Reveal (Part 2) Sermon Preview

There is a subtle temptation that exists for all people.  While some are tempted by an addictive substance, and others succumb to the allure of sexual immorality, I believe there is a forbidden fruit every one of us tries to bite:  a desire to create God in our own (fallen) image.  What do I mean?

God is who God is.  After all, His name as revealed to Moses at the burning bush was “I Am.”  God defines all things, including Himself.  But we all have a temptation to pour God into the mold of our reason or imagination . . . and the Living God just does not fit our mold.  We think a loving God would not allow suffering, and yet God is Love and there is suffering in the world.  We think a holy God would not allow evil, and yet God is holy and Satan prowls about the earth God created.  We think 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, yet in the identity of God we have a Trinity where 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. 

You see, as people, we think we know everything about God, and yet there are things about God that we simply just don’t understand; from our perspective Jesus often does unexpected things.  If we are left only to our own reason and intellect, we will create a god that may have SOME resemblance to the real thing, but ultimately we will miss the mark, because God cannot be contained by our reason and intellect.  Thankfully, God REVEALS to us His identity and invites us to embrace Him for who He really is, instead of who we think He might be. 

As Jesus neared the time when He would head to the cross, He began to increasingly talk about His imminent torture, execution, burial and resurrection.  3 times from Matthew 16-20, Jesus directly tells the disciples what is getting ready to happen on that first Good Friday-Easter.  Yet, as Jesus talked about what was to come, Peter actually REBUKES Jesus.  He literally tells Jesus He was wrong for making such a prediction!  Peter had either let that “keys of the kingdom” comment go to his head, or (more likely) was simply pouring Jesus into the mold of what he thought was the most reasonable thing for the Christ to do next.  After all, who would expect the Son of the LIVING God to DIE?  Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.  This reality (of course) is far greater than what Peter had in mind, both in what it accomplished (our salvation) and what it was rooted in (reality instead of fantasy). 

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will continue our “Reveal” sermon series by looking at Matthew 16:21-28, 17:22-23, 20:17-19 and Jesus’ promise of the cross AND the empty tomb.  We will also share in the Lord’s Supper together.  Hope to see you in our 9:45 or 11:00 worship service!

Reveal (Part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:13-20.  This message was part 1 in the “Reveal” sermon series.  Below are a series of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 16:13-20
  3. If you were to go door to door down your street or around your school or at your work place, and ask the question “Who is Jesus?” what are some of the answers you think you might hear?
  4. How would YOU answer the question?  Who do YOU say Jesus is?  How does your answer compare to Peter’s?  What have been the things/people that helped shape your answer to this question?
  5. What do we learn about the church in Matthew 16:18-19? 
  6. In what way is your life anchored to God’s Truth?  Are there any areas of your life where you have wandered away from God’s Truth?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Reveal – Part 1 Preview

Important things are often revealed in important ways.  I remember the night I proposed to my wife.  She did not know what I was planning, but the evening of January 16, 1996 was several months in the making.  Conversations with family, purchasing a ring, consulting with a friend on the perfect meal to cook, arranging another friend’s apartment to host the dinner, hiding the wedding ring on the shelf in the bathroom, deciding what to say when I popped the question.  A LOT of planning went into that night.

So, as the moments wound down to when I would be picking Kimberly up for our date, my heart was pounding a thousand miles an hour.  I could not wait to reveal to her my hopes for our future together.  After dinner and desert, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.  In a sense, I pulled back the curtain of my soul to show her these important things I had been planning and thinking (and hinting at) but had not revealed to her in such a plain way. 

I am happy to say . . . she said “Yes.”

As Jesus’ earthly ministry was winding down, He was planning something amazing.  From eternity past, He had a plan to invite us to spend an eternity with Him in His Father’s house.  The virgin birth, authenticating miracles, authoritative teaching . . . all were setting up His plan: to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven, and so that where He was, we might be also.

Before Jesus’ went to the cross, however, He had some very special dates to keep with His disciples:  a number of key events where He would reveal to them exactly who He was.  These events included:

  • A conversation in the pagan city of Caesarea Phillipi
  • Three different references to His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave
  • A supernatural “transfiguration” before a few disciples
  • Casting out demons and paying a “Temple Tax”

In order for the disciples to say “Yes” to Jesus, they needed a fuller understanding of who Jesus was . . . and in Matthew 16-17, Jesus takes the time and effort to Reveal His true identity to His followers.

As people who live today 2,000 years after the earthly life of Jesus, we also need to go back and look at these stories to see who Jesus really is.  After all, we are reluctant to follow One we don’t know.  So join us at Wildwood this next month, beginning October 28 in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, as we see Jesus as He Revealed Himself, with the hopes that we will say “Yes” and follow Him.  See you Sunday as we kick off this series by looking at Matthew 16:13-20.

50th Anniversary (part 3): Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 30, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message looking at the “4 Fors” of Wildwood.  This message was a part of “Looking Ahead” and concluded our 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Below you will find the audio from the message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Celebrating 50 Years #3 9.30.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the entire service, view via our Facebook Live stream:

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50th Anniversary (part 3): Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, I preached a sermon at Wildwood Community Church highlighting the “4 Fors” as a part of “Looking Ahead” as a church.  This message was the third installment in our 50th anniversary celebration. Below you will see a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus says He is building His congregation.  Though we often think of the “church” as a physical location (i.e. Wildwood is at 1501 24th Ave. NE), the church Jesus was building was a BODY that was alive!  Therefore, church is not just a place you attend, but a life you live together with others.  How do you primarily view church involvement?  Attendance only, or something more?
  3. Think of your relationship with God over the past decade.  In what ways has God grown you spiritually over that period of time?
  4. Who are 3 people in your “sphere of influence” that God wants you to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
  5. Have you considered hosting or co-hosting a block party in the next 6 months with Wildwood?  Details:  wildwoodchurch.org/blockparty
  6. Who are some missionaries you have had the privilege of praying for over the past 12 months?  If you don’t know anyone to pray for, visit http://wildwoodchurch.org/global-outreach/ for ideas.
  7. How are you helping to pass along your faith to the next generation?  Why do you think this is so important?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

Access these questions in pdf format by clicking here.

50th Anniversary: A Look Ahead (Sermon Preview)

In prominent cities around the world, museums exist to tell stories of the past.  Artifacts, plaques, and presentations combine to instruct and to inspire.  Whether the subject matter of the museum is art, history, or science, one thing each museum has in common is that they are all D-E-A-D.  The items in the halls of these buildings may inspire those in the present to make a better future, but the very nature of a museum is a chronicling of the past. 

As you probably know, this month we are celebrating Wildwood’s 50th anniversary as a church.  As a part of any anniversary, you spend some portion of time looking backward.  This gives us a chance to remember God’s work in the past to inspire us for our present and our future.  However, there is something significant we cannot forget . . .

The church is not a museum. 

Mistakenly, translators of our English Bibles failed to properly translate Matthew 16:18b into accurate English.  In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  In this verse, the Greek word “Ekklesia” is translated “church” by modern English Bible translators.  The word “church” is actually a word with German roots that means “the Lord’s House” . . . and could even be translated the “Lord’s Temple.”  The only problem is, Jesus did not speak German when He spoke the words of Matthew 16!  The Greek behind that statement is better translated into English as “congregation” or “assembly of people.”  For a variety of reasons (most of them political) the first translators of the English Bible (save William Tyndale who was killed for his translation!) called it a “church” and that translation has been the tradition ever since. 

Why do I give that piece of history here?  I give it because if the church is a PLACE . . . a BUILDING . . . it could be a museum – a place to simply look back and remember.  However, the Ekklesia Jesus is building is a gathering of people.  A Body.  And it is ALIVE!

Remembering this, we know the church does not just have a past, it has a present and a future!  This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be wrapping up the celebration of our 50th anniversary by looking ahead to some exciting opportunities we have as a church to invite the church, the community, the nations, and the next generation to follow Jesus together with us to the glory of God.  Make plans to be at Wildwood this Sunday, September 30, 2018, at 9:45 or 11:00 as we worship together.  O Church arise!

50th Anniversary: Mission of the Church (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, September 23, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon refocusing our congregation on the Mission of the Church.  This message was part 2 in the 50th Anniversary celebration.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Celebrating 50 Years #2 9.23.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the entire worship service from our livestream, view the Facebook Live event:

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50th Anniversary – Mission of the Church (Sermon Questions)

On Sunday, September 23, 2018, I preached a message at Wildwood Community Church on the mission of the church.  This message was the second Sunday of our 5oth anniversary celebration.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. What value have you seen in understanding the “mission statement” of an organization (any organization you have been a part of)?  What are the potential challenges with organizations that do not know their core mission?
  3. The Church is led by Jesus Christ.  What are some of the verses you can think of in the Bible that help us to understand the mission of the Church?
  4. 87 times in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the word “Follow” is used in conjunction with people’s response to Jesus . . . 26 times as a command – Jesus saying “Follow Me.”  Why do you think this was the most common descriptor of the first Christians? 
  5. What would it look like for a church (and Christians) to be more concerned with God’s glory than their own? 
  6. 5 ways were mentioned today of how we can follow Jesus:  Following Him into His Word, Worship, Community, Ministry, and Mission.  Think of your own life for a moment in light of these 5 areas.  How has God used these 5 things to grow your faith in the past?  Is there any particular area where you would like to grow more this year?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

50th Anniversary (part 2 – The Mission of the Church)

Think of any organization where you are a member.  What is its purpose?  Why does it exist?  The answer to that question is meaningful and has real world consequences.  Often times organizations summarize their purpose in a single mission statement to help unite the group around its common cause.  A quick survey of some of the organizations my family is connected to reveals the following mission statements:

Norman Youth Soccer Association:

“To encourage, promote and stimulate interest and participation in the game of soccer by organizing recreational and competitive soccer teams; developing our players, coaches and referees; promoting sportsmanship; maintaining proper playing facilities; and operating in a financially responsible manner.”

Norman Public Schools:

“To prepare and inspire all students to achieve their full potential.”

Cleveland County YMCA:

“To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

Reading these statements gives you a sense of what these organizations are all about.  For prospective members, the mission helps them decide if they want to align with the group.  For existing members, the purpose reminds the regulars what they are collectively trying to accomplish.

As interesting and informative as the above statements are, it is also important to stop and think about what the mission statement is for the Church.  What is our purpose?  What are we called to unite around?

In Matthew 16:18b, Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”  This statement is critical on so many levels, but one thing Jesus makes clear here is that the church (the true church) is HIS.  As a Pastor, if I view Wildwood as MY church, then I am building something that has an uncertain future, resting on a faulty premise of ownership.  But, if I rightly view the Church as JESUS’ Church, then I can rest confidently in the glorious future He has guaranteed! 

As it pertains to mission statements, the above principle of ownership makes a clear and important application:  since the church is Jesus’ then He sets the mission, not us.  And, since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the mission He set out for His church in Matthew 28:19-20 still holds true today.  Our mission is to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you always to the end of the age.” 

Though the mission of the Church has not changed for 2,000 years, the articulation of that purpose can morph from time to time to refocus us (through contemporary language) on its original meaning.  So, with Jesus as our captain, and Wildwood’s 50th anniversary as our catalyst, we want to take this Sunday (September 23, 2018) to remind us anew of the mission of Wildwood Community Church.  This Sunday we will introduce some new language pointing to an ancient purpose for our church. 

If you are new to Wildwood (either only been a Sunday or two or not yet attended) this Sunday is a GREAT Sunday to come and check us out.  You will hear our understanding of our mission.  If you have been around Wildwood for a long time, this Sunday is a GREAT Sunday to come and refocus on why we are here and the importance of our assembly.

Hope ALL of you can be with us Sunday in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we remind each other of our mission together.  Hope to see you there! 

Sink or Stand (part 5) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 9, 2018, I preached a message at Wildwood Community Church based on Matthew 15:32-16:12.  This message was part 5 of the “Sink or Stand” sermon series.  Below is the audio from the sermon to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Sink or Stand #5 09.09.18

 

To listen online, use the audio player below: