Triumphal Entry (February 11)

Art by Cayden Mueller
Art by Cayden Mueller

 

Read: Mark 11:1-11

Have you ever attended a parade on the Fourth of July?  These parades are times for people to celebrate America’s history.  When you attend one of these parades you might wear red, white, or blue clothing, and you would probably see people at the parade waving American flags while singing patriotic songs.  Other countries have similar celebrations of national pride.  In the first century, one such celebration would have been Passover.  During this season, Jewish people would join the “parade” of pilgrims headed to their capital city.  They would wave palm branches (a national symbol) and sing familiar songs (the Psalms of Ascent) as they approached the city.  All this was done remembering God’s faithfulness to His people in their history, and with a hopeful eye of what God might do for His people in the future.  As Jesus walked toward Jerusalem in Mark 11, He was a focal point in this parade.  People were no doubt wondering . . . “Is He the guy?”  “Is Jesus the Messiah?”  “Is He really the Savior we have been singing about and hoping for all our lives?”

Question of the Day:  Has there been a time in your life when you have become convinced that Jesus is the Savior of the world?

Jesus Raises Lazarus (February 10)

Feb 10
Art by Joshua Martin

Read: John 11:38-44

When was the last funeral that you attended?  Funerals are a time to celebrate the life of a loved one who has died, but they also are a time to grieve together over someone you now miss.  As a Pastor, I have had the privilege of officiating at many funeral services.  They are days filled with raw emotion . . . but on funeral days, I am also thankful that I can share hope.  Because of Jesus Christ, death does not have to be the end.  Jesus came to offer Eternal Life to all who would receive it.  Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, we too can have the hope of resurrected life.  Not walking out of the grave as Lazarus did, but of going to be with Jesus forever if we have placed our faith in Him.

Question of the Day:  Is death a scary thing for you?  How does knowing Jesus help you have hope in the face of death?

Lent Series Intro

Lent Preview

Read: Luke 4:1-12

Today around the world, Christians from a variety of denominations and backgrounds are preparing for the season of Lent.  The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lenten” meaning “spring.”  For centuries, the season of Lent marks the 40 days (not counting Sundays) preceding the celebration of Easter.  Lent is 40 days long to mirror the amount of time Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning His public ministry (the story you read in today’s verses.)  Over the next six weeks leading up to Easter, we will be posting devotionals each day to help prepare us for the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, March 27.  The readings each day will take us from the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany to the resurrection of Jesus outside Jerusalem, and much of what happened in between these two events in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.   We invite you to join us on this journey through the cross to the empty tomb this spring!

Question of the Day: How does reading God’s Word and praying help prepare you for the challenges and temptations you face in life?

ABC’s of Faith (Part 1) Sermon Audio/Video

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On Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 4:1-12.  This message was part 1 of the “ABC’s of Faith” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch online or download to listen to later.

To download the audio of the sermon to listen to offline, click on the link below:

ABC’s of Faith #1

 

To listen to the audio online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video below:

The video will post here once available.

ABC’s of Faith (part 1) Sermon Questions

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On February 7, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 4:1-12.  It was the first message in the “ABC’s of Faith” series.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion related to the message.

 

Sermon Questions for Reflection or Discussion:

  1. Read Romans 4:1-12
  2. Romans 4:2 says that Abraham had nothing to boast about “before God.”  What do you think this verse means?  In what way do you also have nothing to boast about before God?
  3. In Romans 4:1-6, Paul makes the argument that Abraham was justified by faith, not works.  In Romans 4:7-8, Paul makes the argument that King David ALSO was justified by faith, not works.  Why does Paul use these two examples?  What do you think his main point was by tying in these historical examples?
  4. Throughout Romans 4:1-12, the word “count” is used multiple times.  It is a word with financial roots.  It means to deposit to one’s account.  Deposits are made either as a wage (something earned) or as a gift (something simply received).  The deposit of righteousness discussed in Romans 4 is seen as a gift received by faith, not a wage.  As John Stott said, “Christ became sin with our sins, in order that we might become righteous with God’s righteousness.”  Our sins were “counted” with Christ’s death.  His righteousness is counted freely to us when we have faith in Him.  Additionally, in quoting Psalm 32 in Romans 4:7-8, Paul reminds us that the Lord will not “count” our sin against us.  Take some time personally to list out some of the sins you have committed in life that (because of Christ) will not be counted against you?  What is the blessing of
  5. In the first century, a big debate raged about the necessity of circumcision as a part of coming to faith in Christ.  Some believed that all needed to become Jews first (if they were to become followers of Christ), while others held that non-Jewish people could follow Christ without becoming Jewish and being circumcised.  The early church emphatically announced (and Paul taught here) that people do not need to do ANYTHING before trusting Jesus.  There are no pre-requisite courses needed.  No outward symbolic ceremonies required.  Faith in Jesus alone is what saves us.  How does this relate to the symbols of Baptism and Communion (in your understanding)?
  6. Are you trusting in God’s gift through Christ or your works for your eternal salvation?  If not, why not?

 

To download a pdf of these questions, click here.

ABC’s of Faith – Series Preview

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Faith is very important.  In fact, spiritually speaking, it is essential.  It is by faith that we are saved.  It is by faith that we are called to live out the Christian life.  It is by faith that we relate to our Eternal God.  But what is faith?  And why is faith so important to God?

We will be examining these questions during the month of February in our Sunday morning worship services at Wildwood Community Church in a new sermon series called the “ABC’s of Faith.”  This series will help us understand more about faith by looking at Romans chapters 4-5.  I look forward to studying God’s Word with you in our 8:15, 9:30 or 11:00 Sunday morning services beginning February 7.  Join us and invite your friends!

 

 

Share (part 4) Sermon Audio/Video

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On Sunday morning, January 31, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Mark 3:13-19.  This message was part 4 of the “Share” sermon series.  Below you will find the sermon audio and video to watch/listen to online, download, or share with a friend.

 

To download the audio to listen to online, use the link below:

Share #4

 

To listen to the message online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon, use the Vimeo Video below:

 

Share (part 4) Sermon Questions

Share part 4 recap.001

On Sunday, January 31, 2016, I preached a sermon based on Mark 3:13-19.  This message was part 4 in the “Share” series.  Below you will find questions for personal reflection or group discussion.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection:

  1. Read Mark 3:13-19
  2. What evidence do you see that the general values of this world are “ME” focused?  What do you think was meant by a “WE” culture in Christ?
  3. Jesus chose 12 people to be Apostles.  He chose these twelve from a larger group of His followers.  Imagine you were one of the other followers of Christ who were not chosen to be one of the 12.  How do you think you would have felt about not being included as one of the 12?
  4. Why do you think Jesus chose to focus on the 12?
  5. Do you have a smaller group of people who you are following Christ with?  Maybe this is a small group, service team, Bible study, etc.?
  6. Jesus’ ministry to the 12 was intended to fill them up so that they might overflow and include others.  In what way is it strategic to invest in a few?
  7. **Who are “a few more” that God might have you include in your community this year?
  8. What stood out to you most from today’s message?
  9. What stood out to you most from this entire series?  (I’d love to hear from you the things God impressed upon your heart during this series!  If you have something to share, please email me or comment back and let me know.)

** Note:  If you only have time for one question, consider asking/answering the question marked by the two stars.

PDF copy of the questions is available here.

Share (part 4) Preview

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We live in a world that is enamored with “ME.”  This should not surprise us.  We are most familiar with ourselves, and our fallen nature most readily seeks to magnify ourselves (to the exclusion of God and others) much of the time. 

We see evidence of this on the athletic field where star athletes boast of their personal accomplishments, even in team sports like football where all 11 positions exhibit an essential role on every play.  We see evidence of this in the political arena, where elected officials (or those seeking office) talk about their personal accomplishments, forgetting that our government is designed to run through a series of checks and balances where different branches (and hundreds of individuals) partner together for the common good.  We see evidence of this in our own lives as we think about our personal preferences (in a variety of areas) instead of what is best for others — even those who are not like us. 

Football players who think it is all about them, demonstrate a lack of understanding of the game.  Politicians who try to go it alone show a lack of constitutional intent.  Individuals who think only of themselves fail to see the realities of society.

Into our individualistic world, Jesus comes . . . and when He comes, He turns this world’s ME culture upside down.  In fact, when Jesus talks about glory, He focuses that on God alone.  And when He talks about people, He often flips the “M” in “me” around to make it a “W.”  “We” is a word that all Christians need to be familiar with.

God never intended for us to live our spiritual lives alone.  He always intended us to be a “we” not a “me.”  That is why it “was not good for man to be alone” in the Garden of Eden, and that is why Jesus saves us into His Body, not as independent operators.  We are designed by God to be a part of a team for all eternity.  We are designed to be included with others and to include others with us.

We are going to be talking more about this idea this Sunday, January 31 at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:15, 9:30, and 11:00 worship services as we wrap up our “Share” series by looking at Mark 3:13-19 together.  Hope to see you all in one of our services this weekend.  Engage those around you, and invite them to join you at Wildwood this weekend as we see how we are all included in God’s strategic plan to change the world.

One More Thought about Inviting

Dwight Nash and I in the summer of 2015
Dwight Nash and I in the summer of 2015

In this morning’s message, I talked about the power of an invitation.  Some of the things I mentioned were the personal invitations my sister (Debbie) and Youth Pastor (Dwight) extended to me in some of the formative moments of my spiritual journey.

It was Debbie who pointed out to me that I was a sinner in need of the forgiveness Jesus could provide.  She invited me to follow Jesus.  Her invite began a journey for me that God used Dwight to help continue.  Over a 14 month period between 1989-1990, Dwight just kept inviting me to things.  He invited me to hang out and play golf or tennis or basketball (friendship).  He invited me to exchange my sin for Christ’s righteousness (salvation).  He invited me to help lead a fundraiser car wash the Youth Group was putting on (service).  He invited me to lead Bible studies in the youth group (ministry).  He invited me to consider a life in vocational ministry (calling).  That is a lot of invitations to extend to a sophomore in High School!  But I am eternally grateful that Dwight and Debbie extended these invitations to me.  God used them to change my life.

In this morning’s message, we looked at John 1:35-42 and saw Andrew invite his brother Simon to follow Christ.  There is almost no way Andrew could have known all that God would eventually do through Simon (Peter) at the time of his invitation.  Andrew’s invite was not so much strategic as it was loving  . . . he simply wanted to invite his brother to connect to Christ.

As I reflected on that passage, I wondered what my friend Dwight was thinking as he extended those invites to me 26 years ago.  I reached out to Dwight this past week and asked him.  These were some of his thoughts:

In those days I had a saying. “Run with those who want to run with you.” As you know, there are always folks who don’t want to run the race you are describing. I found myself inviting folks to the level or depth that they would be willing to risk and say yes to. I keep asking until they say no or avoid me! HA

In one sense I would say that the invitation toward you was no different than any other invitation. What was different was the response and the degree I could see that you were being used by God and would be used by God in the future.

God was already doing a work in you, it only required an invitation from me to start the blooming action.

You have to believe in people and what God has placed in them and not what you currently see!

Believing in you! – Dwight

I am so thankful that Dwight did not just rely on what he could see . . . a 16 year old with a mullet haircut with an extensive Hair Band cassette tape collection.  He looked beyond the obvious to what God could do and invited me to follow Him.

Who are you inviting to Jesus this year?  God is already at work in them . . . He graciously includes us in the process by allowing our invitations to start the blooming action.

Like Dwight, I am believing in you this year.  Let’s follow Jesus together.

NOTE: In the summer of 1990 Dwight Nash was the Youth Pastor at East Cross United Methodist Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where I attended.  Today, Dwight is Senior Pastor of Sent Church in Plano, TX and the Church Planting Catalyst with the Wesleyan Church.  He is also my hero.

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