Midweek Reflections

Got Faith?

Read: Luke 7:1-10

The story is told of two nuns who were on their way to the local nursing home one day.  As they traveled through town they noticed that their car was acting very strange and not running very well.  Two blocks later the vehicle came to a stop and they noticed the gas gauge was on empty.  They had run out of gas.  Conveniently there was a gas station two blocks down the road.

The two women looked around for something to transport a little bit a gasoline from the station to their car and could only find a bedpan from the nursing home in their backseat.  After they filled the bedpan with gas they headed back and started to pour the gas into their tank.  As they did that, a couple drove by and observed curiously what was happening along the road.  As they watched the nuns pour the gas from the bedpan into the car the women said to her husband, “Now that’s what I call faith!”

In Luke 7:1-10 there is a testimony of great faith.  A centurion has heard of Jesus and his miracles and has sent some of his people to ask Jesus for help.  The centurion had a servant who was very ill.  In verse 2 it says that he was sick and about to die.  As Jesus comes close to his house he sends another message.  He says that he is not worthy of Jesus coming to his house, but yet he would like to see his friend healed.  Jesus is amazed at the faith of this man.  He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  In verse 10 it says, “Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”

Recently I ran across a poem by Nancy Spiegelberg and Dorothy Purdy entitled “If I had only known you.”  It goes like this…. “Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment.  If only I had known You better, I’d have come running with a bucket.”  What mountain needs to be moved in your life?  Perhaps it’s time to put away our cups and break out the buckets.

Make It Personal: How is your faith level these days?  Do you have faith that Christ will show up and be there for you in your greatest hours of need?  Have you asked?  Have you called on his name?  One thing I have learned through the years is that I should never underestimate the power of Jesus Christ in my life.

Have a Faith-filled week,  Glen Rhodes



Creation Springs Forth

Read: Psalm 8

One of the nice things about this time of year is the ability to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  It is also an incredible sight to see God’s creation come to life right before our eyes.  It won’t be too long now until the trees will be full, the grass green, and the fields planted with the hopes of a bountiful harvest.  This time of year truly proclaims the truth of Genesis 1 when God said that it was good.

 When it comes to God’s creation there are many different views.  Some refuse to believe that God was involved, some debate the details of how it happened, and others discuss the time frame in which it happened.  It seems that many times we get caught up in the details and forget to appreciate the wonder of it all.  Isn’t it enough just to know and appreciate that God created it and that it wasn’t by happenstance.  Edward Conklin, professor of biology at Princeton University once said, “The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of a dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing factory.”

There is a story about Isaac Newton from many years ago that fits well with this.  Newton made a miniature replica of our solar system.  At its center was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were smaller spheres attached to the ends of rods of varying lengths.  They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the other planets.  These were all geared together by cogs and belts to make them move around the sun in perfect harmony.

One day as Newton was studying the model, a friend who did not believe in the biblical account of creation stopped by for a visit.  Marveling at the device and watching as the scientist made the planets move in their orbits, the man exclaimed, “Why, Newton, what an exquisite thing!  Who made it for you?”  Without looking up, Newton said, “Nobody.”  “Nobody,” his friend said.  “That’s right, all of these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began revolving in their set orbits and with perfect timing!”  Newton had to say no more, his point had been made.

Make it Personal: As we once again marvel at the springtime that will unfold before us, let us be reminded that God created it for us to enjoy, to care for, and to view as a reminder of his work and power in our world and universe.  That is what I like most about Spring, it testifies that God loves us and that God is still making things new in our world.  Enjoy the beautiful weather ahead everyone!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes      



That’s The Truth!

Read: Matthew 5:33-37

A Bloomberg Business Week article once shared a Cornell University professor’s survey of 30 undergraduates and their communications with others.  He found that lies were told in 37% of their phone calls, 25% of face to face conversations, and only 14% of emails.  He went on to share the reason for this by saying that it is because emails leave a permanent trail and the other forms of communication do not.

In other words, students were afraid of being found out about their lies.  I would assume this study would translate into our broader culture with close to the same percentages, which means one thing, people are much more willing to be dishonest or to lie if they know that it won’t come back to bite them in the future.

In Matthew 5 Jesus says that we are to be so honest that we shouldn’t even have to swear to someone that we are being truthful.  In other words, our lives are to be a testimony of honesty so that others do not doubt for even one minute whether we are telling them the truth or not.  And when we think that we are the only one that knows about a lie that we have told we are forgetting about the “all knowing” power of God.

Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  Be sure of yourself, be honest and truthful, and live your life with those character traits being evident to all those around you.  When people describe us may they say, “She is a woman of her word” or “He is a man of his word.”

  

Make It Personal:  As you go about this week think about the temptations that come about lying.  When you sense them coming, ask Jesus to help you be honest even if you and Jesus are the only ones that know about it.  In the long run this will allow you live a much more peaceful life.    

Be blessed this week, Glen Rhodes



Easter Monday

Read: Acts 26:12-18

This past Sunday in the adult Christian Education class we talked a bit about Easter Monday.  What is it, what does it mean, and why is listed on our calendars?  Easter Monday is celebrated primarily in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions.  It is sometimes referred to as Bright Monday or Renewal Monday.  It is celebrated in different ways around the world with the after affects of the resurrection of Jesus often being the focus.  That is where Easter Monday or Easter and beyond should encourage those who follow Jesus.  No matter what life brings, we can find new strength and power from on high because of this Easter truth. 

In Acts 26 Paul is on trial or being questioned by King Agrippa when he shares about his own resurrection encounter with Jesus.  He talks about the road to Damascus when he was struck by a bright light from heaven that caused him to fall to the ground.  Then the voice of Jesus speaks to him and tells him to “get up and stand on your feet.” Jesus then tells Paul that he will rescue him, send him, and use him to bring people from darkness to light in the name of Christ.  Jesus brought Paul himself from darkness to light during his own life transformation.

There are many other resurrection stories in the Bible that don’t necessarily concern physical death, tombs, and mourning.  There are stories like that of Paul that show how life can be resurrected from darkness to light, from depression to joy, from heartache to deliverance, from addiction to sobriety, from weariness to renewal, from tired to revived.  In fact, those stories are still alive today because of the resurrection of Jesus.  That is what Easter Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mean to us as Christians.  We can rise up and claim that Jesus is alive and therefore we are alive.  All is not lost in a troubled world because God is the one who rules the world, and Jesus can help us to overcome the troubles of this world.  Let’s Praise His Name together for the never ending truth of Easter resurrection!

Make It Personal: What does it mean for you to rise up and claim this resurrection power in Jesus in the days ahead?  What does it mean for your family?  What does it mean for the church?  We will look at these things this Sunday as we consider the truth in Isaiah 40 that proclaims “God rules the whole earth, and the Lord gives us the strength that we need!”

 Have a great week, Glen Rhodes



The Last Week

Read: Luke 17-21

As we celebrate Holy Week this week it might be helpful for us to look back on that last week of Jesus’ life before his death and resurrection.  Luke 17-21 is a good place to start when recalling some of these events but here is how that last week was for Jesus….

Saturday and Sunday – The weekend before the cross and empty tomb found Jesus in Bethany.  He was anointed at the house of Simon the leper by a woman who was weeping at his feet as she worshiped him.  Many people came to Bethany this weekend to see Jesus and he shared words of hope and life with them.  He indicated that the time of his death was near and about his resurrection but many did not understand what he was saying, including his disciples.

Monday – Jesus rides the donkey into Jerusalem with what we know as the triumphal entry.  This fulfills prophecies of the Old Testament and many people worship and praise him by laying palm branches and shouting praises along the route.  Many of these would turn on him later in the week and deny him.

Tuesday – The religious leaders begin to plot ways to kill Jesus on this day.  As accusations begin to swirl among them Jesus reminds his followers that following him would look different than following the ways of the world.  Jesus also curses a fig tree on this day warning the people about spiritual blindness.

Wednesday – Jesus predicts that in two days he will be crucified during the time of passover.  He teaches timely lessons to his followers on this day and prepares them for his eventual ascension into heaven.  He also promises of his return and tells hs disciples to be ready and on guard at all times.

Thursday – Maundy Thursday is when Jesus shared the last supper with his disciples in the upper room.  The bread was to represent his broken body and the wine was to represent his shed blood for he sins of all mankind.  The sacrifice of the cross is still recognized and remembered today around the world through Holy Communion.  Later this night Jesus is arrested after his disciple Judas betrays him.

Friday – Often referred to as Good Friday because of what Jesus did for the good all humanity.  His death on the cross bought the grace and forgiveness of all who believe in him and receive his pardon.  The cross of Calvary was the end result of a day of trials, beatings, and Jesus carrying his own cross through the streets of Jerusalem.  Later on Friday the curtain in the temple was torn in two and Jesus proclaimed “It is Finished!”

Saturday – Holy Saturday is when the body of Jesus lay in the tomb with Roman guards keeping watch.  Little did they or others know what was about to happen the following morning.

Sunday – The most glorious day ever for Christians and those who believe.  Jesus is risen from the tomb and death is defeated once and for all.  The women discover the empty tomb and run back to tell the others.  Some of them run to see it for themselves.  Jesus continues to appear to the disciples and others in the days that follow until he eventually ascends into heaven.

Make It Personal: Jesus suffered much on our behalf but he knew that it was God’s plan to save you and I from our sins and so he committed himself to the cross.  He was also glorified in his resurrection and because of his resurrection we all have the blessing of eternal life with him in heaven.  Death has been defeated once and for all.  For those who believe and follow Jesus this was the best week in the history of the world.  Let’s celebrate it in that way!

 Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes



Solomon & Wooden

Read: Proverbs 2 & 3

March Madness is half way done!  The NCAA basketball brackets that were filled out has everyone hoping that their pick to win it all makes it to the championship game on April 5th.  For me that opportunity has already passed (Thank you Illini).  Since March Madness is beginning to turn into April’s Final Four I wanted to use this week’s article to share some wisdom from legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden.  In scripture Proverbs 2 and 3 share the importance of wisdom and the benefits that it brings to our lives.  One of the most beloved verses in all of scripture comes from chapter 3, verse 5 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Some of the excerpts that I will be sharing come from the 6th chapter of Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny’s book entitled “The Matheny Manifesto.”  In his book Matheny shares of how basketball coach John Wooden had such a profound impact on his life and the way he manages his team today.  He writes….  “Just in case you don’t know who John Wooden was: As head basketball coach of UCLA from 1948 to 1975, he led the Bruins to 10 NCAA national championships in his last twelve years, seven of those in a row, something never done before or since. During that time, the Bruins once won a record 88 straight games, and Wooden was named national coach of the year six times.”

Matheny writes that Wooden was a great teacher, mentor, coach, and person.  He also shares that John Wooden was a devout Christian.  Matheny writes, “He was a devout Christian and often said his beliefs were more important to him than basketball.  Wooden said, “Basketball is not the ultimate.  It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live.  There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.”

Matheny writes more, “John was a daily Bible reader and a member of the First Christian Church.  He once said “If I were ever persecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”  Here are some other favorite quotes of Mr. Wooden….  “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”  “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”  “If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.”

“You can do more good by being good than any other way.”  “I never yelled at my players much.  Artificial stimulation doesn’t last long.  It’s like love and passion.  Passion won’t last as long as love.  It’s the same with yelling.”  “You discipline those under your supervision in order to correct, to help, to improve, not to punish.”  “Kindness makes for much better teamwork.”  “Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.”  “Be slow to correct and quick to commend.”

There are many more where those come from.  Matheny mentions that coach Wooden never claimed that any of his many quotes were all original with him, but it seemed he had one for every occasion.  NBA star Bill Walton (who played for Wooden at UCLA) says he used to write these quotes on his son’s lunch bags when he sent them off to school.  

Make It Personal: As we continue to watch the games of this year’s NCAA tournament and pull for our teams, let’s remember the importance of wise teaching, wise examples, and Godly character.  Coach Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010, four months short of his 100th birthday.  Wise and valuable quotes are always inspiring and helpful but coach Wooden would be the first to tell us that none of those can compare to the wisdom and value of the Bible.  Many of his quotes were actually inspired by scripture.  Read Proverbs 2 and 3 this week and renew your value in Godly Wisdom!

 Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes




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