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Praying as a Couple

I believe one of the most powerful prayer teams is when a HUSBAND and WIFE pray together as One Flesh. I think this is one of many reasons why the enemy tries to destroy marriages. He realizes their potential in Christ. I know many Christian couples that PRAY on a regular basis, but not together.

Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, that He is there in a powerful way. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. There is POWER when a couple comes together for PRAYER.

When I think of praying together I think of Gary Thomas’ book SACRED MARRIAGE. I love the subtitle of that book: What if God designed marriage to make us HOLY more than to make us HAPPY. I think of a quote out of that book, “We truly do not know how selfish and sinful we are until we live with someone in marriage,” and he goes on to write, “Our spouses to do not change us as much as they REVEAL US.”  Wow.  That is so TRUE.  Personally, I have found MARRIAGE to be the single greatest tool God has used to expose my own SELFISHNESS and NOTHING brings that out than PRAYING with my wife. Praying with my wife has also been one of the most INTIMATE things I have ever done.

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It’s Done..

Medina Community Church Family,

On Tuesday, September 6th at 7 PM, Medina UMC had its official Church Conference vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church under paragraph 2553 of the UMC Book of Discipline. There were 95 people in attendance (surprising, being it was the day after Labor Day). The vote was unanimous to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Conference.

The reasons for disaffiliation were that we, as a church body, could no longer in good conscience be in a denomination that ignored or in some cases celebrated the practice of homosexuality. I want to make one thing clear: we grieve the fact that the United Methodist Church forced us to take such action. We love the homosexual, but we will not be a part of celebrating sin. I could give multiple examples at every level of United Methodism where such disobedience is taking place, but I am tired of fighting over this issue.

I do not intend to comment on the subject of disaffiliation again. I am ready to shake the dust off my feet and move forward. I think of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I encourage you to join me with that upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The good news is that a great deal of the hard work is done. There is bureaucratic paperwork that still needs to be done; however, now we feel free to pursue our mission of “Knowing Christ and Making Him Known” with all our hearts.

I encourage you to keep Medina Community Church in your prayers, asking God to give us visions and dreams of all the things He has for us to do. May we give Him all the praise and all the glory.

Your Pastor,

Bill Stegemueller Pastor, Medina Community Church

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Clown’s preaching to Goats

A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats. – Charles Spurgeon

The picture is Ms. Penny Cost (a play on Pentecost). Ms. Penny Cost is reportedly the first Drag Queen in the world to become a Certified Candidate for Ordination within the United Methodist Church. As a member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the UMC, he works as the Associate Pastor at Hope United Methodist Church.

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How to Fight

The Eagle does not fight the snake on the ground. It picks it up into the sky and changes the battleground, and then it releases the snake into the sky.

The snake has no stamina, no power and no balance in the air. It is useless, weak and vulnerable unlike on the ground where it is powerful wise and deadly.

Take your fight into the spiritual realm by praying and when you are in the spiritual realm God takes over your battles.

Don’t fight the enemy in his comfort zone, change the battlegrounds like the Eagle and let God take charge through your earnest prayer.

You’ll be assured of clean victory.

Pray without ceasing.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” -Exodus 14:14

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It’s serious…

Afghanistan is falling apart.  As the United States has withdrawn, the Taliban has stepped in.   Russia and China have now offered support to the Taliban.  The world’s stage has literally changed overnight. 


The situation is dire in Afghanistan.  The pictures are horrifying.  The Taliban is hunting down Christians and anyone that supported the United States. 



The question a lot of people are asking is, “Where is God in all this?”  The answer is that He’s in you and me.  We are to be God’s  presence in this chaotic world.  I would encourage you to spend less time watching the news and more time on your knees.   Jesus tells us to pray for God’s Kingdom to be established here on earth, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)

The Bible says that we are His ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) You can think of the church as His embassy.   Jesus said of this embassy, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:18)  Jesus’ embassy will never be overrun or taken by the enemy.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Afghanistan, but I do know God is in control and that His church will continue.  I also know that the real battle is not going to be won with guns and ammo, but with fasting and prayer.  (Matthew 17:21)

It’s time to put on the full armor of God and fight this battle in prayer. 

Pray for…

1.  Physical protection and provision
2.  Spiritual protection and provision.
3.  Gospel Advance.

Don’t forget to pray for our Leaders.
           
Remember Jesus words, “In this world you will have tribulation, but I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

Were all in this together,

Pastor Bill

Anne Graham Lotz has a great prayer to pray for the Afghan people:

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A Pastoral Letter on Covid

Hey Church

I just wanted you to know that we’ve had three (3) people test positive for COVID this week and many more in the community. 

Most of this summer we have had a period of calm with little or no cases of COVID, but in recent weeks there has been a sharp increase in cases.  I believe part of the reason for this sharp increase is that a lot of people have forgotten or neglected all the common-sense safe practices.   Therefore, I ask that you take the appropriate precautions.   In other words, WASH YOUR HANDS, people!   Also, if feel sick or have been around someone who has been sick,  STAY HOME. 

A couple of things:

  1. Don’t Freak Out.  Be cautious, but not fearful.  God is still in control.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and SOUND MIND. (2 Timothy 1:7)  “Sound Mind” implies that we think clearly and exercise a little common sense.  All indications is that while this new variant of COVID is a lot more contagious than the previous stain, it’s not as deadly.  



  2. Stay United.  It breaks my heart how divisive we’ve made this virus.   This should not happen among Christians! Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask.  Get vaccinated or don’t get vaccinated.   Come to church or watch on the Live-Feed.  Let’s just not point fingers and condemn others over issues in which the facts are in dispute. 

We will continue to have church.  There are no plans to shut down.  The Live-Feed will continue to be available. 

On a personal note, I plan to be tested for COVID every Friday for my own conscience’s sake and if I test positive, I will not be in church. 

I love each and ever one of you.  Let’s really come together through this and make Christ SHINE.

Your pastor,

Bill

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A Testimony…

(Used by Permission)
Pastor Bill,      I wanted to thank you for the sermon this morning! I know you have heard this before. This morning’s message was aimed right at me. First, let me say that I was not going to tune in today. Sometimes we have difficulty with the sound and the only mic that seems to work is your wife’s. Today, Lynda set me up with a blue tooth speaker that amplified the sound perfectly! As I listened to you speak, GOD spoke to me. I’ve had a very rough time since returning from Texas in April. I spent so much time in recovery that I lost the use of my legs. Physical therapy helped, but somewhere I had a set-back and I still depend heavily on a walker. I’ve tried almost everything, but nothing seems to improve my ability to walk and/or be stable on my feet. Along with some other things that is why we can’t come to Texas this winter. Right along with medical care I have been praying for GOD’s healing hand. To be truthful, not as often as I should. I am so discouraged that I no longer “pray without ceasing”. I am not sure that I pray with “expectations”!


 GOD spoke to me this morning! HE told you to assure me that HE heard and hears my prayers and that they are still out there. More importantly, HE reminded me that HE always answers prayer! Now to the tough part! HE may not give me the answer I want, but it will be a part of HIS plan for me! I have to accept that with FAITH. I heard you when you said it is often difficult to “discern” GOD’s answer. I will pray more for the wisdom to discern and the patience to wait.      Thank you for the video ministry! We have missed only one service since I got home in June. Pray for me as I will pray for all of my Christian brother’s and sister’s at Medina UMC. GOD willing, Lynda and I will return to Medina in 2022. Merry Christmas: and, I hope a better 2021! GOD SAVE AMERICA!                                                                          Tom Brown (Lynda) 

P.S. This letter is my testimony! If sharing it with others forwards the work of GOD, feel free to use it.

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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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