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)?

The Gift (part 4) Sermon Audio, Video, and Questions

On Sunday, December 20, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 2:1-12.  This message was part 4 of “The Gift” 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 Matthew 2:1-12
  3. What are some of the things you have heard before about the Magi?  How does this compare with the actual biblical record of Matthew 2:1-12?
  4. Who are some of the people on the face of the earth today that popular opinion might categorize as those very “Distant” from knowledge and worship of Jesus Christ?
  5. What/who are the “stars” that the Lord used to guide you to Jesus?
  6. How might God use you to guide the distant to Jesus this year?
  7. Three basic responses toward Jesus stand out from Matthew 2:1-12:  The Scribes ignored Him, Herod rejected Him, and the Magi worship Him.  Which of these three responses best reflects your life response to Jesus right now?
  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 the link:

The Gift #4 12.20.20

 

To listen online, use media player below:

 

To watch the stream of the service, use YouTube online:

 

This sermon is part of the 2020 Christmas series at Wildwood.  We have also prepared a Devotional Book, “The Gift.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

Wildwood has put together a list of Christmas songs in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

The Gift (part 4) Sermon Preview

I still remember when my Dad turned 40.  I was a second grader at the time.  Honestly I don’t have a ton of memories from my early elementary years, but I remember that day.  My mom had planned a special celebration for my Dad’s birthday  A surprise party was planned and guests were invited.  In addition to a number of “in town” friends, my mom intentionally sent invites to my dad’s brothers and sisters.  Even though they lived a great distance away, they were personally invited to the party and made plans to attend.  On the afternoon of his birthday I was playing outside at my uncle’s house when I saw the rest of the family arrive from out of state.  I came running into the room where my dad was sitting and exclaimed, “You are never going to guess who just pulled up!!!”  Much to everyone’s surprise, my Dad calmly said, “I bet it is the rest of the family!”  Somehow he had caught wind of the plan and was actually expecting their “surprise” arrival.

I was thinking about that experience today as I read Matthew 2:1-12.  These verses talk about a birthday party for Jesus Christ when He was quite young.  We saw last Sunday from Luke 2 that invitations went out to some local folks (shepherds) who were invited to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  But in Matthew 2, we find out that God the Father also invited some out-of-towners to come to celebrate the newborn King.  Magi from the East had been summoned and invited to attend the party.  At first glance, this seems like quite the surprise.

However, upon further review, we should not be taken aback.  While the method of invite (the Christmas star) is a bit unusual for us, it was not unusual for God.  After all, He had used this method of guidance to lead the people of Israel years ago (remember the cloud by day and fire by night?)  But even more, we might be surprised that Iranian Astrologers were invited to the party … but again, we should not be confused.  When these distant, Gentile, foreigners showed up, you can almost imagine Joseph running in to the house and exclaiming to his Son, “You are never going to guess who just arrived!!!!”  Jesus (a toddler at this point) calmly responds saying, “Yeah!  The rest of the family has shown up!”  

Jesus was ALWAYS to be the gift for all people … including those who lived at a “distance.”  God had told Abraham in Genesis 12 that through his descendant, ALL the people of the earth would be blessed.  Isaiah talks about foreign Kings bowing before the Jewish Messiah, and people from ALL the earth gathered to worship Him (Isaiah 60:1-3).  The Psalmist even knew this was coming when he wrote, “Let THE NATIONS be glad and sing for joy (Psalm 67)”  The Great Commission was not a new idea for God, but an added emphasis to an old idea … the culmination of His ultimate plan.

The reason why Christians are so evangelistic and mission minded is because the mission of God is not local but global in scope.  It should not surprise us.  It has been that way from the beginning … and the Iranian Astrologers (the Magi) being invited to the party let us know early on the intentions of His advent.

This Sunday, December 20, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, we will be continuing our Christmas Sermon Series “The Gift” by looking at Matthew 2:1-12 and being reminded that Jesus is THE GIFT for the Distant.  Hope you make plans to join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 services (or online at wildwoodchurch.org/live beginning at 10:15), and bring friends!  This is a “surprise” we don’t want to miss.

P.S.  Our worship band has prepared their annual rendition of “Carol of the Bells” and will be including it in this Sunday’s service!  Don’t miss it!

The Gift (part 3) Sermon Preview

Let’s be honest for a moment … the Elf on the Shelf is a terrifying concept.  Isn’t it?  I mean seriously.  Santa sends an elf to live in your home and spy on you for a few weeks before Christmas to make sure you are “good enough” to be on the”nice” list?  Sweet dreams, junior.

No thank you.  I had enough trouble falling asleep as a child with the shadows of tree branches dancing on my curtains and an overactive imagination.  Actual creepy dolls that moved day after day recording my actions?  Yikes.

Now, of course, these dolls really ARE NOT connected to reality.  There is no chain of command outside our home spying on us through cameras hidden in dolls.  They don’t need to resort to those tactics.  “The establishment” already has Siri and Alexa to do this covert work for them … but I digress.

I want to focus for just a moment, though, on the concept of Christmas gifts going to the “nice” and not the “naughty.”  Where did this idea come from anyway?  Well in the west, many countries had traditions about Santa leaving sweets or toys for children if they were “good” while leaving sticks or a lump of coal if they were “bad.”  Exactly what constituted good and bad?  I have no idea … but it was another tool to try to keep children in line.  This idea was popularized even further in the 1934 song “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”  In this song, the familiar lyric is shared, “He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is comin’ to town!”  

The reality is, deep within each of us we have such a belief in people “getting what they deserve” that we even write this narrative into our fairy tales.  I think our desire for this is actually anchored in our desire for justice.  There is a problem with this way of thinking, though.  How do I know “how good is good enough?”  I mean, none of us have been “nice”  all year through.  It is 2020 for crying out loud!  our normal sinfulness has been amplified by being sifted through this pandemic’s strain!  Since none of us are 100% “nice” how “nice” do we need to be to get a “Christmas Gift?”  Or will Santa’s delivery schedule just be that much shorter this year?

Well, the reality is this.  Our God sees and knows all.  He (not Santa) sees us when we’re sleeping.  He knows when we’re awake.  He knows when we’ve been bad or good.  

Oh no.  For goodness sakes!

All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  The more we examine our lives, the more real this reality becomes.  Therefore, are we without hope?  Is there no way we can receive “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and “grace upon grace”?  

Well, if our reception of these gifts depends on our “niceness” then we are out of luck.  But by an amazing demonstration of grace, we find out that Jesus is a gift given by God NOT to those on the “nice” list, but the naughty!  Not just to the clean but to the dirty!!  Jesus said so Himself, “I did not come for the healthy, I came for the sick.”  He came to rescue sick and sinful and dirty people –  like you and me.

This Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 services (and at 10:15 online in the stream wildwoodchurch.org/live ) we will be looking at part 3 of our “The Gift” sermon series, seeing how the Gift of Jesus is given to the dirty … and we are reminded of that reality through the angelic message to the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20.  Join us this Sunday as we look at this blessed section of God’s Word together.  Join us, and bring friends!  This passage is a gift for all of us to enjoy.

 

This sermon is part of the 2020 Christmas series at Wildwood.  We have also prepared a Devotional Book, “The Gift.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

Wildwood has put together a list of Christmas songs in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links: