Church Blog

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.

Preparing for Sunday at Home

Brothers and sisters,

As we prepare ourselves for worship on Sunday morning, here are a few pieces of information that you will need and a time to set aside to ensure that you are ready to facilitate worship at home and to listen to the sermon on Facebook live.

  1. Here is your Home Liturgy for the Lord’s Day, March 22. Download it and print it out. There are two links to familiar songs for you to sing along with at home if you need the assistance. You will follow the order of worship on your home, starting at 10:45, ready to join in with a live sermon at 11:00.
  2. If you already have a Facebook account, make sure that you follow the church page: www.facebook.com/santamargaritacc 
  3. If you do not have a Facebook account, this may be a time to have one for the sake of keeping in touch with each other. Otherwise, you can still watch the live by following the same link, then clicking “not now” and then  expanding the video to full screen. Here is a short video showing you how.

In preparation, I will go “live” tonight (Friday, March 20) at 7:00 pm to speak about the “shelter at home” situation, what is happening with SMCC and to give you a chance to make sure you can login. Please login to practice before Sunday.

Please comment if you are able or send an email to let me know that it is working for you.

Pastor Robert


All public gatherings of SMCC, including Lord’s Day worship, will be canceled until further notice.

Brothers and sisters,

Your elders met (digitally) to pray, talk and weep together last night concerning our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As you know, we have wanted to act with a bold compliance in this situation. While some turned up the intensity to 11 immediately, we have taken matters slowly and prayerfully. But as a result of last night’s meeting and the latest information on hand, we have decided that…All public gatherings of SMCC, including Lord’s Day worship, will be canceled until further notice.

The present suffering

In recent days, governing agencies have specified their orders regarding public gatherings. The CDC is now restricting public gatherings to less than 50 with recommendations to less than 10.  The state has ordered all over 65 to “self isolate” and counties on each side of us have already issued “shelter in place” orders. We fully expect SLO county to follow suit. 

Let’s be clear, this is the responsibility that God has given to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). If the government were to tell us we cannot meet to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances, we would not comply with that order. However, this is not that kind of order. It has been 100 years since the authorities have made this kind of request to churches. We do not have to like it or even agree with it to comply.

It is no small thing to not gather for worship on the Lord’s Day. It is the command of Scripture (Heb. 10:24-25), the practice of the church (1 Cor. 16:2) and it is our great joy. It is truly an hour that is not like every other hour. This is where God feeds us with both Word and ordinance. This is where we see each other’s faces and share in the fellowship of the saints. This is where the Spirit of God uses the Word of God in the mouths of the people of God to shape our hearts. It is a true loss to not gather and it cannot be substituted by any other means. Let’s mourn together what we will be missing.

The future glory

While there is no substitute for gathering on the Lord’s Day, we are grateful for the means that God has given us to stay connected. We are urging you to take advantage of them. 

First, let’s be clear. A recorded sermon is not a sermon, a video recorded worship service is not a worship service and a church cannot “gather” digitally. These are theologically incorrect, a dangerous substitution and a dismissal of the true loss, fear and loneliness that we are experiencing in this crisis.

In the next few days, we will send to you a service order for Sunday morning to be used in your home. It will include a “Call” for someone to read, a long reading to do and guidance on how to pray for you family, your church and your community. I (Pastor Robert) will speak to you on Facebook Live from Romans 8:18-25. (As your elders discussed whether this was a good time to diverge from the current series in order to focus on the situation at hand, Bob Taylor opened a Bible and read, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. We all realized that God has gone ahead of us.) I will conclude with a prayer and a benediction. We are consider how we might continue to participate in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. 

I hope you feel the loss of what we are missing and, at the same time, feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your heart and in your people. I hope you feel the weight of what you are doing when you speak the Call to Worship and pray for your household. Fathers, or head of household, this is a holy obligation. It is not to be taken lightly or to be taken to downplay what happens on a Sunday when we gather. This is a wartime effort and these are wartime measures.

You will hear again from us regarding midweek programs and ways in which we can perhaps encourage one another, pray and read together through digital media during the week. If that is something you would like to participate in, please reach out.

