Midweek Reflections

“Stones and Smartphones”

Read: Matthew 28:16-20

In the June issue of Christianity Today, Robert C. Crosby tells about a recent Bible conference in Orlando, Florida.  He writes, “The conference concluded in prayer with each participant holding a small stone in one hand and a smartphone in the other.  Conference attendees were reminded that the Word of God first engraved upon stone tablets at Mount Sinai could now be communicated on the faces of a billion mobile phones and computer tablets.”

When Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 28 he probably knew that someday it would come to this. He uses the word “go” in verse 19 but in our day and age it has become very easy to communicate without really going anywhere.  This has incredible opportunities for sharing the Gospel.

In that same Christianity Today article Crosby talks about various apps, programs, and Facebook pages that do just that.  They share the gospel, they encourage people to get into God’s Word and in many cases it can go with them at all times.  Just look at these statistics from “YouVersion” the most popular Bible application. (Taken from CT)

This happens every minute around the world on YouVersion…
– 20 new daily reading plans started.
– 23 Bible passages shared on Facebook.
– program is installed on 69 new devices.
– 78 Bible passages bookmarked.
– 298 Bible passages highlighted.
– 368 reading plan parts completed.
– 949 Bible versions switched.
– 1,175 audio streams started.
– app is opened 2,747 times
Remember, those numbers are each minute of the day.

When Jesus instructs us to take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth we need to realize how valuable social media can be with this.  Facebook posts, phone texts, Twitter Tweets, and more can be an avenue for sharing God’s love with the world.

We need to do it with tact and we need to do it in respectable amounts.  In other words, we don’t want to become annoying by posting a Bible verse on Facebook or Twitter too often.  But there is an opportunity here that we must not pass up.  The printing press brought us into a new era many years ago and now God has given us these new world wide connections.  Let’s use them for His Glory!

Make it personal:  Think of creative ways you can use Facebook, Twitter, or your phone to communicate God’s love to others and the life changing Gospel message of Jesus Christ. But don’t give up the personal interaction either.  Those are very vital in connecting with people on a personal level.

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

“Always Close”

Read: Psalm 84

This Psalm is such an encouragement during times in which we feel alone, lonely, or down.  It proclaims that God is always close by, that God’s presence lives in us and around us at all times.  If you feel alone be assured that God is always close by.

In his book “A Dreamer for the Kingdom,” Tony Compolo says that when he was a boy growing up in a congested and busy city, his mother arranged for a teenage girl who lived nearby to walk home with him at the end of the school day.  For this, she was paid a nickle a day.

But Tony rebelled in the second grade and told his mother that he could walk by himself from school and that she could give him a nickle a week instead of paying the girl a nickel each day.  He said, “I’ll be very careful and you can keep the other twenty cents each week.  We will both be better off.”

After a while Tony talked her into it.  For the next two years he walked himself back and forth to school for the eight blocks, being very careful to not talk to strangers or get distracted along the way.

Years later at a family gathering, he bragged about his independence and reminded everyone that he took care of himself as a little boy.  His mother laughed and added to his story by saying,

“Did you think you were really alone?  Every morning when you left for school, I left with you.  I walked behind you all the way to school.  When you got out of school I was there and followed you all the way home.  I kept myself hidden, but I was there.  I just wanted to be there for you in case you needed me.”

The presence of God in our lives is just like that.  Often unseen with the physical eye, but always close by and ready to lift us out of any struggle or challenge we are faced with.  If we call on him, he is there to save us.  You are never alone if you rely on the presence of God!

Make it personal: As you pray, ask God to make his presence known to you.  It can be a strength on good days, and it can be a life saver on the difficult days.  He will never leave you, or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6).

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

“Village People”

Read: Ephesians 2:11-22

Church has been defined in many different ways by many different people. But in the Bible it is referred to as the people of God, not a specific building or place. This is very evident in this passage from Ephesians 2. It is a testimony that we need each other, and we need to fulfill God’s call upon our lives together as his people.

I recently read a very interesting article by Susan Allison- Jones entitled “It takes a village.” In this article she talked about how the church family was such an important part of her families life. She said, “From day one, our daughter was embraced and loved by this wonderful community.”

She talked about how her husband and her were co-pastors of a congregation and how the people in the church would often care for their children on Sunday mornings without even being asked. This village of people also pulled together to help each other in many other ways beyond Sunday mornings.

The church often gets negative press when something goes wrong, but I sure wish the news would tell about all the positive things that come from these village people who follow Christ. We are so blessed to have each other and to join together in facing the good, bad, and difficult things that life throws at us. I am so thankful to have brothers and sisters who are walking this path with me.

In her article Susan ends by writing, “The village gives us perspective, relief, and peace of heart and mind. The village gives our children an inter-generational group of people not found in many other settings in our busy, complex world. It does take a village to raise a child. And we are thankful for those who have been and are part of our village.”

And I couldn’t agree more! Let’s give thanks for our church family and tell each other how much we appreciate these relationships. I often hear people say, “I don’t know what I would do without my church family!” I can say the same!

Make it personal: Give thanks to God this week for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. We are very blessed. Also give thanks to God for this village of AMC people. Our church family is a blessing in so many ways!

Have a great 4th,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

One Thing

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

Last week I shared about the new treasure I found as we were preparing for a recent garage sale. Rich Mullins CD from 1989 entitled “Never Picture Perfect.” This week I wanted to share another song from that album that has such a great message for us, like most Rich Mullins songs do.

