Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Washington Monument Is Cracking Up!

USA Today reports that, "Engineers have begun attaching ropes to the top of the Washington Monument that they will use to rappel down the structure to check for cracks and other damage." Who can forget that day when the reports came in about buildings in our nation's capitol swaying and then cracking? I'm sure this National Parks Ranger in the video will never forget that day either. Imagine being 500 feet up in the world's tallest obelisk while the temblor shakes the all-stone tower like a tinker toy. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

The damage has now been done and they will have to figure out what to do next. The report continues, "The quake caused several cracks to form in the monument. Stones, mortar and other debris fell from its interior and exterior, and the elevator sustained damage." The monument is closed and they don't know when they will re-open it.

Who hasn't experienced life's earthquakes that have shaken us to the core? The kind of shaking that has created gaping cracks that might still be waiting repair from someone, anyone. Have you ever felt like that in your life? I have experienced that kind of shaking. If you want to read more about that time in my life, go to this blog about my near death experience. No matter what it was, God can take the broken pieces in our life and make us new and better and able to do more for God than we ever could before. As the song says, He's the God of Second Chances!

How can God take a broken cracked up person like me and use me? He does it all the time! Joshua, the Son of Nun, is a great example we can use to help us move through and be used better as a cracked pot than we were before.
Pastor Trey Rhodes and his broken pot.
Let's look at Joshua 9-10 to discover how to get things right and fulfill God's purposes as never before. God can take you from where you are and make you into all you can be.

When we make mistakes realize there are...
1. Consequences
As we look at Joshua 9:16-23a, we see that there were repercussions for deceiving Joshua. In other words, the Gibeonites were not given a free pass. They would have to pay for their lying. Joshua 9:23 tells us they were to be indentured slaves, both them and their descendants. So, God would honor the treaty that Joshua hastily made with them, but they would be enslaved to the Israelites. That's the law and they were answerable to it. We don't really break the law, do we? The law breaks us. That is the curse of the law we are reminded of in Galatians 6:7: "Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap" Galatians 6:7 (HCSB).

But God doesn't stop there. Just as the Gibeonites should suffer horrible consequences for their sin, so should we. But that's not the God we serve. He is the God of redemption that takes our mess-ups and, by His grace, makes us better people for it.

This mistake become their...
2. Opportunity
I purposely didn't use the end of verse 23. We are told that, yes, they would be slaves and carry water and wood for the children of Israel, but it would be in service for the King of kings. It would be in His holy temple. There they would see God's forgiveness through the shedding of blood. It was in the temple that they would experience the glorious presence of God and forsake their polytheistic idolatry for the one true God, YAHWEH. It was truly an opportunity of a lifetime to serve Him all their days.

Are we any different? It was our sin that drove us to become enslaved to our appetites. AND it was our sin that we asked forgiveness for that drove us to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. As Bob Dylan reminded us in that 1980 song, "You gotta' serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil and it may be the Lord, but you gotta' serve somebody."  To think that we are given the opportunity to serve God. It is truly an honor. And it was our blunders and sin that made that possible.

Finally our actions and mistakes will still give us...
3. Responsibility
Joshua made a promise, and now the Gibeonites called in the favor. Listen to the words of Joshua 10:6, "Then the men of Gibeon sent [word] to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: 'Don’t abandon your servants. Come quickly and save us!'" (HCSB)

The mistakes we make can cause great embarrassment, but as Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, "Remember that no mistake is final for the dedicated Christian." Yes, there will be responsibilities, but it never means God is though with us.

Today is the day to put your past behind you and begin to live an impossible "Sun Stand Still" kind of life. Don't wait, begin that life right now.

Thinkin' 'Bout Oceanside 

  • What a great time of worship this past Saturday and Sunday! God continues bringing new people our way. What a great spirit of responsiveness to God you had. Thank you for all you mean to our God, our church and to me. Oceansiders, you're the best!! I wouldn't be at any other church. Don't you want other people to experience what we have every worship service? Then, just invite them. I can't wait to see all that our Lord has for us in the future. 
  • ScareMare is knocking on the door. I can't wait to see who God uses to reach people with the Gospel. This is such an innovative and unique way to share the Gospel with the masses who probably wouldn't hear any other way. Pray for God to use us. Ask God how he can use you.
Can't wait to see what God has for us this weekend. It can truly be a Sun Stand Still moment. Don't miss it all God has for you!

Cracked but serving God,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Army Proud Takes on Another Meaning Altogether

Ignorance is bliss. I hope you didn't just ignore that first statement...unless, of course, you want to live in bliss even when it comes to ignoring ignorance. Then, are you ignoring it if you ignore ignorance? ...anyway, I digress. I just heard that this administration has stopped the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy for military service. I'm sure many people feel like I do...I don't want to know. My concern is that the military is becoming a place for social engineering rather than for the purpose for which it was founded, the defense of our nation.

Please don't tell me. I'm not going to ask, and I'm not really interested. But, it seems there are many who have to flaunt their lifestyle...whatever it is with whomever they are with. My opinion is that, "Don't ask, don't tell" was working fine. Our military is the best in the world. Really, what is the reason to have to flaunt one's sexual interests in front of others. Why would someone desire to flaunt their sinful lifestyle? As I have visited in people's homes, I've almost always had people at least apologize to me for beer cans on the table, or the Playboy in the magazine rack, or the cigarette smoke in the room. They cared what I thought. But things have changed, and it is not for the best. The reasoning behind this new policy makes no sense to me nor to many others who are comfortable with their monogamous, moral, biblical heterosexuality. I assume that some think this is just one more obstacle out of the way for this lifestyle to be accepted into the mainstream. But, for me, ignorance was bliss.

Big surprise...there will always be obstacles in life. Be ready. Of course, we are always anxious to get rid of many of them when they keep us from moving forward. But, the basis of life is not removing obstacles, but overcoming them. We live in an entitlement culture. We think that we are entitled. That will never happen, but even if it were possible, there is no benefit to living life that way. So, once we recognize obstacles, we must be sure to learn from them and move on.

The children of Israel were told by God that He had given them the land of Canaan to become their homeland, "Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance" (Joshua 1:6, HCSB), but there would be many obstacles to overcome. Some were actual battles they would face with the enemy, but most of the battles were with themselves. Battles to stay true to the command of God in their life. It was then that would be able to take the land. That is why God reminded them to, "carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go" (Joshua 1:7, HCSB).

The enemies of Israel knew they could not defeat them, so they decided to trick them. The Gibeonite cities were some 25 miles away, so that meant Israel was required by God's command to defeat them in battle. The Gibeonites knew this and sent a delegation to the base camp of Joshua to ask for their protection. Their ruse was they would deceive Joshua into thinking that they had come from many miles away, outside of the land God had given the Israelites. This could become a huge obstacle hung around the necks of the Israelites if they didn't choose wisely. They did not.

With that in mind, it is good that God recorded this embarassing event so that we could learn from it.

Here's three words that we can learn from so that you and I can move ahead and become all that God wants us to be.
Let's look at Joshua 9

First obstacle...
Influence - (vv. 3-5) 
Influence can be for good or bad. Make sure that when someone is selling you on their way of thinking, that it is not for their own selfish reason. These people were self-centered and wanted to assure they were protected from the power of the armies of Israel. It was all about them and nothing for Israel. People will do the same to you. When God begins to work in your life, they will be drawn to you and seek to influence you for their good. Take care that you become all God wants you to be, not what they want you to be.

Obstacle number 2...
Tricks - (vv. 6-12)
The Gibeonites pulled out all the stops in order to scam Joshua and the children of Israel. They not only wanted to influence these people, they wanted to deceive them.
There are many who will deceive you in order to get their way. These verses help us how to identify deception:
1) Are they who they say they are?
2) Do they really need the help?
3) Are they claiming to be important?
4) Are they claiming to want to help you?
5) Is their claim of godliness authentic?
Be sure and pray this prayer "Rescue me from their dirty tricks" Psalm 59:2 (MSG)

The final obstacle...
Impulsiveness (vv. 14-15)
Without consulting God, Joshua agreed to a treaty with the Gibeonites. Before we are too hard on him, have you ever made a decision without finding out what God says? I once had a deacon at a church ask me for some advice and finished his question with..."I know the Bible doesn't have anything to say about this." In actuality, the Bible, and hence God, had much to say about it. There is an answer for every circumstance you come across. It is a matter of knowing God and knowing His Word, the Bible. Impulsively making a decision that is life altering without consulting God is counter-productive and very possibly disobedient.

If you want to see God do the impossible, overcome the obstacles and see what God can do!

Thinkin' 'bout Oceanside
  • What a great first Oceanside Saturday night worship service! Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Lots of new guests, great spirit, and a warm family atmosphere. That was because of you. Thank you...and be sure to invite your friends. Several asked about it, so here's the video we watched about inviting friends and neighbors to the weekend services.

  • Scaremare is on the way! So many of you are excited about this incredible outreach. God is going to use you to help reach people with the Gospel. Keep on planning for your room.
  • Parenting Seminar postponed for now - we want as many people as possible to join us for the John Rosemond seminar. It will be great. Here's how you can help: get in touch with Mrs. Kelly Rhodes and let her know you are interested (kbrmom@bellsouth.net). This is going to be one of those eye-opening, life-changing events that you don't want to miss. That is why we have postponed it for the moment. We don't want anyone to miss! You won't even have to go far; it will be here at Oceanside Church. This is also a great opportunity to invite your friends to Oceanside to let them know we care about them.
Overcoming Obstacles,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Impossible Miss Universe?

Miss Universe, Leila Lopes, receives her will deserved crown
The new Miss Universe, Leila Lopes,  is from Angola. Where in the world is Angola? Yeah, admit it. You had to look it up on Google. I didn't (I had the advantage of living in Africa for 2 years, so I knew, but that is the only reason). According to People magazine online edition, "She is the first woman from Angola and only the fourth black woman to be crowned Miss Universe." 

At first I thought it was another ploy to capitulate to the undeveloped countries for political gain. Then I read these words, "'I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty,' she said. 'I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.'" so as People magazine observed, "it's not only the exterior that Lopes wants the world to see," it is what inside. According to the judges, that capped it for them. Even they were looking for inner beauty. This is truly a wonderful story of someone going from rags to riches in the vein of an Horatio Alger story.

At first, when I read the headlines, I thought, "That's impossible. I must be reading it wrong. Of all the girls in the world, a girl from Angola got the crown?" As it turns out, it may be improbable, but not impossible. According to my "big honking" Webster's dictionary, it means that it is something that is "incapable of being done." When something is impossible, that is exactly what it is, not possible. According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, it is when we have no power in and of ourselves to accomplish the act. That's what impossible is. No matter how hard we try, we do not have the power to accomplish the action. It would be similar to asking a weedwacker engine to power a C-130 Hercules. No matter how hard the weedwacker tries and regardless of the sincerity or intention, it does not have the power to lift a C-130 off the tarmac. It would be, you guessed it, impossible.

Here's the bottom line, God not only wants to do the impossible in your life, He promises He can do it as well. He has the power. He is the Lord God omnipotent (all-powerful).
 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Mark 10:27
What is the impossible thing that is lurking in the back of your mind? Maybe it is a relationship that is beyond mending, or a friend that has refused to follow Jesus, or a financial situation that it will take a miracle to settle. Remember this...God can!

What do you and I need to do?
Get ready for God to do it. Here's how from Joshua 1:

1. Take God at His Word (vv. 6-9)
Joshua was promised supernatural success if He would mediate on God's supernatural book. Meditation empowers us to see life from God's point of view. God's will and hence His words will never be stopped. Then we can easily trust God because His Word has become a part of us: "I trust in Your Word" Psalm 119:42

2. Watch for God's Activity (vv. 10-11)
God told Joshua to tell the people to get ready. How? They were about to cross the Jordan, so it would make sense that they should building a bridge or constructing a boat or raft. But, that's not where God was at work. He was about to do the impossible by piling up the water of the Jordan during the spring tide. They had to take their eyes off of where they thought God should work and open their eyes to where God was going to work.

Remember what Jesus said, "My Father is still working and I am working also." (John 5:17) If that is true, then we better know what God is about to do around us. Be sure to look at people, not circumstances.
  • Are they being drawn to God? 
  • Are they seeking Him? 
  • Do they feel conviction of their sin? 
3. Look What God Has Already Given You (vv. 12-15)
God has already given you things materially and spiritually. These people had been given property (including house and farms that had already been built for them). They had also been given rest.

First, think of all that God has already given you materially. You have a roof over your head, food to eat, clothes to wear. If you wonder if God cares...look and see that He has already cared for you.

Second, rest is also given to us. Those of us that have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord can now rest in His finished work. We no longer strive to live up to God's standards, Jesus made the impossible possible by dtying on the cross for us. That is why Jesus cried, "It is finished" from the cross. The price had been paid and the work was accomplished.

4. Do God's will (vv. 16-18)
The children of Israel had had enough of low living and rebellious attitudes. They were about to see God do impossible things. They were were up to their necks in sinful attitudes and actions because of the lifestyles of their parents. So, they chose a new and different way. They chose now to follow God and they guaranteed it with the very lives:
Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Joshua 1:18
Would you be willing to so commit to Christ, that if you didn't do His will, you would willingly die? We so often speak of dying for what we believe, but will you live for the One you believe in? His will is worth our lives.

Once we are prepared for God, He stands on the edge of heaven waiting to do the impossible. Be ready.

Thinkin' 'Bout Oceanside
  • Sun Stand Still - Get in a small group. You don't want to miss what God has for you through this inspiring and life changing study. Begins next week. Watch God do the impossible!
  • Oceanside Saturday Night - Begins this Saturday night at 8p.m. Let your friends know. Come ready to have a good time and hear form God as well. We'll be finished by 9:00 p.m. Impossible you say? Come and see.
  • Scare Mare - The day are clicking by and you need to be praying about God touching people's hearts and lives. 3 guarantees: 1) We will scare them 2) They will hear the Gospel 3) People will be saved. Get involved now and watch God do the impossible through you
  • Parenting by the Book - Do you know how to raise your children in this crazy mixed-up world we live in? John Rosemond helps us avoid the pitfalls and build a home where children can be all they were intended to be. You can be the parent you were meant to be. Sign up today. Email us at contact@myoceansidechurch.com.

Preparing for the impossible,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Kingdom of God Is Like an Automatic Garage Door

Garage door openers are "of da' debbil, I tell ya'...dey da debbil." Excuse me for changing the words, ever so slightly, of the Waterboy's mom. She thought that anything that was outside of the way she was raised in the swamps of Louisiana was of satanic origin. That included her son's desire to go to college and be a waterboy. Or even worse was that devil inspired foolsball (she meant football).

While not every thing is the modern world is demonic, I can tell you that garage doors have taken our neighborhoods away from us. People can drive up their road, pull into their driveway, and then open and close the garage door without ever leaving the comfort of their air conditioned car, truck, SUV, or even a moped. I wish that it was like this video...at least there are people outside and you could say hello to them.

How does this speak to us? Because of all the inventions of our modern world (air conditioning, electric lights, television, video games, and GARAGE DOOR OPENERS), the church is going to have to be more intentional to make friends. Friendship that goes beyond the casual hello to a passer-by. Friendship that really cares. You see, people around us are hurting need to know someone cares. Christ has called us to be those people that touch lives and heal homes and encourage the discouraged. We need to be the ones who walk into their lives when everyone else walks out.

That's what small groups are all about. We show one another Christ's love. We demonstrate Christ's love outside in the world. We have a place where people can come hear the Bible taught and develop friendships that can last a lifetime. We even get beyond the modern conveniences and reach into the lives of people God has placed around us.

Are you are part of a small group? Christ has called His church to togetherness. You cannot be an obedient Christian and not be a part of a "one another" group. It is all about "one another" in church. Truthfully, "isolation" should be a bad word in the Christian's vocabulary. Get in a small group today. Get involved in someone's life today. Host a small group this week. God wants to use you transform and impact lives. Care for people.

Thinkin' Bout Oceanside
  • Sun Stand Still - Are you tired of the same old, same old. I hear the word boring so much these days. Here's something that is exciting...God wants to do the miraculous in your life! Do you have the faith to believe He can? That's our newest series, Sun Stand Still, that begins this Sunday. This study is with Stephen Furtick who will lead the small groups as I preach messages that will inspire you to believe God for the impossible. Be there every exciting week!
  • Oceanside Saturday Night - Starting Saturday night, September 17th, Oceanside begins a New Time for this Generation. With media su much a part of the lives our this generation, we want to be able to reach with the hard hitting message of the Gospel using their language of technology. Pray for us and get the word out. Who can you invite to attend the first Saturday night service?
  • ScareMare - No, it's not a nightmare. That would be too gentle. It is a ScareMare. Using the reality of death as a backdrop, we look forward to scaring people out of hell and into the kingdom of God. Jude 1:23 exhorts the church to snatch them out of the fire...the exact words are, "save others by snatching them from the fire." We want ScareMare to be that catalyst that demonstrates to them that death is real, and that eternity is certain as we ask them, "Where will you spend eternity?" Get involved and be a part. We need you no matter what you can do.
Loving others first,

Pastor Trey Rhodes