Thursday, September 27, 2012

Plain Vanilla Christian

Have you ever heard someone say, "That's just plain vanilla" ? In my thinking, that phrase is usually heard when a salesman is trying to talk you into upgrading into the deluxe model. My usual terse answer is, "There's nothing plain about vanilla." You see, I love vanilla. There is nothing better than a mug of vanilla bean ice cream late in the evening to bring comfort to these weary bones. I don't want cherries, chocolate, marshmallows, or jimmies. I just want vanilla ice cream.

Now, I just found out after making a comment on Sunday about the importance of believers becoming mature, I was right. The best things in life do need to mature, including vanilla. For us to finally get vanilla in useable form takes years. 4 and a half years from planting to your kitchen. The process of planting, growing, pollinating, harvesting, and curing takes large amounts of time and effort. If you want vanilla, real vanilla, not the imitation stuff, you must determine to mature it in the proper way. It is only then that we can use it in our ice cream, cakes, sauces, or anything else I can imagine adding it to.

How does this happen? Here's a excerpt from an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper:
It takes up to three years after a vanilla-producing orchid vine is planted before the first pale yellowish-green flowers even appear, then another 1 1/2 years from the time the flowers are pollinated until the bean is processed. Now you know why vanilla is so expensive: It requires years' worth of labor.
So, I ask you, are you ready for a plain vanilla Christian life? It will take time and energy and willingness for you to grow to maturity. As a college professor once told us, "You can be spiritual in a moment, but spiritual maturity requires time" (Dr. Sumner Wemp, Liberty Unviversity).

But time is not enough. You see, as you have seen over and over, some people never grow up, they only get older and bigger. This is why we spent 5 weeks at Oceanside Sunday morning services and at our small groups explaining why we must sell out to the Jesus as Lord. That means life, or BIO, as we have discovered, means that to mature, we get:

BEFORE GOD - spending 10 minutes a day with Jesus (the 959 plan is a great place to start. Please contact us for more information about this great starting point).

IN FELLOWSHIP - making it a point to be in church and in small group every single week.

ON MISSION - being able to tell your story with people God brings to you at work, at school, at play, or wherever you are.

The Bible tells us that we are to mature. Prayers have already been offered to the Lord for us to become mature. Read what 2 Corinthians 13 tells us:

"We also pray that you become fully mature" and "become mature" (See verses 9 and 11)
So, how about it? Are you ready to experience life, BIO, as never before? Get started now. Become a "vanilla" Christian as you mature in Christ. You will truly be UNSTOPPABLE!

Pastor Trey Rhodes
See you Sunday Morning at 10:30! UNSTOPPABLE Series begins this week. See you there! for our website for most audio messages for our latest updates on ministry and events

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Motivated by the Dead: the Story of Marshall

I really want to watch a relatively recent movie that has been called a sports movie that's not. In other words, it is about something much more profound than a sports team winning games. The movie is We Are Marshall. It is the re-telling of the account of 76 Division 1 football players dying in a plane crash, and the school's response to the tragedy. Here's a quote from a website that discusses the real life drama:

"The new players didn't know the story. They didn't know the magnitude of the tragedy," he said. "This was to help them understand the magnitude if this tragedy and what role they needed to play in the future to build the foundation for the future generations of Marshall football."

Lengyel said this was a "private moment" for the team, which traditionally happened at 6 a.m. before the first game of the year with only the team, coaching staff and team managers there.

McConaughey uses the phrase, "The funerals end today," but Lengyel said he had to make that known not only to the players but to the schools the team played. Each time the team traveled, the school would have a memorial for Marshall, but Lengyel said the team couldn't continue and grow under those conditions.

Read the actual story of Marshall's football team airline crash

The coach made sure that the Marshall football team had to remember the sacrifice, but couldn't dwell on the tragedy of the needless deaths every moment of every day.

So, how important is at that we remember those who died before us? To answer that, I need to tell you about some questions my daughter fielded in one of her classes at Charleston Southern University. Her class has been reading Fox's Book of Martyrs. Her classmates said that they didn't understand why this book is such an important part of Western literature (if somehow you don't know what this book is, you need to get a copy on your Kindle, tablet, or computer and read it). What is the point of reading it? After all, it's just tragic, horrible, depressing stuff about believers that lived many centuries ago. What good could it possibly do for us today? My daughter was incredulous. This is a book she's been read; she has also read, and had been taught from since a child. Now, here was someone all but thumbing their nose at its importance.

So, why is a "book of martyrs" important to Christians? What difference can it possibly make to us in 21st Century America? In the same way that we must never forget the attack on America on September 11, or the unprovoked surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, or the holocaust of the Jews before and during World War II, we must never forget the martyrs who died for their Lord. Even the Bible reminds us in Hebrews 11 that the world was not worthy of those who were imprisoned, tortured and many even died for the faith. There is a special place in the heart of God for those who were marytyred for Him.

With that in mind, I must ask myself, what is my motivation? Is it the living or the dead? In many ways, I believe it to be both. Read the words of 2 Corinthians 5, the Bible exhorts us all:

And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15 HCSB)

It takes death to brings us to understand our deepest motivation as Christians. That is meant in at least two ways:

1) Because Jesus died, we have no reason to live for ourselves. His example is that love in truth is always worth dying for. Remember from last week, God so loved, He gave..."

Read about Love and John 3:16 here

2) Because others have died for the Faith and are dying without the Faith, we must tell them that Jesus died for them, not as an example, but in order to reconcile us all to God the Father and to take our sins away. Theologians call that "imputation." This is a banking term that means to "place on one's account." That means that Jesus' death as the sinless, perfect Son of God allowed us to place our debt of sin on Jesus' infinite account (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Through death, we find life. In that, Jesus is our motivation, and in another way, they are our motivation. We live for Him because He died for them. We live for Him because they died for Him. Death is as much a part of life as birth. So because of that, the funerals will go on, but not in fear, but in hope that life doesn't stop with death. Death, because of Christ's resurrection from the dead, is now a conquered foe that holds no power over us anymore. No matter the circumstances, we can die in the Faith knowing real life has only begun.

Living for Him who died and is alive,

Pastor Trey Rhodes for our website for most audio messages for our latest updates on ministry and events


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The "Serving" Mix Up

Serving is a funny thing. As a matter of fact, I don't think anyone really knows what serving is anymore. Jesus said if you want to be the greatest, you must be a servant of all. That means that we've got to serve in order to be great. No disputing that. But, here's where the confusion comes in... What is "serving"?
  • I understand the Jet Blue is now "serving" the Charleston airport. So, is serving about low cost passenger jets?
  • I know people that are "serving" time. Is that what serving is...jail time?
  • I know restaurants that are "serving" new selections of food. So, is this anything to do with a meal?
  • I know soldiers that are "serving" their last tour of duty. Thanks for your service, but is this an army thing?
I think the word "serving" has become way too generalized. It can mean anything from prison to airplanes and lots in-between. That is why I think we no longer understand what it means to serve others. By way of good marketing, we think we are being served when we pay someone to do something for us. By politically correct language, we think that someone going to jail is somehow serving. By media influences through the newspapers and cable tv, we think that the meals we are buying is somehow a service to us. (Not that my waiters and waitresses don't have the right attittude. Nearly all are wonderful!) My point is, serving it's not just about being paid or paying for a job well done.

Here's my thought. Maybe serving is not something we are paying to have done for us, but is that which costs us time, effort, and resources. Maybe good service is not about giving someone a good day's work, for a decent wage, but it maybe it should be giving yourself to others with no expectation of return. Maybe serving is less about how long someone spends in jail, and more about spending and being spent for those who are imprisoned by sin and circumstances.

It took me a few pages, but when I googled "serving," I did find this:

Couple Honored for Serving Others

I found this article about a elderly couple who gave of themselves without expecting any kind of repayment. They loved, so they gave. Here's a quote from an article in their hometown paper, the Shelby Star. At a posthumous presentation for the husband, this was said of them both:

"Your generous acts of kindness reach far beyond food and show values of compassion and love..."

Sound familiar? You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. I truly believe that it was God's love that compelled Him to give. "God so loved, He gave..." (John 3:16).

That's where we become like God. It is not a part of being godly...if you do not serve others, you cannot be godly. I came to terms with that many years ago after an epiphany at a Promise Keeper's Weekend in Tennessee. For the first time, I saw my role as a pastor, as a husband, and even as a father as a servant. It changed me. I hope for the better.

After all, when we look at the condescension passage in Philippians 2, we do not see a king lording his authority over his subjects. We see a servant willing to give everything, even his own life...for others...for you...for me.

Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7, 8 HCSB)

That's a servant; that's my Jesus. Lord, may it be me...

"Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).

Pastor Trey Rhodes for our website for most audio messages for our latest updates on ministry and events


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Have You Been Blessed? Then, Be a Blessing

Do you think like I do? Sometimes I wonder, why has God blessed me so much? Over and over again, I have seen him come through in my life and ministry. I am blessed to be alive. I am blessed to be preaching. I am blessed to be born in a free country. I am blessed to be able to walk and talk. I am blessed with a wonderful, loving wife. I am blessed to have an incredible family that loves and serves God. I am blessed to have God's word so I can hear from Him and know His mind. I am blessed to have a good education. I am blessed to have godly parents. I am blessed to have a wonderful, supportive, praying, serving, giving church.

Why would God do this for me? I believe He blessed my because He loves me. I also believe He blessed me to be a blessing. Too often, I believe that we simply want to bask in His blessing. But, it is His desire to spread it around. Is there anyway I can? I truly want as many as is humanly possible to have the kind of life that I have. But, there is one thing they cannot have unless someone tells them. As you know, this life might not be as comfortable as you and I have. But, there is one thing we can assure others of, that eternity can be theirs. That is the blessing we can give to many. It is something that will last for all eternity. That kind of blessing will never change nor disappear. See what I'm talking about by listening to the following video testimony of Jeremy Smith who gave his life to Christ at our last festival.

This is what you can do to be a part of changing lives, like Jeremy's...right now...beginning today. How?

1. Pray for God to touch the lives of those who don't have a relationship with Him.

2. Tell the people around you what God has done for you and what He can do for them.

3. Invite people to church so they can hear (if you don't go to a church that introduces them to Christ, you need to start going to one that does)

4. Give sacrificially so that God's work can touch lives.

Jesus said it this way, "It is more blessed to give that to receive." (Acts 20:35)

We are blessed to be a blessing! It is not about consumption, nor getting ahead, nor surviving, nor even saving for a rainy day. It is about being a blessing to others...for all of eternity, and hat happens when you get involved.

As most of you know, Oceanside Church is working and planning diligently to bless our community in ways like we have never seen before through the Kinetic Festival. We want to begin it all by meeting in the gorgeous fall weather under a cabana starting the first week in October. Then, we want to bring the Strength Team and Johnathan Elrod for the weekend of October 19-21. We will then move to our annual Trunk or Treat and ScareMare weekend. Finally, we want to close with a huge final celebration on November 4th on Sunday morning for everyone we've been inviting and reaching with the Good News of Christ.

Is that something you'd like to be a part of? Then...

  • Pray - God has a strong affinity to doing what His people ask Him for. So ask.
  • Get involved - We need lots of help. From work teams to counseling teams to hospitality teams, plus lots more. Ask how you can help.
  • Give now - Because there are many decisions that need to be made that have to do with finances, we are at the point where God's people are going to have to commit by giving financially. This can happen as we are willing to support with our giving. We need to have $2000 given in the next week. Will you pray about being a part of our giving team?
Therefore, we will be allowing time this Sunday morning to do these three things because we believe God is leading us to make a difference to people around that are hurting, struggling, and spiritually needy. It is that important.

So, we are asking you to give by this Sunday, September 9 if possible and the latest by next Wednesday, September 12 at close of business. Your gift matters!

Commit and Give now to

If you are willing to give, please email, text or call me to let me know so we can all get excited and see the energy God is providing through His people for the Kinetic Festival. Then, everyone join us for this incredible opportunity to reach many for Jesus. You can make a difference for all of eternity.

Text or call me 843-345-7418

E-mail me

Pastor Trey Rhodes for our webite for most audio messages