50th Anniversary (part 2 – The Mission of the Church)

Think of any organization where you are a member.  What is its purpose?  Why does it exist?  The answer to that question is meaningful and has real world consequences.  Often times organizations summarize their purpose in a single mission statement to help unite the group around its common cause.  A quick survey of some of the organizations my family is connected to reveals the following mission statements:

Norman Youth Soccer Association:

“To encourage, promote and stimulate interest and participation in the game of soccer by organizing recreational and competitive soccer teams; developing our players, coaches and referees; promoting sportsmanship; maintaining proper playing facilities; and operating in a financially responsible manner.”

Norman Public Schools:

“To prepare and inspire all students to achieve their full potential.”

Cleveland County YMCA:

“To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

Reading these statements gives you a sense of what these organizations are all about.  For prospective members, the mission helps them decide if they want to align with the group.  For existing members, the purpose reminds the regulars what they are collectively trying to accomplish.

As interesting and informative as the above statements are, it is also important to stop and think about what the mission statement is for the Church.  What is our purpose?  What are we called to unite around?

In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”  This statement is critical on so many levels, but one thing Jesus makes clear here is that the church (the true church) is HIS.  As a Pastor, if I view Wildwood as MY church, then I am building something that has an uncertain future, resting on a faulty premise of ownership.  But, if I rightly view the Church as JESUS’ Church, then I can rest confidently in the glorious future He has guaranteed! 

As it pertains to mission statements, the above principle of ownership makes a clear and important application:  since the church is Jesus’ then He sets the mission, not us.  And, since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the mission He set out for His church in Matthew 28:19-20 still holds true today.  Our mission is to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you always to the end of the age.” 

Though the mission of the Church has not changed for 2,000 years, the articulation of that purpose can morph from time to time to refocus us (through contemporary language) on its original meaning.  So, with Jesus as our captain, and Wildwood’s 50th anniversary as our catalyst, we want to take this Sunday (September 23, 2018) to remind us anew of the mission of Wildwood Community Church.  This Sunday we will introduce some new language pointing to an ancient purpose for our church. 

If you are new to Wildwood (either only been a Sunday or two or not yet attended) this Sunday is a GREAT Sunday to come and check us out.  You will hear our understanding of our mission.  If you have been around Wildwood for a long time, this Sunday is a GREAT Sunday to come and refocus on why we are here and the importance of our assembly.

Hope ALL of you can be with us Sunday in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we remind each other of our mission together.  Hope to see you there! 

50 Years

King David lived a life marked by God’s blessings.  As a young boy he was anointed Israel’s next King, became a military hero by knocking down the giant Goliath, and (as if that was not enough) he also was a prominent musician in his day – playing for the current king and his court.  In his adult life, David was the King of Israel, a writer of sections of the Holy Scriptures, and a “man after God’s own heart.”  Near the end of David’s life, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, David wrote Psalm 103 — a great Psalm of praise to God.  This Psalm begins this way:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:”

Of this statement, John MacArthur says:

“We must not forget ALL His benefits, because He has forgiven ALL our sins!”

All believers in Jesus Christ can (and must) thank God for the benefits of our salvation, our ultimate healing (in glory), and the way God loves and cares for us (things detailed in the rest of Psalm 103).  In addition to these things, though, as a church family, Wildwood Community Church has the privilege of blessing the Lord and remembering ALL His benefits to us as a church over the past 50 years.  Since 1968, God has provided abundantly for our church family, and over the next 3 Sundays (September 16, 23, and 30) we want to bless His holy name together, forgetting none of these benefits!

This Sunday, September 16, we will be kicking off our 50th anniversary celebration in several special ways:

  • Our worship services will be at their normal times (9:45 and 11:00).  In the services this week, we will be looking back at God’s faithfulness to us as a congregation.  The Worship Team has prepared a special medley of worship songs throughout our history, Wildwood’s history will be recounted through a special video presentation, and Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess (who was the Senior Pastor at Wildwood for 37 of our 50 years) will be guiding us in a reflection of God’s goodness to us as a church.  Make plans to attend one of these two identical worship services.  Children’s ministry will be running as normal during both hours, Student Ministry (Middle School and High School) will be running during the 9:45 hour, Adult Groups will be meeting at their normal place and time, and College Life will be meeting at noon in the Fellowship Center for a free lunch.
  • On Wildwood’s front lawn will be two 40ft. by 40ft. tents all morning long (from 9:00AM – 12:30 PM . . . before, during, and after the worship services) that will feature a variety of ways to commemorate our anniversary.  A giant map will be present giving you the chance to mark places we have gone as a church (and individuals) over the past 50 years, a giant timeline will be up where you can mark when you first came to Wildwood, and a door will be present for you to sign if you have entered into (or re-entered into) a relationship with Jesus Christ during your time at Wildwood.  Light refreshments will also be served.  These interactive elements are for the entire family, so if you plan to visit these attractions before or after services – please have your kids with you (or go pick them up and bring them with you) as you visit the tents.
  • The interactive elements mentioned above will remain around Wildwood for weeks to come, so you will have a chance to see them and interact with them later if you are not able to make it to the tents on Sunday.
  • Just off our Gathering Hall in our “Living Room” area, we will have a camera crew stationed this Sunday before and after services to record any testimonies you want to share about how God has worked in your life through your time at Wildwood.

Make plans to be with us this Sunday, September 16 . . . and the rest of September . . . as we bless the Lord and remember His benefits together.  Whether this Sunday is your first Sunday or you have been a part of Wildwood from the beginning, we have the privilege of following Jesus together.  Looking forward to worshipping with each of you this Sunday at Wildwood!

Sink or Stand (part 5) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 9, 2018, I preached a message at Wildwood Community Church based on Matthew 15:32-16:12.  This message was part 5 of the “Sink or Stand” sermon series.  Below is the audio from the sermon to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Sink or Stand #5 09.09.18

 

To listen online, use the audio player below:

 

Sink or Stand (part 5) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 9, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 15:32-16:12.  This message was the fifth and final part in the “Sink or Stand” sermon series.  Below you will find a series of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 15:32-16:12
  3. What limitations do you (or others you know) put on God today?  (i.e. God can’t _________ or God won’t __________?
  4. In this passage, Jesus demonstrates that He wants the disciples to be His ministers of grace, even among people considered “outsiders.”  Who is someone in your life that God wants you to serve or love that you have been ignoring or neglecting in some way?
  5. There is a danger in the Legalism of the Pharisees, the Liberalism of the Sadducees, and the “Littleism” of the Disciples.  Which of these 3 sinkholes to faith are you most afflicted by today?
  6. What would it look like for you to stand in great faith in your great God today in your life? 
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Sink or Stand (part 5) Sermon Preview

I remember as a kid buying my first pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes.  The “jumpman” is all the rage in the Sooner nation today, but back then, Jordan was just a rookie playing for a mediocre Chicago Bulls team fighting to make the playoffs.  As a 12 year old, though, I didn’t care.  I thought that if those red, white, and black basketball shoes could help him fly through the air of the Boston Garden, surely they could help me dominate on the playground. 

Interestingly enough, I bought the shoes, but still could not dunk (shocking, I know, to those of you who know me.)  So I moved on to imitating other traits of his “Airness,” even sticking my tongue out as I played.  Sadly, all this got me was a lifelong scar down the middle of my tongue when I accidentally bit through it after taking a charge in a pickup game.  One scar, no 60 point stat sheets. 

I even wore Jordan’s #23 on my middle school basketball team, but still was not a step quicker!  As a middle schooler I was learning a valuable lesson . . . the key to Jordan’s success was not the shoes (“You money, its gotta be the shoes!), the tongue, or the number . . . it was Him!  I could not secure his power apart from his presence.

Now, I say all this because as I look at Matthew 15:32 – 16:12, I see the disciples struggling with a similar issue.  Jesus’ disciples desperately wanted Jesus’ power, but they were tempted to look for it in a number of things or locations, instead of in Him.  As they did so, they missed the obvious point.  They could not secure His power apart from His presence.  No matter where they went, no matter how much they had or didn’t have, they would always have what they needed IN HIM. 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will conclude our “Sink or Stand” sermon series by looking at Jesus’ feeding the 4,000.  We can’t wait to gather for worship, celebrate the Lord’s supper, and look into this section of God’s Word together.  See you then in our 9:45 or 11:00 services.

Sink or Stand (part 4) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 2, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 15:21-28.  This message was part 4 of the “Sink or Stand” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from this sermon to listen to, download or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Sink or Stand #4 09.02.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

Sink or Stand (part 4) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 2, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a sermon based on Matthew 15:21-28.  This message was part 4 in the “Sink or Stand” 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 15:21-28
  3. To what degree do you see “entitled” attitudes in our world today?  To what degree do you see an “entitled” attitude in yourself?
  4. For many reasons (noted in the message today) the Canaanite woman had virtually no argument for why Jesus should help her.  What are some of the things we may want to cling to as to why we think God “should” help us?  Have you ever stopped to think that you are as “argument-less” as this Canaanite woman?
  5. If you were to characterize your faith in Jesus right now . . .  is it more like the Faithless Pharisees, Peter’s “little faith,” or the Canaanite woman’s “great faith”?  Why do you answer the way you do?
  6. In this passage the woman demonstrates her faith by leaving her former ways, coming to Jesus, humbly worshipping Him, and persisting in belief (even when things were hard).  Of these things mentioned, what is something the Lord is challenging you to do as you grow your faith in Him?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Sink or Stand (part 4) Preview

In today’s day and age, there is a lot of talk about “entitlement.”  Entitlement is a buzz word that is used in sociology textbooks, political stump speeches, post-game press conferences, leadership podcasts, and parenting books.  Though the word may be used to mean different things, at its core, entitlement could be defined this way (according to dictionary.com):

“the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”

Political candidates talk about “entitlements” . . . services people come to expect from their government.  College coaches talk about “entitled attitudes” among star players who expect to play all the time regardless of how hard they practice.  Older generations talk of younger generations being “entitled” because they expect to live an opulent life early, without “paying their dues.”

Though many people talk about how OTHERS are entitled, I have yet to meet the person who wants to be “entitled.”  No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I will try to be more entitled today!” So, what is the foundation of an un-entitled life?  In Matthew 15:21-28, we see a woman become the epitome of an un-entitlement as she interacts with Jesus over the demon oppression of her daughter. 

Against all odds, this woman kneels before Jesus, and demonstrates the foundation of how followers of Jesus can STAND in His presence forever.  If last Sunday’s message showed how we sink in our traditions, this week we will stand upon the waves of humility with a Canaanite woman, and be encouraged and challenged by her example and the grace of our God. 

See you Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we are in part 4 of our “Sink or Stand” sermon series.

Sink or Stand (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 26, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 15:1-20.  This message was part 3 in the “Sink or Stand” sermon series.  Below is the audio related to the message to listen to online, download, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Sink or Stand #3 08.26.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below: