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I Am Blessed…

From the Heart of Bill…

Please allow me to formerly announce that I have been reappointed to Medina for a 17th year!

Methodist pastors are appointed one year at a time. 

I have been thinking about the last 16 years.  I’m not the same person I was when I first came to Medina.  You have seen me at my best and you have seen at my worst.  We have laughed and cried together.  Together we have learned the POWER of FELLOWSHIP rooted in Christ and I have been humbled how God is able to do abundantly beyond I could ever think or imagine.  (Ephesians 3:20)

Funny, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Medina when we moved here.  Now I can’t imagine being any place else.   God has really used you to bring out the best in me and I can only hope that I have been half the blessing you have been for me. 

You have been such a blessing to my entire family.  Thank You.  I am so grateful to be your pastor and am excited about what the future holds for us…

Speaking of my family…

Kaitlin Stegemueller is the recipient of this year’s Dan Matthew’s Memorial Scholarship.  The leaders of the church unanimously voted for her.  What was exciting for me is that YOU (the Church) played a very important part raising her.  That’s the power of Christian Community! 

I want to take a moment of pastoral privilege and share some of her application with you:

Kaitlin Stegemueller
375 Orchard Park Blvd.
Medina, TX 78055
(830) 460-0147

Community Service Activities:
MUMC Sunday School Teacher
MUMC Director of Education
MUMC Nursery

School: Texas State University
2014 – current
Major: Integrated – Curriculum & Instruction
Certification: EC-6 ESL Generalist
GPA: 3.46
Status: Senior

I am a current student at Texas State University with the status of Senior. I have almost 5 years under my belt and have one more semester to go. My major covers early childhood through 6th education, and I would like to bring this skill to Medina to be used in this town’s school system. I grew up here and have been here for nearly 16 years now. My hometown is important to me and I would like to do whatever it takes to give back to it after all the love and kindness it, and its people, have given to me over the years. For the time being I give back to the community by holding the title of “Director of Education” and running the primary age Sunday school class. However, I feel like this is just a stepping stone to the things I could actually do for Medina. Becoming a teacher for Medina Elementary School would be the stone that makes a splash. By granting me this scholarship, you will have helped to aid me in that mission, to get my degree. So please, help me make this dream a reality and help fund my student teaching this fall.

Kaitlin is just one of many examples of the lives that you have touched, and just one of the many reasons I am honored to be your pastor.

Shalom,

Bill

“Praying for Spiritual Growth”

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “Praying for Spiritual Growth,” taken from Colossians 1:10.

“Be Patient”

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “Be Patient,” taken from James 5:7-12 in his series on James. (Poor Audio. Were still working on our sound system)

“Dangers of Wealth”

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “Danger’s of Wealth,” taken from James 5:1-6 in his series on James. (Poor audio quality. We are still fine tuning our sound system)

The Dark Night of the Soul

I know there are a lot of people in our church who are going through difficulties.  Truth is there is probably pain in every pew.  In his writings, St John of the Cross, coined the phrase the “Dark Night of the Soul.

“There comes to all souls, at least once in life, a severe test.  It is known as the Dark Night of the Soul. It is when we are beleaguered by darkness: spiritual and mental and where no hope seems to be near and everything we try to do is thwarted. It is where the soul is forced to persist and enter into the glorious Golden Dawn of Illumination and kinship with God, or relax into the dull slumber of a mediocre physical existence.  You cannot avoid it.  If this test hasn’t already come in your life — it will. How will you deal with it is as important as life itself.

St. John continues…

“…He takes us into the dark night. He weans us from all the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness. In doing so, He is able to take away all these vices and create virtues within us. Through the dark night pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity, wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the Dark Night.””
                               – The Dark Night of the Soul by 16th century St. John Cross

Jesus experienced His Dark Night of the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweated as it were, “great drops of blood.”   Who could forget His scream of agony on the cross, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me.”  

Pain is a part of life.  Just read the Psalms.  One of the reasons I LOVE the Psalms is that it is filled with every kind of emotion a person can feel.   The book of Psalms has been called a TEMPLATE OF HUMAN EXPRESSION.  When Jesus said, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me,” he was quoting from Psalm 22.

Chuck Swindoll once said, “God rarely uses a person greatly who has not been hurt deeply.”

So what do we do when we find ourselves in the midst of a “Dark Night of the Soul?”  St. John of the Cross says that ultimately it’s God who takes us into the Dark Night.  So if it’s God who takes us into the Dark Night, we need to SEEK HIS FACE.  

It’s been said that hardship and difficulties can either makes us BETTER or BITTER.  Don’t let the Dark Night make you bitter.  Look to Him.  It’s been my experience that when God appears to be silent there is either (1) Some area that I need to surrender to Him or (2) He’s about to reveal/teach me something incredible.

I really believe we grow the most spiritually not when times are good, but when times are bad because we’re forced to look to God.   

I also believe that when times get tough we need to be VERY intentional about taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and one of the best ways to do that is by reading, meditating, and memorizing the promises of God.   I’ll close this article with a few:

I Choose:

  • To Believe the Best and Not the Worse: I Cor 13:7
  • Optimism and Not Cynicism: Prov 4:8
  • Faith and Not Fear: I John 4:8
  • Love and Not Anger: Eph 5:22
  • Life and Not Death: John 10:10
  • Solutions and Not Problems: James 1:5

I Receive:

  • The Desires of My Heart: Psalm 37:4
  • A Future and a Hope: Jer 29:11
  • All Things Being Added to Me: Matt 6:33
  • All Thing I Need For Life and Godliness: 2 Peter 1:3
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift From Above: James 1:17
  • The Reward of Being a Diligent Seeker: Heb 11:6
  • I will meditate on these things and give my full attention to them so that my profiting (my growth in grace) may be evident to all. (I Tim 4:15)

Finally remember that the “Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Shalom,

Bill

“The Problem with Favoritism”

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “The Problem with Favoritism” taken from James 2:1-13

“Trials and Temptations”

Bill Stegemueller’s message “Trials and Temptations” taken from James 1:2-4 was lost due to technical difficulties

“God’s Plans Are Bigger than Our Plans”

Bill Stegemueller preaching at Medina United Methodist Church in a message entitled, “God’s Plans are Bigger than Our Plans,” taken from Acts 28:1-10

“Without Faith…”

FROM THE HEART OF BILL

For the next few months I want to touch on a few things that really make for an effective CHURCH.

This month I want to talk about the role of FAITH in the Church.   2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we are to walk by faith and not by sight.   Hebrews 9:27 says that without FAITH it’s impossible to please Him.   In fact, Jesus is drawn toward faith.

Years ago Henry Blackaby wrote a book/curriculum entitled, “Experiencing God.”   It was one of the most powerful books I have ever read.  One of the many life changing quotes in that book was, “You cannot stay the way you are and go with God.”   I believe that applies not only for the individual, but also to the Church.

Too many individuals and churches are playing it safe by operating within its their own means.  People say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do.”  That has not been my experience at all!  Over and over again in Scripture you see God asking people to do that which they could NEVER do on their own.  The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are ALWAYS God sized.  They are well beyond what people can do so that God can demonstrate His power and grace to His people and a skeptical world.

I’m not saying that we should go out and live reckless lives, but I think too often we play it way too safe.  That is walking by sight.   Walking by sight is the opposite of walking by faith.  God never leads us to do something that He doesn’t also provide us a way to accomplish His will.

Our mission statement is: To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.  One of the best ways to make Him known is for the world to see what God can do with a person that walks by faith.

The world needs to see not only the GRACE of God, but also the POWER of God manifested in His church.  What would’ve happened if the early church played it safe and chose to simply operate within its own resources?  Scary thought.  I’m not sure there would be a church today.  What make the early church powerful was that it chose to walk by faith and NOT BY SIGHT.

Two questions for this month:  (1) What is God calling YOU to do that requires faith?  (2) What is God calling US (as a church) to do that requires faith.  Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God.

You say, “I don’t think I can do what God is calling me to do.”   Perfect!  That it means it’s probably a God sized task in which you have to depend on Him.  He wants you to depend on Him!   I would encourage you to be honest with God with your struggles.  Remember the father that struggled with his faith?  He said to Jesus, “I believe, but help my unbelief.”  You know what?  Jesus helped him and I believe He will help us as well IF WE ASK.

See you in church.

Bill

 

 

“Fellowship in the Church”

FROM THE HEART OF BILL

For the next few months I want to touch on a few things that really make for an effective CHURCH.

Our vision statement at Medina United Methodist Church is:  “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.”

This month I want to share with you some thoughts on FELLOWSHIP.   The church is called the BODY OF CHRIST.   That is, when believers meet together in His Name that the world ought to be able to see Him more clearly.  Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”   The church is very important in making Christ known.

One of my favorite movies is, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  It is a comedy love story based on the real-life experiences of Greek American Actress Nia Vardalos.   At 30 years of age, this unattractive, slightly overweight woman seemed doomed to be a hostess in her father’s Greek restaurant for the rest of her life.  But Toula has dreams of a better life.  Those dreams cause her to made something out of herself.   She goes to college and then lands a great job where she meets and falls in love with a long-hair, non-Greek, English teacher, Ian.

Ian’s parents are a wealthy couple without any kind of real extended family.  One day they accept a dinner invitation at Toula’s parent’s home and are shocked at what they find.  As they drive up to the house, nearly 100 people – the entire Greek clan, greet them on the front lawn with hugs and kisses.  Amid the dozens of cousins, aunts, and uncles (most of whom are named “Nick”), there is a goat hanging on a spit over an open fire.

Toula’s father smiles and says, “Welcome to my home!”  Toula’s mother approaches the bewildered couple and gives them the traditional hug and kiss on the cheek. The initial shock eventually begins to wear off and soon they start to relax once they realize how much they are loved.

What a picture of what the family God can be!  I think the movie really captures a dimension of fellowship that is so rich and vital to the church.  I am so glad everyone at church doesn’t look and act alike.  How boring that would be!  God made us incredibly different in terms of taste and preferences.  I’m so thankful that there is rich diversity in the midst of our unity in Christ.  My prayer for all of us is that we might have a rich fellowship in which we truly let it all hang out and be real with one another.  (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

In Christ,

Bill