Thursday, July 19, 2012

Camper of the Day

This week of camp has been phenomenal. What should've have taken days only took hours. On Tuesday, we saw 10 campers come to Christ. It was amazing as 2 campers in particular had been struggling with the claims of the Gospel. One told me, "I have been reading several of the books of other religions. This past week, I asked God to tell me which way was right. Tonight He spoke clearly to me, and I asked Christ into my life." This is just a sampling. We heard many stories of students searching for truth and now finding the way.

In the midst of all the activity and transformation, we also had several students who went beyond the call of duty as servants, as leaders, and by example. We called them campers of the day. They saw camp as an opportunity to demonstrate Christlikeness in everyday common situations. We recognized and applauded them. We celebrated them. They deserved it.

There are two things I learned from this week:

1) Our young people are a cut above. I as their pastor am extremely proud of them. Allie expressed to me how impressed she was for the way they handled themselves.

2) Pleasing God is also a part of our everyday life. We are not called to be Christians of the day, but lifetime followers of God.

One day, when I stand before my Lord and Savior, I long for Him to say to me, "Well done good and faithful servant." Who knows? After pleasing Him in this life, He could very well look at me with a twinkle in His eye and say, "Well done, you were Christian of the Day!"

Starting this week, let's make it our goal to please Him, not as campers of the day or even Christians of the day, but, every single day. And on that day, may we hear Him say, "Well done!" That will be enough.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

footnote: these are all pics from Camp Kinetic 2012 at Epworth by the Sea, st. Simons Island, Georgia.

Thanks for your prayers! God has done a work on these students lives. Encourage them and pray for them. The real test begins NOW and they need us!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Problem Dismissing Parts of the Bible, Pt. 2

In my study, I came across a book that helps explain what I am talking about in Romans 8:1. I think it deals with the textual problem and also deals with the theology of the verse as well.

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Holland's Crowned With Glory, ©2000. You can get a copy both for Kindle ($3.99) and the print edition here.
"Romans 8:1 - "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
"The phrase "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" appears in verses one and four. Most scholars consider this a special type of scribal error called dittography, which is the repetition of a letter, syllable, word, or phrase. The thought is that a scribe accidentally copied the phrase from verse four in verse one, and that the textual error repeated itself in later manuscripts. Scribal errors do occur as is testified in the large amount of variants within the textual witnesses. However, just because a word or phrase is repeated does not mean that a scribal error has occurred.

"The Greek phrase me kata sarka peripatousin alla kata penuma (who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit) is supported by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. Among them are 33, 88, 104, 181, 326, 330, 451, 614, 630, 1241, 1877, 1962, 1984, 1985, 2492, and 2495. These date from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. The phrase is also included in Codex K (ninth century), Codex P (ninth century), and stands in the margin of Codex Sinaiticus. This is also the reading of the majority of Greek lectionaries. Early versions that contain the phrase include some Old Latin manuscripts (such as ar and o), the Syriac Harclean version, and the Georgian version. Another textual variant that contains part of the phrase reads me kata sarka peripatousin (who walk not after the flesh). This is the reading found in Codex A, Codex D06, Codex, Y, and several minuscules (such as 81, 256, 263, 365, 629, 1319, 1573, 1852, and 2127). It is also the reading of the Latin Vulgate (fourth century [1] ), and the Old Syriac Peshitta. The reading in part or in whole has massive and ancient textual support.
"The whole verse is cited, with the phrase in question, by Theodoret (466 AD), Ps-Oecumenius (tenth century), and Theophylact (1077 AD). We also have partial citation of the verse by Basil (379 AD). He writes:
"'And after he has developed more fully the idea that it is impossible for one who is in the power of sin to serve the Lord, he plainly states who it is that redeems us from such a tyrannical dominion in the words: "Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Further on, he adds: "There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh.'
"When the phrase is not included it creates a possible doctrinal error. To say there is no condemnation of any kind to all who are in Christ Jesus is to overlook the whole of Scripture. We are told that it is very possible for those who are in Christ to suffer some condemnation, albeit not eternal condemnation. The Christian who walks after the flesh instead of the leading of the Spirit produces works of wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12). Everyone's works will be tried so as by fire. Fleshly works will be burned and spiritual works will endure. We are told, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15). Therefore, worldly Christians face a certain amount of condemnation.
"We must remember that the word condemnation not only carries the meaning of judgment, but also of disapproval. [3] John informs his "little children" that the heart of the believer is able to pass such condemnation or disapproval on our Christian living (1 John 3:20-21). Not only is there a judgment for believers who stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10), but there can also be a judgment on believers that may cost them their lives if they continue in sin (Acts 5:1-10; 1 John 5:16). Biblically speaking, there is condemnation for believers who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. Consequently, the phrase at the end of Romans 8:1 is theologically sound."
Although this can get a little technical for the layman, my point is that we can keep the Bible that was delivered to us and still be faithful to an exegesis (studying of the Bible) that includes passages that have been questioned by certain textual scholars of the 1800's. All of the manuscripts deserve that.

Food for thought.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Problem Dismissing Parts of the Bible, Pt. 1

As I was studying Romans 8 for my sermon, I read these words from a Biblical scholar that I greatly respect. He was dealing with Romans 8:1: "'There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' Be sure to put a period at this point, if one is not there in your Bible. The remainder of that verse does not belong in the original." (Romans: the Gospel of God's Grace, The Lectures of Alva J. McClain, p. 163)

What are the rest of the words? "Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (KJV, NKJV). The reasoning for leaving that part of the verse out is because we are told, "archeologists have found many older manuscripts and not one has that clause in it" (McClain, p. 164). When I hear those things, I am driven to dive deeper. It certainly would make my exposition simpler if it wasn't there. But, shouldn't we be required to deal with the extant copies that are given to us rather than dismiss them outright?

I need to say, I am not a KJV only expositor. My favorite translations are the HCSB and the NKJV. Both are modern translations that strike a balance making the Word of God both enjoyable and scholarly. I actually would be placed in the Majority text camp. That means, I believe that the Majority texts of the ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament are accurate...not perfect, mind you...but accurate. I mean 99+% accurate. That means what you hold in your hand is fine for you to read and study and believe. Save for 3 translations, the Revised Standard, the New Revised Standard, and the TNIV (which is the current NIV), no matter of faith, theology, or practice is violated in any way.

But for me, it comes down to this, shouldn't I be held to a standard of dealing with the Scripture we have been given rather than dismissing every passage that some would question as authentic? Passages that include John 8 (the adulterous woman), Romans 8:1, Mark 16:9-20, and 1 John 5:7. My desire is that the Bible student exegete each and every passage that the Majority Text? Consider what the 5000+ manuscripts affirm. Be careful that you don't dismiss a passage because it happens to be left out in a few texts. On the surface, the older texts such as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus should be more accurate, right? But you should remember is, when it comes to textual study, older is not always better. Age of the text might be one variable, but a much better standard is how many generations of copies the text has been transcribed from. A textual critic needs to ask both of these questions: 1) how old is the manuscript? and 2) Is this copy, no matter the age, closer to the original generationally?

We would be better served as Bible students and Bible believers asking the right questions as we interpret, exegete, and discuss all what's included in the Bible.

More tomorrow.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Body of Death

There is nothing more gruesome nor offensive to our human sensibilities than looking at a dead human body. Death is something that is against the natural order. We fight it. We rush to the emergency room to avoid it. We mourn when someone close to us dies. We really don't even like to think about dying, much less talk about it. Yet, death is all around us and permeates our news media, entertainment, and discussions.

Dead bodies are bad enough, but executed bodies are even worse. They remind us that sin has a wage to be paid. A capitol crime brings about a capitol punishment. It's no surprise that the Romans were particularly good at the horrors of execution. Murder brings with it the feeling of atrocity. It is built into who we are to hate that someone's life has been taken in cold blood. So, the Romans came up with a way to get revenge by use of the dead person's body. Here's how it worked in horrific detail:

The murderer was bound hand and foot, face to face, body to body and then thrown into the heat of the Mediterranean sun. As the corpse decayed, it ate death into the living man as he stared into the eyes of the decaying man who got his vengeance as the murdered body quite literally became a body of death. (Romans, John Phillips)

This vivid description is not from some twisted horror story. It is the cry of the Apostle Paul when he was living his life on the fence. He was not not a lost man, nor a spiritual man. He was living a life that is called "carnaility." He had one foot in sin, and the other knowing how he should be living:

But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. (Romans 7:23 HCSB)

Then, he got to the end of himself, couldn't keep living that way anymore, and and cried out...

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? (Romans 7:24 HCSB)

(For more on living in victorious joy...SEE "No You May Not." Excerpt: "We now know that Christ empowers us to live life joyfully and without guilt.")

That is the wretchedness of the carnal believer. Think about it, you have been there. You have mixed your allegiances as well. There have been times that you yielded parts of your body which were intended by God to be used for His kingdom and His glory, and used those incredible gifts as weapons against your Savior. It should tear you apart inside. If not, it could be that you don't have a relationship with the Savior. Today could be your day of salvation. You can know what it's like to have a relationship with Him that offers grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from such heart wrenching torment. Thanks be to Jesus who always gives us victory! (Romans 7:25)

Pastor Trey Rhodes - Oceanside's latest audio message. - for information, direction, pics, and more on Oceanside Church - for latest news and information about Oceanside Church


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What the Fourth of July Means to Me, Ronald Reagan

As a child, the fourth of July was a sacred day. We could not wait for this grand and glorious occasion and the thrill and excitement it brought to our lives. It was a day when we all turned our thoughts and eyes to America and her founding and we were very proud indeed the be called Americans. There is nothing like that feeling and experience. Interestingly enough, I was not the only one that felt that way. I found this speech that was hand written by Ronald Reagan. He wrote it in 1981 when he had only been president for a few months. The nation was still in a financial and foreign policy mess.


Here's his thoughts on our glorious day when all seemed right with America:

For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.

I remember it as a day almost as long-anticipated as Christmas. This was helped along by the appearance in store windows of all kinds of fireworks and colorful posters advertising them with vivid pictures.

No later than the third of July – sometimes earlier – Dad would bring home what he felt he could afford to see go up in smoke and flame. We'd count and recount the number of firecrackers, display pieces and other things and go to bed determined to be up with the sun so as to offer the first, thunderous notice of the Fourth of July.

I'm afraid we didn't give too much thought to the meaning of the day. And, yes, there were tragic accidents to mar it, resulting from careless handling of the fireworks. I'm sure we're better off today with fireworks largely handled by professionals. Yet there was a thrill never to be forgotten in seeing a tin can blown 30 feet in the air by a giant "cracker" – giant meaning it was about 4 inches long. But enough of nostalgia.

Somewhere in our growing up we began to be aware of the meaning of days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.

There is a legend about the day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.

The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, "They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever."

He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.

Well, that is the legend. But we do know for certain that 56 men, a little band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.

What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough.

John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find his wife dead, his children vanished, his property destroyed. He died of exhaustion and a broken heart.

Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships, sold his home to pay his debts, and died in rags. And so it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston and Middleton. Nelson personally urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.

But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea. Five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep, 3 million square miles of forest, field, mountain and desert, 227 million people with a pedigree that includes the bloodlines of all the world. In recent years, however, I've come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation.

It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.

Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.

Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.

We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.

Happy Fourth of July. Ronald Reagan President of the United States

Have a glorious day reveling in the freedom paid for by the blood and sacrifices of American patriots.

Pastor Trey Rhodes


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Problem with Guilty Pleasures

I have seen it and heard it over and over again, "This book is my guilty pleasure for the month" or "That movie was my guilty pleasure for the week." I think that there isn't a single person who has not admitted to a guilty pleasure or two. But, when it comes to sin, believers cannot afford to entertain one single thing that would cost them their walk with Christ.

Sin is costly and almost always uncontrollable. It would be like trying to hold a live electric wire while standing in a puddle of water. You might be okay, but you probably won't be. But, even if you don't get electrocuted, how foolish can you possibly be? Truth be told, person aftter person will tell you how dangerous it was to dabble in sin. They had no idea it would send a type of "220 volt electricity" searing through them. At least as deadly to the soul as it would be to the body.

The problem is that sin is not something we can dabble in. We were not created that way. For everyone who gets away without being affected, there are many more who succumb to its allure. Sin hooks and keeps you. Why? Its because of a chemical in our brains called "dopamine." Because of that, in order for us to get the same feeling we got the first time, it will take another step farther down the path to enslavement. You must go farther and indulge more to get the same impact. Sin is that way. It only gives that much pleasure the first time. From then on, the slavery begins to take hold as more and more is needed to bring pleasure.

Forbes magazine helps us understand why this happens; it's called a "diminishing return":

A diminishing return is when a large quantity of something is not proportionately satisfying as a small quantity. For example, eating a single piece of cake is satisfying; eating ten slices of cake is not ten times as satisfying. Each subsequent slice will be less satisfying than the last.

That is how we were built, to crave more and more while all the while getting less and less satisfaction. That is probably a function of the fallen, sinful nature we all succumb to.

In the Bible, Romans 6 deals with not only a lifestyle of sin, but also the desire we have to occasionally fall back into sin. The question is not, "Do we?" It is, "Should we?" That is why the Spirit of God inspired Paul to write this soul-searching question:

What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? (Romans 6:15a HCSB)

So, should we? Here's our answer:

Absolutely not! (Romans 6:15b HCSB)

Why? Here's where the Bible understands more about the human condition than the most recent of magazine articles. It tells us about diminishing returns and what happens to us as a result:

Don't you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey-either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 HCSB)

We crave what we partake in. We become slaves of whatever we gives ourselves to. That is why even guilty pleasures, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time, must never include sin. Sin brings with it enslavement. As followers of Christ, there is only one course of action, submission to Someone who loves and cares for us more than anyone else could, the Lord Jesus. He has given us new life to do His will and live for Him. By following Him, we become more of what we were intended to be and less in need of any guilty pleasures.

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