Walk in Love (part 4) Sermon Audio


On Sunday, October 16, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 14:13-23.  This message was part 4 in the “Walk in Love” sermon series.  The sermon audio is included below for you to listen to or share.


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

Walk in Love part 4


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

Walk in Love (part 4) Sermon Questions


On Sunday, October 16, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 14:13-23.  This message was part 4 in the “Walk in Love” sermon series.  Below are a set of questions (related to the message) for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Romans 14:13-23
  3. Think of the kinds of friction you sometimes have with other Christians over issues that the Bible is not clear about.  What ares some of these issues, and how have you dealt with these disagreements in the past?
  4. How have other people’s actions ever led you to sin?  How have your actions ever led others to sin?
  5. What would it look like for you to make decisions regarding areas of Christian liberty that would (as their primary ethic) be to love others?
  6. Any particular applications stand out to you from this passage?


To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Walk in Love (part 4) Preview


How long would it take you to walk to the nearest grocery store?  5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes?  We all have a walking pace that feels natural to us, and we would settle into that pace on a walk to the store.  Because the speed with which we move is so common to us, we have the ability to average how long it would take us to make a simple journey.

Now, let me ask you another question . . . how long would it take you to walk to the store WITH someone?  While you might be able to approximate the pace of your own walk, you would need to ask a few more questions before guessing the time it would take to make the same journey with another person.  After all, you may be walking with Wang Zhen (Olympic Gold medalist in the 20KM walk).  You might get there faster than advertised if he was your travel mate!  Or you may be walking with your friend’s two year old – a companion that no doubt would make the trip longer than expected. 

When you travel with someone the goal is not to just GET THERE, but to get there TOGETHER.  This impacts the pace of your journey.

I share this today because we have been moving through Romans 13-15 recently at Wildwood Community Church in a series called “Walk in Love.”  This Sunday, October 16, we will be in the fourth part of this series.  In this section, the Christian life is described as a walk.  But what is so fascinating is that the walk of the Christian life is not a personal stroll, but a journey we make together.  This is the clear implication of the section of Romans we are looking at this week (Romans 14:13-23).  In this section, we are called to “slow down” in order to walk in love with those other Christians God has brought into our lives.  The purpose of this is so that we can get “there” TOGETHER, as we minister to each other in love.

What does this mean?  What does it look like?  How does it apply to our lives?  Join us Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service as we will explore this together.  We will also be having communion together in our services.  Make plans to join us and bring someone with you!

God’s Clock

We love stories of change, don’t we?  Stories like this:

Growing up in the 1950’s in rural Kenya, little Charles faced many hardships.  His family was living in extreme poverty and had little options for improving their situation.  At an early age, Charles parents left him in pursuit of a better life, leaving him in the care of his aunt who was struggling to raise children of her own.  With little options remaining, Charles walked many days, headed toward Nairobi in pursuit of a better life. 

At the age of 16, Charles found a Friend who would never leave him alone . . . the Lord Jesus Christ.  Charles trusted in Christ as His Savior, securing His eternity, though his earthly life still felt very fragile.  Charles worked hard and the Lord gave him favor, allowing him to run a string of business successes together, making Charles a multi-millionaire. 

One day, Charles was moving through town, seeing the many faces of the street children who dominated the city.  He was struck by the fact that he was once in their position and he felt the Lord would have him do something in response.  Dr. Charles Mulli, together with his wife, sold much of their businesses and property and opened a home for street children.  Nearly 12,000 kids have come through their program —  learning about Christ as well as life — while being cared for by the personal sacrifice and vision of Dr. Mulli.

When asked what was the secret of his success and the motivation for his life, Dr. Mulli answers clearly:  “It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

We love stories like that don’t we?  I recently heard Louie Giglio share this story and I was mesmerized by every sentence.  From the streets to the penthouse back to the streets to save the lives of thousands of kids.  What is not to like about this story!

When we hear a story like this, however, one thing that often gets lost is a sense of time.  You can read about Mulli’s life above in just a couple of minutes . . . but his life took 40 years to take him from birth to riches . . . and another 30 years to move from the first kid he received into his care to the 12,000th.  In our summary stories, we sometimes forget the “in between” times.  Because of this, we often get impatient with the “clocks” for change in our own stories.

We want the benefits of change without delay.  Like a “life lottery” we want to go from rags to riches in a moment . . . forgetting that most everything valuable is built a day at a time.

As Christians, (in a real sense) we have all won the “lottery.”  When we embrace salvation by the grace of God through the work of Jesus Christ, we immediately pass from death to life.  We immediately are given all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.  We immediately are endowed with the Holy Spirit.  In an instant, we are forgiven (for more details on all these blessings look at Ephesians 1 and Colossians 2).  Because of the instant nature of our eternal blessing, we sometimes expect a similar quick process in all areas of our lives.  Some examples:

  • We know God has gifted us for ministry, but it seems to take years for us to find the right “role” for us to fill.
  • We know God has given us the ability to resist temptation, but we still are tempted by some of the same sins today that we were tempted by 5 years ago.
  • We know God can use the power of the Gospel to bring salvation to a friend or family member who has not yet trusted in Christ, but we grow weary as they persist in unbelief.

When our desire for change is immediate and God’s timeline is process, we can grow impatient. We often want to time God with a stopwatch, when in fact, He is using a calendar.  Many of God’s great works take time.  Though we read their stories in the Bible in just a few sentences, the stories are years in the making:

  • It was 80 years between Moses’ birth and him taking his role as God’s prophet in Israel.  This path to leadership was marked by failure (murder), isolation (in Midian), and doubt (“I can’t speak very well on my own, how will I speak for YOU?”)  80 years.  We get impatient in the checkout line at the store . . .
  • It was 15 years between David’s anointing as King and his coronation as King.  In between he literally ran for his life from the jealous rage of King Saul.
  • It was 14 years between the Apostle Paul’s salvation on Damascus Road and his first missionary journey.  In between 3 years were spent in the desert, and another decade was spent back in Tarsus making tents.

We live in a world that can make coffee in a Keurig in less than a minute, but God is brewing something far deeper inside of us.  He is preparing us for glory, His glory, and the process normally takes years.

Another example of the extended process of change that God uses is seen in the life of the early church concerning ministry to Gentiles.  As you may know, the early Christian movement was birthed out of Judaism.  After all, Jesus Himself was a Jew (as were His 12 disciples.)  But when Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples a great commission – to go into ALL THE WORLD (not just the Jewish parts) and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).  Jesus followers were to be His witnesses among those in Jerusalem, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  In a moment, Jesus sent His disciples on a mission to the Gentiles, but did they get it?  Not really . . . at least not fully.

The Holy Spirit arrives in Acts 2, and the apostles begin sharing the Gospel in the Spirit’s power everywhere they go . . . but they still had a proclivity to focus on the Jews.  In fact, men as prominent as the Apostle Peter avoided Gentiles (at least in his social interactions).  Of course, this was not what Jesus intended . . . so He gave a vision to Peter in Acts 10 telling him that he was NOT to segregate from the Gentiles any longer.  Moments after that vision, he is escorted to Cornelius’s house, and Peter shares the Gospel with this Gentile, and watches as the Holy Spirit falls in a demonstrable way on this Gentile and his household.  This was an amazing moment . . . but was 15 years (15 YEARS!!!!) after the Great Commission was given.

Surely this would mean that Peter and the disciples truly “got it” and adjusted their Jewish-centric perspectives . . . but alas, that is not the case.  5 years after the experience with Cornelius (20 years after the Great Commission was given), Peter and the other Apostles still struggled with their relationship with Gentiles. 

Galatians 2:1-14 and Acts 15:1-21 show us that the acceptance of Gentiles and their inclusion in the church (as Jesus predicted and commanded) was a process that took at least 20 years to fully implement . . . and the struggle that existed between these two groups (Jew and Gentiles) was still alive and well all the way through the New Testament times (Paul even referred to it in Romans 14 . . . a book he wrote nearly 30 years after the Great commission was given . . . 10 years after the events of Galatians 2 and Acts 15.)

And make no mistake . . . there was MUCH at stake in Galatians 2 and Acts 10 and Acts 15.  What was at stake was the inclusion in non-Jewish people in the blessing of God.  This is BIG STUFF.  We might want God to work EXTRA FAST in this situation, given what was at stake . . . but God still took a few decades to shift this culture. 

So what does this tell us?  Sometimes the change God is bringing about in our lives takes longer than we would like.  Sometimes it seems slow to us.  Sometimes we can grow impatient.  Thankfully, though, God does not grow impatient with us.

God is at work writing a novel in our lives, not a short story; He is making a mini-series not a commercial.  We are saved in a moment, but He grows us over a lifetime. 

What are the areas of your life where you are desiring to see Him work?  Where are you growing impatient with the pace of change in His program?  Do you feel like you are alone at this pace?  Do you feel like it should be happening faster?

If this is the case, remember the people in the Scripture.  See how God’s timing is longer than ours, and take heart.  Though we may be currently discouraged, remember – the story is still being written.

From “Fear” to “Glory” in 9 Verses

When people see you coming, what do they do?  Do their faces light up with enthusiasm, or do they run in the other direction?  For the most part, people’s responses to our appearance fall somewhere between these extremes.

In the first century, a man named Saul created quite an impression.  Early in his life, Saul exhibited a high level of intensity in his practice of the Jewish faith.  Saul was so zealous for his beliefs, he persecuted those who did not share his exact point of view — including the very first followers of Jesus Christ.  Saul described his life in those days this way,

“I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” (Galatians 1:13)

Because of this reputation, you can imagine many Christians who would have feared Saul (at least at some level) during this era of his life.  But this early “zealous” era would not be the defining period of Saul’s life.  In fact, this era would end up serving as the prelude to the real story of Saul’s life.  By the end of Saul’s earthly life, he would have a name change (from “Saul” to “Paul”) and Christians everywhere would:

“glorify God because of him.” (Galatians 1:24)

So how does this kind of life change happen?  How does someone go from “fear” to “glory” in just 9 verses?  The answer is found in Galatians 1:15-16a:

“but when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . .”

In this verse, Paul (formerly Saul), under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, lets us know the secret of his changed life.  In fact, the same pattern he describes is the power that can change our lives as well:

  • Change begins with divine intervention.  “But when He . . .”  The first step in this process of change was NOT Saul doing anything.  It was God doing everything.  God reached down into time and got a hold of Saul’s heart.  God had an “intervention” with Saul on the Damascus Road (see Acts 9), and it was God’s initiative that led to Saul’s change of heart.  The same is true with us.  In order for our lives to change, God must initiate and lift the “veil” so that we can see Him (2 Corinthians 3:12-16).
  • Change was the plan from the start.  “. . .who had set me apart before I was born. . .”  God’s plan for Saul was always to become Paul.  God has prepared a process by which to mature each of us in His image.  Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (among many other verses) remind us that our change and growth in Christ have been God’s plan all along.
  • Change is a gift.  “. . . who called me by His grace . . .”  Jesus does not wait for us to earn God’s favor.  Instead, God’s favor is given to us as a gift.  This is the idea of “grace” — a gift we do not deserve and can never repay.  Our salvation, and the change that follows it are a product of God’s character, not a reward for our’s.  (see Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Change is connected to Christ.  “. . . was pleased to reveal His Son to me. . .”  The hope Saul/Paul had was connected intimately to Jesus Christ.  It was Jesus who Paul saw on the road to Damascus – the same Jesus who had died on the cross for the sins of the world, and raised from the dead to demonstrate His authority, power, and true identity.  Our dead lives need resurrecting . . . that is why our only hope is connected to the Man who conquered death.  (see also Colossians 1:27).
  • Change in us leads to blessing others.  “. . . in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.”  We are blessed by God, changed by His grace, in order to be a blessing to others.  Abram demonstrated the pattern in the very beginning (Genesis 12:1-3), that God’s plan is to bless the world through His followers.  Our lives are changed in Christ, and we remain on this earth in order to point others to Him so that Jesus might change their lives as well.  The life change Christ brings is not selfish . . . it flows through us to bless others.

Saul became Paul, the one who incited fear, encouraged worship.  This level of change is desired by most all I know — in our lives and in the lives of those we know.  This kind of change needs Divine power . . . it needs God Himself.  Thankfully it is available to all through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Do you know Him?


Not Man’s Gospel . . .

This morning, I had the opportunity to teach in “The Avenue” . . . Wildwood’s high school ministry.  Below is a summary of some thoughts I shared with them from Galatians 1 . . .

I recently purchased an airline ticket to go see a friend in Atlanta.  The ticket cost me something to purchase and secured transit to a place I wanted to go . . . but until the day of my travel, the ticket is of little use to me.  I don’t wake up every morning thinking about that airline ticket.  I simply live my normal life, knowing that the ticket is there when it is my time to travel.

In some ways, we view the Gospel like this airline ticket.  We see the Gospel as our ticket to salvation.  Sure it was costly (Jesus died on the cross for our sins) — and absolutely, it secures the way for us to get where we want to go (heaven).  In this respect we are thankful for the Good News of Jesus Christ, but all too often, we only consider the FUTURE benefits of the Gospel, and forget its application to our PRESENT situation.

The Gospel does not just change some things, it changes all things.  Let me say that even more clearly – the Gospel changes ALL THINGS:  our past, our present, and our future.

By the time Paul picked up a pen to write a letter to his friends in Galatia, the Christians in that area had already begun to minimize the impact of the gospel.  As Paul says in Galatians 1:6 –

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel”

What was this different gospel?  It was “man’s gospel” according to Paul as Galatians 1:11 indicates –

“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.”

What is man’s gospel?  While it is not fully spelled out in the text, it appears to have been some expression of the gospel that affirmed how Jesus changes our FUTURES, while minimizing His work in our PRESENT.  To say it another way, man’s gospel may allow Jesus to save us in the end, but our progress in the Christian life is only a result of our own good works, not Gospel power.

This picture summarizes some of the differences between man’s gospel and Jesus’s gospel:


Man’s gospel (which is really no gospel at all), sees our ultimate salvation as Christ’s work, but the Christian life as our work.  This version of the Christian life sees our day to day lives as some kind of a tribute to Jesus, but not a supernatural/dependent relationship with Him.  In a sense, man’s gospel makes much of us, but little of Christ.  It focuses on our performance, not His provision.  It is something we do to impress others, not something that He does through us to serve others.  Man’s Gospel is all about us.  Many people describe the Christian life in these terms.  We know Jesus saves our souls tomorrow, but today is lived out by our grit and determination.  Paul writes the letter of Galatians to let all of us know that the Christian life is NOT man’s gospel . . . it is Jesus’ Gospel, and has a radical impact on our past, present, and future.

Paul tells us His personal life story to help us see the impact that the Gospel had on his everyday life in 1:13-24.

  • Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s past, enabling him to be forgiven for the sinful deeds he had done (1:13-14).
  • Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s present, equipping him to be faithful to His calling to share Christ with a lost world (1:16-24).
  • Jesus’s Gospel impacted Paul’s future, establishing him as a recipient of salvation (1:4-5).

The rest of the book of Galatians goes on to explain how you and I can tap into the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our present.  The fact that the Gospel changes everything is GOOD NEWS, because there are many things each of us want to see change in our own lives.  We want to love others more, sin less, and live a life of more eternal consequence.  Jesus offers GOOD NEWS and lasting change in these areas through His provision in our lives.

The Gospel truly changes everything.  Take a few moments this week and read the book of Galatians (the entire book is only 5 pages in my Bible . . . you could read it every day this week with less than a 15 minute investment of your time each day!)  Together we will see how the Good News of Jesus changes not only our tomorrow, but today as well.


Walk in Love (part 1) Sermon Audio


On Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 13:8-10.  This message was part 1 in the “Walk in Love” sermon series.  Below you will find the sermon audio from this message to listen to or share.


To listen offline, click this link to download the audio:

Walk in Love (part 1)
To listen online, use the media player below:



Walk in Love (part 1) Sermon Questions


On Sunday, September 25, 2016, I preached a sermon based on Romans 13:8-10 at Wildwood Community Church.  This message was part 1 in the “Walk in Love” series.  For questions for group discussion or personal reflection related to this message, see below:

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Romans 13:8-10
  3. What one word would you use to describe the lives of Christians?  What are some of the words you would anticipate others using?  How do you want Christians to be known?
  4. We are not to view people as something we can GET something from, but as someone we can SERVE (and love).  How do you struggle with applying this truth?
  5. Ultimately, love is not just an emotion, but it is an action.  If we love someone, we seek their best, not hurt them.  Think of some of the foundational relationships in your life.  What are some ways you can love those people better?
  6. How has God taught you and empowered you to live the life of love He has called you to?  What would it look like for you to trust Christ to love others through you with HIS love this week?
  7. Any particular applications stand out to you from this passage?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Walk in Love (Part 1) Preview


If you were to describe the lives of Christians in one word, what would it be? 

Some answers that may pop into your mind:

  • Religious
  • Devout
  • Hypocrite
  • Old-fashioned
  • Moral
  • Self-righteous

One of those words above may describe your view of Christians . . . but what is the target?  How does Jesus INTEND for His followers to be identified?  What is the one word that SHOULD describe a truly Christian life?

Romans 13:8-15:13 give us a one word description of followers of Christ:  “Love.” 

We are called to love those around us . . . to not tear down what Jesus is building up.  Over the next 6 weeks at Wildwood Community Church, we will be looking at this idea in a new sermon series called, “Walk in Love.”  This Sunday, I will be kicking off the series by looking at Romans 13:8-10.  Make plans to join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service.  Hope to see you there!

Nations Under God (part 2) Sermon Audio/Video


On Sunday, September 18, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached part 2 in the “Nations Under God” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio/video to listen to/watch or share.



To download and listen offline, click on the link below:

Nations Under God (part 2)



To listen online, use the media player below:


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