The Gift (part 3) Sermon Audio/Video & Questions

On Sunday, December 13, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 2:8-20.  This message was part 3 of “The Gift” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 2:8-20
  3. In the Santa Claus story, he only gives gifts to those on the “nice” list.  How is this different from the hope for THE GIFT that we have in Jesus?  
  4. While (at first glance) we have little in common with the Shepherds (i.e. most of us do not raise animals for living), we share a spiritual connection with them.  Based on what you heard this morning, what is that spiritual connection?
  5. Have you ever done something that has made you feel “dirty” and “out in the field”?  How does this interaction with the shepherds remind you that Jesus has invited you “in”?
  6. Jesus’ birth leads GOOD NEWS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE.  In what way is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus “good news”?  
  7. Have you ever struggled with sustaining your belief because of academic concerns?  Have you ever investigate the evidence behind the life of Jesus?  Check out Lee Strobel’s “The Case for _______” series or Moody and Boa’s “I’m Glad you Asked” to explore further.
  8. 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 Gift #3 12.13.20


To listen online, use the media player:


To watch, use the YouTube stream 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:


Questions for Reflection – November 1, 2020

On Sunday, November 1, 2020, Teaching Pastor Bruce Hess’ message is “Eternal Rewards, Part 1”. Below are some questions for your personal or group reflection.

1. How often have you heard teaching on the subject of eternal rewards? Why do you think the subject isn’t addressed more frequently?

2. Some people feel that encouraging a believer to make spiritual life choices with the motive of gaining an eternal reward sounds wrong…sounds mercenary-like. Why do you think that is? How does that idea square with Scripture?

3. Re-read 2 Corinthians 5:6-10. What should we learn from such a passage? Elaborate.

4. CS Lewis said this in Mere Christianity: If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the future world, that they have become so ineffective in this.

Pray that God will deepen your personal focus on the world to come—which, indeed, is our true home.

FOR the Next Gen Following Jesus

One of the things I LOVE about Wildwood is our commitment to reaching the next generation for Jesus. Wildwood has invested heavily in this endeavor for years now, and God continues to work – giving us more and more opportunities with young people. This past weekend alone, we had nearly 400 students and children attend one of our programs. This is an incredible opportunity. Now more than ever it is needed. With schools in virtual settings, church is one of the only places kids can gather and interact.

Wildwood has the BEST MESSAGE (the Gospel) to share, and the BEST FACILITY in which to share it (our children’s building & student spaces) … but in order to put all these pieces together, we all know that we need people to serve. There simply is no substitute for a consistent, caring person in the life of a child who intentionally is pointing them to Christ. We have had over 120 people already raise their hands and want to serve in these ministries at this time … but we need more. We need you.

Many of us are saddened that programs have closed or gone full virtual for kids and students. Let’s do more than just be sad. Let’s get involved and make a difference. Wildwood has a place where you can get involved and personally help the next generation in this time of need. Would you join us in this effort?

We have volunteer openings for a variety of ages at each of our 3 indoor Sunday morning service options (9:00, 10:15, and 11:30) … and we also have opportunities on Wednesday nights (from 6-7:30 beginning in September). I write this post, sincerely not wanting you all (my friends) to miss out on the chance of a lifetime … connecting a child or student to Jesus and changing the eternal trajectory of their lives. If you are interested in being involved, please reach out to our Children’s Pastor Brooke Harrison ( for details about serving with children (birth – 5th grade) or Student Pastor Abe Mahner ( for details about serving with (6th – 12th grade), or College Pastor Kevin Choate ( for details about serving with college students.

Thanks for your prayerful consideration!!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

We Need Your Help!

August 6, 2020

Dear Wildwood,

What a joy it was to gather together as a church family and worship this past Sunday.  It was so good to see your face!  Our children’s ministry loved having the kids back, our student ministry had an awesome kick off to the new year, our adult classes relaunched and loved connecting in community, and it was so amazing to worship with so many of you in one of our 4 in-person worship services + the online stream … what a great weekend!

As we head toward this Sunday (August 9) I wanted to invite you all to help us welcome our community as we follow Jesus together to the glory of God.

With our commitment to creating the best environment in light of the ongoing pandemic, we have reduced the overall capacity of our worship center (this has been evident to any who have been present with us over the summer in our worship services).  With the extra legroom, you probably have felt like you were flying first class, but the move is to allow adequate social distancing, not just a luxury experience (HA!)  In order to accommodate all who desire to worship with us at Wildwood (and in light of our reduced seating capacity), we have 4 in-person worship services:  9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 (inside and with children’s ministry and adult classes running during all 3 hours … and student ministry running during the 9:00 and 10:15 services), and an 8:00 AM outdoor chapel service.  This has added two new worship service options from what we were running back in March when the pandemic hit.  This is to help us spread out, while also creating space for future growth.  

This past Sunday, our attendance was highest at the 10:15 service (where we were nearly out of seats), while there was plenty of capacity at our  9:00 and 11:30 services.  We know that the 10:15 may be the most convenient time for your family, and if that is the only or best option for your family, then PRAISE GOD!  See you at 10:15!  However, if you are able to shift your attendance to 9:00 or 11:30, then you would help create needed space in the 10:15 hour.  We will have an overflow seating option available for the 10:15 service this Sunday if the Worship Center fills again, but the BETTER option would be to have many (who are able) to join us at 9:00 or 11:30.  We are doing all we can to help all who are interested and able to join us for worship in this season.  Now (more than ever) we need each other … and we need Jesus!

Additionally, we want to invite all of you to join with us in serving this ministry year.  We have opportunities during all services (and during the week) and we need your help!  If you want to explore opportunities (and let us know your availability and interest) visit

Thanks friends!  We cannot wait to see you again this Sunday as we continue our “Five Follows” series together.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Kicking Off a New Ministry Year Together!

July 30, 2020

Dear Wildwood,

Hello church!  We are just a couple of days away from starting a new ministry year together.  On this wild ride of 2020, aren’t you ready for a new start?  I know I am!

At Wildwood, as we begin a new ministry year together we are implementing a new schedule, launching classes for children, students, and adults, and kicking off a new sermon series … all this Sunday!  Here is what to expect:


Worship Services:

    • 9:00, 10:15, 11:30 AM – Worship Services (in the Worship Center)
    • 10:15 AM – Livestream at
    • 8:00 AM – Outdoor Chapel Service (in back parking lot)


Children’s Ministry:

    • For all children (birth – 5th grade)
    • Meets during the 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30 services
    • In Children’s Building
    • Unique hours of programming helping your children learn to follow Jesus!  Children can participate in multiple services while their parents worship and/or attend Adult classes or serve

Student Ministry:

    • For all students (6th – 12th grade)
    • Meets during the 9:00 and 10:15 services
    • In the Fellowship Center (downstairs)
    • Programming is the same both hours, allowing you to choose the option that best fits your family’s schedule
    • Students are encouraged to attend the worship service with their family or serve if they attend multiple hours.

College Ministry:

    • For all college aged students
    • Meets during the 10:15 service (beginning August 23)
    • In Room 5 downstairs (currently being renovated and expanded!)

Adult Ministry:

    • Classes for people in all different stages of life
    • Classes meet during 9, 10:15, and 11:30 worship services
    • See table below for the location and time of your class
    • Looking for a place to start?  Join us for Starting Point in Room 4 at 10:15 beginning August 9

New Sermon Series:

This Sunday, I am kicking off a new sermon series called “5 Follows: Growing in your faith along life’s road.”  This Sunday, we will look at Philippians 3:17-4:1 as we begin this journey together.  Can’t wait to see you Sunday as we launch this new series … invite your friends to join us!

Staying Healthy:

As we start our new ministry year, Wildwood has instituted a variety of plans to try to keep us healthy related to COVID-19.  You can read more about those plans and policies by clicking here.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark


Wildwood Worship Plan: August 2, 2020 (& beyond)

July 22, 2020

Dear Wildwood,

Greetings church family!  We hope you all are doing well and enjoying the last few days of July.  We can’t wait to launch a new ministry year with you and your family!  As we head toward August there are a few exciting changes coming to our ministry schedule that we wanted to make sure you knew about.

Beginning August 2:

  • 3 Sunday Morning Worship Services:  9:00, 10:15, 11:30.  These three worship services will be held in our main worship center.  In addition to these three services Wildwood will also have our children’s classes (birth – 5th grade) running during all 3 services, our student ministry (6-12 grade) running during both the 9:00 and 10:15 hours, our college ministry meeting at 10:15 (College programming kicks off August 23), and our adult classes meeting during all 3 hours.  
  • Sunday Livestream:  10:15.  We will continue our online worship option at 10:15AM (and available anytime thereafter) at  
  • Outdoor Chapel Service:  8AM in back parking lot.  For those who are able to come “in-person” but unable to come inside for health reasons, we will continue our 8AM outdoor chapel service (weather permitting).  Bring a lawn chair and join us for this 45 minute version of our worship service.  NOTE:  No children’s ministry will be running during the 8AM hour.

In order to lead through this season we truly will need your help!  If you are able to serve with us this fall, please reach out and let us know via our online form at  We have opportunities for you to serve during all 3 indoor services, children’s ministry, student ministry, small group ministry, outdoor chapel service, and more!

We can’t wait to see you this August.  What a joy it is for us to follow Jesus together to the glory of God.  Help us spread the word about our new plan as we get to be For the church, the community, the nations, and the next generation together.

In Christ,  

Pastor Mark


Find your group on Sunday mornings beginning August 2!

Wildwood Serving Needs

Dear Wildwood … we need you!

At Wildwood we are for following Jesus together to the glory of God.  As we follow Jesus, we see our faith in God grow and our love for others increase.  One of the things God often uses to grow our faith and love is when we serve others in ministry.  

This Sunday, June 14, Wildwood is changing our schedule and adding a number of worship opportunities.  At 8AM, we will have an outdoor chapel service in the NE corner of our back parking lot.  At 9:30 and 11, we will have services in our worship center.  Also at 9:30, we will be continuing our livestream.  We are trusting God that He will use these 4 options for His glory in the days ahead.  As we prepare to host these services, we need your help!

We have summarized a number of the opportunities for service below, and would love to have you join one of our serving teams (opportunities for help exist for all 4 worship options.)  Even if you were already on a serving team in the past, would you please let us know if you are “still in” on serving with us now?  You can let us know your interest in serving by filling out the form by clicking here.  After you let us know your interests/availability, one of our team will get back with you soon.

Our desire is to see all of our faith in God and love for others increase as we serve others in ministry this summer!  Let’s make room to invite all we know to follow Jesus with us to the glory of God.


Serving Opportunities:

Welcome Team: We could use people to welcome folks at each gathering.


Ushers: As people enter the worship center for services, we will need people to help them find seating. (Ushers are needed for 9:30 & 11:00 service)


A-Team: This team of people help provide parking and security assistance to our Sunday services.


Set-up Crew (outdoor service): Are you an early riser? We have need to help set up the outdoor service from 7:00-7:30 each week.


Clean-up Crew (outdoor service): After the early service, we will need to move all equipment indoors from 9:00 – 9:20.


Next Generation Ministries: When August rolls around, our children, student (6th-12th grade), & college ministries will begin a new season. We need your help w/ a variety of responsibilities.


Adult Small Groups: Wildwood is always looking to expand our Adult Small Group ministry!


Stream Team: Are you interested in helping produce the LiveStream each Sunday during the 9:30 service?


Local Outreach: Do you want to join with others in our church to reach out and serve our community and point them to Jesus?

Are we there yet?

This summer, I am speaking at a camp in Colorado, and I am fully expecting (somewhere near Colby, Kansas) for my son to ask, “Are we there yet?”  After hours of napping, playing video games, or watching a movie, something will disrupt his equilibrium and he will want to know our whereabouts.  And when I hear this question, I will look out the window at an endless sea of wheat fields that look nothing like our Rocky Mountain destination, and I will sadly say, “No, son … we are not there yet.”  At that point, I am sure I will get the inevitable follow-up question, “How much longer?”  To which I will reply, “300 miles.”

Keep in mind, on these road trips, I (as the driver) am well aware of EVERY MILE driven.  I know what Colorado looks like, and since I have been looking out the window for hours, I know I have not seen it yet … but my son, as the passenger, has the luxury of tuning in and out — therefore the context of the question.  Most of you who are parents can relate …

Our regular lives are full of activities.  Napping, video games, entertainment … alongside jobs, teams, activities.  These things keep our heads mostly down and our minds occupied for many miles of our daily “journeys”.  Then something will come along and disrupt our equilibrium.  The events of last week in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests and rallies around the country are notable examples of these kinds of attention grabbing moments. As followers of Christ, we have the promise of an amazing destination where mercy and justice flow like a mighty river among all people, and when we are distracted by other things, many fail to remember that our promised destination is still a long ways off.  

I do not want to speak in generalities over entire ethnic groups of people, so let me just talk for a moment about my own personal experience.  In my day to day life, I can get lulled into a feeling that justice reigns, and racism is a thing of the past.  Then events happen that remind me that we are not “there” yet.  These events disrupt my equilibrium and remind me of reality.  I am not proud of my distraction, but I am afraid it describes me too much of the time.

For others, though, racism is not an abstraction, but something they deal with daily.  Like the driver on the road trip, they do not have the luxury of escaping for hours at a time, but they feel every mile of the journey.  Like me, many people of color who also follow Christ are longing for the arrival at the destination where racism is no more … only they have a much better understanding of how many more miles are still in this journey.  They feel that pain daily.  I have black friends who are followed in stores, called a thug because they are wearing a sweatshirt, are stopped because they are driving a car that looks “too nice,” or fear to go on a jog after dark for how they might be targeted.  I can get distracted by other things … they cannot.

I can only imagine that at times like this, black Christians hear my questions and concern and think – Don’t you see how far we still have to go? 

Now, this road trip analogy also is important for all of us to consider.  When I drive from Norman to Summit County, when I get to Colby, I have come quite a distance.  No way are we in the mountains, but we also are not at our origin.  Colby is 464 miles from my house — more than halfway there.  Failing to remember that can make me discouraged at my son’s question.  We are not there yet … but we are making progress.

As I think about this current situation, I also see parallels.  We may not be there yet … but we are closer (as a culture) than we used to be.  Over the past 250 years, our nation has miserably failed in so many ways racially.  We need to own that history.  At the same time, progress has been made.  Many laws have been passed, wars have been fought, and opportunities have begun to be realized.  How many miles we have journeyed is debatable, and I (admittedly) am not the best odometer on this issue (and to my white friends out there … neither are you – we need to listen and learn about the real world experience of others). But some progress has been made, and failing to remember that progress has been made can discourage us into thinking that nothing can be done.  Previous generations have fought battles and passed laws that have moved us many miles.  So, how can we help drive the last 300 (or 400 … or 500)?

I am not an expert on legal matters or economic issues, so I will leave those areas for others to share insights, but honestly … I think most of the miles left on this trip are driven in the soul … and this is something where the church needs to lead the way.  The way we think about our fellow men and women, the way we treat others, the way we stand up for injustice when we see it, the way we teach our kids to excel still more in this area, the policies and candidates we vote for and support … these are all matters of the heart and conscience.  We do not legislate them as much as we live them out.  And we live them out one day at a time.  We drive to Colorado a mile at a time … we can’t skip ahead.  We drive to righteousness similarly, moment by moment, relationship by relationship, decision by decision.  

So how do we drive these miles better?

Well, it has to begin by paying more attention to the journey.  For those of us who have had the luxury of tuning in and out of this issue like a child in the backseat, we need to raise our head and continue to look out the window at the realities around us … and talk to those who have kept their eyes on the road all the while.  Relationships between people of different races, backgrounds, and life circumstances are critical to reminding us both of how far we have come and how far we have to go.  And as our perspective grows, take action day by day, moment by moment to help move us one mile closer to our destination.  What does that exactly mean for me?  I’m figuring that out.  I encourage you to do the same. 

So, with that as a backdrop, I’d like to share 3 sets of Scripture passages and add some encouragement for our souls today:

  1. “a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice.  He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law.” (Isaiah 42:3-4)  This passage is a prophecy concerning Jesus that was given 700 years before His birth.  It describes the ministry of Jesus and His future reign in terms that are universally desirous.  Matthew 12:20 correctly identifies Jesus’ fulfillment of this prophecy in His earthly life.  What a picture of the character of our Savior!  He cares for the wounded and gives an ear to those who are struggling to find their voice.  May we who follow Him unto salvation also follow His example in care and concern for all people!  … AND, Revelation 20-22 promises Jesus’ fulfillment of Isaiah 42:3-4 in His eternal reign.  This is the destination toward which we are all headed: destination without injustice or racism or disease.  

When we look out the window of our current life and see the flat reality of our lives, it should remind us that “we are not there yet.”  There is an amazing relationship between prosperity and prophecy.  The more prosperous we are now, the less we look to the hope of eternity.  The more pained we are now, the more we hope for what is to come.  Moments like now with COVID-19, injustice, racism, being easily visible to all out our windows, should cause us to long for the return of Christ when justice will reign … and should prompt us to trust Jesus now, because knowing Him now is the only way to enjoy that justice then.  Ultimately, this life will be imperfect.  We will not build perfection here.  No amount of laws passed will ever ultimately solve our problems.  Our ultimate hope is not in this world but outside of it.  We should fix our hope in Him, and encourage all around us to do the same.  Jesus will deliver the deepest desires of people’s hearts.

  1. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)  These verses, of course, are the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer.  Many of us have prayed these words often.  But what do these words mean?  Well, in this prayer, we are asking God’s ways to be demonstrated on the earth.  We are to ask God to bring His heavenly justice into our world.  While this certainly will have its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus returns to the earth and establishes His earthly Kingdom, it is also a reminder that heaven’s values should be lived among God’s people today. His values should be celebrated when they are lived out, and grieved when they are violated. 

In the New Testament, we are called “Ambassadors for Christ” – Jesus’ representatives.  This makes gatherings of Christ followers “embassies” – churches are little pieces of heaven, a long way from home.  People’s experience with and interaction with Christians should be marked by His righteousness, love, mercy, grace, etc.  The world should see the King’s values lived out in the lives of those who will be in the Kingdom.  Christians, therefore, should not just be people who quote the Bible, but people who live its values out “on earth as it is in heaven.”  While we long for eternity, let’s live out eternity’s values in our relationships here and now.  These values include loving, caring for, and treating equally people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  After all, Genesis 1 tells us we were all created in His image, and Revelation 5 tells us that people from every ethnicity will be represented in heaven.  Those realities should be reflected in the way we treat others today.

  1. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  (Matthew 6:11-13)  In moments like this, it is important for none of us (me included) to proclaim that “we have this all figured out.”  In reality, we all lose our way from time to time.  Like flat tires and wrong turns on a road trip, the journey is sometimes longer than we hoped because our error contributes to the problems.  We think we know where we are going, so we stop looking at God’s map.  I once was driving to Colorado and mistook I-35 for I-135, and ended up on the road to Kansas City instead of Denver.  In real life, we similarly fall short in intentional and unintentional ways.  

So what are we to do?  Well, we are to have a spirit of dependence upon the Lord.  We are to confess our sins to Him and seek His forgiveness.  We are to forgive others for their mistakes as we remember we are forgiven also.  Then, we drive each mile of the journey in daily dependence upon the fuel He is putting in our tank.  “The daily bread” Jesus refers to includes food, water, and shelter, but it also includes the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  I must follow obediently the call in the bread of God’s Word to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8),” knowing that any hope I have of living that out is carried along by the living water of the Holy Spirit inside of me (Galatians 5:22-24).  Further, we need to make an earnest appeal to God (as Jesus teaches) to prevent us from wandering into evil in our thoughts, words, and actions.  A humble, dependent, repentant heart is needed on this trip. 


“Are we there yet?”  

No.  Sadly not yet.

“How much longer?”

We long for His justice and yet often do not see it here.  We watch a man murdered on tape, or hear stories of the mistreatment of people and the brokenness of this world disrupts our equilibrium.  We long for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and when we see the gulf that still exists it grieves our hearts and drives us to our knees … and we pray.  But after we say AMEN, we must also take action as the Lord leads to exhibit His values in the world around us.  The next several miles on this journey will be driven by you and me.  Let’s keep our eyes on the road together.

Christ our Hope in Life and Death

A new song just released from the crew at Getty Music. The song, “Christ our Hope in Life and Death,” is an adaptation of the Heidelberg Catechism set to music.  The music is uplifting.  The lyrics are full of truth that every one of us needs to memorize in this current time.  You can listen to it on Apple Music or Spotify.  My sincere thanks to the songwriting team Getty Music has put together that still writes songs like this for a modern church.

The song is written like a catechism . . . with questions and answers. Check out the words below.  

“Christ our Hope in Life and Death” by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, Matt Merker, Jordan Kauflin

What is our hope in life and death? Christ alone, Christ alone

What is our only confidence? That our souls to Him belong

Who holds our days within His hand? What comes apart from His command?What will keep us to the end?  The Love of Christ in which we stand!


O Sing Hallelujah, our hope springs eternal.

O Sing Hallelujah, our hope springs eternal.


Now and ever we confess Christ our hope in life and death.

What truth can calm the troubled soul? God is good, God is good

Where is His grace and goodness known? In our great Redeemer’s blood

Who holds our faith when fears arise?Who stands above the stormy trial?Who sends the waves that send us nigh unto the shore?  The rock of Christ


O Sing Hallelujah, our hope springs eternal.

O Sing Hallelujah, Now and ever we confess Christ our hope in life and death.


Unto the grave what shall we sing? Christ He lives, Christ He lives

And what reward will heaven bring?  Everlasting life with Him.

There we will rise to meet the Lord, then sin and death will be destroyed, and we will feast with endless joy, when Christ is ours forevermore!


O Sing Hallelujah, our hope springs eternal.

O Sing Hallelujah, Now and ever we confess Christ our hope in life and death.

O Sing Hallelujah, our hope springs eternal.

O Sing Hallelujah, Now and ever we confess Christ our hope in life and death.

Companion Links for March 15, 2020 Worship Service

Hello friends!  If you are joining us for the Livestream of Wildwood’s services today, here are a few links that may prove helpful.


To watch the service, view via Youtube:



To let us know you would like to be added to Wildwood’s email newsletter, click here to fill out a form.


To let us know a prayer request you would like for us to be praying for, click here.


To access the questions for discussion, click here.


To learn more about our “Stream Team” click here.