Friday, October 28, 2011

ScareMare, Death, and the Kingdom

As most Christians have come to the point of understanding, halloween is a day when most people glorify that which is ridiculed and shunned the rest of the year. Many years ago...and I mean many...I made a conscious decision to take back this day to use what was intended for evil and use it as an opportunity to tell people about God's love and abundant life. God Himself reminded the Israelites,
"I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live" Deuteronomy 30:19 (HCSB)
So, without hesitation, we are asking everyone who goes through our house called, ScareMare, "Have you chosen life?"

With that in mind, these are the facts:
Death is sure.
Life is limited.
Judgment is coming.
Jesus conquered death.
Heaven is attainable.
Salvation is free.
Many don't know.
Most haven't believed.
We must tell.

We now live in a culture that is interested in the moment. What trends today on Twitter and Google is passe' tomorrow. For those that have grown up in world of immediacy, we must be able to give them a solution to their eternity that is both urgent and real. For them we offer ScareMare.

It concerns me to think that Christians have taken what was intended to be a good way to think, that halloween is evil, and made it into a night to be feared or even banned. The good news is that we are able to get the Gospel message across; the bad news is that for some it has become a way to criticize those who do want to try to shine a light in this dark world.

To give us a better understanding, here's some Scripture that can help clarify what ScareMare (click here for more info) is about:
the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil's hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 (MSG)
Our goal is that people would no longer be scared to death of death, but embracing life in Christ.

To many, death is a reality that comes true only in the life of others. The "everyone but me" belief about death. Think about it...if life is a collection of experiences, as many profess whether philosophically or pragmatically, then they would only experience death  through the death of another. For whatever reason, they have chosen to ignore the fact that mortality is 100%.  Everyone dies.

Concerning the afterlife, there are some so foolish to say they believe that there is no life after death. They say they, "just don't believe in it." However belief doesn't change the fact that we will all spend eternity somewhere. To these, we must shock them into understanding that they cannot be wrong about eternity. The cost is too high. It is what Jude says to us in verse 23, "save others by snatching them from the fire" Jude 1:23 (HCSB). Whatever it takes, using all available legal ethical means, we are called to snatch them from the fire.

I summarize by using the words of the great evangelist and Bible teacher, C.T. Studd, 
"Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell."
Yours for the Kingdom,

Pastor Trey Rhodes 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gadaffi Is Dead...Is the Fight Over?

This summer began with the overthrow of former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak We were told today early this morning that the 42 year dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, was killed (more here from Reuters) after being attacked by NATO jets. Conventional wisdom tells us that the war is now over. Everything is now fine. Libya has been released from the hold of a ruthless dictator so, "Now that the war is over we must give up our weapons and the children must go to school," according to the words of Mansour el Ferjani, 49, a Benghazi bank clerk and father of five. But I have to ask, is that all there is to it? Is life just going to get back to normal, just better? Isn't there more to do? Of course there is. In the weeks and months and even years ahead, there will be more work and more sacrifice than they can imagine. I hope the best for this country as they now change their fight from an armed conflict to fighting through the messiness of moving to a free and democratic lifestyle.
A large concrete pipe where Gaddafi was allegedly captured (Picture: AFP/Getty)
Read more:
You don't have to stretch much to make a application to our Christian walk. We may have won the war, but there are battles ahead. The Israelites didn't quite get it, though. They thought that everything was going to be handed to them. The leaders of Joseph's tribes, who went from wandering in the wilderness to having their own land, complained to Joshua, "The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who inhabit the valley area have iron chariots" Joshua 17:16 (HCSB). They wanted more to be given to them Joshua's answer was to tell them to get to work. He got back with them by telling them that their land included, "a forest; clear it and its outlying areas will be yours." Then, if they wanted even more land, they could fight more battles and have everything they wanted. That's why Joshua told them that, "You can also drive out the Canaanites"
Joshua 17:18 (HCSB). Yes the was is over, but there was more work and more fighting ahead.

When God gives us our Sun Stand Still prayer, He expects us to go to work. Somehow, we think that God answers, and He does everything else. We don't have to do a thing. Nothing in the Bible, nor the Christian life gives us any such expectation.

Don't miss the opportunities that God has for you because of work. Thomas Edison said it this way, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls&looks like work."

So, here's four opportunities given us now that God has answered our Sun Stand Still prayer:
1. Maturity (Joshua 15)
The leaders of the Israelite tribes were inheriting the land not just for themselves, but for those generations who would follow them. A huge mark of maturity is doing some things that you will never get to see the results of. God for believers who will step up and put themselves ahead of others. You say, but I'm not old enough to be mature. You are an elder to someone. When I was in 1st grade, I thought the 6th graders were so old and had it together. By the time I go to 7th grade, I thought a 10th grader was incredibly mature...and so on. Take the opportunity today to be mature for someone. God will use you. God is calling each of us to be "fully mature adults" (Ephesians 4:13).

2. Prayer (Joshua 15 &17)
We have a good and a bad example of asking in these chapters.
First, there was Achsah who asked for springs to be able to water the dry desert of the Negev. She was granted was she asked for even though it was bold. What she needed was a way to help her family thrive in a harsh environment. God (through Joshua) said, "It's yours."
Second, there was Joseph's descendants. They wanted everything given to them on a silver platter. Joshua's answer to them was, "Sure, but get to work!" They asked, and they received as well as long as they were willing to accomplish the job by their own effort.
God answers our prayer as well. We've got to be ready to get involved for the fulfillment.

3. Activity (Joshua 18-19)
The Israelites were sitting on a prime piece of real estate. It was theirs if they could divide it up among themselves. They wouldn't even do that. Joshua told them "How long will you delay going out to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, gave you?" Joshua 18:3 (HCSB). 
God wants to give us so much, but we have got to willing to get involved in the middle of it. 
  • If you are praying for patience, be prepared for God to give you an opportunity to show patience. 
  • If you are praying to get your family back, be ready to get yourself right.
  • If you are praying for someone to be saved, be ready to witness to them yourself.
Get involved whenever God answers your prayer. Never be content to sit back and relax.

4. Protection (Joshua 20:1-9)
God offered His protection from vigilantes. It was the responsibility of each family to avenge the death of their loved one. There wasn't a police force in those day and certainly no CSI

We have also been protected by God. Our city of refuge is Jesus Christ. As we turn from our sin and run to Him, we find life. He is our high priest and will never die, so we are safe in His arms forever. How does that happen? It happens when you ask Christ into your life. When you ask for His protection from death and hell through His death on the cross. That is protection of the very best kind. Run to Him and ask Him to place His protection around you today.

Thinkin' 'Bout Oceanside
  • Worship on the Deck, Sunday morning, October 30th. Because of ScareMare and also to enjoy the beauty and coolness of the weather, we will be having worship on the back deck. for the service, everything will remain the same. In addition, there will not be a Saturday night service that week. 
  • ScareMare, October 29-31, After dark. If you would like to be involved, we need you. From crowd control to parking attendants, from actors to actresses, from make-up artists to carpenters, you are all needed. As a reminder, the purpose of ScareMare is to contrast death with abundant and eternal life. This is not for the faint of heart. I would not recommend for your children either. The basis of ScareMare is, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live" Deuteronomy 30:19 (HCSB). We are praying for them to choose life. For more, please go to our ScareMare website.
  • Harvest Trunk or Treat, Monday Night, October 31st. One of Oceanside's best outreach activities is our Harvest Trunk or Treat party. This year it will once again be in the front yard of our church. We will have decorated car trunks, food, candy, games, and the GIANT slide. If you can get together a trunk, it would be awesome. Everyone can do something. Make sure you're a part.
Looking for opportunities from God,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Release the Kraken!

Among much skepticism, a paleontologist has found what could have been equal to the Kraken of seafaring lore. Written of famously in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, the Kraken is a giant cephalopod (octopus or squid-like creature) that ruled the seas and overwhelmed ships. Recently, marine biologists have found large squids measuring 50 to 60 feet in length floating on the ocean and have tried to bring them back to the lab to study them. That procedure has not been very successful as decay had already set in. It is no wonder that some have been searching for this monster that measured over 100 feet in length. Supposedly, a cave has been found with piles of bones of the giant fish and lizards crushed and scatttered after having been eaten. Whatever it was, it had to be huge.

In the "Blogpost" section of the Washington Post, we are told:
"A giant sea monster, akin to the mythological Kraken, may have terrorized Earth's ancient oceans, drowning or breaking the necks of its prey before dragging the bodies to its underwater lair."
McMenamin, the paleontologist who found the "lair" of the Kraken tells of His discovery. While he was,
"visiting a fossil site in the Nevada desert this summer." He found "the bones of ichthyosaurs, a giant marine reptile the size of a school bus that the Kraken once ate. The arrangement reminded McMenamin of the pile of debris that the modern octopus piles up to conceal the entrance of its den, leading him to believe this could have been the Kraken’s lair."
Why does he think they were eaten by a giant creature? He reports,
"strange markings on the bones suggested the ichthyosaurs were not all killed and buried at the same time."
Researcher Mark McMenamin says this arrangement of lizard bones,
which were brought to this area in a pattern of a tentacle, could prove the
existence of the Kraken

Read more:
In other words, he believes the evidence points to something leaving the bones of large creatures scattered around after devouring the ancient beasts.

While they will debate this find for many years, the truth is that something was happening with these creatures's bones. What happened is up to debate.

Here's something we don't need to debate, God wants to bless us so He can use us for His purposes. Over the next 2 weeks, we are going to reveal 8 principles that should help us all be thankful for and use what God has already blessed us with. What we have been given as God's children is not up to debate. It is already set in stone. Our blessings are for now, not just, "the sweet by and by." Just as Dr. McMenamin said, “We're ready for this. We have a very good case.” We too have a very good case,  so let's be ready to avail ourselves of God's blessings in the here and now.

1. Get All In (Joshua 13:8, 10, 22-23)
Just as the Reubenites were living on the border, too many of us want to live borderline Christian lives. We have taken to heart the jingle of a well-known fast food restaurant as we "make a run for the border." The land the Reubenites wanted was prime grazing land for their livestock, but was horrible for attacks on their families. They became the "trip-wire" for marauding enemies from neighboring nations. What seemed to be good ,for their accruing wealth was anything but that as the tribe was attacked again and again, losing not only riches and cattle, but also their own families.
You see, when we choose to live border lives, we sacrifice what is most important to us and we can even harm those we love. God wants us all in, not living a border-line Christian life.

2. Shine Your Light (Joshua 13:14, 33, 14:3-4, 18:7)
Over and over again, God told the Levites that they would not have a portion of the land given to them. They would be spread throughout the land in every tribe to influence the entire nation and shine their light on all of them. They would be given God and the priesthood with enough land to give them sustenance and wealth near each of the towns/cities. God wanted the Levites to make a difference in the lives of the entire kingdom.
In the same way, God wants us to be those who have been scattered throughout His kingdom on earth to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere. That is why we are not "hold up" in a monastery or a compound. We are called to shine the light of Christ and change the world. that is the kind of thing that can make the "Sun Stand Still" in the lives of those we touch.

3. It's All Yours (Joshua 19:49-51)
Caleb was the first of the 2 faithful spies to receive his inheritance. Now, it was Joshua's turn. As he wandered in the desert for years and years, he held onto the promise of God: his inheritance of a land flowing with milk and honey. It was this promise that gave them "joy and courage as they endured years and wandering and waiting" (Weirsbe).
You can also be encouraged in your pilgrim journey. You can now claim your inheritance in Christ and claim, "every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). We are assured, "For every one of God’s promises is 'Yes' in Him" 2 Corinthians 1:20 (HCSB).

Then you can...
4. Refuse Any Limitations (Joshua 14:8-12)
Caleb was 85 years least that's how he saw it. When the inheritance was being divvied up, he didn't want it easy, he wanted the hill country where the enemy still needed to be driven out and the enemy were giants! If there was anyone who could have said they were tired and old and needed to take it easy, it was Caleb. But he saw the limitations of his age as an opportunity to show the strength and power of God. He saw the land as another opportunity to demonstrate how great God is.
Wherever you feel most limited, recognize that God wants to use your limitations as opportunities to show how great He is through your life. The Apostle Paul, said it this way, "We don't just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you." 2 Corinthians 13:9 (MSG). It is then we can be assured that it is Christ working in us because we couldn't have done it ourselves without His power working through us.

You have been impossibly blessed by the God of the GET AFTER IT! Don't get lost in some lair that will take 1000's of years to find your work. Let them see Jesus in you today!

Thinkin' 'Bout Oceanside

  • Wow, what great worship services! You are truly allowing God to work through you and in you every single week. He truly touched hearts and lives at both services. We are getting it together in a great way. Thanks to those of you who are doing double duty. Your faithfulness is noted by our Lord, and He is so pleased with your commitment. Lives are being changed because of your obedience.
  • Saturday Night Worship and Coffee - "A new time for this generation." We are asking the Lord to bring people to our Saturday night service. It begins at 8:00 p.m. We provide an open and casual atmosphere. We encourage people to bring their iPads, laptops, and smart phones to worship in order to provide feedback and prayer requests during the service. We are committed to a one hour service, although people can come early and stay late if they'd like. That's where we need you to be involved. Let's get some inviting going on! Some people can't make it Sunday morning and this is a great opportunity for you to invite them to Saturday night. You might need to go and get them and come with them to worship. You can make a difference in their life for eternity. Don't give up. Keep asking. Keep praying. Let's watch our God do a new thing.
  • Scare Mare - We have had the walk-through and are "imagineering" what each room should be. We are praying to have a large crowd attend, and that means we're going to need your help. If you're not already involved, please get involved. Its going to take all of us plus a few more for this happen. We want to tell them that death is real and salvation in possible with Jesus as their Savior.  With your help, that can happen. ScareMare begins October 28th and goes through 31st. Scare Mare, the scariest house you'll never forget!
  • Trunk or Treat - This year, we want to make a big deal of Jesus while providing a great opportunity for fun for the kids. Many of you have signed up to help and provide booths and candy and food and fun on October 31st. Let's keep providing this amazing event for our community and give them a REAL reason to celebrate. Get YOUR TRUNK READY!
Blessed impossibly to be used in an impossible way for the God who does the impossible,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Pursuit of Amanda Knox

Pursuit is for one of at least two reasons: 1) You really want what you're going a boy pursuing a girl (or vice versa); or 2) You want to catch what you're going after. Like a defensive tackle pursuing the quarterback. The story of the week echoes both of those reasons. We have seen it played out in the media over these last few years as Amanda Knox endured incessant pursuit by the Italian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. As you should know by now, Knox was acquitted by an Italian appeals court because of shaky evidence based on what now seems to have been a coerced confession after a 50 hour non-stop grilling by 14 or more Italian police officers. More here from the UK's Mail Online. Their pursuit was relentless as they were trying to convict and convince a jury of her alleged crime of murdering Meredith Kercher. I'm sure they felt as if they left no stone unturned in their pursuit of the one they thought murdered this defenseless girl. I just hope that if Amanda Knox is not guilty, which it looks like she was not, that they now pursue with the same intensity whomever it was that committed this violent, heinous murder.
Amanda Knox in custody of Italian police during her trial for Meredith Kercher's murder 
You pursue that which you want. In this case, the pursuit was because the prosecutor truly believed he could get a conviction that stuck. Now, let me ask you, what are you pursuing? How big are the goals for your life? Are they large, extra-large, or maybe even God-sized? Those are the things you should be pursuing. Things that really matter. 

It will take a God-sized goal for you to be the father God wants you to be (See this Blog: I'm Tired of Being a Good Father) It will take a God-sized goal for you moms to raise your children as world changers. It will take a God-sized goal for you to share Jesus with those you know at work or at school or with your friends. These are all things that God must intervene if you are to make an impact that will last for all of eternity. Aren't you tired of the same old same old? Isn't it time you left the mundane part of life to someone else. Are you ready to step off into the great unknown and watch God use you in ways you could have never imagined? That is Pursuit of the Impossible. What is impossible with us, is possible with the all powerful God. Making things possible is all about power, and we don't serve a powerful God. We serve an ALL-POWERFUL God. That's why whatever might seem impossible in your life, is possible with the God of the Bible, our God.

Interestingly enough, we have a great example of that kind of belief that leads to prayer, that led to a great win for God and His people.The leader was Joshua, the event was a battle that was impossible to win, and a victory only possible if God suspended His laws of about impossible. Regardless how impossible it seemed, Joshua pursued God for the impossible and then was audacious enough to pray for God to do the impossible. So, God did just that. If that is possible for Him, it is certainly possible for each one of who claim the name of Christ.

Here's three ways to get us to be able to accomplish the impossible in our lives.

Recognize that you need...
Help (Joshua 10:6-7)

The Gibeonites were now calling in the favor that they had asked of Joshua and the warriors of Israel, "PROTECT US!!" Here they are caught in between a rock and a hard place. They has chosen to place their trust in these new-comers instead of their age-old friends. Those who were their closest allies are now their worst enemies. There was no doubt that unless they got the help of Joshua, his army, and ultimately, his God there was no chance that they would survive the next 24 hours. They needed help. They couldn't do it on their own.

Let's look a moment at these pagan people. They had enough sense to call on a savior, Joshua (which means YAHWEH saves), to deliver them. These were people who were complete heathens, but knew who to call on for help in a time of crisis. Christ-followers, learn a lesson: when you need help, call on God. There is no one else who is able to help us in our time our trouble more than our very own Savior, Jesus. That is why we are told to
approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. Hebrews 4:16 (HCSB)
Then you will be able to become audacious when you
Pray (Joshua 10:8-15)

Joshua and his soldiers marched all night to get to the 5 city-kingdoms they were called upon to defend the Gibeonites from. So, what was impossible, defeating the armies of 5 city-kingdoms at once, was now made more difficult with their weariness, but his strategy worked. The armies of the enemy were routed. There was only one problem: there was not enough time in the day to defeat all the enemy. Many had been destroyed, many had not. They were fleeing and would be around to fight another day. So Joshua recognized that and realized he also needed God's help in the pursuit. So he prays one of the most audacious prayers in history, "sun stand still." This was a simple prayer but an incredible act took place. According to both the Bible and another non-bibilcal text called the Book of Jashar, "So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day" (Joshua 10:13b). So you see, God does do the impossible. It doesn't take much faith to believe what God did. That's history. Your faith is really tested when You audaciously ask God to do it in your life. That is pursuing God to do the impossible.

Once you get to that point, I don't want you to miss this important part of pursuing the impossible:
Involvement. We've got to get right into the middle of what it is we are asking God to do. Otherwise, it's just wishful thinking. Joshua prayed. Then Joshua pursued. He got involved. That's what God wants you to do. If you aren't willing to get involved, then don't pray. We pray, God does what only He can do, so we can do what He wants us to do.

Then we can experience what it's like to see God
Win (Joshua 10:16-26)

God did the impossible. Joshua defeated the enemy. The Gibeonites were protected. And God purposes were accomplished. God won! He is a winning God! Deuteronomy 20 :reminds us:
God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to winDeuteronomy 20:4 (MSG)
Here's a word of encouragement, never leave enemies around to come back and defeat you later. That's why God answered that prayer without hesitation. It was His will for the Israelites to possess Canaan. He promised they would. He keeps His promises. He did the impossible.

Our enemies aren't nearly so tangible. And in many ways aren't as easy to fight. Jesus fought them all in the desert against the most formidable opponent ever, Satan. Jesus won. We can too. Our enemies are the world system, the flesh and its appetites, and the pride of our station in life. It's what 1 John defines precisely for us:
Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him 1 John 2:16 (MSG)
These are our enemies. These are the things that want to destroy us. Trust in the winning God, the One who does the impossible to relentlessly pursue the enemies of our life, abundant life and utterly destroy them. That will truly be a Sun Stand Still moment.


Thinkin' 'Bout Oceanside
  •  Saturday Night Worship and Coffee - "A new time for this generation." We are asking the Lord to bring people to our Saturday night service. It begins at 8:00 p.m. We provide an open and casual atmosphere. We encourage people to bring their iPads, laptops, and smart phones to worship in order to provide feedback and prayer requests during the service. We are committed to a one hour service, although people can come early and stay late if they'd like. That's where we need you to be involved. Invite, invite, invite, invite. Some people can't make it Sunday morning and this is a great opportunity for you to invite them to Saturday night. You might need to go and get them and come with them to worship. You can make a difference in their life for eternity. Don't give up. Keep asking. Keep praying. Let's watch our God do a new thing.
  • Scare Mare - The days rapidly approaching. We are praying to have a large crowd attend, and that means we're going to need your help. If you're not involved, please do. We want to tell them that de3ath is real and salvation in possible with Jesus as their Savior. Begins October 28th and goes through 31st. Scare Mare, the scariest house you'll never forget!
  • Trunk or Treat - This year, we want to make a big deal of Jesus while providing a great opportunity for fun for the kids. Many of you have signed up to help and provide booths and candy and food and fun on October 31st. Let's keep providing this amazing event for our community and give them a REAL reason to celebrate.
In HOT PURSUIT of the Impossible, 

Pastor Trey Rhodes