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:



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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.


December 18: Christmas Light – “The First Noel”

In 1833 William Sandys wrote the hymn, “The First Noel.”  The song details the story of Jesus birth, with each verse of the hymn telling a new part of the story, separated by the chorus refrain, “Noel!  Born is the King of Israel!”  The word “Noel” is a French word for Christmas that comes from Latin roots that mean “New birth.”  Therefore, the song is ultimately about how the “new birth” of Jesus in Bethlehem’s stable leads to the New Birth of the people of God in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Again Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3-8, “‘I [Jesus] tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’  ’How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked.  ’Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sounds, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’”  

These verses talk about the new birth that believers in Jesus Christ have.  A Christian’s “second birth” occurs because in Christ, their full identity has changed.  The core identity of who they were before Christ was an “object of wrath” before a Holy God.  After trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, the Christian’s core identity is as a child of God . . . an heir according to His promise.

What this means is that believers in Christ celebrate the first birth of Jesus because it provides for them their new birth into the family of God.  That is why the sixth verse of this hymn has such power to me.  It begins, “Let us all with one accord . . . ”  Since this song has been sung for 185 years now, our voices join the “one accord” with literally millions who have sung this very song.  The verse concludes with declaring the reason for our cross-generational unity, “With His (Jesus) Blood mankind hath bought.”  Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, all believers now have a second, “new” birth.  With this in mind, the chorus sounds off like a 1930′s newspaper salesman shouting, “Extra, Extra, read all about it!”  The chorus shouts out, “New birth!  New birth!  New birth!  New birth!  Born is the One who brings us new birth!

Think about that as you reflect on the lyrics of this great Christmas hymn this season.


The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star

Shining in the East beyond them far

And to the earth it gave great light

And so it continued both day and night.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star

Three Wise men came from country far

To seek for a King was their intent

And to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest

O’er Bethlehem it took its rest

And there it did both Pause and stay

Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three

Full reverently upon their knee

And offered there in His presence

Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel! 

Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

That hath made Heaven and earth of nought

And with his blood mankind has bought.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!


To access all 31 days of the “Christmas Light” Devotional, click here.

To access the “Christmas Light” Playlist:

Two more . . . from 9/22/19

A few more thoughts from this morning’s message (part 1 of “King of the Mountain” focusing on Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46):

I thought we just completed a series on Matthew 21-23?”  If you had this thought . . . you are correct!  In fact, this is our third series of messages from these 3 chapters.  In June 2019, we had the “Father Heart of God” series that included 3 messages from Matthew 21-23, and then in August/September 2019, we stayed in these chapters for 5 more sermons in the “Authentic” series.  Rather than organizing these 3 chapters exactly as they were written, our study has tackled them thematically.  The “Father Heart of God” series showed God’s heart for the religious leaders to be saved.  The “Authentic” series showed us Jesus’ rejection of the imitation faith of the Pharisees.  Now in this series, we see Jesus fielding questions from a number of different groups in the Temple Mount area just 48-72 hours before His crucifixion.

SIDE NOTE:  I have been preaching through Matthew’s Gospel now for nearly 3 years.  Though we have organized this Gospel into many different series, we have still walked through this book verse-by-verse.  After this current series, is done, we will only lack 2 more series before completing the entire book.  For those keeping track, the message series from Matthew are:

“David, in the Spirit . . .” (22:43) – I had a question asked after the sermon about what was meant by the statement “David, in the Spirit. . .”  The phrase “in the Spirit” is used by Jesus to indicate that what was to follow was not just David’s opinion, but an inerrant, inspired declaration from God.  In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter says of the writers of the Old Testament, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  The wording “carried along” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe the effect of a wind filling a sail.  The idea is that the writers of the Old Testament (and New Testament for that matter) were not simply sharing their opinions, but sharing what God was moving them along to say.  This adds authority to the text of Scripture, and is why Jesus references it here.  Certainly the Pharisees would have had respect for King David . . . but they should have an even GREATER respect for the portions of the Scripture that David wrote, including Psalm 110 which Jesus quotes in Matthew 22:43-45.

“nor did they dare ask Him any more questions.” (22:46) – After their interactions with Jesus, Matthew tells us that the Pharisees stopped asking Him questions.  This statement generally describes Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees as a group.  Just a couple of days after this encounter, the Pharisees are a part of the coalition of Jewish leaders who turn Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion – they were done with asking questions, they simply wanted to put an end to Jesus’ life and attempt to snuff out His influence.  While this was true of the Pharisees as a group, it was not true of every individual who was a member of their posse.  Pharisee’s like Joseph of Arimathea were already in the process of believing, and Saul (soon to become Paul) would come to faith a few years later.  These examples remind us that salvation is not about belonging to the right group (attending the right church, being from the right family, etc.) but is truly anchored to how we answer the question of questions – “What do you think about the Christ?” (22:41).  Pharisees were not condemned because they were Pharisees . . . but because they rejected the gracious offer of the Savior of the World.  Pharisees who believed in Jesus, were saved by Jesus.

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


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

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

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 –…/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: