Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fabulous Phonecalls

How can Oceanside Church reach East Cooper? What would be the best way to do it? Do people really have home phones anymore? What about seeing if we could get a mission team to come down and help us? Pastor Ivey and I asked ourselves these questions about 4 or 5 months ago hoping we could get someone to really help us by making 100's of phone calls in a single week. We knew it was going to be a daunting task and didn't really know where to start.

First, I challenged several churches to help us. Then we had to find some kind of list of phone numbers other than just calling down the 35,000 or so numbers in the phone book. Then we had to get a list of workable survey questions. Finally, we had to plan an appropropriate date on the calendar to make it happen.

With God's help and a little ingenuity, we got all of the logisitcs together still having no idea if this would work. For those that don't know (as I didn't), getting 8% of the people to do our survey was the figure we were going with. That was what most churches got when they called. From that we should get 10% of those to be prospects. That means, if we could make 800 phone calls, we should get 64 people to answer our survey and of those, we should have a list of 6 homes that would be good prospects for our church.

Thanks to a small but motivated mission team from Common Ground Church in Eutawville, SC and a list of 1968 new movers we were able to get hold of, we set to work beginning this past Sunday night. We soon found out that people (male and female) like to speak to sweet southern ladies. The people we called were also very open once they agreed to answer our "community needs" survey. Finally, we could make around 30 phone calls an hour per caller.

Once we were finished, our percentages were higher that I was told we would get. 11% answered surveys. I'm just hoping we can get higher than normal percentages with the church attendance as well. As it stands, that means over the next months we should see 9 household join us. So, pray we can beat that percentage as well. God can do anything. He just wants us ready and obedient.

Here are the 5 questions:

  • What do you think is the greatest need in our area?
  • Do you actively attend a church?
  • Why do you think most people don't go to church?
  • If you were looking for a church to attend, what would you look for?
  • How can we best pray for you?
Here are our findings:

1. For every 2 people that answered the phone, 1 would take our survey.

2. Most people do not actively attend church.

3. They said that people don't attend church for 5 major reasons (in order):

1) No time

2) Other beliefs or religion

3) Too tired

4) Boring

5) Not sure why

4. They said that they would look for these things in a church (in order):

1) A good worship service (33%)

2) Youth ministry (22%)

3) Children's ministry (7.5%)

3) Bible study (7.5%)

3) Friendly congregation (7.5%)

5. The prayer we asked for told us that there are lots of hurting people out there. We were able to pray with many of them right there on the phone.

We also took the time and effort to be as gracious as we could by sending thank you notes to everyone who finished our survey and asked them to join us for worship this Sunday morning. No matter the cost (even blisters on my writing finger), it was worth it to touch the lives of so many people in such a short time.

I also want to thank all of you that prayed. Believe me, wothout God's people praying, I'm sure we would never have made as many contacts. God will honor you for praying for us.

There are many people who are searching and hurting and without Christ. many are our neighbors. We pray as we follow up, there will be many who come to know the Lord and serve Him over these next months.

God is doing something great, and I'm just glad to be a part.

Because of the love of Calvary,

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Coming Soon to Oceanside...

the Strength Team and the Kinetic Festival

October 19-21, Under the Cabana nightly. - Oceanside's latest audio message. - for information, direction, pics, and more on Oceanside Church - for latest news and information about Oceanside Church



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Living in Graveyards

Graveyards are an anomaly to our way of thinking. There are times we enjoy moving through the rows of tombstones and basking in the serenity and the memories, but there are also times of terror. Who hasn't read a "ghost story" that included a graveyard?

I was taught to respect the dead in the cemetery. One of the ways was to never walk on the grave of someone buried. That leads me to a funny story I read some time ago, but gave me a whole new reason NEVER to walk on a grave. This graveyard story was written by Pastor Horace Sims in his book, Whistling at Snakes (found here with many more of his humorous stories) who wrote this about a graveyard experience he had with his family:

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon when my daughter, my son and I visited the old Presbyterian church just north of town. The old building was still open from the morning service. The custodian gave us a tour and a book of the church’s history.

One stone was inscribed: Mary Blaine, Consort of William G. Blaine. William was buried in the adjoining grave. I stepped on the grave to get a good look as I copied the word down. The grave suddenly collapsed. I sank down to my waist. I had just dropped in on Mary Blaine, unannounced. She wasn’t much to look at after 200 years.

My daughter ran for the car. My son fell to the ground in laughter. I had to pull myself from the grave without any help. My Sunday suit had mud on it from the waist down.

As we drove back to town, my son was rolling in laughter. I asked him if he really thought it was that funny.

“It will be when it is run in the newspaper,” he said.

I asked him if it would be funny news to report that I had fallen in a grave.

“Oh, no,” he said. “But when those reporters get through with it, it will read, ‘Rev. Horace Sims Buried With Consort.’”

Yikes! It might be nice to get into the headlines every now and again, but oh what the news can do with the headlines.

Truth be told, graveyards are a paradox for the living. What I mean is, we have a place that we inter people who have meant something to us in the ground waiting for their bodies to one day be resurrected. For the believer, life's great tragedy, death, has become a place of great hope. Graveyards remind us that we are awaiting our resurrection. So, we live with this paradox every time we think of or pass by a cemetery.

Without getting into all the theological ramifications of that last paragraph, I think that, for me, graveyards can be a pleasant place to visit, but I would never want to live there. There was a man in the Bible, the Gadarene demoniac, who was so possessed by demons, he only felt at home with the dead.

That makes me ask myself, as a Christian, where do I feel comfortable? If you and I live comfortably among the spiritual dead and enjoy the same sort of things the dead do, its time to examine our lives. You see, just as the disciples were rebuked for seeking "the living among the dead" (Luke 24:45) as they looked for the resurrected Jesus, my concern is that we too will be rebuked as we look for life in the old way we lived before we knew Christ. That IS the graveyard of life. As the apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 2, that was the way we were before we knew Christ. That kind of life brings with it nothing but decay and rot and fear and separation... just like the graveyard. Here's what our life was:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. (Ephesians 2:1-3, HCSB)

The Greek word used for dead is "nekros" where where we get our prefix "necro" in English. It literally means dead as "in the grave." It is the word used in Luke 24:45, and here in Ephesians 2:1 and 3. Here then is what we should take from this word "dead":

1. People who are dead to Christ live that way.

2. Those kinds of activities are now dead to us.

3. We are no longer bound to live that dead kind of life.

The time has now come that we have new life in Christ... that we get out of the graveyard and... we start living heavenly Christ-filled lives. That is what we are told in that same passage:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens (Ephesians 2:4-6).

What about you? Where are you living? In the graveyard or in the heavenlies? As one of our church members tweeted during the Sunday messsage:

As a Christian look up to the Heavens for encouragement. Stop looking down in the grave. You're not that dead person anymore!

Let's live like we are alive in Christ. Let's live like we are in heaven already. Let's live with that old life in the distant past. Let's live as God intended in joy and love and peace and freedom. The graveyard is where we used to live, now we know what real living is all about. It's the only life really worth living.

Pastor Trey Rhodes, Oceanside Church, Mount Pleasant, SC

Current Sermon Series, BIO


Coming Soon to Oceanside...

the Strength Team and the Kinetic Festival

October 19-21, Under the Cabana nightly. - Oceanside's latest audio message. - for information, direction, pics, and more on Oceanside Church - for latest news and information about Oceanside Church


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Storms, Destruction, and the Unknown

As I write this, Tropical Storm Isaac is bearing down on the Florida coast. It has been 7 years since the last hurricane made landfall in Florida. That means that many residents have no idea what to expect from a hurricane because they have never been through one. Add to this mix, the national Republican convention is meeting this year in Tampa, and that is going to be next week. Already, there are models that bring the storm right through the Tampa area, and it is predicted to arrive in the middle of that convention.

If there in one thing that most of us know who have lived on the coast, actuality rarely follows prediction. That means we cannot predict with much certainty where Isaac will make landfall, how strong it will be, or what kind of damage it will do. Uncertainty is what creates fear-filled atmosphere. I have believed since Hurricane Hugo that we should prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and let God take care of the results.

Although we may not know what tropical storms may do, there is a greater destruction that we can be sure of. Destruction is looming for anyone who does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. There, I said it. I know it's not tolerant of other religions. I know that leaves out everyone who doesn't believe in God. I know that even many Christians no longer trust the words of Jesus Christ who said that many are on their way to destruction when He said very clearly:

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. (Matthew 7:13 HCSB)

You see, when there is assured destruction, it is a good thing to go to the One who knows the answers. One Who has been there and back, and One Who has come back from the dead to tell us the truth.

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish-ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27, 28 HCSB)

You say, "I do believe that. I was taught good theology since I first trusted Christ." To everyone of us that say that, I have to ask, do you really? It is much more likely that we have acknowledged a religious opinion with our mind, but if our actions don't bear it out, I have to ask, do we really believe? What I mean is if we really believed with our inmost being that people who don't know Jesus Christ on a "He died and rose again for me" level were going to eternal destruction, we would do everything in our power to make sure they knew Jesus came, died, and rose again to give them eternal life. Our lives would be driven by it. Our activities would be built around it. Our resources, including our money, would be used to share that life-changing message with everyone we came into contact with. And, when people called us a fanatic, we would wear that badge proudly, knowing they are hearing the message of exclusive eternal life found in Jesus Christ alone.

For most Christians, the cost is too great. It was General William Booth of the Salvation Army that shared his thoughts on why most Christians do not ever bear witness to Christ:

A young Christian once came to me, and told me that for some time she had been giving the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give Him her life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go to His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another struggling in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts and leaps to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing and praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares about other people's opinions, your love of ease and all the selfish loves that have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying men and women. Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it, means difficulty and scorn and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who beckons you from the sea however, knows what it will mean - and knowing, He still calls to you and bids to you to come. You must do it! You cannot hold back.

We are told that we are responsible to advance the faith wherever we are in His world. Paul was sold out to the message of Christ, and gave his life in order to tell more people of Christ. Now, he wanted the Roman church, which was at the center of the ancient world to understand their place in God's kingdom. Now, those same words shout from the shores of safety to the sea of destruction. So, as he laid his pen down in the final verses of Romans, he is asking us to pick up the gauntlet:

Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ...according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations (Romans 16:25, 26 HCSB)

Do you authentically, passionately believe? Then you will tell someone.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

Make a Difference in someone's life for eternity: Kinetic Festival, October 19-21, 2012 at Oceanside Church. Click here to find out how you can be more involved and make a difference. - Oceanside's latest audio message. - for information, direction, pics, and more on Oceanside Church - for latest news and information about Oceanside Church


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The "Blade Runner": When Weak Becomes Strong

The story of Oscar Pistorius, "the Blade Runner," is an incredible tale. He has never backed down and has never given up. But more than that, his is an account of someone who took what should have been weakness and became one of the fastest men in the world. Why? A huge part of it is because stronger, better people invested their lives in him so that he was able to become a world-class athlete.
Just in case you missed it, Oscar Pistorius is the South African runner who had 2 prostheses attached to his legs below the knee soon after he was born. He made history by being the first double amputee permitted into the Olympics. He had run many races and won often in the Paralympics, but this was an achievement many thought impossible. Not only did he make the South African Olympic team, he also made the semi-finals in the 400 meter and the finals in the 4x400 relay. Yes, you read right...the finals. No medal, yet this was a crowning achievement to be competing against the fastest runners in the an equal.
For those of us who are crippled in physique, we breathed a breath of fresh air. We realized that it is possible to make an impact. It is in the realm of our ability to get out there and make a do something that will make the history books. Are all of us Oscar Pistorius-esque? Of course not. But many of us will get out there and try again and try even harder, this time with a little more "spring in our step" because we experienced a man, the "blade runner," make a difference on the world stage.
What can we all draw from this feat of world-class athletic prowess? Simply this: weak can be made strong. Strength is acquired. And it is not gained without support. You see, 25 years ago, when Oscar was born, his parents made a tough decision. Oscar was born with bones in his lower legs. His feet were deformed. It was their tough choice in those tough days when you expect your baby boy to have "10 fingers and 10 toes" that they decided to amputate below the knee at the doctor's urging. This was so that he would have a chance to be normal. Who knew he would be anything but normal?
Even at the beginning of his life, the strong were making decisions for this weak baby boy that would impact him and make him strong...stronger than they could ever have imagined.
Could Oscar have made world headlines by himself? Maybe, but I somehow doubt it. As with nearly all great athletes, they know it takes others...all stronger. Here's a tweet directly from him so you can experience his heart. He posted, "Thank you all for playing a part in one of the greatest weeks of my life!"
People such as coaches, financiers, encouragers, fans, and yes, even moms and dads (anyone ever hear an athlete on TV say, "Thanks, Mom"?). They all invested in his life and look what happened.
In the Bible, Romans 14-15 gives us the word on how that works in the most important of all achievments, our spiritual success. The strong take the weak under their arm and build them up, encourage them, and correct them so that they can be strong as well. It's a spiritual principle that works every time. The Bible says it this way:
Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1, 2 HCSB)
Why do we spend our time with those who are weak? So that one day, they won't just be world-class athletes, but world-changing Christians. Don't you think that's important enough to invest your time and effort into? Truly, it's worth giving our lives over to completely. We should be challenged to find somone struggling, put your spiritual arms around them and watch what happens as the both of you change the world for Christ.

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

Thursday, August 9, 2012

EZ Iced Coffee

There is nothing like an iced coffee on a summer morning to get your day started. Just feeling that caffeine coursing through my veins and pushing my tired eyes open is worth the price of admission.

I began my journey on a mission trip in Baltimore. I had heard of Iced coffee, but never partook of this elixir of energy. Now, I have been drinking one almost every morning...for medicinal purposes, of course. I tried the expensive version at the coffee shop, but wasn't pleased with neither the taste, nor the price. So, I set out to make my own. There is one proviso. If you are an avid, super strong, brewed coffee drinker, this is probably not for you, unless you look at it as another drink altogether. For me, a reluctant coffee drinker, it is near perfection. Enjoy!


  • Instant Coffee
  • Milk (skim or whole, your choice)
  • Sugar (sweetener is what I use)
  • Water
  • Ice

  • Pour 4 oz. of water into a small pot and bring to a boil. (Boiling helps the water become taste neutral)
  • Using a 12 oz. mug, measure a HEAPING tbsp. of instant coffee into the cup
  • Add sugar or sweetener to taste (I like 2 packets of sweetener, you can use 2 to 3 tsp. of sugar)
  • Pour in water that was boiled (hot water dissolves ingredients better)
  • Stir
  • Fill the rest of the mug with cold milk
  • Using a large, 20 to 24 oz. glass, fill with appropriate amount of ice (Mine is usually half full with ice and it is 24 oz.)
  • Pour drink over ice
  • Enjoy.
That's all there is to it. In a few minutes, literally, you can have your glass of ice cold coffee and be sipping it in half the time it would take you to stand in a line and pay those exorbitant prices.

Also, if you watch your calories, the substitutes of skim milk and sweetener make a drink that is less than 100 calories, not the 500 or so that the coffee shops make.

Remember, God created all good things for our enjoyment,

Trey Rhodes

1 Timothy 6:17


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Love, Just Love

It has been with great interest that I have watched the latest "news eruption de jour." As most of you know, it has to do with fast food. Somehow that has translated into boycotts. We are now being told with every news cycle that this particular company donates money to hate groups. By the way, using the list that this corporation was placed on, both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family are listed as well. So, it seems that this list was compiled to defame any Christian organization that believes in the Bible and practices the truth found in it. At Oceanside church, we support and encourage traditional marriage at every opportunity we have. It breaks my heart to think that any organization that supports traditional family values will now be placed on some type of "McArthy-esque" list that denounces them for standing up and supporting them for what they believe is the most loving and lovely way to live.

Although my purpose in life, or even this week, is not to try and defend multi-billionaires, it seems to me that those using one of the most horrible words in the English language are modeling what they proclaim to be against. As a child, when I used this word, I was punished swiftly. It was considered a curse word in every sense. It is now bantied about as a moniker that will fit any suitable person or ministry or organization in order to push an agenda. We have been driven to draw a line in the sand. And it is on our side that we must stand in love. It is how we will win (See Romans 12:21). We are told that our only debt is to be that of love (Romans 13:8). We are told that the greatest thing we can do is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). And that love cover a multitude of sins (that goes for all of us!)

It is at this point that I must exhort every believer in Jesus to take great care with your words. We are able to stand for a principle in truth while we are loving in deed. We will NEVER win using Satan's weapons to defend. His weapons will only offend. Our greatest instrument in the toolbag of life is to love, unconditionally and unfettered. This is God's design for us and God's commandment to us.

Listen to the very direct words from the Bible:

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, (1 John 3:18, 19 HCSB).

That is true love. A love demonstrated for us by Jesus Himself who loves the sinner, but hated the sin. Our goal as little Christ's is to follow in His steps.

That is why I am so proud of my daughter. She has taken it upon herself, without any coaxing from me, to start a petition requesting that this particular fast food establishment be kept in her school. She only did that after her heart was broken by virulent, untruthful statements were said in order to promote an agenda. When I asked her why she was doing this, she told me it was because she loved the business and what they stood for...traditional families, like ours. Her headline is the picture that she designed that begins this blog. She sees the traditional family as a place or love and care and accpetance. That's how she grew up. That's what she knows. It is why when one of the supporters of her petition said he signed it in order to watch the other side "cry." She immediately replied that it was all about love and that was the last thing she wanted to see happen.

So, how about it? Are you up to demonstrating real love? Show God's love in practical way to someone today. Maybe someone you disagree with. How about it?

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