New Power (part 3) Sermon Preview

I love Christian camps, retreats, and other big events. Sometimes we need to simply step away from our “normal” in order for what really matters to gain clarity. Like volume sliders on an audio mixing board, sometimes we need to turn down everyday demands in order to turn up the volume on the Gospel message so we can more clearly hear it … God often uses camps and big events to tune our hearts to sing His grace.
 
I know many who have placed their faith in Christ or decided to renew their relationship with Him while at camp or on a retreat. Those mountaintop highs help propel many people toward our Savior.
 
Sadly, though, there is a postscript to the camp story for several. After walking the aisle at church camp, being baptized on their first Sunday back in town, and listening to KLove throughout the rest of July and early August, a number of others drift back into their old way of life by mid-September.
 
Maybe that is the story of someone you know. Maybe that is your story. Or maybe, the TIMING of that story doesn’t describe you, but the TRAJECTORY of the story does. Maybe you once followed Jesus, but now not so much. The loss of fervor you have experienced took more than a few months, but over a few years, you have drifted away from Him. You were fired up for Jesus in college, but have grown cold today.
 
Well, in Galatians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul talks about why people who begin with Jesus might end up drifting away from a life following Him. But … even more importantly … Paul highlights in these verses how we can renew the spark and grow once again in our relationship with Jesus. These verses describe the New Power we have in Christ to overcome the wayward drift so many experience.
 
Join us this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service (or online on the stream beginning at 9:45CDT Sunday, August 22), as we are in week 3 of our “New Power” sermon series. Even if you missed the first two parts of this series, you don’t want to miss this week’s message, as it covers some of the most important verses in the Bible for our Christian lives. See you Sunday … and bring friends!

New Power (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, August 15, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 5:13-15.  This message was part 2 in the “New Power” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection and group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download, or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 5:13-15
  3. We have seen in our study of Galatians that salvation is through Jesus ALONE, not Jesus plus one more thing.  This means that we don’t need to do anything beyond believe in order to inherit eternal life.  Some hear this message and object, “But if you make THOSE the terms of our relationship with God, people will just live terrible lives and continue in sin!”  Have you ever thought this?  Have you ever heard anyone say this?  How does Galatians 5:13-15 address this issue?
  4. Paul’s argument in 5:13 appears to center around WHO we are living for.  Are we living for our own selfish desires or for others?  If you were to do an inventory on your life today, how would you answer the question, “Who are you living for?”
  5. Think of a number of kinds of sins that you are aware of.  How would “loving your neighbor as yourself” prevent you from committing that type of sin?  
  6. Love is not just an emotion, but a commitment to devote yourself to the best interests on another.  What evidence do you see of this type of attitude among Christians you know?  Is this attitude in you?
  7. What are some practical ways you can serve your brothers and sisters in Christ this week?
  8. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here

 

To listen offline, click the link below:

The New Power #2 8.15.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the stream, use YouTube online:

 

New Power (part 2) Sermon Preview

I want to be honest with you for a moment.  I have written and rewritten a preview for this Sunday’s message 5 times already today. That is not an exaggeration.  But each time I delete it and start over.  This is not because I find this passage hard to understand.  The passage is actually straight forward and self evident.

I have struggled to write the preview today, because there is so much I want to say about these three verses, that it is hard to boil it down to one illustration!

So, rather than me giving you my words today, I want to just give you the words of Galatians 5:13-15 … the three verses I will be preaching from on Sunday.  Read them.  Read them again.  Read them again.  Memorize them.  Meditate on them.  Ask the Spirit to bring them into a reality in your life and in mine … then come Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 and let’s talk about them together at Wildwood Community Church.  Or if you are not able to join us in person, join us online at 9:45 (or anytime after) at wildwoodchurch.org/live .  Read these verses printed below, and I’ll see you Sunday, August 15!

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” – Galatians 5:13-15

New Power (part 1) Sermon Audio, Video, and Questions

On Sunday, August 8, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 5:1-12.  This message was part 1 of the “New Power” sermon series. Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 5:1-12
  3. What are some “new” products you have interacted with that were TRULY “new”?  Can you think of anything “new” that really is just a slightly different VERSION of something old?
  4. In what way is the Gospel of Jesus Christ bringing in something really NEW (based on your understanding of Scripture, as well as our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians?)
  5. What are some of the “one more things” that people want to add onto the Gospel in our culture today?  Paul is clear that salvation is through faith in Jesus alone … what are some things people want to say salvation is through faith in Jesus alone PLUS ________?
  6. Which path have you chosen?  The Jesus only path, or the Jesus PLUS path?
  7. The Holy Spirit  has come into the lives of ALL believers!  Take a moment and PRAISE GOD for this provision!
  8. For those who have placed their faith in Christ, they are WAITING for something amazing.  In your understanding, what do Christians have to look forward to in the future?
  9. While we are waiting, we are to work out our faith in love for one another.  Where does your love need a “workout” today?
  10. 10.What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The New Power #1 8.8.21

 

To listen online, use the media player:

 

To watch the service, use YouTube stream online:

 

The New Power (week 1) Sermon Preview

Every fall, a new Apple falls off the tree.  By Apple, I don’t mean Honey Crisp or Red Delicious … I mean iPhone.  Each year a “new” iPhone is released.  I intentionally put “new” in quotes because (for the most part) the “new” phone is the same as the “old” phone.  The capabilities are roughly the same.  Both can make calls.  Both can send text messages.  Both can take pictures and video.  Both can run a variety of apps.  They are MOSTLY the same.  Instead of thinking of these phones as NEW, it really would be better to think of them as iterations or versions of the old.  An iPhone 1.12, instead of an iPhone 12 (if you will).  Sure, the cameras are better, the processors faster, and the networks more advanced … but they basically still do the same stuff.  Even their appearance is hard to differentiate at first glance.

I say this today because inside our Bibles there is a change that is called “New.”  The “NEW TESTAMENT” or “NEW COVENANT” describe a change in operating system governing the relationship between God and man.  The “NEW TESTAMENT” or “NEW COVENANT” (of course) replaced the “OLD TESTAMENT” or “OLD COVENANT.”  Given our experience with our phones, though, we must ask … in what way is this “NEW COVENANT” really NEW?  Is it really bringing new capabilities and a new operating system, or is it just an iteration on the old?  Is it OT Law 1.2 or is it an overhaul.

Throughout Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he has argued emphatically that Christianity is not just OT Law 1.2.  It is something NEW.  Jesus normalized a New Covenant for how people connect to God … and that New Covenant gave a New Way for living life through Jesus.  Throughout 2021 at Wildwood, we have been walking through this epic letter and highlighting these truths.  If you want to review, feel free to go back and see our “New Normal” and “New Way” sermon series, found on my blog and on our podcast from January/February and May/June respectively.  In Galatians 5, however, the Apostle Paul goes a step further to identify WHY the New Covenant is so NEW.  What makes the current era in which we live so special?

Well, the short answer is because of the presence of a New Power that is available for all who are in Christ.  By “New” I don’t mean that this Power just came on the scene – as the Power described has actually ALWAYS existed.  By “New” I mean it is “Newly” installed permanently in our very souls.  Not only has the operating system been updated, but the battery has been revolutionized as well!  

This power source I am referring to is the Holy Spirit … the third member of the Trinity … that God has implanted inside those who trust in Christ.  And this NEW development changes everything.

This Sunday, we will kick off our study of Galatians 5 in part 1 of a 5 week series entitled “The New Power.”  This week, we will be looking at Galatians 5:1-12.  Hope you make plans to join us at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship services (or online at 9:45 in our livestream) as we launch into this study together.  See you there, and bring friends!  This is an upgrade all of us need.

Baptism Sunday August 1, 2021 (Sermon Questions, Audio, Video)

On Sunday, August 1, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church we celebrated the baptism of 11 individuals.  The sermon this day focused on Ephesians 4:4-6.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Ephesians 4:4-6
  3. What are some of the things that make people different?  How has focusing on those differences led to divisions (in your experience)?
  4. In Ephesians 4, Paul is admonishing Christians to live in unity by focusing on THE NAME on the “front of their jersey” instead of the differences on their backs.  In what way do you find unity with other Christians?
  5. What are some practical ways you can live out the unity Jesus has provided for you with other Christians this week?
  6. Baptism is one of the ways that we celebrate the unity we have in Christ.  Have you been baptized since placing your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?  If so, when was that?  If not, what is keeping you from being baptized now?  NOTE:  To express interest in baptism at Wildwood in the future, let us know at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism
  7. What is one way you can “live for the name on the front” of your jersey this week?
  8. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click link:

Baptism Sunday 8.1.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

Watch the stream of service at YouTube online:

 

August 2021 Baptism Sunday Preview

This Sunday is August 1. That means the first day of school is right around the corner.  It also means we are right in the middle of the Summer Olympics!  If your home is anything like mine, you’ve probably spent some time watching swimming, diving, and gymnastics over the past few days.  USA … USA … USA.  To make it even more fun, my son has learned to play the national anthem (quite well I might add) on the piano.  It is very patriotic around the Robinson house these days.

Every time I watch the Olympics, I am reminded of a number of moments from previous Olympic years.  From Mary Lou Reton in ’84 to Greg Louganis in the late 80’s/early ‘90s to the Dream Team of ’92, I have a lot of gold medal memories from my youth.  Movies, however, have helped me celebrate other Olympic moments I was too young to fully appreciate at the time.  

Take the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” in Lake Placid.  I was alive at that moment, but not really watching hockey, so I missed this drama in real time.  Thankfully Disney revived it through the movie “Miracle” starring Kurt Russell.  I love this movie.  There is a particularly powerful scene in that movie that I was thinking about the other day.  The U.S. Hockey team was made up of young amateur players from a variety of rival colleges (some from Minnesota, others from Boston, etc.)  They were having a hard time gelling as a team, and the lack of chemistry was showing on the ice.  After one particularly poor performance in an exhibition game, Coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell in the movie) had his players return to the ice for an exhausting session of conditioning.  Periodically throughout their exercises, he would call on a player and ask them what team they played for.  Player after player would say their name and then their college.  Eventually, with his team nearing full physical collapse from fatigue, their captain finally spoke up and shouted out his name:  “Mike Eruzione from Winthrop, Massachusetts.”  Brooks then asked his captain, “And who do you play for?”  Instead of saying his college, Eruzione says proudly, “The United States of America.”  

And Brooks had proven his point.  The name on the front of the jersey is way more important than the name on the back.

I share this Olympic memory today (channeling my inner “Mike Tirico”) in order to make an important point.  “Out there” there are many things that can divide a team.  Our names are different, and they simply remind us that WE are different.  As long as we focus on our differences, we have no hope at unity.  Any cursory journey through 2020-21 should remind us of this fact.  

However, teams of different people form because something greater unites them.  Athletic teams unite around a city, a town, a nation, and a common cause.  This “name on the front” takes different people and unites them in mission together.  And this principle is not just applicable in sports.  It applies in our churches as well.

Some people look at a church and assume that everyone in that church is the same.  As someone who has served as a pastor for 25 years, I can honestly tell you that this is not true!  There are many different “names” on the BACK of our “jerseys.”  Different ideas, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different genders, different gifts, different socio-economic status … the list goes on and on.  Churches are not made up of people who are all the same.  However, true members of THE CHURCH all have the same name on the FRONT of our “jersey” (and it is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the name on the back).  JESUS is the name front and center in the church.  He is who unites us into “one new man” as Ephesians 2:15 states, regardless of our backgrounds.

As people come to faith in Christ, they don’t really get a jersey (that would be cool though, don’t you think?)  Instead, they get something even better.  They become identified with Jesus Christ, and we celebrate HIS NAME on the front of our lives through water baptism.  As Ephesians 4:5 states, in Him we have “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM.”  

Join us this Sunday as we worship Jesus and celebrate with 11 of our new “teammates” as they profess faith in Christ through water baptism.  This baptism reminds us of our oneness together.  In a divided world, let’s come together as a church family to remember this great truth together of where our unity lies!

This week we will have two worship services (9:45 and 11:00) at Wildwood Community Church, and we hope you and your family can join  us.  Remember, on baptism Sundays we do not offer regular elementary, student, college, or adult classes (only early childhood is operating).  The rest of us will be uniting together in one of our two services.  Join us as we celebrate THESE BAPTISMS:

9:45

  1. Wristen Arnold
  2. Anna Ofthsun
  3. Eleanor Stauss

11:00

  1. Mendy Dixon
  2. Kason Hughes
  3. Melanie McCollum
  4. Carson Rehkop
  5. Emily Rehkop
  6. Henry Talkington 
  7. Sam Weddle
  8. Zoe Sheriff

See you Sunday!  And make note of our new worship service times (9:45 and 11:00).

New Way (part 7) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 20, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Galatians 4:21-31.  This sermon was part 7 in the “New Way” 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 from the service to listen to/watch, download or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 4:21-31
  3. Can you think of an example when remembering who you were, and acting consistent with that true identity, pushed toward a new way of living/acting?
  4. We summarized 4 attitudes toward the Law:  (Law obeying/law relying, Law disobeying/law relying, Law disobeying/Law not relying, Law obeying/Law not relying.)  What do you see as the differences of these perspectives?  Which do you WANT to describe you?
  5. What kind of opposition have you experienced in life because you have followed the “Jesus Way”?  Look at Galatians 1:10 and Romans 8:17.  How do these verses help you respond when you experience opposition as you follow Christ?
  6. Why do you think Paul was so agressive his admonition for the Galatians to distance themselves from the Judeaizers?
  7. Are you believing the Gospel message for your salvation?  Are you believing that Jesus (through the work of the Spirit inside you) can empower you for Christian living?  What difference do these beliefs make in your life?
  8. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Way #7 6.20.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch, use YouTube stream online:

New Way (part 7) Sermon Preview

About 20 years ago now a friend of mine challenged me to write a short devotional and include it in a weekly newsletter I was sending to our college ministry (anybody out there ever get the “In FOCUS” weekly newsletter?).  I took that challenge and for years wrote weekly essays where I took something from “our world” and used it as an analogy to explain some spiritual truth from the Bible.  Like a weight lifter gaining strength with “reps,” the discipline of writing down these “parables” each week grew my ability to see connections and patterns in the finite world around us that echo eternal thoughts.  Some of these illustrations connected with people, others of them have been a bit goofy … but this practice has actually been edifying to me, and hopefully to others as well.

The parables of Jesus are the BEST illustration of this teaching technique (since Jesus is the MASTER teacher, and since He never “misses” with a message).  Jesus would take something from the world of His audience (sheep, sons, coins, etc.) and tell a story about it to illustrate a deeper point.  Illustrations take something that we know and use it to teach us something that we need to know.  

Not only did Jesus do this, but so did the Apostle Paul.  In Galatians 3-4, over the past several weeks, we have seen Paul use the illustrations of a prison warden, a pedagogue, and a trustee to help us understand the purpose of the Old Testament Law.  In Galatians 4:21-31 (the verses we will look at this week), we will see Paul use an even more in depth illustration to help us understand the Christian life, what we can expect in it, and one surprising thing we should do as a result.  The illustration Paul uses is of the Old Testament couple Abraham and Sarah, and their servant Hagar, and two kids born in their household (Isaac and Ishmael).  

Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we should not be surprised that Paul’s illustration is profound and drives home an essential truth for us to consider.  To help us best understand this account, you may want to read Genesis 12:1-21:21 to refresh your understanding of this famous historical account.  Sunday we will see what Paul wants us to know from this story that connects to our lives today.  

Join us this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church as we wrap up the “New Way” sermon series by looking at Galatians 4:21-31 in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 worship services.  Hope you can make it … and bring friends!

 

NOTE:  If you can’t make it, know that our livestream always goes live at 10:15 each Sunday morning at wildwoodchurch.org/live

New Way (part 6) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 13, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 4:8-20.  This message was part 6 in the “New Way” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 4:8-20
  3. Before listening to today’s message, how would you have defined the “win” of the Christian life?  What are we supposed to be about?
  4. The Judeaizers had succeeded in making the Galatians think that their spiritual maturity came as a result of their devotion to calendars, ceremonies, and rituals.  Paul was so sad about this!  Jesus died and rose again NOT JUST so that the Galatians might attend new meetings, but so that they would really KNOW GOD and have a relationship with Him.  How are you tempted to think that your Christian life is just about attending meetings or keeping rituals?
  5. The real “win” for the Christian is to see Christ formed in themselves!  That their lives are ever moving in the direction of Christ-likeness so that when others look at us, they see Jesus.  Who are some people who have helped you get to know Jesus better?  What were some of the characteristics of their lives that contributed to this?
  6. Be honest … what do people see when they look at your life?  What are some ways that you would like to see Christ more formed in you in the year ahead? 
  7. What stands out to you most from this message?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

To listen offline, click the link below:

The New Way #6 6.13.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use YouTube online: