“The New Way” Sermon Series Preview

In 2021, my family has watched all of the new Marvel series that have debuted on Disney+ (both “WandaVision” and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”)  Each of these series tell a long-form, several hour long story spread out over 6-10 episodes.  Due to the long nature of these stories, each new episode begins with the tag … :

“Previously on ___(NAME OF SHOW)___ …”

This allows the filmmakers to show a set of clips from previous episodes to catch the audience up on relevant info they may have forgotten or missed.  It is a helpful tool to keep all of their audience moving together in the story.

We began 2021 in a Sermon series from Galatians 1-2 … a series called “The New Normal.”  These messages from January/February were designed to help us see what “new” that Jesus normalized (in His New Covenant).  After a 2 month break for Bruce’s “Tough Times” series, Easter, and the “Perspective” series, we will be returning to Paul’s letter to the Galatians this Sunday at Wildwood.

So, for those who were not with us in January and February, or for those who forgot the content of those verses …

“Previously, in the letter to the Galatians …”

New Normal – 1 (Galatians 1:1-5) We need to remember that the Gospel message is FROM JESUS Himself!  He sent Paul (and others) to carry this message to us, but this message of rescue is ultimately from Him.

New Normal – 2 (Galatians 1:6-10) Since the Gospel is from Jesus, and does not describe A WAY, but THE WAY that someone can be saved … anyone who changes the Gospel in any way must be confronted … the cost is just too high to ignore it.

New Normal – 3 (Galatians 1:11-24) Paul shares his testimony to remind us that the Gospel he proclaimed was not his own invention, but was God’s idea, described God’s work in us, and ultimately led to God being glorified through us.

New Normal – 4 (Galatians 2:1-10) Though we should fight vehemently for the integrity of the original Gospel message, our attitudes toward people should be willing to relax on some secondary issues in order to keep the “main thing” the “main thing.”

New Normal – 5 (Galatians 2:11-14) Peter knew that God had saved Gentiles and given them equal standing in the church, but he still struggled to apply that truth to the way he treated his Gentile believing friends in Galatia when his Jewish friends from Jerusalem were around.We too can struggle with a gap between what we believe and how we live.

New Normal – 6 (Galatians 2:15-21)  In the doctrinal “heart” of this letter, we are encouraged that we are both saved and sanctified by the grace of God in Christ and we receive that grace by faith.  There is no other way.

New Normal – 7 (Galatians 2:20) Paul applies all the truth of the Gospel in a very PERSONAL WAY … and we are encouraged to do the same.  Jesus’ death paid the price for MY sin.  Jesus’ life makes a way for ME to live a God glorifying life today.

Now, with that orientation, you are ready for the launch of our new series, “The New Way” (which will focus on Galatians 3-4) THIS SUNDAY, May 9 at Wildwood Community Church!  This series will help us understand the differences between the “Old” way of the Law and the “New” way of Jesus, as we live out our relationship with God. 

Old things are sometimes cool.  In fact, people sometimes like to make new things that LOOK old (just go to Hobby Lobby sometime).  In many areas, though, “new” has brought progress. 

Which is greater:

  • An iPhone or a rotary dial telephone? 
  • A horse and buggy or an airplane? 
  • An LED flat panel television, or an old black and white tube model? 

In most every instance, the new out performs the old.  So why would anyone choose the old over the new?  In technology, transportation, or television (for the most part), “old” vs. “new” is a matter of style and convenience.  However, as it relates to our spiritual lives, the “old” vs. “new” choice carries with it significantly more substantial consequences.  Do we choose the “old” way of the Law (see Old Testament law) or do we live in light of the “new” way of the Spirit (the Jesus way!)  We will explore that together over the next 7 weeks.

I am really looking forward to kicking off this study together this week as we look at Galatians 3:1-14 in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 services (or online at 10:15 at wildwoodchurch.org/live).  See you there!

Perspective (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 2, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on a variety of Scriptures that completed the “Perspective” sermon series.  This message was part 4 in that series and focused on how we shall now live in light of a truly Christian world view.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon video/audio to listen to/watch, download, or share.  Finally, if you want to access the song playlist I mentioned in the service, you can do so by clicking here.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Have you ever had a view of the church that was more “ceremonial” or “irrelevant” than a true “community” that was “on mission”?  If so, when was that … and what contributed to that experience?
  3. What change has God brought into YOUR life?  How does this encourage you that change can happen in the lives of others?
  4. Have you been “born again” through belief in Jesus Christ?  If so, when did that happen?  If not, what is keeping you from trusting Christ today?
  5. What would it look like for you to help someone around you while being ANCHORED to the rock of God’s truth?
  6. Who is the last person you shared Jesus with?  Who might be the next? (REMEMBER WE ARE HIS AMBASSADORS!)
  7. In what way do the values of the Kingdom show up in the way we operate as a church?  How can you engage to serve others in our world while remaining anchored to the rock?
  8. In what ways can you begin influencing those in YOUR HOME for 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:

Perspective #4 5.2.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch stream, use YouTube online:

 

Perspective (part 4) Sermon Preview

In the modern city of Jerusalem stands an ancient church:  the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  This church was created by the Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother (Helena) during the fourth century AD.  It was built to commemorate the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.  There are good reasons to believe that this was NOT in fact the location of the crucifixion, but the site has endured for 1,700 years nonetheless.  Because of the tradition tied to its location, many different Christian religious groups want to have a presence at the site.  The Roman Catholics, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Syrian Orthodox all manage sections of this church complex.  For good measure, the Lutherans have a place just across the street.  Given its diverse blend of traditions, you might think that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a picture of Christian unity around the cross.  There is evidence, however, that things are NOT all ecumenical.

Right above the church’s main entrance there is a ladder that sits on the balcony resting against a window sill.  This ladder (made of cedar wood) is a simple maintenance ladder.  It is not original to the church’s design and currently serves no purpose.  However, no one wants to move the ladder.  It has been standing at its current location for at least 300 years.  It shows up in artwork done of the church dating back that far.  Given the ornate splendor of the inside of the church, you think someone would just remove the ladder to clean up the church’s appearance . . . but the various ecclesiastical leaders who oversee the church cannot agree on what to do with it.  Right now, church leaders at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher see their primary task as keeping the status quo on all things … including that silly ladder!  So even though it is useless, it remains.

The ladder is visible on the balcony in this picture

Isn’t it fascinating that a church built to remember the greatest CHANGE in history (the resurrection of Jesus Christ) is so itself impervious to change?  Now some things (like church doctrine, Jesus Himself, and our mission) must never change.  Part of our duty is to keep clinging to the rock of our salvation amidst the pounding waves of this world.  However, the Gospel is actually quite dynamic.  Jesus came to CHANGE THE WORLD! 

He came to change our identity (from sinner to saint).  Change our destiny (from heaven to hell).  Change our mission (from me to He).  Jesus did not bleed and die for us to fight over meaningless ladders on balconies or to beautify buildings.  He came to seek and to save the lost … and we are His ambassadors to that end.

Today we are tempted to sit on the sidelines of life, scroll through twitter feeds, and mumble about how awful this world is becoming.  But we were made for more than that … and you know it.  How satisfying is it to just be a critic?  

We have been transformed by Jesus Christ.  We have been entrusted by Him with a transforming message for our world.  This world is not static.  It is dynamic.  People can change … and as they do, societies can change as well.  Rather than becoming grumpy old men and women who critique the world like Roger and Ebert (current events get two thumbs down), let’s find out how we can actually be used of God to change this world for His glory and our good.  

We will take a look at some important principles to this end on Sunday as we conclude the “Perspective” sermon series at Wildwood Community Church.  Join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service for worship (including communion).  Or if you cannot join in person you can join us online at 10:15 (or anytime thereafter) at wildwoodchurch.org/live   

See you there … and bring friends!

 

Miss previous weeks of this series? Click below to see weeks 1-3:

Perspective (part 3) Sermon Audio/Video & Questions

On Sunday, April 25, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 1-5.  This message was part 3 of the “Perspective” sermon series and asked the question, “What happened?”  Below you will see a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also see the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. What are some of the “rattles” you hear in our world that remind you that we have a problem?
  3. What does the Bible say is the root of the problems we experience in the world?  How pervasive is this problem?  How has it impacted you?
  4. Sin is not just something “out there” but something “in us.” Have you ever thought about this before?  What are some of the solutions that the world has proposed to deal with the “problems” around us that fail to take into account that all of us are sinners?
  5. Jesus is the answer for the problem of sin.  What all has Jesus done for you regarding your sin?
  6. Because Jesus has won a victory over sin, we can have personal hope!  What sin do you need to confess today, remembering that it was fully paid for on the cross?
  7. Because Jesus has won a victory over sin, we have a ROCK of TRUTH to anchor to as we call our society out of darkness and to His glorious light!  How does the work of Jesus give you hope for others living in our world?
  8. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click link:

Perspective #3 4.25.21

 

To listen to sermon online, use the media player:

 

To watch the service stream, use YouTube:

 

Perspective (part 3) Sermon Preview

A few years ago, we had a strange situation happening at our house.  Every time we turned on the water in our shower, the pipes would rattle.  When I say “the pipes would rattle” I don’t mean it was rattling like someone was ringing a bell … I mean rattling LIKE THE STINKIN’ SPACE SHUTTLE IS PREPARING TO LAUNCH!!!! 

So, we talked to a friend who was a contractor and together we began trying to identify what the problem was.  Plumber after plumber would come in and investigate.  The process was always the same:

  1. A short conversation with us.
  2. Turning on the shower.
  3. Hearing the rumble, thus recognizing there was a problem.
  4. Offering up a solution for that problem (as they understood it).
  5. Implementing said solution.
  6. Turning the shower back on to see if the situation was fixed (it never was.)
  7. Rinse and repeat

After watching this process repeat again and again my wife (who will forever be known as the “pipe whisperer” after this moment) offered a different diagnosis (and thus a different solution.)  

“I think the problem is in that junction point where all those lines converge,” she said to plumber #4.  “What if you bypassed that junction to connect the water at the tub level to the water at the shower head level.  Would that solve the problem?”  

“NO,” was the initial response of plumber #4.  “That can’t be it.”

Now, this created a wild moment.  Plumbers #1-4 had all taken a swing at the fix.  They had tried strapping the pipes, changing the fixture, adding regulators, etc.  Behind all these proposed fixes stood very accomplished plumbers with years of experience.  On the other hand, you had my wife who had never plumbed a shower before, suggesting a different plan.  However, since their ideas had not worked, and they were fresh out of hypotheses, plumber #4 gave my wife’s proposal a try.  

It worked like a charm.  No more rattle!

Isn’t it amazing how when you properly understand the problem, your solution is WAY more successful!  Plumbers 1-4 misunderstood the problem, so their “fixes” solved nothing (except spending my money).  However, Kimberly properly identified the problem, so her solution silenced the rattle.

I say this today, not just to brag on my wife (though I could go on and on … she has done this on more than one occasion for broken items at our house.)  I share this story because I think it illustrates an important principle we are going to examine at Wildwood Community Church this Sunday.

Our world is broken.  Everyone knows it.  Just live here for any period of time and you will hear the rattle of this broken world shaking around us.  Romans 8:22-23 states “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait …”  People disappoint us.  Government decisions are messed up.  We cannot even keep the standards we have set for ourselves.  The rattle of our broken world is loud.  We all hear it.  Death, disappointment, disillusionment, disaster, despair.  I could keep going, but you get the idea.  The rattle is LOUD.

Many experts step in to diagnose the problem for us.  With degrees, podcasts, blogs, and books as their pedigree, experts inform us that the rattle is caused by systemic racism or capitalism or … in its most aggressive form in our context – the American way of life itself.  Of course, each of these causes would bring with them a proposed solution for how to “fix the rattle.”  The question is, has the problem been correctly identified?  We all hear the rattle, but what is its cause?  Before we invest our lives in a solution, it would behoove us to ask the question, what is the true root of the rattle … and let’s try to fix THAT.

This Sunday at Wildwood, in part 3 of our “Perspective” sermon series, we will be looking at Romans 1-5 in an attempt to understand the problem, so we can appropriate the right solution and identify the right hope.  Misunderstanding the problem leads to costly changes but no true progress.  Rightly understanding the problem and implementing the God-ordained solution can lead to transformation and HOPE.  I am looking forward to continuing this study with each of you in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 services this weekend.  Hope to see you there!  If you can’t make it, join us in our livestream at wildwoodchurch.org/live.  See you Sunday, and bring with you any friends who may benefit from this study as well!  (NOTE:  come when you can, but know that more seating is available in the 9:00 and 11:30 services).

As always, you can catch up in this series by watching the stream of parts 1-2  by clicking here:

Perspective (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, April 18, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on a variety of verses in the Old and New Testament that talked about humanity.  This message was part 2 in the “Perspective” series and focused on the fact that we were created on purpose and for a purpose.  Below you will find 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, download or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. One of the most basic concepts about “the God who is” is that He created us (and not the other way around).  What are the implications you can think of connected to this truth?  To say it another way, SINCE God created us, what does that mean about “us” and our connection to God?
  3. What is the most magnificent thing you have seen in the natural world?  Seeing the order of creation, and the climax of the creation of humanity, how does that impact you as you think about your place in this world?
  4. Are there any people (or groups of people) that you have discounted, dismissed, or dissed?  How does the truths we talked about in this message cause you to think differently about ALL people on the earth?  Any attitude or action you need to adjust regarding your thoughts or behavior connected to a specific person or group of persons?
  5. We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  In the message, we discussed a number of practical ways this plays out in your life.  Where are you most challenged (in response to this message) to live the life you were created for?
  6. I don’t know how many more days until the next “transition point” in your life.  What would it look like specifically for you to glorify God in your life in THIS CURRENT ERA?
  7. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click the link:

Perspective #2 4.18.21

 

To listen to sermon audio online, use media player:

 

To watch the stream, us YouTube online:

 

Perspective (part 2) Sermon Preview

A common theme in worship songs is the idea of FREEDOM.  Songs (both old and new) proclaim the freedom that we have in Christ.  For instance:

  • “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray – I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”  – Charles Wesley (“And Can it Be” 1738)
  • “Now we’re free, free, forever we’re free!  Come join the song of all the redeemed.  Yes We’re free, free forever AMEN.  When death was arrested and my life began.” – Heath Balltzglier, Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, and Paul Smith (“Death was Arrested” 2017)

These choruses (of course) are actually anchored in God’s Word.  Just a sampling:

  • “For freedom Christ has set us free …” – Galatians 5:1a
  • “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:7
  • “Live as people who are free …” – 1 Peter 2:16

The concept of freedom is attractive to us, isn’t it?  We love the thought of being set free from the bondage of sin.  However, in our rush to sing of our freedom, let us not allow our eyes to STOP when we see the word “free” in the biblical passages on which this concept is based.  Keep reading:

  • “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slaveryFor your were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:1, 13
  • “For one who has died has been set free from sin … Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” – Romans 6:7, 12-13
  • “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a coverup for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:16-17

See where those passages end up?  We are not set free to simply do whatever WE want to do, but we are set free from sin’s necessary rule so that we might live the life we were CREATED FOR.  We do not make our own purpose (any more than we make our own God.)  God made us … and He made us on purpose and for a purpose.  And the purpose for which God created us is FAR BETTER than whatever else we might cook up.  As it is written:

  • “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him …” – Acts 17:26-27
  • “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
  • “And God blessed them (Humanity).  And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:28

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue to anchor to the Rock of God’s Word as we look at a truly Christian PERSPECTIVE on humanity.  Who are we?  What were we created for?  These questions are of utmost importance, and much confusion exists today about this matter.  On Sunday we will look at a number of different biblical passages to remind ourselves of who we are, so that we can make more sense of what we have been called to do.  This message will be part 2 of the “Perspective: Viewing today’s world through a Christian lens.”  You can join us in person at Wildwood for our 9:00AM, 10:15AM, or 11:30 AM service on April 18.  Or, you can join us online live at 10:15AM that day (or watch anytime thereafter) at wildwoodchurch.org/live 

As I mentioned last week, this series of messages is really one long message broken into 4 parts.  If you want to look back at last week’s message, you can find it by clicking here. 

Hope you can make it … and hope to see you Sunday!!!  Let’s live the FREE life God has created us for together to the glory of God.

Perspective (Part 1): Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, April 11, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Acts 17:16-34.  This message was part 1 in the “Perspective” series, and focused on the statement, “The God who IS is greater than the God I IMAGINE.”  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Acts 17:16-34
  3. What are some of the ways your “boat has been rocked” by the waves of culture this year?  How have you responded?  Where have you tried to “anchor” and weather the storm?
  4. The Gospel message was relevant and necessary in both the religious synagogue, as well as Pagan Athens.  From your own perspective, is our culture in America today more like the synagogue or a place like Athens?  Why do you say that?
  5. What are some of the “gods” to which people try to anchor to “steady their boat” in today’s world?  What problems have you seen from people anchoring to the wrong thing?
  6. Are you anchoring to the rock of God’s Word?  Which of the 4 kinds of responses best represents your response to this message:  (1) No way I will tie to that Rock! (2) I made the decision long ago to fix to the Rock.  (3) I am fixed to the Rock through others.  (4) I am fixed to the Rock and tie the knot each morning.
  7. How can you help remind others to be fixed to the Rock this week?
  8. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

Perspective #1 4.11.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online:

 

Perspective: Series Preview

Have you ever participated in a game of “dizzy bat”?  This relay is straight from the pit of Hades if you ask me.  In this game, people run down to a stationary baseball bat, place one end of the bat on their forehead, the other end on the ground, then spin around as quickly as possible 10 times before “running” back to the start line.  I say “running” because it is next to impossible to run after spinning around that tight of a circle that fast.  When you stop spinning, your world doesn’t … your brain sufficiently scrambled … you either stumble back to the start line like a drunk at the end of a bender, or (if you are like me) fall flat on your back and beg for mercy.  Only after I stop moving can I gain sufficient perspective to get back up and move without falling apart.

I tell you this story because figuratively, I think our society has been playing a professional level game of “dizzy bat” the past 12 months.  With our heads on a “stick” of P’s (pandemics, politics, and protests) we have spun ‘round and ‘round at a disorienting pace in recent days.  As we head into the spring of 2021, many are stumbling toward a new start line, while others are flat on their backs trying to catch their bearings.  Can you relate?

How do we gain PERSPECTIVE in this moment to stop the world from spinning and make sense of what is happening … and (even more importantly) as Christ followers how do we understand our times through a Christian lens and know how we can respond in a God glorifying way in this moment?

Well, over the next 4 weeks at Wildwood Community Church, I am going to do my best to orient us to 4 absolutely critical-to-remember truths to maintain the proper perspective in our day.  These four truths help us maintain a Christian worldview in the midst of a society that wants to keep us spinning.

Most all sermons we preach at Wildwood are parts of larger series of messages, but these next 4 weeks are especially important to hear together.  In a sense, this series is one message in four parts.  I hope you make plans to join us for each of the four weeks for this series entitled, “Perspective:  Viewing today’s world through a Christian Lens.”  The outline of the series is as follows:

  • April 11:  The God who IS vs. the God we IMAGINE (Acts 17:16-34)
  • April 18:  The Human Race, part 1:  Created ON purpose and FOR a purpose (Genesis 1-3, Psalm 139)
  • April 25:  The Human Race, part 2:  What Happened?  (Romans 1-5)
  • May 2:  The BEST Solution (John 3:1-17, Matthew 5:13-16)

In this series, not only will we be looking at these core truths, but also seek to apply these truths to our current dilemmas to see how we might make sense of what is happening around us, and understand the path Christ is calling us to walk.  

I hope you all will join us in person in one of our 3 identical services at Wildwood Community Church – 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 AM or online at wildwoodchurch.org/live.  I will also be posting some additional thoughts and links to resources on this blog throughout the series for those who want to go deeper.  See you Sunday … and invite any friends you know who are also wrestling with these issues.  Let’s look together to see what God says about who He is, who we are, and what we are to do.

Acts: Contagious Christianity (part 5) Video and Slides

On Wednesday night, April 7, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I wrapped up a 5 week survey of the book of Acts entitled “Contagious Christianity.”  This week’s installment looked at Acts 21:27-28:31.  Below you will find the video of the class, and the slides from the presentation.

 

To access previous weeks of the study:

 

To watch part 5, use the video on YouTube: