Friday, August 17, 2018

15 Years of Extra Life - I’ll Take it

GOD is my helper; the LORD is a sustainer of my life.   Ps. 54:4

And they said it wouldn’t last. My life, that is. You see, some 15 years ago today, I was getting ready to preach on a Sunday morning at the church plant I had been clearly called to start in Mount Pleasant, SC. Everything, and I mean everything was normal. It was a normal, warm August morning. I felt absolutely normal. Everything at the church was going normal. Everyone arrived and was setting up at the movie theater just like normal. I was doing a sound check for my headset, and even the sound system was normal. It was a normal mid August morning, except for one detail, the tissue that surrounded my aorta was in a weakened and possibly damaged state. Unlike a normal aorta, my aorta was about to split lengthwise from my heart to the section where it descends to feed the rest of my body. My complete ascending aorta was going to dissect, split open, and there was nothing anyone on this earth could do about it.

The blood surging through my veins to give life, was now placing deadly pressure against the weakened walls in the largest artery in my body, my aorta. It ripped. I looked at my wife. I said, "I need help." I collapsed. She caught me. She laid me on the floor. I turned blue and began to gurgle and convulse. Panic broke out in the church that morning. The place that we began in order to bring peace to a worried and anxious world, was now in bedlam. The place that we had invited people to hear the words of life, was a place that held in its walls, death.
Immediately, there were calls to 911. Screaming. Running. Panic. Praying. 
Had it not been for the quick thinking of my son, Ivey, who immediately gave me mouth to mouth and would not allow anyone to give me chest compressions, I would have died. No doubt. But there I was turning blue, gasping for breath, being tended to by my son, unconscious on that movie theater, turned church floor, dying.

The EMT’s arrived and tried to stabilize my heart, but could not. Finally the doctor told them on the phone, bring him like he is. Once my body arrived at Roper Hospital in downtown Charleston, extraordinary measures were taking place to sustain my seemingly lifeless body as they tried to diagnose what was wrong. It took the CT Scan to find out that a pool of blood had formed inside my chest with only a Saran Wrap thin aortic tissue which kept my blood from hemorrhaging into the rest of my body and causing instant death.
So the call went out from Dr. Blue in the emergency room to Dr. Peterseim, one of the foremost cardio-thoracic surgeons in the nation. The emergency room asked the surgeon, Would you come in and take a look at this Aortic dissection? All Peterseim could say was, “Is he still alive? Keep him alive. I’ve never seen one alive.” He had performed 1000’s of surgeries and had never had the opportunity to see an aortic dissection alive. I was to be his first. 

Upon arrival, he got to see me alive, struggling for every breath, and then got to work researching ways to repair such a massive injury and coming up with an operating plan. It was determined that it was possible, but as Peterseim told my wife, it’s been too long, your husband is no longer there. There’s been too much oxygen deprivation and too many of his brain cells have died. “We can save his heart, do you want us to?” Her answer? "Save his heart, we’ll worry about the rest later."
In the waiting room, a prayer band had gathered over 100 strong. Praying, literally crying out to God to save my life and bring healing and recovery. God heard that day. The surgery was successful. An aortic replacement had been substituted for the real thing. My heart was beating. I was alive. Against all odds, I was alive. But for how long?

Long enough to see more than 100 people come to faith in Christ. Long enough to experience all four of my children finish their educations, get married, and move to their places of ministry and calling. Long enough to hold in my arms nine (soon to be ten) grandchildren. Long enough for my wife, Kelly, to go back to school, change her major, and graduate manga cum laude from CSU with a degree in education. Long enough for Kelly to find her life time work at Palmetto Christian academy teaching second graders to read, write, and do arithmetic.  Long enough to now move from hydraulic lift, to powered wheelchair, to regular wheelchair, to walker, to quad cane, to regular cane, to walking (kind of) on my own, to riding 15 plus miles on my Giant mountain bike. Yes, these 15 years have been very good to me. I now have a family that God is using all over the country. I have a wife that loves and goes above and beyond for me over and over again. I have a church that loves and cheers me on. Friends that have stayed with me and have prayed for me. A Mom and Dad who support me emotionally and spiritually. But most of all, I have a God who will never leave me nor forsake me. The One who has sustained me on my good days and my bad. My God who will usher me into His abode, where I hope to hear, one day... "Well done."

Friday, December 15, 2017

That Smell Sure Brings Me Back...

Christmas is that time of year that brings us all intense remembrance of what it was for each of us. All unique. All very real.. For most, we remember the sights, the sounds, and the fragrance of Christmas. You don't hear much about the latter, so I want to mention my 5 favorites, then you can compare and then feel free to post what your favorites are:

5. Christmas tree freshly cut
4. Cookies baking
3. Peppermint candy
2. Pumpkin pie cooking

and my number one favorite scent...
 
1. Turkey fresh out the oven
Is there anything better during the holidays? Yum!
Certain scents will evoke some of our strongest memories. According to a recent study reported by the New York Times in The Nose, an Emotional Time Machine that: "olfaction (that's smelling for us non-scientific types) is our quickest sense...odiferous messages barrel along dedicated pathways straight from the nose and right into the brain’s olfactory cortex, for instant processing."
The reason that it impacts us so greatly is "the olfactory cortex is embedded within the brain’s limbic system (where our brain registers both emotions and smells) and amygdala (the part of the brain that registers memories), where emotions are born and emotional memories stored." That’s why smells, feelings and memories become so easily and intimately entangled.
That's why we can smell a certain odor and be immediately transported to another time long, long ago. God seems to have designed our brain to mix it all up so that we recall things without effort because of our sense of smell.
Pie is equally wonderful.
God places great importance on fragrance as well. He wanted incense burned every time the high priest went to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat as Passover. In addition, when the Lord sent the kings from the east, two of their three gifts were known for their scent: frankincense and myrrh. Could it be that it would be a reminder each time Jesus went to the temple He would remember who He was born to be? God who put on human flesh (frankincense was reserved for the worship of God) Could it be that every time He went to a funeral He would remember what He was born to do? Die for the sins of man (myrrh was used in burial as a preservative).
In the same way, our aroma affects those around us. Listen to this:
But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
How's your fragrance?
This Christmas, as we breath in the wonderful aromas of the season, may we remember why we celebrate "Christ"mas. Let's spread His sweet fragrance everywhere beginning this wonderful, holy week.
Merry Christmas!
Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Guilt Free

 
A Bible-believing Christian psychiatrist once said, “The trouble with psychiatry is that it can only deal with symptoms. A psychiatrist can remove a patient’s feelings of guilt, but he cannot remove the guilt. It’s like a trucker loosening a fender on his truck so he won’t hear the motor knock. A patient can end up feeling better, but have two problems instead of one!”
How can we know personally that we have this perfect standing before God? That we are really guilt free...with the sense of guilt overpowering us? We can know because of the witness and promise of God the Holy Spirit through His very Word:
This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, He adds: I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin (Hebrews 10:15–18, HCSB). 
This verse in the Bible prophecies by the witness of the Spirit which is based on the work of the Son, and is given through the words of the Bible. This is quoted from Jeremiah 31:33 and repeated here in Hebrews 10. Why? This gave these wavering Jewish believers a legitimate reason to forsake the old system of laws and regulations.
One of the saddest things is that the old covenant worshiper (those who held on to their religion of sacrificing animals over and over) who could not say that he had “no more consciousness of sins” (Heb. 10:2). Their guilt remained as it ate on them from the inside out. Those who wanted to go back had forgotten the guilt that weighed them down until they met the One who forgave of everything they had ever done. 
In contrast, the greatest thing a New Testament believer can say that his sins and iniquities are remembered no more. That is the reason there is “no longer an offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18). That means we don't remember our sin any more! 
When a sinner trusts Christ, their sins are all forgiven, their guilt is gone, and the matter is completely settled forever. 
That means we are completely clean. That is what God promises everyone who has come to Christ as the Savior of their lives. Are you ready to live guilt free? Then, come to Christ, lay your sins at His feet and trust Him to forgive you and cleanse you from every sin and all the guilt. What are you waiting on?
 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hear from God Today

Hearing is one of God's greatest gifts. It is such a social thing to be able to understand and interact in conversations. There is nothing worse for me than being in a restaurant with horrible acoustics (read "sound echoing off the walls like you're in a cavern underground"). I can't hear well in that situation, so I "smile and wave" as the conversation goes around around me. 

My concern is that's how it is with most people Christians. They have had one supernatural event, their salvation, and they have never experienced God since that time. God has so much more for them. So much more for us. So much more for you. 

We are continuing with Simple Faith as we move into another part of growing in our faith. Last time, we exhorted you to go to church. It's the easiest, but one of the most basic parts of the Simple Faith lifestyle. Find one you like, go there, and get involved. If you can't do this most basic of steps, everything else will be much harder if possible at all. So, don't skip it.

On a daily basis, God floods my heart with His voice daily. I experience His clear direction. He encourages me for the day. I find my daily purpose in Him. All that is really available? All that and more. How can you know His voice? Jesus told us that His sheep would hear His voice (See John 10:27).

Is His voice audible to you? Actually, it's a lot louder than that. I adore listening to God. It's why I get up early. And it's not even difficult. It's so simple children can do it. Are you ready to hear from God? I hope you will follow this simple way to hear from God on an everyday basis.

God speaks daily through His word. That means if you want to hear from Him daily, interact with His Word. We find His clear and resolute words in the Bible. 

 

My next blog entry will be a simple plan to get you started. I can't wait to share it. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Simple Faith

It has always been my belief that Christians have made the Christian walk much too complicated. As much as I love them, go into any Christian bookstore and take a look at all the Christian self-help books. You would think that there is so much to know that no one could possibly master what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I am writing about what it means to be that kind of follower in the simplest of terms. It is what I like to call, "Simple Faith." So, if you are a little overwhelmed where to start, then this is for you.
Before listing the basic steps, I want to share a caviat, The Christian life is a glorious, wondrous ride that can never be defined by anyone. Your life can and should be more than this, but this is where you must start. That is to say, this is not a restrictive, legalistic type of list, but an open and free start to the most wonderful life you could ever dream of having. Don't skip over and do the complex until you start worth the basic. Otherwise, you crash and burn, and that's never a pretty sight. 
1. Go to Church
Yep, that's right... get out of bed, and get yourself to church. I don't mean watch a youtube video or a Christian TV show (even if there is preaching). Go to a church building this Sunday morning. This is the simplest, but usually the most argued point of all that I will say. Somehow, we tend to think that in and of ourselves, we are spiritual enough to make it on our own, but no one is able to go it alone. It has been my belief that if you can't do this easiest of steps in simple faith, you are going to have a tough time making forward motion in your faith walk.
So, get to church. Find a church. Ask your friends for suggestions. Make sure they believe the Bible and love people. Then, get in the car. Go sit in the church. Sing the songs. Listen to the preacher and take notes. It won't happen immediately, but soon you will experience growth and strength in your spiritual journey as never before. What we call "church" is actually a gathering of believers who come together to worship Jesus, hear the Bible preached, and encourage one another in our Christian lives.
As the Bible tells us, "Not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more" Hebrews 10:25 HCSB
Okay, that's your home work for the week. Find a church and get there. You'll be glad you took the first step in your life of simple faith. This can begin your wonderful life in Christ.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jesus in Jerusalem on a Donkey

As I reflected on Palm Sunday, I decided to reread the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem one week before Easter Sunday. Maybe you, like me, never put two and two together when it comes to Jesus entering the City on Palm Sunday. That day wasn't just about the "Hosannas"; it was about prophecy being fulfilled. We can't read about Palm Sunday without recognizing that this One entering this city was the Messiah.
With that in mind, I started looking for an explanation and understanding about this prophecy of the Messiah. This is a great explanation. It was written for children but spoke to me:
"The Bible accounts tell us Jesus went out of his way to procure the donkey. It was not his usual method of travel; he was making a point. John’s gospel says Jesus was enacting a passage from the prophet Zechariah, who described an all-conquering king who would remain humble enough to parade on a donkey. Jesus is that great-yet-humble King.
"Maybe you already knew that or maybe you didn’t. Whatever you do with that, however, don’t tuck it away as an informational tidbit about Jesus. Facts about Jesus are all through the Bible. You could amass thousands of them. But Zechariah’s prophecy isn’t just factual—it’s also poetry.
"Jesus didn’t ride a donkey to give us more facts about himself. He rode a donkey to point us to a poem about himself.
"Poetry has a depth that mere facts don’t. Poetry has rhythm and beauty. It wakes up the imagination and stirs the spirit. The Bible’s good news of Jesus touches that part of our being, too. It includes Jesus poems.
"You can find the king-on-a-donkey poem in Zechariah 9:9–17. It tells of a King who speaks peace and hope. He fights using lightning and roars in whirlwinds. He treats his people as jewels in his crown. He makes them heady with grain and wine.
"But don’t let me give you facts. Read the poem for yourself—as a poem. Let it soak into that corner of your soul that’s made to sing.
"John tells us Jesus’s disciples didn’t notice the connection to Zechariah until after Jesus died and arose. Still, perhaps some others in that Palm Sunday crowd saw the donkey and thought of the humble king. Maybe they started dreaming of the grain and wine he would provide for them.
"They didn’t know the half of it. Five days later, Jesus broke bread with his disciples and told them, "This is my body." He passed around wine and said, "This is my blood." Then our humble King gave his life for us, his precious jewels. (Read more here: http://jackklumpenhower.com/why-did-jesus-ride-a-donkey/)
Have a wonder-filled Palm Sunday as you welcome the Living Savior into your life! P.T.



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Defending the Money Grubbers

Defense has always been one of my loves. As a football player, I relished penetrating the line, tackling the runner, and stopping all forward progress.

Now, as a father and grandfather, I will defend my home and my loved ones to the death. No longer is it relevant to the score of a game, but now it is the lives and welfare of those whom I hold most precious. That is why it matters that I defend them with every resource available.

I also enjoy defending something equally as precious to me, my faith. There is nothing better than standing up for your deepest held beliefs and, win or lose, give it your best effort in causing someone to think deeper about what they believe. The goal is to help draw someone into conversation as to who Jesus is and what He has done through His death on the Cross and His glorious resurrection three days later. That is something that can make a difference in eternity and it is something well worth defending. It could make all the difference in a life.

Now, defense is not always necessary for every situation we find ourselves. I know we are to defend our families, our faith, and the weakest and poorest of our world, but do we really have to defend a secular corporation that has nothing but money to make off of the sale of its product?

Yes, I am referring to a Seattle based coffee giant. I have no idea whether or not the red cup idea was somehow supposed to harm Christmas. To be honest, I don't really care whether it does or doesn't. What I do care about is spending time, effort, and resources on defending this multi-million dollar corporation who surely doesn't need or even want the evangelical world coming to their defense. Surely they can take care of themselves. If they don't sell as much coffee, they might change their ways. If they sell as much or more, they probably won't. Does it really matter in eternity? What matters most? No matter which side you fall on (notice that I said "fall"... falling almost always hurts someone), never feel like you have to defend a corporation. They don't need you.

Now, I think I'll go make me some coffee. Now, where did that cup go?