The title of the song is “My One Thing” and you can listen to it by clicking this Youtube link if you have not heard it before.

This past Sunday in church we heard the Beatitudes read and we focused in on verse 8 that says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” This is a line that is sung many times in this song, but the words encourage us to think about that “one thing” we always think we need to make us happy.

Sometimes it is a new smartphone, a new Ipad, a new laptop, a new television. It’s amazing how technology has somehow consumed us these days. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my smartphone, but I also ponder the lyrics of this song that say…

“Save me from those things that might distract me, Please take them away and purify my heart, I don’t want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing, ‘Cause what will I have when the world is gone if it isn’t for the love that goes on and on with My one thing, You’re my one thing, And the pure in heart shall see God.”

Jesus preached the Beatitudes so that we would keep the principles and the motives of our life focused on the eternal instead of the temporal things of this world. Maybe we all need to ask ourselves, “What is the One Thing I would take with me, physical or spiritual, if I had to make that choice?”

Would we really give up everything for a piece of technology? That may seem a bit drastic until we think about our lives and what our daily living says about that. I truly believe that God wants us to use these technologies he has blessed us with to reach people for him and share the Good News, but they must not become the source of our joy and happiness. That truly only comes from the Lord.

As this song says, “Oh Lord please give me the strength
to watch and work and love and sing and pray.” When our motives and our priorities in life are pure and focused on God we truly can experience the best this life has to offer.

Make it personal: Think about how you use technology. Is it used for your own benefit entirely or are you finding ways to share your faith and spread the Good News of Jesus? The world is at our fingertips and it needs to hear about Jesus the Savior!

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

“Hold on Tight”

Read: John 16:16-33

A couple weeks ago we were getting ready for a garage sale at our house when I ran across an old CD that I used to listen to all the time. That’s one good thing about garage sales, you end up finding some old treasures of your own. This CD was Rich Mullins album “Never Picture Perfect.”

Rich was a very talented Christian musician before his life tragically ended in an automobile accident in 1997. He and a friend were headed to a Mennonite college (Tabor) in Kansas for a benefit concert when their Jeep left the road on I-39 just south of Bloomington, Illinois and flipped several times. Rich was killed but his friend Mitch survived.

Rich Mullins is probably best known for the popular worship songs “Awesome God” and “Sometimes by Step,” but he had many other songs with lyrics that spoke openly and passionately about his Christian faith and our relationship with Jesus. One of those was “Bound to come some trouble” from this album.

The song is based on John 16:33 where Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” Here is a link to youtube if you would like to listen to this powerful song.

Life is filled with troubles just like Jesus said. Sometimes it is a tragedy, sometimes it is a disease, sometimes it is a difficult relationship, sometimes it can be a financial problem, and sometimes it can be all the above and more. As Christians we need to realize that Jesus promises to stand with us through those times of pain and heartache.

One line in this song says, “I know there’s bound to come some trouble to your life, But reach out to Jesus, hold on tight, He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like,
You’ll find He’s there.” It’s great to have family and friends stand by us in those difficult times, but nothing compares to the presence of Jesus who knows exactly what we are feeling and what we are dealing with.

As this song says, often people will give us maybes. Maybe it will end tomorrow, or maybe things will get better. But when those maybes aren’t enough and you need something more to hold on to, Jesus says “Hold on tight to me, I have overcome the world!” That’s a promise we need to claim, in the good times, and the very difficult ones as well.

Make it personal: I hope you will take 3 minutes of your day to click on the link above and listen to this song. It is powerful, it is true, and it may just be what you need today. Take Heart! Your Jesus will help you be an overcomer!

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

“Not in Vain”

Read: Exodus 20:7 and James 1:19-26

Yesterday as I was reading the newspaper an interesting article jumped out at me. The headline read “Massachusetts town votes to punish use of profanity.” I guess the town of Middleborough, Mass. decided to put a penalty on foul-mouthed swearing in public.

Each time the police hear someone using obscene and profane language in public they will be issued a ticket for $20. Downtown store owners are happy about it, but some people are questioning whether this violates first amendment rights.

Laws aside, I think many would agree that obscene and profane language is not good. It does nothing to make the people speaking those words or hearing those words feel better about themselves or the other person. And yet it is shocking how often we hear them in the course of everyday life.

It is especially heartbreaking when we hear the Lord’s name used in a profane manner. One of the Ten Commandments specifically says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” In the King James Version most people know it to say, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

In James 1 the Bible is very clear that our tongue is a powerful force. In verse 26 James says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” After all, why would we want to curse the God who made us in his image and created all that is?

Some people think it is “cool” to cuss, maybe because that’s what they do in the movies. When they cuss around their friends for some reason it makes them feel like one of the crowd. But actually they are damaging their witness, and as I said above, nobody actually feels good when profane language is uttered.

I’m not sure how I feel about a law for cursing, but I know how God feels about it, and as a Christian and follower of Jesus, that’s all I need to know. Christian’s, let’s keep our language pure, holy, and acceptable to God… even when we’re angry or things aren’t going our way.

Make it personal: If you have had trouble keeping a tight reign on your tongue (profanity, gossip, etc.), ask a friend to hold you accountable. If they hear those words coming out, they should remind you about God’s desire for your speech. Changing bad habits is sometimes a process, but if you don’t start, the process will not start either.

Blessings in your Speech,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

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