Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Core Work

I remember one of the first times I ever tried to sit up after my past unpleasantness, known medically as a dissected aorta. It had been about 10 days after the event. I had begun to breath on my own. I was a few days out of ICU. I had begun to talk. But, I had not sat up. I thought I was lying down because I was recuperating. I had no idea that I was lying down because I couldn't do anything else. The nurse told me that she was going to help me sit up (like I needed help, I thought sarcastically). So, she and my wife got their arms under me, sat me up, and propped me at the edge of my bed. For a moment, I was doing fine...but only because they had balanced me. Within a few seconds, I had slumped back onto the bed and flopped onto my pillow. "What in the world?" I thought. So, they tried again, I must have lost my balance. I slumped and flopped again. This time I looked at the nurse and asked what was happening. For the first time in my life I heard, and I mean really heard the term, "core strength." As non-responsive as my nerves still were, I had none. The worst part...I didn't even know it!

It took me nearly a year to get my core strength back to a near normal level. It was grueling, hard work, but it was necessary so that I could start to function normally again. Believe it or not, during rehab, when I stood up in a harness for long periods of time, I became nauseated and almost blacked out on more than one occasion. It was because of my weak core.

I experience so many believers who are strong in their spiritual core. They had to work to get that way. They studied, served, learned, prayed, and invested themselves in the lives of others. They grew stronger and stronger as they invested time and energy into their spiritual inner core. Now, they are able to sit, stand, and walk spiritually. They have done everything to stand, and are able to "stand firm, then" (Ephesians 6:13-14).

I also meet at least as many Christians who are spiritually weak . The saddest part is, they don't even know it. Most of them think, as I did, I can do it if I want. Here's great encouragement though, they don't have to be.

That is why we are calling believers to inner core strength training this summer. This tends to be the time of year that we can get spiritually lazy. That is why you need to be with us every Sunday as we study the book of Romans together. The book of Romans is the core of who we are as believers. Without an understanding of the truths in this incredible book, we are destined to be weak and have no strength in the place we need it most, our spiritual core.

Won't you join us this week? Everyone who would like one gets a notebook with the book of Romans already in it. We have also designed the notes to fit in the notebook. in addition, there will be a place marker that has the Romans Road, the highlights of each chapter of Romans, and other tools to help you in your study of not only Romans, but any book of the Bible.

This is a no miss series. Romans: the Core of Your Spirituality. Begins this Sunday.

Let's start working on that core strength.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Purifying Filter

Many are forced to drink dirty water with no filtration
“The creek right next to my house is black,” remembered UCSB grad student Ning Jiang of her childhood in Tsing Tao, China, years before working to develop a better water filter for developing countries around the world. “There are no fish or living organisms….That made me want to do something about it.” Her brainchild was a filter.
According to the Santa Barbara Independent Online: "Jiang is testing the “silver-sand” filter, which Safe Water hopes to distribute to Third World countries to improve water quality across the globe." This could help bring in an inexpensive process clean drinking water to a world whose supply has been polluted by filth, bacteria, and garbage. It's this filter that could make the difference for millions.

Yes, it was that filthy...and in our bathtub
Dirty drinking water is a ongoing problem in the third world. It affects more than just the poorest of people as well. It still give me shivers remembering when we had only been in Africa for a short while, we turned the water faucet on and all that came out was brown water. Thankfully, I was pouring a bath and not cooking or drinking. Even so, I wasn't about to "clean up" in dirty brown water. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only time it happened. We learned that when the reservoir was stirred up by rain, it made our water muddy. Immediately I thought, "What's in my drinking water?" Let me remind you, was water that was in the city, coming out of a faucet, and we paid for. What we needed was a good filter.

If you would like to be involved helping people get clean drinking water, try these two resources:

When it comes to our water source, we would be livid if our water here in the US turned out like the water that many are forced to use and drink daily. We would not stand for it. We would and should expect more from our water supply. But, if we were to drink water straight from the supply that we had, we would be sick as well. You see, much of our water is undrinkable without proper filtration. Did you know that our drinking water in Charleston, SC comes from the Edisto River? Have you ever seen the Edisto? I sure wouldn't drink out of it. In case you question the veracity of the source of our drinking water, here's a little history for you from the Charleston Water System website:
It took CPW nine years (1928-1937) to build the 23-mile tunnel—all hand excavated—to deliver water from the Edisto River to the Hanahan Pumping Station. The tunnel cost $1.36 million and provided a gravity supply of 70 mgd to the plant. The Edisto River became CPW’s primary source of water, and continues to provide raw water to the Hanahan Plant today.
So, how do we drink water from an open river? Water treatment. This is an elaborate system of pumps, chemical additives, and filters that makes our water safe to drink. What I'm saying is it doesn't just happen, it takes effort...lots of a lot of people with a lot of money to make our drinking water safe. For that, I am very thankful.

Yet we in the Christian church are in a crisis. But, it is not a crisis of tainted water or food supply. It is a crisis much greater than that because of its eternal results. Amos prophesied that this would be the case:
The days are coming— this is the declaration of the Lord God—when I will send a famine through the land: not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and roam from north to east, seeking the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. (Amos 8:11-12, HCSB)

This drought has happened under our very noses. Even while we thought we were paying attention. What has happened is simple but profound. We have quit using the Bible as our filter for life, belief, philosophy, actions, attitudes, and even our religion. You would at least think we would easily be able to distinguish between good and bad religious beliefs, but we no longer can. It is a tragedy of mammoth proportions.

So, what do we do? How can we get back to what we practiced and believed? We get the right filter back into our lives.

God has not left us without that filter. He made sure we could know why we believe, how we can live, and what to use to interpret every other part of our experience with. It is called the book of Romans. It is the filter we use to stay clean and pure in every way that matters. Sixteen short chapters that will affect you to your Core. As believers, we use this book to filter every philosophy, lifestyle, belief, and even the Scripture through in order to understand God's own mind. Romans 11:33 gives us the assurance that we can have access to the mind of God:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! (HCSB)
This week, we begin an incredible journey to The Core. Join us every week this Summer at Oceanside Church. It will change what you believe, reinforce what you thought you knew, and help you stand firm in this ever-changing, pluralistic world we live in. There are absolutes. God wants you to know them so you can filter the wrong and drink in the pure. It is The Core of who we are. This week, we will have your notebooks ready so you can follow every single week and then keep this resource to help you filter everything you encounter. Are you ready to join us on this great adventure to The Core?

See you Sunday.
Pastor Trey Rhodes

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Remembered for What it Cost

I found this online and on this Memorial Day weekend, I thought it was important enough to share what our founding fathers faced when they signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of them gave up everything.

When I finished reading it, I was surprised to see who's father had written this piece (not that I would expect any different).
Finally, I want to thank the families of those whose loved onesvgave the ultimate price of their lives. I want you to know that this American Patriot will never forget.

And now...
Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor
Trumbull's Declaration of Independence, 12' x 18' oil.
Located in the United States Capitol Rotunda

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who has ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stocking was nothing to them." All discussion was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the President's desk, was a panoply-consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year.

Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissention. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away.

They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut.

Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: " I am no longer a Virginian, Sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose
What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock, and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words.

Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them? I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half -24- were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head.

He signed in enormous letters so "that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward." Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately." Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you , you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion.

They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators.

One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson - not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag).

Richard Henry Lee, A delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks:

"Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."
Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2, that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.
William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear."

Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

Go here for continued account of what these first patriots gave.

Memorial Day Remembered, Pt. 2

"Most glorious service"
Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.
  • Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered and his estates in what is now Harlem, completely destroyed by British soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners though the efforts of Congress she died from the effects of her abuse.
  • William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.
  • Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.
  • Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.
  • John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.
  • Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.
  • Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.
  • Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.
  • George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.
  • John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."
  • William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.
  • Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.
  • Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.
Their Lives, fortunes, and sacred honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes.
Twelve signers had their homes completely burned.

Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey Signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship "Jersey," where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father.

One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each and one of us down through 200 years with the answer: "No." The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr (father of the radio talk show host) 

Our veterans and their familes are due our continual thanks. I have no problem calling them, HEROES!

To our US soldiers, marines, seamen, and airmen, You are and always will be my heroes.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

When Big Enough Ain't Enough: Impacting Our World

Won by one, Somebody's got to change their world,
Won by one, Take this message to every boy and every girl.
And they are waiting to to be won by one.
--Mylon LeFevre,Won by One
We are so enamored with the "big" that we don't see the impact every individual makes on our civilization. We have big cities, big roads, big plays, big banks, big networks, big performances, big states, big schools, big churches, and well just about anything else you can think of. Many of us have succumbed to the cult of the large. We have been conditioned to think that bigger is better. But as a wise pastor once said, "Bigger isn't better; better is better."

What our God is asking us to do is not blow up the world, win wars, or be politically victorious. He is asking us to impact our civilization. It is what we are admonished to by Jesus Himself when He said:

the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go. He told them: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Now go; I’m sending you out" (Luke 10:1-3)
Jesus had already sent out the 12, so this time He goes really big and sends out 70.Did you hear me? Seventy! Jesus' work was to change the few to the core of their lives and watch them change a few, so they could change a few, and so on it went.

