Authentic (part 1) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 18, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:12-17.  This message was part 1 in the “Authentic” 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 21:12-17
  3. Have you ever talked with someone who rejected Christianity because of their interactions with another Christian or with a church?  What was the nature of their situation?  Do you see any encouragement for that person from Matthew 21:12-17?
  4. What are some examples that you know of today where organized religion has departed from God’s plan?
  5. After “cleansing the Temple,” Jesus welcomes in and heals the blind and the lame and receives the worship of children.  What do the “blind, lame, and children” have in common?  Why do you think they could clearly “see” Jesus for who He was while the religious leaders were blind to His true identity?
  6. Is there any area of your life right now that Jesus needs to clean out?  If so, what is that area?  
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Being For the Next Generation . . .

At Wildwood Community Church, we are for following Jesus together to the glory of God.  By God’s grace, we have the privilege of inviting various spheres to join us in that journey . . . and one of those we are “for” is the next generation.  What a privilege it is to “commend God’s work to the next generation, so we can declare together His mighty acts (Psalm 145:4).”

In our world today, it is common for older generations to either worry about the world our kids are inheriting or critique the mindset of those who follow us.  But, as Christians, we have a much better opportunity than simply being a worrier or a critic . . . we can offer THE HOPE that all generations need — the hope of Jesus Christ and the power of transformation that His Gospel brings!!!

So, as we head towards the start of another school year, would you consider shining light for the next generation?  At Wildwood there are a number of different opportunities to do this, including opportunities in our children and student ministries.

Specifically, we have a few openings left on our Sunday morning and Wednesday night serving teams.  Just a small investment of your time can reap eternal dividends in the life of a child.  Join the 300+ who serve on our Next Gen teams by stepping up for one of the roles listed below.

As it relates to our children’s ministry (birth – 5th grade) . . .

Our Sunday morning leaders serve from August-July on either the even month team (Aug, Oct, Dec, Feb, Apr & June) or the odd month team (Sept, Nov, Jan, Mar, May & July). Our Wednesday evening leaders serve from 6-7:30pm beginning September 11th and then wrapping up mid-April. Wednesday evening programming is off for all holidays. Our team provides training, all lessons, materials and everything that our  leaders need to be successful with our kids.

Here are the current openings in children’s ministry for 2019-20:

Sundays 9:45am Service (Sept, Nov, Jan, March, May & July):
*  1 Nursery Opening
*  1 Preschool Opening

Sundays 11am Service (Aug, Oct, Dec, Feb, Apr & June):
*  3 Toddler Openings
*  1 Preschool Opening

Sundays 11am Service (Sept, Nov, Jan, March, May & July):
*  1 Toddler Opening

Wednesday Evenings (6-7:30pm from Sept to mid-April):
*  4 Preschool/Cubbies Leaders
*  7 Kind-2nd Grades/Sparks Leaders
*  3 3rd-5th Grades/T&T Leaders

If you are interested in any of these openings, contact our Children’s Pastor Brooke Harrison at bharrison@wildwoodchurch.org

 

We also have openings to serve with our Middle School students.  If you are interested in serving in this ministry, contact Student Pastor Jonathan Holmes at jholmes@wildwoodchurch.org

New Creation Ambassadors: The Old is Gone, The New has Come – Sermon Questions

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, Care Pastor John Abernethy’s message at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK was “New Creation Ambassadors: The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come” from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection. If you have questions or comments, feel free to email John at john@wildwoodchurch.org

Sermon Questions:

1. Pray

2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

3. Verse 17 is a powerful truth about our new life in Christ! Why is it encouraging and powerful to know “the old has gone?”

4. What does it mean to be reconciled to God. How does that happen?

5. Reflect on Jesus’ death one the cross for you. He was “made sin,” having God’s wrath poured out on Him for you! Have you ever accepted that payment that was made in your place?

6. Imputed means “credited.” Verse 21 describes 2 imputations-your sin to Christ and what is the second one? Given that truth, how does God “see” Christians?

7. Give the definition of an ambassador. Now give a definition of being an Ambassador for Christ. How are you doing at representing your King?

8. What is one particular truth or application you took away from this message?

Sharing the Story of how God connected Wildwood with Compassion . . .

As you probably know, Wildwood Community Church began a partnership with Compassion International last spring. I was recently contacted by Compassion to help share Wildwood’s story. If you would like to read more about what we are doing in Lagoa de Sao Francisco and what we think the Lord is up to . . . check out this article now posted on Compassion’s website – https://www.compassion.com/church-engagem…/mark-robinson.htm

 

 

Join me in praising God for His work.  So blessed to be FOR THE NATIONS following JESUS together to the glory of God.

Relating to Blessing (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 20:1-16.  This message was part 7 in the “Relating to _____” series and focused on “Relating to Blessing.”  Below you will find the audio from this sermon to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the file:

Relating to: Eternal Life 2.10.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the Facebook Livestream, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwildwoodchurch%2Fvideos%2F245365673014329%2F&show_text=0&width=560

 

 

Relating to Your Spouse (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, February 3, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 19:1-12.  This message was part 5 of the “Relating to______” series and focused on “Relating to Your Spouse.”  Below you will find the sermon audio connected to this message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Relating to: Your Spouse 2.3.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the Facebook Livestream, use:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwildwoodchurch%2Fvideos%2F596055870909315%2F&show_text=0&width=560
 

Reveal (Part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:13-20.  This message was part 1 of the “Reveal” sermon series.  The audio from this sermon is available below to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Reveal #1 10.28.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the livestream of the worship service, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwildwoodchurch%2Fvideos%2F621224028279642%2F&show_text=0&width=560
 

Have you considered water baptism?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday October 21 (for children, students, and adults) for all who are interested.  We look forward to hearing form you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on November 18.  Hope to hear from you before then!

A note from home . . .

On occasion, when I travel, Kimberly (my wife) will often tuck a note somewhere in my suitcase.  When I arrive at my destination and begin to unpack my things, I find this greeting from someone back home who loves me. 

After spending a week hiking 5 National Parks in America’s west with my family (and driving over 3,000 miles in the process), I sat down last night for my daily Bible reading in my One Year Chronological Bible (an organized Bible reading plan that walks through the biblical texts in the order in which the events happened.)  I have been reading this Bible all year, and the reading plan is not personalized in any way . . . in other words, the reading for July 8 is the reading for July 8 for everyone who uses this plan all over the world ever since this reading plan was put together decades ago.  Additionally, the text of the Scripture I read has not changed for the 2,700 years it has been in existence.  That said, as I read the Scripture last night, in the midst of a trip far from home, I could not help but see the Scripture as a precious note, tucked inside my bag, from my Heavenly Father back Home who loves me.

The Scripture reading included Psalm 104.  I have read this Psalm many times before, but last night, its text really spoke to me powerfully.  The Psalm begins with a general call for my soul to “bless the Lord.”  God is the one who receives praise and adoration in this Psalm, and the particular reason we are to bless the Lord in this Psalm is because of God’s work in creation.  The Psalm unfolds following the rough path of the creation order in Genesis 1, stopping along the way to praise God for His greatness declared through what He has made.

The Psalm begins in the sky (verses 1-4).  The vastness and beauty of the heavens, with the lights of the sun, moon, and stars, and the beautiful arrangement of the clouds causes the Psalmist to imagine these things like the clothing of the King, revealing His splendor.  I was reminded of the stars I saw in the night sky in the desert last week, and the colors of the sunset  over the mountains . . . these things were not just “beautiful” – they pointed to the God of beauty.

Next the Psalmist focuses attention on the land (verses 5-9).  Across the American west, we saw numerous mountains and valleys.  This topography was formed by the movement of glaciers and the receding of ancient waters.  This story was told by the many placards and visitors centers at each National Park.  However, the Psalm reminds me that regardless of HOW the valleys and mountains were formed, it was GOD who ultimately formed them — the glaciers and ancient seas were but the pencil in the Hand of our loving Creator.

Once the sky and the earth are examined, the Psalm now turns to what happens upon the earth (verses 10-18).  The entire circle of life is described here, how the Lord has created unique environments for each living creature and provides the water and food necessary for their survival.  The intricate balance of this world is seen by the Psalmist 2,700 years ago, but felt by me still today as I saw how certain trees grow in specific environments, and how different animals thrive in different environments as a part of the scripted dance of life.  These things did not just accidentally happen — they were planned and prepared by God. 

Even our clock and calendar have meaning (verses 19-23).  God created the night and the daytime, and appointed a meaning for both.  We sleep, but creation does not.  As we go to sleep at night, the wilderness comes alive.  God never sleeps and His creation always brings forth praise!

The conclusion that the Psalmist comes to is that the entire world is dependent upon God for all things (verses 24-30).  If He had not designed it the way He did . . . if He did not continue to hold it together the way He does . . . it would not exist.  Therefore, it is RIGHT for us to PRAISE HIM as we look upon creation (verses 31-35).  Let us not miss the opportunity to exegete the heights of Half Dome, and parse the meaning of the high desert, and illuminate the glory of the sunset.  Through them all may we “sing to the Lord as long as we live; may we sing praises to our God while we have our being (104:33).”

One more thing from this Psalm (and from creation), however, that cannot be missed.  God created this amazing place FOR US. To sustain our life.  On this trip, my wife and I have been reading Lee Strobel’s excellent new book “The Case for Miracles.”  In it, my friend Mike Strauss  (a renowned Physicist) is interviewed by Strobel concerning the miracle of creation.  Mike’s conclusion from the scientific evidence is that the universe is precisely designed to sustain human life on planet earth.  The universe appears vast and large and old to us, but is actually the minimum size and age to allow for you and I to exist.  The elements of the world that we call natural (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, etc.) only exist if the universe is tuned precisely the way it is.  Any variation and life ceases to be a possibility.  Given this info, I look again at the Psalm to see how the earth is set up for human life:

  • The sky is like a “tent”, set over the world by God (vs. 2).  The Lord setup this earth as a campsite for you and me.  Not our forever home, but a vantage point from which to learn about Him and “bless Him.”
  • The oceans in their boundaries and the dry land raising up to form continents creates a habitat suitable for us (vs. 9).  
  • Plants and livestock provide a variety of food, and rain provides water so that human life is sustained (vs. 13-15).   Not only that, but God created a variety of foods and gathered the waters in a variety of beautiful ways (streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and waterfalls) because He loves us, and pursues us, and invites us into a relationship with Him.  He could have made all things grey and made all food bland, and made water only flowing from magic springs.  OR He could have made life not needing any of those things in some way . . . but in His grace, He makes the world so diverse so that we might enjoy it . . . and Him in the process who created it.
  • Also, many predators that could pose threats to humanity typically hunt at night, while humans often work during the day (vs. 21-23).  The circle of life is tuned in such a way that mankind has multiplied into the billions and spread out over the face of the earth.
  • God created this world, and it was good.  But good for what?  It was good to sustain life as we know it.  It was good to create an environment where people created in the image of God could get to know God . . . and worship Him. 

So, last night, as I opened my suitcase and pulled out my Bible, I saw a note from Home, reminding me of the One there who loves me . . . and you.  And I just wanted to respond and Bless His name.  I invite you to do the same.

Have you been baptized since trusting Jesus?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday July 8 (for children and students) and in personal conversations with adults who are interested.  We look forward to hearing form you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on August 5.  Hope to hear from you before then!