Sermons / Media

In case you couldn’t make it to church on Sunday, John spoke about “Living for God in an Anti-God Culture.” Looking at Deuteronomy 6:1-15, he talked about three ways we can live for God, despite our worldly surroundings. Here they are:

  1. Obey God. In Deut. 6:1, Moses was asked by God to teach the Israelites to observe the decrees and laws the Lord had given them so they would prosper. Using this text, John said that there are two types of people who do not obey God: those who disobey out of ignorance, and those who disobey out of rebellion. But if we obey the Lord in every area of our lives, it will go well with us. That means we obey Him when he tells us, and exactly how He tells us.
  2. Practice God Saturation. Deut. 6:6-9 shows us that we must write the Lord’s words in our hearts, and in every aspect of our lives. Completely immersing ourselves in God will help separate us from the often Godless culture we’re in every day. Our culture today is not saturated by God. Instead, our culture the “Eight Deadly Sins” are sold to us every day through the media and other venues. One major way we can avoid looking like our culture and practice God saturation is by looking at how we spend our time. Perhaps we need to practice the spiritual discipline of silence by turning off the radio while we’re driving. Or, we may need to start sitting down with our families at mealtimes and talking about our day, instead of letting the TV do the talking for us.
  3. Beware of the Danger. The devil doesn’t care which side of the horse you fall off on. He is constantly prowling around like a lion, seeking who he may devour. So, the church acts as one big support group for sinners. Through Scripture, prayer, and the community of faith, we can live a life of purpose and action.

Our thoughts affect every aspect of our lives, from our relationships, to our work, to the entertainment we watch. So, John ended on a challenge: How can you live differently in your thought life?

Thank you for donating 40 coats to the Dezavala Elementary School this year! Miss Pam and Mr. Mike dropped off the coats last week, and the school was so grateful to receive them.

Soon, we’ll be collecting funds and gifts for families in the area for our “Adopt-A-Family” drive in the Christmas season.

With Thanksgiving approaching, it is a great reminder for us to be a community of givers. As 1 John 3:17-18 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

2563803794_a08ce857e6_mThis past weekend, Chris, Kasey, Ashley, and I took the SHOCK Youth group and PhD kids camping. We smoked some brisket (which, after a few setbacks with flat tires and failed attempts at getting wet wood to set ablaze, we didn’t start until 2:30pm), grilled some meat, toasted some ‘mallows and s’mores, and slept under the stars. It’s nice to be able to get away for a little while and reflect on life.

Chris led the evening devotional about how easy it can be to have idols in our lives, and the kids responded by asking God what things compete with God’s time. The next morning, after cooking up some eggs and bacon over the fire, we talked about repentance and the meaning of turning away from sin and following God.

On Friday, we’re taking the Pursuit “twentysomethings” ministry out to Buescher State Park for some more reflection and time away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Maybe we’ll get a chance to practice the Spiritual Discipline of silence that we’ve been talking about in church. Regardless, it will be fun to meet with each other on a more personal level and discover what God is saying to us as a ministry.

This Sunday, Chris’ continued his discussion on how God still heals today. He elaborated on last week’s sermon regarding emotional healing, and moved into how God still heals physically as well. Looking at James 5:14-18, he explained God’s specific instructions for the physically ill, as well as God’s general application for physical health.

We are constantly bombarded with sickness in our culture today, both physically and spiritually. And we need God’s healing power to make us well. Throughout Scripture, we can see different types of sickness. 1 John 5:16 talks about “sin that leads to death,” or a sickness unto death. 1 Cor. 11:30-32 mentions that someone could become sick due to a lack of discipline. Other times, like in John 11:4, God may allow someone to be sick “for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” So, it’s quite obvious that sickness is a part of the fallen world we live in, and as such, we are constantly looking for ways to be healed.

There are different paths we could travel to be healed of sickness, and Chris mentioned five categories (taken from Pastor Chip Ingram) that spiritual people could fall into:

  1. Sensationalists: This would refer to the faith healers, the emotionally charged and flamboyant “sensationalists” who focus more on the healer, and not the Lord
  2. Confessionalists: This refers to people who practice the “name it, claim it” doctrine. These people believe that all healing is atonement, and that everyone should be healed.
  3. Anti-Supernaturalists: They come in a garden variety. These people believe that things that happened in the First Century were for then and only then, and does not happen in our day today.
  4. Rationalists: These are folks who say there is no such thing as sin, death, or sickness. These are basically the “Christian” Science believers.
  5. Biblical Realists: A Biblical Realist is someone who looks at Scripture and believes that God does heal, but He heals different people in different ways. And healing isn’t always necessarily instantaneous, immediate, and complete for it to still be from God.

Now that’s the background – but here’s the question: If you’re physically, seriously ill, what would God say to you?

God’s plan for healing is found in James 5:14-18. Here, we can see a few things:

  • The word “sick” means “without strength.” It is referring to those who are physically unable to work, or are physically disabled in some way.
  • The sick are to call on the elders of the church. Notice where the initiative lies: on the sick person. That is why we go to Mini Church, have community, meet weekly, and act as a real church.
  • Elders are to anoint with oil, and they pray. In Chuck Swindoll’s book on the Holy Spirit, he makes a huge point of this phrase: “having been anointed with oil,” then they pray. And, according to A.T. Robertson, a Greek scholar, olive oil was some of the best medicine.
  • God promises three things: to restore or save the person who is sick, that He’ll raise that person back up to health, and that if there are sins, they are forgiven.
  • This healing is conditional. There are three conditions: the prayer must be in faith, it must be done in the name of the Lord, and that you must confess and repent of your sin.

We can see that in James, we must pray in faith, and that it depends on the will of the Lord. We don’t always know what God is doing. We also know that when God heals, the issues of sin are dealt with. We could talk about story after story where we prayed and did what James 5 says, and brain tumors were gone and cancer disappeared. And, we could talk about stories where we’ve prayed and followed the instructions of James 5, and six months later, the person was buried. Our responsibility, however, is to obey God. It’s not to put Him in a box, or tell Him what His will is, but it’s to honor and believe Him.

In conclusion, there are three ways God heals today.

  1. The intervention of GodActs 3:1-9. This is what immediately comes to our mind when we thing about God healing. God comes in one fell swoop, and completely heals you of your sickness.
  2. The interaction of God1 Timothy 5:23. God used the Apostle Paul incredibly with healing power, but he wrote to Timothy to drink some wine to help deal with his frequent ailments. So, there is a natural process of healing that entails a good diet, good food choices, specific types of medication, etc. And while we might use these tools, God still deserves complete credit for healing us.
  3. The enabling of God2 Cor. 12:9-10. Even Paul had a “thorn” in his side, that he lived with possibly until the day he died. It’s not that Paul’s faith wasn’t strong enough, or that he didn’t know God well enough, but sometimes it is God’s will to enable us to continue to do His will despite our sickness.

HealingOn Sunday, Chris talked about how God still provides us with emotional healing. Next week he’ll be discussing God’s ability to heal us physically. Here’s what he discussed this week:

God’s prescription for emotional healing can be found in James 5:13. Here, Paul emphasizes that when we need healing from emotional sickness, we must pray. Likewise, when we need emotional delight, we need to sing.

O.K., everyone has some kind of emotional pain and baggage. And maybe you’ve been praying for healing for some time now. But what kind of prayer heals those emotional wounds?

Prayers of Lament: These prayers are found throughout the Bible, but they are most prominent in the Psalms. David often prayed prayers of lament. Here’s what he did (and what you can do, too):

  1. Recount Your Pain
  2. Recall God’s Character
  3. Resolve to Trust Him

– Depression & Doubt (Psalm 13)
– Guilt & Shame (Psalm 38)
– Persecution & Adversity (Psalm 56)
– Injustice “Raw Deal” (Psalm 73)
– Sickness or Impact of Aging (Psalm 102)

Beyond prayers of lament, we have to be “filled up” by God as well. We have sort of an emotional reservoir that needs to be filled by God. So, what kind of prayer fills our emotional reservoir?
Prayers of Praise: David also often prayed prayers that were full of joy and honor to God. Here’s how you can pray prayers of praise

  1. Recount your Gain
  2. Recall God’s Character
  3. Resolve to Thank Him

We can find examples of these types of prayers all throughout Psalms as well:
Psalm 103
Psalm 136
Psalm 145
Psalm 146-150

Here are some conclusions Chris left us with Sunday:
– Ups & Downs are Normal.
– Emotional health demands we move beyond the “silencing of our symptoms.”
– Emotional healing is a gift from God.  Go to “the” Counselor before you go to a counselor.
– “Getting stuck” is also normal and God uses people in conjunction with prayer to mend our emotional wounds.
– Extreme wounds at times demand extended and specialized care.

Give your cares and pain to God. He is the only One who can truly heal you.

Do miracles still exist? According to the hundred or so people who prayed for rain at San Marcos City Park last month, they do. Miracles are what attracted the crowds to Jesus. They saw Heaven invading Earth, and they came running. In all of our lives, there are situations that must have God in order to change things. Things need to get knocked off dead center. Something needs to change. Reading through 1 Sam. 1:1 – 2:11, we can see learn a few things from Hannah, and how she got a miracle from the Lord.

How To Get a Miracle:

  1. You Have to Become Desperate. 1 Sam. 1:6-7 shows us that Hannah “wept and would not eat.” She became greatly distressed over the situation. Miracles come when the situation becomes too much for us to handle.
  2. Prayer Has to Become Specific and Earnest. In 1 Sam. 1:10-11, Hannah asked specifically for a son. And this was no mystical, airy fairy prayer. It was both passionate and plain. I think God waits for us to ask specifically and earnestly for things that we need.
  3. Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

  4. Receive Support from the Community of Faith. 1 Sam 1:12-18 says that while praying at the church, Hannah risked being misunderstood and ridiculed. This is always the risk we run with the church. There is a chance that our feelings will get hurt, or that people will not understand what we are going through. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. Sometimes, just having another Christian to talk to helps immensely, and the Holy Spirit who works through others to bring you direction and guidance.
  5. This is the confidence which we have before Him, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. – 1 John 5:14-15

  6. Do Your Part. 1 Sam. 1:19 says that Elkanah “had relations” with his wife. We don’t need to go into the details here, but the principle of physically doing something is vital to God working. God expects us to work hard toward the answer that we seek. How many times have we heard of cancer being healed, but it took several treatments and surgeries, too? God heals, but we are wrong to dictate to Him how He should answer our prayers.
  7. Wait on the Lord’s Timing. It says in 1 Sam. 1:20 that “it came about in due time.” Sometimes waiting is the hardest part. But what do we do in the meantime? We should allow our faith to go strong. Romans 4:18-20 shows us that Abraham had to wait 25 years for the promise of God to come to pass on his descendants.
  8. Receive the Results.
    • Miracle: In 1 Sam. 20, Hannah has her son. She had come through the trial of faith and had prevailed. However, there was pain in her miracle too; she had to release the boy back to the Lord. In Genesis 22, we see that Abraham had to relinquish his son as well. The lesson is that in every miracle, there is still a tinge of pain of the world.
    • Know God Much Better: In Hannah’s prayer to the Lord in 1 Sam. 2:1-10, we see that there is no other Rock like our God. The Lord lifts the needy and the poor. He protects the Godly ones, and He gives strength to His anointed ones.
    • Given More than She Ever Asked For: 1 Sam. 2:21 says that Hannah not only received one son, but three sons and two daughters. This is exactly like our God. He will give you more than you ever thought or imagined.

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!


“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!


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