2020 Messages

Todd WagnerMar 21, 2020

In This Series (27)
Christmas Eve: God With Us
David LeventhalDec 24, 2020
Elder Update
Kyle ThompsonDec 20, 2020
Three Reminders to Remain a Healthy Church
David LeventhalSep 6, 2020
Leadership Update
Sep 6, 2020
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
Tyler BriggsJun 7, 2020Fort Worth
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
Todd WagnerJun 7, 2020
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Todd WagnerJun 1, 2020
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Todd WagnerMay 24, 2020
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
Todd WagnerApr 26, 2020
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
Todd Wagner, Beau Fournet, David Leventhal, Brian BuchekApr 26, 2020
The Gift of Trials
Tyler BriggsApr 19, 2020
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Todd WagnerApr 12, 2020
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Jeff ParkerApr 10, 2020Plano
Good Friday 2020
David Leventhal, Blake HolmesApr 10, 2020
Todd WagnerMar 21, 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Todd WagnerMar 15, 2020
Weekend Update
Todd WagnerMar 14, 2020
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Todd Wagner, Kyle Kaigler, Brian Buchek, David LeventhalMar 1, 2020Plano
Evening with the Elders
Todd Wagner, Beau Fournet, Brian Buchek, David LeventhalFeb 23, 2020
The Gospel Through Marriage
John McGeeFeb 16, 2020
Our Lens: The Gospel
Harrison RossFeb 16, 2020Plano
Biblical Authenticity
Drew ZeilerFeb 16, 2020Fort Worth
A Biblical View of Marriage
Connor BaxterFeb 16, 2020
Who We Are
Tyler BriggsFeb 9, 2020Fort Worth
The Richness of the Gospel
Jeff Parker, Grant MacQuilkanFeb 9, 2020Plano
Fort Worth Transition Update
Steve AbneyFeb 9, 2020Fort Worth
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
David MarvinFeb 9, 2020

In This Series (31)

Key Takeaways

  • What makes us righteous is not some ordination of service but when we obey Christ by confessing our sins to God and one another.
  • Pray for our healthcare workers!
  • The church is not a place you go to, but rather a group of people. Worship is not what we do Sunday morning…Worship is what we do 24/7.

Memorable Quotes

  • You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent a pestilence… I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall…administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others… If people in a city were to show themselves bold in faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as to not take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die.” — Martin Luther on "Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague”

As we gather this morning, let's be reminded that there are a lot of friends who would love to know about this resource. There are a lot of friends who would love to be encouraged and would love to have the confidence that we, as believers, should have who don't because nobody has ever taken the time to be bold and to share with them.

One of the favorite statements I've heard all week was from my friend Blake Holmes when he said at the very end of a conversation he and I were having, "Wagner, we're not making this up; we are set up. We're set up to do this." I was having a conversation with a gentleman, a friend, Joel Rosenberg, actually, who was going to be with us here in a couple of weeks.

He and I were talking about what we did last fall, how we kind of "war-gamed," if you will, for this moment. We put you out there and just said, "Everybody in your neighborhood needs to know there's a mission outpost right where you are, that when we gather this way in smaller communities to comfort and encourage one another, there might be a day…"

I had no idea there was going to be a virus like this that was coming, but we thought maybe the virus of oppression would one day hit our land, so we wanted the thousands of locations to be ready. We wanted the myriad of neighborhoods we represent in Tarrant County and in Collin County and in Dallas County to know that God's people were present.

They didn't need to go to a place; they just needed to know, by the grace of God, people like you, just to love them and encourage them. He goes, "Todd, I don't know anybody else who did that, especially a church of the size and scope of the ministry of Watermark." So, we're not making this up; we are set up. Again, I want to thank those of you who set us up to have an environment like this that we can gather in and then have resources like this we can broadcast out of.

We are going to continue to do this for the days ahead. Even if "shelter in place" becomes something that is necessary, we are going to continue to do everything we can to provide this social service, to do this educating, to broadcast this news. As long as there's school and social services and news, you're going to find this being provided for you, Lord willing. That is our intention.

It is really great to be with you all. Thank you for letting me have the privilege of joining you, of stepping into your room on iPhones and iPads and Apple TVs, on Roku, Facebook Live, all of the different ways we're trying to make all of these mediums available to you. I just want to take a second and cover some announcements, and then also talk a little bit about what our responsibility is.

Last week, I read a little excerpt from an essay a guy named C.S. Lewis did called "On Living in an Atomic Age," or what it basically means to live with faith in an atomic age. This week, I want you to hear from somebody who lived about 400 years before C.S. Lewis…his name is Martin Luther…who went through a real plague. I'm not saying the coronavirus isn't a real virus. I don't know if I'd call it a plague yet, but it is certainly a pandemic. Let's call it that. That's the word everybody else is using. So I'm going to read to you from Martin Luther.

First of all, though, if you were part of getting ready to be on our livestream, you saw some different slides that rolled, because we want you to know about some things that are coming up. Let me just make sure you hear a few things. Actually, what we're going to do is pitch to you a little commercial. We're going to give you a little live spot that's going to tell you about, I think, one of the most exciting things we're going to do in the days ahead, this thing called Watermark TV. So, if we're ready, we'll just roll a little bit from our show host and producers. Here we go.


Male: Hey, guys. Adam here. Wanted to let you know that next week we are launching Watermark TV.

Male: What?

Male: Yeah. That's what we've been talking about. You're a part of it.

Male: Yes!

[End of video]

Well, there you saw it. Our hard launch is at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night, but I'll give you a little inside information since you're with us this morning. We will be broadcasting at 10:00 in the morning every day, we'll be broadcasting at noon, we'll be broadcasting at 2:00, and we'll be broadcasting at 7:00 with our main stage anchor show.

Here's what's going to happen at 10:00. We're going to have a time of communal prayer where we'll take live requests to pray for you and also just give you some guided prayer. We'll take a moment. We'll say, "Let's pray these things together." So, at 10:00 every morning, we'll be with you for anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to pray for one another and to guide you in prayer for others.

At noon… You may know I've been doing a live devo every day somewhere in that 5- to 10-minute range, and then I've been having some fun answering some questions live. We're calling it Real Truth. Real Quick. Live. – Real Truth. Real Quick. in real time. We're going to continue that. Tomorrow I'll do a little devo, because tomorrow night inside our 7:00 show is when we're going to debut the live Real Truth. Real Quick.

Tomorrow we'll do a devo and maybe just tip our hat to it, but then Tuesday at noon, in earnest, we're going to start Real Truth. Real Quick. Live. Every day you can jump in, and we'll discuss situations about life, leadership, and the world we live in from a biblical perspective, answering the questions you want to send to us. If you go to, you can submit some of those questions in advance, but we'll take them live as well. Almost all of those are filmed very extemporaneously.

I often say here on Sunday morning that what we do every week is a pastors' conference, so at 2:00, John McGee, Adam Tarnow, and I will do our church leaders' podcast live. Actually, there are about 1,400 churches that over the years have reached out to us that we have a relationship with that we try to equip and serve, so we're going to be doing what we can to serve those church staffs and the leaders at their churches, and we want to equip the leaders at our church. So at 2:00, we're going to do a church leaders' podcast live that will equip you with resources that will help you be the leader God wants you to be in that little outpost right where you are.

So, that's at 2:00, and then at 7:00 is where we'll have our anchor desk. There will be some levity and some laughter, but there will be some learning and some equipping and a lot of encouragement. Totally family appropriate at 7:00 every night live. So, that's what we're going to do in the foreseeable future. It's pretty exciting. We have such a gifted team here that has been working hard all week, and we hope you join us at Watermark TV.

The other thing I want to let you know about is a Kids Kit. Today, when I'm done, we will actually direct you to a time where, Dad, Mom, you can be the priest in your home that God always expects you to be. We have put together age-appropriate equipping for children, for 2- to 5-year-olds, for kindergarten through third grade, and for fourth and fifth grade. Let me just show you a slide right now so you can know where that is. We'll come back to this at the end. There it is. If you go to, you will have an opportunity to have that equipping there and ready for you.

Then, lastly, I want to make sure you have all this information, and the way to get this information is through what we call TheCurrent. What a creative little name for our daily communication with one another. If you go to, that's where you can sign up. If you're not already getting those, sign up, and every day you'll get our programming information on Watermark TV, some key reminders. You'll have back links to devos I've done already on that noon time all last week (I hope you've been joining me), just to encourage you with a little bit from God's Word every day.

Okay. That's enough of the announcements. Let me take a second and tell you why this chair is here. In a little bit, my friend David Leventhal, when I'm done with the message on 1 Thessalonians… We're going to dive back into that book, and you're going to see there's a verse in here that's so incredibly relevant today, as all of God's Word always is. We're going to go to 1 Thessalonians in a moment, but then I'm going to show you, with David, how we study God's Word. After the message, we're going to equip you and turn you on to a resource that's going to let you be able to feed yourself. All right, church? It's going to be amazing.

Before we get to the message part, I want to encourage you a little bit with some truth about what's going on in situations like this. If you go back in history, one of the great things to do is to watch the way different folks were confronted with challenges, like we are, throughout their particular lifetime. Martin Luther, who we all know was part of the Reformation…

He wasn't trying to create a denomination. He wasn't trying to start something that tore one part of the church away from another. He was trying to reform the church he was a part of, which is what we are always doing. I want you to know I'm a reformer. The most often prayed prayer for Watermark is this. It's in Psalm 139:23-24.

I pray it for myself, I pray it for our leaders, I pray it for our church, because I don't know what it is right now that we're doing that's not exactly what Jesus wants us to do, but I'm sure there's something, and I'm praying all the time, "God, would you just show me?" Here's the passage in Psalm 139:23-24. I pray this all the time. _ "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." _

We are all individuals who need to be constantly being transformed by the Word of God and reforming ourselves. We need (I know I do) some reformation, because the Bible says God's goal is to conform me into the image of his Son, and I know I'm not there yet. Martin Luther was a Reformer. He wasn't trying to create a schism or a faction in the church; he was trying to make the church what it should be.

A little sidenote. I saw yesterday that the church Martin Luther reformed from, which is the church that was in Rome, what you know as the Roman Catholic Church (it's just usually called Catholic)… The pope just acknowledged, "Hey, we're not able to do what we're telling you you need to do to receive the grace of God, which is priestly confession."

So he announced yesterday that it's okay just to confess your sins to God during this time while there's a plague. You can go to my Twitter account. It's @wordsfromwags. I just made a comment and said, "Hey, to say it another way, you are now able to do what James 5:16 has always called you to do, which is to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another so that you might be healed."

We are all priests. It's the effective prayer of a righteous man that can accomplish much, and what makes us righteous is not some order of service but the ordination that comes from God who, when you confess your sins and ask him to be your Lord and Savior, allows you to be a part of the kingdom of priests that is the church.

So, we confess our sins to God that we might be forgiven, and we confess our sins to one another, the Scripture says, so we can pray for each other and experience the grace and the healing and the touch of restoration. Check my Twitter account, and you'll see a little bit more about that particular comment.

Folks, somebody wisely said a little bit ago that just like that, God made us all homeschoolers, and it looks like just like that, God, as he always intended, made us all priests. So go to your Father much in prayer. Ask him to show us, your servant leaders, and to show each of us what is not his in our lives, that we can repent and we can be conformed into his image. I'm always praying, just like Martin Luther was, for God to reform us, to make us more of the church he wants us to be. We've been praying that for you and your home.

So, Martin Luther was confronted with the bubonic plague. The bubonic plague was a little bit worse…a lot worse, both because of the lack of developed health care system at the day, and a lot of folks had no idea what was going on with the bubonic plague. Just to give you an idea, in 1347, when the bubonic plague hit Europe, over 60 percent of the population died. It was an awful disease. It caused high fevers, and large weeping boils would come on the body.

People didn't really know how it was spread. It turns out, we know it was spread by infected fleas, and then also transmitted through the air, a lot like the coronavirus can be. But I've not heard anybody say the coronavirus is doing what the bubonic plague did, that it creates large weeping boils. By the way, a really interesting thing. It was called the bubonic plague, and that's why later, when you would fall and scrape your knee, they would call it a boo-boo. There's a mark on your body.

It comes from that idea that there was something on your body that shouldn't be there. Thankfully, most of our boo-boos are not the bubonic plague, but that's what Martin Luther was in the middle of. I have this quote. Let me read it to you. This is what a medieval doctor believed: instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escapes from the eyes of the sick man and strikes the healthy person standing near looking at the sick.

They believed just the eyes of a sick person on you would give you the plague, because they didn't understand how it was being transmitted. What was very clear during that day and age was you stayed away from sick people. Now in light of that, there was another pastor in Germany whose name was John Huss. John Huss was also a Reformer in Germany, and he asked Martin Luther, "What should we do?"

Martin Luther actually was commanded by the guy who was his prince, if you will, the elector of Saxony, who loved Martin Luther… He said, "Get out of there. You've got to move." His name was John the Steadfast, and he said, "Martin Luther, don't you be steadfast. Get the heck out of town, because the plague is here." So Huss wrote Luther and asked, "Should we leave?"

I want to read this to you, because I think there's tremendous application here. It's not necessarily wrong to flee death. We see in Scripture when Saul was throwing spears at David, David wasn't wrong to leave the presence of those throwing spears, but that's a little bit different than when we leave people who are suffering. Our doctors take a sacred oath to do all they can to save people.

I hope you're praying for our health care workers. Those doctors and those nurses are working multiple shifts around the world, and we're so grateful for their ministering spirits. I spent some time with our friends at the clinic this week, and they're doing an amazing job of caring for those who are physically suffering. We, likewise, have a sacred calling and have taken a sacred oath, and that is to be the hands and feet of Christ.

While we don't need to welcome death, we don't abandon the hurting. In Matthew 25, Jesus says, "When you care for the least of these, the sick and the naked, those who are imprisoned…" Probably there because of persecution, not just because of crimes they committed, but specifically those who are suffering because an oppressive king has put them in jail because they won't stop preaching the gospel.

He says, "When you go care for them and visit them, you're caring for me." So it is when we care for one another in our sickness, in our distress. I, personally, would not remove myself from an opportunity to care for somebody just because it might hurt me. That's our calling: to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind consider one another as more important than ourselves. Don't merely look out for your own personal interests, church. Have in yourself the same attitude which is in Christ Jesus.

So, here's Luther's response. It was an answer to the question whether one may flee in the midst of a deadly plague. Are you ready? Let me read it to you. This is what he said: "You ought to think this way: Very well, by God's decree the enemy has sent [a pestilence]. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall…administer medicine, and take it [personally]. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others…"

Let me read that again. Church, this is what we should be doing. It's why, as good citizens, we are choosing not to gather in a larger assembly today. The Dallas Morning News asked me to write an op-ed (I think it's online today) about whether or not the church is making a mistake by not assembling together. You won't be surprised when you read it. It's stuff you hear me say all the time.

I tried to equip the city of Dallas and others who are going to read it that the church is not a place you go to; the church has always been a people gathered, and the way you're gathering right now, moms and dads and Community Groups in your home, the church can go to work right where it's at. Worship is not what we do here on Sunday morning. That's worship with a small W. Worship with a capital W is what we do 24/7.

So, I'll tweet out that article, or it's probably behind some pay wall, so I'll put it on Words From Wags and tweet out the link so you can read that article. We'll get that out a little bit later today, but just be reminded. I want to read to you that sentence again, because being a good neighbor and loving others means sometimes we don't go where we're not needed. Let's read that sentence one more time.

"I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others…" Luther continues to write. He then says, "If the people in a city were to show themselves bold in their faith when a neighbor's need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate." Do you see that?

What Luther is saying in his little letter titled "Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague" is we should be bold in faith when a neighbor's need demands, and we should be cautious when no emergency exists. If we would do this, there would be a whole lot less trouble. Then, finally, he says this: "But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as not to take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die."

It's so amazing. In a much worse situation with a much more severe virus, or plague, Luther said, "Don't be panicky, don't desert your neighbors in their plight, and don't be so foolish as to not take precautions and, therefore, aggravate the contagion, because that's going to allow the work of the Devil (which is always to steal, kill, and destroy) to have a heyday." Let's not do that, church.

All right. We'll post that so you can go back and look at it. Isn't it amazing how valuable history is when you go back and look at how wise men, filled with the Spirit, have encouraged and helped others? It's why we're about to study God's Word, because it is informed by the Spirit, and it's going to make us wise.