Mission:Own (part 1) Sermon Preview

When I was in high school, I played for a basketball team that had not one, but TWO sets of twins!  Out of the 10 or 11 guys who played the most when I was a senior, four of them came from two families.  I am not sure what the criteria is for identical twins, but I can say that both sets of twins looked very similar.  How similar?  Well, if you didn’t know them well, you might mistake one for the other.

As someone on the team who saw all four of them daily, it was easy for me to tell them apart.  Their mannerisms, vocal tone, slight differences in their appearance, and how they moved athletically had enough minor differences that those who knew them well could identify them.

That said, this fall I will most likely see all four men as our high school team is being inducted into the Bartlesville Sports Hall of Fame.  It will have been nearly 30 years since I have seen a couple of these guys, and at least a decade since I have seen any of them.  I can tell you … I am a bit nervous to do so.  Why?  Though I could easily tell them apart in 1992, I might not recognize the differences 31 years later!

I tell you this because when I look at 2 Corinthians 10:1-18 I see the Apostle Paul talking about differences between himself and others who were opposing his ministry in Corinth.  At quick glance, they both looked similar (i.e. both claimed the name of Christ … both wore the jersey of “church leader,” etc.).  These (not so identical) twins might have been confused by those who did not know them well, or those who had not spent much time with their Savior Jesus Christ recently.  Given the confusion, Paul writes to correctly identify the true apostle from the fake imposter.

This is important for us to consider as well.  We live in a day and age when many people wear the jersey of Christianity … yet their voices don’t always sing harmony.  How do we separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Christian leaders?  Well, Paul provides some great insight for us, and we will look at it this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services. 

The next 6 weeks we will be in one final series from the book of 2 Corinthians … a series titled “Mission:Own.”  In 2 Corinthians 10-13, Paul gets very personally about how he is owning his role on mission with Christ.  By looking at his example, we might also see how we might step into “owning” our role in Christ’s mission as well.  Hope to see you Sunday as we are in part 1 of this series.  See you there … and bring friends!

Following Jesus: For the Community and Nations (Sermon Preview)

Healthy things grow. If conditions are right, and nothing is impeding development, life progresses.

Babies begin as a tiny fertilized egg that grows to 8 pounds at birth, then continues to progress as he or she ages. Humans do not just grow physically, though, we grow intellectually … throughout life we grow in understanding. We also grow relationally and emotionally as the web of friendships, family, and colleagues throughout life continue to build on one another. A healthy person will develop in each of these areas throughout their lives until they begin to die. Our bodies begin to deteriorate in our 40’s (reading glasses anyone)? Our intellect may slow as we age (now why did I come into the kitchen?) And our relationships may fade even before physical death (one of the sad realities of diseases like Alzheimer’s is the relational separation they create from people they knew well in the earlier days of their lives). But until death begins to creep in, life continues to develop.

This is also true of our spiritual lives. A healthy spiritual person grows. They grow in their understanding of who God is … so they trust Him more and more. They grow in their expressions of love to others … loving others as Jesus has loved them. This is also true in a church. A healthy church should be growing in our devotion to Christ … but also in our numbers. Jesus intends for the church to grow numerically. After all, “He desires none to perish but all to come to repentance (1 Timothy 2:3-7).”

What is amazing is that spiritual growth is connected not to THIS LIFE which is finite and will one day die … but it is actually connected to ETERNAL LIFE, which (by definition) never stops. The Christian will grow forever in our relationship with the Lord and celebration of His expanding Kingdom reign.

Last week at Wildwood we talked about one aspect of this growth … the growth of the church family as we submit to the Lord vertically and serve one another horizontally. This week, we will look at how a healthy church grows numerically, by serving as witnesses of Jesus in our town and around the world. We will talk about how at Wildwood we are For the Community and the Nations following Jesus together with us to the glory of God as we look at Acts 1:8. Hope you can make it … and bring friends!

NOTE: As you know, Wildwood has 3 Sunday services – 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00. If you were at Wildwood last Sunday and found it difficult to find a seat or a parking space, I would encourage you to come earlier in the day. While the 11:00 service was packed, good seats were available at the 9:45 and lots of seats and parking were available at 8:30. Come when you can, but just wanted you to know what last Sunday looked like across the morning as you consider which service to attend going forward.

Following Jesus Together: For the Church (sermon preview)

Ekklesia.  This is the Greek word translated “church” in Matthew 16:18 … and the word appears 114 other times in the New Testament.  Jesus said He would build “His church.”  Jesus wrote letters to 7 churches in Revelation 2-3.  Paul planted churches in most signifiant cities within the Roman Empire.  Today, buildings all over town are called “churches.”  The word is common … but what did Jesus mean when He talked about “church”?  What was Paul planting?  If we are members of a church, what are we a part of?  If we are considering finding a church, what are we looking for?

The word “church” literally means a congregation of people gathered around a purpose.  Or (to say it another way) a group of people called out from the flow for a particular cause.  When Jesus created His church and committed to build it, He was saying that there would be a group of people who would be called out from the world, UNITED AROUND HIM, and engaging in His mission. As John Stott says, “[the purpose of God] is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build His church, that is, to call out of the world a people for His own glory.”

Sadly, we tend to place the church in one of two categories:  either we see the church as purely vertical (i.e. we are only relating to God), or purely horizontal (i.e. we are only concerned with making friends.)  When we are only horizontal, the church is merely a cure for our loneliness.  When we are only vertical, we can be duped into thinking that I don’t need any other people in my life to live as God intended.  Both of these extremes are incomplete understandings of the Christian life, and the importance of “church”

The church IS a place designed for personal worship and inspiration for personal piety … but it is also a place of interconnected relationships and service to others.  We are set apart for Christ … but we are set apart TOGETHER for Christ.

At Wildwood, we talk about following Jesus together to the glory of God.  As we do so, we see four opportunities for influence … we call them the “4 Fours.”  We are for the nations, for the community, for the next generation, and for the church.  This Sunday at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 service we will talk about what it means to be “for the church” and how to live as though the Body of Christ MATTERS in our spiritual lives.  We will do so by looking at Romans 12:1-5.  Around these verses, we will sing, pray, celebrate the Lord’s supper, and encourage one another as we gather together.  Hope you can make it this weekend as we talk more about what it means that we are “FOR THE CHURCH.”  See you Sunday … and bring friends!

Following Jesus Together: For the Next Generation (Preview)

America has a remarkable history (even though we are quite “young” by historical standards), and a bright future (though we may debate the shades of that brilliance – the potential is certainly there!)  So how does the story of our great country get communicated from one generation to the next?

When our founding fathers conceived this nation, they had no capital city and no universal holidays to celebrate.  Think about it.  There was a group of people who had to decide which days we would revere and which events (and people) we would celebrate.

At the founding of Washington DC as our nation’s capital, a French architect, Pierre L’Enfant, designed a “national mall” in the center of our capital.  Later editions of the U.S. Congress came to recognize this public land as a “national trophy case” of sorts, where the most significant people and events could be commemorated.  Over the years monuments have been erected for Presidents (like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR), defining wars (WWII, Vietnam, Korea), and other prominent leaders.

Additionally, in 1870 the first four national holidays were established by the Federal government: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Independence Day, and New Year’s Day.

A stroll down the National Mall or National calendar tells a story of our history and what we value most.

In the summer of 2022 my family went to Washington DC and saw these monuments for ourselves.  They were very helpful to remind me and create conversations with my son about the history of our country.

I was thinking about this today as I read Joshua 4:19-24.  In this chapter, the Hebrew people had just moved into the promised land.  A new nation had begun.  How would they remember their history … and what/who needed to be celebrated?  Rather than allowing the nation to “wander in the wilderness” on this issue, God revealed to them one important thing for them to remember … and a set of stones are erected in these verses as a conversation piece for future generations.

What are you passing along to the next generation, and how are you sharing and remembering these truths?  What are the “monuments” you have erected in your life as conversation pieces with your children and friends about what matters most?  What we celebrate and commemorate will leave an important imprint on the next generation.  Will we pass along only hot dogs and fairy tales about the North Pole … or will we share reminders about Almighty God who reigns on high?

At Wildwood we talk a lot about being “For the Next Generation” following Jesus together with us to the glory of God.  This is one of our key strategic emphases.  This Sunday, on Promotion Sunday at Wildwood, we will look at the importance of sharing the story of God’s faithfulness with the next generation through what we remember and celebrate … and Joshua 4 will be our guide!  Hope to see you Sunday at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services.  See you there, and bring friends!

August 6, 2023 Baptism Sunday Preview

Sunday, August 6, 2023 is a Baptism Sunday at Wildwood Community Church!  These Sundays are great celebrations of God’s work in the lives of people in our congregation.  We will spend the morning worshipping God, hearing testimonies of how He has worked, and celebrating the water baptism of 24 people!  Make plans to join us this Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service.  See the graphic below for who is being baptized in which service.

NOTE: Our tradition on Baptism Sundays is to create maximum opportunities to all gather for the baptism services, so we do not offer any adult, college, student, or elementary classes on these days … only our early childhood (birth – pre-K) is operating during the 9:45 and 11:00 services.  All others will gather with us for worship in the Worship Center at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00. 

Mission:Fund (part 4) Sermon Preview

In finances, there are at least a couple of basic things we can do with money.  We can spend it or we can invest it.  When we spend money, we are exchanging dollars today for some kind of experience or provision (either a want or a need).  For instance, when we spend money on groceries, we are exchanging paper money today (never to see it again) for something we need to survive (food/nutrition).  When we invest money, though, we are placing dollars today in a money generating vehicle (like a stock or CD) in order for it to multiply into more resources down the road.  With an expense, the money is gone (never to be seen again).  With an investment, the money is gone with a hope that it comes back (with many friends) tomorrow!

For the past month at Wildwood, we have been talking about giving in our “Mission:Fund” series (looking at 2 Corinthians 8-9).  As we prepare to wrap this series up on Sunday, I want to ask you a question:  Do you think GIVING is an EXPENSE or an INVESTMENT?  In other words, do you see giving money to a church as something that is gone (never to be seen again), or an investment (that will multiply into something greater)?  And if it IS an investment, how might we expect the dividends to be paid?

How you answer these questions is actually really important … and will shape how you approach handling the finances the Lord has entrusted to you.

This Sunday, July 30, in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services, we will look at two final perspectives on giving that will show (God willing) what an investment generosity is … and how it can be used to bring glory to God.  Looking forward to seeing you as we study 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 in Part 4 of this series … and bring friends!

Mission:Fund (part 3) Sermon Preview

It can be a challenging thing for a pastor to talk about money.  After all, some ministers are well known for their “FLEECING” instead of “FEEDING” their flock.  Extravagant lifestyles of certain TV preachers, and questionable accounting in certain congregations have left a bad taste in many mouths.  So, as a Pastor, I want to approach the topic of finances with care.

If you started coming to Wildwood sometime in 2023, you might think that this is a topic I talk about often … after all, I led a 5 week Wednesday night study on money in January/February, I preached a 3 week series entitled “In God We Trust: 3 Thoughts on God and Money” in March, and now am in a 4 week series of sermons entitled “Mission:Fund” as we look at 2 Corinthians 8-9.  The truth is, though, that this year is somewhat atypical for me.  So much so that I have had fellow Elders and church leaders ask me why I haven’t preached more about this topic! Some of you who have been around longer than 2023 may even share this sentiment.

That said, I do think it is important that we talk about money.  After all, it was Jesus Himself who said, “where your treasure is your heart will be also.”  Also, there is no way to preach through the Word of God without talking about this subject … and one of the chief sections of God’s Word where financial giving is mentioned is 2 Corinthians 8-9.  Since we are studying 2 Corinthians this year, we get to dive into this treasure chest of information about giving.

So far, we have seen that Christian giving is sacrificial (8:1-7), and Christian giving models after Jesus Himself, and turns our desire to give into actions (8:8-15).  This Sunday, we will be in week 3 of this series as we look at the need for accountability in handling finances in the church.  Apparently taking extra care when dealing with finances is not new to the modern church … the Apostle Paul dealt with similar levels of challenge in the first century!  To this end, Paul says in 8:21, “for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight, but also in the sight of man.”  In other words, Paul was saying, “the Lord knows I am honest with the offerings collected, but I want you to know it too!”

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services, we will talk about the importance of integrity in handling finances at the congregational level, plus more encouragement for all of us to live (and give) generously.  See you Sunday as we look at 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5 … and bring friends!


P.S.  Vote for our Mission:Fund projects between now the end of the month at this link!  Vote each week between now and August 1.

Mission:Fund (part 2) Sermon Preview

Often our intentions are better than our actions.  We INTEND to eat healthy, but we often eat too many sugary or processed foods.  We INTEND to exercise, but we often sleep in instead.  We INTEND to pray for our friend, but we often forget.  We INTEND to make our family a priority, but we often allow other things to dominate our lives.

Many times, we have good intentions but poor execution.

This is true in many areas of our lives, including generosity.  Many of us WANT to be generous.  We DESIRE to give money and time to the benefit of others and to the glory of God … we have good intentions, yet we sometimes fail to follow through with the delivery of the gift.

This is not a modern/American problem, it is a human dilemma.  It actually was the situation with the church in Corinth in the first century.  Paul had shared a financial opportunity with the church, and the church had responded enthusiastically committing to give to meet that need … however, one year after their promise to take up an offering, nothing had been done.  Their desire to give … their intention to give … their commitment to give had been overridden by other interests.

Can you relate?

To my Christian brothers and sisters, I KNOW what your intention is … and it is GOOD.  You want to be generous with others.  You long to see your life connected to things of eternal significance.  I know that … but all too often, our desires do not materialize into realities.  I personally have seen this happen in my own life.  So what encouragement can we find in God’s Word to help us turn our desires into a reality?

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services, we will be in part 2 of our “Mission:Fund” sermon series.  We will be looking at 2 Corinthians 8:8-15 to see how Paul encourages the Corinthians to fulfill their original commitments to generosity.  In his admonishment from nearly 2,000 years ago, we will see contemporary insight on how we can align our good intentions with generous implementation.  We will also be celebrating the Lord’s Table together, and talking again about opportunities to participate in where we will send resources as a part of our July “Mission:Fund” program (click here for more info).

See you Sunday … and bring friends!

Mission:Fund (part 1) Sermon Audio, Video, & Questions

On July 9, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.  This message was part 1 of the “Mission:Fund” 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 of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
  3. How do you determine a “generous” gift?  Is it a specific dollar amount, or does it vary based on the resources available to the one giving it (or some other criteria)?
  4. The Macedonians are held up as an example of exemplary giving.  This is intended to motivate BOTH the Corinthians AND us today toward generosity in our giving.  Who are some other examples of giving that God has used to motivate you over the years?
  5. What is your general attitude toward giving?  Do you find yourself “eager to give” or are your more reluctant?  Why do you think this is?
  6. The Macedonians gave sacrificially.  Does your giving truly “cost you” something?  What role does sacrifice play in your giving?
  7. What is your plan to give financially to the work of the Lord?  Have you ever considered giving to your local church?  Find resources and opportunities to give at wildwoodchurch.org/give
  8. Prayerfully consider participating (by voting) in our Mission:Fund special program.  Wildwood will be sending money to 5 projects around the world this summer.  Vote and let us know where you want them to go – wildwoodchurch.org/fund  (vote between now and August 4)
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen to the message offline, click the link:

Mission: Fund #1 7.9.23


To listen online, use media player below:


To watch online use YouTube:


Mission:Fund (part 1) Sermon Preview

By God’s grace, I was born at just the right time and in just the right place.  There are many meaningful evidences of that statement … including my family, friends, church experience, university, etc. that were all providential gifts from my Creator.  However, right now, I want to highlight a less consequential (but fun) example – BASKETBALL.

I have always loved the game of basketball, and played it every chance I got.  Currently, I watch way more basketball than I play, but I really do love being around the game.  I also am fairly competitive and like to win.  Given these truths about me, I also see it as a gift from the Lord that I was in high school in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Bartlesville, OK.  During the four years I was in High School, Bartlesville won three state championships.  I watched one from the stands as a freshman, and was on the court when the clock hit zero my junior and senior years.  These three titles represent the only three state championships that Bartlesville High has ever won in men’s basketball.  I was a part of some amazing teams that had star players who played together, and I got to go along for the ride.

The one year Bartlesville did not win the title (while I was in High School) was my sophomore year.  That team made an impressive run to the state tournament and came up (literally) a few inches away from upsetting a very good Jenks team and making it to the Final Four.  But, by the standards of the surrounding years, this team did not receive the same accolades.  I still remember in the off season (between my sophomore and junior years) interviewing our coach for the “Locker Room Show” for our student run sportscast, and asking him if he was disappointed that the 1990 team had not won the state title.  I will never forget his response.

“Mark, who ever said I was disappointed in that team?  They gave everything they had, overachieved, and got significantly better from the beginning to the end of the year.  I could not be more proud of that team and all they accomplished.”

While some might be tempted to attribute that comment to coach-speak, there was a sincerity in Coach’s eyes when he said it.  He meant every word.  As a Coach who knew his team, he would judge each team against their own potential, regardless of what the ultimate score would be on the court.

Now, why do I go into this long story today?  I share this because this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, I will be kicking off a new sermon series entitled “Mission:Fund.”  In this series, we will be returning to 2 Corinthians (now looking at chapters 8-9) to hear Jesus’ invitation for each of us to join Him on mission in the way we handle and invest the financial resources He has allowed us to be stewards over.  As I prepare for part 1 of this series, focusing on 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, I remembered Coach’s words about the 1990 Bruins …

You see, when it comes to giving, most people’s scoreboards examine only the number of 0’s after the comma.  In this frame of thinking, the smaller the gift, the less significant/generous the donor.  This may be true in large scale fundraising for the PTA or political office, BUT NOT FOR THE CHURCH!  Jesus Christ desires that we give, but each one’s generosity is measured against their own potential/capacity, not the size of the check.  This is why the widow who gave a few pennies in the Gospel’s is celebrated, while the Pharisee who tithed on his spices is panned.  Jesus is not disappointed in the size of our gift, He simply wants our gift to be commiserate with His blessing.  To whom much is given, much is expected.

As American Christians, we have been GIVEN MUCH.  God’s grace to us is overflowing.  We have won the lottery.  Sure, some have more than others, but in comparison to so many in the world, we all have been given much.  How are we investing/stewarding what He has given?  Are we living into our potential?  Will we hear our Celestial Coach one day say He is proud of our utilization of resources?

Join us this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services as we kick off this study to see what generosity looks like by examining the example of the “Macedonians” in 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.  See you then … and bring friends!

P.S.  We also have a very exciting Missions opportunity that ALL OF US can be a part of.  Join us Sunday to hear more about it.