Light of the World (part 3) Sermon Preview

OK quick … what Christmas gifts do you most remember receiving in your childhood?  I was thinking about this today … and I basically came up with two big memories.  The first was when I got a basketball goal for Christmas … and after putting it up, my Dad and I played a quick game of one-on-one in the driveway.  The second was when I received the AT-AT walker from the Empire Strikes Back.  Yeah – life was pretty good.

But you know what is wild?  Though I received gifts every Christmas growing up, these were the only ones that sprang quickly to my mind.  If I thought long enough and hard enough about it, I know I would remember others, but these were the only ones that came to mind quickly.

But as I thought about this, you know what I remembered much more of?  Conversations with family.  Sitting around the dinner table for way too long, eating way too much, and enjoying every minute of it.  Game tournaments with the visiting relatives.  These personal moments shared are the memories that have endured the longest.  They are what I treasure the most.

I think this is the way it is.  Though MUCH is made of the “stuff” we give and get at Christmas, it is the other “gifts” of time and presence and relationship that mean the most.  I think this dynamic was also true for Jesus’ mother Mary.  Why do I think that?

Well, for starters, Luke’s Gospel contains the most information about Jesus’ birth from Mary’s perspective.  Given the detail, I have little doubt that Mary herself was one of the eyewitnesses Luke interviewed when compiling His Gospel … and in it we find out what Mary “treasured” and “pondered” in her heart.

And you know what she didn’t mention?  The three gifts of the Magi.

Now, I am not saying that the gifts were not appreciated and celebrated; they almost certainly were – possibly even being sold to fund their life-saving escape to Egypt when Herod sought to kill Jesus and the rest of the infant boys in Bethlehem.  What I am saying is that the memories that first sprang to mind in Luke’s Christmas account included three OTHER Christmas gifts.  These three “gifts” were not material in nature, but were statements from three lesser known figures in the Christmas account:  Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), and Anna (Luke 2:36-38).

This Sunday morning at Wildwood, we are going to look at these three other “gifts” and then we will explore Isaiah 42:1-9 (a passage written 700 years before the birth of Jesus) to see WHY these gifts were given and why they were so important.  We will do this in part 3 of the “Light of the World” sermon series.  Make plans to join us in the 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service!

Also, note that this Sunday our children will be singing in the services at the end of the 9:45 and 11:00 services.  We LOVE this Sunday each year.  Make plans to be with us December 10 … and bring friends!

Light of the World (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, December 3, 2023, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Isaiah 9:1-7.  This message was part 2 in the “Light of the World” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Isaiah 9:1-7
  3. When was the last time you were in need of help from a PERSON … were you able to find it?  When was the last time you cried out to God in need of a Savior?
  4. In Isaiah 9:1-3, we see God replace “darkness” with “light.”  What are some reasons for “gloom” or “darkness” in your world this year?  What would it look like for God to trade those gloomy things for glory and light?  If you KNEW God would replace your gloom with glory, what kind of celebration would you want to throw?
  5. In Jesus, God has done SO MUCH for us!  And, when Jesus comes again, EVEN MORE blessing will flow in the direction of those who are trusting in Him.  Because of these reasons, it is absolutely appropriate for us to celebrate Jesus and MAKE MUCH OF HIM this Christmas season and always.  Make a Christmas list … this one a list of things that Jesus has done or will do for you.  How does looking at THAT LIST inspire you to worship Him more this year?
  6. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format click here.

NOTE:  I have prepared a 30 Christmas devotional tied to Christmas Carols.  You can access that devotional by clicking here.


To listen to message offline, click the link:

Light of the World #2 12.3.23


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To watch online use YouTube:


Light of the World (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, November 26, 2023 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 8:12.  This message was part 1 in the “Light of the World” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 8:12
  3. What evidence of “darkness” do you see in the world today?
  4. The backdrop of Jesus’ statement in John 8:12 is the Festival of Tabernacles.  Based on our look at this festival this morning, in what way was this a good backdrop for Jesus’ statement?
  5. By proclaiming to be the “Light of the world,” Jesus was claiming to be God … who was present with His people!  Have you ever been comforted by the notion that God is with you in your time of need or struggle?  Share a time when this was so.
  6. Jesus was not just another good man, but God Himself who came to rescue us and lead us to true life.  This is why we not only celebrate Him at Christmas time, but also follow Him all the days of our lives!  What are some ways you can remind yourself and those in your network this Christmas that Jesus is God?
  7. Jesus invites us to follow Him and if we do, He promises that we will not stay in darkness.  Are you following Him with your life today?  If not why not?  Is there any “darkness” you are clinging to today instead of following Him into the light of life?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

NOTE:  I have prepared a 30 Christmas devotional tied to Christmas Carols.  You can access that devotional by clicking here.

To listen offline, click the link to download audio:

Light of the World #1 11.26.23


To listen online, use the media player below:


To watch the service, use YouTube online:

Light of the World (part 1) Preview

Imagine you have a friend named Bob who owns a home but consistently was complaining about how dark it was inside.  After hearing your friend complain about this for an extended period of time, you finally go over to his house for dinner one evening.  Upon arriving, you notice that all the windows in the home are shut and covered, excluding the entry of any natural light.  After entering the home, you see that though there are light fixtures in the house, all the light bulbs have been removed!  After some small talk (in the dark) Bob again begins complaining about the darkness in his home.  At this point, you can’t take it any longer.

“Bob,” you say.  “I have good news for you.  I think I know how to fix your problem.”

“You do?,” Bob replies.  “Please share!”

“Your problem is not the dark … it is that you have shut out all the light!,” you say. “Open the shades and replace the bulbs and the darkness will disappear!”

Of course, this story is a fiction, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

All of us tend to complain about the darkness we see around us.  Broken marriages, assaults, sexual perversion, war, and on and on.  24 hour news cycles on cable news and the internet give us plenty to remind us regularly of the “dark.”  But rather than spending our lives delving in the sport of self pity or cynicism, or stuck in a perpetual cycle of lament, what if there was a way to end the darkness?

You don’t end darkness by focusing on the dark … you end it by turning on the Light.

Does such a Light exist to dispel the darkness?  YES!

In John 8:12, Jesus Christ says this, “I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Light of Jesus is no 40 watt bulb!  He is sufficient to light the world!  If we are sick of the dark, we must open the shade and let THE LIGHT shine in.

Over the next 4 Sundays at Wildwood Community Church, we will be walking through the Christmas season under the theme “Light of the World.”  By thinking of Jesus as THE Christmas Light, we will find hope in the midst of despair, direction in the midst of confusion, and clarity in the fog.  I hope you will join us each week in this series as we look at the historical account of Jesus’ birth in this “light.”

This Sunday, we will be in part one of the series introducing this topic by looking at what Jesus’ meant in John 8:12 by stating that He was the “Light of the World.”  Hope to see you in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 services … and bring friends!

To find out more about Wildwood’s Christmas plans, click here.

Questions for Reflection: November 19, 2023

On Sunday, November 12, 2023, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is Part 5 from our sermon series  “The Power of Love”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. Bruce stated from 13:6 that love is in the construction business, it is a ‘people builder. What are some ways people have said to you, I believe in you, I see ______ as your strength?  What did that mean to you?  Who are some to which you could be loving people builder?
  2. Reflect on and discuss some about the definition of love that Bruce shared early in the series: Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interest regardless of the cost.
  3. Bruce pointed out that Jesus said (John 13:34-35) that Love is the greatest hallmark of our relationship with Jesus.  Why is it that people often fall short of displaying that hallmark consistently?
  4. Peruse through the list of the attributes of love (verb forms) in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Which attribute would you say you most need to develop in your home?  In your closest relationship?
  5. “Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing” (13:6), it does not delight in evil. What are some ways people can fall into that pattern of behavior?
  6. Bruce said that Love will not tolerate ‘hearsay’ or ‘heresy.’  How should we respond when faced with either situation?
  7. Bruce shared how he has been reading the book by Glenn Stanton entitled, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth. Should we actually befriend folks who identify as LGBT? Are we limited as to who we are to love?  [see what Jesus says in Matthew 5:44]
  8. As the song says, ‘Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.  On and on and on it goes, it overwhelms and satisfies my soul [One Thing Remains]. Take some time in worship to thank God for his overwhelming love for you.

Sneak Peek: November 12

Hey Wildwood Family!

Greetings to everyone!  Holy cow! (likely what Jesus might utter) November will soon be half over.  Yikes!

Several things of special note this week.  First, there will be some 70 dads and daughters at the Father-Daughter campout on Friday-Sunday.  Pray for some sweet reconnections between the dads and daughters.

Second, you will find a prayer sheet in the bulletin this week regarding the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway in San Antonio next weekend, the 17th-19th. While we have the privilege of speaking there, it is vitally important for us as church family to be praying. The guide sheet lays out a prayer strategy for the next week, praying both for the presenters and for the couples who attend.  There will be over 1,000 folks attending with a capacity of 1200.

Third, we’ve entered the key preparation phase for the Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe hosted by Wildwood again.  The hope is to bring an encouraging Christmas to 600 disadvantaged children in our immediate area. There will be an information sheet in the bulletin on how you and your family can be involved, or simply go to for more details. What a privilege to represent Jesus to so many in our community.

Sunday we will be concluding our series entitled, The Power of Love, unpacking the love section of 1 Corinthians 13.  This final message was a challenge!  I will be sharing the title of a book that I’ve been reading while working through these messages.  Don’t forget our call from the Lord:  May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in your love for one another, and for all people (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

See you Sunday!


Questions for Reflection: November 5, 2023

On Sunday, October 29, 2023, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is Part 4 from our sermon series  “The Power of Love”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. We can often hear folks say things like “I’ve fallen out of love,” “I don’t love him/her anymore.”  What is the core issue with statements like that?  From this series, what perspective might you share with them?
  2. “Love is not rude” (13:5), not ill-mannered or crude. What are some common ways we/others tend to display rudeness?  What type of actions would be the opposite of rudeness?  Make a list.
  3. ​​​​​​​”Love does not insist on its own way” (13:5). What are some practical ways we can give preference to others?
  4. ​​​​​​​”Love is not irritable” (13:5), not touchy or quick to take offense.  What circumstances in life make you more vulnerable to being irritable? Bruce said that the difference between reacting and responding is what?
  5. “Love is not resentful” (13:5), it does not take into account a wrong suffered, keeps no record of wrongs (doesn’t keep score). Why do we have this tendency to “keep score”?
  6. ​​​​​​​Read out loud 2 Timothy 4:14.  What instruction for ourselves is found there?
  7. ​​​​​​​Look at Ephesians 4:32-5:2.  As mentioned in the message:
    1. what is His will for me?
    2. what are we called to pass along that we’ve received?
    3. how are we to imitate our Heavenly Father?
    4. how does God view our responses before Him (see the end of vs. 2)?
  8. It is a true blessing (giving a salute to the lyrics of Foreigner’s song, I want to know what love Is, I want you to show me) that our God has fulfilled our deep need for Him to show us what love is. He’s done it two ways.  One, by sharing the practical aspects of love from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. Second, by clearly demonstrating His love through what the Lord Jesus did for us by coming into this world to give His life as a ransom for many.  Spend a few moments thanking the Lord both for His Word, and for the greatest act of love ever:  Jesus taking your place on the cross!

Sneak Peek: November 5, 2023

Hey Wildwood Family!

Welcome to November!  This is a busy week around the Hess house.  My wife and daughters (along with some other friends) are having a garage sale this Friday and Saturday.  That means a whole bunch of organizing and hopefully a significant departure of some good stuff that we no longer need to steward.😉

This weekend is extra special in that our daughter Jennifer and husband Zac (plus Summer and Max) will be in town for a couple of days from their church planting ministry in Mexico (hard to believe they’ve already served there for eight years).  They have spent this week in Kansas City attending a conference with their mission organization Avant.  It will be a brief stay, but one we are looking forward to very much.

This also will be a special Sunday at Wildwood for at least two reasons.  First, we are having a baby dedication with nine families dedicating their children to the Lord.  This is an opportunity for us as a church family to join the couples (each couple has composed a unique prayer for their child which will be in the bulletin) in praying with them that God would be at work early in their child’s life.  Exciting!

Second, this Sunday we will be launching the toy collection for the Mission Norman Christmas Shoppe.  Mission Norman and Wildwood are aiming to give a warm Christmas to some 600 underprivileged children in the Norman area as we did last year.  We need everyone’s involvement to make this happen!  Check out the video during the worship services and/or go to for all the details. We love sharing both the Gospel and blessings with those in our community!

Sunday is part #4 in our series, The Power of Love. We have the privilege of further unpacking 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, a section of Scripture many consider one the high points of the New Testament.  Come, let’s study 1 Corinthians 13 together…and let it study us!

See you Sunday!


Questions for Reflection: October 29, 2023

On Sunday, October 29, 2023, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is Part 3 from our sermon series  “The Power of Love”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

  1. Our culture is often obviously confused about the nature of love.  List some reasons as to why that is.
  2. Bruce said, “Envy is the practice of focusing on another’s blessings instead of our own.”  Why do we struggle with that so much?
  3. Bruce also said that “envy leads to discontentment and misery,” and that “envy chokes the life energy out of relationships.”  Brainstorm some real-life illustrations of how you’ve experienced that yourself or seen it happen with others.
  4. Talk some about how you’ve seen social media become infested with “humble brags.”
  5. We’ve all had times when we’ve been guilty of being a “boaster.”  What situations tend to make you more prone to boasting?
  6. Philippians 2:3-4, Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count [calculate or regard] others as more significant than yourselves. What are some practical ways we can grow in regarding others as more significant than ourselves?
  7. 1 Corinthians 1:31 says, Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.  Take some time in prayer to ‘boast in the Lord.’

Sneak Peek: October 29, 2023

Happy end of October!  Man, this year is flying along.  Can’t believe we can see 2024 beginning to loom on the horizon.

Wildwood has some 90 dads and sons at the Father-Son campout this weekend.  The Father-Son campout has been ongoing since 1986, nearly four decades!  Please pray for our campers this weekend as they likely will face some weather challenges.  Pray for renewed connections between dads and sons.

This Sunday is Reformation Sunday where we remember that some 500 years ago the Gospel message was re-clarified as the words of Ephesians 2:8-9 were freshly embraced by a number of brave spiritual leaders.  Our desire is for the true church to remain the pillar and support of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

Speaking of the Truth, we will be continuing our series The Power of Love with the third message focusing on 1 Corinthians 13:4.  Paul will continue to unpack the true nature of love as he shares three aspects of love which underscore the theme that Love is Humble. Much good stuff here!  And practical!

We’ll see you on Sunday!