Saturday, December 17, 2016

He Gives Freely

Mary is not the only person who writes a song in Luke.  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, does so as well.  One portion of his song describes two game-changers we get in God - gift giving and guidance.

God's heart is full of gift-giving and guidance that can fill you forever.  He won't force them on you.  Many respond with a resounding "NO." Others, hands and heart open, receive with gratitude.  The former continue in emptiness while the latter walk in contentment.

According to my count, Zechariah's song (Luke 1:76-79) describes five gifts we get in God:  A Prophet, Salvation, Forgiveness, Mercy, and Jesus. On any given day I need all five.  God's gifts are not for a designated day of the year.  He gives freely year round and from generation to generation.  He is the Ultimate Gift-Giver.

Tonight at 6pm at Celebration we will be worshipping the God who is full of gifts and guidance.  He has something special in store for us.  I personally invite you to join us. Bring a friend.  Bring your heart ready to receive gifts and guidance from the God who is with us.

He wants to shine light into your darkness and place your feet on a path of peace. Come and see.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Saturday, December 10, 2016

4 Phrases That Permanently Change Your Life

In the first chapter of Luke young Mary hears startling, life-changing words from an angel.  All were important but three stand out:  The Lord is with you; His Kingdom will never end; and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Responding to the angel Mary provides the fourth phrase of importance:  I am the Lord's servant.

Phrases change us permanently for better or worse.

  • Will you marry me?
  • Just try it this once
  • It's stage 4 and inoperable
  • Congratulations on your acceptance to ______________
  • I want a divorce
  • You are pregnant
  • He died this morning
Most people can quickly name 3 or 4 phrases that have permanently changed their life because words shape and influence us in tremendous ways.  "The tongue holds the power of life and death," we are told in Proverbs.  "The tongue is like the rudder of a ship," James instructs.  Words matter.

Tonight at 6 o'clock Celebration 4 powerful phrases will be spoken over every life: The Lord is with you; His Kingdom will never end; the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and I am the Lord's servant.  These are phrases that can permanently change your life if you receive them.  Though spoken to Mary in a timely way, they hold timeless application for all.

My heart this week has been particularly drawn to the lonely.  Loneliness can be known in isolation or in the midst of a crowd.  "Even in laughter the heart may ache," Proverbs reminds us.  Perplexity of heart fosters loneliness not proximity of people.

To the lonely I will say tonight:  The Lord is with you.  The Lord is with you in your prayers, in your thoughts, in your fears, in your relationships, in your hopes, in the hidden places of your heart, and in low and high places.  The Lord, Jesus, is the King who left His throne to be with you - Emmanuel.  His presence and His words of life are intended to replace the empty words and experiences of years gone by, to which, you are still clinging.  Let go and let the One who specializes in speaking new words do so into your lost heart.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Through a generous donation I am excited to give everyone tonight at Celebration Church & Outreach Ministry a free copy of my first published book entitled See. It's been a few years in the making but finally available.  I am writing short Bible studies for busy people (80-90 pages) that blend scholarship, imagination, and pastoral application.

For now I'm writing about Jesus.  My life is devoted to His teachings and beliefs, He was and is controversial, and He has personally changed my life forever.  Jesus is the opposite of boring or indifference.  He is intriguing, courageous, maddening to some, divisive, creative, and iconic in so many ways.  Even in my greatest debates with someone over the authenticity of Jesus' claims there is an engaging energy of interest present - like the doubter isn't convinced but wishes He was.

I hold to the conviction that followers of Jesus (I am guilty) and not Jesus Himself are the biggest barriers to doubters believing in the real Jesus.  The real Jesus' life was the greatest story ever to be played out on the stage of life.  The themes included a King becoming a commoner, love triumphing over evil, life breathed into lifelessness, betrayal, forgiveness, and the conquering of death.  Even more it's a story that continues.  The real Jesus is still carrying out His mission.

One of the things He is still doing is helping us to see as He did with a blind man in the small village of Bethsaida.  Jesus is not content to merely restore our sight.  He wants to recalibrate our seeing in a way that is exceptional and life changing.  The healer in Bethsaida 2000 years ago is still at work in you and me.

I invite you to join us tonight at 6pm at CCOM or watch online.  You can also go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (See by R.J. Rhoden) and purchase the study.  Jesus is teaching me to see, and He wants to do the same for you.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden