New Way (part 6) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 13, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 4:8-20.  This message was part 6 in the “New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 4:8-20
  3. Before listening to today’s message, how would you have defined the “win” of the Christian life?  What are we supposed to be about?
  4. The Judeaizers had succeeded in making the Galatians think that their spiritual maturity came as a result of their devotion to calendars, ceremonies, and rituals.  Paul was so sad about this!  Jesus died and rose again NOT JUST so that the Galatians might attend new meetings, but so that they would really KNOW GOD and have a relationship with Him.  How are you tempted to think that your Christian life is just about attending meetings or keeping rituals?
  5. The real “win” for the Christian is to see Christ formed in themselves!  That their lives are ever moving in the direction of Christ-likeness so that when others look at us, they see Jesus.  Who are some people who have helped you get to know Jesus better?  What were some of the characteristics of their lives that contributed to this?
  6. Be honest … what do people see when they look at your life?  What are some ways that you would like to see Christ more formed in you in the year ahead? 
  7. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

To listen offline, click the link below:

Audio appears here when available

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Audio appears here when available

 

To watch the sermon video, use YouTube online:

Stream goes live June 13 at 10:15 CDT at wildwoodchurch.org/live

 

New Way (part 6) Sermon Preview

I grew up playing sports.  In every sport, there was a way to know if you had “won.”  If you outscore the opposing team in football, basketball, or baseball – you win.  If you underscore your opponent in golf – you win.  If you hit the tape first in a race – you win.  This kind of simple and straightforward metric always resonated with me.  Even to this day … if we are playing a game against one another – I want to know the rules, because I want to win.

In real life, it is a bit harder to know how to win.  As a Pastor, I have yet to run through the “tape” in the conclusion of a message.  There has not been a score given at the end of a counseling appointment.  I have never ended a wedding ceremony with an “eagle putt” during the pronouncement.  Wins and losses are a bit more nuanced in my current life.

Yet we all count stuff, don’t we?  Pastors are no different.  As I preach, do people look like they are “getting it,” did anyone say “amen,” what about that guy who fell asleep before I ever got to point two?  As we gather, we wonder how many are here today?  Is it more than last week?  How does it compare to last year?  I think subconsciously we all look to stuff like this trying to see if we are “winning” or “losing.”  Couple this reality with a propensity for self-doubt, and I generally feel like I have more “L’s” than “W’s.”  (I am not alone in this … I heard a stat recently that nearly a third of pastors in America seriously considered quitting at some point in the past year.  Though I am not one of those, I understand some of the dynamics that are at play.)

Yet, as I am midway through my third decade in Pastoral ministry, I need to ask myself … am I looking at the right scoreboard?

I want you all to know something.  I did not go into ministry so that people would “like” my instagram posts.  I did not go into ministry to speak to a packed room of smiling faces and have my ego stroked.  Truly … I went into ministry because I believed it is what God had for my life, and I wanted to be faithful to Him.  That calling was to see lives changed with the good news of Jesus Christ … to be a blessing to others.  Yet as life rolls on, and the church calendar moves from year to year, it is easy to lose sight of what I am truly called to do, and focus on the wrong scoreboard.

Even as I type this, I think these may be some of the most personal comments I have shared on my blog or Facebook.  And (to some degree) that is appropriate given the passage of Scripture we are going to be looking at on Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in part 6 of our “New Way” sermon series.  This week we are looking at Galatians 4:8-20, in what I think are the most personal comments Paul shares to his friends in Galatia.  In these verses, we do not see Paul the theologian, we see Paul the pastor … Paul the person.  He reaches out to the Galatians and reminds them (and him) what the “win” is for anyone in ministry.  

Want to know what the win is?  Paul defines it in Galatians 4:19 – 

“… Christ formed in you …”

Paul’s opponents wanted the Galatians to love them (instead of Paul).  The Judeaizers wanted the Galatians to attend their meetings and go to their festivals, so that their “numbers” would look good … but they really did not care about the Galatians themselves.  Paul (on the other had) was in ministry because of what he hoped would happen IN SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE, not HIS OWN LIFE.

The “win” of true Christian ministry is not how many show up on Sunday … but how many lives are transformed on Monday-Sunday.  And Pastors are called to labor like a mother in childbirth until that happens among the people for whom God allows us to serve.  

That is the mission of my life.  That is the hope of our church:  YOUR TRANSFORMATION INTO CHRISTLIKENESS.  We are praying Sunday is catalytic to that end (and to the glory of God).  We will gather at 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 NOT as a form of dead religion and ceremonial formalism … not because we are slaves to a religious schedule … but because we are sons of God, being transformed into His image!  The corporate assembly on Sunday is a springboard to Monday and beyond.  Can’t wait to worship with you all and look at this amazing passage of Scripture together.

I am laboring over this text this week that Christ may be formed in you (and me) on Sunday and beyond.  Hope to see you there … and bring friends!

New Way (part 5) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 6, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 4:1-7.  This message was part 5 in the “New Way” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 4:1-7
  3. What are some areas in your life where you long to “mature”?  In what ways is the phrase “mature” better than just getting “older”?
  4. The ABC’s of religion are the “you need to’s”… most all religions have their own version of these kinds of commands.  In what way do these commands make you a “slave”?  How does God intend His Law to impact you?
  5. Jesus redeems us to His new way, making it possible for us to be adopted as a son of God and given His Holy Spirit.  How does this change in identity and provision of His Holy Spirit make a difference in your life today?
  6. Do you think of yourself more as a “sinner/slave” or as a “son/heir”?  How does understanding who you are in Christ change the way you think of your “ceiling” in life?
  7. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf form, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Way #5 6.6.21

 

To listen online, use the media player:

 

To watch service stream, use YouTube online:

 

New Way (part 5) Sermon Preview

I have attended six schools in my life:  Hoover Elementary, Madison Middle School, Bartlesville Mid-High, Bartlesville High School, the University of Oklahoma, and Dallas Theological Seminary.  Each school played a vital part of my development.  I learned basic math and how to read at Hoover, Algebra and American Civics at Madison, Geometry and how to write an essay at Mid-High, History and Physics at High School, philosophy and journalism at OU, and Bible and theology at DTS.  In a sense, each level of school added upon the other to prepare me for my roles in “life” … at least academically.  

There was an appropriateness to this progression of schools.  I needed to know my ABC’s before I could write a dissertation.  I needed to know 2+2 = 4 before I could apply them in AP Physics.  As I write this today, I understand and appreciate the cumulative effect of the program designed for me by educators in 6 different settings.

However, let’s just imagine for a moment, that I wanted to add a seventh school to my learning tree.  Let’s say I wanted to continue learning and pursue another program.  It would be silly for me to select Monroe Elementary School in Norman as my next place of study.  Not only would my body not fit in the desks at the school … but the principals of that school would see my presence there as totally inappropriate.  Third grade makes sense for third graders … but not for 47 year old men.  Other post-graduate or graduate programs would be the better fit for my current life stage.

I say this today, because on Sunday we will be looking at Galatians 4:1-7 at Wildwood Community Church, in our fifth installment of the “New Way” sermon series.  In these verses we will see Paul argue that a Christian wanting to return to life under the Old Testament Law makes about as much sense as a grown-up returning to third grade.  It does not fit us anymore!  The Law served its purpose in the proper progression, but now that Christ has come, we move forward in faith, not backward in time.

In making this argument, Paul points out that the ABC’s of the world and its religions (the elementary principles of the world as Paul calls them) only make us slaves to a set of rules … but in Christ, we graduate to the status of sons … empowered and authenticated by God’s Holy Spirit in our lives.  Given this massive upgrade why would we ever drift back to elementary school when we can experience so much more.

Join us this Sunday (June 6) as we look at these verses together and see what they mean for our lives today.  See you at 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 or online at 10:15 (or anytime after) at wildwoodchurch.org/live

