Sermons / Media

Last weekend, S.H.O.C.K. and Ph.D took at trip to San Antonio for Teen Mania’s annual Acquire the Fire conference. The topic of the weekend was “Collision,” and we definitely collided with the Spirit of God! This was probably the most powerful weekend in the presence of God I’ve had in a while, even as a leader. The conference covered hot topics like sex, failure, and relationships through multimedia and a very well-performed drama that spanned the entirety of the weekend.

I think the most memorable part of the weekend was the Saturday night worship session. It lasted about a half hour longer than expected because students throughout Freeman Coliseum were crying out desperately for God’s touch. All around me I felt and heard young adults screaming out to God with their hands raised and hearts open. It was powerful, to say the least.

Here’s what’s coming up at SMCC.

  1. Holy Week. Holy week starts with Palm Sunday, which is on Sunday, April 17, so get ready to hold on to some greenery while you listen to the sermon. Palm Sunday always falls on the Sunday before Easter, and it is a celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion. It is also called Passion Sunday. This begins a time where we are prepare our hearts on Jesus coming deeper into our lives.
  2. Baptism Class. On Monday, April 18, we will be holding a Baptism Class at the church building from 7-8pm. If you are even considering getting water baptized on Easter Sunday, please attend. We will soon be having sign-ups for Easter Sunday baptisms.
  3. Good Friday Service. We will be having a Good Friday service on…Good Friday! It will begin at 7pm at the church building as we gather to remember Jesus’ Passion.
  4. Easter Sunday Service. Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus makes Easter Sunday a very special occasion, but one thing that makes Easter Sunday at SMCC so awesome is that we end the service with water baptisms. If you’ve never been here to see them, it is truly an amazing and heartfelt day as people publicly show their devotion to Christ. If you’re still wondering where to go on Easter Sunday, we would love to see you here at 10am!

Tuesday morning prayerPrayer was great this morning. We had about 8 people show up bright and early at 6 a.m., and we went through the regular routine. But it’s never a routine with God, is it? It’s great to know that even though we gather every week at the same time, with the same format, God is faithful to give us fresh insight and encouragement. Here’s what we usually do:

6-6:15 a.m. – Individual Prayer

6:15-6:22 a.m. – Worship Songs

6:22-6:45 a.m. – Group Prayer

Do you have any prayer needs? We would love to see you come out for morning prayer on Tuesdays at 6:00 a.m. God really shows up!

One thing God has challenged me with/convicted me of lately is evangelism. I’m currently reading the book Share Jesus Without Fear, by William Fay. In it, he explains that we are all called to evangelism, in obedience. And while we are not all evangelists per se, we are still required to evangelize. In learning about evangelism, I’ve realized that I have a lot of fears about it. I am constantly asking, “What will my friends think?” “What if I fail?” “What if I can’t think of the words to say?” I would say that fear is my #1 deterrent from sharing the gospel. But, as God works in me, and as I spend more time in His presence, I realize that He is the only one I need to fear. He will give me the power and the opportunities as long as I am obedient…and being obedient will probably take me out of my comfort zone, but I have to be willing to do that.

On Sunday, I shared that I see a lot of parallels here with giving a tithe. We might not feel that your spiritual gift is giving, we are still required to give. There really are a lot of fears that can go along with giving. We don’t always know exactly where our money goes sometimes, we think we might not have enough money for the rest of the week, we have lots of fears and doubts about giving. At least I do. In and of myself, I like to spend my money on what I want, when I want – the same goes with evangelism – I want to talk to who I want, when I want. But we have to move past that selfish line of thought. If I truly did what I wanted, I would never know the awesome plans God has for my life. If I only told the gospel when I felt like it, to be honest, I may never even tell anyone about the gospel out of fear. But because the Lord is with us, we should fear nothing this world could throw our way. We can give a tithe with joy knowing that God is calling us to do it. And it might be scary and hard, and you might have some doubts, but knowing that it is a standard that God has called us to, how can we withhold it? When we are obedient and see God’s provision, that is a HUGE testimony to those who do not believe. And maybe that will be an open door to a witnessing opportunity.

This semester, Pursuit is taking what we learned in the Truth Project to the streets! In other (or, more accurate) words, we are applying God’s truth to our lives in real and meaningful ways through the application of spiritual disciplines. The Lord is really refining our church right now through the Spiritual Formation class, and we are seeing many breakthroughs. In light of this, Pursuit wants to join in on what God is doing and continue these practices for the rest of the semester. Last week, we discussed the power of journaling and its influence on our spiritual journeys. People mentioned that journaling can be therapeutic, stress-relieving, and can help remind us of what God is saying to us, day by day. So throughout last week, we chronicled God’s activity in our lives and shared last night at our meeting.

Esther gave a short summary of our next two spiritual practices: Scripture Memorization and Meditation. Here are a few notes on what she taught:

Scripture Memorization

  • Scripture is God very plainly telling us about us and about Himself
  • There is no substitute for the Bible
  • There is a big difference between reading the Bible and really studying the Bible
  • We are not memorizing some static facts and dates. We are memorizing something that is dynamic and has power

There are three main reasons why it’s so important that we memorize Scripture:

  1. For Spiritual Power. If we’re not memorizing, we don’t give God much to work with. Psalm 119:11 says that when we have His words in us, He can bring us “the word of the moment.” We can see what Jesus did when He was tempted in the desert – he used memory Scripture. Likewise, when we are challenged, we can say “it is written.”
  2. Strengthen Faith. Proverbs 22:17-19 says that when we apply our hearts to the teachings of the wise, our trust will be in the Lord. We will feel our own spiritual lives be built up in a way we’ve never felt before. In a way, you’re preaching to and encouraging yourself!
  3. Witnessing. If we internalize Scripture, we will be more prepared for whatever/whomever God brings our way, especially when we are not expecting it.

So, here are some quick tips when you’re trying to memorize Scripture:

  • Sometimes it helps to write out the verse on a note card.
  • Memorize the verse word for word so that you have a very high standard and it won’t get sloppy.
  • Remember the goal: to soak in Scripture.

Meditation

When we meditate on the Word, we are truly “chewing” on the Word, much like a cow might chew its cud (but with much less saliva involved!). I know it sounds kind of nasty, but when a cow chews on grass, it will regurgitate the same grass again and again to make sure it is safe for digestion. Likewise, if we spiritually “regurgitate” Scripture and continue to bring it to mind and allow it to sink into our hearts, we can really soak on it and allow it to change our lives.

Here are some ways you might want to practice meditating on Scripture:

  • Read Scripture from different translations. Biblos.com is one helpful resource you could use.
  • Another way to meditate on Scripture is the act of Lectio Devina
  • Re-write the passage in your own words
  • Put emphases on different words
  • Speaking the verse out, slowly

The point of meditating on the Word is to truly focus on the deeper meanings behind the surface-level Scripture you might be used to reading. It is meant to bring you into close communion with the Lord and to hear His voice louder in your life.

Welcome New Members!Join us in welcoming all new members of SMCC. They completed our orientation class two weeks ago after church and decided to join up with what God is doing in our church. New members were welcomed last Sunday during service, where John introduced them to the church body, and we prayed over them. So, if you see them around, make sure you introduce yourself and give them a warm welcome!

You don’t have to look far to see that there is war all around us. On my way back to Michigan a couple weeks ago, there was a big bomb scare on my plane. A few of you saw me on KEYE news, after they took me “live at five” from the airport (how’s that for citizen journalism?!). It was pretty scary. A few days later, there were some attempted terrorist attacks on planes in Detroit. And besides those big events, every day we struggle with sin, doubt, fear, and spiritual war. But when we meet together in church and in Mini Churches throughout the week, in Jesus’ name, He is faithful to provide us peace amidst the war. And there is NO place else we can get true internal peace. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The battle has been fought by Jesus, and only He can grant us any bit of peace.

But that’s all well and good. You might say, “Yeah, I live at peace with people,” or “nothing catastrophic has happened to me lately,” but especially in America, it’s easy to cake over areas of our life that seem peaceful, but they really aren’t. For example, even though we can look at our bank statements and see that we’re doing pretty well for the most part, our finances still might not be at peace. There are literally tons of things we can spend our money on. I probably spent too much while I was home. Do you have any idea how much airport food is?? A tiny fruit cup was like $7! When we tithe to God 10%, we should feel a peace about that. And when we don’t feel peace about it, we need to be obedient. Then the peace will come.

Romans 2:6-10 says:
God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

There is a promise here that when we do good (when we tithe), there will be glory, honor, and peace. It will be an inexplicable calmness, a peace beyond our understanding. And sometimes I do not want to give my money. I want to keep it and spend my money the way I want, like on a $6.00 Cinnabon. Actually, that happens quite a bit (not the Cinnabon part; the buying whatever I want part). When we are obedient, the world will look at that and say it’s stupid, that we’re throwing our money away. But they do not understand God’s law. For even when Jesus followed God’s law, the world rejected and hated him. He had that constant, unwavering peace that allowed him to follow God’s will and go through persecution. And God promises to give the same to us. It’s His nature. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” So, let’s be obedient and live out what God would have us do!

Starting Wednesday, Mini Churches will be starting back up. We’ll be having three different groups meeting in homes, and of course, child care will be provided at the church building. It looks like we’ll have one Mini Church in Kyle and two in San Marcos, just like last semester. I could go on and on about how great Mini Churches are, but why don’t you see for yourself? Take a look at this three-minute video we put together interviewing people on what Mini Churches are and how they have affected their lives:

Tomorrow starts our first day of Tuesday Morning Prayer. Bright and early at 6:00am, we will be starting out with some private prayer until 6:15am. Then, we’ll move into some worship time and intercession. The meeting will end at 7:00am, and it will be held at the church building. It’s going to be a cold one tonight, so when we get to the church, you might have to bundle up a little bit! We hope to see you there!

Part of my internship here at SMCC consists of taking “classes” at Liberty University watching Chris’ old DVDs from his classes). This first semester, I’ve been learning about Church History, that is, the time between A.D. 30 to the Reformation. I thought I would post some of my notes from the lectures by Dr. Carl Diemer and book titled, The Story of Christianity.

This first module, titled “The Origin of and Influence upon the Early Church in the Apostolic Age (A.D. 30-100)” covered an introduction to church history, influences on the first century world, Jesus’ life and ministry, and the apostolic witness. The first chapter of The Story of Christianity begins by explaining, “History is crucial for understanding not only the life of Jesus, but also the entire biblical message.” It explains that without the understanding of history, we as Christians can not fully grasp ourselves, for “we are doing history…we are making history.” And I think that as actors in history, we are part of the gospel story and part of the “big picture” as God intended, and that encourages me to believe that God has a very important and meaningful plan for my life.

The Story of Christianity continues by discussing the spiritual setting in which Christianity was born. Just looking at the beginnings of Christianity, it is obvious that God completely prepared the world for the fulfillment of His promise. For example, Alexander’s desire to Hellenize the world by incorporating Greek culture to all nations later opened the way to the preaching of the gospel. Also, God’s provision is evident in the fact that Romans were so tolerant of the religion and customs of conquered people, and the Diaspora Judaism later allowed for Christianity to travel through the Roman Empire quickly. In addition, Christianity was born into a multi-religious era where the basic tenets of the faith could be applied to Stoics, Jews, Greeks, and Romans. The book states, “The church, which many Christians called a ‘new race’ because it drew its members from all races, was living proof of the universal unity of humankind.” Indeed, it is truly amazing to see how God’s plan was carried out, and how He tilled the soil to prepare for the coming of Christ.

The third section of Unit 1 details the life and ministry of Jesus. One of the main take-aways for me in this section was learning that Jesus went through active and passive phases of his life. While most of his ministry was full of interacting with people through miracles and preaching, his passivity was most evident near the end of his life. For example, in John 17, after Jesus prays for God to glorify Him, he basically surrenders and is “led like a lamb to the slaughter.” Jesus didn’t kill himself, but he allowed for it to happen. And, in Dr. Carl Diemler’s words, “Jesus came to do what only He could do, then He told us to do what He said He won’t do.” Matthew 28:18-20 verifies this idea that while Jesus lived a life of action, it is now our turn to be His hands and feet. In my quiet time, I have felt the Lord bringing this point home to me, as He has shown me that I am very prone to being a “reactor” instead of an “actor” in my own life. It’s very easy for me to become passive and apathetic, even about the things of God at times – and that definitely needs to change.

That’s all I’m going to put out here for now, but being able to read Scripture in light of its original context has brought more revelation, encouragement, and life into my relationship with Christ than I had ever expected!