Keeping in Touch

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, Ive 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 during this time.

Lastly, how can you pray?

  • Pray for the health and safety of our “at risk” brothers and sisters in the church, in our families and in our neighborhoods.
  • Pray for God’s mercy on our nation. Pray that repentance and faith would be our national response to this crisis.
  • Pray for the mission of this church, that at every table in every household, we bear fruit for generations while under the pressure of today.

Here is a prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer for times of Crisis. My family has used this prayer book for many years. May it bring comfort to you today.

Heavenly Father, I come to Your throne of mercy, bowed down and wearied by the weight of suffering and disaster visited on our country. I beg You to protect this nation in our hour of need. I acknowledge my trespasses before You and do not deny either my own transgressions of Your holy Law or the sins of other citizens of my homeland. We are laden with iniquity, but You call us to Your forgiveness, salvation, hope, and life. Turn the hearts and minds of all to You, that they might find peace through the cleansing of Jesus’ blood. Let me not be confounded or dismayed, so that I, a child of your grace, may courageously speak to this needy world the hope that is within me. Make me an instrument of Your peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in the world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world. Grant to the leaders of this nation and all the nations of the world wise counsel, calm thinking, and unselfish aims. Amid the tumult of disaster, build Your kingdom and turn even more souls to Yourself. Because of Your grace, we are not altogether lost but find peace and forgiveness in You. Oh Lord, give me the grace to seek You, trust You, and confess You; in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Pastor Robert for your elders.


Corona Virus/ Covid 19 and SMCC

Brothers and Sisters,

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15

With the continued escalation of fears and concerns over the Corona Virus (Covid 19), we wanted to address some of those concerns and how they relate to our church family. This plan is based upon the prudent wisdom offered to us by health authorities, state and federal government, the EFCA and our own local officials. See the latest from SLO County Public Health Dept. here.

First of all, our God rules heaven and earth and that includes Santa Margarita. There is not one square inch of this earth over which God does not declare, “mine!” While we seek to be wise, we must not be governed by fear as so many are, even in our own county. We show that we are children of the one true God when we act in faith rather than respond in fear.

At the same time, there is reason for real concern, particularly for our friends and neighbors who are at higher risk. By taking extra precautions we do two things, we help to stop the spread of the virus from person to person and we also flatten, or spread out over time, the spread of the virus. An illustration of “flattening the spread” is that having one million people contract the virus over 12 months is a completely different situation than having one million people contract the virus with a six-week period.

The following is our current plan of action and we will keep you updated on any changes.

  1. We will worship on the Lord’s Day until we are formally instructed not to. This is the command and the privilege of God’s people and we are God’s people in this place.
  2. We ask that you take all personal precautions possible.
    • Follow the personal hygiene plan suggested: wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into a tissue of into your sleeve and generally avoid shaking hands for the time being.
    • If you are sick, stay home. We are looking into a live stream option or else the sermon will available online or through the SMCC App Sunday eveningApp for AndroidApp for Iphone. Perhaps take the time to listen to the book of Romans, it is surprisingly short and would good for your soul.
    • If you are at risk, stay home. SLO County Dept of Health defines tiger risk as those over age 60 and those who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or are immunocompromised.
  3. We will make the following modifications on Sunday morning.
    • Greeters will not offer you a hand or a bulletin. Bulletins will be sitting on a table for you to pick up yourself.
    • Donuts will either not be available or will be served by gloved volunteers.
    • Communion will be offered in dual cups (bread below and juice above) and you will come to the front to retrieve it before we partake together. We will have a further solution by next Sunday if needed.
    • Offering plates will not be passed, but an option for giving your offering will be available in the back of the room or you can give online as always. This may be a good time to consider that option.

It is no coincidence that this Sunday’s passage reminds us that we have not been given a spirit of fear. Our God is overseeing all things for our good. Please pray for your church, your neighbors and our nation during this time of crisis. Pray that God would raise up His church, starting here in Santa Margarita.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of your elders, please do not hesitate to reach out.

For God’s glory and your good,
Pastor Robert for your Elders

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