Midweek Reflections

Honest Truth

Read: 2 Timothy 2:14-19          

This past week I heard that baseball games before 1859 had home plate umpires that would sit in  padded rocking chairs while calling balls and strikes.  After doing some in-depth research, (Google) I learned that some reports said umpires would sit in their chairs 20 feet behind home plate.  I’m not sure how accurate you could be from that far back.  I’m also not sure how accurate my research was, because how do you know what to trust and what not to trust on the internet?

Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  What he meant by that was that truth remains truth, and the facts don’t need to be remembered because it will always remain true.  Falsehoods are made up and are therefore more difficult to recall.  By the way, one website claimed that a young Mark Twain was one of those early umpires that called games from a rocking chair. 

In a world filled with deceptive websites, dishonest tweets, fake Facebook posts, and biased news reporting, how are we to know what to believe as honest truth?  In each situation the answer to that might be different, but each of us needs to seek after truthful sources and not be swayed by unreliable chatter.  With life situations, God’s Word is always the source to start with.

In 2 Timothy 2:14-19 we are encouraged to handle the truth correctly and be honest in our business, relationships, and interactions with each other.  It says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

We can’t always control the honesty of others, but we can choose to be truthful and honest in our own lives.  Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”  It may not matter too much if umpires, such as Mark Twain, once relaxed on rocking chairs behind home plate.  But it does matter if our family, friends, and colleagues can count on us to be honest with them.  Make honesty something you are known for!

Make it Personal:  How is honesty and truthfulness in your life?  Some people struggle with this more than others, but for all of us the temptation is there.  Ask God to help you overcome the temptation to deceive or twist the truth.  Live a life of integrity and truth that honors God and your life will be much easier and less complicated.   In fact, Mark Twain says that you won’t have to remember anything.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


Let Them Be!

This Week’s Meditation:  “Let Them Be!”
Read: James 3:1-12

Anyone else one of the committed 29 million who woke at 3:40am to watch the Royal Wedding this past Saturday? What teenage girl doesn’t dream of marrying a prince for her senior wedding project…until he gets married, that is. HA! In high school, I was so blessed to take an independent study I created titled British Women in History and Literature. Mrs. Hapgood and I would read British novels, study female British leaders, discuss and debate William & Kate’s wedding that happened that spring, and drink gallons of tea and eat an unhealthy amount of biscuits. One thing we circled back to is that every individual we studied had rumors and gossip happening around them and we don’t know today which was truth or lies. Whether they were loved or hated, people were known to talk about them. Gossip is defined as rumor or reports revealing personal or sensational facts about others.

One of the families we used to vacation with every year had an aunt who was not the average woman size. As a youngin’ with no filter, I stated out loud where she could hear me, “She is fat.” Even as I relive that horrid comment of mine, my face turns red from embarrassment. But as you can imagine, my mom yanked me aside and scolded me, “We don’t call people that!” “But she is, Mom! Don’t you tell us we need to not eat more than we need because it’s not healthy to get fat?”

I don’t remember my mom’s whole explanation, but I do remember her teaching me that it doesn’t matter what we say about others, whether it’s true or not; it’s not our place to share their story. She taught me young that gossip and rumors did nothing good. As I grew through my school years and into adulthood, I continued to hear gossip and rumors and even caught myself sharing information that wasn’t mine to share. It’s such an easy trap to get caught in when everyone around me was doing it without hesitation. It may have been easy for parents to teach kids that, but a whole other story to actually set the example for our kids.

I thought of this as I was listening to the commentary leading up to the Royal Wedding. Meghan’s dad was not able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding because of his health, is what the Kensington Palace officially issued in a statement last week. But of course, everyone was creating more details as to why. I was tempted to type in a Google search to find more details, but then I realized that it’s not my business to know her family life. It does not affect me in any way, why am I so curious? This is their wedding day, can’t we just let them be blissfully happy for a few hours! Why can’t all these reporters just LET THEM BE! Because culture tells us that everything is our business and knowledge is power, with celebrities or our local friends whom we interact with. But if we look to God’s Word, it teaches us that we have enough to discuss in our own lives, rather than dig our hands into other peoples. James says that if we could control our tongues, we could be perfect…but no one can tame the tongue. Psalms and Proverbs gives us wisdom on this subject too:

Proverbs 16:28 “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Proverbs 26:22: Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.”

Psalms 15:3,5b: “Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends…such people will stand firm forever.”

How often do I look to other people’s lives to compare or comment on INSTEAD of just focusing on what God has put in my life to focus on? This world shows us hatred and gives us trouble…but God is our peace and shows us truth. We need to constantly be redirecting our attention back to what God has put in front of us daily to do. It’s as simple as that!

Make it Personal:  Do you ever catch yourself falling into this worldly trap of gossip/rumors/sharing? What might you be avoiding or missing in your own life when your focus is pulled in that different direction?

Have a great week, Pastor Ashley Litwiller
Arthur Mennonite Church, 
710 E. Park St.
arthurmennonite.org



Thoughts and Prayers

 

Read: Ephesians 6:18-24           

Whoever thought the day would come when people would be criticized for offering up thoughts and prayers for those in need?  And yet that is the current trend in some circles.  I understand their point is to move people towards action, like passing a law, or making an injustice right, but we should never discount the power of prayer in any situation.

In Ephesians 6 Paul says that it is important for us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Whether it is a situation close to home, a disaster in our country, or a dangerous situation in our world, we should always be inclined to pray for those affected by those things.  We can also pray for change to happen when change needs to happen.  Thoughts and prayers don’t mean inaction, instead they call into action the God of the universe.

Eric Metaxas recently wrote on this subject and he brought up the life of William Wilberforce.   Eric has written a book about Wilberforce and said, “One of my heroes, the great William Wilberforce, accomplished more thoughtful action than most, as the key figure in abolishing the British slave trade.  But Wilberforce was also a man of prayer, prayer that fueled his faith in Jesus and compelled him to act for the good of his fellow man.  It was Wilberforce who said, “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”’

The Apostle Paul was a man of prayer and we should take his encouragement to heart in Ephesians 6 and always pray for those in need.  We should never be ashamed to offer up our thoughts and prayers in any situation.  Perhaps Adoniram Gordon said it best, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” 

Make it Personal:  Who do you need to pray for today?  What do you need to pray about?  Whatever your answer is to those questions, the action must begin with prayer.  When you pray you cannot help but think about those you are praying for or the situations in life you are praying about.  It does make a difference!

Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.



Your Island of Peace

 

Read:  Psalm 23 & Luke 5:15-16              

  Where do you go to find peace and calm?  Back in 1961 Golf Digest magazine interviewed Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist who preached at hundreds of revivals and led thousands to salvation in Jesus.  In that article he was asked about his place for peace and solace in the midst of his very busy schedule.  He said, “For me, a golf course is an island of peace in world often full of confusion and turmoil.”

I too find a golf course to be an island of peace.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I started to play golf.  My game was so bad at the beginning that the peaceful beauty of the course is the only thing that kept me coming back.  My game is a little better now, but it is still the peace I feel on the golf course that allows me to take a deep breath and be refreshed and renewed.

We all need to find that place.  A place of peace, renewal, comfort, and refreshment in the midst of a busy, confused, and tumultuous world.  For some it is a day fishing or boating on the lake, for others it is sitting around a campfire or going on a walk in the woods, for some it can even be a certain room or chair in your home.  It may be different for everyone, but we all need to find that island of peace and spend some time there.

Jesus did this.  Often in scripture we hear how Jesus got away from the crowds who were drawn to his miracles in order to rest and pray.  In Luke 5:16 it says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  If we want to follow the example of Jesus, then this is one of those examples we should follow.

In Psalm 23 it says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”  The Lord is our provider and the Lord will also provide an island of peace for us to find rest sometimes.  It may be a golf course, it may be a pool, it could be a lake, it might be the woods, or it may be that special room or chair in your home.  Wherever it is, spend some time there and be refreshed!

Make it Personal:  Were you able to answer that question about where you find peace and calm?  If so I hope you will be intentional about spending time there and finding some peace and quiet in your life.  If not, I hope you will pray about where the Lord will lead you to find his peace. Will it be a green pasture or beside a quiet stream?  Ask where he is leading you.

Have a peace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes



The Cracked Pot

 

Read: Judges 13-16

          The story of Samson (Judges 13-16) and many others in the Bible remind us that God can use us despite our failures and shortcomings.  Some other names in the Bible that come to mind are Jonah, David, Peter, and Paul.  That’s a good thing because none of us are perfect.  It reminds me of another story from India that I have heard from time to time.  It goes like this…

A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.

The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.  After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:

I’m ashamed of myself, I want to apologize to you.  I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.  Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get the full value of your efforts.”

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there was garden produce growing only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?  That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted many different seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them.  For two years I have been able to pick wonderful produce to give to others in need.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this bounty of blessing to share.”

We can be thankful that God uses cracked pots to accomplish his work in this world.  Despite our shortcomings, failures, and missteps, God will accept us and empower us in his grace.  He has given us that grace through his Son Jesus and restores us to bring forth fruit… or produce.

Make it Personal:  If you have beat yourself up over past mistakes or failures, God’s Word (The Bible) is full of examples of how God wants to redeem you, restore you, forgive you, and use you to make a difference in this world.  You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be open to his leading in your life.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



About That Temptation

 

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13      

George Sweeting once said, “Every temptation is an opportunity for us to draw nearer to God.”  The reason that statement is true is that God is the one who can help us resist, overcome, and move past various temptations in our lives.  No one is exempt from the dangers of temptation.  Sometimes those temptations are small things and other times they can be life-altering things.  Choosing to ask Jesus for help is key to overcoming them.

Discipleship Journal magazine asked its readers to rank the areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them.  Here were the temptations that rose to the top:  1.Materialism  2.Pride  3.Self-centeredness  4.Laziness  5.Sexual lust  6.Anger/Bitterness  7.Envy  8.Gluttony  9.Lying.  Perhaps there are some on that list that you had not considered.

81% of those responding to this poll noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God.  Other reasons given for difficulty in resisting temptation included, being physically tired, lacking time in prayer and Bible study, not avoiding compromising situations, and not being accountable to someone else.  Perhaps you could add some others.

In I Corinthians 10 the Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  Being tempted is not a sin, but giving into temptation often leads us into sin.

The Life Application Study Bible commentary gives us some helpful advice about these verses.  It says, “Wrong desires and temptations happen to everyone, so don’t feel you’ve been singled out; Others have resisted temptation, and so can you; Any temptation can be resisted because God will help you resist it.”  Jesus can help you, “Recognize those people and situations that give you trouble; Help you run from anything you know is wrong; Choose to do what is right; Pray for God’s help; And seek friends who love God and can offer help when you are tempted.” 

Make it Personal:  Remember the opportunity mentioned above by George Sweeting.  Every time you are tempted you are given an opportunity to seek God’s help in resisting that temptation.  Pray and ask Jesus to help you move past it and move on.  You will be glad you did!

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



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