thin.  In our hurry up culture would we even have the patience to wait for five years for something to peak through the ground like the Chinese bamboo tree?

I’m sure we all can think of things that we have waited on for a long time.  Sometimes that waiting involves times of difficulty and hardship as James talks about in these verses.  But then in verse 11 James says, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

As you play the waiting game, for whatever it is you have been waiting for, I hope that you will place your hope and trust in this Lord who is full of mercy and compassion.  God will help us persevere if we call on his name.
Someday he will return, and someday he will see to it that your patience is found to be a virtue.  Keep praying about it and keep trusting that Christ knows your situation.  You never know, after all the waiting it may just sprout up in a 6 week time frame.

Make it personal:  Name one thing you have been waiting on. Now, contemplate how your patience has been while waiting on that.  Then take some time to lift that thing in prayer to God.  As James reminds us (v.10), there are many great stories and examples in the Bible of patience and perseverance, and in those stories we can find hope to wait out our bamboo tree.

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

“Dream Big”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Dream Big”

Read: Luke 1:26-38

This past weekend in Augusta, Georgia another green jacket was awarded to the winner of “The Masters,” one of the most coveted trophies in all of golf.  The winner was Bubba Watson who won on the second playoff hole with a dramatic 40 foot hooking shot out of the woods and to within 15 feet of the cup.

Bubba is a very likable high strung young man who follows Christ and is even more excited about his 1 month old adopted son than he was about winning the green jacket. In the Butler Cabin as he was receiving his green jacket Jim Nantz asked him to comment on the moment.  His comment was memorable, he paused and said, “I’m not sure, I never got this far in my dream.”
When I heard that I was reminded of the verse in Luke 1:37 where the angel tells Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”  Not even the birth of God’s Son to a young virgin. Not even the dreams that you have for you and your family.

Sometimes I think we let the impossible get in the way of the big dreams that God places within us.  We think in human terms instead of spiritual terms.  God may not provide everything or anything we ask for (and often that is good) but we must never doubt God’s ability to do the unimaginable.

When my wife and I were first married we put this short verse on our checks so that each time we opened our checkbook we would be reminded of this truth.  20 years later it is still there. It is a constant reminder to dream big and let God do his thing.

I wish Bubba Watson and his wife the best!  I am glad for him that the past three weeks have gone way past anything he dreamed was possible.  But I have a feeling his dreams just might get a little bit bigger now that he has seen how God works in our world.

Mary asked the angel, “How will this be?”  We often ask that question about many things, but how often do we remind ourselves that the God we follow is even bigger than our biggest dreams.

Make it personal: Think about the last month.  What things have you deemed impossible in your mind?  Have you prayed about that?  Have you asked God to help you with that impossibility?  The one key word in verse 37 is “nothing.”  Nothing is impossible for the Creator of the Universe.

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

“The Passion”

This Weeks Meditation: “The Passion”
Read: John 12:12-19 and John 19:17 – 20:9

The week ahead is often referred to as The Passion of Jesus. It also known as Holy Week. It’s a week in which we recall the most important historical event to ever take place on our earth. It was the week that changed our world forever. God, through his Son Jesus Christ showed his passion for his people and provided us the way to salvation.

These events in John 12-20 can’t be explained away as anything other than miraculous and life changing. And that is exactly what author Josh McDowell realized in his own life. When he entered college he was a young man looking for a good time and searching for happiness and meaning in life.

He tried many worldly things that failed before he noticed a group of students engaged in a serious study of the Bible. As he watched the people in that group he noticed a genuine radiance coming from those in the group. He asked one young lady why that was, she looked him straight in the eye, smiled, and said, “Jesus Christ.”

His first response was, “Don’t give me that garbage about religion.” But she then responded by saying, “I didn’t say religion; I said Jesus Christ.” Josh accepted their invitation to learn more and once he realized the truth and the proof supporting Christianity he received Jesus as his Savior.

Since that time he has written many books and spoke thousands of times about what he found when he investigated the historical resurrection of Jesus. He realized it’s power in his life, in others lives, and in our world. He eventually wrote his well known book entitled, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.”

Just like Josh McDowell, you too can experience the power of Christ’s resurrection on a daily basis. It is this week in history that opened the door to heaven and a relationship with God that cannot be matched in our world in any way, shape, or form. All it takes is for us to believe, receive, and allow Jesus to transform our life through him. I hope that you will do that this Easter Season!

Make it personal: In what way can you allow this truth of Easter to change your daily life? Is it peace you need, is it a change that you need, is it a re-commitment? There is no better time than the season of Easter to allow that change or that peace to become a part of your life!

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

“Children and Fences”

This Weeks Meditation: “Children and Fences”
Read: Proverbs 4

Larry Burkett once told the story about a kindergarten that sat right on a corner by a busy highway. Although the school had a nice yard in which the children could play, at recess they would huddle right up against the building. The cars whizzing by frightened them.

One day some workers came and put a steel fence around the school yard. From that point on, the children used the entire playground. The fence did not limit their freedom; it actually expanded it. Burkett went on to say, “Children need fences, for they feel more secure having the discipline of clear boundaries.”

Proverbs 4 is a great chapter about wisdom. But if you look a little closer you will notice that several times it begins a verse by saying, “Listen, my son.” This wisdom is good for all ages, but it is very powerful when you imagine a father or a mother saying these words to their child. Many times children will argue with parents that they need more freedom to do what they want to do, when actually most studies show that children do want boundaries in their lives.

Just like the children at the kindergarten they feel more freedom when they know where the wall is and what is right and wrong in life. The Bible instructs parents to erect these walls with love and concern for your child, not a heavy handed approach. In Ephesians 6:4 Paul says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Parenting is hard, and tough decisions must often be made, but by balancing love and compassion with fences and boundaries our children will feel loved, protected, and safe to venture out on their own in a hostile world. Most importantly we must teach them and show them the ways of Jesus with our lives.

When our children see Jesus as the center of our world, they will know that his life gives us the perfect example to follow. Proverbs 4:11 says, “I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”

Make it personal: Find ways to show your children that the boundaries you set are not because you are trying to restrict them; they are because you love them and care for them and want God’s best for them. As parents we know that, but do we tell our children that?

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

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