Baptism: Entering a New Life

Rev. Doug Wintermute spoke on baptism last Sunday: Jesus’s baptism, our baptism, Methodist baptism.

Take a moment to read Mark 1:4-11, the text forming the foundation of his message.
[If you don’t have a Bible with you, click the Scripture reference to read online.]

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Mark 1:9 ESV

Even though the baptism of John was focused on repentance, Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, underwent baptism.

Rev. Wintermute pointed out the reason for this seemingly unnecessary baptism of Jesus. Christ was setting an example for anyone who wants to follow Him. One of Jesus’ purposes on earth was to show us how to live life by the Spirit in full obedience to God the Father. With His baptism, Jesus revealed what we need, when we need it, and what God wants to do through it.

Jesus’ baptism also forshadowed His death and resurrection. This action of baptism began His formal ministry. Perhaps it was a reminder to Jesus why He stooped low from heaven to enter human form.

Like Jesus, we need to be baptized — enter into His death and resurrection by the power of the Spirit.

Baptism signifies us as a new people.
Free from the power of sin and death.
Free to serve Him in love.

All this a free gift of grace, simply waiting to be received.

Rev. Wintermute gave the congregation a challenge: Every time we come in contact with water, or are near water…

Remember your baptism and be thankful!

Because of our baptism into Jesus’s baptism we can live without fear.
We can live with thanks in all things.
We are redeemed!


Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble…
Psalm 107:1-2 ESV

Carol Weaver

An Ending and a Beginning

An ending and a beginning.

The last Sunday in December, we said good-bye to Pastor Bonnie and anticipated the arrival of Rev. Doug Wintermute.

Pastor Bonnie left us with thoughts on faith and healing from Luke 5:17-26. Take time to read this text now. [If you don’t have a Bible handy, click the Scripture reference to read online.]

She told us:

Faith is when we keep going through any difficulty…

The paralytic’s friends were filled with faith. They did not allow the crowds to deter them from getting to Jesus. Their faith was visible to Him as they peered down with anticipation through the hole in the roof.
He blessed the faithful friends by forgiving the paralytic his sins.
Not what they expected — not what anyone expected — and the scribes and Pharisees were indignant.
So, Jesus physically healed the man, too, in order to show He had the authority to forgive sins.
Bonnie left us with the understanding that both forgiveness and physical healing lead to human restoration when done in the name of Jesus.
Rev. Wintermute began by sharing the power of God’s covenantal love with His people, from Ephesians 1:3-14. [Ditto, as above, if you don’t have a Bible.]
In love, he predestined us for adoption
as sons through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV
Father God’s powerful covenantal love deserves a powerful response. We were encouraged by Rev. Wintermute to live this next year as a covenant with Him. Raising the bar on our faith.
Real faith perseveres in the face of difficulties.
Real faith responds to His love with action through forgiveness and healing.
Real faith pursues Him with passion in His Word and through prayer.
Real faith expresses itself in love for God and love for others.
Our life is a series of beginnings and endings: relationships, jobs, semesters, days, seasons, years… Throughout each we have the opportunity to exercise real faith.
How are you making your faith real?

Just some thoughts from the past couple of Sundays.
Carol Weaver

Don’t Forget… Give Thanks

This past Sunday, Rev. Osteen brought our attention to the importance of giving thanks to God.

Read Luke 17:11-19. If you don’t have a Bible with you, click the scripture reference to read online.

Pastor Bonnie reminded us how quick we are to take credit for the good things that come into our lives:

We forget where our blessings come from.
We forget to thank Him.
I write this on the eve of Thanksgiving. Thinking about this message, and the importance of thanks, some other verses come to mind.
God knows our bent toward forgetfulness. He warned the Israelites before entering the Promised Land about this exact issue.
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers,
to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — with great and good cities
that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill,
and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—
and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. …”
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ESV
And Paul, to the Romans, warns of the darkness that overcomes when we forget to give thanks to Him.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God
or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking,
and their foolish hearts were darkened. 
Claiming to be wise, they became fools…
Romans 1:21-22 ESV
To be thank-less is dangerous business and skews our perception of reality.
So, beginning this Thanksgiving, make it a spiritual discipline to begin thanking God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — for all things.
Don’t forget… give thanks…
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.
1Thessalonians 5:18 HCSB
Carol Weaver

Is Jesus Your Superhero?

Children ministered to us in worship this past Sunday. Faithfully leading us into His presence through song, Word, and prayer. Hebrews 11:17-40 laid the foundation for the service and Rev. Osteen’s message. Read it now. If you don’t have a Bible with you, click the Scripture reference to read online.

With children leading worship, several verses came to mind as they sang and prayed…

“From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise…”
Matthew 21:16 NIV84
… and a little child shall lead them.
Isaiah 11:6 ESV
And that is what happened: ordained praise from the lips of children leading us in worship.
Jesus said:
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,
for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 ESV
The theme of worship, Jesus is My Superhero, reflected the truth of this verse. Children believe in superheros and miracles and powers far beyond anything the world has to offer.
And I wonder… Do I consider Him my Superhero? Do you? Or have we lost our childlike hearts, the faith to believe in such powerful wonders?
Journeying through the book of Judges in Sunday School this week, reminded me of the importance of being passionate and diligent when it comes to my faith. 
…and there arose another generation after them 
who did not know (recognize, understand) the Lord, 
or even the work which he had done for Israel.
Judges 2:10 Amp
The sobering possibility of a generation coming behind not knowing Jesus is terrifying. It is our responsibility — yours and mine — to make sure the next generation does not forget, but knows, recognizes, and understands God to such a degree that they love, serve, and fear Him.
Pastor Bonnie told us: 
Faith is not simply believing there is a God — there is a trust… 
By faith we allow God to transform us into a vessel of love.
Are you trusting Him, by faith, to transform you into a vessel of love? for Him? for others?

Through our own passion and diligence in following Jesus and serving Him, we become a testimony to those around us for who He is and what He has done.
We also have an opportunity to be a hero of the faith, like those listed in Hebrews 11. Trust Him with childlike faith, experience Him yourself firsthand, and share your story with the next generation.
Be a hero of the faith, raise up a future hero.
Just like the beginnings of those who led us this past Sunday…
Carol Weaver

Good Reason to Press On

Philippians 3:12-16 was the Scripture reading this past Sunday.
Take a moment to read it now. If you find yourself without a Bible, click the reference above to read on BibleGateway.com.

Pastor Bonnie began by sharing the story of Wrong Way Silva. In the lead of the New York Marathon, he took a wrong turn. When he realized what he’d done, he turned around, but found himself behind those who were previously trailing him. His detour delayed him, yet he somehow found it in himself to press on and win by the closest margin in the history of the race.

This turning around, when we find ourselves going the wrong direction, is an important part of our spiritual journey.

When we make a wrong turn, 
we have to turn around to get back on track.
There are many temptations that try to keep us going in the wrong direction. Pride: I can surely figure a way to make this right. Despair: There’s no use… I’ve ruined everything. Fear: I can’t turn back, what will other people think? Complacency: Oh… nobody’s perfect!

But to not turn around, when we’ve turned wrong, always leads to a dead end! Maybe not literal death, but death of relationships, death of dreams, the end of our spiritual growth.
In Christ, we always have room to grow, press forward for more, no matter how old we are or what we have attained. And there’s always potential for making wrong turns, but He always provides the grace to turnaround — repent.
…I press on to make [perfection] my own, 
because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Philippians 3:12 ESV
To walk with Christ is to pursue Perfection. And the best reason to pursue Him: He has made you His own.

A Scripture came to mind, during worship…
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 ESV
To live is Christ paints the picture of taking up your cross and carrying it daily. Living each day like Him, pressing on, dying to self’s desires, and obeying the Father’s voice. Every moment of every day.
To die is gain tells us leaving this natural realm puts us wholly in His presence, where our current focus is to be. This is why we press on.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3 NIV84
Yes, we have good reason to press on. A gracious God who died for us, who has made us His own.
When you discover you’ve made a wrong turn in your life, turn around, quickly and with a firm commitment to reach the goal — Christ Jesus.
I press on toward the goal for the prize 
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14 ESV
Carol Weaver

You Reap What You Sow

Take a moment to read Sunday’s Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
If you are not within reach of a Bible, click the Scripture reference to read online.

