Midweek Reflections

“Lifestyle of Prayer”

This weeks meditation:  “Lifestyle of Prayer”
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24

I have often been intriqued by the book “The Practice of the Presence of God.”  This was a book that was compiled from the life and writings of Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) who lived in Paris, France and is known for his life committment of finding the love and presence of God in every part of life.

For years he served in a monastery in Paris preparing meals, washing dishes, and doing various other chores.  In many ways his life was his sermon and testimony.  He once said, “If I were a preacher, I would preach nothing but the practice of the presence of God.”

His story is a good one to share as we enter into this season of Spring.  You see, Brother Lawrence had a transformational experience through the encounter with a barren tree.  As he looked at the tree he realized the new life that would come forth as Spring approached.  That experience not only drew him to God but changed his life.

It was a lifetime journey for him but his desire was to live his whole life as a prayer, as an ongoing conversation with God.  He tried to practice this as he relaxed and as he worked, and as he fellowshiped with God’s people.

I have made it a goal of mine this year to spend more time in prayer, but as I reflect on the life of Brother Lawrence I am encouraged that this does not have to always be a designated time that I sit down and bow my head.  What if I take that conversation with God into every part of my day?

I do think it’s important that we have those quiet, uninterupted times with God, but I think this idea of seeing prayer as a lifestyle is what Paul was referring to in verse 17 of this passage when he says, “pray continually!” (NIV)

I am thankful this week for Edna Krueger Dyck who wrote a recent article in Purpose magazine and reminded me once again about the life and example of Brother Lawrence.  She ends her article by writing, “Prayer then is a lifestyle, a moment-by-moment awareness of God in my life, an invitation to God to keep emotional company with me.  I think that Jesus practiced this kind of prayer life, this communion with God, and I think it’s what Paul meant by “praying without ceasing.”

Make it personal:  Try to take your prayer life into your everday life this week.  Keep the conversation with Jesus going throughout your day and allow him to celebrate the high points with you and support and encourage you in the low points.  Make prayer a part of your lifestyle!

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life

Arthur Mennonite Church


“IT MATTERS”

This weeks meditation:  “IT MATTERS!”
Read: Matthew 15:1-20
I usually don’t like it when people use all caps like I did in the title for this weeks meditation.  I did it because it seemed to fit the subject for this week.  Caps seem to shout a message at us and that is exactly what our media culture today is doing; shouting worldviews, values, morals, and many other things into our lives.
In Matthew 15 Jesus talks about the clean and the unclean.  He mentions that our heart is worth protecting because it is out of our heart which comes our life.  In verse 18 he says, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.”  So how do we protect our heart and keep it clean?
I recently read in Charisma magazine that the average 17 year old in the United States has watched and listened to 63,835 hours of movies, videos, T.V. programs, video games, and music in their lifetime.  Compare those numbers to this; Those same 17 year olds have only spent 11,000 hours in school, 2,000 hours with their parents, and 900 hours in church (if they are actively attending).
As Christians we need to realize that what we put into our minds through movies, T.V., video games and music does matter, it does affect our heart in more ways than we realize.  As Jesus says, our heart will be the conduit for what our life looks like.
Parents need to not only pay attention to thier own intake of these various forms of media but we also need to be concerned about these 63,835 hours that our children will consume.  Even if our children are not the average they are still impacted by this in many ways.
While parents cannot make all the decisions for their children (and shouldn’t try to) we can teach them what is good for the heart and bad for the heart by our words, actions, and what we allow into our homes.  It is up to Christian parents to protect the hearts of their family.
Chuck Colson recently said, “The fact is we can’t trust our institutions to teach our kids to live according to moral principles. That job has to fall to us. I cannot say this often enough. The first and most important school of instruction is the family. If we want our children to know how to behave prudently, how to delay gratification for a higher goal, how to look to the needs of others before pandering to their own passions, then we’ll have to teach them in the context of family.”
YES!  It does matter and it’s never too late to start.
Make it personal:  No matter what the situation is in your family it is always possible to set out on a new course.  You may have to ease into it but at least start by discussing the reasons why some things in the media are not good for us to consume.  Open your Bible and find passages like Matthew 15 and others that will communicate that this is God’s desire for us and that is why it matters.
Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church


“The Lord is your confidence”

This weeks meditation:  “The Lord is your confidence”
Read: James 3:4-7 and Proverbs 3

In James 3:6 the writer references Proverbs 3:34.  It is amazing sometimes how the New Testament writers can pick one verse out of the entire Old Testament to make their point.  James does exactly that.  As he speaks of pride and humility he makes it clear where God stands on these things.

He says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  The entire third chapter of Proverbs is devoted to the benefits of wisdom, and humility is stressed over and over.  Not a humility that allows everyone to walk all over us, but a humility that gives credit where credit is due.

We live in a world that is very individualistic.  A big part of that individualism comes from the prideful ways we view our accomplishments and successes.  When Proverbs 3 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him…” it is reminding us that our prideful boasting is not the way of God or a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Milton Hubbard once said, “We take pride in possessions, but it’s said of Jesus, The Son of man hath no place to lay His head.  We take pride in our abilities, but Jesus said, I can of my own self do nothing.  We take pride in our intellect, but Jesus said, As the Father has taught me, I speak these things.”

The one common denominator in Jesus’ life was that his humility always pointed towards heaven. He defered all the credit and praise to God the Father and became a servant to all those around him.  What a fresh approach that would be in today’s “me first” world.

It’s okay to be proud of something and someone as long as we don’t take the credit for ourselves.  We must point to God as the giver of all good things and in humility acknowledge Him in all our ways.  After all, It is because of Him that we live, move, and have our being.

Make it personal:  Pride has a tendency to well up in each of us from time to time.  Be aware of that and be ready to name it when it occurs in your life.  When it does pause and ask God to forgive you.  He will not only forgive you with grace but He will help you to realize the active part He has in your life.

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



“The Social Network Spark”

This weeks meditation:  “The Social Network Spark”
Read: James 3:1-12

In this third chapter of James the subject is taming the tongue.  In verse 5 it reads, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

In the past month or two we have seen the power of social networking around the world.  Revolutions have been organized, people have been rescued, and the power of the internet has been in full display for all to see.

While James is writing about our speech in this passage, in today’s culture he could write about our keyboard as well.  We all know the damage that our tongues can do; Gossip, lies, deciet, manipulation, anger, cursing, bullying, and the list could go on.  Do we realize that many of those things happen via the keyboard or keypad today as well?

In a day when texting, Facebook, Twitter, and other things have started revolutions we need to consider the power they have in our relationships.  As James says, “one spark can start a great forest fire.”  If the tongue needs to be tamed then so do our interactions online as well.

As many of you know I am fully engaged with most of these online communications and I think they can be a positive thing if they are used for those purposes.  But so often it seems like people type before thinking about what they are saying or how it might affect others or even themselves.  We’ve heard the phrase “Think before you speak” and now we need to apply “Think before you type.”

James is encouraging us to use our words and our communication for good instead of evil.  He wants our interactions to reflect the ways of Christ and be beneficial for the building up of others and not tearing down.

The Message Bible says it well when it paraphrases Phillipians 4:8-9 to say, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

May those things also fill our screens as well!

Make it personal:  Maybe a simple prayer will help us focus on this in the week ahead….. “Lord Jesus, help me to control my tongue and my interactions with people in the various ways I communicate with others.  Forgive me for hurts I have caused and sparks that I have ignited.  Transform my heart, my mind, my mouth, and my fingers to be used in ways that glorify your name and your presence in my life.  Amen!”

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



“Showing Favoritism”

This weeks meditation:  “Showing Favoritism”
Read: James 2:1-13

Valentines Day just passed a couple days ago.  This is always a time that we do something for the favorite someone in our life.  On Valentines it is okay to show a little bit of favoristism to those who are closest to you.  But in this passage of scripture James warns us that favoristism in the general course of life is not a healthy habit for the committed Christian.

Imagine yourself sitting in a worship service and two very different people come in to sit beside you.  The first one is very well dressed, well groomed, and has the latest leather Bible that they are carrying with them.  the second is a very poor person that looks like they just rolled out of bed and stumbled into church that morning.  There is no leather Bible in hand, just the smell of alchohol.

How are you going to respond to both of these scenerios?  What James is trying to teach us in these 13 verses is that God’s love and acceptance is the same for each of these people.  Not only that, he says that ours should be as well.  So often we treat people with favoritism by how they look on the outside instead of getting to know them on the inside.

If we are going to “love our neighbor as ourself” then there will be many times we have to look past the first impression to see the person that God loves and wants to reach out to.  In verse 9 James says that showing favoritism is a sin.  We often proclaim that racism, discrimination, and hatred are sins (rightly so) but do we realize that even our attitude about someone different from us in any way is also a sin.

Jesus is very clear that we are to love all people, even those who are living in sin and need to be saved through the cross of Christ.  If we are careful not to elevate ourselves and our friends over others we will soon realize that we have been saved by Jesus Christ in exactly this same way.

James ends in verses 12-13 with a very clear instruction.  He says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Make it personal:  Perhaps someone came to your mind as you were reading this.  Maybe not someone sitting next to you in church but someone in your community or at your workplace.  The next time you see them say to yourself, “God loves them and so will I!”  It will be a good reminder that in God’s eyes we all are very important.

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



“Mirror Image”

This weeks mediation:  “Mirror Image”
Read: James 1:19-25

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once told a story about his visit to a nice restaurant. He said as he ate he kept noticing a rather angry looking man across the dining room who scowled at him every time he looked his way. Finally Spurgeon decided to go over and speak to the man to see what his problem was. However, as he stood up he realized that what he had been seeing was his own reflection in mirrors that lined the walls across the room.

It’s hard to beleive that Spurgeon could not recognize himself in that situation but it’s a great example of what often happens to us when life takes off at warp speed.  We easily forget what we are reflecting to those around us.  In verse 22 of this passage James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

He then goes on to talk about a person who sees themself in a mirror but then walks away and forgets what they look like.  My memory is pretty short but I would like to think it is longer than that.  What James is trying to say is that we must take our prayers, our reading of God’s Word, and our times of worship with us as we go out the door each day.

When we put our faith into action it has the potential to reflect Christ to others even when a mirror is not present.  In fact you are the mirror! Remember that as you head out to work and other events this week.  It’s not as important that people remember what you look like on the outside as it is that they remember the characteristics of Christ they see reflected in your life.

Make it personal:  Pick one Christ-like characteristic to focus on this week.  Make sure that it is being reflected in all your interactions with other people this week.  Next week pick another one, and the week after that another one.  The Lord will bless you in this as verse 25 proclaims!

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




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