Sermons / Media

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!

The City Park was full of Christmas cheer as droves of San Marcosians drank hot chocolate, danced to some live music, and even pet camels for San Marcos’ annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas last weekend. A few of our congregants made their way down to the festival, not only to have a great time, but to tell the “Story of the Candy Cane” and explain the true meaning of Christmas to whoever would hear. If you don’t know the story, you can read all about it here.

Here are some of the pictures they took:

Boy, don’t they look cold? It was about 30 degrees when they were out there! We sure give them a lot of credit for doing what Christ has called all of us to do: go out in to the world and preach the gospel through everything we do. Great job guys!

Today we decorated the church with wreaths, garland, trees, and lots of bulbs (and yes, we did have some casualties!). We all had a great time. Here are some pictures:

You’ll notice there aren’t any gifts under the tree! You can still donate money and gifts to our Adopt-A-Family drive which will provide for four local families this Christmas season.

In preparation for the Advent season, John talked yesterday about preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ. Are we ready for Jesus to come back? What things would you have to get in order prior to his arrival?” Scripture warns us time and again that His coming will be sudden, and living in the “here and now” is the best way we can prepare. Looking at Galatians 5:16-23, John talked about 9 qualities (fruits of the Spirit) that Jesus expects from us when He returns. Here they are:

  1. Love. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 shows us that we must have a twofold love: a love for God and a love for others. We must first be in love with God, and when we do that, we have no trouble keeping His commands. It’s easy to love God because He is perfect. But, sometimes it’s hard to love others, especially when those people are takers in the relationship and not givers, when they do not seem to add value to your life. This requires a deep, deep work of God in our hearts to love the unlovable.
  2. Joy. Jesus wants us to be in a continuous state of joyfulness. This is not a human-based or external emotion. It is a divine manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us. This kind of life comes from focusing on God, and not the problems that are in front of us at the time.
  3. Peace. Although it is similar to joy, peace has the same meaning in Hebrew as the words “wholeness” or “soundness”. It implies being at peace with both God and man. This means being at peace with God’s plan for your life, and being at peace with your fellow man.
  4. Longsuffering/Patience. This is the first quality of God listed in Exodus 34 when Moses asked to see God’s face. God’s patience is seen in restraining punishment and wrath that is due us. God’s longsuffering is intended to lead us to repentance before the final judgment. In that case, how can we hold back any patience from others? Colossians 3:12 tells us that patience is like a garment. We can’t give up on the promises of God, even when things don’t look promising.
  5. Kindness. This is an essential ingredient for love. To be kind is to treat people the way God has treated you. This could be the biggest need in today’s fast-paced, high-tech society: showing someone kindness through being truly present and fully there for someone.
  6. Goodness. The person whose personality reflects this virtue is a person that combines two things: Moral Excellence and Generosity. People who are morally excellent command respect because of who they are. Our often vulgar and obscene society needs to see people of moral excellence. Generosity is the opposite of greed and envy. A generous person gives when the need arises.
  7. Faith. Faith means “fidelity” or “loyalty”. In the Bible, this is a necessary qualification for stewardship, teaching, or being a deacon. This is a person who is worthy of God’s trust, and Jesus is the most noble example of fidelity and trustworthiness to God the Father be doing exactly what God wanted all the time. Faith also means being one on whom others can rely. Can God trust you? Will you be true to Him with your use of money, time, sex, your mouth?
  8. Gentleness/Meekness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” A good example of meekness is a strong stallion that has been broken and ready for the master’s use. He still has the strength and power, but he chooses to use it for the master’s plan and not his own. This is not a picture of a weak, little, timid, scared creature. This is someone who submits to God’s will, someone who is humble, and someone who reflects patience toward others even when insult or injury arise from doing God’s will.
  9. Self-Control. Temperance is an important topic in light of coming judgment. It implies the strict discipline of an athlete. It is the opposite of self-indulgence. Self-control is the mastery of the self and the fashioning of one’s life in the way which God desires. In order to make room for God in our lives, we are going to have to learn to say “no” to some things and “yes” to what God is inviting us into.

Are you ready for Christ’s return?

On Sunday night, many churches in the San Marcos area gathered at PromiseLand Church to thank God for our many blessings. After the wonderful welcome by Pastor Paul Bunton of Abundant Life Church, we sang several songs in worship to the Lord. Here is a video of our very own Chris Ball and Camille Brady singing part of the song “Come Let Us Worship.”

Then, Dr. Jenna Heart gave a nice sermon on “The Gospel of Grace,” using the letters G.O.S.P.E.L. to talk about how we, as a community, have the power of Christ in us to accomplish His will in the city and in our everyday lives. Take a peek at some of the photos we took, during and after the service (at IHOP)!

We are looking forward to Thansgiving here at SMCC! We pray the God is with you and your family, and we encourage you to focus on all the blessings we have been given and thank the Lord for them.