The One Hope for You and for the World: Why it Matters that the Church is Healthy and Defined Correctly

The Big XII

"The church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. And there is nothing like the local church when the local church is done right." In this episode of The Big XII, Todd leads us through an examination of what the biblical church should be striving for and what God never intended for it to be.

Todd WagnerNov 22, 20091 Peter 1:22-2:12

We are building on sequential truth. We are building on essentials for your life to be as full, as meaningful, and as rich as God intended for it to be. This week, we are on number nine; the ninth major truth that you don't want to trifle with. A number of years ago, I would've fought you tooth and nail on this one. I would've argued with you, and in fact, if you had told me that my life was going to be consumed with advancing and proving this truth, I would've taken a swing at you.

In fact, I can remember my experience growing up. I was a part of a family that really did not walk with God. We did, however, attend church. I mean that in its crass, Americanized sense. What I mean is we never were a part of a church, but we attended a place that called itself church. I, as a kid, grew up understanding church to be an address, a denomination, or a building. Part of that was because it was the cultural thing to do in midwestern America.

I fought tooth and nail with my folks every week having to go to this organized gathering of bored adults and angry children. We never, in any way, talked about God during the week. We didn't pray. We didn't read Scripture. I had a great homelife. We were kind to one another, and I had parents who loved me, but there was never any God-informed-ness to my growing up.

I did get raked into it a couple of times and Youth Sunday once when I was a freshman. They said, "Hey Todd, we're doing this little thing, and we need you to play this part." I was like, "Okay. I can either sit out there and sleep and get in trouble because I'm throwing things at people, or I can do some stuff." So I was the narrator in this one Youth Sunday in this little Methodist church.

Afterward, I can remember they stuck us at the back like the pastor always stood at the back. As I was standing there, one guy came by and grabbed my hand, and he said to me, "Young man, today, the way you communicated captured me like I have not been captured. I'm want to tell you something, young man. God is going to use you in the church."

I was about half-cocked to deck this guy and say, "Don't you prophesy over me, old man. No way am I doing this." I can remember the feeling I had like ugh. I just wanted to spit and throw up. The last thing I want to do is be a part of this where some ninth grader who doesn't understand anything inspires you because it's so dead around here. That's where I came from.

Here's one of the truths I will tell you. If you don't get this right, it's going to mess you up. That is this. The church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. There is nothing like the local church when the local church is done right. The local church is not made for you. You are made for it. What is the number one question most folks ask when they go…? I hate this expression because you can't really go to something that you are to be a part of. When you think church if you think building, you think unbiblically. If you think address when you think church, you think unbiblically.

Let me state my sentence again. The church is the hope of the world. There is nothing like the local church when the local church is done right. That's our great affirmation this morning. The alternative to that is that the economy is the hope of the world, more education is the hope of the world, and where the church (see perverted, Americanized church) has often put its hope in the last several generations, the next election is the hope of the world.

Wrong. The church itself, people who love one another in response to the fact that they are forgiven and free, is the hope of the world. I've experienced that. I see it, and I believe it. That's what we're going to focus on a little bit this morning. What's the number one question most folks ask when they come to church or when they're getting ready to leave?

I had one in my mind. I just want to confirm it. So to the guys and gals who serve with me on Sunday morning, I said, "How would you answer this question? What's the number one question most folks are consumed with when they leave church on Sunday morning?" One of them right away said, "Where am I going to eat lunch?"

I go, "You're right. That is the number one question most of us are consumed with." Probably another one is this. "Did I set my TiVo right so I can get the beginning of the Cowboys game or is their enough room on my TiVo, so it's going to actually record?" Here's what I really think most folks ask once they get past the mundane reality of eating and fleeting entertainment.

"How did I feel? Did I like that? How did it go for me this morning? Will I go back again?" Not unlike seeing a movie and believing that it was good enough that I think I'll go and be a moviegoer again next week. Sitting out there as one of the two thousand who faces forward, "Is what I watch enough to motivate me to come back and face forward again?"

You might ask yourself this question. "Okay God, are you happy? I went to church this morning." The answer would be, "No. I'm not happy because you went to church this morning because I love you so much more than to make you a spectator, a participant in some stage show.

I will be happy when you know me, and you experience forgiveness and freedom, and you let my Spirit lead you, and you participate with the gifts that I've given you through my Spirit, and you use them to love one another and make me famous throughout the earth. I will be happy when you commit your life to something more than fleeting comfort and pleasure and power and prestige. I will be excited when you walk with me as my people and proclaim my excellencies to those who don't know how excellent I am. That's what I want for you."

Do you know what you should ask when you walk out of here? "Father, have I been reminded as fully as I should be how great you are? Can I be reminded again today that you've put me in a community of other believers to spur me on that I might love others more fully, that I might steward my life more faithfully, and that I might proclaim your truth more radically so others can know Christ?"

That's the question you ought to ask yourself here every week, not, "Dang it. We have to park here again. I didn't like my seat. The music this morning wasn't what I wish. We never sing the song I like." That kind of thinking and that kind of people are not the hope of the world. It is the bane of Jesus Christ.

The church is the hope of the world, not the economy, not education, and not the next election. It's the body of Jesus Christ. A buddy of mine just shot me this this week. He said, "Consumerism Christianity teaches that a church exists for you. Biblical Christianity teaches that you exist for the church. This is not about you. You should be about it." That's genius. That's my buddy, JP, who leads our young adults here, and he gets it.

When you think of the church of a charity that you support, a social club of which you are a part of, or an obligation which you must attend, it is not the hope of the world. This morning, I wanted to explain to you why we are all in, and why I'm excited to lead what Christ has called us to be a part of.

The church matters. The church is what Christ shed his blood to create. We are a group of people who are called together to be a part of all that he wants us to experience in this life. I wanted to say this morning, attending Watermark does not make you a part of a church, any more than visiting West Point makes you a part of the military. It doesn't.

We are called to cement ourselves together. I have it right here. This is a little metaphor that I want to use for you. These are stones. This is Granbury stone. It's the same kind of stone we used here. There are no loose Granbury stones laying around Watermark right now because we tried to get our certificate of occupancy on Friday.

In order to get our certificate of occupancy we had to get rid of all loose stones that people might stumble over that might be a nuisance here that are not mortared together to provide a resource through which we can remind each other of things that are true, equip each other, call other folks to hear about Christ, and go out into the world and change it.

We are not building a church when we put bricks and mortar together. We are building a church when we talk like this. You are a temple of God. God will never indwell this building. When we, people who God indwells walk in it, God indwells this building. We put together this building so that we can build into one another, and that is worth everything.

When you have a bunch of loose stones here, you know what we have to do? We have to get rid of them. They have been cleansed off the campus. We hauled a bunch of loose stones off this campus, so on this campus, we could have something that we could use. When these stones, however, are mortared together with commitment and intentionality, and they begin to cement themselves to one another, they become a thing of great use and glory.

If you're just a loose stone laying around here, you are one of two things. You either have a rock-hard heart who doesn't yet know why God calls you out of isolation and into community, or you are not a regular attendee. You're somebody who says you know Jesus, but you're not a part of his church. You are an irregular believer, and you are an encumbrance to what God is trying to build here. The most important church we can build is the church of people who are responding to him. This is the temple that God wants to make increasingly glorious for him.

You know what I love about our physical plant here? You're going to hear about it again this morning. What I love about the physical plant here is it is beautiful. It is glorious, it's inspiring and it creates conversation. But if people talk more about our building than the work Christ is building into our transformed hearts, then we have not done well.

Do you know what I love about this place? Whenever people say to me, "That building… That is something else." When they sometimes say, "Your church is coming along," I go, "Who do you know?" They go, "No, I'm talking about your building." I go, "Oh. I thought you were talking about the church." I do that all the time.

"Do you want to know what's really beautiful? I want to tell you something. That campus is really cool, but you know what's really cool? What God is building on that campus. Are you aware of what has happened in so-and-so's life? Let me tell you this story. Let me tell you about what God has done with me these last 10 years. Let me tell you about what's going on in West Dallas. Let me tell you about what's going on at the North Texas Food Bank. Let me tell you about what's going on in Africa. Let me tell you about what's going on in Europe. Let me tell you what's going in South America."

My little girl, Ally, was one of the most beautiful little girls. I could go nowhere with her. She was Cindy Lou Who. Everywhere I took Ally, people would always walk up to her and get down and go, "You are so beautiful." I would always stop them and say, "Well, thank you very much. But do you know what really is the most beautiful part of her? It's her heart. When you get to know, not this external thing, but my little Ally, you'll know what a really beautiful girl she is."

I'm doing the same thing with this building. People go, "That's beautiful." I go, "You don't know the half of it." I love the fact that we have a beautiful exterior because it sets the bar pretty high for folks to talk more about what's really important. It's more than just a pretty face.

I had a buddy who I was with one place. I was in college, and I was new around this group of coeds. He grabbed me, and he goes, "Wagner, come here." I go, "What?" He said, "You see that girl over there?" I go, "Yeah, I see her. She is good looking." He goes, "It's a beautiful house. It's a shame no one lives there." That was his way of saying, "Move on from that one."

The Scriptures say it this way, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." I love the fact that folks go, "This place is warm, inviting, and welcoming."

I want to go, "Yeah, it's a beautiful facility. You should get to know the people who gather there to love one another and serve the world. This building is not the hope of the word. The people in it who follow Christ and are led by his Spirit are." We put this facility together because this is a place we can gather to remind each other of things that are true and show them things that are done for God are done beautifully with great stewardship in a way I'm very proud of.

The hope of the world sits here today. It's not what you sit in; it is who we are. This idea I came up with was ingenious. It's right out of the Scripture. In 1 Peter 1:22 it says, "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren…" In other words, you've learned to not live in isolation. Isolation is the garden in which idiosyncrasy grows.

I was with a group of my friends, and we were talking about holidays that are coming up, and we were talking about how crazy family can be and as our parents get older, how they're becoming more and more nuanced in some of their insanity. We started to ask ourselves, "How can we not let that happen to us?" And we asked ourselves this question. "What is consistent with all of our parents?" Do you know what we came up with? Isolation.

Here's the deal. The problem with isolation and a lack of connectedness is that when you're isolated, your perspective becomes the reality. You don't know any different. The reality is your perspective is the problem. That's why you need one another to sharpen each other and encourage each other and to go, "Do you know that is crazy? Do you know that's offensive? Do you know that's hard to live with?"

God says, "You have been taught your isolation isn't good. You've been called out of isolation, rebellion, and manipulation, and you've been called into relationship with a God who has been infinite in relationship with himself (see also one of the earlier big truths)." Then, in the midst of that, he teaches us to love and to not say, "How does it make me feel?"

Here's the deal about the early church. It was never said, "Behold how they feel about one another." That was never said about the early church. I guarantee the early church annoyed each other just like we annoy each other. What was said about the early church was, "Behold how they love one another."

The Scripture goes on right here, and it says, "You've been invited into something eternal." In chapter 2, verse 3 it says, "If you have tasted the kindness of the Lord then you will love, you will hate sin and the things that destroy relationships, and you will cement yourself to other people and diligently seek the unity of the Spirit." It goes on, and it says,

"And coming to Him as to a living stone [Jesus] which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: 'BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.' This precious value, then, is for you who believe."

In other words, the stone which the builders rejected became the very cornerstone of truth, of life, of salvation, and forgiveness and freedom. To others who don't believe it's a rock of offense and a stumbling stone. Verse 9 says, "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION…" which is to say you are a chosen race. You are part of something. We don't come together because we want to.

We are called together by a God who created us for relationship. We are people who are supposed to be part of something, which is the chosen race. We're a royal priesthood. In other words, we are to do something. We have a responsibility. We are a holy nation to do it in a certain way, a people for God's own possession for a specific reason.

When you get that group of people together, these people called together, these people who were called to do something together, to do it a certain way together, "… so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…" Then he goes on, and he reminds us that we are people who used to not be a people, but we were isolated and destructive, full of factions, family feuds, bitterness, hatreds, malice, using each other for our immoral pleasures, and all of a sudden, we've come back together.

He says, "The way you're going to live now, you people who are the hope of the world, you're going to be like aliens and strangers. People are going to look at you and cock their head consistently and say, 'Who are you? How do you love the way that you love?'" He tells us in chapter 2, verse 12, "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."

See, that is the hope of the world. On the day God comes to judge the wicked, they're not going to have anything to be thankful for except for the fact that there was a bright light that said, "There is a God. He is good. He does deliver men, and even the most wicked of men can be forgiven, and even the most base of men can be set free. I knew it. I saw a God declared. I saw a God revealed. I heard God proclaimed. I saw it in the church."

It was interesting. In the early part of Christendom, there was a young man who was asked to explain who the church was and how they could be known. His name was Aristides. He wrote this in the early second century, which means about 70 years after Christ the church had already become a well-known entity.

He was asked by a Roman emperor to explain to him the church, and this is what his defense was. It's called The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher. What he talks about here is a rational defense of who God was based on how his people lived in the Roman world, separate and apart as aliens and strangers from the way everybody else lived in Rome.

Look at what he says. "They love one another. They do not overlook the widow, and they save the orphan. The one who ministers ungrudgingly to the one who does not have. When they see strangers, they take them under their own roof and rejoice over them as a true brother, for they do not call themselves brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul. Whenever they see that one of their poor has died, each other one of them, according to his ability, contributes ungrudgingly and they bury him.

And if they hear that some are condemned or imprisoned on account of the name of their Lord, they contribute for those condemned and sent to them what they need, and if it is possible, they redeem them [get them out of jail]. And if there is any that is a slave or a poor man, they fast two or three days and what they were going to set before themselves they send to them, considering themselves to give good cheer even as they were called to good cheer."

He goes on to talk about this. You can read the whole thing. Just Google it, and there's a whole long apology (defense) of these people. Let me ask you this. Someone says to you, "Your church is gorgeous. Is it almost done?" You just asked two different questions. "First, I want to know who you know, because there are some people who are really living their lives in such a way that it is nothing less than glorious. But no, we are not done. We are all in a process of being conformed to the image of Christ, but the little…"

They're going to look at you like you're crazy. They're going to go, "I'm talking about your building." You go, "Oh. I thought you were talking about the church."

"Well, what do you mean?"

"Well, the church is where we love one another, and we serve the world, and we care for others, and we abstain from fleshly lust which wages war against the soul. Fleshly lusts are a lust for power, prestige, and pleasure, and comfort, because those things seduce me out of the hope of the world."

If somebody talks about your church, they'll go, "What do you mean by, 'the church'?" This is it. This is all the one anothers of Scripture. This is what you should think of when you think of church.

Church is where we love one another, care for one another, serve one another, admonish one another (you need to be admonished just like I do), spur one another on to love and good deeds, show forbearance to and forgive one another, keep fervent in our love for one another, are hospitable towards one another, and where we employ our gifts in serving one another.

We should be good stewards of the manifold grace of God. It's where we greet one another, are of the same mind to one another, are kind to each other, and speak to one another in psalms and spiritual songs. It's where we build up, comfort, pray for, encourage, and live in peace with, and seek after that which is good for one another.

It is where we clothe ourselves in humility toward one another, where we live in subjection to one another, stimulate one another onto love and good deeds, confess sins to one another, live in peace with one another, give preference to one another in honor. It's where we encourage one another day after day lest any of us become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, where we love one another just as Christ loved us. That is a beautiful people.

So when someone says, "Your church is gorgeous," I go, "Who do you know?" Because they are, and I want to tell you, you all are beautiful in the way you are learning to give generously, in the way you are learning to serve others, and not walk out of here saying, "How did I feel this morning?" But instead saying, "How am I stirred to participate with what Christ wants?"

We are the hope of the world. We'll never be the hope of the world when we start with, "How is it serving me?" Those are people who are destructive in the world. Those are tyrannical leaders. Those are greedy businessmen. Those are folks who destroy good systems like capitalism, that invent evil systems like communism and socialism and imperialism.

Those are people who think, "What about me?" God's people think about him, and the church he loves and shed his blood for, of which we are made shepherds and overseers. He cares about the orphan and the widow, the thirsty and the sick and the imprisoned. How are you doing, church?

The church is the hope of the world, and specifically, it is God's gift to help you with your depravity and fallen nature. I could speak for weeks on this, but the reality is if you are not living in submission and if you are not cemented together here in commitment, I guarantee your life is not what it could be and not what it should be.

Let me ask you a question. What do all these things have in common: contentment in life stage, healthy marriage, faithfulness to Christ, competency in doctrine and parenting, generosity, evangelist boldness, care for the poor, regular Bible intake, emotional health, and a joyful heart?

Answer: the members of the body of Jesus Christ who don't just go to this facility but who are cemented together in commitment and who live with one another in the context of community are 100 percent more likely in all of those, and sometimes 200 percent more likely, to be thriving in every one of those areas than all you guys who are gathered here were to spread out like that. Just like a lump of coal separated here, it won't be long before it doesn't give off heat and light, there's not much heat and light coming from you if you are not deeply committed to his people.

This is not the hope of the world. This is a stumbling block and a cause of offense, but when it comes together and is cemented by the mortar of love and commitment and Christ leadership and yielding to the Holy Spirit, it makes folks stop and go, "What a beautiful building. What a beautiful temple." The church is his gift to you to deal with your depravity and your fallen nature. It is God's means to provide grace to the world.

I mentioned this to some of you guys. In September, I flew to New York, and I spent some time with some of the brightest minds in the world. They had crafted a declaration. It's called the Manhattan Declaration. Just like believers gathered in the third and fourth century and came up with a creed that we would say these things are true and we can't move away from…there was a Nicene Creed early on, and we have one called the Apostles' Creed…we came together, and we crafted a document that last Friday we made available to the public.

You can go to I would encourage you to read the whole thing. You can sign it. We're hoping to get millions of signatures in this country. What we're really trying to do is say, "The church is the hope of the world. This is what the church believes about three very significant and important issues: life, family, and liberty," which are all things that God shed his blood to have absolutely established in truth.

I want to read you the preamble of this thing, and it really establishes the second piece of what I'm saying this morning. It is God's provision for you to not be an isolated individual who is increasingly less glorious. He calls you to be a part of a living body of which he is the head, where you care for one another. Secondly, he calls you as a living body to come together and follow his head and to serve the world. Here's the preamble to the Manhattan Declaration.

"Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God's word, seeking justice in our asocieties, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire's sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16th and 17th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce's leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in recent decades to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes—from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good."

Then we declare this is who we are, which is to say we don't care what happens to us, and we don't care what you'll do to us if we stand for this. Bring it, because grace is costly. Jesus died that we might understand truth, and we will die to stand for truth. When this country begins to shut down churches because they speak against things which degrade marriage as between one man and one woman, I'm still going to talk about marriage between one man and one woman.

When this country takes away what they initially put in place, which is giving to ministries or giving to places that stand for benevolence and kindness and care for others, so they say, "You can give there and take that off your income," and they say, "No longer will you get that as a tax write-off because that institution talks about things that we now call hate speech," we don't care. We're going to talk about grace and truth.

What we're declaring is that we are going to be a group of individuals who will live under the discipleship of Jesus Christ, and we'll have costly grace. Do you want to imprison us because we stand for Jesus? Imprison us, and we will do what we can to redeem one another and care for one another. But it goes on. See, that's the hope of the world.

Who's going to speak up for folks who haven't yet come out of the womb? Who's going to speak up for those who, out of the womb, have been forgotten? Who's going to speak up for those who apparently have no utilitarian benefit to society? Who's going to speak up for righteousness and truth? God's people, like they're aliens and strangers. The church is the hope of the world. I want to give the rest of my life sacrificially and increasingly radically to it.

Lastly, the church is a place to jerk you out of a life of meaninglessness and a life of fleeting accomplishments. It is a place for you to show yourself to be not just his son or daughter but to be his faithful servant, to attach yourself to the cornerstone of truth and life, and to build a living temple of which God has uniquely shaped you to fit in and to be glorious for his sake.

It is the only investment you will ever make that will not be washed away. Your company is not going to be remembered. Your name is going to be fleeting. Your pleasures are going to be forgotten. Your records in sports will be laughable. Your commitment to build the glory of God and his eternal purposes can only happen through the church. It's the hope of the world.

I want you to watch a short video that talks about the way folks are investing in making Jesus more famous and investing and building something that is not fleeting, and who have been called out of isolation and are loving and serving others because of the leadership of the Spirit in their lives. I want you to hear people in this community thank the body of Jesus Christ gathered in this local context for being the church. Watch this.


Female Voice: The volunteers of Watermark Community Church have been an absolute blessing to the students, to the teachers, and to the community of Sequoyah Learning Center.

Female Voice 2: The volunteers help in every aspect of what we do here at the clinic. They're helping counseling and education. They help in the medical needs. They help in construction needs of the clinic.

Male Voice: Every month we have a group of volunteers to come out. Not only to build the houses, but we're seeing lives changed, and men in the community can see a living example of Jesus Christ working together to help restore the community.

Female Voice 3: Watermark members help in our food pantry, medical clinic, and are mentoring women in the community.

Female Voice: Watermark has provided school supplies, has provided hygiene items, and has provided school uniforms. They've been here each and every day to make sure the students of Sequoyah learn.

Female Voice 3: What we do is important because it changes lives. It gives the opportunity for people in this community to dream dreams they've never dreamed before simply because people care enough to come and volunteer.

Female Voice: They have renovated our teacher's lounge. They have provided a refrigerator. They have totally taken over our reading wall.

Male Voice: Our ministry has been impacted by volunteers coming out helping us to restore broken homes, reclaiming crack houses, and building quality affordable homes.

Female Voice: What they have done is just amazing. It overwhelms us, and we feel so blessed and so encouraged by their activity in our school. It just makes us excited about learning even more.

Male Voice: The men in the community are being discipled as a part of this process of rebuilding homes. So we're not only seeing the community being transformed physically, but the lives of the people who participate in our homes project are being changed spirituality as well.

Female Voice 3: We're so grateful to each member of Watermark who has come to Brother Phelps and been a part of the ministry that meets needs in this community.

Female Voice: Thank you, thank you Watermark Church for all that you have done for the students and the staff of Sequoyah Learning Center. Oh my goodness, we appreciate it.

[End of Video]


Riis Christensen: Do I just start spilling my guts out?

Alisa Hauser: I feel like I should have a microphone.

Davidson's Father: She's pinching me.

Gordon Borawski: You want more jazz hands, right?

Kelly Warner: Ta-da.

Producer: Whenever you're ready. Take two.

Davidson's Daughter: I'm in sixth grade and life is hard. With listening to the preacher teaching us, I really get a lot from it. From all the friends I have, I really get a lot from their life and mixing it with mine and go with what the preacher says, and what God says in his word.

Kelly Warner: Thanks for making room for me.

Julie Upton: Thanks for making room for us.

Riis Christensen: I went through a really nasty divorce that lasted over two years. A friend of mine suggested to me that I come to Divorce Care.

Kat Ladwig: It was the second week of Community Group when I found out about my mom's cancer.

Riis Christensen: With Christ at the center of your orbit, all the chaos that's going on around you and everything that's happening around you doesn't matter.

Kat Ladwig: The way that people surrounded me with love and support. I knew that it was more than just my church home. These people are my family now.

Riss Christensen: I'd like to thank everybody at Watermark for loving me and for making room for me.

Davidson's Daughter: Thanks for making room for us.

Kat Ladwig: Thanks for making room room for me.

Gordon Borawski: My life has changed so dramatically since I joined Watermark. I was a former Satanist.

Kavon Moradi: I was struggling with anger and alcoholism. It was pretty much what drove my wife and kids out of the house.

Alisa Hauser: My husband died and following his death, we spent three and a half years trying to build a new life in the exact same spot as the old one. I knew God had hope and a future for us. I knew he wanted to take our mess and turn it into a message.

Kavon Moradi : I was talking to one of my neighbors who comes to Watermark. He was like, "Try this one last thing," and it was CR and re|engage here at Watermark.

Alisa Hauser: Our friends invited us to go to the baptism service. They introduced us to everyone. Everyone.

Gordon Borawski: What converted me was actually the Word of God.

Kavon Moradi: Over the last 10 months since we've been here, we've felt really welcome, and we've felt the Lord touch our hearts and transform us into loving parents and a loving husband and wife.

Gordon Borawski: For every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Alisa Hauser: Then I came to visit the church and everybody was telling their stories in the bulletin. Everyone was sharing their story, and for the first time I felt this excitement and hope about the fact that I have a place to share my story, and that it could be a story of hope.

Gordon Borawski: I was looking for that heavenly gift, and when I heard those words and the Word of God was enlightened to me, I renounced the occult and Satanism and gave my life and soul to Jesus Christ.

Alisa Hauser: God never promised life would be easy, but he did promise that if you follow him, he'll direct your paths. We are just so grateful that God directed us to Watermark.

Longda Yin: Thanks for letting me in. Thanks for welcoming and making room for me.

Female Voice: Thanks for making room for us.

Kavon Moraadi: Thanks for making room for us.

Annalisa Moradi: Thanks for making room for us.

Gordon Borawski: Thanks for making room for me.

Hauser Family: Thanks for making room for us.

[End of Video]

The reason we put those videos together is because it lets us hear stories that otherwise we know nothing about. The reason we gave you that information is so you can now stop, look, and listen. As you leave, the worship team is going to play a song we played last week. It talks about, "Holy Spirit, lead me." That's the only thing we want leading you. We think if he leads you, you will love God, you will love others, you will move away from isolation, you will mortar yourself together in commitment, and you will invest in the eternal. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.

About 'The Big XII'

"This series will cover twelve truths that if you don?t get exactly right, the ramifications and the impact on your life will be enormous. They matter today and eternally. If you want to call yourself an orthodox follower of Christ, these are truths that you cannot miss. These are twelve central, non-negotiable principles of theology and we will discuss what it means to embrace them, the alternatives to them, as well as the application of them. In other words, what it should look like when devoted, orthodox followers of Christ live them out." Todd Wagner