Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Frank Martin Wants a Good Relationship, and so Does God...with You!

It's interesting to hear the importance that ball coaches, in particular, place on wanting to "get along". They might have problems with the owners, the general managers, the players, or even their own staff. Frank Martin, the newly named coach of the South Carolina basketball team, wants to go to a place where He can "get along" with the president and the athletic director of a school. So, that's why he chose the Gamecocks. I will state, for the record, that South Carolina has great love affairs for their coaches and enjoys supporting them. They actually look for reasons to support their coaches. I am happy for the team and for the fans as well. Hopefully, the state of South Carolina will be proud as well once the season gets under way next year. There truly is nothing like having a good relationship with your superiors.

Frank Martin at Press Conference
The Gamecock's new basketball coach.
He's  ready to enjoy a good relationship
As important as it might seem that a coach's relationship remain intact, there are relationships that are even more important. Your relationship with your family and friends are actually much more important and will shape you more than any other relationships you have on this earth.

Most importantly, having a relationship with our heavenly Father is not just a matter of feeling good. It is a matter of life and death. God the Father wants a relationship with you so much that He sent the darling of Heaven, His own son, to this earth.

You see, our relationship was so marred in the eyes of God that He couldn't receive any of us into His dwelling place, Heaven. You see, His holiness would not allow it. Not even one sin is allowed. Acts 17:30 tells us that in time past, God blinked at sin, but in spite of that, no one could enter the gates of Heaven bcause they had sinned. Old Testament believers from Adam, to Moses to David all went to what Luke describes for us in chapter 16 as "Abraham's Bosom" (KJV, v. 22-23). Those who were evil ended up in in "torment". This was not heaven, only a holding place. Yes, it was a wonderful holding place, but only a place they could dwell until something extraordinary would happen. Truly our our sin had separated us from our heavenly Father. The Bible reminds us as to how serious the situation is:

But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen. (Isaiah 59:2 HCSB)

This is no joking matter. this is not something that could be taken care of by a few good deeds or attendance at a religious service or even a heartfelt confession. It is almost ridiculous to imagine that such a pittance could do anything about the sin we have willingly committed.

Not only is it impossible for us to do anything about our sin, our sin is horrible. One member of British parliament said it this way:
If the guilt of sin is so great that nothing can satisfy it but the blood of Jesus; and the filth of sin is so great that nothing can fetch out the stain thereof but the blood of Jesus, how great, how heinous, how sinful must the evil of sin be. William Bridges
So, it truly begs the question, "what could wash away our sin?" The answer rings back, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus." The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). But its not the blood of bulls and goats that cleanses us from sin, but the blood of the Son, Jesus Christ. It is His shed blood that does ways with our sin. His blood allows us to have a relationship with God the Father, and because His blood was shed on the cross, we have had our sin wiped away. That means heaven is now attainable. But it doesn't stop there! We also have access to our Father daily because of His blood (1 John 1:7). you and I not only have a relationship, but also fellowship. And Jesus did this for you and me when He shed His blood.
Oh, the blood of Jesus
Allowing and restoring
our relationship with God
We remember the blood of Jesus every time we participate in the "Lord's Supper." It is truly a time of giving thanks to Him for shedding His blood for us. It is the one thing about Him that we are asked to commemorate, the shedding of His blood. We do that every time we drink of the cup.

As we enter this precious and glorious time of the year, I would recommend you participate in the Lord's Supper on Palm Sunday night at Oceanside Church. It will be a time of worship that you won't soon forget. And, the rest of this week, wake up every morning and be thankful for what Jesus did for you on the cross by shedding His blood. He restored our relationship the only way possible, with His blood. Every drop of blood that fell from His cross still cries out to you, "I love you!" It is truly nothing but the blood.

Only by His blood,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Hear the complete message here, BLOOD REIGN

Participate in the 
Lord's Supper Candlelight Service 
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Changers Can't Quit

It is oh so easy to start a task. You hear the words, watch the commercial, read the book, or do the research and you are all "gung ho". Soon, the excitement subsides and the hard work begins. It is the reason why finishing the job is always what's most difficult.

Quitters Don't Win
No doubt, you have probably been taught since you were a child that you shouldn't be a "quitter". As I look back, I'm sure it's because so many times I decided to do something, like take music lessons or play sports, and then when the excitement wore off, didn't have the maturity to stick it out.

As a result, we have come up with a multitude of ways to keep on keepin' on. One tactic was promoted by a motivational speaker. One thing he did was to cut the word "quit" out of his dictionary. Others have said we need to have accountability to someone. Still others have told us that we just need to sludge through no matter how hard it may be.

Silent Cal and the Power of Persistence
Have you ever heard this from one of our former presidents? They called him Silent Cal, but when he did speak, it was profound. Here is his thoughts on persistence (thanks to my new friend from Michigan, Kevin, for sharing this with me on Sunday):
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'press on' has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race. Calvin Coolidge
While "omnipotence" is a strong word, it expresses the power of persistence. Let's persevere.

Am I Truly Committed?
Is there anyone reading who would dispute that there are many things that can and will come along that will cause you to doubt your commitment or your original decision. It can start as a whisper then crescendo into a full symphony...if we let it. The doubts can surface anytime there is opposition or hardship. We begin to question, "Was only our emotions working or was it a true commitment?"

Jack Fischl lives in an indigenous reservation in western Panama as a Community Economic Development Consultant assisting small businesses. Expanding his vision to help others, he moved from just a simple concern for others to making a difference. He gives some good tips that can help us all "change our world". (Go to his blog here) His words are not as dramatic as they are simple reality:
Be consistent in your efforts, research your cause regularly, and expect to feel overwhelmed at some point. Not necessarily by the difficulty of your own efforts but by the scope of the problem. If it was easily solvable, you wouldn't need to work on it.
Commitment to a cause, as we push through the hard things, is what will ultimately make the difference

The Impact of One
One of our small group members, when asked what encouraged her the most about "52 Days to Change Your World" said that it was understanding the impact of what she can do to change the world. That one person can really make a difference. So much of persevering is experiencing your own individual desire to help change the world, and it matters. You might not be able to help everyone, but you can help someone. You might not have the resources to change everything, but you can change something.

Turning Your World Upside Down
It is that attitude that turned the word upside down in the first century. It started with one man, whose name was Paul of Tarsus. He decided, someone's got to do something, it might as well be me. He began by seeing the need of people who were wandering in a dark world without Christ. He sustained momentum by reproducing his walk with Christ into men like Silas, Timothy, and Titus. Finally, he secured the change by bringing together Christ-followers into communities that would then reproduce themselves over and over again. For the next two thousand years, the churches that began from simple missionary journeys would experience God's power working through them time and time again. Now there are over a billion people in our world who claim the name of Christ. Paul only had a little more than a decade on this side of eternity, yet this one man began a missionary movement that has progressed without fail in every generation. It is only a few years after he began traveling his world and changing lives in Christ that we hear these words in Acts 17:6. Mind you, this is from someone who was shocked at the impact of this man's persistence:
These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. (Acts 17:6 NKJV)
Now, some 2700 years later, the words of the prophet Isaiah can speak to you and encourage you as I'm sure they did for Paul as a young Jewish boy:
Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay (Isaiah 29:16 KJV)
As clay can be molded with perseverance and care, in the same way, you can change your world if you don't give up and keep working at it. It is what we all can possess and is truly the great equalizer. That is why, as we mold our world, we choose to never give in, never give up, and never give out.

How about you? Are you ready to turn your world upside down? Then...

"if it's going to happen, I can't quit".

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Lots going on at Oceanside Church.
Easter is on the way. 
Who will you introduce to the resurrected Savior?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Does Your World Revolve around You? The World of Katniss Everdeen

It's Not About You
What if it was all about you? I have read 2 books that are complete juxtaposition of one another. The first one is, that many of you have probably already read, The Purpose Driven Life. The other is a book that is intended for "young readers" titled The Hunger Games. It is premiering March 23rd as a movie (which my wife and are going to see).

One book begins with this line, "It's not about you." The other encourages us to live for ourselves, preserve our way of life, and exploit others for enjoyment. While there are many that equate The Hunger Games with the Circus Maximus of the Roman empire, I think there are many applications to our own world and time.

Katniss and the Capitol
The world of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the books and of the upcoming movie, is a world where the masses are kept alive by the hand of the government known as "the Capitol". This happens with food rations that all revolve around participation by the districts in the "Hunger Games." The horror of the tale is that each district had to deliver two teens called "tributes" to the Hunger Games. When a district won the games, it was a huge honor and extra food for any district that came out as champion. The problem is, in order to win, they must kill 23 other teens. So, it was anything but "not about you." It was all about you and your survival. The beauty of The Hunger Games is that what was intended to bring out selfishness and barbarism actually brings out the best in Katniss. Once she got her eyes off of herself and onto others, the entire dynamics of the game changed.

The Benefits of Caring
The tributes were told to win at all costs to keep themselves alive. Many of you have taken the challenge to change your world in 52 days. That too will cost. It will cost finances. But the rewards will far outweigh any costs you might have to bear. Hear is what it takes, you chosing to stop looking so much at yourself and have chosen to have an explosion of care and see a burden for the those hurting. The challenge now is to experience a burden and develop a mission statement that defines that same burden for others.

Your Care for Others Cares for Jesus
Jesus places a great burden on us by equating our care and love for the hurting of our world with our care and love for Him. This is how He tells us how we can care:
I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; was in prison and you visited Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' "And the King will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.' (Matthew 25:36-40 HCSB)
It Might as Well Be Me
Who do you hurt for? Who are you willing to place your comfort and convenience on hold for? Maybe its the girl who has been sold into slavery. It could be the pastor who is being persecuted for his faith in Christ. It might be a soldier miles away from his home family, and friends. What about the child who needs someone to help feed him through a desperate time of famine and war? The one thing they all have in common is they need someone...anyone to care. Will it be you? Will you change your world?

Changing the world one life at a time,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Great weekend services. Largest this year! don't miss what God is doing.

Join us for Dinner on the Grounds this Sunday right after church.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Faith that Hurts

More than Feeling Sorry
Who hasn't seen a commercial come on TV around the holidays and hurt for those children, families, or victims of a disaster? Sure, we've all been there. What happens most of the time is that we simply change the channel. But, occasionally, something that we see...something that we hear moves us. We want to do more than simply feel sorry for the hurting person we see on the screen, so we get out the debit card, call the toll free number, and give. Now, let me say that there is nothing wrong with giving. Many times God uses our financial resources to accomplish great things.

CNN news reports a harrowing experience for one man who went through the most recent onslaught of killer tornadoes:
Steven Vaught of Greenville, Kentucky, said he is lucky to be alive to tell how he survived the storm.
"Why? I don't know," he said. "But I did."
He teared up while recounting the moment the storm came rolling through in an interview with CNN affiliate WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.
"I was laying on the couch and all the sudden I start hearing a train," he said. "I got up and took two steps off the couch and then me and the two dogs I have and the trailer started rolling down the hill."
Five times. That's how many times he and his trailer flipped continuously down the road as the storm tore through, he recalled.
"Once it hit the ground on the fifth time, I saw daylight and I was sitting up against the stove like I was sitting in a chair," he said.
Vaught had to get stitches in his bloodied chin and staples in his head from some of the injuries he sustained. But those were nothing, he said, compared with what he went through.
He shook his head as he took stock of the destruction around him.
"I don't know how I'm here," he said as his eyes welled up with tears. (click Tornado Stories for more from CNN)
How can I respond?
What happens next is what really matters. With the horror of the tornado over, the response by caring people can make all the difference. The good news is there are people who have chosen to work with disaster victims. They have been labeled "disaster junkies." I'm not sure if the media is making fun of them or trying to label a group that cares in order to stop their own conscience from hurting. Regardless, they are helping the hurting...right here in our own country.

Personal Experience of Being Cared for
I was a recipient of such care after Hurricane Hugo. We had just gotten back to our home on the Isle of Palms and had nothing. The caring volunteers were already there making a difference in the lives of displaced families like ours. They didn't send money, they came themselves. As far as we were concerned, their presence made a huge difference. Disaster junkies were making a difference. And you can make a difference too through ministries like Disaster Relief and Samaritan's Purse.

Get Involved
In the same way, there are times when we sense God not only wants our money, but our involvement. It is then that our small faith in a great God should really kick in. It's not that we can't do some great things because of our finances, but we sense that nothing short of us getting involved will be enough. That is a faith that hurts. It is when we truly understand that God uses us who aren't necessarily the best, but can care the most. When we care, determine that we will make a difference, and then get involved with the hurting, our impact can only be measured in eternity.

What matters to YOU?
Who do you care most about? Then that is where you can make a difference. It was Nehemiah...he believed that God could use a guy like him whom God had placed In a place of prominence to do what looked like the impossible, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. I want you to hear the care in his voice. Here are his words:
"...why shouldn't I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders?" (Nehemiah 2:3 MSG)
His heart is broken for his beloved city that is not protected, is a place of scorn, and a place no one would want to live. The broken down walls were symptomatic of the broken nation, so Nehemiah's burden caused him to trust in God and believe that God could use him. If something has to be done...

It might as well be me,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

ATTENTION...Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday! Spring forward one hour. Set your clocks ahead 1 hour.

Dinner this Saturday night. Join us for Nancy Hunter's homecooked ham!
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