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Following the week of Watermark's Church Leaders Conference, Todd shares how every week at Watermark is a church leaders conference, where God's people are at work. Todd invites Blake Holmes and John McGee to share from CLC. Blake shares how in ministry, you don't teach someone to sail from the shore, but instead, you get them into the water. John shares how parenting is like watching a shot clock run down and making the best use of time with your children. And in the same way, we are to make the most of our time following Jesus.
Join The Journey: A Tour of Romans
Christmas Eve 2017
Contentment, Longing and Christmas
An Update on the Mission in Fort Worth
Evening with the Elders
An Evening with Eric Metaxas
What a Compassionate God Wants You to Consider as Your Next Yes
Worship Together: You Are the Church
Worship Together: The Future of the Church in the Hands of Parents
Worship Together: Remember. Consider. Imitate
Worship Together: Influencing the Next Generation by Preparing Ourselves and Investing in Our Children
Do Good People Go To Heaven?
Step Up in Faithfulness, Discover and Invest Your Talents for Christ
Regretful Hearts v. Repentant Hearts
Leadership Matters…and Other Seminal Truths
The Future and Hope of Your Life and Our City
Keeping Short Accounts
Soldiers, Athletes & Farmers: A Biblical Look at the Spiritual Life
Why Your First Impression of Your Father Matters
Why Every Week is a Pastors' Conference
The End of the Search
The Christian in Culture
4 Dead-Ends to Spiritual Growth
A Spectacle of Glory: An Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada
Easter: “It is True”
Good Friday 2017
Fort Worth Raise The Mark
Seeing God as a Perfect Father
Who You Are, Eternally
Freedom from Following
Four Traits Christ’s Disciples Share
Inquiring of The Lord
Fort Worth's Opportunity... A Day We Can't Wait to See
Todd Wagner: Good morning, friends. It is awesome to be together. Welcome to a church conference. That's what we do here every week. We confer with other people who are part of God's chosen race, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, a people of his own possession, called out of darkness into his marvelous light. We are glad you're here.
You might go, "Wait a minute. I was invited here. What do you mean I'm at a pastors' conference?" Well, we're glad you were invited here, and we want to let you know that we believe the most important people at Watermark are the next 100 people who come. It's because you matter so much to God that we invest so deeply in those who have already come here and say that they have come to understand about the kindness, grace, and goodness of God.
So we remind ourselves about God's goodness and grace in our lives, and we put ourselves in front of God's Word that we might remember how to respond to him. We seek to do that, because this is a big deal. God in his sovereignty and grace decided to fully reveal himself not through prophets, not through law, but ultimately through his Son Jesus Christ, who's the visible image of the invisible God.
Jesus when he was here said, "These works that I do, even greater works than these will you do." "If you believe in me," he says, "even greater works than I have done will you do." How? Certainly not in kind but in scope, because Jesus' idea was that the entire world would be blessed through his people, his body. The way God is revealed today is through his church. You're like, "That's God's problem. His church isn't doing such a great job." We're saying, "Okay, we can either curse the darkness or light a candle and seek to do it better."
Because you have been doing that… Watermark, you friends of ours, have been doing that so effectively here, the renown of Christ and the goodness of God has spilled out not just around this region and country but around the world. These last four days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we had an amazing opportunity to run a pastors' conference from church leaders around the world just like you. Some are on staff. Many are not, just like you.
We have built into them, and they wanted to know what God is doing here so that they would be encouraged and able to serve faithfully where they are. We are not in the business of putting a bunch of little Watermarks around the world. We are committed to God's big work, and God's big work he's going to do through the church.
Churches have always had kind of funny names. Some have been called First Presbyterian, First Baptist, First Methodist. Some have been called the church at Ephesus, the church at Colossae, the church at Laodicea. Some are called Watermark, Trinity, Crossroads. All of them have been called by God to be a means of his grace, that God would continue to reveal himself through the Spirit of Christ, which would dwell in those people who have been reconciled to God through him. It's a big deal what we're doing.
Because of your faithfulness this last week, we had a chance to equip about 1,000 pastors who represent almost a quarter million people who are in churches around the world today. It has been amazing. Watch this little glimpse of what we got to do. Check it out.
Hey, Watermark family, an amazing thing has happened. The renown of the Lord has gone through you. It says in Matthew that you'll be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. The work of Jesus Christ in you has made others curious about what Jesus is doing in this city, so they've come.
Male: I'm originally from Iran.
Male: We do ministry in Southeast Asia.
Male: My name is Altin, and I am from Tirana, Albania.
Male: I've seen so many people coming from different parts of this United States and even the world to learn more about the Lord, more about how to enrich their own ministries.
Male: One of the take-outs from this conference is the spirit of the volunteers. I have never seen it anywhere, not even with financial incentive.
Male: I meet so many staff and volunteers here, and everyone has an amazing story of how Jesus has changed their life, and that has inspired us.
Male: One of the tools we wanted to really learn was to lead. What's been really apparent and one thing I can say works so well with everything we do is just the transparency we've learned about.
Female: We're just grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this and to witness this.
Male: I can't overstate how helpful it has been for me. It encourages me and reminds me why we're doing what we're doing.
Male: We were encouraged, and we felt empowered to go out and do what God had called us to do. It was really awesome.
Todd: Thank you for the disciples that you are and for the glory that it is to Christ. You are a city set on a hill, and you're not under a bushel. No, your light is shining, and others are seeing your good works and glorifying your Father who is in heaven. Way to go, church. Let's keep it up. The greatest days are ahead of us.
[End of video]
It was really an amazing week. Because of what God is doing in and through you, folks came and said, "We want to learn how we can be effective like we see God being effective here." What we told them was, "Listen. You're not coming to our church." Sometimes people walk up to me and go, "Todd, I go to your church." I go, "No, you don't." I did not live a sinless life and die for the sins of the world. This is not my church. This is Jesus Christ's church, and I serve him, and you serve him. We're a little group of folks who are trying to be faithful in our little window of time, and we're going to talk to you, pastors, about our great privilege today.
Behind me, this little screenshot of a beautiful scene was a metaphor we used throughout the week. Artists have always had a hard time depicting a sunrise or sunset and differentiating between them. How many of you all think this is a sunrise? How many of you all think this is a sunset? Yeah, you're wrong. It's a sunrise. It's so funny. Everybody always thinks it's a sunset because they're beautiful, because most of you are asleep until noon and you never see a sunrise. This is what a sunrise looks like. The question is…How can you tell? Artists can't draw…
That's not an artist's rendition. That's just our Creator artist who made that. We took a picture of it. You can't tell unless there's motion. What we tried to say this week to church leaders and what we're trying to say this morning to church leaders is that God is not done. The sun is not setting on God's love for the world and his desire to reach other people. We believe God is continuing to work and wants more and more people to see the goodness of who he is. It should be true of our lives. Proverbs says, "The light of the righteous is like the light of dawn. It grows brighter and brighter until the noonday comes."
The sanctifying work of God in our lives ought to continue to pour more light into the world, and when his church is operating the way it should, the beauty of God's goodness and the light of God's love ought to be more evident than ever. Now listen. If God is going to do a big work around the world, he has to do it right here. We don't want to just inspire others to do it; we want to invite them in to see what God is doing in us, despite us, as we decrease that he might increase, and we want to let you know what's at stake.
We felt like the right thing to do today was to take little snippets of our pastors' conference this last week, for which over 150 of you guys took off work to be here, to serve, to greet, to park, to feed, and to encourage these pastors. They were blown away. As my friend Emmanuel from Nigeria said, "I have never seen people serve this way, even when you give them financial incentive." Some of you have discovered there's something a whole lot more incentivizing than money, and it's just a chance to love God and thank him for his kindness. This is what we're doing all the time: trying to respond.
If that picture behind me represents the fullness of God's love and beauty, his desire to show others… Imagine it's a puzzle, and imagine there's a piece missing. Have you ever put a puzzle together and there's a piece missing? You're like, "Oh man! Where's that piece?" The picture is marred, especially if it was right over there where the sun was peaking up over the horizon. I need that piece.
When you look at a picture like that and ask, "What's missing?" we want to say, "You." You're God's workmanship. Each one of us has received a gift. We should be good stewards in employing it as servants of Christ and as evidence of his manifold grace. When an individual whom God has saved and introduced himself to doesn't do what God wants him to do, there's a piece missing. Churches are collectives of God's people, so when a church isn't doing what it should there's even a bigger hole there.
Dead churches, ineffective churches, churches that just want you to hang around… God is not going to affirm you because you went to a church that had sound teaching and good doctrine and filled up your notebooks. God is going to affirm you because you filled up your life with his glory and got after it. When you have one church that's not doing its job there's a big piece. When you have multiple churches that aren't doing their job, the picture is really marred.
So this week we gathered with almost 1,000 leaders across the world and just said, "You have an opportunity today. We don't want you to be little Watermarks. We want you to be a part of God's big story of grace. Let us tell you about the grace that's working in and through our lives here. May you be encouraged by it and motivated by it. If he can do it with us, why not with you?" Folks, today we're going to remind ourselves he has to do it with us. If that picture is going to look the way God wants it to look, it has to have this piece filled in.
So here we go. Are you ready to go to our pastors' conference? If you're here and you're not a pastor, you haven't responded yet to the grace of God, we're glad you're here, because you're going to get to see how much God loves you by how much he calls, expects, and desires more and more of his people to be faithful at this time for this task because he cares for you. So welcome to our church conference. Here are little snippets of it. We're going to kick it off with my buddy Blake.
Blake Holmes: I remember the first day I was a counselor at camp I was asked to teach sailing. I didn't know a whole lot about sailing, candidly, but they threw me out there. I have 24 kids, and they're just sitting on this ledge overlooking the lake. You remember the pea gravel that every camp has. They're all picking that up, looking at their feet, throwing rocks, looking at birds, bored, because I was trying to help them understand the parts of the boat and how to sail by this little manual they gave me.
If you can imagine 24 kids on this hot summer day, and I'm sitting there and I'm opening the manual and walking them through, "This is the boom. This is the rudder and the oar." I'm walking through all that. All of a sudden, I hear this loud thundering voice coming from behind me from the top of this hill. I hear this, "No, Holmes! No!" I'm thinking to myself, "Man, I don't know what I'm doing, but maybe there's a kid who's drowning in the water right now." There was urgency.
I turned around, and it's the CEO and president of this camp. He's an imposing figure, an intimidating personality, and he's yelling at me. Now the whole camp hears whatever my mistake is. He runs down the hill, grabs two kids by the life jacket, puts them on a boat, and launches them in the water. All of a sudden, their eyes are this big, because I was just sitting there teaching them, "This is the oar. This is the rudder." Now all of a sudden they're in the water.
Then there are another two kids on a boat. Voom! On a boat. Voom! On a boat. Voom! I mean, it's chaos. It's hysteria. It's a windy day. These kids have no idea what in the world they're doing, and he runs out in the middle of the lake where the water is chest high, and he starts instructing them, coaching them, yelling at them. Kids are capsizing the boats. Some boats are literally turtle. Like, the sail is now like this and the oar is going straight up. It's a complete disaster.
He looks at me and goes, "Isn't this great? This is great!" I'm thinking, "I don't see what's so great about it." He looks at me and goes, "Holmes, you don't teach people how to sail sitting on the shore. You've got to get them in the water." The reason I tell you this story, the reason I share this with you is that God intends for every one of you who has trusted in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior to be in the water, to be a vessel, a ship, filled with his Spirit, with your sails out, fully deployed, being used for his purposes.
Ephesians 4 says the role of the pastor, of the shepherd, of the overseer is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Since Watermark began, we've taken that little verse and have said all along, "Our intention, our desire, our hope is to do ministry through you and not to you." Every one of you is on a boat. You have an opportunity to sail, to use your gifts, to be deployed. The reason the church across our country, for the large part, as Todd has said so many times, is a dead church, a feckless church, is that we have bought into a broken model.
The broken model is that ministry is reserved for guys who are up on stages like this, for guys who have been to seminary, who have taken theological training, have been trained in classes. Ministry is for them, and then the church just shows up, takes notes, critiques what is said, goes to lunch, and then comes back to re-gather. That is a broken model, and it's not a biblical model. It's not what God calls us to be.
Again, Ephesians 4 says the work of the ministry is for the saints. Our job up here is to equip you to do the work of the ministry. It's the example Christ even set. He didn't call people to a classroom. He called people to follow him. He took his disciples and said, "Hey, watch me. Now why don't you serve?" and he kept pushing them out there. What was he doing? Launching them in boats. The reason we don't do it is we've bought into a broken model.
Secondly, the reason we're not deployed fully using our gifts is our own insecurities. We sit there and think, "You know what? I don't have the knowledge Todd has of God's Word. I'm not as eloquent as JP." Fill in the blank of whatever it is. We give ourselves a pass, and we don't develop and deploy our gifts because of our own insecurity.
Maybe it's because of time, because it just simply takes time. To which I would say to you, what is more important than giving your life away to be used by God to further his kingdom purposes? What could possibly be more meaningful and fulfilling than that? Do you want to know why you're not growing? Do you want to know why you don't feel God's presence like you used to? Get in the water.
From the very beginning, when Watermark started, people would come to Todd like it's his problem and go, "You know what this church needs? We need a ministry for…" Here's one example. "We need a ministry for people who have made the tragic choice to abort their babies. What are you going to do about it, Todd? Statistics show there are countless numbers of women who have made that choice. What are you going to do, Todd? What's the church going to do?"
I love Todd's response all the time. He would look at godly, gifted, passionate leaders and say to them, "Here's what we're going to do. We're going to start with you, and you're going to be faithful." And they're in the water. All of a sudden, it was like, "Oh, you'd better be careful what you suggest to Todd."
One of the things Todd said at the conference was, "Hey, there was a Reformation where Martin Luther called people and put the Bible back in people's hands, and the church needs another reformation where we put ministry back into the church's hands and quit buying into this broken model and quit letting people rip you off from being used by God."
Now that ministry, Someone Cares, has ministered to countless numbers of women in this church because of the faithfulness of a few who said, "I'll go in the water." I think about friends of mine who were struggling with infertility and in their brokenness, hurt, and pain just crying out to God, going, "God, help me with this." All of a sudden, another ministry was born, a boat launched in the water.
I think of friends of mine who have had multiple affairs, brokenness, and now are being used every Wednesday night at re|engage to lead other couples to share of the hope and healing they have found and experienced through the gospel of Christ, those couples who could barely even speak to one another, who were this close to divorce, but took a chance and found hope and healing, and now they're out in the water.
I just want to tell you if you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior, if you recognize and understand it's not about what you do or don't do and you understand that God loves you and wants a relationship with you and that you're saved by grace… When you come to know the Lord, when you come to accept his free gift of grace and his love for you, do you know what happens? His Spirit fills your heart. He changes your life and gives you a gift.
First Peter 4:10 says every one of us has been given a gift to be used, to set sail, to be launched. You have gifts, collectively, as the body of Christ, that I certainly don't have, that Todd doesn't have, that JP doesn't have. Together, when we're all in the water using our gifts, it is an amazing thing. That's how you change a city: when people sit there and go, "I'll get in the water. I'll go." It doesn't even have to be anything fantastic. You don't have to start something grandiose. You just have to be faithful with your story.
For so long around here we talked about "Top 10" cards. The idea was to write down the name of 10 people you know who don't have a relationship with God, and we're going to ask you to do three things. First, pray for them. Anybody can do that. Pray for those you know, neighbors, friends, coworkers, family, who don't have a relationship with the Lord. Just pray for them. Secondly, initiate a conversation with them.
Do something besides talking about news, sports, and weather. Ask them how they're doing. Move to an intentional conversation. Ask them if they have a faith, and then invite them. Say, "Hey, would you like to come with me one Sunday?" If you know the Lord and just simply share your story, God can use that in remarkable ways. Gang, there is nothing greater than when you share your story and make yourself available to him and you raise that sail and by his Spirit and his power he starts to use you to accomplish his eternal purposes.
You have not lived if you haven't deployed in that way. Just look at John 4, the woman at the well. Look at John 9, the man born blind. Look at their faithfulness. They just trusted Christ. They didn't have a seminary degree. They weren't on staff somewhere. They just went and told their story. "Hey, I met this man. He changed my life. I think he can change yours," and God used their faithfulness.
I want to paint a vision for you. I want to paint a picture that God intends to use your gifts and your story, and then I want you to get in the water. Don't show up to Watermark and just simply applaud and critique the music, the coffee, how Todd did, talk about it over lunch, and then go home. You're never going to be what God intended for you to be. You're never going to experience the rush and thrill of when the wind hits the sail and you feel like God is using you to accomplish his eternal purposes.
Here's the other thing I would tell you: don't ever go alone. When you're in ministry, the great thing is that God gives us each other. We're not supposed to be siloed individuals over here operating by ourselves. When you sail, what happens? You sail with a partner. We do ministry together in teams. We've said so long, "All of us together are better than any of us alone." So often what we do is look for godly, gifted, passionate leaders like you, and then we say, "Hey, find people who share that same passion. Don't go alone, and go." Then because you're sailing together, when you encounter tough winds, guess what happens? You have one another.
Here's the last thing. Do you want to know when you really learn how to sail? You really learn how to sail when the wind is blowing against you, when that sea is a little rough. Adults learn on a need-to-know basis. That's just true. I can sit there and talk to you all day long about how to share your faith and put you in a 12-week class and you can learn all of these tips and tricks, but that is nothing. It will never take the place of actually going out and engaging people and having to use what you've been taught and use your gifts.
When you learn how to sail, when that wind is blowing against you and your boat is going backwards, it's at that point you look to your friend and go, "Hey, how do we do this again?" It's then that God starts to go, "Hey, you're good, and I'm going to use you right now, and I'm going to teach you." Here's the deal. We retain only 10 percent of what we get through formal training, about 20 percent through interaction with others. Statistics and studies will show time and time again we retain 70 percent from on-the-job training.
If you want to grow, if you want to feel used by God, if you want to stimulate, awaken your gifts and that sense of being used by God and repurposed for his purposes and his glory, you have to get in the water. You have to be launched. We've said all along our strategy is to help people believe in Christ, belong to his body, be trained in truth, and also be strong in a life of ministry and worship. That's what we call each of you to be: be strong in a life of ministry and worship.
Todd: All right. How's the conference going? Let's just make it very clear. We're not trying to get you to do anything but to walk with Jesus. When you walk with Jesus, you will begin to do the work he wants you to do. It's not about work, work, work. It's about knowing him and abiding with Christ. Apart from him we can't do anything, but if you're walking with Christ, you're going to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
We never work for our salvation here, but we do work it out. The Scripture says that you are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. God wants you to be individuals that others see his power working in and through. You have to stop paying other people to give them the privilege of ripping you off of the glory of living faithfully for Christ.
Here we are at this little gathering where we confer together about who God is and what he wants us to do. If you don't know God, we're glad you're here, because we're telling you you matter so much to him he's gathering his saints today to remind them of the opportunity they have. You might go, "Gosh, Todd, doesn't God want us to sit there and teach the Word of God?" Absolutely. That's why we're giving you Scripture that informs everything we're saying.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you went to a church the apostle Paul led? The guy wrote most of the New Testament. If he was your teacher, what do you think he'd say to you? Here's the good news. You don't have to wonder, because he wrote a letter to you, to Timothy, disciples, so that they might know how God wants them to live. This is what he says in 2 Timothy, chapter 2, the last words of Paul.
"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." Changing metaphors. "Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules."
Do you want to know what the number-one rule is for an athlete? If you want to win a gold medal, you have to compete. That's the first rule. You have to do it the way God wants you to do it. That's why we're here to remind ourselves who he is, who we are, and what we're to do in a way that honors him. Do you want to be a good soldier? Do you want to be an athlete that gets the prize? Change the metaphor a third time, Paul would say. "The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops."
If Paul was here, he wouldn't just say, "Fill up your notebooks with great doctrine." He would say, "Let this doctrine inform your life." God doesn't need you to work for him. He wants you to walk with him, and when you walk with him, you will do the work he did. So here we go, church. A number of years ago, just before we started this little local gathering called Watermark, I received in the mail a VHS from a cruise line. I've never been on a cruise. Still haven't. I thought one day it might be fun, so I kept that little VHS and left it lying around.
I thought to myself one day when I was thinking about you and this thing we were going to start just a year later called Watermark… I gave it to a guy who was helping me put things together and said, "Hey, here's a metaphor I want to use. This is not what the church should be." So off a 1999 VHS sent to me by Carnival Cruise Lines or something like that, this is a very poorly produced, non-HD (because HD wasn't around yet) video we made that we showed every single membership class to remind you what is going on here about who we are.
That's really what we've been about since day one. We've never sought to be a cruise ship or to build one, certainly. This is a place where we're going to go to school together, and we open up this thing to train and deploy and help people discover, develop, and get after it, their gifts. Being a mercy ship, being a ship that goes to war against the darkness that's in the world, and being a group of people that love each other and give their lives for each other and with each other.
This isn't a game. This is not a gathering. God doesn't want us to come and sit. He wants us to know him and enjoy him and make him known, and we don't have a lot of time to do it. These are our days, and they're fleeting. To drive that point home, our next session in our little pastors' conference is going to come from my buddy John McGee.
John McGee: It's probably a season of life thing, but I've been to a lot of funerals the last several years, and two things always happen when I go to a funeral these days. First, I'm reminded of just how short life is. You can't go to a funeral without thinking that. The second thing is God always brings to mind Psalm 90:12 to me. It's a prayer of Moses or a psalm of Moses.
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." It is a psalm attributed to Moses, and if funerals elicit this understanding that life is really short, it makes a lot of sense that he would write that, because if you know anything about Moses, he did a lot of funerals. He literally buried a nation, so if anybody was aware that nobody gets out of here alive it would have been Moses.
It's a psalm back to us who are living to say, "Hey, listen. Life is short." When you get your arms around that, it makes you live differently. This week, I was able to encourage some pastors with that thought, and I'll encourage you pastors with that same thought today. Life is short, and when we understand that, it changes some things for us.
The first thing that understanding just how short life is changes is the way we parent. Moms and dads, when you are handed your child, when they say, "It's a boy" or "It's a girl," in many respects you are on the clock at that moment, because from the time that happens until the time they're 18 you have 6,500 days until they theoretically move out of the house. At that moment, the clock is ticking. What has been really helpful for me is to imagine a shot clock above my kids' heads running down nonstop.
When I come home end of the day and my youngest daughter says, "Hey, Dad, will you jump on the trampoline with me?" and I'm tired and my blood sugar is low, I remember that shot clock and I go, "Yes." She's not going to be asking for much longer. When my youngest son needs coaches all the way through school and I know I'm giving up my Saturdays for eternity, I say, "Yes," because that opportunity, that window is short. When my oldest daughter says, "Hey, Dad, could we spend a few days this summer hiking in Colorado?" there's nothing to think about.
When my oldest son who loves off-the-beaten-path restaurants and sushi wants to hang out at the risk of food poisoning, we go and spend time together. Not just to spend time together but so that we can have a relationship so I can do the thing that's most important right now: to disciple my children, to teach them the full counsel of God, to teach them to love God and to love others, helping me understand their giftings and point them to a way that God might be using them. That sometimes is hard, because you don't get the same accolades as you do in other places.
Several months ago, I was with some churches, and I was just trying to help. I remember at the end of the meeting they were clapping. "Wow, John, thank you. You're such a blessing to us." I flew in that night, expecting my family to be lined up right there at the door doing the same thing, clapping. "Dad is home." I did not quite get that response. In fact, my 13-year-old is standing there with his shirt off eating a sandwich, and he goes, "What's up?" "I'll tell you what's up." You know, got him in a headlock and rubbed his head and asked him how his day was.
Those churches are not my ministry; my family is my ministry. We're not that important. They'll replace you at work Monday afternoon if they need to, but you're the only mom or dad your kids will have, and the clock is ticking. Grandparents, if you have kiddos who are still in the home, you have an amazing opportunity. All of us, whether we have kids or not, have an opportunity to be spiritual moms and dads. The clock is ticking. Don't tend to other vineyards before you tend to your own.
Understanding how short life is also changes our priorities. When I was a sophomore in high school, my priority was getting a letter jacket. I remember seeing the upper classmen with the letter jacket, and someday I was going to have one. I killed myself year-round weight lifting and things, because someday I'm going to get the letter jacket. I remember the day it finally came.
I got the letter jacket. I opened that plastic, and just the smell of pleather coming out. I put that thing on. It might have been 95 degrees. I don't know, but I was going to wear my letter jacket. I probably wore it every single day all throughout high school. I actually brought my letter jacket here. Do you guys want to see my letter jacket now? That's right. My mom took my letter jacket and turned it into a bear for my now wife Pam. Have you ever seen one of those? I think this company sold one of those.
I was like, "This would be a great illustration. Pam, let's get the bear out." She's like, "I don't know where that thing is." We couldn't find it. I called my mom. She couldn't find it. We called Pam's mom, and it was tucked away in a little closet. Isn't that amazing that 30 years later something that was such an incredible priority to me we couldn't even find? We can't even find it. It seems a little silly, and I'm even a little ashamed that I was that wrapped up in that.
That was 30 years. What's going to happen 10,000 years from now as we look back on our lives? Moses says in Psalm 90:10 that we have 70 years, 80 if we're really strong. We have 70 years here. We're going to live with God for eternity. He saved us. He has given us gifts. We have eternity to look forward to. Ten thousand years from now, how are we going to look back on the stuff we're chasing? Since we have these gifts in this short period of time, I have to believe this is a unique opportunity to say thanks.
Just like the rest of our life feels really compressed now that we've passed it, I think 10,000 years from now 70 years is going to feel like 70 seconds. We have 70 seconds to say thanks to God with our lives. That's it. So since we only have 70 seconds, friends, I'll just ask you. In light of eternity, how big does the house really need to be? How new and fancy do the cars really need to be? How important does your title need to be? How big do your biceps or how small does your waistline really need to be?
How many Netflix episodes do you need to watch, rounds of golf do you need to shoot, or hunting trips do you need to take? How much money and stuff do we need to amass? How many Twitter followers, friends, and "likes" do we really need? All that stuff in eternity, 10,000 years from now, is going to feel a lot like letter jacket bears that are going to seem, at best, inconsequential and, at worst, I think we're going to be ashamed of. So, friends, we have 70 seconds to say thanks. Let's not waste them.
Lastly, when we understand how short life is it helps increase our productivity. Several years ago, Pam and I were on a honeymoon, and we were traveling around the island of Iceland. We were on the north side of Iceland. We'd been seeing these signs for the national herring fishing museum. Catchy title. I'm sure it would have caught your eye too. It turned out it was one of the top 10 new museums in Europe that year. Upon further reflection, I wondered just how many new museums there are in Europe every year.
It was actually really cool. If you're ever in the area, I would highly suggest you stop in. So we're walking through this museum, just kind of getting caught up in the story. It was an amazing story. You think about Iceland right before World War II. They were completely isolated. Very few prospects to feed themselves or any kind of exports back then, and they find herring on the north side of the island.
Everything you would expect from an oil boom happened, except it was fish. They showed these charts of the herring production, and it just makes this parabolic move up and to the right during the war. They are exporting fish. They're catching fish. They kind of walk you through the whole story, and there are pictures there. I brought a picture of one of the shots of the harbor in this über-remote place in Iceland.
When you look at it from other angles, you can't figure out how in the world they got that many boats in there. It is packed. Not only that. They have pictures of the boats, and the fish are literally spilling over the boat. So they'd catch them, and they couldn't even bring their entire catch into the harbor because the fish were just falling off they had so many.
So that gets them through the war, and what happens after that… They show the chart. The production declines. Do you know how many herring they caught on the north side of Iceland last year? Zero. Not one single herring. They just decided for whatever reason that they wanted to hang out in Norway for this next little season. They all moved off to the coast of Norway, and they can't catch a one of them.
As I was walking back down that harbor, which is really empty now except for a few boats for tourists, I thought, "What would it have been like to have been there during the boom and then the bust and look back on that time?" I have to think that had they known it was coming they would have worked harder, and knowing what they know now they look back and go, "Oh, we could have gone out for another catch. There were a lot of days we could have gotten more. We knocked off early. We had some fish. We thought that was good. We were positive they would be there tomorrow, so we just kind of lived like that, and now we have no more opportunity."
The next thing I thought about was this church right here, my church. I thought about us, and I thought about this moment. I can remember years ago just a few of us praying our guts out. "God, give us some fish. Would you bring them to us? We want to minister. We want to disciple. We want to share the gospel. Would you please bring us some fish?" And he has. Three campuses. Look around. God has brought us some fish. I hope we are diligent. I hope we seize this moment and don't live with regrets.
Friends, if you haven't been praying expectantly before you show up on a weekend and asking God to teach and convict you and everyone else in this room, now is a good time to start. If you haven't invited a friend or a coworker or a waiter recently, start today. If you haven't been praying for and giving to this mission as you should, I can't tell you enough what a great time it would be to start right now.
If you're in a Small Group and are not investing in it, if you've been a little bit apathetic, if you guys are cutting deals with each other, this is a great time to call them and say, "Hey, guys, let's go. Let's live out all of the 'one-anothers' of Scripture while we have a chance." If you're not fully deploying your gifts, it's very conceivable there would be a day when you won't have the opportunity to deploy your gifts here. We don't know. We could mess it up. That's a possibility. The hand of God, just like those fish, could move somewhere else for who knows why.
How tragic would it be if we drove by this place and went, "I had gifts to deploy; I didn't. I came at this thing like a consumer. I showed up when it was convenient, gave a little bit, and just did the bare minimum." That would be tragic. If for whatever reason God shut this place down and it became a museum and we drove by, I think it would be really fun to go, "Hey, while that thing was still going, while God was bringing fish, I caught them. I used all of my gifts, and I brought it. I have no regrets."
Guys, this is short. All of this is short. When you understand that, it changes the way we parent. Think about the shot clock. When we understand that life is short, it changes our priorities. Remember we only have 70 seconds here to say thanks to God. When we understand that life is short, it changes our productivity. Remember that God has brought us fish for this season. Let's be faithful. Let's go, church.
Todd: Just how short it is became abundantly clear to me again this last week. It was Thursday. It was after the pastors' conference. The rest of the staff team and I went upstairs. We had a late lunch, and then we hit our knees and prayed for the folks who were here, prayed for you who were coming to the pastors' conference we were running this weekend, and just asked that God would burn into our hearts that this is our time.
Then I walked out of that room where a couple hundred of us were on our knees for you and for others and walked up into our chapel where we were saying goodbye to a friend who has been part of this family since 2003. His name is Jim Morgan. You may recognize Jim. Jim is 59 years old. You might recognize him because he was out there and served in our Frontlines ministry and parked cars for a long time. You might recognize him because you're one of over 100 men he personally discipled and walked through our re:generation ministry and poured into.
Jim's heart was changed when he came here in 2003. Jim was a stutterer, and he lived his life kind of confused why God had written that script for him and suffered cruelty at the hands of individuals. He came here in 2003 to deal with his anger at God and at this world and the way people had treated him. He went on to find healing and hope, and he was zealous to share that hope with other people.
I sat over there at Jim's funeral and listened again about how the Lord had used him here, not just out in our Frontlines ministry but discipling and leading in our re:generation ministry. He's a leader of a Community Group. You maybe didn't recognize Jim because he wasn't always in this room with us. Sometimes he'd be in what we call the Engine Room.
If you're looking for a ministry and don't know what to do, come and be a part of Engine Room on Saturdays at 4:00 or Sundays at 9:00 or 11:15, when people are just sitting in that room and praying for what's going on in this room. It's the engine that makes Watermark work, people pleading with God to open the eyes of our hearts that we might really understand. Jim did that. He stuttered his prayers for you right through to heaven.
Maybe you don't recognize him because you weren't at UGM (Union Gospel Mission), one of our partners here in town. He went down there and served and helped men who, because of a variety of life stories and brokenness, were now homeless, trying to restore them and disciple them back to being productive members of society where they were supporting and caring for themselves.
I remember sitting up there just thinking, "Lord, thank you for Jim Morgan." I was walking back through by myself on my way to the next thing, and it was the closest I've come to crying since I've watched a Pixar movie. I was thinking about Jim's life, and I literally got up in my office and just got on my knees and lifted my hands up and went, "O God, thank you for Jim. Thank you for a life well lived. Thank you that his nephew said to his father, Jim's brother…"
He said, "Uncle Jim left a good example for me, didn't he?" He goes, "You bet he did." While he was here, this 59-year-old, never-married machinist… He worked at Powell Manufacturing his entire adult life. This blue-collar guy was a blue-ribbon follower of Jesus. He's the reason this place is what it is. A number of your lives have been personally affected by him. I know mine was.
I believe when I get to heaven the Lord is going to look at me and say, "Todd, welcome home, not because of what you did but because of what my Son did, but because I give rewards to faithful farmers and faithful athletes under my administration, you're going to serve this amazing man, Jim Morgan, who took every bit of the gift I gave him and poured it out for me."
I have to tell you something. I'd be humbled to serve Jesus underneath Jim Morgan, and I'd be humbled to serve him under you. My job is not to have you be impressed with my gifts. My job is to impress upon you how God has given you the opportunity to use your time wisely and to live in faithful ways the way my friend Jim did.
When Jim first showed up here, he was sitting in a room in a little membership class. The first guy (I know, because a buddy of mine was there) said, "Hey, I'm a CPA, and this is what I do." Another guy said, "I'm a lawyer. This is what I do." The third guy said, "I'm a doctor. This is what I do." Jim said, "I'm, I'm just, I'm just, I'm just, I'm just a nobody from Rockwall, Rockwall, Texas, who's a somebody because Jesus, Jesus loves me, and I want to honor him," and he did.
This church is full of heroes like that, people who are getting after it because they know our days are fleeting. God has richly blessed us, and for whatever reason, he has moved us into a time and a place where the harvest is plentiful, and what we're trying to do is invite you in to enjoy it with us. God doesn't want you to do anything but walk with him. He doesn't want you to work for him, but as you walk with him you will do his work. If you're not working for him, it's because you're not walking with him.
We just want to love you enough to declare to you and encourage you to get with it. This is a place that's very safe for seekers, folks who come and don't understand the goodness of God and don't understand the glory of God and his desire to honor you. This is a safe place. But you know what? It's not supposed to be a safe place for those who have said they've understood the greatness of God's glory and revelation through Jesus Christ and what he has done to bring fallen men back into relationship with him.
If you're here and you say you know Jesus and you honor him, this is not a safe place just to sit. You're going to be very uncomfortable eventually. The Bible exists for two reasons: to bring comfort to those who are afflicted, like Jim was in 2003, and to afflict those of us who are too comfortable in a misapplication of his grace, who aren't saying, "This is my time."
Church, God has given us so much. By the kindness of God, this last Friday I sat and signed… You asked me and some other guys to serve you in this way, and I signed a piece of paper that will activate tomorrow that's going to give us another 26 acres of land off of I-30 in Fort Worth so our Fort Worth family is not meeting in the Ridglea anymore. We have another battleship that is going to be put to work.
Eighty percent of our friends in Fort Worth responded and did what they should. We're encouraging all of them to keep doing that. Plano and Dallas came around them in a major way to make that purchase possible. You guys need to know something. There is work still to be done. You may not know this, but there are more opportunities for us around here than we have resource availability.
We had the ability to collectively come together and put that battleship online over there, but there's work to be done to make it fit our work. It's not just a piece of land. It has a building on it that needs some help in order to be retrofitted to fit the large group that's going to move into it. What's so great is that buildings are not always something really sexy to give to you. You'd sometimes like to think, "Gosh, I want to just give to this and this and this."
This week at the conference somehow this came up. A guy who's a pastor in East Texas goes, "Hey, wait a minute. My wife and I stream Watermark all the time to get encouragement for our ministry. What's the property you bought over there in Fort Worth? Was it a church?" We go, "Yeah, it was an old Church of Christ. Their ministry has kind of downsized, and they needed to move to a smaller place. We were looking for a place for our home, so we've purchased it from them."
He goes, "My wife told me that in the 1980s she saved pennies and nickels in a Mason jar because that's the church she went to, and she invested in that land and in that building. She is going to be so thrilled to hear that you guys are the steward of it right now." We had a chance to pour into people here this week because so many of you have been faithful to steward into the bricks and mortar in this building that allowed us to facilitate the work of God in the hearts of church leaders like you all over this world.
We have a need to finish the retrofit of the East Tower that, by the grace of God, we're ready to use in amazing ways. Plano has some needs, and Fort Worth, like I said, is waiting. There are more opportunities right now than resources. So would you just keep praying what God wants you to do with what he has already given you toward this amazing opportunity? We have other opportunities. You can go to watermark.org/makingroom if you want to learn more about those.
Pray and only do what would give you great joy to invest during this season where God has moved the fish right here to our coast. Jump in a boat with us. Build boats with us. Serve with us. I'll tell you something else we're going to do. We watch what's going on around here, and we see what's happening in downtown Dallas. We have a number of our members who drive from downtown Dallas and farther south to come, and we believe it's time to consider what God might have us do down there.
If you're interested in helping us start a battleship that would gather in downtown Dallas, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We don't have any desire to put a lot of little Watermarks every place, but we have a great desire to encourage and to increase the big work that God wants to do. As long as it makes sense for them to be partnered with us in Dallas and Fort Worth and Plano, then great. If something else is going to happen, we don't care what name is associated with that, as long as the name is Jesus.
If you want to start to gather with some leaders the way we did with our Plano friends, probably in the Loft, for six months to nine months as we think together how we might serve… We don't want you to go to church in downtown Dallas; we want you to be the church in downtown Dallas, just like we don't want you to go to church on LBJ. We want you to be the church where God has you. If you're interested in that, ping that email. We'll get with you. We'll start to create a little vision with you.
What you need to know is wherever you are… I don't care where you're watching online. This world has a lot of people who are still trying to get letter jackets, lower their golf handicap, and make their biceps bigger and their waist smaller. There's no problem with those things unless they are your god, and they're going to dissatisfy you. This wasteland in which so many people are living… God intends to bring into that wasteland meaning and purpose.
The Scriptures talk about how God wanted to reveal his glory, and he was going to do that by working in earthen vessels, that the glory of Christ would shine through so there would be no confusion about what's happening right here. Do you want to know what's going on at Watermark? There aren't really gifted people around here. There's a God who gives gifts to people and gives them a heart and affection for those who, like them, are living in a wasteland of darkness.
He called us out of that darkness into his marvelous light, that we might proclaim his excellencies. It is God's desire, through Jesus, that the light came into the world, and darkness doesn't always fully comprehend it, but the light is going to win. This is our moment, church, to be part of the light that God brings. There is a crack in the darkness. It's called the church of Jesus Christ, and we want to be it in every way that God intends us to be in this moment.
You might still be living in a wasteland. We're trying to tell you what God is doing in us and through us so you might partake of it. So here comes the narrative through film and through song. God wants to change your wasteland and, having changed it, be a source of grace to those still in it.
All we need to shine is a little crack in our hearts that says, "Apart from you I can't do anything, but, Lord, you have made the surpassing greatness of the power of God known through earthen vessels so there will be no confusion what's going on." We're broken men, just like all of the other sons of Adam and Eve in this city. In this wasteland that is our hearts, racked by sin, there is a restoration, healing, and hope that lives, and it is the truth of the way and the wisdom of God.
We proclaim him, not in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God or deceitful scheming but in just sharing about what God has done in us and through us in this wasteland that was our lives. Now the crack in the darkness that's giving forth light is the church. It's our time to shine, and it's a big deal, because God loves a lot of people who he expects us to serve.
If you're here and you're one of the people God wants to love and you've never understood that love of God, would you just let us interact with you today? As the lights come back on, there are going to be people around you looking to make eye contact with you, saying, "Can I tell you the story of how God brought me out of darkness into light?"
Take them to lunch. Build into them. Love them. Tell them what Jesus has done for you. Stutter your way faithfully through it, but tell them of Christ. Would you come? If you know him, would you go? I'm glad we conferred together, that we may live wisely. Amen, church? Let's have a great week of worship.