Midweek Reflections

Strong and Courageous

Read: Joshua 1:1-11

In many Mennonite Church libraries you can find a very large and heavy book that is entitled “Martyr’s Mirror.” This book records the many stories of Anabaptists who were persecuted and killed during the reformation period in the 1500’s.

It is often hard to read those stories and to grasp how cruel and hateful our human race can be to each other. It is even more disappointing to realize that many of those doing the killing were fellow Christians. But despite those hateful and violent actions so many early Anabaptists stayed strong and courageous in their faith and beliefs.

The Lord spoke that phrase many times in this first chapter of Joshua. He encourages Joshua and the Israelites to “be strong and courageous” as they enter into the promised land. They will need this encouragement for the many battles and struggles that they will encounter.

The truth is, many people are still persecuted for their faith today. They know what it means to have to be strong and courageous in the midst of life. Even today there are many stories of people who choose to respond in peaceful ways despite the hate and the persecution that they encounter.

I recently heard that there is a new updated version of Martyr’s Mirror that is now in the works. It will tell the new stories of our day when people around the world have stayed strong in their faith when faced with persecution and even death at times.

Jesus can help us be strong and have courage during those times of trial. Sometimes it is persecution for our faith, other times it is a trial that we are going through with our family, friends, or co-workers. When we face those various challenges we need to hear these words of the Lord spoken for us as well as Joshua.

In verse 9 it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Remember those words this week as you face those people and things that are trying to defeat you. Respond in love and peace, and allow the strength of Christ to be your defense.

Make it personal: In this first chapter of Joshua there is one instance when Joshua says, “Go through the camp and tell the people!” Maybe that is our call this week. To hear these words of encouragement for ourselves, but then to also share them with others who may need to hear them.

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



Life Restored

Read: John 11:17-44

This summer has been very dry! Perhaps I should have used two or three exclamation points there? It was hard to see the grass dying, the gardens struggling, and the crops in the field gasping for moisture. I sometimes wondered if the grass would ever return to the lush green color that we are used to in Central Illinois.

But then a couple of weeks ago we received a little rain, and then several days later it rained a little more, and before you knew it the lawns began to come back to life. Even though we still need more rain it was amazing to see how quickly the green was restored in our lawns.

In one way it has been a reminder for me about the restoring power that Jesus has! We see it often in scripture where someone’s life is barren, dry, and sometimes even dead, and Jesus restores them to life. We also see it often in our lives as well. In the story of Lazarus (John 11) we see that Jesus even has the ability to raise Lazarus from the dead.

In verse 25 of John 11 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” You see, Jesus wants to see everyone restored to life. This is why he has promised eternal life in heaven to those who believe in him as God’s Son and place their faith in him as their Savior.

That restoration even takes place while we live in this world. We all have difficult times come into our lives. Times that we would describe as a drought or a very hard situation. Jesus wants to help us through those times and bring life and restoration to those dry times.

We have prayed for rain this summer so that God’s creation could be restored, are we praying for that same type of restoration in our own lives? Jesus has the power to do it, as the popular worship song proclaims “He is Mighty to save.”

I hope that we will call on Jesus much like Lazarus’ sisters called on him when their brother died. They had to be patient for him to arrive, but he did, and he always will if we trust in him to restore us to life.

Make it personal: What would you define as a drought area in your life right now? Have you prayed for rain? Have you asked the one who is the resurrection and the life to bring restoration and life to you and that situation? The Lord is faithful and hears us when we call.

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



“Reminders”

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

One of the things I am known for around our house is being “The Reminder.” I get teased about it often and I probably drive my wife and kids crazy with it sometimes. I want to always be sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

In some ways that is what Deuteronomy 6 is telling us to do with the tenants of our faith in God. Impress them upon your children, talk about them often, write them on the door frames of your houses it says. In other words, keep your faith and the Lord’s promises in the forefront of all that you do, say, and see.

Last week there was an article in one of the local newspapers about keeping items from your favorite vacation destination around your house as decorations. They said that this was a way to always feel like you are on vacation while being at home. An interesting idea and its amazing how it parallels what this passage is saying.

If it works for vacation destinations why wouldn’t it work for our faith as well? As you look around your home how many reminders are there about your life in Christ? If someone walks in your home would they immediately know that you believe in God and that you follow Jesus Christ? Think about that the next time you prepare to decorate.

The concept of this Old Testament text is that we should keep these things in front of us at all times. They remind us of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us. It encourages us on a bad day, they can lift our spirits when we receive bad news, and they are a reminder that God will not leave us or forsake us.

The walls are not the only place that should be decorated with these reminders. Our lives in the family nest and the public square should be a testimony to our faith. This text gives us the idea that it should encompass every facet of our lives. And why wouldn’t we want it to? It is the will of our father in heaven and by following and obeying his will we are reminded daily, even hourly, of his love for us.

Make it personal: Find some things to place around your house that will be reminders of God’s promises to you and your family. On the walls, on the dressers, in your closet. It’s really more about reminders than it is decor.

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



“Fountains and Drains”

Read: Philippians 2:1-11

On the way back from Kansas this week I saw a church sign that read, “Be a fountain, don’t be a drain.” It reminded me of this passage in Philippians 2 where Paul encourages the church in Philippi to be encouragers instead of discouragers.

Those words are meant for us as well, that is why they are in our Bibles today. Our unity with Christ should inspire us to be fountains of joy and encouragement for each other instead of draining that joy and encouragement out of each other.

Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” It seems so often that this is the reason for the draining of joy that takes place around us. We get focused on our own needs and our own problems and we want others to know about them. Sometimes we can take a persons fountain of joy and turn it into that drain that heads to the sewer.

We are probably all guilty of this from time to time. We will not always have joyful days one after another. But we can rejoice in the truth that “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” And we can try to make that our focus instead of being known as the drain of all that is good.

I have always loved fountains. Whether at a putt putt golf course, in someones garden or backyard, or in the outfield of the Kansas City Royals baseball field. Fountains give us a feeling of refreshment and renewal. Paul is encouraging us to be that for others and in verses 6-11 he gives us a great example in Jesus Christ.

Let’s be fountains for ourselves and others this week and as verse 5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Remember, be a fountain, don’t be a drain!

Make it personal: Many people communicate via social networking these days (Text, Facebook, Twitter). Remember this fountain and drain idea when you use those ways of connecting with people as well. How do you want people to remember you? As a fountain or a drain?

Have a week with overflowing joy,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



“Olympic Gold”

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

This past Sunday during a church league softball game I hit a ball to the outfield which got past the outfielder and went all the way to the fence. This occurrence required me to run at top speed all around the bases only to be thrown out when I got three feet from home base. I have felt that run now for the last three days.

I do exercise almost daily, but I don’t exercise in the same way that I ran around those bases, therefore my body is not accustomed to it. As I have watched Gabby Douglas, Micheal Phelps, and others this week at the Olympics, I have been impressed with the amount of preparation and training it took to get them to this point. Without that dedication and commitment none of those athletes would have made it to these Olympic games.

As you read 1 Corinthians 9 and you hear what Paul writes, did you realize that he actually knew about the Olympics. The ancient Olympic games started in Olympia, Greece in the 8th century B.C.. Although Paul didn’t have four or five T.V. channels to watch the action he surely knew the “strict training” it took to be a part of even those early games.

In this passage he relates that to our spiritual lives. He encourages us to do all that we can, just like the athlete, to finish our spiritual journey strong. In many ways he is encouraging us to apply these principles of growth to our own lives, our families lives, and the goal of reaching others with the good news of Jesus Christ.

We are not doing it for a gold medal and a physical prize, but a crown of eternity in heaven that will last forever. And along with that we are leaving an ongoing legacy here on earth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Our name may not be splashed across the headlines, but we can make a big difference.

Last week I was on vacation and did not get to watch much of the first week of the Olympics. This week I am watching and I am impressed with what I see. Since I will never win a gold medal in the Olympic games, I hope my own dedication to following Jesus will leave a mark on this world. And I hope that for each of you as well.

Make it personal: For athletes it always helps to have goals and other things to push towards. It can help us in our spiritual lives as well. Set some goals of different ways you can grow closer to Jesus. Bible Study, Prayer, Life Groups, Christian Ed., Church attendance, and others.

Blessings as you run the race,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



“Why?”

Read: Genesis 1

What a terrible way to wake up on a Friday morning. As I turned on the news I saw the unfolding tragedy that had happened in Aurora, Colorado. A gunman once again opening fire on innocent people. Each time this happens, which is much too often, we find ourselves asking the question “why?” Why does God allow this to happen? Why does God allow suffering? We ask it as if it is God’s fault.

Three days after the massacre in Aurora, pastor and author Lee Strobel delivered a wonderful message at Cherry Hills Community Church about that question. You must read it! It is very good and addresses the questions that so many people ask when things like this happen. He delivered this message at a church within an hour’s drive of that theater. Here is the link to read it. Again, it is a must read!

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162215-lee-strobel-why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering.html?p=1

If that link won’t work you can go to www.churchleaders.com and search for the article “Why does God allow tragedy and suffering.” Lee talks about five points of light and does a great job reaffirming the proclamation in Genesis 1 that says, “God saw all the he made and it was very good.”

Toward the end of this article/message by Lee he says, “So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will, and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.”

You see, it’s normal for us to ask the “why?” questions. In 2 Corinthians Paul reminds us that we are not going to have all the answers in this life. He says, “now I know in part; then I shall know fully.” Someday we will be able to know fully when we are at home in heaven with Jesus. For now we keep seeking his peace, his courage, and this incredible promise of eternal life in heaven that Lee mentions.

A part of my goal in these midweek meditations is not always to share my own thoughts and discernment on things but to lead you to God’s Word and to what others are saying about life, culture, and following Jesus. I hope this message/article impacts you as much as it has impacted me this week.

Make it personal: Try turning off the news sometimes and tuning into articles and commentary like this from Lee Strobel. The news will always focus on the tragedy, we need to find ways to realize the tragedy, but focus on our hope and strength in Jesus Christ. In Him we find our hope!

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




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