Mission: Brief (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, February 5, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 2 Corinthians 2:17 – 3:3.  This message was part 2 in the Mission: Brief sermon series.  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. Read 2 Corinthians 2:17-3:3
  3. Before you listened to the message this morning, how might you have answered the question, “What does your pastor most desire to see happen in your church?”
  4. The Apostle Paul was unwilling to water down the Gospel message because he knew that the Corinthians needed the full (and real) Jesus, not some version of Jesus that Paul manipulated in his head.  What are some ways you sense people and ministry leaders today try to water down the truth of the Gospel to better fit in with our culture or to benefit them in some way?
  5. What are some of the ways you have seen Jesus change your life over your time following Him?  What are some areas you are hoping for continued transformation in the year ahead?
  6. Who is someone who Jesus has used to impact your life significantly?  How has God used them in your life?  Have you ever let them know the difference they have made in your life?
  7. Who is someone who Jesus has laid upon your heart to pour into in this season of your life?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

Mission: Brief #2 2.5.23

 

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Episode 42: This is Wildwood! For the Church With Bruce Hess

This is Wildwood
This is Wildwood
Episode 42: This is Wildwood! For the Church With Bruce Hess
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Here at Wildwood we are For the Church Following Jesus Together To the Glory of God! For this week’s podcast, we had on our Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess. Bruce came to Wildwood in 1979 when he became the 3rd Senior Pastor in Wildwood’s history, a role he faithfully served in for 37 years. Currently, Bruce teaches in a multitude of areas in the church, assists with adult ministry, serves as an elder, and is a faithful worker of the Lord wherever he can be used. Bruce has also been involved with Family Life Ministries where he is a part of the speaker team for the Weekend to Remember Getaways. He has been doing this for 26 years. Enjoy this episode with our friend Bruce, and tune in for a great one!

Link to Family Life Weekend to Remember: http://www.familylife.com/weekend-to-remember/

Link to Bruce’s website: http://brucehess.com

Mission: Brief (part 2) Sermon Preview

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 22nd year on staff at Wildwood Community Church.  It is really hard to believe it has been that many years.  If someone were to ask me what has “happened” during my time here, I could mark my experience many ways:

I could count the years by “title.”  For 5 years I served as the College Pastor, for 10 years I served as the Executive Pastor, and for the past 7 years, I have served as the Senior Pastor.  This would be one way to remember the time.

Or …

I could think about different big projects we have worked on over this span.  Watching the development of the “new” worship center, overseeing the construction of a children’s ministry building, or cheering on the mobilization of additional dollars toward outreach (locally and globally).  Each of these projects marked an era of our church’s history.

Or … 

I could think of different programs designed for service, training, or community that have launched in different eras over the past 2+ decades.  This is another way to count each season.

But, at the end of the day, for the right thinking minister, the target is not titles or buildings or programs.  These things are a part of ministry, but the growth of such things is NOT the definition of a healthy church or an effective minister.

So what should we be aiming at?  Well, the true target in ministry is to glorify God by seeing lives transformed in Christ.  That is our mission … that is our hope.

To say it another way, if 20 years of ministry produced bigger buildings, loftier titles, and new programs – BUT NO LIVES WERE CHANGED … well then, we would be spinning our wheels.  Ministers are not in the “org chart” business, or real estate, or instructional designers.  

No … we are pens.  Dipped in the inkwell of the Spirit, we long to see God use us to write Jesus’ Word on the hearts of people in a transformative way.  This is what I have hoped for over 20 years in ministry … it is what I hope for in the years that lie ahead.  If no lives have been changed than I wasted a lot of people’s time, trust, and treasure.

This idea of transformation is at the heart of Paul’s “Mission: Brief” in 2 Corinthians 2:17 – 3:3.  This Sunday at Wildwood, in part 2 of our series, we will look at these verses together as we talk about the target of life change in ministry.  

Jesus is in the business of changing lives.  Is He changing yours?  Join us Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services as we talk more about this.  Hope to see you there … and bring friends!

Mission: Brief (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, January 29, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.  This message was the first in the “Mission: Brief” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio/video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
  3. Have you ever heard anyone describe the Christian life as a pursuit to “healthy, wealthy, and happy”?  What do you think is missing from this description?
  4. What are some of the challenges you are currently facing “‘round the clock” of your life?
  5. Paul describes a perspective that allows him to ‘round the clock and ‘round the world give thanks to God … it is the perspective of a triumphal procession.  To the best of your understanding, what do you think Paul is trying to tell us with the example of the “triumph” Christ is leading us through “always” and “everywhere”?
  6. What are some ways you have sensed the “aroma of Christ” in the midst of the struggles or suffering of someone who was following Jesus?
  7. How might God be glorified through your life as you follow Christ through your current challenges?
  8. Your purpose in this life is to glorify God by spreading a knowledge of Christ throughout this world.  How are you living that reality out in your current context?  What might need to change as you live into this purpose?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Mission: Brief #1 1.29.23

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video, use YouTube online:

 

Mission: Brief (part 1) Sermon Preview

There is a lot of misunderstanding around the Christian life. For some reason, some insist that being a Christian (at least a “good” Christian) means that we will have good health, lots of stuff, and a favored position. So this version of Christianity goes: Jesus wants you healthy, wealthy, and happy – and if we are doing “it” right, we should experience all three.
This picture works sort-of, and some-times, and in the lives of some people. Examples will be shared of people who are on a “biblical diet” who are not sick; Christians who increased their tithe and then saw their business boom; and people who shared the Gospel and their entire network trusted Jesus and celebrated.
This is, some would argue, the triumphant Christian life.
But there is something that doesn’t seem right about this assessment. The physically healthy Christian eventually gets sick and dies. The world is full of godly believers in Jesus Christ who live below the poverty line or have “less” than their non-Christian neighbor. And even the celebrated evangelist finds their message rejected in some audiences … sometimes with people even “shooting” the messenger.
How do we square these realities? Doesn’t Jesus “always lead us in triumphal procession in Christ?” If I am doing the Christian life right, why can’t I expect to be healthy, wealthy, and happy?
Well, if you have ever had any questions like this … come to Wildwood Community Church on Sunday, January 29. I will be preaching in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services in part 1 of a series entitled “Mission: Brief.” We need to accurately understand the mission Jesus is taking us on as we follow Him. In fact, He IS leading us in triumphal procession (as we will see this week in 2 Corinthians 2:12-17)… but the parade may be a bit different than you have been led to believe: in the most important ways, it is way better, just maybe with a few more bumps in the road than we previously knew.
After all, what should we expect when we follow a crucified King? A resurrection – YES … but not before carrying our cross up a meaningful hill. See you Sunday … and bring friends!

Mission: Prep (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, January 22, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.  This message was part 3 of the “Mission: Prep” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
  3. When was the last time you really felt like you needed the forgiveness of another?  When was the last time you forgave someone?  For you is it harder to forgive or to be forgiven?
  4. Satan’s desire to divide and devour the church through our attitudes toward sin was detailed in the message.  One extreme is to avoid confronting known/public sin.  Another extreme is to never forgive a repentant sinner.  Do you find yourself personally falling more into one of these two ditches (either to licentiousness or judgmentalism)?
  5. Have you ever experienced a sin in a church or even small group you were a part of that caused pain to a large portion of the church?  How was that sin handled?  Was it handled at all?
  6. Is there someone you may need to lovingly confront about a sin issue this week?
  7. If someone repents, are you willing to forgive them?  How does the example of Jesus compel you in this conversation about forgiving one another?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, use link below:

Mission: Prep #3 1.22.23

 

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To watch the stream, use YouTube online:

 

Mission: Prep (part 3) Sermon Preview

Forgiveness.  We all want to be the recipient of it … after all, “all have sinned and fall short …” At the macro level, we have sinned against God, we have fallen short of His glory, and thus all right-thinking people understand our need for His forgiveness, mercy and grace.  But even at the micro level, we need to be forgiven.  Not only have we sinned against God, but we also sin against people created in God’s image.  So many times we are in need of the forgiveness of another.  

We all want to be the recipient of forgiveness – from God (unto salvation), and from others (unto peace and reconciliation).  We all want to be a part of a faith community that celebrates the forgiveness we have from God and practices this forgiveness to us.  But what about when we are the one who has been offended?  What about when we are the one being asked “will you forgive me for the harm I caused TO YOU?”  Well, that is a bit more difficult, isn’t it?  We want to receive forgiveness freely, but to grant forgiveness conditionally.

Movies give us models of Avengers who “right the wrongs” or vigilantes who dish out payback … but where are the models of forgiveness in our world today?  Well, these models should be in the church.  After all, all true church members understand that they have been forgiven MUCH by God, therefore, they should be the first to extend forgiveness to others … but ARE churches places of forgiveness?  Reviews are mixed.

What is clear, though, is that on the pages of the New Testament we see amazing examples of forgiveness.  The chief example, or course, is God our Father forgiving us in Christ.  However, there are also other examples of the followers of Jesus forgiving one another in light of what Jesus has done.  One of those examples is found in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.

Apparently a man had done some pretty hurtful and damaging things to the Apostle Paul … things that required the church to act to protect the reputation and integrity of the local church.  It is even possible that the man who had hurt Paul was asked to leave the fellowship of believers in Corinth for a time.  At some point in the midst of this discipline, the offending party apparently repented of their sin.  Though the church in Corinth eventually disciplined the man in his sin, how would they treat him in his repentance?  And what was Paul’s stance on the matter (since he was the one in the crosshairs of the abuse in the first place)?

This is the situation we will be looking at in part 3 of our “Mission: Prep” series this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services.  We will be looking at how we should respond to a repentant brother or sister in Christ who sin against us … at the corporate church level.  Two weeks ago, we saw that the “comforted comfort.”  This week we will see that the “forgiven forgive.”  Part of our preparation for the mission is to practice forgiveness as a church assembly.

Hope to see you Sunday for worship, communion, and study of God’s Word.  See you there … and bring friends!

Mission Prep (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, January 15, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 2 Corinthians 1:12 – 2:4.  This message was part 2 in the “Mission: Prep” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:12 – 2:4
  3. Have you ever “rejected a message” because of the “messenger”?  Describe that event and see if you can determine what contributed to your rejection.
  4. Have you ever been misunderstood (as you were serving/ministering to someone else)?  Have you ever misunderstood someone else as they were serving/ministering to you?
  5. Paul argued that if you checked his heart you would see that his motivations were pure in his actions toward the Corinthians.  Think of your own times of ministering to/serving others.  How pure are your motives as you serve others?  If challenged (and your heart was laid open) would your motives stand up under inspection?
  6. Why does personal integrity matter so much for someone who ministers in Jesus name (according to the verses we read today)?
  7. What is an area of personal integrity that you need to improve in the days ahead?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

Mission: Prep #2 1.15.23

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch, use YouTube online:

 

Mission: Prep (part 2) Sermon Preview

In this day and age, many people are “deconstructing” their faith.  Entire podcasts (garnering huge audiences) are detailing the negative impact that abusive church leadership has had on the faith of a generation.  Almost every day you can open a newspaper or scan social media and find evidence of another awful situation that has played out in a church.

We must first admit that though we have a perfect God and an amazing Savior, the church is an imperfect place, because it is made up of sinful people like you and me.  Everything from grievous sins and abuses (on one end of the spectrum) to unwise decision-making (on the other) can creep into churches and impact their congregants in profound ways.

But why are the decisions of church leaders and their responses to these sinful situations so impactful on their congregants?  And why should church leaders be held to such a high moral and ethical standard (if all sin and fall short of the glory of God)?  This is the subject of 2 Corinthians 1:12 – 2:4.  In these verses, the Apostle Paul addresses a few complaints he has received from the Corinthian Church … complaints that apparently led some in Corinth to believe that Paul was unfit to be an Apostle or a spiritual leader.  Some Corinthians were complaining that Paul was flaky, non-committal, hard to understand, too worldly, and too harsh.  That is quite a string of accusations against the man who God used to write half of the New Testament!  

Rather than just ignoring these criticisms, or squishing the Corinthians with his apostolic authority, Paul was compelled to lovingly and pastorally address them.  Why?  Because if people could not trust the messenger, why would they trust his Message?  So Paul addresses their concerns over 16 verses … the same 16 verses we are going to be looking at in our sermon this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church.

As we continue to talk about how God is preparing us for the mission He has called us to (in part two of our “Mission: Prep” series), we will see the importance of integrity and motivation in our connections with others.  Hope to see you Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … and bring friends!

Mission: Prep (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, January 8, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.  This message was part 1 in the “Mission: Prep” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio/video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
  3. Do you have an example from your life where a time of “loss” prepared you to help someone else in the future?
  4. Paul talks about the people in Corinth as “the church of God” and “saints.”  Given what we know of their struggles and behavior (from 1 Corinthians) how does this help you understand the grace of God toward you and me (who also have lots of struggles)?
  5. What are some examples of general affliction you are experiencing right now … or even “suffering” right now you might be experiencing because of your connection with Jesus Christ?  What are some ways “the Father of mercy and all comfort” is caring for you in this season of your life?
  6. How are you relying upon the “God of reality” not just the God of a textbook of theology today in the midst of your struggles?
  7. Who in your life is struggling right now that God may want to use you to administer comfort (through your presence, encouragement, and prayer)?  What is one thing you can do this week for this person to encourage them?
  8. Using 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 as a model, take some time praying for a brother or sister in Christ the the Lord has laid on your heart (who is experiencing difficulty).  After you pray for them, send them a note of encouragement today, letting them know you are praying for them.
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Mission: Prep #1 1.8.23

 

To listen online, use the media player below

 

To watch the service, use YouTube online: