7540 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy Dallas, TX 75251
Streaming Sunday 9:00 AM and 11:15 AM
8000 Western Hills Blvd Fort Worth, TX 76108
Meeting Sunday 8:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM
6300 Flyers Way Frisco, TX 75034
Meeting Sunday 10:00 AM
6400 K Ave Plano, TX 75074
Meeting Sunday 9:00 AM
In this Baptism Sunday service, we hear personal testimonies of some who are being baptized. Marcus and Mary Kay share their story: Mary Kay returns to Christ after running, and faithfully prays for her husband, Marcus. After struggling through an affair, Marcus comes to Christ. Scott Houdek shares his story of a faithful co-worker shared Christ with him and his wife.
Something Sweet out of the Ingredients of Sadness
Why Good Leaders Have Always Written Letters to the Church They Love
All In With Jesus
Outrunning Your Past
Faith in Work
Following Jesus: How He Changes Your Place, People & Priorities - Luke 9:57-62
Our Purpose in Life
Healing, Hearing, and the Hope of the Gospel
Money, Stuff, and Eternity
Living the Word
An Audience of One
Mother's Day Message
A Biblical Perspective on the Value and Role of Women in Ministry
Baptism Celebration 2016
Sabbath: God's Solution to the Addiction of Busyness
Inside Out Church
Awaken the Hope of the World
An Evening with the Elders
Easter: The Greatest Evidence That God Is Real, Good, Powerful and Trustworthy
Good Friday 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Friends, how are we doing? If you're a guest here, you're probably wondering, "What in the world is going on? This seems very casual." We're usually pretty casual in the way we greet and gather. We are not at all casual about the gospel. We're not at all casual about what it means to be a part of God's people. This is a place that doesn't get wrapped up a lot in some of the forms that are so identified with being religious people, because we're not religious people.
We're people who have a relationship with the living God. If that's what you mean by religious, call me religious, but if you mean by religious that we have to do a bunch of things so we have a God who would probably put up with us enough to maybe let us get into some place someday, you need to know that has never been God's intention. There's nothing in the Bible that ever suggests that was God's intention.
We're so glad you're here today, because we all year long celebrate the way we're going to celebrate today and individual lives, but every now and then, we kind of ring the bell and say, "Hey, if you have never taken the very first step of obedience that God calls you to do as an individual who has a relationship with him, we're going to facilitate that for you today." That and we start the service an hour late so everybody who is usually 20 minutes late can actually be on time one Sunday.
We just do this to kind of up your self-esteem and make you feel like, "Yeah, I'm getting there on time." We are really glad you're here. We assume there are a lot of guests, because there are a lot of people who want you to know that this God thing is not just an idea to them. It is the very center and core of their lives, and they want to be identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It's a sign that Jesus has given us. It's an external expression of an internal faith. I'm not married because I wear this little ring on my finger. I wear it because I have covenanted to share my life with my wife and to pursue her and to seek to honor her all of my life. There's one sign that God gives us to do individually one time like that. It's the sign of baptism.
Then there's an ongoing sign that we celebrate every time we break bread together. It's called Communion, when over meals we remember Christ's body broken for us, his blood shed for us. Just like this food gives me life and strength and without this thing outside of me that I have a relationship with and am intimately acquainted with I will die, we're to be reminded every time we break bread together that that's true of who Jesus is in our lives.
That's what we do corporately, but individually there's a time when you say, "Hey, world, watch me here. I'm a guy who knows I was separated from God, and God did something about my being separated from him. He died for me and was buried, and then on the third day he was resurrected from the dead as evidence that God had paid the debt for my sin, and I want to be identified with Jesus, my Lord and Savior."
They do it through this thing called baptism, and then they do it every day, hopefully, by the way they love and serve, by the way we encourage one another. Let me just say this to you. Inside the Watermark News there are all kinds of ways for you to connect with us. First of all, if you are a guest here, we'd love to serve you, so if we can tell you more about what's going on around here and hear more about what's going on in your life, there's a little perforated section, which we'd love you to fill out.
You can just drop it off by our Welcome Center or you can put it in one of the slots that's around here or you can come lay it on the stage and we'll find it. We'll follow up with you and just say, "Hey, how can we serve you? What questions do you have about the faith that we could answer?" Every Monday night here, we have a place for folks to come just to ask questions. It's called Great Questions.
It's not a place for us to equip our body to answer those questions. It's a place to serve you and for you to go, "You know what? Why do you guys think you have it right? Aren't there a lot of religions? Why do you think Jesus is the only way? How do you know the Bible is the inspired Word of God? Do you know the Bible says that God created the earth in six days? Do you guys really believe that? Well, what about your God being all powerful and all good and all the evil I see in the world?"
If these are things that are keeping you from moving forward in a relationship with the God we know personally, we're not afraid of your questions. If something is true, no amount of scrutiny can affect it, so we invite you to come and join us at Great Questions on Monday night. If you're a person who's here, I want to remind you we always want to build into you and equip you. In just a couple of weeks, we're starting a new opportunity for you to learn to walk with Jesus in Equipped Disciple. I couldn't encourage you more to check that out.
There are other opportunities all through here. If you don't see something that serves you, would you just let us know? Because that's what we want to do. One of the ways we're going to serve people in a minute is kind of scoot in, because some folks are still going to be trickling in, and we have other folks in the Loft and up in the Chapel, but I'd love you to make some room to let people come in. It's going to be a great morning in here. We really are glad you're here. Let us know how we can serve you. We're going to start by singing a song called "Shout Hosanna."
Hosanna is one of those words we all kind of say, like hallelujah, and we have no idea what it means, but I think we mean it something like, "I'm really excited." Amen is another one of those words. We all go, "Amen." What does amen mean? Does it mean period, like, "I'm done; you can open your eyes again"? What does it mean? Amen means so be it. Let it be so. Hallelujah means I will praise him. Hosanna means the Lord saves.
So we're going to start this morning just shouting, "The Lord saves people, wretches like me. He saved me from the sin and death that I deserve because I did not seek God. I sought my own way. Maybe not in as a spectacular way as would impress you, but believe me, it depressed me and saddened a holy God, and God did something about my sin. He gave his life for me, so I'm going to shout, 'The Lord saves.'" If you know Jesus, will you join me? We're so glad you're here. Let's stand and worship him together.
Normally, you'll hear me say, "Welcome, Fort Worth. Welcome, Plano." They're not with us this morning, because they're doing their own celebration on their campuses. Hundreds of folks are being baptized at those two places, even as we are celebrating stuff here, but we do want to say hello to hundreds of folks (that'll probably move closer to a thousand) who are in the Loft and over in what we call Stage 2 where our children usually are this morning. Thank you, guys.
What that song we just sang is saying is what everybody who believes in Jesus should say all the time and folks who are being baptized today are saying. When I baptize people, one of the things I basically say to them is, "Do you purpose to leave and cleave to Jesus and to live for him?" It's a ceremony that talks about a commitment to love one another in a covenant relationship.
In the same way that a husband and a wife leave, which biblically means to adjust or refocus, every relationship or activity in order that you might fulfill your covenant relationship with your spouse, and to cleave, which means I'm going to evaluate every new thing that comes in by asking myself, "Is this going to draw me closer to this woman or this man," or in baptism's case, closer to Jesus, "or is it going to pull me away from him…"
If it's not going to let me cleave to Christ, I don't want it, so that I can become one with him. That's really what you're saying in marriage. "I'm going to adjust my family, my work, my friendships, my relationships. Everything I do is going to be adjusted so I can pursue you, and I'm going to evaluate every new thing that comes so I can be closer to you, so we can be one together." That's marriage.
The goal of marriage is not that you would be un-divorced or not commit adultery. The goal of marriage is that you become one with one another. The goal of our relationship with Christ is that we would be conformed to his image. So we gather in here and remind ourselves of who he is and the things we need to do to cleave to him, the God who has saved us despite our wandering.
There are going to be hundreds of stories that are shared throughout our campus today in smaller circles, but we want you to hear a couple of them in here. They're not the most spectacular. They're not the best. They're just stories. I want you to meet my friends Markus and Mary Kay. As they come, I want to set this up, because Markus and Mary Kay have an interesting story. Mary Kay knew the Lord. She was actually living in Austria, working with Young Life. That's the ministry I came to know Christ with and I'm eternally thankful for.
It's an outreach to high school students. Mary Kay was actually in Austria to serve Austrian kids and help them have a chance to come to understand the God who saves. While you were there, you met some folks in Austria who eventually introduced you to this Austrian, but you left Austria and came back here. At that time, Mary Kay, as a girl who was a believer, enough to want to go serve the Lord, leaving and cleaving with Jesus had kind of hit a spot that wasn't where it should be. Tell us a little bit about that and your story.
Mary Kay: Well, I left Europe. I was there for six years, and I came back to the States just kind of lost. I had been hurt in ministry, so I was confused and was wondering, "Is God really good?" I just kind of went through the valley for a little bit. During that time of just flailing around and not wanting to be a part of church because Christians had hurt me, I met this guy. I knew he wasn't a believer, but I loved him, and it didn't matter at that moment because he was kind of the thing that was fulfilling me at the moment.
Todd: Yeah, he met that need you weren't having met by abiding with a God who you knew met all of your needs. Markus, you guys met in Austria. Then you actually moved to the States to chase this woman.
Markus: In 2006 I moved here, not knowing any English and with, I think, $500 in my bank account. I grew up Catholic. I went eight years to a private Catholic school but really had no faith, no church. Not in my life at all. I heard the story about Jesus, and I was told from some people, "That story is not true." So with this mindset, I just lived life with selfishness and just filling my needs. Fast-forward to 2006. I moved here. Then in 2007 we got married, and in 2008 we had our son, Isaiah. It really went quickly. I really didn't know what to expect from marriage as well.
Todd: In your 20s, you did everything a guy who… You weren't even really Catholic, you said. You just happened to go to a Catholic school. There wasn't any faith informed in the home, and like you said, much of Austria said, "It's not real. It's just something still hanging around from when they used to do stuff like this in the Middle Ages." You were marching to the beat of Markus' drum, and all the pain that came with that, and it's not important, but all the stuff that you would imagine a young man in his 20s does when he doesn't know Christ.
Markus: There were some incidents. I went through girlfriends, and it led to one girlfriend getting pregnant and getting an abortion and dealing with that later on. I really didn't know what was right and wrong. As I said before, just focusing on me.
Todd: But you kept running. You ran to the States. You ran into her arms, and you had no clue about how to make a relationship work.
Todd: You, Mary Kay, as a gal who knew the Lord, who had stopped really leaving and cleaving, realized pretty quickly that as much as you loved Markus, that wasn't going to be…
Mary Kay: Yeah, there came some shame. I think that's why I stayed away from the church for so long. Here I was, the little evangelist, married to a nonbeliever, and I wanted to hide and isolate and didn't want the reality of my reality being exposed to Christians and where I had been thriving in the church and ministry and discipleship, all of it.
So we were married… Well, 10 years now this year. I prayed for him for 10 years. I sat across from a friend of mine who's a member here, and I said, "Emily, I really am ashamed that I married him," but at the same time, I had a picture in my mind of him being a Christian and professing his faith. It was in that moment that I felt God saying, "Trust me. I can make things good. Just trust me and pray for your husband." So I did.
Todd: So don't leave him. Jesus would have said, "Hey, don't covenant with him," but we're past that now.
Mary Kay: We are. We were married.
Todd: You're married. So here's this guy, and, Markus, because you didn't know… When you had girlfriends, if another girlfriend looked more attractive, you'd find a new girlfriend. Now this girlfriend happens to be married to you and brought a child to term that you're raising, but that heart still wandered, and that's part of your story.
Markus: We started going to Watermark in 2011 on and off. There were some services… I remember I was sitting up there and Todd or JP was speaking, and I just started crying. I didn't know what was going on. I remember Mary Kay telling me, "That's God working in you. He's steering you." But I really suppressed those feelings.
Anyways, fast-forward. In 2015, I started having an affair. I walked into Mary Kay's office and said, "I'm done. I don't love you anymore. I'm leaving you." Around the same time, I started reading the Bible and asking many other people, "Where should I start reading?" because I was looking for answers, because clearly I'm not figuring life out here.
A couple of people told me, "Just read the book of John." My English is not the best, but I was reading the book of John, and it was just clear to me. I understood it. But I continued having that relationship with that other woman. We met with a faithful couple, and then we went to re|engage.
Todd: I'm going to interject here with Mary Kay, because at this point, Mary Kay, you realized, "Oh my goodness. This Jesus I've left, who let me leave him, still is there waiting for me to turn back to him, and this man I wanted to share my life with is not as faithful as Jesus, like no man is."
Mary Kay: That's right. I had a choice to make that day he came into my office. I got on my knees and just gave my marriage to the Lord and said, "I'm going to fight for him, for you, Lord." In that time, God started working on me, because clearly it wasn't all his fault that we had gotten to where we had gotten.
Todd: And that's what you shared. Right? In that moment, it wasn't like, "God, how could you let me have this man?" You were like, "I have not been the woman this man needs to be."
Mary Kay: Exactly. In that moment also, I knew it was a spiritual battle, and how could I walk away from a man who doesn't know Jesus and doesn't understand his wretchedness and doesn't understand that there's a God who loves him. So I prayed, and a handful of people in this room prayed diligently for him.
Todd: So you began to reengage with Christ yourself in a deeper way and invited Markus and said, "Come reengage with me in the relationship. Let's give it a shot." You guys started going on Wednesday night. You heard the story of Susan, right?
Markus: Susan Cox, yes. Just heard her story and really, really could relate to her. She just spoke to me. That night we went home, and I just sat in our bed and started bawling and basically told Mary Kay, "I'm tired of running away, tired of figuring it out on my own. I've not done a good job." I surrendered myself. Also, we met with a faithful couple, and that man… I just met one-on-one with him, and he gave me some videos to watch.
After that meeting, I went here to Watermark outside at the pond and was sitting there, listening to worship music and watching the video he suggested. That day just changed my life. It clicked in my head and in my heart, and I realized that God our Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, here on earth to die for me, for us, for our sins, and he rose three days later. He got tortured, punished, nailed on the cross for us.
I know it sounds so simple now, but it took 10 years to get there. It was just amazing. I'm not kidding. I just felt his presence, and I felt the Holy Spirit holding me up and saying, "I've got you. Just be faithful. Be obedient to me. I've got you." It was just amazing what he has done. From that point on, my life took a complete turn.
Todd: So you started to pursue Jesus yourself. When someone comes to know Christ, they tell their story of how their life has changed. This is what's really beautiful. I'm going to ask his wife to talk about how his life has changed. Mary Kay, tell them what you said about who you're married to now.
Mary Kay: The most amazing thing about him now is that he's leading our home. He reads the Word with our son. He's an amazing father now, and he wants our son to know the Lord, and he wants to be the headship of our home. I feel covered now. I feel like I don't have to trump him, which is always one of my issues. It still is, but that's another story.
He wants to lead, and he wants Christ to be the center of our home. I can't even tell you the transformation he made. He got sick last fall, and that propelled his faith and propelled him to study, to have hope. We have hope. He has hope.
Markus: When I got sick, it just strengthened my faith. I realized that God is in control, that he would not give me that suffering. He makes us suffer but makes good out of it. Just realizing that and letting him take over.
Todd: Here's what's so beautiful about this. Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world." When you come into a relationship with God, he doesn't promise to make every day on this earth easier and better. This health, wealth, and prosperity God… You trusted Christ last May, and you almost died last October/November with a septic illness that literally almost took your life. Your lips were black. It was by the grace of God that you're here. So health, not so much. Wealth… March 1 of this year, you entered into a job transition.
Markus: Yeah, I got laid off March 1.
Todd: Yet I hear you up here saying, "I'm not running around feeding my flesh. I'm not chasing what seems right to me. I'm loving my wife, I'm surviving a health scare, and I'm right now in a transition, and Jesus is enough." One of the things Markus said was, "I love my wife, but my favorite part of the day…" Finish that statement.
Markus: Yeah, I love my wife, I love my son, but my favorite part of the day is getting up and having a quiet time with the Lord and seeking that intimate relationship with him. That's my favorite time of the day now.
Todd: If you're hearing this story, we're not talking about, "Man, I led this crazy life, but now I'm being good." That's not the story. The story is, "I'm just some kid running around Austria in a country that's not informed by anything related to Scripture, who married a girl who knew Jesus but wasn't being informed by that, and informed in my own life with choices that led to death." Literally, in the case of his first child and in the case of his marriage.
Jesus enters in and brings life where there's death and brings joy where the world would look at it and go, "You can't have joy. You almost died. You can't have joy. Right now you're not up and to the right in your professional career," and he's like, "Oh man, no. But I'm one with him." So Markus is going to get a chance to stand before you guys today and say, "Identify me with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus."
They're not just followers; they're leaders now in re|engage, and if you're there and think your marriage can't be recovered, you need to hear this couple saying, "Oh yes, it can. More than recovered. It can become the blessing God intends." Markus, would you pray for us? Then out of there we're going to just say, "Listen. This Jesus is ready for you. He can handle your sin. So come, you sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore." Pray for us, bro.
Markus: Heavenly Father, I'm just thankful for what you have done in our lives, Lord. Just continue working in our hearts. Soften our hearts, Lord. Make a clear vision for us. Let us walk in the light, Lord. I'm just so, so thankful for what you have done in our lives. Continue working in us, Lord, and let us be faithful to you. I'm so thankful for what you have done and what you continue doing, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Todd: One of the things you might be out there thinking is, "Hey, that's great, Todd. God can save an atheist kid from Austria and a guy who has been through some of the stuff he had, but you don't know my story. You don't know what I've been through."
We do drag guys up here, and sometimes we… I want you to know the power of Jesus to save, so I want to introduce you to a guy who has been abducted by aliens, turned into a hamster, ran abortion clinics, was a gay activist, and then Jesus showed up after he left all three of his wives, and I want you to hear his story. Scott?
Scott: That's not exactly my story.
Todd: That's not your story. It is funny, and obviously, Scott is a friend. Sometimes you kind of go, "Man, I don't have a testimony, because I'm not this guy who had this crazy experience with aliens and Jesus saved me." What's your story, Scotty?
Scott: Well, first, I want to thank Todd for giving me a full hour and 10 minutes. I was born in Denton, Texas, raised in the most loving home with the sweetest mom and dad, taught to be humble and kind and work hard, and I did. I grew up faithfully going to church. Either the church didn't present the gospel or I wasn't hearing it. Maybe a little of both. It never resonated to me.
I was performance-based, works-based, in school, athletics (that didn't get me very far), career. In 1996, I was working at Arthur Andersen, and I met this bizarre, amazingly lovely blond girl named Jennifer Lewis. If you're an attendee of Watermark, you probably have seen her. She's Jennifer Clouse now. Her hair is a little shorter than it used to be because she's dying of cancer, but she wasn't in '96. This Jennifer had a way about her that was unbelievably attractive, the way she lived.
She loved differently, she mourned differently, she dealt with conflict differently, and it was infectious. She began to share the gospel with my wife and me, and she didn't just share it. She stayed with us and pursued us, and she challenged me. She knew I was performance-based, so she challenged me to lead my family in a way that was different. She pushed me to go to a Bible-based church. She brought me to Watermark 19 or so years ago, and it was a little too weird at the time. Everyone wore flip-flops and casual shirts, and that didn't feel right.
So we went to another Bible-based church in town and began to hear the Word consistently, and I got involved in Bible study and men's study, and God just kept putting these men in my life, after Jennifer, who would just pour truth into me, my business partner and other friends. Nothing would ever satisfy. Work successes would satisfy for a week and then it wouldn't. Whatever it was, it never satisfied, until God finally opened my eyes and softened my heart.
Even though by the world's standards I was a good guy, not living in crazy sins that Todd talked about, I was a sinner needing a Savior. By God's grace, he softened my heart to that Word, and over the last years, my scoreboard has changed. I just received a promotion at work a few weeks ago, and while that's cool, it doesn't really matter. I play golf. I made a hole in one at this famous golf course called Pine Valley two weeks ago, and it just really doesn't matter. It was cool, but it doesn't matter.
Todd: How long was it?
Scott: It was only 132 yards.
Todd: A wedge or a nine iron?
Scott: It was a choke-down eight iron.
Todd: Into the wind. Tough pin placement?
Scott: Tough. Back left corner.
Todd: Okay, good. But in the midst of that, what you're trying to describe… By Dallas standards, you're one of those guys who is doing well. You have a beautiful wife. I know your kids. They're beautiful kids. What you were saying is you're that guy people would look at and go, "That guy doesn't need God," and yet there was somebody who knew better. Right?
Scott: I would just challenge you all to be that Jennifer. If you think someone has it together, there's a good chance they don't unless they have a relationship with Christ. So share your story and just pursue them.
Todd: I want to take a second and have Scott read a story. It's one of the places in Scripture that when you come across this text, you're kind of like, "What in the world is going on here?" You read this story about a guy who had a demon cast out of him. It's a story that Jesus is telling. It's not a real person. This demon is cast out and goes and roams the earth and finds no place to rest. Because the man was not inhabited by a stronger presence, it says, that demon comes back and takes with him seven demons more wicked and powerful than himself.
People read that and go, "What is that story about?" Jesus is telling a story about a guy like Scott and maybe like a lot of you. There wasn't this craziness. There wasn't this radical activism. There wasn't this running of these abortion clinics, but you need to know something. This church is full of people who went into abortion clinics and who ran them. This church is full of activists.
This church is full of people who were addicted to crazy, powerful drugs, and God does save those people, but there are a lot of people in Dallas who that one demon gets chased out of, and then seven demons come back. It says his second case is worse than his first. What it describes is the house is now all clean and everything is put in order, but it's still inhabited by real darkness.
Sometimes it's, "I have my act together. I'm prideful. I don't need a Savior. I can live my life well enough long enough that God is going to be okay with that." Jesus says that person is in a worse position than others. So I want to have Scott read this story.
Scott: "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."
Todd: What he's talking about there is sometimes when you get involved with religion or when you're just making it in Dallas or when God has given you intellect and good looks and a beautiful family, people look at you and kind of go, "That guy has it all together." Sometimes people think they have it all together, and Jesus says, "You're in a worse spot than the guy whose life is falling apart, who's buying horse syringes at Tractor Supply and injecting heroin in his veins," because everybody sees he needs help.
What you just heard is Scott say, "God bless Jennifer Lewis Clouse, who saw my need for Jesus and radically came after me and loved me and called me to know a Savior who died for my sins." Scotty, would you pray for us? You're going to get to hear other Scotts and Markuses who are just some of the people who today are going to celebrate their new life in Christ because faithful people like you went and found them in gutters and in penthouses and said, "You need Jesus."
You are God's plan A, and there is no plan B. You are his ambassadors, as if God himself were entreating people through you to come to him. Scott and Markus are saying, "Thank you for inviting me to re|engage. Thank you for inviting me to Jesus." You're going to hear from these people, and my prayer is that next year, when you sit here, there are going to be five or six people who are going to say, "Thank you" because you went and got them the way Jennifer and others went and got Scott. Pray for us, buddy.
Scott: Dear gracious God, thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. Thank you for the gospel, for the good news. I thank you for all of these individuals today who are proclaiming their love for you in a public showing of that through baptism. I pray that there would be more Jennifer Clouses in this world who would just share their stories and pursue sinners like me. It's in Christ's name, amen.
Todd: I know I shouldn't have to say it. I'm going to say it anyway, because it will save me at least 12 emails. When they thank Watermark, they're just saying, "Thank you, Watermark…" When they say, "Thank you, friends," they're saying, "Thank you, Jesus, for using your church. Thank you, Jesus, for using my parents. Thank you, Jesus, for using my friends." Watermark doesn't save and can't save anybody.
Jesus saves, but God intends that his church would be the means today through which a lot of folks come to know the healing, the hope, and the power that is in Jesus Christ. We're going to celebrate that God alone rescues us from sin and death and that he takes us from being children, dead in our trespasses and sins, and moves us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
From the earliest days of Watermark (this is the sixteenth time we've done it), we always have thrown a party. We do it whenever we do baptisms. We did baptisms at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago, and it was a party. Once a year on a Sunday we just say, "We're going to throw a big party." There are bounce houses and food and friends and fellowship. There are going to be people here who don't have a friend, and the ministry of the gospel is going to go out today.
You're going to look and see somebody who's not talking, and you're going to walk up. You're going to introduce yourself, if you're a member, and say, "Man, how long have you been here? How can I help you get connected? Are you in community? Let me help you. Do you know Jesus? Let me tell you my story. I didn't get baptized today. Let me tell you about when I was set free." That should happen today. We're a family. You're going to be some of those people today who have a chance to love others.
There has always been a party. I love the story of one of my good friends' kids. In our community they have little school fund-raising carnivals. This kid grew up at Watermark, and one day they were driving by an elementary school having a big fund-raising carnival, and the kid in the back seat said, "Look, Mom! A baptism!" I love that. That is thoroughly biblical. It's Luke 15. When one sinner is saved and set free, it says, all of heaven rejoices, because God loves people and hates sin.
We're still going to struggle. Since you've trusted Christ, has anybody made a mistake or sinned? Yeah. We still do. We still struggle, and we need to encourage each other, and we need to be conformed increasingly to his image. So we avail ourselves to every resource, and we love one another. We admonish each other when we're unruly. We encourage the fainthearted. We help the weak with great patience. We do everything we can to say, "Don't leave this Jesus. Mary Kay, don't leave him. Jesus is your bridegroom."
What I want to say to you guys is we get to go to work. We get to go to war. We get to love each other so we can be what God wants us to be so more people can make heaven rejoice when they come back into relationship with a Father who's seeking them. Today, some folks are going to tell you, "Identify me with Jesus, crucified, dead, and buried, but because he overcame sin and by the power of God was resurrected to newness of life, and we're living in that new life…"
Markus would tell you, "I have a new life with Christ. Eternity and joy doesn't start at the grave. It has started now. I am born anew, and I am walking with him, and when I die, I'll walk without any entanglement of sin, but my life is free today." That's you, church. What we want you to do is look on this list, and if you see a name of somebody you know, go and find out where they are.
If you don't know somebody who's getting baptized, go listen. Get around. Pray for them. They're going to share their stories briefly, and then all day we're going to laugh, eat, fellowship, and celebrate life anew. If you take pictures, post them at #watermarkbaptism16. Let the world know we're throwing a party because we're kicking the Enemy's rear end by the grace of God. Here we go.