Monthly Archives: April 2011

Resurrection Sunday 2011

Medina United Methodist Church
Resurrection Sunday: “Do You Love Me”
Pastor Bill Stegemueller

John 21:15-23

SONrise Service

Deer Creek Camp, Medina TX
Pastor Bill Stegemueller

Various Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15, Romans 8, John 11)

 

“Paul’s Final Words”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 16:17-27


Introducing People to the Grace and Power of Jesus Christ

Lloyd Ogilvie gives some great advise both to us pastors and the people we pastor on the need to be connected to the person and POWER of Jesus Christ. The following is a quote I read at the Wednesday’s Bible Study that meets in our home. We were studying Acts chapter 18 and the discussion was, “Introducing Religious People to the Grace and Power of Jesus Christ.

“Our churches are filled with good, moral, respectable people. They have domesticated the gospel into a set of rules and regulations, rites and rituals, which can be accomplished with little contact with, or need for, the Lord. The church for them has become a culturally conditioned institution of cherished programs, traditions, and procedures. The result is a practical agnosticism. Daily pressures and demands are confronted as if Calvary and Pentecost had never happened.

The secret of the renewal of our churches lies in liberating religious people who don’t know Christ personally. All that we long to have happen to our churches in new life, mission and evangelism, and courageous stewardship is dependent upon enabling these people to discover how to live the adventure of the abundant life.” – Lloyd J. Ogilvie

I can’t help but think of how many of our churches limit themselves by functioning and trying to get by in their own strength. I mean let’s face it, much of what the church attempts to do today can be done with “little contact with, or need for, the Lord.”

That’s where I think our Charismatic brothers and sisters have something we can learn. You can say what you will about their antics and YES sometimes they do get carried away, but you got to give them credit. When they get together they REALLY expect God to MOVE in their midst.

Do we really expect God to move in our lives? This is really an important point. I mean if you don’t really believe God is going to move in people’s lives, what’s the point in coming together?  Do we gather to pay homage to a God that is powerless to change lives or do we gather to worship the God that makes all things possible for those who believe? What would happen if we came to church with a real anticipation that God is going to move in our church.

Matthew records a time that Jesus comes into his own hometown. He preached in the synagogue and everyone was blown away with His teaching… but He wasn’t able to do many mighty works because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:58) I don’t think it was that Jesus was powerless do any mighty works, but rather not many came to Him to do mighty works.

Don’t we do the same thing? Too many times we treat God like a spare tire… only to be used in an emergency. I’m afraid that if God actually showed up in a lot of our churches a lot of us wouldn’t know what to do. Our tendency is to try to put God in a box and tell Him exactly what He can and can’t do in our lives.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20 that we serve a God who is  “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think!” and yet how often do we really believe that?  How often do we sell God short of everything that He is capable of doing?  This Easter let’s let God out of the Box.  We can’t confine Him there anyway.  He might allow us to have the illusion of being able to put Him in the box, but that’s not where He dwells.  He dwells in a temple not made with hands.  He dwells within the human heart.

 

“Who Is Holding Your Trampoline?”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 16:1-17

 

Is the Bible True…Really?

Is the Bible True... Really?Josh McDowell and Dave Strerrett hit the ball out of the park in their book, “Is the Bible True… Really?”  The book is part of their Coffee House Chronicles which is a series that seeks to foster a dialogue on skepticism, evidence, and truth.  I loved the fact that this book deals with the subject matter by way of introducing us to the typical struggles of a college student (Nick) with his faith.  This made it EASY to read!

The book was relatively short (You can get through it in a single evening) and yet it dealt with some pretty important questions:

  • Did Christianity borrow from pagan mythology?
  • When was the Bible “put together”?
  • When was the New Testament Written?
  • Is the Bible Inerrant?
  • Did the Disciples make it up?
  • What about the “mistakes” in the Bible?
  • How is the Bible different from other truth claims (Joseph Smith, Muhammad, etc.)?
  • What about the other Gospels (the Gnostic Gospels)?

The chapter I got the most out of was chapter 14 that dealt with all the so called, “Mistakes,” in the Bible.  Here are some of the notes I gleaned from the chapter:

Critics love to point out that there are anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 variants among the New Testament manuscripts.  A textual variant is any instance where the New Testament manuscripts have alternate wordings.  What the critics don’t point out is that the large number of variants is a direct result of the extremely large number of New Testament manuscripts available.   By far, the most significant category of variants is spelling differences (75% or between 225,000 and 300,000 of all the variants!)  Another large category of variants consist of synonyms used across manuscripts.  Such differences hardly call the meaning of the text into question.  When all variations are honestly and objectively considered, only about one percent involves the meaning of the text, but not significantly.

What was eye opening to me was that even the process of comparing the discrepancies only served to reinforce the inerrancy of Scripture.   For example suppose we have four different manuscripts that have four different errors in the same verse (Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.)

Here are the hypothetical copies of variant texts:

  • I can do all t#ngs through Christ who gives me strength.
  • I can do all th#ngs through Christ who gives me strength.
  • I can do all thi#gs through Christ who gives me strength.
  • I can do all thin#s through Christ who gives me strength.

McDowell/ Strerrett point out that there is no question as to what the original text said.  By comparing and crosschecking, the original New Testament can be reconstructed with GREAT accuracy.

The book really served to strength my faith and appreciation for God’s Word.  Thank you McDowell/ Strerrett for putting together such a book.  I look forward to reading the other books in your series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

“You Are A Priest”

Medina United Methodist Church
Bill Stegemueller

Romans 15:14-17

 

SOAR: Are You Ready To Accept God’s Power?

Kenny Luck’s book, “Soar,” is a book to help you discover the freedom of living in God’s power. The title of the book is an acronym.
Saying “yes” to the Holy Spirit.
Opening your life to His work inside of you.
Actively pursuing and partnering with the Holy Spirit
Releasing powerfully the ministry of the Holy Spirit to a waiting world.

If you ask me, the book could’ve been simplified to the very first letter: “Saying YES to the Holy Spirit,” but then you would have a very short book. Kenny Luck is the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church and his book is targeted to men in the context of a men’s group.

I really didn’t get into the book and yet at the same time it was hard for me to find anything wrong with it. It seemed to cover the basics about living in relationship with the Holy Spirit and yet it seemed to leave me a little flat. Perhaps this was because I did not read and discuss it in a small group. There are good group discussion questions at the back of the book.

I did like a lot of the illustrations that Kenny Luck used to make some of his points. (I filed away quite a few of them) I especially liked the Michael May story (p.82) in which he tells a true story about a man regaining his sight and how that relates to what happens when we gain our spiritual sight.

I gave the book three out of five stars. I wouldn’t say the book was a waste of time, but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this was a book that you couldn’t put down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.