Someone has said: There is power in story. Why is it that relating a story often carries with it greater impact than simply stating facts?
Charles Dickens called the parable of the Prodigal son, The greatest short story ever. In your estimation, why would he conclude that?
What are some of your favorite parts of the story? Elaborate.
The message title was: God passionately cares for me! Why is it we often doubt that?
Bruce said, “Self-indulgence always leads to disaster.” Why is that true?
6. Bruce mentioned three steps on the road back. They all began with “R.” What were they?
The Pharisees were an intriguing group. What was their fatal flaw?
Do you know a “prodigal” (someone in your family or circle of friends who has stepped away from Jesus)? Take some time to pray that God might “make them hungry;” that they might “come to the end of their rope” and return to their spiritual Father.
Read out loud and reflect on the following verse:
The Lord your God is with you
He is mighty to save
He will take great delight in you
He will quiet you with His love
He will rejoice over you with singing Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
In prayer, thank Jesus for passionately caring for you.
Wow. It’s hot. I just stepped back into the offices after taking a short walk around Wildwood’s outer campus on the sidewalk path. The ground is cracked in many places. According to several weather stations, the heat index at this moment is 109 degrees. Yikes.
While all that heat is blazing outside, the energy has been bursting inside as Pine Cove Camp in City has been popping. We are thankful for the Pine Cove team and we pray that all the children who are attending not only have fun but that they would also grow deeper in their knowledge of Jesus.
This Sunday will be part 3 in the series Core Truth. The message title is “God Passionately Cares for You!” Our text this week is what many have called “The Greatest Short Story Ever.” It is the moving story of the Prodigal son from Luke 15:11-32. Since the story covers so many verses, I’m encouraging everyone to read the story at least two times before Sunday. The story alternates between a focus on the younger brother, to the father, to the elder brother. You might remind yourself of the context of this parable by looking at Luke 15:1-10.
While Scripture tells us that God cares for and loves us, that truth takes on a different perspective in the drama of this story. The younger son represents those who, as Isaiah says, have gone astray like sheep, each has turned to his own way. The father represents God who passionately cares. The elder brother is a picture of the Pharisees, those who are self-righteous, judgmental and arrogant, folks who resent that God reaches out in grace and mercy to those in need. This is a great passage!
Several other key things are happening Sunday. It is small group Sunday—if you are interested in getting relationally connected, be sure to stop by the Fellowship Center at 11:00am. Also, baptism classes will be held this Sunday. For more info on that go to wildwoodchurch.org/baptism
On December 24, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 2:8-20. This message was part 4 in the “Mary’s Christmas” sermon series. The audio from this message is available below to listen to online or download.
I still remember the morning our son was born.Though the event occurred over a decade ago, I still have great clarity of that day – it is a time my wife and I treasure.
It was the “spring forward” day of Daylight savings time, and our doc had attended a rock concert the night before – forgetting to “spring forward” her clock.So, even though the birth day was planned several days in advance, Josh entered the world one hour later than expected!
Josh was born at 31 weeks, and would need to spend the first month and half of his life in the NICU at Children’s Hospital in OKC.Because of this, we had to play a “road game” . . . out of town and away from family and friends.Any visitors had to be invited and planned out.This meant that our birth experience looked a bit different than some . . . but it was still special to us.
This Sunday is Christmas Eve.On Sunday morning at Wildwood this weekend, we will be wrapping up our “Mary’s Christmas” series by looking at Luke 2:8-20.In these verses we are reminded that Mary and Joseph were playing a “road game” when Jesus was born.They lived in Nazareth, but Jesus was born in Bethlehem (a week’s journey away).Though Bethlehem was Joseph’s ancestral home, there were far from what was “normal” for them.
Even though they were miles from home, the Lord still planned some special visitors to see the new born baby.By special invite, shepherds came.By divine plan, angels attended. And through it all – Mary treasured all these experiences in her heart.
As we gather for worship this Sunday morning at 9:45 or 11:00 at Wildwood, we will treasure the birth story of Jesus and see how we are also invited to worship Jesus this Christmas season.Make plans to join us!
P.S.In addition to the 2 morning worship services we have this December 24, we will also have 2 evening candlelight Christmas Eve services with a living nativity (5:00 and 7:00 PM).Hope to see you both morning and evening this weekend!
Download all 25 days of our Christmas devotional in pdf or ebook format (for free) by clicking here.
On Sunday, December 17, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Luke 1:46-56. This message was part 3 in the “Mary’s Christmas” sermon series. Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.
On Sunday, December 17, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 1:46-56. This message was part 3 in the “Mary’s Christmas” series. Below you will find a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.
Read Luke 1:46-56
What in your life right now seems really BIG?
Now compare those BIG things to God.How does remembering how truly BIG God is encourage you today?
In your life right now, what do you tend to “magnify” more:your problems, yourself, or your people?
In her song, Mary listed a number of things about God that she focused on.Stop for a moment and make a list of 10 things you know about God.Pray over these items magnifying the Lord.
What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?
To access these questions in pdf format, click here.
To access the free 25 day Christmas Devotionals, click here.
When I was a child, I remember my parents occasionally hosting a “Bridge” group some Saturday nights.When they would host this group, my sister and I would retreat to my parents’ bedroom where we would watch “Solid Gold” and “Hee Haw” on the 12 inch black and white television.As we would watch this TV, I never thought of it as small or poor quality, because it was all we had.However, when you compare that 1970’s era TV to the HD flat screen in my living room right now, it is easy to point out how much “better” today’s technology is.
A lot of descriptors we have in our language only gain their meaning by comparison.To my fifth grader, I am tall, but not to the roster of the OKC Thunder.To my parents I am young, but not compared to the 300 kids who covered Wildwood’s stage last Sunday when the kids sang in the worship services.Old/young, tall/short . . . these terms gain their meaning when they have a point of reference.
Let me ask you a question . . . a MACRO-LEVEL question:When it comes to your life, what is your point of reference?Honestly, I think that our point of reference for our lives can be centered in one of only 3 places:
These are the options.
If your point of reference is yourself, then you determine your own reality.What is “needed” is what you want.What is “good” is what is “good for you at that moment.”
If your point of reference is “others” you allow another human or group of humans to define your world.If they say something is important, it is important.If they say something is right, it is right.
If your point of reference is God, then He is your vision.He determines right from wrong, truth from error, good from bad.
Here is what I have noticed, both in my life and in the lives of those I know.When our primary reference point in life is a person (us or someone else), “God” tends to be small in our lives.When God is our reference point, people tend to be small.To say it another way, when people are big, God is small, but when God is big, people are small.By this I don’t mean that people are not valuable, but I mean that when God is our reference point, we tend to not fear the reactions of men, but when people are our reference point, we tend to not fear the presence of God.
In Luke 1:46-56, Mary reveals her response to the news that she would be the mother of Jesus.Her response (called the Magnificat due to the Latin word for the first word of the “song” recorded here) shows that her reference point was God.In this song, she magnifies the Lord, thereby properly understanding that she is small . . . and so are the problems around her.Not small as in insignificant, but small compared to the greatness of our God.
This Christmas we will spend a fair amount of time comparing ourselves to others.Are the gifts we are giving our kids too much or not enough?Are our holiday plans good or bad?Is this year’s celebration better than last?In the midst of these comparisons, let’s spend this Sunday magnifying the Lord using Mary’s example from her song.As we make the Lord our reference point, as He “becomes” big, we will find our problems small by comparison.
Join us this Sunday morning at Wildwood in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service as we will be in part 3 of our “Mary’s Christmas” sermon series.See you then!
P.S. This Sunday also brings with it our Worship Team’s annual presentation of “Carol of the Bells” and our children have their “birthday party for Jesus” in their classes. It will be a great day together!
To access the free 25 day Christmas devotional, click here.
On Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Luke 1:39-45. This message was part 2 of the “Mary’s Christmas” series. Below you will find the audio related to this message to listen to or share.
To listen offline, click the file below to download:
On Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 1:39-45. This message was part 2 of the “Mary’s Christmas” series. Below you will find a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.
Read Luke 1:39-45
Imagine you were Mary.You have just learned that you are pregnant with Jesus.How would a visit to your cousin Elizabeth be an encouragement to you?
What are some times in your life where you have been encouraged by the presence of another person during a time of challenge or joy?
Can you think of a situation right now in the life of someone you know where you feel prompted by God to simply be a “presence” in that person’s life?What can you do this week to encourage that person?
Near the end of the message today, a simple 4 step process was laid out for following Mary’s example of faith.Pick one area of your life that is a particular challenge to you right now and run it through the 4 point grid discussed in the message:
What do I feel/think about _______?
What does God say about ______?
I choose to believe what God says about_________.
Live consistent with that belief & be blessed.
7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?
To access these questions in pdf format, click here.
To access the free 25 day Christmas devotional, click here.
Do you want a “blessed” life?Of course you do!Who doesn’t, right?Only a hardcore atheist that does not believe in a “Bless-or” is repelled by the concept of being blessed by their Creator.However, what does the blessing of God look like, and how do we get on the blessed list . . . these are questions we often debate or question.
Before addressing those questions, I want to direct our attention to a very popular Christmas story – Santa Claus.In this story, Mr. Claus spends his year in the North Pole making blessings with his elves to deliver them on Christmas Eve night to those who have maintained their status on the “nice” list.“Nice” boys and girls get the prepared blessings, while “naughty” boys and girls get a lump of coal . . . a gift that appears even worse in today’s carbon footprint aware world.
So, in Santa’s Christmas story, his blessings are prizes for good behavior, and are withheld for those who do bad things (verified by Elves-on-shelves everywhere).
Is Santa’s story the same as the Savior’s Christmas account?Are the blessings of God delivered only to those who are “nice?”What if we have been a bit “naughty”? What if God has access to the shelves of my heart, not just my house?How would we ever expect blessing by God if He knows all my thoughts?
Well, thankfully, in the true Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, we see how God blesses His people AND who He blesses.(I’ll give you a hint . . . it is not based on how nice we are – you can see for yourself in Luke 1:45.)This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be looking at our second installment of our “Mary’s Christmas” sermon series as we treasure more truth about Jesus’ birth from Mary’s perspective.Make plans to join us in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service as we will be looking at Luke 1:39-45 together.See you Sunday!
P.S.In our 9:45 and 11:00 services on Sunday, the children will be singing in the worship services a collection of Christmas songs.This is a Wildwood tradition that I always love!
To access a 25 day Free Advent Devotional Guide, click here.