Questions for Reflection – Sunday, May 31, 2020

On Sunday, May 31, 2020, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Singing in the storm, Part 1” it is Part 4 of our current sermon series Anchored. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

​​​​​​​1. When life crashes in on us—where do our eyes (our focus) tend to go?  Where should our eyes focus instead?  What kind of difference would that make?

2. Storms appear suddenly in Oklahoma and in our lives.  What can assist us to prepare for a sudden life storm which—in turn—can help us respond with an attitude of “singing in the storm?”

3. God is the Holy and Sovereign King, right? What can help us to retain a sense of reverence and awe in a world that often emphasizes casualness and informality?

4. In what ways does the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty help us in everyday life?

5. What tends to dominate our prayer lives (make a list)?
Why is that?  In what ways do our common prayer practices differ from Habakkuk’s
prayer song?

6. What does “looking back” mean for followers of Jesus?  What types of things are we called to remember?

7. One study cites stats that indicate some people tap, swipe, or click their smartphone 2617 times a day, resulting in what one researcher calls, “continuous partial attention.” How could the syndrome of partial concentration adversely affect our relationship with God?

8.  List as many ways as possible showing how God has worked in your life.  Bruce said, “When we reflect back on what God has done in the past, our trust deepens in the present.”

9. Read Psalm 103 out loud.  Then take a few moments to express your gratitude to Him.

Sneak Peek – Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hey Wildwood Family!!

It’s been an alarming week.  No, I’m not referring to Covid 19 issues.  I’m referring to the disturbing events in Minneapolis and the reactions around the country. It is startling that such events can happen in our country.  People are hurting, frustrated and angry. Our governmental and civic leaders need to act speedily and with wisdom. Now is a vital time for us to pray for our leaders as the Apostle Paul calls us to do in I Timothy 2:1-6.

Indeed, our Savior desires for ALL people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  There is one God and one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL. I pray that this does not simply become an opportunity for people to act out in their flesh, but rather to seek ways to love and serve one another without wrath and dissension (Galatians 5:13; 1 Timothy 2:8). Let’s pray that way!

Well, this Sunday is the last day of May…we jump into June on Monday!  Wow. Our service plan remains the same for Sunday and we are excited to have senior recognition in both services. First, we are continuing our online streaming church service which will be live at 9:30 am (although you can access it after 9:30 anytime).  Go to wildwoodchurch.org/live to access it.

Second, we are again planning an outside in-person worship service at 11 am (same music and message) in our southeast parking by the children’s building.  This is a “bring your own lawn chair/folding chair” outdoor gathering.  Weather-wise it will be sunny on Sunday so bring a hat or some sun protection.

The title of this Sunday’s message from our Anchored series is “Singing in the Storm pt. 1” from Habakkuk chapter three. This chapter is a prayer song composed by Habakkuk who also played stringed instruments (see the last phrase in the book). His song is going to praise God for how He is always at work, how He is always in control, and how He always provides salvation.

Hope to “see” you Sunday either in the Livestream or in-person at 11 am outside.

 

Bruce

Wisdom in Leadership

Leadership is hard.  In my youth I aspired to positions of leadership out of ambition.  I wanted to become the president of the organization or captain of the team as a way of achieving status or demonstrating success.  

Fairly early on, however, I learned that being a leader was not so much a way to status as to service.  Leadership meant making hard decisions, showing up early and staying late, listening to various viewpoints, caring deeply for those under your charge, and being criticized for whatever happened.  In high school, college, and my early years of ministry, I was learning that leadership was merely a specialized service to others.  Leadership is not about the leader … it is about the group being led.

I write this today, because leaders today are faced with many difficult choices.  In this COVID-19 spring, there are very few things in any organization or church that are simply “rinse and repeat.”  Every day there are new obstacles … there are things you cannot do, or that you cannot do the way you “used to do them.”  Rather than just being depressed at the loss of the past or a critic of the direction some are walking, leaders (at least good leaders) have to press ahead and chart a new course.  Leaders have to remember their “WHY” so they can chart a new “HOW.”

Leading a church in the midst of this season has given me a great appreciation for leaders making decisions at all levels in all organizations.  Leaders in government, business, schools, and non-profits all have my respect, and my prayers.  They are serving their citizens, employees/customers, students/teachers, clients/parishoners in ways that often go unnoticed. Sure some are doing this better than others … but let’s be honest – this is ALL OF OUR FIRST COVID-19.  So, it is to be expected that mistakes may be made along the way.

Given all this, I was reading in 1 Kings 3 about the time when David’s son Solomon became King over Israel.  It was a time of great transition in the nation.  Some took to this change better than others, but all were impacted by it.  Solomon had to deal with big issues like the continued growth of the nation and the construction of the Temple, but he also had to deal with smaller issues … like how to manage the leadership of his own army and household – that is a lot of mouths to feed!  As a young man, no doubt, Solomon was feeling the weight of leadership for (maybe) the first time.  Whatever he thought being King was going to be like, the reality was harder than he thought.

In this moment, God appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he wants.  Solomon did not hesitate, but said this, “And now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child.  I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.  Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people , that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9)

Solomon admitted that he was a “rookie.”  He admitted that he did not know what to do.  He knew that his role was to serve the people by leading them in the right way, and so he asked God for wisdom on how to lead.  God was honored by Solomon’s request, and He granted it.

I say this today as a reminder to myself, and an appeal to all in leadership of any organization … especially to leaders in the Church around the world … may we follow Solomon’s example.  May we all admit that we are “rookies” in this moment and do not know exactly what to do — how to re-open and restart ministries in this current climate.  May we remember the importance of the task that is set before us, and what is at stake.  The Gospel is the very definition of “essential” and the people in our churches and in our communities need the hope and the light of Jesus now more than ever.  Knowing these realities, let us all hit our knees in prayer and ask God to give us His wisdom on the matter.  Just as God answered Solomon, I believe God will give us the wisdom that we need as well (as James 1:5 so eloquently reminds us.)

Leaders of our city, state, country, businesses, churches, organizations, teams, and families … I am praying for YOU today.  May God give us “rookies” His wisdom to point the way forward.  I appreciate the specialized service our leaders are putting in right now.

Questions for Reflection – Sunday, May 24, 2020

On Sunday, May 24, 2020, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “God will make it right!” it is Part 3 of our current sermon series Anchored. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. What are some of the evils or injustices you see in our world today?

As Habakkuk underscores, God’s promise is to “make it right.” How do passages like Obadiah 15 and Jeremiah 25:14 help with our perspective about this?

2. Habakkuk 2:3 emphasizes that God’s judgment and ultimate justice is already on His divine schedule—“it will not fail.”  How does that truth help us as we are affected by ungodliness and wickedness in our world today?

3. Let’s honestly apply the principles of God’s judgment on the Chaldeans (Babylonians).
Ask yourself truthfully:
Do I ever try to enrich myself at the expense of others?
Do I ever hit others and get violent to get my way?
Do I ever walk over others to reach my own selfish goals?
Do I ever use deceit and manipulation to take advantage of others?
If so, what changes must you make?

4. An idol can be anything that we turn to that takes priority over the place of God in our life.

What are some “idols” that people struggle with in our day?
What “idol” is a temptation for you to seek?

5. In Habakkuk 2:2 God emphasizes that His truth is designed to be shared. Brainstorm about some practical ways you can share God’s truth in your world.

6.  Matthew 7:13-14 emphasizes that there are two paths in life. One path is wide and leads to destruction.

Why are there so many people on the wide path? The narrow path leads to life. How does one take the narrow path?  Explain

7.  For those who like to dig deeper. The phrase, “the righteous (or just) shall live by faith” originally occurs in Habakkuk 2:4. What aspect of living by faith is the focus in the three places in the New Testament where the phrase is quoted? (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38.)

8.  Read out loud Isaiah 26:4  Give God thanks for being our everlasting rock!

Sneak Peek for Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hey Wildwood Family!!

So good to physically see many of you at the outdoor lawn chair service last week! I can’t wait till we can ALL gather again in-person as a large group in the worship center.

Wow.  We’ve come to Memorial Day weekend. Hard to believe it is already here. At the same time many of us will probably spend this holiday weekend in a different manner than we might normally because of all the restrictions.  Please do take some time to remember and thank those who have invested their lives to protect our freedom.

Our service plan remains the same for the next several Sundays. First, we are continuing our online streaming service which will be live at 9:30 am (although you can access it after 9:30 anytime).  Go to wildwoodchurch.org/live to access it.

Second, we are again planning an in-person worship service at 11am (same music and message) in our southeast parking by the children’s building.  This is a “bring your own lawn chair/folding chair” outdoor gathering.  Check the weekly newsletter for much more information and all the details or find them at wildwoodchurch.org/health.

Of course, we are watching the weather closely regarding the outdoor service. If somehow rain washes us out, you can be notified via text by texting wildwood1 to 95577 or by checking wildwoodchurch.org

The title of this Sunday’s message is “God Will Make It Right!” from Habakkuk chapter two in our Anchored series. Since we won’t have time to read all 20 verses this week, please read chapter two before Sunday.  Here’s the chapter outline to help:

  1. Habakkuk’s anticipation – 2:1
  2. The Lord’s admonition – 2:2-4;
  3. Judgment to come (wait and watch) – 2:5-20

 

Hope to “see” you Sunday either in the Livestream or in-person at 11am outside.

Bruce

Questions for Reflection – May 17, 2020

On Sunday, May 17, 2020, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message was “Why God?” it is Part 2 of our sermon series Anchored. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. We began by saying, maybe the most asked question in human history is, Why God?
Reflect back on a time when you clearly remember asking that question of God. What were some of the details of that situation?

2. Why is it that the common assumption life should be reasonably easy, innately fair, and readily understandable so widely held and assumed to be true?

3. List some parallels you see from our culture today that reflect similar situations in Judah during Habakkuk’s time.  Has God’s rule shifted in any way?  Elaborate.

4. Read again Psalm 5:4-6.  With that description of God, how do we explain His seeming lack of response to the wickedness and pridefulness of our day?

5. When life seems to unravel around us, why should we not respond like many do by either panicking, grumbling, or trying to escape in some way?

6. J.I. Packer said, God exposes us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely.  This is the ultimate reason…why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities…to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast. Reflect and discuss what that means in our everyday life.

7. Take some time to “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Sneek Peak for Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hey Wildwood Family!!

Remember how Steve Martin used to say on Saturday Night Live, “I’m a wild and crazy guy?” Well, we’ve been living a “wild and crazy” life these last number of weeks.  Right!?  It’s hard to know what is around the next turn.  Fortunately, the Great Shepherd has promised to be with us every through every twist and turn.

We are excited for Sunday for several reasons.  One is that I get to continue leading our study through the book of Habakkuk at our online streaming service.  By the way, remember that we are moving our online streaming to 9:30 am this Sunday, although you can access it also after 9:30 anytime.  Go to wildwoodchurch.org/live to access it.

Two is that, in addition, we are returning to an in-person worship service at 11 am (same music and message) in our southeast parking by the children’s building.  This will be a “bring your own lawnchair/folding chair” outdoor gathering.  Check the weekly newsletter for much more information and all the details, or go to wildwoodchurch.org/health.

Three is that we are excited to make an announcement about our student ministries this Sunday.  We hope you are able to come in-person, but if not, we fully understand.

This Sunday we will dive into Habakkuk 1:12-17 as Habakkuk raises his second complaint to the Lord, asking what may be the most asked question in history:  Why God??  It will be a very practical time together.

Hope to “see” you Sunday either in the livestream or in-person at 11 am outside.

Bruce

Wildwood Community Church Update: May 10, 2020

Wildwood Update 5/10/20

Hello Wildwood!  We deeply miss seeing you!  This COVID-19 situation has physically separated us as a church family for nearly two months now … and we can’t wait to be able to gather together again!  As you know, local guidelines are set to loosen this coming weekend making it possible for Wildwood to resume some form of our “in person” gatherings beginning May 17.  After much prayer and reflection, the Elders and staff leadership are excited to outline what returning to “in person” services will look like over the next few weeks.

The Livestream will Continue!

Though Wildwood has hosted a livestream since September 2018, the past 2 months have seen this service reach greater and greater numbers of people.  We estimate that 2,000+ people have worshipped with us each of the past few Sundays, with about twice that number joining us on Easter Sunday.  Literally people from all over the world have gathered with us each Sunday for our stream.  Knowing that many will still not be able to join us on Sunday mornings in person going forward (for a variety of reasons), we will continue to offer the Livestream each Sunday, but moving the time to 9:30AM Central Time beginning May 17.  This earlier time will be more convenient for many, PLUS the service will be available to join anytime after 9:30AM throughout the rest of the week.  This will enable those who worship with us online to continue to do so going forward.  As always, our Livestream is available at wildwoodchurch.org/live .  If you are a member of a vulnerable population (over 65 years old, have an underlying health condition, or take care of someone in one of those categories), or if there are other factors that make you leery about going to a live event – PLEASE join us on the livestream!

An “In Person” Outdoor Service will be Held at 11:00AM

Beginning May 17, we will host an “in person” outdoor worship service at 11AM  in Wildwood’s back parking lot (nearest our Children’s Entrance) at 1501 24th Ave. NE.  This service will have the exact same sermon, worship singing, and content as the livestream, but will allow us to gather physically as a congregation.  Why are we gathering outside?  Well, the physical distancing requirements at this phase of “re-opening,” are still prohibitive enough that we cannot accommodate as many people indoors as outdoors.  Additionally, the open air environment prevents some of the sanitation concerns that might be felt indoors at this early stage.  We are working on long term plans to enhance the safety and sanitation of our building allowing us to accommodate more folks in a better way indoors should these restrictions continue.  In the mean time, we will gather outdoors for an hour of worship beginning May 17!  We anticipate being in this outdoor format for the 3 remaining Sundays in May (May 17, 24, 31), and will reevaluate the plan for future phases over the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned, and thank you for your flexibility!

What about “In Person” Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, or Adult Group Programming?

As we gather outdoors starting on May 17, we are sad to say that our Children’s, Student, and Adult classes will not be held “in person” but will remain online.  We can’t wait to physically bring these options back as we know that the ministry God does through those groups is greatly significant.  Know that we are encouraged by how God is using these ministries online right now, and we are committed to bringing these back “in person” as soon as we can.  In the meantime, find resources for how to connect and grow for all age levels at wildwoodchurch.org/athome .  Stay tuned for more details!

What to Expect as you gather on May 17 Outside:

  • Please bring your own lawn chair or folding chair to sit on. 
  • We will be set up in a parking lot, so you can lay a blanket down, but know it will be on top of asphalt, and not soft underneath.
  • We will post song lyrics for the weekend to our website and our YouVersion Bible app “event.”  You can either access them there electronically, or print them before you come.
  • Consider showing up 15 minutes early, as it may take a bit longer to get situated.
  • Our service will be mostly  “touchless:”  no bulletins, offering baskets, refreshments, or handshakes from our greeting teams.  Our children’s team will have some ziplock bags with activities and things for your kids available for any interested.
  • Our restrooms in the Children’s Lobby will be available for use as needed.  Doors into the building will be propped open at the children’s entrance to keep people from opening  and closing doors unnecessarily if they need to enter to use the restrooms.  
  • Our water fountains will not be operational at this time, so bring a drink if you need one.
  • With outside programming, rain could prove a problem.  Check Wildwood’s website on the morning of the event to see if weather is impacting our schedule … or sign up for Wildwood Text Notifications by texting “Wildwood1” to 95577 to get notified of changes.
  • In concert with the CDC guidelines, we will:
  • Keep 6 feet of physical separation between family groups.  Please be respectful of other’s personal space during this season.
  • All our staff and volunteers will be wearing a mask when not on stage.
  • We strongly encourage you (though not require you) to wear a mask as an expression of your love for others.  The primary reason to wear a mask is to protect vulnerable people around you if you would happen to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.  
  • If you are sick or have knowingly come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person in the past 14 days, please stay home and join us for the livestream.
  • If you are over 65 years old, are a member of an at risk population, or live with someone in one of those categories, you are encouraged to continue to join us from home via the livestream.
  • We will have hand sanitizer available.

How can we help you?

  • We would love to pray for you during this time.  If you have a prayer request, please go to wildwoodchurch.org/pray and let us know how we can be praying for you!  
  • You can also use that prayer request online form above to let us know about any needs inside our church family that we might be able to help meet. 

Anything else?

Friends, these are extraordinary times, and the emotional, physical, relational, and financial toll is significant.  Additionally, there is a lot of uncertainty around the COVID-19 situation that has led people to differing convictions about how to respond.  The above plan is not perfect, but it is an attempt to call all of us to worship together (as we are able) in this time and season.  The online service will remain a GREAT FIT for those who are either unable or feel it is unwise to gather in groups for worship.  The outside service allows us to gather the most people in the safest way.  Again, both services will have the same content and we want you to choose the option that best fits your family at this time.  We are praying for you, for our city, for our state, for our nation, and for the world at this time of crisis.  

As different members of our church come to differing convictions about how best to live in this “new normal,” we would encourage ALL of us to be generous, gracious, and unified with one another.  While we may disagree concerning our views on COVID-19, all believers in Jesus are UNIFIED IN HIM!  As Jesus prays for us in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask for these [the original 12 disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [us], that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  May this prayer of Jesus ring in our ears and reign over us in our interactions with one another throughout this season!

May we follow Jesus together to the glory of God now and always!  

In Christ,

The Elders of Wildwood Community Church

NOTE:  This plan is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Questions for Reflections – May 10th, 2020

Questions for Reflection

Habakkuk 1:1-11
“Where are you God?”

 

 

  1. As humans our natural tendency is to focus on the “small story” (our own life and circumstances). List some ways that we often do that.

 

  1. God always operates from the “bigger story” (what He is accomplishing in the world). How did Paul learn to see the “bigger story” in Philippians 1:12-18?

 

How can we see the bigger story in light of the current crisis we face?

 

  1. Take time to make a full list all of your current concerns. When you are finished write over it, God is at Work.

 

  1. Close your time of reflection by doing two things:

 

  • use Psalm 25:5 as your prayer to God.

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.”

 

  • Download or look up the lyrics to the hymn How Firm A Foundation. Then go to youtube and sing along in worship to the Lord.

 

—- for a more contemporary version go to youtube and search

“How firm a Foundation Norton Hall band”

 

—- for a more traditional version go to youtube and search

“How firm a Foundation Songs of the Redeemed”

Sermon Preview – Sunday, May 10, 2020

Hey Wildwood Family!!

Man, Janet and I have missed seeing you SO much!  I am excited to be opening God’s Word with you again starting this Sunday (although it will be online only).  I find it interesting that in God’s timing I preached the FIRST online-only streaming message on March 15th. Yes, it’s been that long!  We encourage you to join us online again this Sunday as there will be information regarding the Elders’ plan for Wildwood’s return to in-person worship services.

Well, life has been wild recently, right?  We all know life tends to be hard and harsh at times and that has certainly been true the last number of weeks.  Ever wondered what God is doing?  Have you thought, Why is He allowing what He is allowing?  I don’t know about you but sometimes it feels like God is seemly silent and even inactive as far as I can see.

If you have ever thought like that, you will find encouragement from the Book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament.  Habakkuk directly addresses those issues and more, yet he also learns to worship God in His sovereignty and great character.

This Sunday we will be launching the first message in a series I’ve entitled, Anchored.  This first message is entitled, “Where are you God?”  and will be online at 11:00 am. I encourage you to search down the book of Habakkuk and read the first chapter (or all three since it is a short book). We will introduce the book and cover the first 11 verses of chapter one.

Don’t forget that this Sunday is Mother’s Day.  I know everyone knows someone they can honor on such a vital day.

See you Sunday!

Bruce