Reveal (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, November 4, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:21-28. This message was part 2 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the sermon to listen to, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the file:

Reveal #2 11.04.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the worship service, view the Facebook Livestream:

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Reveal (part 2) Sermon Questions

On November 4, 2018 I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church based on Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19.  This message was part 2 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below are a series of  questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19
  3. What are some common misconceptions people have about God?  (In other words, are there things that many ASSUME are true about God, but may not be true?)
  4. In all the Scripture passages read above, Jesus prophecied about His death long before it happened.  This means that Jesus KNEW what was awaiting Him in Jerusalem and yet He proceeded to walk straight there!  What does this tell you about Jesus?
  5. What are some ways that you are tempted to discard REVELATION from God in Scripture in favor of your personal REASON or intuition? 
  6. Discipleship is about following Jesus.  As we follow Him, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves by making Jesus the center of our lives (not ourselves at the center of our lives.)  Have you made this decision?  Are you continuing to make this decision in all areas of your life today?  If not, where do you need to practice “self-denial” today?
  7. As we follow Jesus, we also must take up a cross.  Taking up a cross is not a generic sense of hardship, but specific opposition and ridicule that we will experience because of our connection to Jesus.  Have you experienced this kind of opposition before?  If so, what was it?
  8. Jesus promises us that following Him is worth it, as He will reward us in the end.  In what ways is it “worth it” to follow Jesus . . . even if it means denying yourself today and experiencing ridicule and persecution?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Reveal (Part 2) Sermon Preview

There is a subtle temptation that exists for all people.  While some are tempted by an addictive substance, and others succumb to the allure of sexual immorality, I believe there is a forbidden fruit every one of us tries to bite:  a desire to create God in our own (fallen) image.  What do I mean?

God is who God is.  After all, His name as revealed to Moses at the burning bush was “I Am.”  God defines all things, including Himself.  But we all have a temptation to pour God into the mold of our reason or imagination . . . and the Living God just does not fit our mold.  We think a loving God would not allow suffering, and yet God is Love and there is suffering in the world.  We think a holy God would not allow evil, and yet God is holy and Satan prowls about the earth God created.  We think 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, yet in the identity of God we have a Trinity where 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. 

You see, as people, we think we know everything about God, and yet there are things about God that we simply just don’t understand; from our perspective Jesus often does unexpected things.  If we are left only to our own reason and intellect, we will create a god that may have SOME resemblance to the real thing, but ultimately we will miss the mark, because God cannot be contained by our reason and intellect.  Thankfully, God REVEALS to us His identity and invites us to embrace Him for who He really is, instead of who we think He might be. 

As Jesus neared the time when He would head to the cross, He began to increasingly talk about His imminent torture, execution, burial and resurrection.  3 times from Matthew 16-20, Jesus directly tells the disciples what is getting ready to happen on that first Good Friday-Easter.  Yet, as Jesus talked about what was to come, Peter actually REBUKES Jesus.  He literally tells Jesus He was wrong for making such a prediction!  Peter had either let that “keys of the kingdom” comment go to his head, or (more likely) was simply pouring Jesus into the mold of what he thought was the most reasonable thing for the Christ to do next.  After all, who would expect the Son of the LIVING God to DIE?  Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.  This reality (of course) is far greater than what Peter had in mind, both in what it accomplished (our salvation) and what it was rooted in (reality instead of fantasy). 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue our “Reveal” sermon series by looking at Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19 and Jesus’ promise of the cross AND the empty tomb.  We will also share in the Lord’s Supper together.  Hope to see you in our 9:45 or 11:00 worship service!

Reveal (Part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:13-20.  This message was part 1 of the “Reveal” sermon series.  The audio from this sermon is available below to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Reveal #1 10.28.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the livestream of the worship service, visit:

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Reveal (Part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:13-20.  This message was part 1 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below are a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 16:13-20
  3. If you were to go door to door down your street or around your school or at your work place, and ask the question “Who is Jesus?” what are some of the answers you think you might hear?
  4. How would YOU answer the question?  Who do YOU say Jesus is?  How does your answer compare to Peter’s?  What have been the things/people that helped shape your answer to this question?
  5. What do we learn about the church in Matthew 16:18-19? 
  6. In what way is your life anchored to God’s Truth?  Are there any areas of your life where you have wandered away from God’s Truth?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Reveal – Part 1 Preview

Important things are often revealed in important ways.  I remember the night I proposed to my wife.  She did not know what I was planning, but the evening of January 16, 1996 was several months in the making.  Conversations with family, purchasing a ring, consulting with a friend on the perfect meal to cook, arranging another friend’s apartment to host the dinner, hiding the wedding ring on the shelf in the bathroom, deciding what to say when I popped the question.  A LOT of planning went into that night.