The New Way (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 30, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 3:25-29.  This message was part 4 of the “New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for group discussion or personal reflection.  Also you will find the sermon audio/video to listen to/watch, download or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 3:25-29
  3. What blessings or challenges have been a part of your life because of who your Mom and Dad were?
  4. No matter our experience with our earthly parents, we have the opportunity to be a SON OF GOD … and heir according to HIS PROMISE.  According to this passage, how does one become a Son of God, and an heir of His riches?
  5. In what way does Christian water baptism picture “putting on” Christ?
  6. Have you been baptized since trusting in Christ as your Savior?  If so, when?  If not, why not?  If you have not been baptized since trusting in Christ would you consider baptism at Wildwood on August 1?  Baptism classes are June 27, and you can let us know your interest in baptism at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism
  7. How do we try to divide people up into subgroups?  Paul references ethnicity, social status, and gender.  In what ways are these still areas that seek to divide us today?
  8. What are ways Jesus is glorified through the diversity of His followers today?  What are the ways in which all Christians are all blessed by Jesus?
  9. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Way #4 5.30.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

The New Way (part 4) Sermon Preview

I am a big University of Oklahoma fan.  I may not have been Sooner born or Sooner bred … but I am pretty sure when I die I’ll be a Sooner dead.  At this point in my life – cut me, and I’ll bleed crimson and cream.

When I have the opportunity, I love going to OU sporting events … and nothing has as much pomp and circumstance as a home football game.  The stadium … the team … the schooner … all contribute to a nostalgic celebration of my college years.

One thing I love about home games is the OU band – the PRIDE OF OKLAHOMA.  I love it when they run out onto the field, play the same set of songs for the pregame, and march across the field in the giant “O” formation!

As a longtime Pastor in Norman, I have known a number of students over the years who have participated in the Pride.  Every time I know a member of the band, I always look for them during their on field performances.  But in all my years, you know how often I found a band member I was looking for?  Exactly zero times. 

And that is by design. 

Not by MY design, but by the band’s design. 

All members of the Pride wear the same uniform.  From a distance, they all look the same.  To be clear, there are differences between the band members.  Some play one instrument, others play another.  Some are freshmen, others are seniors.  Some are men, others are women.  But in their uniform, they all receive the same reception and ovation, and are individually somewhat indistinguishable.

I say this today, because Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our Sunday morning services, the sermon will focus on Galatians 3:25-29.  This message is part 4 of the “New Way” sermon series.  This week we will see that all Christians have “put on” a particular uniform.  This uniform (by God’s design) cloaks all of us in the identity of an adult child of God.  And with this identity comes an amazing reception before our Heavenly Father.

Join us this Sunday at 9:00, 10:15 or 11:30 as we cover our differences under the uniform blessing of God in Christ Jesus.  See you then … and bring friends!

 

NOTE:  You can watch the service online beginning at 10:15 AM CDT May 30, 2021 at wildwoodchurch.org/live 

 

The New Way (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 23, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 3:19-24.  This message was part 3 in “The New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 3:19-24
  3. What is something that you thought was “worthless” until you realized the purpose for which it was created?  How does knowing something’s intended use help you see its “meaning”?
  4. What has been your general attitude toward the Old Testament in your life?
  5. Based on the verses surveyed in the sermon this morning, what are some of the limitations of the Old Testament Law?
  6. Based on the verses surveyed in the sermon this morning, what was the purpose of the Old Testament?
  7. Think through a few familiar Old Testament passages … review them if need be … then ask these questions of those passages – What does this passage tell me about God?  What does this passage tell me about us?  How does this passage point me to Jesus?
  8. Based on what we talked about this morning, why would I recommend someone START reading the Bible in the New Testament instead of the Old Testament?
  9. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The New Way #3 5.23.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch video, use YouTube online:

 

The New Way (part 3) Sermon Preview

In my wallet right now I have a crisp $50 bill.  On the front, rests a picture of President Ulysses S. Grant.  On the back, a rendering of the United States Capital.  You know what I have found out about this bill?  It is not edible.  That’s right, you cannot eat it.  Well, I suppose you COULD eat it, but it would provide no nutritional value.  I can back up my claim with statements from the world’s top scientists and dietitians, but I doubt you will require me to “show my math.”

Since this bill is not edible, I have decided it is worthless.  I will just throw it away … wad it up in the wrapper of an already eaten Big Mac and toss it in the nearest waste basket.  I am tired of hanging onto things I don’t need.

Are you paying attention yet?  If so, how are you responding to my tirade above?  Some of you are shaking your head at my feigned ignorance.  Others of you are running over to the nearest trash bin to see if there are any empty Big Mac containers I may have just discarded.  Whatever it is … my ignorance is evoking in you a response.

And that is my point.

What is the root of the problem I just identified?  My chief problem was that I was expecting a $50 bill to be something that it was never intended to be … and when it fell short of my self-fabricated standard, I wanted to declare it worthless.  A $50 bill is not food, but it IS valuable, and should not be discarded … understanding its intended purpose and using it for that purpose is critical.

I say this today because this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be looking at Galatians 3:19-24 in part 3 of our “New Way” sermon series.  In this week’s verses we will seek to understand the meaning of the Old Testament … particularly the “Law” section of the Old Testament.  Paul has been quite clear in Galatians that the Law cannot SAVE anyone … our salvation has always been about the promise of God.  Paul’s opponents believed that Paul saying the Law cannot SAVE anyone was akin to Paul wadding up the Law in a Big Mac wrapper and throwing it away.  In this week’s verses, though, Paul speaks up and makes a profound statement.

Though the Law was not given to SAVE anyone, it still had a profound purpose.  The Old Testament Law was a MEANS to an end … therefore it has MEANing.  What is that meaning?  What was the purpose of the Law, and how do we as Christ followers accurately understand the first 2/3 of our Bibles?  Well, we will seek to understand this on Sunday as we unpack Paul’s answer.

Before we go and throw our Old Testaments into a trashcan, let’s see if we can understand the reason God gave the Law to Moses in the first place.  When we see that purpose, we will understand that the Law IS valuable, as we grasp its intended purpose in salvation history.

I sure hope you can join us this weekend as we continue our series.  See you at 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 (in person) … or online in the stream at 10:15 at wildwoodchurch.org/live

The New Way (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Galatians 3:15-18.  This message was part 2 in the “New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 3:15-18
  3. Can you think of examples of people whose “promises” mean a lot to you … and those whose “promises” you ignore?  What makes the difference?
  4. In this message we review a bit of the “salvation history” of God’s people.  How does remembering this history help remind you that you are not an “impulse buy” of God, but something He saved for?
  5. Have you ever been tempted to promise God things? (i.e. IF you do this for me God, THEN I will …)  How have those promises tended to go in your life?
  6. As seen in today’s passage, our salvation is not tied to our promise to God, but in His promise to us!  How does knowing this help encourage you with the assurance of your salvation and your hope for spiritual growth?
  7. Spend a few minutes THANKING GOD for His work on our behalf through Christ Jesus.
  8. How are you tempted to complicate the Gospel … and how does that complication keep you from sharing your faith with others?  How does remembering the simplicity of the Gospel inspire you to share the good news of Jesus freely with others?  Who is someone you can share that simple message with this week?
  9. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Way #2 5.16.21

 

To listen online, use the media player:

 

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

“The New Way” (part 2)

“I promise.”

How powerful is that statement?  Well, it depends on who says it.

In each political cycle, candidates promise lots of things.  After years of disappointment at the results those promises have produced, many people stop taking political promises seriously.

In families where abuse or neglect have dominated, the empty promises of parents fail to elicit comfort.  People protect themselves from getting their hopes up in response to good intentions that may not materialize.

However, when the promise comes inside the context of a loving relationship and given by a responsible party, the words “I promise” mean the world!

When a wife with a healthy relationship with her husband promises to take care of something, the husband rests easy.  When a coach with a good relationship with his players promises playing time in the next game to a player, the player enters the next game ready to go.  

In short, the power of the promise depends on the person giving it … and how reliable they are.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be in part 2 of “The New Way” sermon series where we will be looking at Galatians 3:15-18.  In these four verses, the Apostle Paul uses the word “promise” four times to encourage us related to our salvation and growth in our spiritual lives.  Our spiritual present AND future hinge on a promise.  Should that encourage us?  I think so.  After all, the promise comes from God Himself – and He is faithful!  But here is something even more profound:  the promise regarding our spiritual lives is actually made from God the Father to God the Son!  My hope for eternity and power for growth today are anchored in a promise made from God to God.  Whoa. 

What does that mean?  Where is it anchored in Scripture?  Join us Sunday in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 service as we take a look at this concept inside of God’s Word.  Hope to see you there!

It will be worth your time.  I promise.