A Changed Heart

March 30, 2010

By Bettye Carpenter, South Main Member

In your prayers do not babble as the Gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.  Do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matt. 6:7-8

The last semester of college for our only daughter!  Engaged, making good grades, working in a national political campaign, what could go wrong?  She had just come home from a semester abroad, and for the first time was sharing living space with people she had not known before.  Still, just four months to go.  What COULD go wrong?

A major catastrophe, that’s what.  Her engagement ring was missing!  She knew just where she had put it before going to bed, and it was not there.  She tore her room apart; I went to Aggieland and systematically tore her room apart from wall to wall and corner to corner.  We took the washing machine and the plumbing apart—no ring!  In her heart, she knew one of the roommates with a rather questionable character had it.  I didn’t know what to think.

She prayed; I prayed; all of our family and friends prayed.  I offered up verbose, grandiose prayers in my best English teacher and Christian voice.  I read books on prayer.  I pleaded with God.  I promised God.  Still, no ring to be found.

In desperation one night, I offered this short prayer:  “God, you know we need to find this ring, but that ring is not the most important thing.  If someone does have the ring, please change that person’s heart.  In your name I pray.  Amen.”  I went to sleep feeling peaceful for the first time in weeks.

Around noon the next day, our daughter called shouting, “My ring was under my door when I came in from class!”  A miracle?  No.  Our God answered a prayer humbly offered up for the right reason.  He knew before we did what needed to happen.  He changed a heart!  Our good fortune in having the engagement ring back was secondary.

Most precious God, Thank you for listening to us so intently when we empty our hearts to you in faltering words.   Thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow during the dark moments of life.  Help us to be aware of your presence every minute of every day.   Amen

A retired educator, Bettye Carpenter is a member of the Power and Light Community.


Looking forward to Easter Celebration

March 29, 2010

By Tom Williams, Church Administrator & Minister to Senior Adults

With all of the activities that have captured our attention of the last week, I hope that we will now focus on the celebration of Easter. The is truly the apex of our Christian Celebrations. The church at South Main Baptist is prepared for this special event. Invite your family and friends to be a part of this Sunday’s Bible Studies and Worship.

In advance, I say thank you to the choir that is preparing special celebratory music for the occasion.

Christ is risen!

smbc.org


Share Campaign

March 27, 2010

Have you heard about the Share Campaign yet?

As you already know, this is a very exciting and important time in the life of South Main. We are improving our physical spaces, getting the word out about South Main through innerloopchurch.com, and growing participation in meaningful missions and service. The Share Campaign is a focused effort to engage our entire church family in reaching out and sharing the gift of this place, this family, and this faith with those who do not have a church home to love them into becoming the people God intended.

The Share Campaign runs April 11 – May 2. God is working at South Main, and our preparation and participation are essential as God works through His children. Please start praying now for this campaign and for God to use it for His purposes. If you are interested in how you can get involved in preparations for this campaign, please contact Steve Rader (steven.n.rader@gmail.com) or Bobbye Lott (bclott@prodigy.net).


All Church Mission Trip Day 1

March 18, 2010

By Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

I woke up this morning bubbly with anticipation (honestly, I was groggy from lack of sleep too).  The All Church Mission Trip began today, and I was eager to return to Eagle Pass, spend time with my family serving as Christ’s hands, and spend time with my church family deepening relationships with those I already knew well and building relationships with those whom I might only know by name or face.

Back to this morning…Google Maps says it takes five hours and 20 minutes to get to Eagle Pass from Houston, but caravanning with three vans and three cars filled with forty-three people stretches the trip into a seven hour and 37 minute adventure, but it is SO worth it!  After checking-in, stretching, and enjoying pizza, all fifty-six South Mainers ranging in age from five to something slightly more than five gathered together in worship.  As we heard God’s Word and sang joyful hymns of praise, the feeling of love was palpable.  Specific memories from last June came rushing back as I looked around the room:

Our youth are simply amazing and serve as ideal role models for the children this week.  Rebecca Moore pulls Macy Smith, our youngest missionary, onto her lap effortlessly and envelops her in a literal hug of love throughout the service.  They all sit together and sing together with smiles and joy that you know comes from experiencing the love of our Lord and Savior….Read more here.

innerloopchurch.com


“My Mama always said Share Everything ‘Cept your Toothbrush”

March 17, 2010

By Kevin Sinclair, Minister to Youth

Since coming to South Main in the Summer of 2008, I think I may have heard the word “share” more than I had in the previous 26 years of my life. As a centralizing image in our Vision of what being a follower of Jesus Christ looks like, we as a church family have adopted the popular and easily noticeable, “Worship, Discover, and Share.” As a word-enthusiast (Yes, I am quite easily entertained), I love the inexhaustible nature of language. Just as Steve discussed the evolution of English words such as artificial and meek on the Third Sunday of Lent, all words possess within them a richness and depth that grows and changes over time. Like children growing into their own skin and becoming teenagers right before our eyes, words wiggle and warp to become more accurate or creative ways to express the ineffable, unfathomable feelings and emotions we experience in our souls. So, for me, summing up or Christian and South Mainer identity with three words is a enticing invitation into reflection, conversation, and action as the family of God in this place.

I have spent Sunday after Sunday being washed in the beauty and grandeur of our sanctuary while worshipping with my church family; I have spent a Friday night and Saturday with some dear, close friends and made some new friends at Discovery Weekend discovering my Spiritual Gifts (a few were a surprise!); I had the joy of participating in Next Wave and sharing together with my church family in the building of not only beautiful, safe space for the youth, but also in the communal conversation about stewardship and fiscal responsibility as Believers. Now, a new task lies ahead of us.

You are about to hear a gaggle of folk talk about sharing, but this time we searching deeper in our souls to uncover that sacred part of each believer: the very faith the stirs our spirits to action, that we cling to in our darkest moments, and bring with us to worship the Living God every Sunday morning as the called and consecrated community of Christ.

You’re never more like Jesus than when you share…so what did Jesus share?

He shared everything! He shared his faith and trust in his Abba Father in Heaven! He shared his compassion and love with outcasts, prostitutes, greedy money-handlers, and oppressive, violent Roman soldiers. Everyone we would WANT Jesus to reject, cast aside, and criticize, he held open arms of love and grace to invite them to participate in God’s redemptive work in our world. But, if we don’t share the good news about what God is doing in our individual lives, in our corporate life as South Main, or throughout the whole of Creation…who will? All of us have received the gift of this church and have been blessed by it because someone else brought us or invited us. Appreciation and gratitude are nothing if they are only words; they must manifest in action and behavior. Sharing together during the Next Wave campaign was exciting and wonderful, but it can’t stop there! Buildings do not a Church make, but only the Holy Spirit binding together broken bits of our fragmented existence into the reconciled and transformed Body of Christ. Our beautiful, inviting physical plant give us space to grow together, work together, and play together as community, but long before there was a church at 4100 Main St., there was a lil’ ol’ Tuam Baptist Church, up the road. And long, long before there was a Tuam Baptist Church, Believers and Followers of the Way gathered in houses and public forums to share together not only the Gospel but life itself. The Church is no more the buildings we inhabit than the Word of God is the leather binding hugging the paper pages of my Bible. There is something deeper and realer than the places we sit and gather…it is the very people whose lives are being transformed, shook apart, mended together, and flipped upside down by the presence, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection of the homeless, penniless, itinerant preacher from Nazareth. We have come together to build space–and break-taking space it is–but our call to share the good news that Christ has died and resurrected to conquer sin and death thereby declaring “Behold, I am making all things New!” This hope we share with each other is indispensable to our call to follow Christ.

I’m not talking about throwing tracts at people or going door to door like Spiritual Amway Salespeople. I’m talking about letting your conversations go deeper with people, keeping an open ear, eye, and heart to see the loneliness and brokenness of those around you, or inviting someone you know and care about to “Come and See” what God is doing in this place that we call South Main. Ken Chafin once said, “If the Church isn’t for everybody, then it’s for nobody.” Everyone needs a place to call home. Everyone needs to hear some good news. and Everyone needs to know that there is a God who knows their name, sees their face, and seeks joy for their life.

Worship…Discover…and, well, you know what to do…

Grace & Peace,

Kevin

www.smbc.org


Share

March 12, 2010

Over the next few weeks, you may start to hear bits and pieces of the “Share Campaign.” As you know, this is a very exciting and important time in the life of South Main. We are improving our physical spaces, implementing an aggressive marketing plan to make sure that people know about South Main, and growing participation in meaningful missions and service. You can see it in the crowds of smiling youth in their new building. You can see it in the new innerloopchurch billboards around town. You can see it in the faces of the members and homeless at both the “Feed the Homeless” dinner and “Chili Bowl” events. You can feel it in Worship.

We are preparing our church for growth. The Share Campaign is going to be a focused effort to engage our entire church family in reaching out and sharing. It will be the catalyst to ignite the growth of our South Main family… spiritually and numerically. Please start praying now for this campaign and for God to use it for His purposes. God is working at South Main! You can feel it… you can see it…. get ready for everything to come together because it is going to be an incredible time in the life of our church.

www.smbc.org


Crowded is Not Always Bad

March 8, 2010

By Tom Williams, Minister to Senior Adults and Church Administrator

During this time of remodeling and reconstruction, Bible Study groups have been reassigned to all sort of areas. I observe that this has proven that “crowded is not always bad”. Senior and IV and PrimeTimers have coexisted in the Fellowship Hall and all have worked to make it a good and wonderful experience. With coordination by the departments’ leadership, wonderful music has greeter our attendees on Sunday mornings along with a large quantity of coffee and donut holes. It has all worked to be a great experience.

People have shifted out of their regular patterns and have encountered new friends at church. Today, I am grateful for those that have made this work so well. I carry away from this experience that closeness, good coffee and donuts are a good thing!

innerloopchurch.com


Manna…it’s good Church

March 5, 2010

By Erin Conaway, Associate Pastor

I went to a luncheon for SEARCH this week—that’s an organization here in midtown that was started by several congregations (South Main was one of them) many years ago to help the homeless in a variety of ways.  It’s a great organization and you can read more about them on their website.  At the luncheon we watched a video and one of the clients was sharing his story and he talked about being married and having a home and all the things you would think comprise a “normal” life and then his marriage fell apart and he got a divorce and he said, “After my divorce…I just sank into myself.”  It brought tears to my eyes to hear him articulate his depression so poetically and vividly.  He found at SEARCH a welcoming place and it changed his life.

Every Sunday morning, we gather in the North Parking lot, out by our tower on Main Street and we engage in a ministry we call “Manna.”  Basically, we meet with our homeless sisters and brothers to share a cup of coffee and our stories.  We talk about our prayer requests and we pray together.  We share a reading from Scripture and we sing “Amazing Grace.”  We also pass out “manna bags” that have things to eat now or later—crackers and peanut butter, granola bars and a bottle of water and sometimes a new pair of socks—when you’re homeless, new socks feel incredible!

Manna comes from the story in the Bible when the Israelites were wandering around in the dessert all grumpy about missing watermelon back in Egypt where they were slaves and God told them that God would take care of them and when they woke up in the mornings there would be this stuff on the ground that they called manna which basically means “what is it?” and they could gather up enough for the day and cook it and eat it.  God told them not to save any of it except on the day before the Sabboth, because they needed to learn to trust that God would provide.  So each day, they would wake up and there’s all this manna around to make flatbread for the journey.  God threw in some quail too, but that’s another story.  So they found what they needed in this serendipitous blessing of the morning.

That’s what we find at Manna on Sunday mornings.  We don’t call it that because we’re giving people enough stuff to get them through a day—although that is true.  We call it manna because we, both the people here at the church who participate and our homeless neighbors find enough in our fellowship to get us through another day.  It is truly beautiful and surprising and a wonderful way to start a Sunday—with the serendipitous blessing of meeting our neighbors and sharing life together…it’s good Church.

www.innerloopchurch.com