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It’s Time to LIVE!

From the Heart of Pastor Bill

I am so blessed to be in ministry with you at Medina Church.  I can’t believe that it’s been almost 18 years since I became your pastor!

A lot of wonderful things have happened over those years. And thankfully, our church continues to be both physically and spiritually healthy despite COVID-19.   

When we were first hit with COVID-19 just 24 weeks ago, we rose to the challenge, and together, we responded to this threat.  We handled it to the best of our ability with the information we were given. 

Initially, we did what was recommended, which was to shut down our services and stop assembling together.  We responded to this problem proactively.  Among other things, we initiated the “live-feed” of our service so everyone could watch online.  As you will remember, at that time it was everyone’s goal to “flatten the curve.” We did our part to make that happen.   

Unfortunately, during these past months, our government “experts” and the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) have repeatedly proven to be inaccurate, and undependable sources of both information and recommendations.  

For example, first, they told us that masks don’t help, then they changed their mind and insisted that we wear masks.  Similarly, their initial projections and their reports of the death rate were alarming, now we see that the actual numbers are much lower; still a concern, of course, but not the emergency that was first reported.  The CDC now acknowledges that only 6% of the reported COVID-19 deaths can actually be attributed to the virus.1  Therefore, the actual death rate is significantly lower than the 180,000 people the news media was reporting.

To put this in perspective, the CDC estimated that the death rate for the 2019-2020 seasonal flu to be between 24,000 and 62,000. 2   Of course, we grieve for the lives lost to COVID-19 and other causes of death over this past year.  Our prayers go out for these families and friends.

Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge that with physical life, comes physical death.  At some point, our life on this earth will end. (Fortunately, for those who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, death is not the end of the story.)

While it is irresponsible to live in such a way as to end our life prematurely, at this point, in my opinion, we need to realize that we have been operating on false information.  It is time for us to get back to living life.  This includes, in fact, especially includes, attending church.  

We need to be prudent and take precautions, but we cannot live in fear.  Here in the Great State of Texas, every day, 10 people die in car accidents.  While tragic, we are still willing to drive our car.  

Why is church attendance any different?  There are risks to everything we do in life, but we can’t let these fears control how we live our life. Fear is placing your faith in the “What-ifs.”

For us, this means, it’s time for us to get back to church. 
The writer of Hebrews writes, “… and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:24-25)


For us here at MUMC, it is time for us to come together again. 

Of course, let’s use our God-given common sense in how we do it.  If you feel sick, or if you have serious underlining health issues, then stay home.  But let’s not live in FEAR!  

As II Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”

  
I’m reminded of the Bill Gather song, “Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow.”  The lyrics remind us, “Because He Lives, all fear is gone.  Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the Living, just because He lives.”   

Let’s embrace the Apostle Paul’s injunction that he so clearly stated in Hebrews 10:24-25.  It is our duty to God that we assemble as a church community.  It’s time for us to LIVE life fully, and FEARLESSLY.  

I hope to see you at church this coming Sunday!

We have been blessed by God, that He has given us the honor of serving Him in a time such as this.  

With love from your pastor,

Bill

References

1  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm?#Comorbidities

2   https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

3  https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates#

Other Resources
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3nL1kjvL9s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2S9DnnguXY

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How Is Your Heart?

March 14th Anna and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary.   The next day, our world changed with COVID-19.  We are in week number seventeen in this crisis.   I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around it.  Seventeen weeks! 

As a result, people are more frustrated and angry than at any time I can remember which has spilled over into social unrest.  Just when I think things can’t get any crazier… it does!  I don’t even recognize my country anymore.  So, what should you and I do in light of all this? 

The temptation is to take it all in and allow it to feed our spirit.  I know people like that.  Their TV is on 24/7 watching or listening to the news.  It is not surprising that they are often the people who are experiencing the most stress.

I think of that verse in Psalm 46:10, “Be Still and Know that I am God.”  The Message paraphrases it like this, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”    I like that.  “Take a LONG LOVING LOOK at me, your High God, above politics, above EVERYTHING.”

Whatever we FOCUS on, we bring CLOSER into our lives.   Think about that the next time you think about turning on the NEWS.  Ask yourself, “Am I sure I want to bring this into my life?”   I’m not saying don’t watch the news, but rather limit your exposure. 

One of the few positive things that have come out of this pandemic is that it has given people an opportunity to reevaluate their priorities and realize what is truly important in life.

I’ve discovered in my own spiritual life that it’s hard to stay focused when I’m constantly on the move.  That’s why I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Psalm 46, “STEP OUT OF TRAFFIC.”  It is important to maintain a spiritual rhythm.  Yes, there are things to do for the Kingdom of God, but there are also times that we need to slow down, catch our breath, and allow our souls to catch up with our bodies. 

I think of Jesus letter to the Church in Ephesus in which Jesus commends them for DOING the right things, but then He says, “I have this against you, you have LEFT your first love.”  (Revelation 2:1-7)  In other words, it is possible to DO all the right things, but do it with the wrong heart. 

So how is your heart?  Proverbs 23:4 says, “Above all guard your heart for out of it springs the issues of life.”  So how do you guard your heart?

Jesus tells the church in Ephesus to REMEMBER, REPENT, and to DO THE THINGS THEY DID AT FIRST.  That is great advice.

1. REMEMBER.  Take the time (instead of watching the news) to remember what it was like when you first fell in love with Jesus. 

2. REPENT.  If you can think of a time that you were more in love with Jesus, you are in danger of leaving your first love.  Repent.  Admit it and turn away from it.  Ask God to help.  He will.

3. DO THE THINGS YOU DID AT FIRST.   Do the things you did when you first fell in love with the Lord.  Again, ask God to help you with this.  Pray, “Lord, help me to fall deeper in love with you,” and then commit yourself to get up and read the word and pray.  There is a lot to pray about these days. 

Corrie Ten Boom once said, ““If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” 

My prayer for all of us is that we would be intentionally about stepping out of traffic and taking a long loving look at God. 

Blessed to be your Pastor,

Bill

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The Sword of the Spirit

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in Medina TX on THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT in Ephesians 6:17b Come find out what the Sword of the Spirit is and how to use it. CCLI Streaming License 20210596SHOW LESS

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Run to the Darkness…

What a year 2020 has turned out to be…

Two months ago, everything shut down due to the Corona Virus.  It has been a crazy time.  Thank you for your patience as we tried (with God’s help) to navigate through unfamiliar territory.  Thank you also for your prayers and financial support.  You are such a faithful church!

When this virus invaded our lives there were models that predicted an outrageous number of people being infected and dying.  Christians everywhere prayed that God would turn back the Coronavirus.  People humbled themselves and prayed along the lines of  2 Chronicles 7:14

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

The Coronavirus was a wakeup call for a lot of people.  I have observed a genuine move back to God!

Yet, here is what I don’t hear many people talking about:  “What if the reason this virus wasn’t worse than it was projected to be, was a direct result of God’s people humbling themselves and turning to God in PRAYER.”  You can choose to believe the projections were wrong, but I choose to believe God intervened on behalf of His people. 

We are still dealing with the virus, but now there is also CIVIL UNREST in all the major cities of our country.  There is so much hate and darkness.  It is time for the church to rise up and be LIGHT.   

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

One of the purposes of the church is to run to the darkness.  LIGHT always overcomes DARKNESS.  I’m reminded of the chorus in Kathy Troccoli’s song, “Go Light Your World”

Carry your candle, run to the darkness.
Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn.
Hold out your candle for all to see it.
Take your candle, and go light your world.
Take your candle, and go light your world.

So, let’s be LIGHT.  And, let’s continue to HUMBLE OURSELVE AND PRAY.  Let’s once again ASK God to move because He wants revival to wash over our Land.  And, let that REVIVAL start with US.

Your Pastor,


Bill

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Helmet of Salvation

Your salvation is something more than something you put on the shelf. God wants you to USE it in Spiritual Warfare. Find out HOW as Bill Stegemueller preaches on Ephesians 6:17 and the HELMET of SALVATION Streaming License: 20210596

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Shield of Faith

CCLI Streaming License 20210596 Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church on the Spiritual Armor. This morning he’s preaching on the SHIELD of FAITH from Ephesians 6:16

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Are You Fighting Barefooted?

CCLI Streaming License 20210596 Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church ) in Medina Texas) on the Armor of God: “Are You Fighting Barefooted” taken from Ephesians 5:15

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The Breastplate of Righteousness

Our CCLI Stream License number is: 20210596 under Medina UMC What do you do when you’ve blown it so bad that you feel that God can’t ever take you back? We answer that question as we look at the Breastplate of Righteousness in Ephesains 6:14b Medina United Methodist Church Medina, TX 78055 https://medinaumc.org

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The Belt of Truth

Our CCLI Stream License number is: 20210596 under Medina United Methodist Church Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “Spiritual Warfare: The Belt of Truth” taken from Ephesians 6:14 https://medinaumc.org

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Walking in LIGHT

Billy Graham was one of my heroes.  (1918-2018)

I remember in 1997 chartering a couple of buses and taking a group from church to the Billy Graham Crusade in the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, TX. It was POWERFUL time when God REALLY made Himself know. What was amazing to me is that it was a rather SIMPLE message that Billy Graham preached and yet hundreds of people came forward!


RC Sproul tells a story about Billy Graham playing a celebrity golf tournament in his book, “Holiness of God,” in which Graham was put in a foursome with President Gerald Ford and two other professional golfers. After the round someone came up to one of the professionals and asked, “What was it like playing golf with the President and Billy Graham,” and the Pro said with disgust, “I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!” and then stormed off a HUFF. Bewildered the man turned to the other pro and said, “What did Billy Graham say?” and the PRO sighed with embarrassment and said, “Funny thing is, Billy Graham didn’t even mention RELIGION.” 

Isn’t that something. Billy Graham didn’t even have to SAY anything.  His mere PRESENCE was LIGHT. Light has an interesting characteristic. It exposes the darkness.

You say, well that was Billy Graham! But if you are in Christ, the same Holy Spirit that was in Billy Graham is also in you!

Jesus says that we are the SALT of the Earth and the LIGHT of the WORLD. (Matthew 5:13-16) We were put on the planet to bring LIGHT to an otherwise DARK world. Jesus said that when you light a candle, you don’t put it under a BUSHEL, but put it out for all to see.

Let your LIGHT SHINE!

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