Rev. Bonnie Osteen began Commitment Sunday by reminding us of our mission statement:

Gather others to Christ.
Grow in faith as disciples.
Give back to God.
Go into the world.

She also reminded us that God doesn’t have a complicated giving scale similar to the tax law. He has a flat rate: 100%. We are to give ourselves 100% all day every day, every place, every word spoken, every action taken.
One-hundred percent. Does your heart ache at the thought of giving 100%? Mine does.
My flesh longs to be tightfisted. Even though I know what His Word says, and I know I will reap what I sow, the thought of surrendering all just hurts!
This is the point: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully.
2 Corinthians 9:6 ESV
What causes us to sow sparingly?
Fear?
Laziness?
Doubt?
Cost?
It takes boldness and faith to sow bountifully.
I’m reminded of a vision I had driving into the church parking lot one day. A hand. An open hand with gold coins dropping into it, then overflowing out of the hand. Then I saw the hand close. With a closed hand no more coins could drop in, they just bounced off.
Fear of scarcity, is one of the things that causes us to close our hand, be tightfisted.
But God, He deals bountifully with those who are His and follow His way. There should be no fear when it comes to giving, either as individuals or as a corporate body.
…Your ways overflow with plenty.
Psalm 65:11 HCSB
We each have a choice in our giving: Sparingly… or… Bountifully…
One, most likely, a reaction to fear. The other based on faith.
What kind of sower are you, when it comes to investing in His Kingdom?

And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

Father God, You have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.
Remind me that all fear, except fear of You, comes from the enemy.
Fuel my faith to be open-handed and trust Your guidance when it comes to giving:
prayers, time, service, gifts, and my witness.

Carol Weaver

Go Therefore…

Matthew 28:16-20 was the Scripture reading this past Sunday.
Read it now. If you don’t have a Bible with you, click the Scripture reference and read it online at BibleGateway.com.

This passage, known as The Great Commission, defines who we are to be as followers of Jesus.

Pastor Bonnie began by asking…

What really matters?


Her answer: We are called to share God’s love in an extraordinary way. …When we roll up our sleeves and do something, that’s when people see Jesus.

Jesus’s words reveal the ultimate purpose for reaching out, rolling up sleeves, and doing what He calls us to…
“…Go therefore and make disciples…”
Matthew 28:19 ESV
Disciple-making. That’s the goal.
Offering compassion and fulfilling needs is the means to an end, not the end in itself. Introducing people to Jesus, who can supply all their needs, is the ultimate reason for reaching out to others.
“…For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world
and forfeit his soul?…” —Jesus
Mark 8:36 ESV

Pastor Bonnie also shared lyrics from a Matthew West song…

In my own little world, it hardly ever rains.
I’ve never gone hungry; always felt safe.
I’ve got money in my pocket, shoes on my feet.
In my own little world, population me…

How often do we become so entangled in our own little worlds believing we are unable to get involved, reach out, or deny self on behalf of another?

We not only need to be prepared to escape our own little worlds to help others, but to enter into another’s world with the express purpose of introducing them to Jesus.
What has He done for you? 
Is it worth sharing with others?


Introducing and encouraging people to walk with Jesus in a way that they reach out to others, sharing what they have received from Him, this is The Great Commission.

Go therefore… and make disciples…

Carol Weaver

Are You Growing in Knowledge of Him?

Rev. Bonnie Osteen shared a message from Psalm 139:1-6 this past Sunday.
Take a moment to read the passage now. If you don’t have a Bible with you, click the Scripture reference above to read it online at BibleGateway.com.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
Psalm 139:1 ESV
God knows everything about us.
Make that statement personal: God knows everything about me!
He is a personal God who understands you better than you do. And He also longs for you and me to know Him.
Pastor Bonnie asked…
What does it mean to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

I believe growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ begins with desire. A desire for revelation of Him.
He calls us to search out who He is, digging for knowledge like treasure, mining it out of His Word, prayerfully asking for understanding.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV
Do you desire to know Him as much as you might desire a treasure?
Are you willing to do the work required to dig, finding small nugget after small nugget of truth, until you have a wealth of knowledge of Jesus?

Wanting to know Him leads to the pursuit of Him through prayer and study of Scripture.
The benefits of knowing Him are infinite… just like Him.
The more we grow in our knowledge of Jesus, the more we know His love. The more we know His love for us, the more we love others.
Our transformation begins when we desire Him.
He knows each one of us perfectly. Perhaps He knows us so well because He loves us so much.
Strive to love Him as well, seek to attain perfect knowledge of Him. 
I believe the more He reveals Himself to you, the more of Him you will want to know.
Are you growing in knowledge of Him?

Maybe it’s time we ask Him to grow us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, so we will desire to know Him more.
Carol Weaver

What are You Stirring Up?

The Scripture at the heart of the message this past Sunday was Hebrews 10:24-25. Take time to read it now. No Bible? Click the Scripture reference to read online at BibleGateway.com.

Pastor Bonnie reminded us that the church is where hurting people gather to find encouragement. It should be a place where words spoken build up and not tear down.

I wondered… Do I encourage anyone…?

…let us consider how to stir up one another
to love and good works…
Hebrews 10:24 ESV
Stir up… these words seem a bit out of place. When I think of something being stirred up it’s usually bad. Other translations use spur or provoke, both equally intense words.
What we usually stir up with our words come from hearts stirred up with hurt, anger, or bitterness. The words flowing out of such a heart do the same, they cause division and discontent. 
But God’s people are called to be peacemakers. We should never air our grievances from a contentious attitude. When we share our stirred up hearts with fellow Believers we should be seeking godly counsel and prayer to take steps toward peace and reconciliation.
If possible, so far as it depends on you,
live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18 ESV
We know how to stir up trouble, but how do we stir up love and good works?
Consider this week what it looks like to stir up love and good works.
What kind of heart provokes good? and not evil?
What are you currently stirring up when you gather with others? Discontent? Or love?


Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
Just some thoughts from Sunday.
Carol Weaver

Stepping Down

This past Sunday, Rev. Bonnie Osteen’s sermon came from Philippians 2:1-13. Take time to read the passage now. If you don’t have a Bible within reach, click the Scripture reference to read online.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete
by being like-minded, having the same love,
being one in spirit and purpose.
Philippians 2:1-2 NIV84
Do you have any encouragement from being united with Christ?
Any comfort from His love? Fellowship with the Spirit?
Tenderness? Compassion?

What do you experience from your relationship with Christ?
Whatever we experience in Him, we are to share with others.

I think about what I’ve received and how I came to be walking the Way with Him.
My faith journey began with my mom expressing the comfort she received from Him as she lay suffering from a fatal disease: I trust. I trust. The comfort He gave her comforted me. From that moment, my heart was captured by this God who makes Himself manifest in the darkest times through comfort, love, tenderness and compassion.
Walking His Way has been a journey I could never have anticipated. But the most striking truth, is that the way up is down.
…Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God…
made himself nothing… and became obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8 NIV84
Your attitude should be the same….

Pastor Bonnie talked about step by step faith. Growing in our connection with Christ by giving Him top priority in our lives.

This means we have to begin to put ourselves second. He’s first, and we take a step down in our place of importance.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 1:3 NIV84
The more we become like Him, the less we think of ourselves. The less we think about ourselves the more we think about others. The less we think of self, the more we are willing to stoop down and suffer on behalf of another. With each individual’s step down, an entire community can come to unity in Him.
In stepping down from self, we become more like Him, and more able and willing to love others. Ultimately, stepping down leads to finding comfort even in the shadow of death because our focus is on Him not self.
…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… 
Stepping down… trusting Him…
Carol Weaver