So, as the moments wound down to when I would be picking Kimberly up for our date, my heart was pounding a thousand miles an hour.  I could not wait to reveal to her my hopes for our future together.  After dinner and desert, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.  In a sense, I pulled back the curtain of my soul to show her these important things I had been planning and thinking (and hinting at) but had not revealed to her in such a plain way. 

I am happy to say . . . she said “Yes.”

As Jesus’ earthly ministry was winding down, He was planning something amazing.  From eternity past, He had a plan to invite us to spend an eternity with Him in His Father’s house.  The virgin birth, authenticating miracles, authoritative teaching . . . all were setting up His plan: to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven, and so that where He was, we might be also.

Before Jesus’ went to the cross, however, He had some very special dates to keep with His disciples:  a number of key events where He would reveal to them exactly who He was.  These events included:

  • A conversation in the pagan city of Caesarea Phillipi
  • Three different references to His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave
  • A supernatural “transfiguration” before a few disciples
  • Casting out demons and paying a “Temple Tax”

In order for the disciples to say “Yes” to Jesus, they needed a fuller understanding of who Jesus was . . . and in Matthew 16-17, Jesus takes the time and effort to Reveal His true identity to His followers.

As people who live today 2,000 years after the earthly life of Jesus, we also need to go back and look at these stories to see who Jesus really is.  After all, we are reluctant to follow One we don’t know.  So join us at Wildwood this next month, beginning October 28 in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, as we see Jesus as He Revealed Himself, with the hopes that we will say “Yes” and follow Him.  See you Sunday as we kick off this series by looking at Matthew 16:13-20.

Have you considered water baptism?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday October 21 (for children, students, and adults) for all who are interested.  We look forward to hearing form you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on November 18.  Hope to hear from you before then!

50th Anniversary (part 3): Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 30, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message looking at the “4 Fors” of Wildwood.  This message was a part of “Looking Ahead” and concluded our 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Below you will find the audio from the message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Celebrating 50 Years #3 9.30.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the entire service, view via our Facebook Live stream:

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50th Anniversary (part 3): Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church highlighting the “4 Fors” as a part of “Looking Ahead” as a church.  This message was the third installment in our 50th anniversary celebration. Below you will see a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus says He is building His congregation.  Though we often think of the “church” as a physical location (i.e. Wildwood is at 1501 24th Ave. NE), the church Jesus was building was a BODY that was alive!  Therefore, church is not just a place you attend, but a life you live together with others.  How do you primarily view church involvement?  Attendance only, or something more?
  3. Think of your relationship with God over the past decade.  In what ways has God grown you spiritually over that period of time?
  4. Who are 3 people in your “sphere of influence” that God wants you to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
  5. Have you considered hosting or co-hosting a block party in the next 6 months with Wildwood?  Details:  wildwoodchurch.org/blockparty
  6. Who are some missionaries you have had the privilege of praying for over the past 12 months?  If you don’t know anyone to pray for, visit http://wildwoodchurch.org/global-outreach/ for ideas.
  7. How are you helping to pass along your faith to the next generation?  Why do you think this is so important?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

Access these questions in pdf format by clicking here.

50th Anniversary: A Look Ahead (Sermon Preview)

In prominent cities around the world, museums exist to tell stories of the past.  Artifacts, plaques, and presentations combine to instruct and to inspire.  Whether the subject matter of the museum is art, history, or science, one thing each museum has in common is that they are all D-E-A-D.  The items in the halls of these buildings may inspire those in the present to make a better future, but the very nature of a museum is a chronicling of the past. 

As you probably know, this month we are celebrating Wildwood’s 50th anniversary as a church.  As a part of any anniversary, you spend some portion of time looking backward.  This gives us a chance to remember God’s work in the past to inspire us for our present and our future.  However, there is something significant we cannot forget . . .

The church is not a museum. 

Mistakenly, translators of our English Bibles failed to properly translate Matthew 16:18b into accurate English.  In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  In this verse, the Greek word “Ekklesia” is translated “church” by modern English Bible translators.  The word “church” is actually a word with German roots that means “the Lord’s House” . . . and could even be translated the “Lord’s Temple.”  The only problem is, Jesus did not speak German when He spoke the words of Matthew 16!  The Greek behind that statement is better translated into English as “congregation” or “assembly of people.”  For a variety of reasons (most of them political) the first translators of the English Bible (save William Tyndale who was killed for his translation!) called it a “church” and that translation has been the tradition ever since. 

Why do I give that piece of history here?  I give it because if the church is a PLACE . . . a BUILDING . . . it could be a museum – a place to simply look back and remember.  However, the Ekklesia Jesus is building is a gathering of people.  A Body.  And it is ALIVE!

Remembering this, we know the church does not just have a past, it has a present and a future!  This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be wrapping up the celebration of our 50th anniversary by looking ahead to some exciting opportunities we have as a church to invite the church, the community, the nations, and the next generation to follow Jesus together with us to the glory of God.  Make plans to be at Wildwood this Sunday, September 30, 2018, at 9:45 or 11:00 as we worship together.  O Church arise!