Sermons / Media

16 Sep Pursuit Diary: Truth Project #1 “What is Truth?”

Pursuit kicked off this past Sunday!  I’m so excited to be a part of this new thing happening at SMCC. The Lord has a lot in store for us!  So after chatting and getting some goodies (thanks, Debbie!), we settled in for the first video of the Truth Project series. No one knew exactly what to expect, except that the title was “Veritology: What is Truth?” Sounded pretty serious.

Del Tackett, the host/teacher of the series, is a smart, charismatic, and often witty man who is skilled at making difficult concepts easy to grasp and make sense of—without “dumbing it down”. I was captivated throughout the entire 45 minutes of the presentation. He went over the incredible significance of Truth—that it is NOT just some abstract, unknowable “thing” (as most of our culture would have us believe)—but that it is Reality Itself, and it is why Jesus came to the earth.

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered,

“You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born,

and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.

Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 18:37

Salvation, life, health, soundness—it’s all inescapably bound to TRUTH. Truth is what conforms to reality, and reality is defined by God—Ultimate Reality. Dr. Tackett went on to point out that this issue of Truth is at the center of the “cosmic battle” that has been raging since Man’s first temptation in the Garden. The serpent tempted our first parents to question God’s words and ways. “Did God really say?”… Since that time the Truth (or “the ways things really are”, according to God—not us) has been questioned, challenged, attacked, and ignored—and the results have been and still are catastrophic. What we believe plays out in our lives as individuals and as nations, and leads to life or death.

Will we quit looking to the world
and our own opinions to define reality
and look to the Man Christ Jesus
who is the Way, the Truth (Reality), and the Life?

Dr. Tackett concludes that, in almost every case, the perspective of contemporary culture stands in direct opposition to the Truth-centered worldview presented in the Bible. In the process of making this case, he advances the bold claim that our culture is not only filled with lies but is actually heading in the direction of social insanity. As a result, he proposes that Pilate’s query – “What is truth?”– is the most important question facing our society today. He ends Lesson 1 by challenging his audience with this all-important question: “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?”


-Esther Brown

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14 Sep Getting In Tune With God

Have you ever been listening to a sermon or in a worship environment and felt the presence of God so strongly that you were completely undone? You are hearing God speak to your heart so strongly that it’s almost audible. You can’t think about anything but His majesty and His mercy. And right next to you, someone is checking his watch, thinking about the Cowboys’ kick-off time. He can’t wait to hear the dismissal, and you can’t wait to run to the altar for prayer. Could there be different levels of perception when it comes to God?

Let’s look at John 12:27-29. There are three people or groups of people depicted in this scene: (1) Jesus, (2) the crowd, and (3) others. In this verse, God is talking to Jesus from the heavens about His crucifixion. Jesus heard the Father clearly. The crowd heard thunder. The others thought an angel spoke to him. What kept the crowd and others from hearing the voice of God? Some of them probably weren’t saved. Others could have been in rebellion to God. Whatever the reason, they weren’t in tune with God, and thus, they could not hear His voice. Even when God screams from heaven, and you are right in the midst of it, it is very possible that you may not even hear Him.

Yesterday in church, Pastor John talked about how we can get in tune with God. In order to do so, we must practice some things. It’s how we get better at our hobbies, school, work, or anything else we do. But it’s also how we should look at our Christian lives. We must become imitators. There are three types of practice that must come together if we are to develop our in-tuneness with God.

  1. Personal Spiritual Practices. Mark 1:35 says that even Jesus secluded himself and prayed. We need to follow His example and make sure we spend alone time with God. We can do this by reading scripture, prayer, silence, journaling, or even simplifying our lifestyles.
  2. I come to the garden alone,
    while the dew is still on the roses.
    And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
    the Son of God discloses.

    And He walks with me,
    and He talks with me,
    and He tells me I am His own;
    and the joy we share as we tarry there,
    none other has ever known.

    – “In The Garden” by C. Aus­tin Miles

  3. Community of Faith Practices. Acts 2:42 says that the early Christians were continually devoted to meeting, teaching, fellowship, and eating together. If you want to grow into Christ-likeness and into in-tuneness, it is not enough to practice personal spiritual things. You must be involved with others and take an active role in their lives. “Going to church” means gathering for communal, spiritual practices, engaging a kind of group workout. Whether it is Sunday church or Mini Church, here are some things that happen as we gather together:
    • Inconvenience. Going to church is inconvenient. It means going to a place you didn’t choose at a time you didn’t choose for a purpose you DO choose. Usually when you least want to go is the time you need to go the most.
    • Preparation. Just like we prepare for work each day by showering, brushing our teeth, etc. (hopefully), we should prepare for church by prayer, Scripture reading, and even discussing with our kids why we go to church.
    • Hospitality. Gives us the chance to practice life being about others, not ourselves.
    • Singing. It involves our bodies, our souls, our hearts, and our minds. It involves truth, art and beauty, and many other voices, united in one common song.
    • Common Commitment. Whether we know it or not, every time we cross the threshold of the church building, we are committing ourselves anew to the mission of Christ in the world. By entering with others, we find that there are others who have made that same commitment.
    • Listening Practices. Attentiveness is getting lost in today’s culture. During a sermon, people are constantly carrying on a dialogue with the message and the messenger. We are tying the text of Scripture and sermon notes to the issues in our own lives, allowing us to discern and interpret what God is saying to us.
    • Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon. People know when they have messed up. They need to come to God and ask for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We need to confess our sins not only to God, but to one another.

    You cannot get where you want to go without the community of faith practices.

  4. Mission Practices. Matthew 28:19 clearly tells us to “go.” The sign on our door when you walk out of SMCC says, “You are entering your mission field.” The reason we gather in community is to go out and live counter-culturally and live out that lifestyle in front of others. What are some mission practices you can do?
    • Forgiving those who wrong us
    • Bringing peace to the workplace
    • Praying for the sick
    • Refraining from judgment and showing mercy and compassion instead
    • Confronting evil and injustice
    • Serving others
    • Listening
    • Associating with the lowly
    • Associating and eating with sinners
    • Speaking the truth in love
    • Practicing neighborliness
    • Preferring the poor rather than showing favoritism to the rich
    • Giving
    • Showing empathy

Not only should we make these practices an integral part of our lives, we must realize that each of them work together.
Triangle

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01 Sep Citywide Prayer for Rain

Prayer for RainLast night’s citywide prayer meeting for rain was powerful. It was exciting to see so many of God’s people petitioning Him not only for physical provision, but more importantly, for spiritual rain. It looked like about 100 people came from churches throughout San Marcos to worship, pray and fellowship.

The evening started out with Hill Country Worship Leader Barry Bynum playing some songs on the stage at City Park, and then each pastor took turns leading prayer for the city. Afterward, attendees broke up into small groups to pray together.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14

One of the biggest encouragements of the night was to see the unity in God’s people. With walls of denomination, race, age, or political party completely down, it was awesome to see Christians joined together for one cause – to see God move. Now let’s wait expectantly for God in this season and continue to humbly ask Him for guidance, help, and supply.

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28 Aug Let It Rain!

Well, it looks like a little bit of rain has finally hit Central Texas! According to the U.S. Drought Monitor Hays County has fallen into the worst drought category – “exceptional” this season. And San Marcos’ rain deficit is now over 40 inches for the past 24 months!

That’s why there will be a citywide prayer meeting for rain on Monday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the big stage at City Park. This will be a huge opportunity for us to unite as one body of Christ and ask our Father to pour down blessings, both physically and spiritually onto San Marcos. Everyone is invited to this very important event – you won’t want to miss it!

Rain on Water

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28 Aug Pre-school Children embark on a new journey.

August 28, 2009

Our Critterland class (ages 3-5) will embark on a new journey for the next 8 weeks, “Sailing the C’s.”

Come on board as we sail along these C’s. Jump on the boat with Myron and the gang as we hit the water and splash into God’s Word. We will sail through the C’s of character, competence, chemistry, calling, courage, compassion and commitment. This series will guide your children to develop these godly traits.

Lesson #1
“C” of Character – Have a good attitude!

Lesson #2
“C” of Competence – Do my best!

Lesson #3
“C” of Chemistry – Love others!

Lesson #4
“C” of Calling – God knows me!

Lesson #5
“C” of Courage – Be strong!

Lesson #6
“C” of Compassion – Be kind!

Lesson #7
“C” of Commitment – Obey God!

Lesson #8
“C” of Celebration – Celebrate Jesus!

Miss Pam

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

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25 Aug In Case You Missed It…

Yesterday in church, pastor John discussed “The Call to Spiritual Formation,” which was a great continuation on his sermon last week titled “Forming Your Spirit.” Using the scripture Matthew 28:18-20, John talked about how Jesus does not call us to be converts to Christianity, but to be disciples of Christ. Jesus calls us to enter into a process in which we become like Him – to spiritual formation. But what is the difference between a simple convert and an actual imitator of Christ? If you think about it, converts never change the world. They have a lot of talk, but not much substance. But imitators of Christ have both the talk and the lifestyle to back it up. Imitators of Christ are powerful people because they show the rest of the world what it can look like to really be a Christian – to live in this world without being of this world. They make a tremendous impact with their lifestyles by simply being who they are.

There is one very big thing that hinders us from becoming the disciples that we desire to be. It’s called the Human Condition. The Human Condition often causes us to spend our lives struggling to be our own master and lord, achieving our own goals and monitoring our own performance. Even after we become Christians, it’s easy to become the focus of our own lives, and we fail to place God at the center. So should we quit aiming for the goal of spiritual formation? No way! If anything, we need to aim with even more intensity, with a completely different mindset about it.

How Do I Allow God to Form My Spirit?

“Christian spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others” – Dr. Robert Mulholland

There are four things to consider here:

  1. Spiritual Formation is a process. It’s not an instantaneous experience; it’s a lifelong process of growth into the image of Christ. The gradual aspect of spiritual formation moves against the grain of our instant gratification culture. We have been conditioned to expect almost immediate returns on our investments of time, energy and resources. Paul says to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” So, we are “saved,” but we are also “being saved.” This process is not limited to just discipleship – it’s what life is all about. Every event of life is an experience of spiritual formation. Every action taken, every response made, every relationship, every thought or emotion allowed is part of spiritual formation into some sort of being. We either allow God to shape us toward wholeness in the image of Christ or we choose toward a horribly deformed image of humanity. The question is not whether or not we undertake spiritual formation, but what type of spiritual formation are we already doing?
  2. Being Conformed. The very thought of being conformed means that someone other than ourselves is in charge of the forming. This is not a comfortable thought. We are the ones that like to be in control. We are the ones that grasp, shape, and control things around us. We have extreme difficulty in abiding, waiting patiently, trustingly, perseveringly, to be shaped by God, according to God’s agenda. Ultimately, spiritual disciplines are not something we choose for ourselves – this is the problem we have with our individualized, privatized form of religion in our culture. We think that spiritual disciplines are something that we take on. But, in actuality, spiritual disciplines are things that God thrusts upon us. If we are left alone to form our own spirits, we will ultimately choose things that we can handle, things that fit our personality. However, genuine spiritual disciplines intrude into our lives at points where we are in bondage to something that keeps the image of Christ in us deformed. Cod uses difficult and uncomfortable situations to free us from bondages that keep us deformed from His image.
  3. The Image of Christ. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. It says that we are being transformed into the image of God. Spiritual formation takes place at the points of our unlikeness to the image of Christ. At those points, God confronts us and challenges us to respond to consecration to God there. When we respond, God graciously works to conform us to the image of Christ. Scripture comes into the picture here. This is why it is so important to read the Bible daily. But we must not read it to “master it,” we need to read it in order for it to conquer us. We don’t need to read the Bible for information, but for formation. We need to sit before the text and ask, “God, what are you saying to me?”
  4. For Others. The fourth part of spiritual formation, and possibly the most difficult, is accepting the fact that it is inseparable from our relationship with others. Our culture, which is all about self, tells us that spirituality is a private matter – that it is simply between us and God, and that others play a very secondary part. But if you read through 1 John, you’ll find that our depth of relationship to God is measured by our relationships with others. Are we, in our relationships with others, becoming increasingly Christ-like? If our spiritual journey is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ, then the journey should bring us to greater and greater Christ-likeness in our life with others.
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20 Aug Dry Gulch 2009 Wrap-Up

I had an amazing time at Dry Gulch USA Summer Camp August 2-6 with a group of elementary students from San Marcos Community Church.

The Dry Gulch staff added a time at the start of camp for sponsors and children’s pastors to pray over every single child at camp. The prayer time was powerful and anointed. As the week progressed, I could see how the Holy Spirit was using those prayers over each of our children that were at camp.

The theme for camp was “What a Friend.”

Recap from John 14:6:

1. Jesus is the way. Jesus carried our burdens. He carried them all.
2. Jesus is the truth. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, but Jesus did not give in. Jesus knew the truth about temptation. The truth about temptation is, temptation is always a trap. We can beat temptation with God’s Word.
3. Jesus is the life. Jesus is the only Friend who will never break a promise. He never lets you down. God wants us to have friends, but Jesus is your best friend.

Every student that went to camp came away knowing Jesus as their friend at a whole new level. Burdens that had been carried by these students were given over to Jesus, our burden bearer, and students experienced more freedom in worship.

Last but not least, we just had some good ole fashioned fun! Dry Gulch is a fun place with incredible activities for these students. The camp is always improving and adding to make the camp experience more fun for the kids.

