Walk in Love (Part 1) Preview

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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

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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:

Nations Under God (Part 2) Sermon Questions

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On Sunday, September 18, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached part 2 of the “Nations Under God” series.  Below you will find a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. In the message today, we talked about how God has provided a few restraints in the world concerning sin: the conscience, the family, the church, and the government.  In what way do you see these forces restraining sin in our world today?
  2. In response to the “gift of government” and in recognition of its authority (given by God), Christians are called to be model citizens, honor government officials, and pray for government officials.  What are some practical ways you can apply these commands in your life today?
  3. What are some examples (you can imagine) where the government might require Christians to not do something He has commanded us to do, or require us to do something He forbids?
  4. How does it encourage you that Jesus is building His Kingdom, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it?
  5. Are you making God your “fortress”?
  6. How can you apply this message this week?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Nations Under God (part 2 preview)

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A couple of Saturdays ago, the ground began to shake.  (No, I am not talking about the figurative ground beneath OU’s National Championship hopes for this season . . . I mean literally – the ground SHOOK.)  The 5.8 earthquake with an epicenter near Pawnee, turned the ground beneath my home into a giant washing machine during the spin cycle.  For about 20 seconds, our house rattled about . . . long enough to cause each member of my family to pursue some form of “shelter.”  Josh dove into my lap while Kimberly hurried beneath a door frame.  Where did you take your refuge that day when the ground began to quake?

While earthquakes this large are still rare in Oklahoma, the figurative ground beneath our lives shakes more often.  Personal events (divorce, death, disease) rattle individual lives at different times . . . but occasionally there are public events whose epicenter we all share on a common timetable.  Public events like terrorists killing innocent civilians, racism ripping apart cities, or the cost of crude oil downgrading our economy shake us all. 

When your world begins to quake, where do you run for shelter?  When personal events unspool, we often take shelter in the arms of a loved one.  However, when public events shake our lives, we often hurry beneath the frame of government.  People look to governments to solve shared crisis too large for us to handle on our own. 

When public crisis shake our world, we often find relief in the grace God gives through our government . . . but sometimes, the crisis is moving so violently that it seems to be cracking the government to pieces as well.  It is frightening when even the “door frames” of our society feel compromised by the sinful shakes of this world.

As a Christian, however, we need not persist in fear, regardless of the shake around us or how our government appears to be handling it.  We have a refuge we can run to for security that is sure and stable.  As Martin Luther declared 500 years ago (and the Psalmist proclaimed thousands of years before that): 

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing! 

Our shelter He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. 

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. 

His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate. 

On earth is not his equal. 

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. 

Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. 

Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He! 

Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same.

And He must win the battle! ”

In this election year, as the world quakes around us, we may want to shelter beneath the frame of government, but there is a far safer foundation on which our lives can be secured.  Rest assured friends — there is a Kingdom Jesus is building, but it is not the United States of America.  It is a Kingdom that is not of this world, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. He must (and will) win the battle!

We are called to honor the temporary authorities God has established in this world, while maintaining our allegiance to His ultimate authority as the Sovereign over all.  What does this look like?  How does it play out in real life?  We will explore this idea more on Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we wrap up our short two part series called “Nations Under God:  Christian Citizenship 101.”  I look forward to preaching on Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 service as we find hope and direction for our lives in today’s shaky world.

Aim (Part 4) Sermon Audio/Video

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On Sunday, September 4, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 12:14-21.  This message was part 4 in the “Aim” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio and video to listen to or share with others.

 

To download the audio, click this link:

Aim Part 4

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon, use the Vimeo video below:

Aim (part 4) Sermon Questions

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On Sunday, September 4, 2016 I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church.  This message was the fourth and final part of the “Aim” sermon series and was based on Romans 12:14-21.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion related to this sermon.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Read Romans 12:14-21
  2. When someone hurts you, what are ways you sometimes try to “get even” with that person?  How does your normal response contrast with Paul’s directives in this week’s passage?
  3. Do you find it easier to “rejoice with those who rejoice” or to “weep with those who weep?”  Why do you think these commands are given to followers of Jesus Christ?
  4. From 12:17-21, Paul gives several commands to followers of Christ about how they should respond when they are hurt by others.  Which of these statements by Paul is most challenging to you?  Is there a particular relationship where God might want you to put this truth into action this week?
  5. What reasons do we sometimes give for why we should NOT be expected to follow the commands given in these verses?  Are your excuses valid?  Why or why not?
  6. What applications did you take from this Sunday’s sermon?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Aim (Part 4) Sermon Preview

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When crime is committed in Gotham City . . . the court system or chief of police are not usually your best choice of protection.  Instead, the people often look to the sky and shine a signal shaped like a bat, and wait for the caped crusader to arrive.  Batman is the epitome of civilian vigilante justice.  He arrives right on time and rectifies the situation without having to wait on the judicial system.  Batman’s character is so appealing, it has been a part of American pop culture for nearly 80 years.

At some level, we love the idea of swift justice for crimes committed — and while most of us don’t consider ourselves a vigilante, we are tempted to use certain measures of “street justice” from our emotional utility belts.  When we feel like we have been wronged, we are tempted to retaliate by spraying the offending party with passive aggressive repellant, shooting them with destructive words, or trapping them beneath a web of retribution.  Often we feel as though these actions will make us feel better . . . but do they?  It has been my experience that they do not.  After we lash back, the pain remains.  So what are we to do?

As followers of Christ, we are promised ultimate justice concerning the things that happen in this world.  In fact, we are even promised eternal protection (not saying that bad things won’t happen, but ultimately, in Christ our future is secure).  But, we do not get these things by punishing those who wrong us ourselves . . . we get it by looking up to the sky and remembering that one day Jesus will shine through those clouds, return to this earth, and set things right.  Knowing that is the ultimate climax of justice, we are called to respond to our tormenters today . . . with love.

This topic is relevant to all, challenging to all, and liberating to all.  Join us Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we wrap up our “Aim” sermon series by looking at Romans 12:14-21 together.  See you Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service!

Aim (part 3) Sermon Audio/Video

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On Sunday, August 28, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message on Romans 12:9-13.  This message was part 3 of the “Aim” sermon series.  The audio and video of the sermon are posted below for you to listen to/watch or share.

 

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

Aim (Part 3)

 

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

 

To watch the video, use the Vimeo video below:

Aim (Part 3) Sermon Questions

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On Sunday, August 28, 2016 I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church.  This message was part 3 of the “Aim” series and was based on Romans 12:9-13.  Below you will find questions related to the message for further reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Read Romans 12:9-13
  2. Why do you think Paul often followed his discussion of spiritual gifts with a call to love?  (He does so in both 1 Corinthians 12-13 and Romans 12.)
  3. In your opinion, what is the difference between a love that is full of hypocrisy and a love that is genuine?
  4. Has your experience in churches contained a “family kind of feeling/love”?  Why or why not?
  5. Have you lost any zeal in serving the Lord?  What can you do to rekindle the flame and joy of serving the Lord?
  6. Prayerfully consider if there are any opportunities the Lord is giving you right now to share some of your time, money, etc. with another.
  7. What applications did you take from this Sunday’s sermon?

To access a copy of these questions in pdf format, click here.

Aim (part 3) Preview

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We recently had a need to replace some windows in our house.  Over time, the hot and the cold of Oklahoma had caused our windows to expand and contract to the point that several of them had broken — inviting unwanted 6 and 8 legged “friends” to join us in our humble abode.  We decided to replace these broken windows . . . but what would we replace them with?

Like so many areas of life, there is a whole world of options that sit behind seemingly simple decision.  Should the windows be made of plastic, wood, or a hybrid?  Did we want grids in the windows?  Would we like the windows to open?  And if so, how did we want to open them?  What color should they be?  And on, and on.  I know, I know . . . these are first world problems, and a blessing to be able to HAVE options for ANY window . . . much less windows that we liked . . . but the decisions still had to be made.

Though each window had its own unique contribution to bring, they all had a few things in common — including the glass that filled the frame for us to peer through.

I was thinking about this today as I read through Romans 12:9-13.  In Romans 12, Paul has just been talking about all the “options” that make Christians different from each other — a difference that is by design.  Some of us have gifts of speaking, while others have gifts of serving.  However, despite our differences in WHAT we do when we serve, there is an incredible similarity in HOW we should do our WHAT in service.  We are to have service that is characterized by love.  Paul makes this clear everywhere he talks about spiritual gifts.  He did so in 1 Corinthians 12 (where he talked about gifts) and 13 (where he talked about love), and here in Romans 12:3-8 (where he talks about gifts) and 12:9-13 (where he talks about love). 

When people peer through the life of a Christian (regardless of their gifting) they should see the agape love of Christ.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will continue our series called “Aim” by looking at Romans 12:9-13 together as we see the love we should be aiming at in our Christian lives.  Join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we worship Jesus together, continue our sermon series, and partake of the Lord’s Supper.  See you Sunday . . . and bring a friend!