New Normal (part 5) Sermon Preview

Do you have anything that needs straightening?  Where do you go?  Well, it depends on what needs to be ironed out.

  • If your teeth are crooked, you go to an orthodontist.
  • If your bones are broken, you go to an orthopedist.
  • If your beliefs are twisted, you need to become more orthodox.

Do you see a pattern there?  The prefix “ortho” precedes many terms in our lexicon.  “Ortho” is a Greek prefix meaning “straight” or “correct.”  This prefix is used often and to great effect.  

In Galatians 2:14, Paul uses this prefix in a combination to point out a problem his friend Peter once had.  A problem of not “walking correctly” in light of the Gospel.  The message Paul proclaimed (the Gospel message that had come from Jesus Himself) was intended to be a brace to shape our lives into proper alignment.  More than just a religion or philosophy, the Christian life would be a supernatural life that would straighten out our lives … particularly the way we treat and relate to others.

However, this straightening process is painful.  Like a teenager going through their first few weeks with a retainer, or an athlete beginning rehab on a torn tendon, the early stages of being “ortho-ed” has its fair share of aches and pains.  Turns out, Peter’s problems are all too familiar to you and me … though the specifics of the story vary, Peter’s  growing pains in the New Testament are our growing pains as well.  We grasp the idea of the Gospel long before we apply it completely in our lives.

This Sunday, January 31, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, we will be looking at Galatians 2:11-14 in part 5 of our “New Normal” series as we see our lives brought into alignment with the new Jesus has normalized.  It may be a bit painful … but the end result is a more beautiful community.  Join us as we take a look this weekend in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with children, student, and adult classes) or online at 10:15 (wildwoodchurch.org/live.)  Hope to see you there!

New Normal (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio, & Video

On Sunday, January 24, 2021, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 2:1-10.  This message is part 4 in the “New Normal” series.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for group discussion or personal reflection.  You will also find the audio and video of the sermon to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 2:1-10
  3. When was the last time when someone tried to tell you you had to do something (or couldn’t do something) that you felt like you had a “right” to do?  How did you respond?  Why did you respond that way?
  4. What is a relatively new conviction that you have developed?  Take some time and compare that conviction to biblical truth.  Read a commentary about it, talk with Christian friends about it.  How does your new conviction compare to those sources?
  5. Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3) but did not circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:1-5).  Based on what we talked about in the message, why do you think Paul behaved differently in these situations?  How do you apply any principles you derive from that comparison to issues of Christian liberty today?
  6. What are some examples you have seen of Christians (with different traditions and practices) coming together to proclaim the Gospel or to help the poor?
  7. What would it look like for you to keep the Gospel central and your love for people evident in this season of your life?
  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 the sermon offline, click the link:

The New Normal #4 1.24.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch video of service, use YouTube stream below:

 

The New Normal (part 4) Sermon Preview

Liberty.  Freedom.  The ability to do something.  The ability to refrain from doing something.  As Americans we like this thought.  Jefferson declared famously in 1776, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (Declaration of Independence) The idea being that no one should come up with a plan that prevents people from these basic pursuits.

Liberty.  Freedom.  The ability to do something.  The ability to refrain from doing something.  As Christians we like this thought.  Paul famously said in 48, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)  The idea being that no one should come up with a plan that adds to the Gospel other criteria by which someone is saved.

That said …  we live out our American life in a country … a society where our liberties are sometimes curtailed for the sake of the common good.  Think speed limits on highways or occupancy limits for fire safety.

Also, we live out our Christian life in community … a congregation where our liberties are sometimes curtailed for the sake of the common good.  We only sing certain songs each weekend (which may not be your favorite song), we meet at certain times (which may not be your favorite time), etc.  

For the most part in our country and in our churches, people are used to a little give and take to form these social contracts.  However, for all of us there will come those moments where something happens that grabs our attention.  Something happens that makes us want to stand and fight.  Some liberty or preference is infringed on or forced on us, and we want to say “NO!”  When is it ok to stand and fight, and when should we sit and compromise?

Well, if I were to take a poll right now, my guess is that the threshold for civil disobedience in our country and our church is different for all of us.  I really don’t want to take that poll, as I think it would only lead to further disunity.  Instead, I want to turn to God’s Word to see what IT SAYS about where we should draw the line.  Specifically, where we should stand and fight and when we should sit and defer on matters INSIDE THE CHURCH.   Don’t you want to know the answer to that also?

Well, this Sunday, we will look at this very question as we explore Galatians 2:1-10 together in part 4 of our “New Normal” series at Wildwood Community Church.  I hope you plan to join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service as we see what we can learn from Paul (as he was directed by the Holy Spirit) about when we should stand and when we should sit on issues of truth and liberty.  

Hope to see you this Sunday in person or on the stream (wildwoodchurch.org/live at 10:15)!

The New Normal (part 3) Sermon Audio, Video, and Questions

On Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:11-24.  This message was part 3 in the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the sermon audio and video to listen to.watch or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Galatians 1:11-24
  3. What is the biggest life change that you have ever seen (in your life or in the life of someone you know)?
  4. Christianity is not a man-made religion, but was God’s idea from the start.  How does remembering this encourage you about God’s disposition toward you?
  5. Knowing that the Gospel is God’s Work that we receive by faith, begs the question … have you placed your faith in what Jesus has done for you on the cross?  How has that made a difference in your life?
  6. What is the hero of your story?  How can you share your story and more effectively remind all who hear it that Jesus is the One to receive the glory?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Normal #3 1.17.21

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch, use YouTube stream online:

 

The New Normal (part 3) Sermon Preview

What is the biggest change you can imagine right now?  I don’t mean losing ten pounds to fit into pre-pandemic clothing … I mean REAL CHANGE.  Epic transformation.  What would it be?

I’m talking… 

  • Colin Cowherd in a Baker Mayfield jersey
  • Sean Hannity becoming a Democrat
  • Kevin Durant as the next mayor of Oklahoma City
  • Nancy Pelosi wearing a “Trump in ’24” button
  • Michael Buble releasing a rap album

You know … BIG CHANGE.

What would you think if you opened the newspaper this morning and saw any of those items as stories?  After some expression of shock, you might say, “What happened?”  In other words, something WILD has taken place that defies natural or normal expectations.  Many of those items above, we might assume would require an act of God …

Well, let me take you back to the Damascus Daily News, front page article in 33 AD.  Some local Jewish woman was drinking her coffee and headed out to pick up the papyri and see what the day’s headline was.  Upon opening the paper, she shrieked, dropped her coffee and passed out cold … so surprised was she at the news that led that morning’s Daily.  Upon coming to, she looks again to make sure she read it right the first time.  Saul of Tarsus had converted to Christianity.

Now, while I don’t know HOW news was distributed in the first century, I do know that the revelation that Saul was now a Jesus follower was absolutely stunning.  10000x more stunning than any of the transformations I mention above.  Saul was a killer of Christians … someone dead set on destroying the new Jesus movement, and now he was proclaiming Jesus as GOD?  WHAT HAPPENED?

Well, this historical event is the backdrop of Paul’s ministry among the Galatians, including the message he was preaching and that we have been talking about on Sunday mornings at Wildwood in our “New Normal” series.  This Sunday, we will begin to listen as Paul tells the story of  WHAT HAPPENED that led to his transformation, and how that connects to the new that Jesus had normalized for all of us.

I hope to see you this Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service (in person and with ministries running for children, students, and adults) or online at 10:15 in the stream – wildwoodchurch.org/live as we will look at Galatians 1:11-24 in part 3 of this series.  We will also be celebrating communion together at the end of this week’s services.  Hope you can join us!

NOTE:  In this week’s services, the sermon will be first in the order of worship, with singing and communion at the end.  Hope to see you this Sunday!

The New Normal (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio/Video

On Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:6-10.  This message was part 2 of the “New Normal” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or 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 1:6-10
  3. What kinds of things typically cause you to get “outraged” or upset enough to speak out on a topic?
  4. When was the last time you saw the Gospel message twisted or changed in some way?
  5. To the best of your understanding, what is the Gospel message?
  6. In what ways do you hear people twisting the Gospel to a “Jesus +” message?  In what way does this take away from the true GOOD NEWS of Jesus?
  7. Why do you think Paul reacts so strongly to people changing the Gospel message?
  8. Who in your life are you praying for that they might trust Jesus as their Savior?  How can you invite them to follow Him this year?
  9. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link:

The New Normal #2 1.10.21

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the service stream, use YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (part 2) Sermon Preview

This has been a really difficult week, hasn’t it?  Like many of you, I watched yesterday afternoon as people stormed the United States Capital … leading to four deaths and damage to a place representing the rule of law.  Literally, my mouth was open and my heart heavy as I watched the events unfold. 

In 2021, everyone has a microphone and no one has an editor.  Anyone can say whatever they want to say and (through the amplification of social media) broadcast that perspective to the universe.  Those proclamations lead to a lot of things.  At times inspiring revival.  At other times inciting riots.  Words matter … and we should be careful how we use them.  

I was thinking about this today as I read Galatians 1:6-10 in preparation for Sunday.  What I saw in those verses is the Apostle Paul grabbing the “microphone” of his pen and writing a letter to the churches in Galatia to share with them what he was outraged about.  There was something that made his heart heavy and something that caused his mouth to fall open with surprise.  AND … Paul’s response was not just a late night reaction, but something that had passed through the ultimate editor-in-chief, the Holy Spirit of God, and still made its way to publication.  That means that the thing that Paul was so outraged about was something WORTH being outraged about.

What was it that got him so worked up?  An election?  A personal offense?  His favorite sports team?  These are the things that motivate us to post our unedited outrage.  What was Paul so worked up about?

Paul was worked up about the distortion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The integrity of the Gospel of Jesus was more important than all else.  After all, it is through the Gospel of Grace that men and women are saved from eternal destruction.  It is through the Gospel of  Jesus Christ that men and women are rescued from “this present evil age.”  The rest of our lives show us our need for Jesus … His Gospel is the answer to the questions created in all other venues.  Any perversion of the Gospel message by adding to or subtracting from it has extremely dire consequences for humankind.

The Apostle Paul made this quite clear in the early stages of a letter he wrote to a collection of churches he planted in Galatia as he posted, “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:9)”  

In response to the news that there were people teaching a different Gospel in the Galatian churches, Paul was justifiably outraged and (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) called down judgment from God on all who were perpetrating these lies.

Why was he so outraged?  After all, Paul never got this worked up over another’s political leanings or leisure time activities.  Paul’s response here is even more aggressive than his response to some of the bizarre moral actions of the Corinthians.  Why does he come so unglued over perversions to the Gospel message in Galatia?

We will explore why this was so serious this Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church in part 2 of our series “The New Normal” as we look at Galatians 1:6-10.  It is my hope that God might use this message to clarify for us just how important the Gospel message is  FOR US, as we clarify it, cling to it, and share it with a lost and dying world. 

What we believe matters.  I am not saying that we should not have perspectives on politics, family, or football (or that we shouldn’t express our views on those items via social media or engage to bring about change where appropriate) … what I am saying is that we should care about the Gospel MORE … because through it the world has hope, peace, and grace — 3 things we all desperately need – and they are found in Jesus Christ.  See you Sunday at 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 (in person and with children, student, and adult classes meeting) or 10:15 on the livestream (wildwoodchurch.org/live)

The New Normal (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio and Video

On Sunday, January 3, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Galatians 1:1-5. This message was part 1 of “The New Normal” 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 1:1-5
  3. What kind of “new” things have you tended to resist in your life?
  4. Paul talks about his credentials to proclaim the “new” that the Jews resisted.  He anchors that credential NOT to any earthly council, but to Divine appointment.  What earthly “councils” and groups have you seen try to change God’s ways over the years of your life.  What makes Paul’s “new” he proclaimed different from the changes that are trying to be effected in our day?
  5. Jesus came to save us from our sin.  In your own words, what does this mean?  Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?
  6. Jesus also came to deliver us from this present evil age.  In what ways have you seen this present age as “evil”?  How does the “Jesus way” rescue us from the evil around us?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The New Normal #1 1.3.21

 

To access audio online, use media player below:

 

To watch the service stream, use YouTube online:

 

The New Normal (Part 1) Sermon Preview

Well, we made it.  2020 is nearly in our rearview mirror.  Ahead of us lies 2021.  But what awaits us in the new year?  One too many times we have been reminded that 2021 will not be a return to the past, but the establishment of a “new normal.”  But what does that even mean?

Well, much has been written and editorialized about the brave new world that is forming:  more people working remotely, more virtual options for schooling, more conservative estimates on economic growth. Even researchers who are studying the future of the church see long term changes in the way many will worship (or not worship) in the years ahead.

As we ponder these changes, we all could make our own “plus/minus” list about the things we like about these changes, and the things that are driving us crazy.  But in the end, most people I talk to have some sense of uneasiness about the change around us.  Again, some of the things changing may be improvements while others are abject disasters … but just the fact that all of this is “new” unsettles us and forces us to establish a new equilibrium.

“New” is hard because it changes the “old” … and sometimes we like the “old”!  This is especially true in situations where the “new” cannot be added alongside the old, but must replace it.

I was thinking about this dynamic today as we prepare for Sunday and the start of a new year together as a church family.  This Sunday we will be starting a new sermon series called “The New Normal.”  Now, some of you are rolling your eyes right now.  I know, I know … but hang with me.  This is not a series about how to use Zoom for business meetings or Canvas/See Saw for online education.  This is a series about a massive change that happened 2,000 years ago when Jesus ushered in a New Covenant between God and man.  

Make no mistake about it … what Jesus established was an upgrade in every way.  The old required constant animal sacrifices and hundreds of laws.  The new would bring an end to sacrifice (while delivering forgiveness of sins) and would offer just one new commandment: love one another as Jesus has loved us.  The old would require pilgrimage to a distant Temple, while the new placed the Holy Spirit of God IN ALL OUR HEARTS!  The old had a priestly system led by corrupt people with personal agendas, while the new has a Single High Priest who would die for our benefit, and lives today to make intersession for us.  The new Jesus normalized was a massive upgrade. 

But from the moment Jesus normalized this “new” many representatives of the “old” were unsettled.  Their equilibrium was thrown off and they wanted to have the new Jesus established simply added alongside their old covenant with God –  instead of having it replace their old.  They wanted all new Christians to go to their church, but still not eat bacon.  They wanted all new converts to give to their cause, but circumcise their male infants.  They wanted to mix the old they liked with the new Jesus ushered in.

Was this a big deal?  Yes.  This was a big deal.  How big a deal?  

  • This very issue prompted the writing of Paul’s first letter to a church (the letter to the Galatians) where he begins the second paragraph by calling down a curse on those who wanted to mix the old and the new!!! That is serious.
  • This very issue (dressed in different clothes) would be the spark of the Protestant Reformation, in an era where many Christians were martyred by other Christians for their insistence on clinging to the “new” Jesus normalized.

So what is the “new” Jesus normalized, and how do we embrace it together as a church family?  Well, this is what we will be exploring throughout 2021 as we look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians together.  Our first 7 messages from Galatians begin this Sunday in a series called “The New Normal” based on Galatians 1-2.  In part 1 this week, we will get oriented to this letter as we look at Galatians 1:1-5.  We hope you make plans to worship with us this weekend at Wildwood Community Church in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 services (in person and with full children, student, and adult classes meeting), or online at 10:15 (wildwoodchurch.org/live)

Let’s learn to live following Jesus FORWARD into the new He has established, resisting the temptation to float back to the “old” we may be comfortable with.  See you Sunday!

Sermon Questions – Sunday, December 27, 2020

On Sunday, December 27, 2020, Global Outreach Director, Kevin Bradford’s message is based on Luke 24:44-47 and is entitled “What The World Needs Now” After reading the passage and asking for the Spirit’s guidance, the following questions may assist your personal reflection or group discussion.
Sermon Questions:
  1. What do you see as the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the church in the United States?
  2. What does it mean for Jesus to describe His teaching as being based upon “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms?”
  3. Can you think of a time when the Lord “opened your mind” to understand the Scriptures in a new way? What was the result of that experience?
  4. Verse 46 focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus. What is the significance of Jesus directing the disciples’ attention to these events?
  5. Verse 47 speaks of a message being “proclaimed,” and the next verse of disciples being “witnesses.” Are these the same things? If not, how are they different?
  6. What role is Wildwood playing in proclaiming Jesus’ message “in all nations?” What role are you playing? What more do you think could be done with the Spirit’s empowerment (v. 49)?