I am excited about taking more students to Dry Gulch next year. I will be signing up for 2010 camp in November. Be looking for information about summer camp at the end of October 2009.

-Miss Pam, SMCC Children’s Pastor

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18 Aug Pursuit Ministry

SMCC will be starting a ministry for the “twentysomethings” in and around the San Marcos area, focusing on that step after high school where many people begin to ask the all-important question, “Now What?” Our first meeting will be on Sunday, September 13 f rom 6-8 p.m., where we’ll begin the first of twelve DVDs from Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project.” These DVDs discuss what it truly means to follow Christ in today’s day and age and explain how to look at life from a biblical perspective. We are very excited to start a post-high school ministry, and we hope you can join us! We will be meeting at 205 Mitchell Street, Apt #4, right here in San Marcos. The Pursuit to follow Christ is anything but trivial – see you there?

Pursuit

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17 Aug In Case You Missed It…

Yesterday at service, Pastor John talked about “Forming Your Spirit.” He used three scriptures, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, and Matthew 7:16-20 to discuss how we should be “imitators of Christ.” But why is it that we often become imitators of much less? By employing the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, and spending time with God on a daily basis, we can truly follow Christ and form our spirits into Christ-likeness.

Spending Time With God:

Spending time with God should be leisure time. It must be a time when we are absolutely at peace – this is why early mornings seem to work best for most people. It’s a time to turn off the cell phone (yes, really), and truly meet with God. This time should be free of stress, emotional issues, legalism, and other distractions to be a time when we can simply lay aside all the pressures, guilt, shame, disappointments, and simply allow God to be our rest. Here are some pointers:

  • Meet with God in the same place every day: Find what works best for you – you might want to just sit in your living room or on your porch, or just go for a walk.
  • Meet with God at the same time every day: Meet with God at a specific time. With our busy schedules, it can be really easy to push God-time out of the day. Mornings usually work best.
  • Develop a routine: It can be helpful to have a plan of action when you meet with God. It could start out with some Bible readings, then move to thanksgiving, then worship, journaling, intercession, and praying over the day. It’s your call, but good habits are healthy.
  • Allow for flexibility: Stick with your routine, but go with the flow. God may want you to change up the agenda once in a while. Just remember the purpose: experiencing God – not checking off a “to do” list.

Learn To Pray:

There are four main stages to prayer: talking at God, talking to God, listening to God, and being with God.

  • “Talking at God” happens when we use recited or pre-written prayers, or even the Lord’s prayer. It’s kind of like when a child learns to pray – but it can also be applied to mature pray-ers.
  • “Talking to God” is a more comfortable prayer when you actually have your own words to speak to God. You speak from your heart, and it is a result of a more personal relationship with God. Since this stage of prayer may not always be positive, journaling might be a real asset.
  • “Listening to God” is a more mature approach to prayer because you are simply listening for God’s voice. God wants to share in your struggles and celebrate your inner victories. When He speaks into your heart, you can hear His direction and guidance for your life.

Be Prepared for Times of Dryness:

If you’re going to commit yourself to spiritual formation, you must be prepared for times of spiritual dryness. During these times, it is not that something bad happens, but rather that nothing happens at all. You might say, “I just sit there by myself with no sign of the presence of God. But there are a few points that we need to remember:

  • Prayer is an uphill climb. It involves hours and hours of slow uneventful inching. It demands the type of spirit that chooses the difficult path – the road not usually taken.
  • Prayer is a discipline. Professional athletic training may take hours, just so an athlete can perform for only a few minutes. Many musicians practice 8-10 hours a day for a much smaller amount of time on stage. But when we pray, we are training for the greatest event of all – the moment we meet Jesus face to face! It’s going to take time, effort, and commitment.
  • Prayer is a relationship. Various relationships in our lives resemble our relationship with God. God is our parent, our spouse, and our friend. And as we know, relationships have a tendency to go up and down. Guess what? That’s ok! Even in times of dryness, as we press into Him, we come to find Him to be more than we ever expected.
  • God is maturing us. Through dryness, God is growing us up. It would be nice if our prayer times were exciting and faith-filled like they were when we were first saved, but our relationship must grow. Sometimes He silently calls us to come into a deeper relationship with Him that includes some dryness.
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13 Aug Flywheel

It was great to see everyone at the church last night for our special showing of “Flywheel.” We all had our fill of popcorn, and the movie touched a lot of hearts. The movie night marked the beginning of a three-week break from Wednesday night meetings as we prepare for the upcoming Fall season of new ministries and Mini Churches. We’ll start back up on Wednesday, September 9.

In the foyer In the Movie

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