Questions for Reflection – Keep the Gospel Central!

On Sunday, December 29, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Keep the Gospel Central” from 2 Timothy. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Did you have someone who filled a role as a spiritual mentor to you?  How do/did you feel about them?  Elaborate.

2. Timothy had been shepherded for 17 years by his spiritual father/mentor Paul. What kind of emotions do you imagine Timothy had as Paul penned his last words to him before facing execution?  How carefully do you think Timothy repeatedly poured over Paul’s last words to him?

3. Why do we often tend to view the gospel—the truth that Jesus died for our sins—as merely a past event (though a significant one) in our lives?

4. Bruce cited several reasons why we should preach the gospel to ourselves regularly.  One was our tendency to let feelings rule our life.  What did he mean by that?  Explain.

5. Another reason cited was we often stumble spiritually. How does the gospel and the truth of the cross help us there?

6. A final reason Bruce cited was that the gospel assists us in our everyday relationships.  How does that work?

7. What are some practical ways to help us embrace the cross, revel in it, and rest in it on a regular basis?

8. Consider memorizing the song “Who Killed Jesus?” like Bruce has.
You can find the lyrics at this blog post by Charlie Dyer:  http://thelandandthebook.blogspot.com/2011/03/who-killed-jesus.html

Keep the Gospel Central! Sneak Peek – December 29, 2019

Hello Wildwood Family!

We hope each and every one had a restful and encouraging Christmas time with friends and family.  I guess I’m getting older because it just flat seems that Christmas creeps up on me faster and faster each year.

On another front, can you believe that the year 2020 is right around the corner?  Utterly amazing!  It made me smile today when I thought back to how 20 years ago (with the coming of the new millennium) how many folks were prognosticating that the technology world would likely unravel with Y2K.  Computers everywhere would cease to function!!!
Of course, nothing happened. That was now 20 years ago.  Wow.

This Sunday we will have two worship gatherings at 9:45 am and 11:00 am with both of them being “All-in” services.  That means there will be no adult groups, no student groups, no children’s classes and no nursery provided. This is one of those Sundays where we will give our volunteer staff a break from normal responsibilities.

However, we will still have a great time in our services.  Please bring your family or visiting friends with you. The message title is Keep the Gospel Central!  We will be digging into the mind of Timothy as he received the final correspondence from Paul, his spiritual father, who would soon be executed by the Romans.  Among the things that Paul communicated to Timothy, we will highlight a very vital and practical truth that EACH of us should heed as we go into a new year.

Communion will also be a part of our time…a great way to end the year. In addition, I will be sharing one of my favorite memorized songs that was written by a friend many years ago.  You don’t want to miss that.

We look forward to seeing you Sunday at either 9:45 or 11:00.  Happy New Year!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection: November 17, 2019

On Sunday, November 17, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Providence (Esther) – Remarkable Reversal” from Esther 8:1-10:3. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1.  Bruce shared this quote by John Calvin:
Ignorance of providence is the ultimate of all miseries;
the highest blessedness lies in the knowledge of it
What practical life truths do you think Calvin was seeking to highlight by this statement?

2. Isn’t it incredibly comforting to know that God is never out of touch? He is never fretting or panicking, never bumfuzzled and bewildered, never perplexed, distressed or flustered. He is never impotent, baffled or disoriented; nor ruffled or rattled.

It is astonishingly true that He can work even in selfish, secular, and sinful settings to accomplish His providential plans. He is always at work even in hostile situations, even amidst irresponsible, greedy businesses, even in the face of selfish, misguided leaders. He is always grieved by wrong and injustice (and always holds those responsible accountable), but life is never beyond his providential control and sovereign working.

Why then is it so hard for us to trust Him?

3. God desires for each of us to influence others for His eternal kingdom. We may not ever achieve the recognition of a Queen Esther or a Martin Luther, but He desires us to influence others.

As Ephesians 2:10 highlights, there are good works that He has prepared for each of us to accomplish. To that end, He presents us with opportunities among our family, our neighborhood, our work, school, church, the community, even the world.

Where has the Holy Spirit been nudging you recently about stepping up and making a difference in the lives of others? Elaborate.

How much does the dictum “A turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out” apply to you?

4. One of Bruce’s thoughts was: “When you cannot trust what you see, you must trust who you know.”  What does that mean practically in everyday life?

5. Bruce closed in prayer citing 1 Timothy 1:17.  Take some time to praise God for who he is.

Sneak Peek: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Hello Wildwood Family!

Well, did your winter coat smell dusty or have an odd mothball fragrance?  I ask because I know we all grabbed our winter coats from the back of the closet to warm ourselves as the temps dipped into single digit wind-chill levels this week.  Brrr.  It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a pile of snow to frolic in!

Be sure to be praying for our nation and leaders as an impeachment investigation is under way.  Pray for truth to be heard and for justice and unity in our country.

Christmas is coming at us like a snowball rolling down a big hill. Please plan to help with our church decorations a week from Sunday (November 24) right after church.  Pizza and drinks will be served for all workers.  Please let Rebekah Key know if you and/or your family can lend a hand or two ( rebekahkey@wildwoodchurch.org )

Also, we have a wonderful opportunity to touch the lives of the disadvantaged in Norman through the Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe. Opportunities include purchasing or funding gifts and volunteering in multiple ways.  To learn more, to sign up, or to volunteer check our website at wildwoodchurch.org/missionnorman.

Sunday we will conclude our Providence series on the Book of Esther by looking at chapters 8-10 (please read those chapters before Sunday) in a message entitled, “Remarkable Reversal.”  We will also address several common reactions people tend to have to the concept of God’s everyday providence.

 

See you Sunday!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection: November 10, 2019

On Sunday, November 10, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Providence (Esther) – Providential Flip” from Esther 5-7. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Can you remember a time in your life when you or someone you loved experienced circumstances that felt much like random luck or mere chance? Share some about that time.

2. Bruce said, God, is the Lord of the random, that God’s providence is always on duty. Name some ways that are demonstrated in the story of Esther.

3. What influenced Esther to shift from hesitation to determination? What lessons might there be for you and me today?

4. What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?  Elaborate.

5. Why is pride such a dangerous attitude to have? How have you witnessed pride creating havoc in someone’s life…or you own?

6. How does the concept of divine providence fall short of the notion of fatalism or determinism?  Explain how the theological concept of concurrence sheds light on this issue. Why can these principles be so hard for us to grasp?

7. God is always at work, always in control, always moving in circumstances and events.  Even when He seems absent, He’s present.  Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you trust Him even when things are difficult and confusing.

Sneak Peek: Sunday, November 10, 2019

Have you noticed?  The culture seems to be pushing things earlier and earlier. At the end of October, I saw major stores selling Christmas items at 50% off.  I also saw winter gear (coats, gloves, etc.) going for 50% off.  We used to always see that stuff discounted in December and January. (Tongue in cheek) there’s plenty enough change going on all around us without tampering with and re-writing all the sacred laws of sales.  Yikes!  Let me know if you see any Easter clothes on sale this month. 😉

Sunday we will continue our Providence series with a message entitled, “Providential Flip”. We will be tackling chapters 5-7 of Esther so please read through those chapters before Sunday. Keep an alert eye out for all the providential evidence of God’s hand.

Please be sure to get involved with the Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe as we seek to touch the lives of 600 kids. 600! Visit wildwoodchurch.org/missionnorman for more info AND check out the latest Wildwood podcast (wildwoodchurch.org/thisiswildwood) to hear some great testimony about how God works through the Christmas Shoppe.

A note for future reference…mark your calendar to assist with decorating the church at noon on Sunday, November 24 (free pizza and drinks provided).  Janet and I will be in Sacramento, CA at a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember, so help make up for our absence.  The more hands, the merrier!  If you can lend a hand (it’s a big job) RSVP to rebekahkey@wildwoodchurch.org

Stay warm and stay dry and, Lord willing, we’ll see you on Sunday!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection: November 3, 2019

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Providence (Esther) – Down and Dirty” from Esther 3:1-4:17. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. Think of a time in your life when you faced very difficult circumstances, circumstances that maybe disoriented and overwhelmed you as you faced them.  If you are comfortable, share some about that time.

2. In life when we face times where we can feel God seems invisible and disconnected from us, what biblical truths help to counter those feelings?

3. Do you think Mordecai should have just bowed to Haman?  Why or why not?

4. List some specific ways that Haman personified Proverbs 6:16-19

5. What aspect of God’s providence stood out the most to you in chapters 3 and 4?

6. Bruce stated that God works through people.  Therefore, the job we have, the resources we’ve been given, our gifts and abilities, even our health, are not primarily for ourselves.  God has given them to equip us to point people to Christ, to develop others spiritually, and to help meet needs.
What are some ways right now you can better leverage your God-given resources to accomplish those ends?

7. Take some time to pray that God would further train you to recognize, rest in and trust in His sovereign providence in your life.

Sneak Peek – November 3, 2019

Hello Wildwood Family!

Brrrr.  It’s been a tad chilly the last couple of days. In fact, it’s been chilly in my office (along with Brian’s and Jonathan’s) as one of our heating units has been on the fritz. I hope your home and workplace have been warm and comfy. Warm and comfy is a great blessing on days like these!!

This next Sunday we will continue our Providence series by delving into Esther chapters 3-4 with a message I’ve entitled, Down and Dirty. Please read through those chapters before Sunday.  You’ll get your first glimpse of Snidely Whiplash, er… Haman. It is exciting to see the providence of God played out in real life.

Sunday is also a standout day for two reasons.  One, we “fall back” then as daylight savings time shifts for the winter. Two, we will have a special church family prayer gathering at 8:30 am in the Gathering Hall.  Our Elders and staff will be there and we hope you bring your family for this church-wide prayer time. Refreshments will be available. Our services and classes will be at their normal times.

Sunday there will also be a video introducing this year’s Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe. You’ll learn a little more about it and hear about multiple ways you and your family can be involved.  This ministry makes for a great Christmas outreach for both young and old.

Keep warm and see you Sunday!

Bruce

Questions for Reflection: October 27, 2019

On Sunday, October 20, 2019, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Providence (Esther) – Two Queens” from Esther 1:3-2:23. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. It was stated by Bruce that the Book of Esther is frequently overlooked.  Why do you think that is? Explain.

2. What’s the biggest banquet you ever attended?  Elaborate

3. From your perspective, what were some of Ahasuerus’ motivations for these banquets?

4. What mistakes did Ahasuerus make in this banquet disaster?  Could or should have Vashti responded differently?  If so, how?

5. In the Book of Daniel, Daniel and his captivity friends Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego)—at the risk of their lives—took strong stands against demands placed upon them by their captors (see Dan 1, 3, 6).  Should have Mordecai and Esther also taken a strong stand against the King’s beauty contest (which also included participation in a night of unmarried sex with the King)?  If so, why do you think they didn’t?

6. On the other hand, as did Daniel and his friends, Esther and Mordecai found favor with their captors.  What was the common element that they each displayed?

7. Bruce stated that embracing God’s providence has three benefits:
– it eliminates certain notions (list some)
– it neutralizes certain negative reactions to life (list some)
– it breeds certain positive responses to life (list some)

8. Pray for God’s favor in your life at school, at work, at home.

Sneak Peek for Sunday, October 27

Hello Wildwood Family!

Forty-five years ago, the Carpenters released a song entitled, Rainy Days and Mondays. Well, it’s not Monday (actually it’s Thursday), but indeed we have a rainy day before us. In Bruce’s book of life, rainy and chilly don’t go together. As I write this it is 43 degrees with a wind chill feel of 35.  Yikes.

The reality is, however, just a few thousand feet up the sun is shining.  Sometimes life has its hard twists and turns and gloom to it, but the Son is always on the throne and always shining.  So wonderful!!  Life is truly about perspective.

Speaking of perspective, we will continue our new Providence series by looking at Esther chapters 1-2.  I hope you carve out the time to read those chapters before Sunday.  The message this week is entitled, Two Queens.

Just a reminder, our baptism classes will be on Sunday.  The Children’s class will be at 9:45am in the downstairs children’s theater, with the Student/Adult class at 11 am in The Avenue.  More info can be had at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism.

Also, if you know of someone new to Wildwood please encourage them to get to Starting Point (4 sessions total) which also launches this Sunday at 9:45 am in Room 4.  This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about Wildwood.

Lots of things happening in the next few weeks.  Be sure to check your bulletin on Sunday!

See you Sunday (and I understand that it will indeed be a Sun day)!

 

Bruce