Think about what Paul and Barnabas did; then what Paul and Silas did; and what Barnabas and John Mark did. They did it so well that they were accused of "turning the world upside down" (See Acts 17:6). We tend to think that God is the God of the big when it comes to our ministries. Yet, the examples we have in the Bible are not the gargantuan, but the seemingly insignificant. We cannot ever become so caught up in the crowds that we ignore the individual. That is the kind of life and the kinds of ministries that change the world, where every single person matters. That happens not in the big, but moment by moment and life by life. That can only happen in a small and intimate setting.

To have an understanding how God wants to work in our church, we need to look back at a bit of history. Have you ever of a group of believers called the Moravians? By 1722, there was only a small group of them left after the wars of Europe had displaced them. The few that were left settled on the estate of a count named Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. They pulled together what was left of these believers on that estate. Together, they began a church called the United Brethren. These were a rag-tag bunch of refugees simply looking for a place to worship. It was there this Count of Saxony, von Zinzendorf, found Christ and led a missionary movement that continues to this day. All from just a few in a small church in Germany. You might even know the names of a few people that have made an impact on their culture though the ages. They are from this same church that started many years before in a land far away: Francis Scott Key, Wilbur and Orville Wright (yes, of Kitty Hawk fame), theologian and preacher, Harry Ironside, and of course, John Wesley. His warming heart was touched at a Moravian meeting. He soon after began the Methodist movement that touched lives world-wide. All from a small German church of a few insignificant refugees seeking shelter and a new start. That's what happens when God takes over.

Here is my point, with so much emphasis on large, isn't it amazing that God chooses to use the small? Think about the Roman church in the first century. They too were a small fledgling church that at least partly met in the home of Prisca and Aquila (Romans 16:5). How small? No one knows for sure. We only know that regardless of size, they were well known around the whole Roman empire. Listen to these encouraging words:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world. (Romans 1:8)
Did you read that? Don't you think it's interesting that the Apostle Paul does not commend the mega-church in Jerusalem or even the home church in Antioch, but the little ole' Roman church. It was so far removed from the center and focus of the early church that it would have been considered the uttermost parts of the earth. Yet, that church was known in all the world because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, God believes in the small. He almost revels in it. He reminds as to what the kingdom of God is like, a mustard seed. Rather than me trying to explain, I'll let our Lord do it:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32, HCSB)
The kingdom of God is all about the small. The mustard seed was one of the smallest seeds known in that day, But, it was never intended to remain small. Small beginnings are good, but God's goal is world-wide impact and recognition. That takes growth.

So, never give up when things are small. God is using you in touching lives and changing people as His kingdom grows. The real kingdom of God makes great changes in its surroundings. So much so that it can't be ignored, even by those who could easily avoid it (the birds of the air in the above parable). God can use every one of us in the kingdom of God to be landscape changers...and it all starts with the smallest of seeds.

Size is not near as important as the One in whom we believe. His Gospel...the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for every single person. This message changes lives every single day. Let's join together in the greatest effort in all of history. Starting small where we are, we can change our community, our city, our country, our world, and our civilization. And our Lord starts it all with you. Let's get to it.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Filthy Shades of Grey

As I was watching a TV talk show this past week, I heard them going on and on about a movie that was going to be produced in the coming year. It was going to be a screen adaptation the book, Fifty Shades of Grey. Wow, a movie that has all these people so enamored was due a little investigation as to why they were so excited. So, I got out my handy iPad and found out was this book was all about:

First, it was a New York Times, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble best seller.

Second, it was a romance novel.

Third, it was fan fiction based on the Twilight series

Fourth, lots of "moms" we're reading it

Fifth, it is considered pornographic.

It was that last statement that got my mental gears going. Is that just a preacher's opinion, or is that what the news media and society is saying? Are mommies really reading this? What could possibly be so scintillating that is on so many ladies' summer reading list?

After a few quick clicks, I found out that is about a newly graduated, young, virginal college student who submits herself to the BDSM desires of a multi-billionaire. Well, enough what I found here's how the papers describe it:

Mr Grey, a 27-year-old billionaire, seduces young graduate, Anastasia Steele. He has a penchant for bondage and soon envelops her in a world of kinky sex, S&M and XXX-rated bedroom 'contract' games that make for solid post-watershed reading only (Daily Mail, UK edition)
Obviously, even by a worldly standard, not for the faint of heart.

It once again affirmed my belief that the world is taking steps and going down paths we were never meant to trod as a society. But, as much as I love our country and want to see us return to the Judeo-Christian ethic, it is not why I am so burdened by the popularity of this sexually explicit romance novel, in particular, and modern romance novels, in general.

As Christians (that means we are "little Christs"), we are called to move from conforming to what's popular to being transformed into the likeness of Christ. Yet, I have overheard believers in Jesus talking about reading this book. While I don't believe modern, steamy romance novels have a place in a Christian's library, Fifty Shades of Grey certainly has no place in our libraries, Kindles, or minds. This is nothing but mental pornography targeted at women who are bored with their current relationships. They are simply titillating their imaginations with pornographic, explicit images that should have no place in their minds.

It is my belief that many of the newest steamy romance novels are nothing more than women's pornography. These novels approach the woman's imagination in the same way a pornographic magazine tantalizes a man's eyes. Both are equally wrong. But, is it really wrong to have a little dreamy fantasy life about other men or women? You know, to spice up your marriage? Well, I have an opinion, but I don't think I care about my opinion, so I'd like to hear what Jesus has to say:
You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt. (Matthew 5:27-28, MSG)
Jesus is explaining to us that mental adultery = adultery. Now, realize this, Jesus wasn't trying to ruin our fun, He is actually making life worth enjoyable. He understood what it is that frees us and what it is that puts us in bondage: it is what our minds and our hearts think about. King David's sin of adultery began much sooner than the first time he crawled under the covers with Uriah's wife (See 2 Samuel 11 for the whole story). It is no different for us, and Jesus knows that. Our hearts must be protected because out of it flows the source of life (Proverbs 4:23). It is truly a battle for our hearts and minds and believers in Christ should not participate or even speak about the deeds of darkness done in secret. Here's a verse that can really help you make decisions as to what you should watch, read, or speak about:
Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. (Ephesians 5:11-12, HCSB)
If we shouldn't mention these acts, surely we shouldn't read or watch or listen to such things. Don't you think?

So, how do we judge what to put into our minds? As followers of Christ, is there are way we can determine what we should be feeding on mentally in order to remain pure? It's actually quite simple. The world that we live in has changed little from the first century. Mankind has always degenerated to the lowest common denominator. So, the Spirit of God gave us this litmus test:
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8, HCSB)
So, how do you test on this exam? Are you making an "A"? Or is it something far less? It is time we all examine our lives and see where we can change what we are placing into our heart, our minds, and our very lives. Christ-followers, let's be the men and women we know we can be in Jesus. Let's let His purity reign. Put down Fifty Shades of Grey as well as other morally reprehensible reading material, and pick up the pure white character of Christ found in His Word, the Bible.

Come on Christians, we're better than this.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Serving Our Supernatural God Miraculously

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. James 5:13
There are so many people hurting in our world today. The good news/scary news is (depending on how you feel that day), God wants you and me to be a miracle in their lives. For that to happen, we must be open to others as we listen for God's nudges. Most people have experienced one, or at the most, two miracles in their lives. I know in my life, God all but raised me from the dead after experiencing a dissected aorta. But, I have to ask myself is that the only miracle I can point to since I became a follower of Christ, or is there more God wants to do through me?

Our small group is studying a book and video by noted Christian author, Bruce Wilkinson. The book is titled: You Were Born for This: Seven Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles. The gist is that while God wants us to minister in His name, He expects us to allow His supernatural power to flow through us in order to touch lives around us. He calls these, "Everyday Miracles." At the end of our first session, we asked the group to be open to God using them, look at people around them, and listen in their minds and hearts for God's nudges. We  then prayed for each other to be used this upcoming week.

Monday is my day off. But, as all pastors know, that simply means you are on call. It doesn't surprise me when something comes up to take care of. The difference this Monday was I was actually expecting something to happen so I could be the supernatural conduit of God in someone's life. I didn't have to wait for long. My phone rang and a lady in our church and my small group said that her husband was having chest pains. We immediately prayed for him and her. I got up, showered, dressed, shaved, and got out of the house to get to the hospital. Once I was there, I waited, then searched, and then finally found them in an examining room thanks to a nurse's directions. Here I was, I thought, already being a supernatural conduit in a life. I was thankful. But God wasn't finished yet.

After we prayed and asked God to work in this man's life, I left them to get their things together. They were going to check out after having a good EKG. There were some problems, but not near what we thought. Thank you, Lord! So, I left the room, walked into the hall, and nearly bumped into a security guard. I had noticed a "segway" type scooter on the way in, so in that awkward moment, I asked if I she got to ride it much. She said she did and that was that. I walked out of the hospital on on towards the van. Just as I was reaching the van, I felt one of those nudges. If you've ever had one, at first you just think it's you. Regardless, this is what I heard (no, not audible...much louder than that!), "Ask her if she needs help." I didn't say yes or no, I just kept walking. Then it hit me again. This time I knew it was the Lord. So I spun around and looked to see if she was still there. She was. The next thought that came to me was, "I'll never reach her before she goes back inside to her station." But she just stood there and waited...for me? It sure seemed like it.

Finally, I reached her and asked, "This might sound strange to you, but is there anyway I can help you?" She looked at me wide-eyed and didn't answer. So I introduced myself and asked again if there was anyway I could help. She then said, you can pray for me. I said gladly. The lady and man I had gone to be with then walked out the door, so I called them over to pray with us. There in that parking lot, we met God. That asphalt became holy ground. Truly in that moment, heaven met earth. As we finished praying, the security guard looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "How did you know I needed someone to pray for me?" My answer, I didn't but God did. She was so grateful that someone cared enough to pray for her in a desperate time of need.

Followers of Christ, God wants to use you. You don't have to be a pastor or a missionary. You don't have to take a trip in a time machine to go back to the first century. God wants to use you in 21st century America. God is waiting. Listen for His nudges and be aware of hurting people all around you who need a supernatural touch from God. He wants to, they are there, and you are His miracle providing servant.
Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 (HCSB)
Ready to serve, 
Pastor Trey Rhodes

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Perfect Rice Everytime

When it comes to cooking rice, there are a lot of ways to do it. Some start from scratch, use the back of the bag instructions, and boil their rice. Problem is it can be pretty sticky and gooey at times. Some of you have perfected your own way to cook rice, so I encourage you to keep on doing it the way it works for you.

For me, cooking rice was a great mystery. I either made it a sticky mess, or I ended up burning the bottom and ruining my wife's nice pots. That was when we heard about this gadget called a rice steamer. It was when we lived in Eutawville, SC. All my years as a rice eater and I had never used or even seen one used to cook rice. The unusual thing about that was that in Charleston, it was said that most of us have much in common with the Chinese, in particular that we ate rice and worshipped our ancestors. So, it was strange that I had never been touched by this marvelous way of cooking rice that gives a consistent, wonderfully textured, and delicious bowl of rice every time.

First, you must have a Charleston Rice Steamer. They are available here. They are a little pricey, but will last you for many, many years. This is what the rice cooker looks like. Who knows, you might see one at a yard sale and pick it up for little of nothing. They are also good for steaming vegetables. And for those of us who are Alton Brown fans, you always want to be able to multi-task your cooking utensils.

The Recipe:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • Scant salt
  • Butter or oil
The Cooking:

  • Fill bottom of the rice steamer pot with enough water to touch the steamer insert.
  • Pour rice into steamer insert
  • Pour water into steamer insert
  • Add salt to taste
  • Add tsp of oil or pad of butter
  • Stir quickly
  • Turn burner to high
Once steamer begins to steam, turn down to medium heat

Warning: Be sure and check the bottom pan for water. It can completely steam away on you if you leave it on for a long time at high. I recommend you check the lower pot after 25 minutes by lifting the insert with oven mits (it will be HOT) and seeing how much water is left. My wife has perfected swishing the pot and being able to tell if there's water in it. That will come with experience. If necessary, because the water has boiled low or even away, add more water to bottom pan and continue cooking rice.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes total time.

Use fork and pull up rice then you can let sit or serve as is or use in any recipe.

  • Pro Tip 1: Cook as little rice as you would like by adjusting the amounts of ingredients and the cooking time. Use 1:1 as your water to rice ratio. Also I have found that you can cook up to 3 cups of rice in this rice steamer. That will feed a lot of people.
  • Pro Tip 2: Rice freezes great and can be placed in a ziplock type bag and saved for later use if not all eaten. I often save for Chinese fried rice recipes and Indian curry recipes that I will be sharing with you later.
Remember, God created all good things for us to enjoy,

Trey Rhodes

You might want to try these other simple recipes as well:

Easy cook roast

Easy Omelet

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attached or Invested? Extreme Child Rearing

When it comes to being a mom, we are often presented with 2 conflicting viewpoints. The first is the model of feminism. This concept is best expressed by women such as Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple. Although revered by her adoring fans and ladies around the world as a mother figure, her daughter, Rebecca Walker describes her relationship with Alice Walker as anything but a mother. Just recently, Rebecca's young son ran up to her and cried out for his mommy and Rebecca was there to greet him. After that moment, she shared her opinion from being raised in a feminist home:

"The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother - thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman." She continues, "You see my mum (sic) taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale." (For more on this eye-opening expose on the feminist movement, go to this article)
The other extreme is found in the view espoused by William Sears and is known by the moniker, "attachment parenting." According to the article I read in the Christian Science Monitor which was written to respond to the current TIME magazine cover, this is the kind of parenting that defines these kinds of moms as:
"moms who breastfeed their children through toddlerhood, who eschew date nights in favor of nursing, who never leave their children (ever), and who happily give the marital bed over to the baby." Accordingly, that means that an attachment mom is defined as someone who is, "baby wearing (no bouncy seats or strollers here - baby goes in a sling next to mom), breastfeeding (as long as possible), and co-sleeping (baby in bed)" mother.
Now, some might refer to these women as moms, but it seems to me that it would be better to refer to them at the worst end of the spectrum as "divorced" or at the best end of the spectrum as a "one child parent." Just food for thought when one considers how incredibly impractical this parenting method is. Although Sears describes this as the norm in other cultures, I beg to differ. Having lived in a third world country for some years, children are brought into the home rapidly and with very little consideration for their well-being. More children equals more opportunities to be supported in old age. This only reflects how encapsulated he is in our affluent, first world lifestyle.
So, are these two extremes what we should choose from? Is there another, better way? Yes there is. It's called traditional child rearing. This has been what has built our civilization for 3000 plus years. It is the Judeo-Christian model and it works EVERY TIME it is tried. Here is that model for you ladies:

First - Be a godly woman. Love Christ as your first priority. Show that by talking to him in prayer every day as you begin your day. "as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God." 1 Timothy 2:10

Second - Be a wife to your husband. This is where the attached parent model completely breaks down. Your relationship to your child is not your defining nor your most important relationship. Your husband is. Read Ephesians 5 if you doubt me. The best thing a parent can do for her child is love his or her spouse. "encourage the young women to love their husbands" Titus 2:4

Third - Be a parent to your child. You are to take care of your child and make a difference in their life. But, let me remind you, you are not their friend or their spouse, you are their parent. As the Bible shares, women are to "love their children" Titus 2:4

Fourth - Be a sister and daughter to your extended family. That means that you do develop those relationships and take the time to make them work and thrive, but they are not your first, second, or even third priority. For more on this, you might want to read Elizabeth George, A Woman after God's Own Heart. For more on a daughter-in-law's relationship, READ Ruth 1 and examine Ruth's devotion to the mother of her husband.

Life for you women is a great balancing act. It amazes me that you can move between your roles so easily and fluidly. You can be a mother one moment and a lover the next. You can then transform into friend or a partner when the moment calls for it. You are special and are the pinnacle of God's creation (I say this with great respect and a lump in my throat). Be all that God called you to be and never sell yourself short. You are highly favored.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

For more on...

Motherhood listen to the latest message on Oceanside's Podcast: Lover, Mother, Partner, Friend.

What's happening at Oceanside, go to:

Oceanside Church with directions and service times, go to:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Going Somewhere? Disciple Your Children

Jesus...said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 HCSB)

Other than John 3:16, these verses are probably the most spoken verses in any of our churches. They have been used for the revival sermons, Sunday morning sermons, and certainly in our Sunday School lessons. But, sometimes I think we have missed the point of this overarching command of the Lord Jesus.
The actual understanding of this verse is not "go ye therefore," but as you are going, make disciples. Does that make sense? You see, that changes everything. It means that wherever we go, whatever we do, whoever we're with, we are to...wait for it... wait for it... MAKE DISCIPLES.

This is a game changer. It means that when we are at work, we are looking to make disciples. When we are at play, we are looking to make disciples. When we are with our family, our goal is to make disciples.
The importance of this verse is when you look at what the Bible says about our children, our wives, our husbands, those who are in our family, doesn't it make sense that our goal is to make disciples of them? What I mean is, if Matthew 28:18-20 is the Great Commission, then we must make disciples even with our family. I am using "even" as a word to describe how important it is that we disciple our families. It is a priority.
You see, this is what is called the "integration" of the Gospel into our everyday lives. The gospel is not only something that we teach on Sunday morning, preach at revival, or what we share do on visitation on Tuesday night. It becomes our life.

Here then is my point: the gospel is much more like Deuteronomy 6 than it is our modern 21st century idea of sharing the gospel or making a disciple in a church classroom somewhere. When the Word of God tells us that wherever we go, it means that. The example given in Deuteronomy 6 is this: when we go with our children on the road (our cars), sit down (at the dinner table), or when we lie down (put them to bed at night), we disciple them. It's what we shared a few weeks ago in our sermon and blog in what we called "God talk".

But, isn't it just more than talk? Sure it is. It means that not only does our speech reflect Jesus Christ living in us, it also means that our lives reflect Jesus Christ living in us. That is where true disciples are made. It is when our lives back up our speech. That is how we make disciples.

Now, read this with me:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won't become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21 HCSB)
So, when you read this verse keeping in mind that we are to make disciples of our children, it makes sense that we shouldn't make them angry and frustrated with us. This is what the Bible terms as "exasperate" them. Why don't we do that? Because we are making them disciples. It is much more important that our children become disciples than it is we raise them to make us happy, or to give them a great place on the soccer team, or to make sure they get first chair in the orchestra. Truth be told, we are placing our emphasis on all the wrong things. Our children's eternal decision to recieve eternal life is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is so much more important, infinitely more important, than any extra-curricular activity that we could get them into after school. Compared to discipleship, aren't those things rather silly?

As parents, you and I are building disciples for the kingdom of God. As important as it might seem right now, getting A's is not near is important as making a disciple. As critical as it might seem right now that your child become a great baseball player, it is much more important that we teach our children to be disciples than to catch a fastball. Can these activities help us make disciples? Of course they can. But it's more about spending time with them for the purpose of discipleship, not about forming a new skill for them to be good at. Really, your child wants you and your time, not the accolades and trophies.

So, how 'bout it? Are you ready to become a disciple-making parent? Are you ready to change the way you think about your children? You can start today with these resources: Simple memory verses & Building families.

Let's start a movement together. Let's be those disciple-making parents.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

For more help check out this Sermon Series:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Becoming a Parent that Disciples

I thought it would be good to take a look at the steps we can take to get started on the road to better parenting. God wants so much for our children to grow up and be all they can be. So much of that begins at an early age. I've always said that we're fooling ourselves if we can't break our child's will when they are 2 and then think we will be able to deal with them when they are 12. As difficult as it is, we must break their will (not their spirit) when they are young. My children can attest to what it takes...great love, great discipline, and TIME. I love my children greatly but never backed away from the hard part of parenting, discipline.

I also like how John Rosemond uses a much more biblical word for who we are to be to them: disciplers. Our responsibility is to disciple our children. What could happen to the church if we changed from being child raisers to become child disciplers. Now, that's powerful. When we choose to live as disciplers,  it's as much work on me as it is for them.

Here's some great ways to start the process:

1. Teach Christian values. As parents we need to identify, live, and communicate our values. If we value truth and honesty, we must be honest and adhere to biblical standards. We need to believe and teach our teens that the only truth in the world that matters is in the Scriptures. You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matt. 22:29).

2. Express love and acceptance of our children. Even when their behavior disappoints us, we must continue to let them know that we love them. Genuine love for our children will grow out of our awareness that we are genuinely loved by God. It’s not always easy, but unconditional love is necessary. We also need to teach our children about God’s love. God’s love is solid and secure. He adopted us into His family, and He knows our needs and will provide them. Your teens need to know and accept these truths.

3. Be consistent with discipline. Our goal is that our children will ultimately become self-disciplined and self-controlled. If discipline does not eventually become internal, no amount of outside pressure to conform will make a teenager a spiritually healthy person.

4. Pray continually for and about our children. God is more concerned for them than we possibly can be, so He welcomes our conversations with Him about them. With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints (Eph. 6:18).

5. Worship together as a family. Participating in regular worship, both corporately and personally, will move us all toward spiritual health. Again, I cannot hope that my child will grow to be a faithful worshiper of the Lord if I refuse to do so myself. Let worship become a lifestyle for you, and your teens will likely catch it from you. Also, remember that personal and family worship are important as well.

6. Be active participants in the work of the church. Remember to balance your time with your family and in your church activities; but, again, if you want your youth to participate in church activities, you must do the same. Dropping them off at youth or children's activities will not teach them to be faithful church members.

7. Participate in ministries that are designed for you as a parent. Not every church does this, but when a seminar or class is offered to help parents be better at their jobs, be sure to go. It will communicate volumes to your teen when they see that you are trying to improve in your parenting skills. 

In addition to these great thoughts, you might want to resource my article, Building a Family.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

For a GREAT MESSAGE on being the parent God wants you to be listen to 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Easy Cook Roast

So glad all of you enjoyed reading the Omlette blog last week. I got lots and lots of hits and thank you for caring to look. Hope many of you tried it out and enjoyed the recipe.

This week I want to teach you how to cook a pork roast or a beef roast very simply, and you can simply choose which one you want to cook. It's really up to you and what taste you have for the meal that your cooking.

First I want to recommend the cuts of meat you need to cook a roast. I like to choose either the Boston but cut for the pork. Or if you would rather use beef, I like a good chuck roast. The cut you get with bone in will be more tender than a cut without the bone when it comes to choosing a cut of beef. I like to wait until there is a sale on the cuts that I like, and then I go to the store and purchase them. I would recommend either a Doscher's (IGA) store or a Sam's Club to get your meat. Otherwise, feel free to get your meat anywhere you would like.

Once your cut of meat has been chosen, then you want to either use it, or put in the freezer for later. This instruction starts assuming you have a fresh or thawed cut of meat.

Let's begin:

I cook a roast in a crockpot. Now, some of you are probably going to say that the only way to cook a good pot roast is in the oven or in a pot. If that's what you want today, then this recipe is probably not for you. So, I recommend a crockpot. Usually a 6 quart crockpot will work fine.

Once you get your crockpot, take ypur roast and place it in the crockpot with 1 cup of water. Then begin to put the ingredients in. Here's what I would recommend...

Pork roast:

  • Meat tenderizer
  • MSG
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onions

For a beef roast, you might want to add:

  • celery
  • carrots
  • potatoes

Sprinkle the meat tenderizer, the MSG, the pepper, and any salt you would like over the roast. Recognize that MSG and meat tenderizer already have sodium in them. So, be careful with the salt.

Once you cut up your vegetables and place them in the crockpot over the meat you are through. I'm not joking when I say that you can have a roast from start to finish, as far as the preparation is concerned,in 5 to, at the most, 10 minutes.

Once you're finished with the preparation, the cooking begins. If you would like your roast cooked in 4 to 5 hours, put your crockpot on high. If you would like to cook your roast overnight and eat for lunch the next day, say on Sunday after church, put it on low. Or if you would like to start your roast in the morning before you go to work and let it cook all day until you get home, put it on low as well.

Your family will love you once they taste it. You will be the talk of the town. It's hard to believe that it's this easy, but it is. Enjoy, and let me know how your recipe turns out.

If you have any pork roast left over, you might want to save it. The way I would recommend is to put it in a Ziploc freezer bag, and place it in the freezer. It will remain that way for a week, two weeks, even a month or two. We are saving it to use it for all kinds of recipes that we will be giving you in the future.

Remember, God created all these things for us to enjoy.

Trey Rhodes

  • My wife tells me that the best part of the recipe is that you can start with a solid frozen piece of meat and instead of low, cook it on high for 8 to 10 hours using the same recipe. 
  • She also wants you to know if you cook a smaller beef roast, the cooking times are greatly reduced. She says she usually only cooks a 2 1/2 to 3 lb. beef roast.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

TV Families Are Our Examples?

You don't have to turn on the TV for long to find a family. From CSI to Modern Family to Mad Men to The Walking Dead, nearly every one of them have families. It actually surprises that there are representations of the family and not just hot, swingin' singles.

You don't have to go that far back in TV history to have familes that support and care for each other. I'm talking about the Huxtable's (The Cosby Show) the Barclay's (The Big Valley) or the Walton's or the Ingalls' (Little House on the Prairie). Now the families are from Wysteria Lane (Desparate Housewives) or some so-called reality show that proports to show us "real" life in a home, and is nothing like a real home. My concern is that families we used to admire are no more (unless you watch the Inspirational Network). The only families we see on TV and the movies make us glad that at least our families aren't that bad. But, is that what we really want? Familes that aren't that bad? I believe there is a better way. It has worked for nearly 3500 years. When our families choose tradition over pyschology, they work every time.

Here's my point, family is as much as part of our life as anything else we are a part of. Yet, our only examples in the media are families that are structured in a variety of non-traditional forms or at the very least, dysfunctional. I can assure you, there are lots of families, while not perfect, are fully functioning. They are the ones that have chosen to raise their families in a traditional sense. Dad and mom run the household. Kids obey their parents. Character building is king. God is honored. Church is a priority. They are taught manners. Dad and mom love each other and want to be with one another (think of the Huxtable's here). Back talking is not tolerated. These kinds of families enjoy having fun together. These are the kinds of families that civilizations are built on.

It can be your family. Wherever you are and whatever your family is like, you can start to build or re-building your family in such a way that family will bring joy to your life and not misery. Start today by turning off the horrible examples on TV and get around people that have a clue as to how to raise kids and love and honor one another.

Trey Rhodes