Sermons / Media

GREETINGS, PURSUERS OF GOD!
pursuitlogoWe have been having a grand ole time on Sunday nights going through The Truth Project series. If you haven’t already, please join us! It’s not too late to have your whole world turned upside down… (in a good way!)

The past few weeks in our Pursuit group, we have covered Philosophy, Ethics, Anthropology (Who is Man?), and Theology (Who is God?). This stuff ain’t for sissies, I tell ya! More and more we are getting acquainted with the “Cosmic Battle”—the battle between what God says (Truth) and what the world, the flesh, and the devil claim to be true (Lies). This battle rages and reaches into every possible facet of life. Keep reading, if you dare…

Recently, we’ve seen how this Cosmic Battle plays out in the fields of Philosophy and Ethics. Before your eyes glaze over, remember what these two fields seek to examine: the nature of the world (philosophy), and our understanding of right and wrong behavior (ethics). The questions raised in these fields of research are questions that human beings have always asked. The answers we cling to regarding these questions have far-reaching consequences…

what is truth? what is real? am I real? what is the meaning and purpose of life? what is right? what is wrong? why am I here? where is all this going?

Philosophy is supposed to be the pure quest for the unifying factor that ties all of existence together. It is a great and awesome search, with a Great and Awesome answer—the God revealed in the Bible. However, at the insistence of a few influential men in the scientific and academic worlds, our culture has tossed out even the possibility of an infinite, personal God—insisting that the answers to Life’s big questions have to be “inside the box”. The “box”, or the “cosmic cube”, refers to the physical universe. By and large our culture acts on the unfounded assumption that NOTHING exists outside this universe of “stuff” that can be observed, tested, and generally known through our senses.

What an impoverished state our culture finds itself in! For it is guilty of inconceivable arrogance and vanity—by categorically claiming that there is no super-natural, and that “matter is all that matters”, it has by default claimed to have infinite knowledge. In reality, it has willingly ignored the Answer of all answers. It is like saying, “There is no number 4. The number 4 does not exist, okay?? Now tell me what 2 plus 2 equals.” Our culture has not only cut itself off from knowing the answers to various questions about life but also to the Big Answer—God Himself.

As Christians we know that “the box” is OPEN—that God stands outside time and space, and yet is intimately involved with His creation. Because of His revelation to us, WE CAN KNOW the answers to questions raised in the arena of Philosophy! Hallelujah!
And then there’s Ethics…

what is right? what is wrong? SAYS WHO?

Every people group that has ever existed has had some sense of ethics—of what ought to be done, as opposed to what ought not to be done. As Christians we don’t have to stumble around in the dark, trying to figure out what’s right and wrong—God tells us plainly. When you agree with the “closed box” philosophy, it means that there is NO BASIS for right and wrong. There is no fixed moral law, and there is no moral Lawgiver. If the majority of people lived this out consistently in their lives, you can imagine the chaos that would ensue! As Christians, though, we do have a foundation for Right and Wrong—God and His Word. God’s moral law actually sets us FREE from the tyranny of our own opinions and the cultural majority’s opinions about what’s right and wrong.

As our culture continues to ignore God and His Truth, they continue on a path to social and moral insanity. May we apply ourselves both to the renewing of our minds, and to intercession for our wayward culture, which has been taken captive by such ideas!

Barna Study: How many Americans have a Biblical Worldview?
General American Population: 4%
“Born Again” American Population: 9%
and we wonder why our country is a mess!

As we conclude this survey, I’m reminded of a popular credit card commercial that asks, “What’s in YOUR wallet?” Well my question for you, dear Pursuer, is “What’s in YOUR worldview? Does it conform to the world, or does it conform to the WORD?”

Selah. Think about it.
And stay tuned for an upcoming discussion of MAN and GOD… it’s gonna get personal!

-Esther

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (metamorphed) by the renewing of your minds…”         Romans 12:2

teen_prayingToday I woke up bright and early to meet my pastor John McComb, some junior high students Hannah, Kareem, and Charles, and Jon Zmikly for breakfast this morning. On the agenda today was the once a year “See You at the Pole” gathering. Every year about this time on a Wednesday morning students around the U.S. meet around their school flag pole for prayer. Usually, they meet to pray for their school, faculty, etc. for about 30 minutes prior to the normal school day. Well what a day it was.

After eating some breakfast tacos, myself and the other adults walked the kids over to the flag pole of Goodnight Middle School here in San Marcos. Keep in mind that this is a student-led gathering and youth leaders and other adults are strictly not allowed to facilitate the meeting, but can only be in the background. Now some of you may have been to one of these at your school or have seen pictures of this before where there are tons of good kids meeting together all at the same time for this event. You might think to yourself that it’s no big deal to join an already big group of kids and just blend in with the others. That wasn’t the case today.

As we walked up to the flag pole there wasn’t a single kiddo there. There was plenty of faculty and other junior highers walking around, but not a soul gathered for the event. Kind of intimidating to be the first there I guess, but not for these three. Hannah, Kareem, and Charles walked right up to the flag pole, put their backpacks down, and Hannah started the group off with prayer. She had prepared a list of different things to pray for, and without hesitation, kicked it off. As soon as she finished, Kareem picked up where she left off and began to pray. Likewise, Charles did the same thing when Kareem had finished his prayer.

meet11And so you know, these prayers weren’t embarrassed little whispered prayers. Each one of them prayed with conviction, unashamed to be praying in public and surprisingly unconcerned with the students, faculty, and parents passing by. Three faithful prayer warriors unaffected by what some would say is counter cultural behavior to be exercising their faith in Christ Jesus in public.

As they continued, John M., Jon Z., and I had stepped back away from them and began to pray ourselves in a tight huddle. I closed my eyes at this time, and we began praying in turn for not only the school, but for the kids we brought there. In my mind, I had hoped for a better turnout and was certainly thankful that our group was managing on their own despite the lack of support from other students. As we prayed, something truly amazing began to happen (why I was surprised I’m not too sure). The power of the Holy Spirit began to engulf the place. Our prayers became more and more passionate as we took turns. I even began to shed tears in the presence of God as we prayed. It was like He was shining down on the group right then and there.

After praying for a while I opened my tear-soaked eyes to see a large group of students had joined our original three. Again Hannah facilitated the praying, and the others participated right along with them. Us men began to pray more. As we prayed I clearly noticed some of the group leaving and closed my eyes again as we continued to pray for the kids. Then, after a few more minutes and a few more prayers, I opened my eyes to see another group had joined, and this time they had all circled the flagpole holding hands and praying in turn – ALL of the students praying in turn and aloud with one another. At one point I even saw one of the kids laying hands on another in prayer, powerful prayer.

It was quite an amazing sight to see how the numbers had grown in such a short amount of time. As time passed, it was time for all to go to their classes. I can’t tell you how proud I am of Hannah, Kareem, and Charles. Could you imagine going to work and praying at your place of business or your school for a specific purpose and being the only one there? Could you imagine God calling you to do something for Him and having to do it all alone? Could you imagine doing the will of the Father and being singled out for others to see with a good chance of being ridiculed, persecuted, or made fun of for it?

I challenge all who read this to do as Hannah, Kareem, and Charles did. Will you make a stand for your God, your faith, and your beliefs? Despite public opinion, political correctness, and your own pride, will you carry your Cross for all to see? Three kids did today, and it may very well have changed the lives of many. These three knew one very important thing. They knew that even though they were alone and had to step out in faith that they weren’t really alone. They knew that Father God was right there with them the whole time, and He was. If you and I will stand firm on our faith, won’t God be there for us too? You bet He will!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord” – 2nd Timothy 1:7-8

“Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.”  – Psalms 91:7

“The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.'”  – Psalms 91:14-16

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  – Matthew 28:19-20 (The words of Jesus)

– Kasey Strickland

Hi Ladies:

We now have a topic, a start date, and a time for our new Fall Bible Study!

We are going to be meeting on Tuesdays from 7 pm – 8:30 pm at the church.

The book we are going to be studying is Heavenly Minded for Earthly Good by Karen Chaffin.  This is an 8 week study of life in Heaven that will forever change your life on earth.  It is an in-depth, inductive Bible study on Heaven designed to answer your questions concerning eternal life.  Karen Chaffin guides you on a tour of Heaven that will energize your faith, relieve your fears, and enliven the way you live and love.

I have read the book and I am so excited to go through it in an in-depth study.

We will have sign up in the foyer of the church for the next three Sundays.  The cost of the book is $15.00.

I hope that you will consider joining this study.  There are no DVDs for this study so the entire time will be spent in discussion and in prayer for one another.

Come on!!  Let’s take a tour of Heaven together.

Blessings to you all!

Connie

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

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

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.

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

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.”

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.

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