Church Blog

Seasons of Prayer

Matt and I moved to Santa Margarita in December of 1986 from San Luis Obispo. At that time we had two children, Ben and Michelle. We were attending Grace church in SLO. We felt well connected there and the children were comfortable in their Sunday school nursery.

In the spring of 1990, we welcomed Sophia into our family and it became very clear, very quickly, that getting three little ones up on Sunday morning and over the grade to church was going to be quite the challenge. I can’t remember how many times we attempted to get to church in SLO but I don’t think it was many.

We needed a church closer to home. In usual Andros fashion, we simply walked around the corner to check out “that church on “I” Street”.  We didn’t do any research, just walked around the corner. We heard a pastoral candidate, Paul Schliep, preach and enjoyed the sermon.  We were greeted and welcomed by people whom we still know and love today; Dave and Leslie Bryson, Steve and Janine Wagner, Steve and Jean Collins and Dave and Debbie Redel.  No, it was not missed on us that all the men were either Dave or Steve!

Paul was hired as preacher and we began to make SMCC our new church home. As I got to know the other ladies in the congregation, four women stood out to me.  They were older saints (actually they were my current age but seemed old at the time) and were, to me, the church matriarchs.  They were Hazel Hunter, Edie Culbreath, Katharina Bybee and Evie Brown.

These were the kind of ladies who always made a point of checking up on you.  They would ask about Matt, ask about the children, ask how I was doing. They weren’t just “church ladies”.  They were seasoned believers who each had a life of substance. Individually, they had each lived a life of faith and had met many challenges along the way.  All of them but Edie were widows. In other words, they knew what they were about.

Turns out, one of the biggest things “they were about” was praying for their church family.  I’ll never forget when the light finally clicked on in my brain. These women weren’t just making small talk when they asked how our family was, they were learning about us and finding out what our needs were.

What really blew me away was when they’d check back in with me a few weeks later and ask very specific questions about a child who had been sick or how Matt’s job was going.  Could it be that they were ACTUALLY praying for us?  Well, turns out they were.  Shoot, Edie, and her husband Charles, were praying through our church directory!

All I remember thinking was “how in the world do they find the time to actually pray for all of us”? Through the years I watched those lovely woman pray for us and love us. They have all passed on to glory now but they left me a big gift…I wanted to be just like them when it came to prayer.  It wouldn’t happen right away.  I needed to be a bit more seasoned.

Well, now I’m one of those older saints and considerably more “seasoned”.  I now have a set time for my prayers and a list of all the people I’ve promised to pray for. It’s hard to describe but my morning prayer time is all about praying for others but I am the one who is fed. Finally reaching a time in my life when this kind of commitment to prayer is possible has grown my faith like never before.

When I look back over the years, I ask myself why I couldn’t get my act together enough to be this kind of prayer warrior years ago? Why did this kind of mature prayer life just now become a part of my life? I wish I could say I don’t know why, but I do. My life has had “seasons” and most of those “seasons” did not lend themselves to quiet mornings with my bible and prayer journal by a sunny window.

When we gather together at our women’s conference, we are going to be talking about prayer.  We are going to explore the idea that there are “seasons” in life and our prayer life might reflect that. I do know some friends who have been champion prayer partners, no matter what was going on in their lives, and they have always inspired me.

I hope, as we talk and share, that we can encourage each other to a fuller and more meaningful life of prayer. I also hope we can give ourselves some grace as we learn that there might be times when prayers are said on the go and squeezed in just before falling exhausted into bed. There are even times when we are so sad or discouraged that our dear faithful friends say our prayers for us.

I’m looking forward to our time together. My sincere desire is that what we learn together will inspire and not overwhelm. I hope we will be encouraged but not overcome with guilt. We want to lead each other to a closer walk with Jesus no matter what season we find ourselves in.


Women’s Conference 2021: With One Accord

2021 opened with glimmers of hope in the shadow of a year filled with fear, unrest and isolation. While there are sparks of hope, reality is that it will take time to settle the unrest, vaccinate enough people to remove the isolation and calm fears. However, reflecting on last year’s conference, I see the Lord’s hand preparing us for 2020 by reminding us that our hope rests securely in Him. He is sovereign. He is good, gracious and compassionate. His steadfast love endures forever. He will not let His children go. He did not let us go in 2020.  He provided means for us to worship in the midst of the pandemic. He showed us new ways to encourage and bless one another in the midst of the pandemic.  Our church grew in the midst of the pandemic.

For our conference this year, God is leading us to focus on Acts 1:14.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to be “baptized by the Holy Spirit.” Not at all sure what that meant, they never-the-less obeyed, gathering in Jerusalem and waiting.  While they waited, we are told:

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers.

Two phrases stand out in this verse: with one accord and devoting themselves to prayer.

As followers of Christ, we are privileged to be deeply unified. Whatever our differences of opinion about what it looks like to walk by faith, we are all children of God, adopted into His family through Jesus’s death and resurrection.  As family, we are called to love and care for one another. Even if I am that relative that everyone tolerates at family gatherings, I am still family.  We are profoundly united in Christ. Our passion for Christ and proclaiming the good news of His gospel supersedes all differences of opinion. As we are learning in Romans, we neither judge nor scorn believers whose opinions about living by faith are different that our own.  God has welcomed them.  They will stand before Him because they stand in Christ, just as we do.

The second phrase, devoting themselves to prayer, is central to Christian life.  We all come to faith through prayer, repenting of our sin and asking God to apply His glorious salvation, redemption and reconciliation in Christ to us. Then, as children of God in Christ, we are privileged to come before the Creator of all things seen and unseen as our heavenly Father.  He hears our heartaches, renews our minds, softens our hearts and strengthens our faith so we can walk in a manner pleasing to Him.

We will think more deeply about our unity in Christ and prayer at the conference. As we wait, let us praise God for the ways He has not only sustained, but grown us as a church family this year.  Let us praise God that we are His children, one family in Christ. Although we may differ how we live our faith out our fingertips, we remain firmly tied together, united in our passion to worship God and proclaim His goodness to those around us.  Let us lift one another up in prayer alone in our closets, in our “pods,” over Zoom and as we gather for worship. Finally, let us look forward with anticipation to gathering in small groups or one large group to glorify our Lord, study His Word and pray together as sisters in Christ.


From Today’s Bible Reading. Wednesday, Nov. 18

Acts 27:35 (ESV): And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.

These words are not the ones spoken by Jesus at the institution or the last supper, as much as they sound like it. They are supposed to sound like it.

This is how Acts describes the table that the Apostle Paul set for a ship full of sailers and prisoners in the middle of a storm just before the ship was about to wreck and they all had to swim to shore or die. Do you need to read that again?

Here is a very significant principe in the world God has made and, especially, in the church that God has called to assemble.

First, God created a world in which His creatures gather for worship every seven days. The 1689 Confession reads this way:

It is the law of nature that in general a portion of time specified by God should be set apart for the worship of God. So by his Word, in a positive moral and perpetual commandment that obligate everyone in every age, He is especially appointed one day and seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy to Him. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ the appointed day was the last day of the week. After the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day. This day is to be kept to the end of the age of the Christian Sabbath, since the observation of the last day of the week has been abolished.

And so, we gather to be fed with the Word and the Table, every week, as often as we come together. Then this heart, this thanksgiving, lives at our tables every time we sit to eat our daily bread from the hand of the Lord. The stability, the formation that happens there in this repeated practice will ground your faith and your family when everything else is going crazy. At the risk of being too cheesy, even in the midst of a storm.

So, come to the Table of the Lord. Get to that Table. Fight, scratch and kick to get to the Table where Christ nourishes your faith with the ordinance of bread and wine. And, set your table, giving thanks, no matter what else is happening, even storm and the threat of death. Set your table. Do it again. Do that for 100 years.


From Today’s Bible Reading. Tuesday, Nov. 17

Acts 22:25 (ESV): “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?”

In this passage, the Apostle Paul calls on the legal authorities to do what is right in the sight of God and in the sight of the law.

Why can Paul make this appeal? According to protestant political theology, we understand that God has appointed rulers to exercise just law on behalf of the people. That means that they are accountable to God, the law, and the people.

Let me remind you of the spheres of authority that God has designated. We know these according to whom God has given clear and designated the commands.

First, God has given the home as the ministry of education, health and welfare. God has given the rod as a tool for discipline in this task.

Second, the church is the ministry of Word and ordinance (or sacrament). God has given the keys as a tool to include or exclude from the fellowship of the Word and table.

Third, the state is the ministry of justice. God has given the sword as a means of exercising just punishment.

Some want to add a fourth, that is really first, the responsibility of self-government to which conscience is the tool that aids us. Without proper self-government, none of the others will be effective.

Each sphere is accountable, as we have said, to God, the law (to do what they are commanded and not usurp another’s jurisdiction) and to the people they are given to serve.

Paul can confidently call on this right because it is true and given by God, even when Caesar fails to recognize it.

This is a good time to remember our theology. As Samuel Rutherford has said, “Truth to Christ cannot be treason to Caesar.” Tell the truth today. Live in truth today.


From today’s Bible reading. Monday, Nov. 16

From today’s reading:

Acts 20:27 (ESV): I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

This is the apostle Paul testifying to his own faithfulness to the church in Ephesus as he looked back at his ministry among them.

We have here a simple description of the ministry of the local church: teach the whole counsel of God, from beginning to end; from Genesis to Revelation; from garden to garden city; from one tree of life to the other; from creation to new creation; from the new earth to the new heavens and new earth.

The task of the church is to teach it and the task of the congregation is to learn it. That will take work, it may take years, but it is the Word of God that builds the church and the church that builds a culture.

How’s your reading going?


A Morning to Gather for Prayer

We want to invite you to gather to pray and learn to pray on September 5, starting at 8:00 am and ending after lunch at 1:00 pm.

The time will be spent in 3 cycles of (1) praying corporate prayers, (2) short training on a helpful form of prayer, (3) time to pray on your own with guidand and (4) reflecting together on our time of prayer so that we can celebrate and grow together.

8:00 a.m. Gather

8:30 a.m. Cycle One: The Collect Form

10:00 a.m. Cycle Two: Eastman’s Hour of Prayer

11:15 a.m. Cycle Three: Prayers of the People

12:30 p.m. Lunch and conclude

Please RSVP so we can plan for you. You will receive short clips for preparation in the days ahead and a booklet to guide your day when you arrive.

Follow this link for a conversation between Rich Morey and Pastor Robert on how this day has come.


A Fruitful Vine

 

Sunday, June 7, begins on new series on the church as the vineyard of God.

God has sent us to a vineyard to teach us about our fruit. God uses plagues and wicked rulers in such a way that they reveal what we are actually made of, good and bad, so that we can repent where we need to repent and keep building where it is going well. If we are the bride of Christ, the fruitful vine, then what has resulted from the squeeze?
  • What Comes out When the Church is Squeezed. Matt. 7:15-20

  • The Fruit of our Worship: The Lord’s Day: creation and covenant. Rev. 1:10

  • The Fruit of our Worship: Means: the Word and ordinances. 1 Cor. 11:17

  • The Fruit of our Discipleship: Membership and catechism. Acts 2:42f

  • The Fruit of our Discipleship: authority. Jesus, elders, deacons, sphere.  1 Pet. 5:4.

  • The Fruit of our Outreach: Our voice. John 16:8

  • The Fruit of our Outreach: our presence with the community as a church. John 16:8

 


Worshiping Together

Worship at Oyster Ridge
We will be one services inside the Oyster Ridge Barn starting May 2.

9:00am

With seating also available outside on the patio. The services will also be broadcast on FM radio for those who wish to stay in their cars, though the line of sight will be difficult.

Chairs will be set up and ready for you, and those chairs will be sanitized between services for extra safety. Please be careful to maintain safe social distancing before, during, and after the services. Those who desire to wear a mask are encouraged to do so.


Directions to Oyster Ridge
5991 w. Pozo Rd. Santa Margarita, CA 93453

From El Camino Real, proceed SE on Highway 58 for 1.5 miles, until it connects with Pozo Road. Continue straight on Pozo Road (instead of turning left on Highway 58) and proceed 3.2 miles, until the turnoff for Oyster Ridge Barn at 5991 W. Pozo Road. Turn right and follow the Oyster Ridge signs for 1.2 miles to the parking area. Click here for Google Maps directions.

 

Email for more information:

 


Drive In Worship

We will be gathering in the parking area at the Oyster Ridge Barn to be able to worship together in person!
Our service will begin at 9:00am, to beat the heat, and you will tune in on your FM car radio to hear the audio. You will receive worship bulletins and communion supplies as you drive in, and you will be able to drop off your offering at that time too.
The Oyster Ridge Barn is located at 5991 W. Pozo Road, 5 miles SE of Santa Margarita.
If you are unable to join us in person, you will still be able to watch the service on our Facebook page at 11 am:


Keep Connected Online

Our digital connections are vital during these times. In order to keep in touch, please ensure that you are participating in our current means of communication.

  1. Download the SMCC smartphone app.  App for AndroidApp for Iphone. When notifications come from the church, open them. This is the primary, family only, means of our communication, connection and encouragement right now. Click on the links to read, pray and sing along with us.
  2. Ensure that you can login to mysmcc. This is our church database where you can get phone numbers to call others in the church. And please call people. Who? Whoever you think of. What do you say? Say, I miss you, I’ve been thinking of you, I can’t wait until we can worship together again.
  3. Do you receive the all church email? Please reach out to us so you can be included.
  4. Follow SMCC on FB and IG as a means of encouragement and comment.
  5. Please be regular with your giving as we are separated. This still remains our family responsibility and privilege. You can give to your regular offering and to the Help Fund through online giving. People will be needing our financial help during this time.
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