“For years, I was a rebellious, prideful prodigal, seeking my identity in football, women, and partying...On the outside, I looked like I had things figured out, but on the inside I felt worthless, confused, and depressed.” – Jacob Haas
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“If you’d told me several years ago that I would give up a year of my life to take part in a discipleship and training residency at Watermark, I would have laughed and thought it was a joke. For years, I was a rebellious, prideful prodigal, seeking my identity in football, women, and partying. I thought I’d reached the pinnacle when I started playing football at University of Montana. On the outside, I looked like I had things figured out, but on the inside I felt worthless, confused, and depressed.
“The bottom dropped out of my life my junior year of college when I tore my ACL, which meant my football days were over. Suddenly, I was the guy hobbling around on crutches in the middle of freezing cold Montana. One day I lost my balance and fell in the ice and snow. Too prideful to accept help from anyone, I just sat there and sobbed.
“Not long after that I was sitting in the locker room, high on pain pills, when another guy on the team named Peter, asked if I want to grab dinner with him. Here’s the deal with Peter – everyone thought he was a buzzkill, but the guys respected him because he was a good player. I knew he was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
“At dinner he just came right out and asked me who I thought Jesus was and what I believed about God. Of course, I believed in God. I was Catholic! But I didn’t have a great answer to his question about Jesus. He invited me to a Bible study where he and other friends read through Scripture together. When I joined them, it was clear that these guys believed the Bible was the Word of God. I didn’t believe that at all, but I kept going to the study because I liked hanging out with the group.
“When we read Hebrews 4:12 together, that really got my attention. Could God’s Word really ‘judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart?’ I was intrigued, so I asked Peter if I could have a Bible. I didn’t know left from right when I started exploring Scripture, and I was kind of embarrassed for other people to see me reading. So, at night after my roommates went to bed, I’d close my door and read. I started in the book of Matthew and continued through the four Gospels in about six months.
“’Who do you say I am?’ That’s the question that kept tugging at me when I read about the life of Christ. I remember looking up one day and responding, ‘you are God!’ That’s when I trusted in Christ. My life didn’t change overnight. I was still living selfishly, but the smoking, partying, and drinking began to seem unfulfilling. Over the next two years, what used to taste good to me started to taste bad. I felt more alive when I read God’s Word than when I was doing anything else.
“After college, I moved to the Dallas area and started working at an insurance company. I was scared to death to live all alone in a city where I did not know anyone. Somebody invited me to Watermark, and with a pretty big hangover, I showed up at the 5 pm service. I made eye contact with a lady named Karen Bundren, and I told her a little about my story. She eventually connected me with a fellow ex-football player named Blake McJunkin who then invited me to a Bible study. The guys I met were so honest about confessing the sin in their lives. I kept going to the study, even moving in with some of the guys later on.
“God continued to change my desires, increasing my faith in ways I can’t explain. I shared the darkest parts of my life with my community group, and that’s when God freed me up from the weight I was carrying. I remember telling my story to my friend, Jonathan Pokluda, and he reminded me that I was forgiven in Christ. From that point on, I desired to be the guy who offered that message of forgiveness to others. I wanted to share what had been given to me – the free gift of grace available in Jesus Christ.
“Over the years, I have grown from being ashamed of the gospel to wanting everyone to know that Jesus is real. The Bible is ‘living and active,’ and it has changed me. The Spirit that I saw at work in my friend, Peter, several years ago, is alive in me. Being loved by God is freeing, and it has allowed me to be bold and live with purpose.”
WATERMARK RESIDENCY PROGRAM
Now accepting applications for the 2017– 2018 class! Interested in vocational ministry? The Residency Program provides biblical training with real-life ministry experience for gifted leaders who desire to serve in vocational ministry. Application deadline: March 1, 2017. For details, go to watermark.org/residency or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.