What have you been entertained by recently? How do you decide what to entertain yourself with? Todd Wagner teaches through 1 Peter 1:13-16, helping us think through the impact our entertainment choices have on our own lives and on others.
Christmas Eve: God With Us
Three Reminders to Remain a Healthy Church
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
The Gift of Trials
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Good Friday 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Evening with the Elders
The Gospel Through Marriage
Our Lens: The Gospel
A Biblical View of Marriage
Who We Are
The Richness of the Gospel
Fort Worth Transition Update
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
What have you been entertained by recently? How do you decide what to entertain yourself with? Todd Wagner teaches through 1 Peter 1:13-16, helping us think through the impact our entertainment choices have on our own lives and on others.
"I can't trifle with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He died to save me from it?” -Charles Spurgeon
"Either be killing sin or sin will be killing you." -John Owen
"If you will not have death unto sin, you shall have sin unto death. There is no alternative. If you do not die to sin, you shall die for sin. If you do not slay sin, sin will slay you." -Charles Spurgeon
Good morning, Watermark family and friends who are watching from other places. This morning, we're going to have a great opportunity in just a moment to join the other pastoral leaders of Watermark (the Bible calls them elders) as we talk about how you, if you're not currently a member of Watermark, can join our church family; how if you have been through the membership classes in the past you can participate in community formation; and we're about to celebrate with you the amazing things God has been doing with this body in caring for the needs in our city.
We're going to spend some time at the very end of my time with you today, which is going to be reduced, because we're going to spend about 20 minutes doing that. We're going to just have a little devotional thought, which won't be, I pray, so little in your life. I'm going to share with you about some areas that I want to grow to excel still more. Next week, we're going to dive into 1 Thessalonians again, where we are being told to excel still more and that we pursue God's will for our lives that is specifically a sanctification.
That got me to thinking about how our sanctification should be always at the forefront of our minds. Last week we studied, with our friend Tyler, James 1:2-5, which talks about how we should endure various trials with a sense of hope, because hope will produce in us, as it says in another part of Scripture, its perfect result in all of our lives. So don't be upset when you experience trials because it leads to endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
The idea in verse 5 is ultimately that Christ in us would make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Well, I have come to the conviction that I can bring about a little bit more discipline into my life so that more of what Christ doesn't want lacking in my life can be produced. Let me explain that to you as we study together. Let me start by praying for you now.
Father, thank you for my friends who are here. My prayer is if there's anybody listening who doesn't yet know that you suffered for them and died for them so you could produce a perfect living hope for us through Jesus Christ that today would be the day they would come to understand that it's sin which leads to death and the curse of sin has led to all the dysfunction that's in this world, the dysfunction that's in our souls that has us chasing after things which are no gods at all and that produce in us a sense of guilt and shame and sadness that lead to despair and suffering that is immense.
I thank you for Christ whose love has not just covered a multitude of sins but will cover our eternal debt to you. I pray if there's anybody listening this morning who doesn't know of your kindness they would be reminded of it in the songs we just sang and in this prayer, that you so loved the world you gave your only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, Jesus, should not perish but have eternal life.
Lord, would you pierce the hearts of the unbelieving and help them see your hatred for sin because of your love for humanity and that you are willing to forgive the sin that is in them and on them and controls them if they'll just put their faith in you. For those of us who have put our faith in you, may we run to you all the more and may you use this time toward that end. In Jesus' name, amen.
One of the things I'd love for you to do is to go and read a little section of Scripture that's before the section we're going to study together this morning. We're going to study 1 Peter 1:13-16, a very short section of Scripture, but I want to say, 1 Peter 1:3-12 talks about the love of Christ and the kindness of what he has done for you and how he has given us a blessed living hope through his work, that if we would just receive it, it would lead to the freedom we all long for.
So, as you go back to study what I'm going to talk about today, spend some time in verses 3-12, because it talks there about the kindness of God and how praises should be given to his name that he saves sinners like us, not according to deeds which we have done in righteousness, it says another place, but according to his mercy; not by our good works but by the washing of the regenerating work of God and the renewing he does through his gracious Spirit's work.
He has left us in a world that's still wracked by sin. He doesn't want our sin to contribute to it. He wants us to be delivered from that sin, and he wants us, as we're going to see in just a second, to not be conformed to the lusts which formerly enslaved us. Then he wraps it up by saying the gospel we're living in is such a mystery that angels and prophets used to wonder about how God was going to accomplish the glory of the story we now know.
If you're a Christian, you know that God loves you, he's not mad at you, he set you free from sin and death through what Jesus has done. Then verse 13 says, _ "Therefore…" _ Therefore, prepare yourselves to be individuals who respond and aren't being distracted by all the craziness in the world. To quote the Scripture exactly, it says, _ "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit…" _ Which means you're clear-thinking.
You know you're not here to trifle with sin and you're not here to find pleasure; you're here to serve Christ. You fix your hope completely on the grace God has given you and brought to you at the revelation in your heart of who Jesus is. Let me just stay with verse 13 for a second. Church, this morning my prayer is that you would be more sober-minded. Your pastor needs to be more sober-minded, more clear-thinking, and understand that there is an Enemy who wants to keep me ineffective now that he is no longer able to keep me enslaved.
Church, we are his ambassadors. We are the means through which others today are going to see the beauty and the goodness of God, and if we keep trifling with sin and being conformed to the former lusts which used to enslave us, we're not going to be who God wants us to be. So, may we keep sober in spirit and may we fix our hope, the Scripture says, completely on the grace that was brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I want to say this to us this morning. Our hope is not that we would be less sinful so God can love us. No, our hope is in the grace of God, and because our hope is in the grace of God and because the grace of God shows us the kindness of God, we want to sin less. We want to move more toward God. Every sin finds at its origin, at the heart of it, this sense that God is not that wonderful and God is not that good. The gospel flies in the face of that. The gospel says God is more wonderful than you can imagine. He rescues you from sin and death.
So, if you know the beauty of that God, verse 14 kicks in. _ "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…" _ When we were like the rest of the world that thought there was no God, there was no goodness, so we just on our own had to find life wherever we could. So we ran around to be entertained by various enticing ideas and practices.
We had to numb ourselves with the delights of this world that brought no satisfaction at all. But no. Verse 15 says you should be like the Holy One who calls you. We should be holy ourselves in all our behavior. And then verse 16, quoting from numerous places in the Old Testament: "It is written: we should be holy as he is holy." We are a chosen race. We're a royal priesthood. We're a holy nation. We're a people for God's own possession.
I want to share with you a little bit about what God has convicted me of this week. I went back and just reminded myself of what I said to you the very first time we had to go to a time of gathering like this. I made mention the fact that the world is slowing down a little bit and that we're going to all have a little bit more time in our homes, so we don't need to ever again use the excuse, "Well, I'd spend more time with Jesus if I had time." We've been given plenty of time. What have we been doing with it?
We've made a lot of choices to entertain ourselves. The word entertain means literally to take hold of something. Entertainment takes hold of you. What have you been entertaining yourself with? I can remember right at the beginning of this thing getting a notification or seeing an advertisement on a website I was on that there was this show coming out called Tiger King. It just so happens that I happen to know some of the people who are involved in the Tiger King series because, years ago, I used a tiger cub as an illustration, and I got it from Joe Exotic.
John Reinke became a bit of a friend for a season as I followed up with him after he brought down Calypso, an 8-week-old white Siberian tiger that I spent some time with and would go back up and visit until it grew to be a 500-pound tiger shipped off to a zoo in Orlando. So I was pretty familiar with what was going on in Wynnewood, although until I saw Tiger King I wasn't familiar at all with what was going on at Wynnewood. I had no idea the level of craziness. I knew it wasn't right, but I didn't know how wrong it was.
So I was really excited to start watching Tiger King, because my kids have been there with me and fed Twinkies to their grizzly bears and watched me play with some of the animals and all that different stuff, but here's the thing. As I started to watch Tiger King with my kids, I realized, "We can't play with this."
The debauchery that was talked about and the way it was celebrated and the way some of it was alluring…not the craziness of it but some of the manipulation of people and the sense of vengeance and even some of the expressions of the perversion that was happening in South Carolina and other places… I just went, "This is not good," and we shut it down as a family.
But there have been other entertainment choices we have made over the time that I know, as a dad, when they were kids there was no way we would have done it. I was talking to a friend, and he was saying, "My high school kids and I were watching some episodes of The Office." I haven't seen a lot of The Office, but I've seen a lot of clips people have shown me and I've watched a few of the shows.
I just know that in that incredible series that is so embraced by so many of us there are a lot of activities that happen in The Office that are not good for our souls and that are enticing. These interoffice affairs and sexual innuendos that are in there are not exactly the kind of content that 1 Peter 1:13-16 should drive us to.
Before The Office there was Friends. Before Friends there was Seinfeld. Before Seinfeld there was Cheers. Before Cheers there was M*A*S*H. This has always been going on. I can remember in the 90s, I would go teach in the mid-cities at a young adults ministry called Metro, and I would get back on a Thursday night. I would stop by a restaurant and grab some food for my wife and I.
We had five kids at the time under 7, so our date nights at the time was I would go and teach, I'd come home, I'd get some food at a restaurant, and then about 10:15 when I would get home, she and I would have a quiet meal with the kids in bed and we would watch Seinfeld on the weeks that she could remember how to put the VHS in and set the timer and get it recorded, which we batted somewhere barely over 50 percent of that happening and worked through that in our marriage.
But I can remember. We both really enjoyed that show, but I will tell you, there's a lot in Seinfeld that was Tiger King-ish. There's a lot in The Office that isn't contributing itself to being holy. There's a lot in Friends that suggests a lifestyle that is not excellent. Look. I am not a legalist, but I am a man who's serious about wanting what Jesus wants for me, and what Jesus wants for me is my sanctification.
What I want to do today is not set a standard for your entertainment based on my perception. I want you to read 1 Peter 1:3-16 and see if your entertainment choices need some sharpening like mine do. Proverbs 14:16 says, _ "A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless." _ I have shared with you before a syllogism that simply says: sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
The destiny God has for us is holiness. What thoughts are your entertainment choices sowing into your life? Some of you have let me know you're really struggling with sin during this season. I mean, the temptation has been overwhelming. I want to encourage you to make war against sin and not invite it into your home and not have your entertainment choices feeding your thoughts.
I know that certain shows like Friends and The Office that are so beloved… There's so much good, awkward humor there that we sometimes justify being able to play with some other things that are a whole lot more destructive in our lives than a lot of times I'm willing to acknowledge. My sons and I were just looking for a good laugh this week, so the idea of Key & Peele, who are two comedians who make little shorts and skits, popped up.
I knew Key & Peele because a long time ago, there was a little short that was passed around that had the two of them acting like they were college athletes during the East-West All-Star game, and there was a really good, well-done introduction with professional announcers and commentators that then threw to these guys, and they acted like they were different players from different universities around the country. They were just making fun of the hilarity of the way moms and dads these days name their children.
Frankly, these guys are both ethnic, they're both black, and they were making fun of names within that community specifically. It was fairly clean fun in that little video, so we started watching Key & Peele videos, and they kind of built on one another. I can even remember there was one… My sons said, "That one is really funny, but it has a word or two in there." My wife left the room, and I go, "Hey, we'll go ahead and watch that one. We can handle those words."
I just thought to myself about that statement. "Hey, let's do it now that somebody is no longer in the room." Actually, my wife walked in the room when this particular one was on, and it was about two guys bragging about the way they handle their wives. It was not the worst thing ever, but I just thought to myself, "I wonder if Jesus was the pastor or the dad in the room if this would be the humor he would think was funny."
Again, I'm not here to be a cosmic killjoy for you today. I'm here to tell you how I want to take seriously the commands of 1 Peter 1:13-16 in how I am taking the admonition of God's will for my life, which is my sanctification, seriously. I just confessed to my wife and to my kids, "I think I can do a better job of helping us not take hold of things that, even though we can handle it, are producing in us a comfortability with things that aren't driving us more toward Christ."
Some of you guys who are really struggling with sin, I'm just going to tell you, a lot of times with addictions things are alive because you're feeding them, and you're feeding them with your entertainment choices and with websites you visit, and it's going to lead to destruction unless we make war against sin and take seriously God's admonition to pursue his holiness for our lives. The Scripture says, "Father, I pray that you'd sanctify them in truth, and your Word is truth."
That's why we're looking at his Word. I'm going to let his Word be your entertainment guide. When we were parents of younger children, we wouldn't watch anything without looking at Kids-In-Mind or Plugged In. We would vet it and go, "Is this going to put into our children's hearts that which is ultimately edifying to them?" I think what we should ask ourselves is whether our Father wants us to put our entertainment choices that we're making this week into our own hearts.
One of the things I have been doing during this season… I've been reading a biography about Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon has this great quote it reminded me of. I didn't read it this particular week, but there were a number of stories about Spurgeon that God used to be helpful to me as I'm trying to be who he wants me to be in his Word. Spurgeon said at one point something like, "Far be it from me that I would ever trifle with the evil that killed my best friend." He said, "I must be holy for his sake." Where did he get that idea? First Peter 1:13-16.
"How can I live in sin when my God died to save me from it?" John Owen says this. He's somebody who lived even earlier than Spurgeon, who Spurgeon pulled some of his thinking from. He said, "We must be killing sin or sin will be killing us." Here's how Spurgeon said it: "If you will not have death unto sin, you shall have sin unto death. There is no alternative. […] If you do not slay sin [in your own life], sin will slay you." Again, I like the really pithy way Owen says it: either be killing sin or sin will be killing you.
I want to let you know that I said to my family this week, "Hey, we're not watching really perverse stuff, but I'm not sure we're watching everything that God, based on his admonition for us, would encourage us to watch if he was the pastor or the priest or the leader present in our home." Hear what I just said? I said it in a conditional way, because sometimes I am sure that I believe God's will for my life is a little too serious, and I just want to reject that. I want to excel still more and be killing sin and making war against sin.
I don't want it to be said, "If he's the priest of our home." I want Christ in me to be the priest of our home. Spurgeon tells a story that I think is really helpful. It's a story that talks about how he chose to no longer sit in the gardens of the casinos in Monte Carlo. Just a couple of fun facts about Charles Spurgeon, who is a man you guys hear me quote a lot, because I try to be spurred on by other great followers of Jesus, and he's one of them.
The brother was 5'6" and kind of a sickly guy. He struggled with gout and other diseases. He died at 57. That's just one year older than me. He was gone. But Spurgeon would winter in the French Riviera. (I'm thinking about adopting that as a practice.) Spurgeon would leave the winters of London and would go for months at a time down to the French Riviera to restore his health and to take some time away and even to write and prepare.
One of the places down there on the French Riviera is a place called Monaco. Inside Monaco are the great casinos of Monte Carlo. I want to share with you a story that I think is going to be helpful, and then we'll wrap it up. Spurgeon used to love to go to those gardens. Casinos make themselves beautiful because they want people to feel comfortable there.
Knowing I was going to talk about this, I went and looked. The Bellagio, one of the most famous casinos in Las Vegas, when it was being built about two decades ago had a budget of six million dollars for flowers alone. The idea of beautiful gardens in casinos, if you will, is not a new idea. The Bellagio spent hundreds of millions on fountains and six million on flowers alone. Spurgeon used to love to go to those flowers.
There's a story that Spurgeon heard a friend of his tell him that he wouldn't go to the gardens. Spurgeon asked, "Why don't you go to the gardens?" and he said, "Well, because I've gotten to know the guy who owns the casino there. His name is Monsieur Blanc, and he asked me if I would come to the gardens.
I go, 'I don't feel comfortable going to your gardens and enjoying the beauty of your gardens if I'm not going to go in and patronize your casinos.' Monsieur Blanc said, 'I don't really care if you come into my casinos or not. Even though you never play, your presence in the gardens would contribute materially to my revenue.' I asked the guy who ran the casino, 'What do you mean? Why would me going to your gardens help the revenue?'
He said, 'Because a great many people who have not the slightest intention of ever patronizing the casino would nevertheless feel quite safe following you into the gardens, and from the gardens they will make the transition to the tables that you yourself may never make but that they won't have the moral strength to not move to themselves.'" After that, Spurgeon quit going to the gardens, because he realized that if he went to the gardens, others would go to the tables.
As a father, I thought this week I could do a better job of not going to the gardens of certain entertainment because my kids may go to tables. Leaders, this is a fact: what you do in moderation others often do in excess. We don't want to use our freedoms in a way that would cause other people to sin. Here's the truth: sometimes the gardens I go to lead me to tables.
I want to close perfectly. Here's the perfect closing: _ "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." _ His glory and his beauty are coming. Purify yourself, therefore, so that when he comes you won't shrink back. Be useful to him in this season in a way that God intends. If you're his, Satan can no longer keep you enslaved to hell, but he can make you ineffective in your stewardship of being an ambassador for Christ.
Let me go back to closing perfectly. _ "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, _ _ 'You shall be holy, for I am holy __ .'" _
You're a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's possession. Let me pray for you, and then I want to celebrate how we want to help you be around others who you can pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with here. I'm going to tell you about some online membership classes and about some ways you have been God's people in loving our city during this season.
Father, thank you for this text and the way it helped me this week once again make more war against sin. I pray for your people, your body, Lord, that they wouldn't hear today that they couldn't do something but they would hear today that they could do something. They could pursue more of your intention for them and excel still more at pursuing holiness in every way you intended so they might be useful to you, their Master, vessels of honor prepared for every good work.
Lord, we love you. We thank you for your grace which covers a multitude of our sins, but may we not trifle with the sin that murdered our Friend. Lord, we want to be killing sin so sin will not be killing us. I pray for anybody who doesn't know that Christ died for their sin, that today they could repent and run toward the grace and goodness of God in a way that would cause you to rejoice; that they would come home and would be set free and that your Spirit would live inside of them so they would then begin pursuing with us the sanctification which is for your glory and our good and will be used in the world to show them the power of God.
We love you and we thank you for a chance to be sharpened, edified, and reminded this morning. Let us be your church. Thank you that we're holy because of what you have done, but let us then follow in your steps. In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, I'm glad you stuck with me as we transitioned over here with my friends. This is Beau Fournet and Brian Buchek and David Leventhal, who are the other senior leaders of Watermark who are serving as the team of pastors God has given us. The Bible uses the word elders. It teaches plurality of leadership, and this is the plurality of leadership God has given us here at Watermark, along with the incredible staff team we have.
I'm the only one of these four who has the privilege right now of being missionally cared for in terms of provision for my family by the generosity of this body, and myself and the entire staff team and the other leaders of this church thank you for continuing to invest with us in this mission.
What we thought we would do is tell you how you can be a part of this mission, remind you what to do if you are a part of this mission, and explain to you why membership matters so much, and, to really encourage you, what the mission is accomplishing, what the body of Christ is doing and has been doing since we've not been able to assemble together. I think you're going to be really encouraged.
We felt like this was worth our time today to share with you all the incredible good work that continues to happen that's furthering the name of Jesus Christ. So, with that, I'm going to just say we have continued to meet together multiple times a week, sometimes physically and a lot online through video chats and looking at each other a lot in two-dimensional ways, but we have been together a lot as well in person, and we're glad to be with you today through this medium.
I know how much my heart continues to need to be shepherded, and it has been. It has been refined. These brothers loved me this week, just reminding me, "Hey, Todd, it sounded like the way you just responded there was negatively interpreting or defensive and not clothed in the humility that we know we want to see and you want to see your life marked by."
You're probably a lot like me. You need friends, and this is why membership matters. My friends make me more of who Jesus wants me to be. So, to let you know what to do if you're not a member and want to be or how to figure out about your membership status, I pitch it to you, Brian.
Brian Buchek: Well, we care a lot about membership here at Watermark because Jesus did. Jesus cares about the local church. He built it. He established it and is building it through the local church today. So membership matters because it's God's provision for every single believer in the body of Christ. We are members of the global body of Christ, but he calls us to be members of a local church where local leaders can help shepherd you and teach you.
Certainly, in times like this we see the need even greater, and it's really exposing those folks who maybe have just been regular attenders for a while or maybe let their membership lapse or maybe have just turned a blind eye to ever being a member of a local church. Right now, in probably this new normal of being more isolated than typical, you may be feeling, "Wow! I need people around me. I need some support."
The local church and local church leadership is there to help you in that. We have here at Watermark community shepherds who are the first line of contact for every single member in community. These community shepherds are there to make sure we are being and making disciples and just helping make sure we're living out the "one anothers" of Scripture that Christ calls us to in the local church.
For those folks who are listening online every week but aren't connected to a local body, we want to invite you. If you're within driving distance of a Watermark campus…Fort Worth or Frisco or Plano or Dallas…where you feel like you could invite your neighbors and they would come with you, then we want to invite you to come be a part of online community formation here, which is found at watermark.org/membership. You can go and find information about membership there and what it takes to take those next steps in membership.
Todd: One of the things we want to make really clear… Brian said it. I'm going to repeat it for the purpose of clarification. One of the things we love about this particular season is that when you invite people to come right now to gather to be equipped and be encouraged, you can invite people from literally all over the world, because they have to jump online somewhere.
We love the way literally thousands of you have been inviting tens of thousands of other people to join us in a way they normally can't because of distance, but when we talk about membership, we're going to be very specific about the people we think should look to join the membership of this local body. If you're watching from Ohio or upstate Washington or overseas, as some of you are, we're not encouraging you to become a member of Watermark Community Church locally.
Brian said this. I'm just repeating it because it's good to hear again. Unless the people you're going to minister to on any given day in your neighborhood, to say, "Hey, would you come gather with me to be equipped and encouraged…" Unless they would drive with you to this campus. You might go, "I think I can influence my friends who are 45 minutes away on a Sunday to drive there." That's on you, but we really want you to be connected to a body locally where you are.
So, if you go to watermark.org/membership, there are a couple of things that are going to be there. If you're close, that's where you go to start the process. You might even go there if you're not close to find out how to choose a church that is close to you. There's actually a resource there on that page about why membership matters and how to choose a church. So you can check that out. You might also go, "I've been to a membership class already, but for some reason I don't know if I'm a member." We have something for you. Beau, what's that site?
Beau Fournet: It's watermark.org/membershipstatus. So, if you want to look and see if you have gone through the membership class, if you have signed the membership covenant, if you have identified a place where you could serve, and if you have jumped in with a Community Group, you could go there and figure that out.
For Community Groups and membership classes, we're trying to figure out how to do that online, so we are launching right now online membership classes and online community formation. Once again, the community formation is the last step in being a member of this local church. We have people who have raised their hands who are ready to come alongside you and other new members to help you get plugged in to a Community Group within this local church.
Todd: So, just keeping this thing in a logical sequence… If you're not sure if you're a member at Watermark, you can go to watermark.org/membershipstatus. If you know you haven't done anything and you want to begin that process (and we're so encouraged more than ever some folks have determined that need), go to watermark.org/membership. There you find out first steps for you, and there you find out why this matters and, if you're not close to us, how you can choose a church that is close to you.
Now, one of the things that some of you will find is "Hey, the thing I need to have my membership status be completed is Community Group," and that's when you go to watermark.org/formation. That's for people who have been to the class and now just need community. So we're going to do that online. Community Group formation is happening now online, and that's where you're going to get that.
David, let's hear from you for a second. During this time, we have heard from people who are like, "Dang it! We've heard you guys say again and again how much membership matters, and I'm experiencing it right now. I'm not a member, and I'm hurting."
David Leventhal: Yeah. I've had over the years on more than one occasion but recently one occasion where a family we know said, "Hey, we're in a bit of a bind, like a lot of folks are, and our membership has lapsed. What do we do?" It reminded me to remind you guys that we are not counting heads here. We're not concerned about how many members are at Watermark. We're concerned that the body of Christ is cared for, and when the wheels come flying off, which they do inevitably at some point in our lives, like they have recently…
The body of Christ is the safety net God has given us to care for one another when things get hard. Many folks have found themselves without the safety net God so desperately desires they have, and it's tragic. Fortunately, this isn't the ark. The door is not closed and judgment is coming. We have opportunities for you guys to jump into membership, to get plugged back in so you can begin to be cared for and loved and exhorted in the midst of this crisis.
Todd: One of the things we want to do is talk about, "Hey, I am a member and I am in crisis." What are some of the ways we are caring for people during this season? Beau, why don't you lead us on that a little bit.
Beau: Charis is a ministry we have had since the beginning of the church, which is consistent with caring for those in our local body who have a need, which is why we have said for years that our members will not be without food, shelter, and clothing. A fully devoted follower of Christ who's part of our body will not be. So we've been going through Charis. Obviously, we're preparing for a large increase in number of people who have needs.
We shared with our body about a month ago that if they wanted to give financially toward that specifically they could give to our disaster relief fund, and we provided an opportunity to be able to do that on all of our giving opportunity pages to make sure we could do that, and then the leadership team that leads in Charis has been training all of our community shepherds to make sure they can come alongside a Community Group leader in a Community Group to help them.
Now, as always, the first step is to make sure we fully understand what's going on, so we call people to be transparent and authentic as they have a need and for that local Community Group to come alongside them, and then broadly, the entire community of Watermark will jump in and help if the needs cannot be met within that Community Group.
So, Charis is there, and if you want to get involved with that, just reach out to your Community Group shepherd, and they'll provide the application as well as good materials to help facilitate that discussion. Now, in addition to that, we also know there are other needs. In addition to financial needs, it could be, "We have a member who needs somebody to come and help out with lawn care or fixing something that broke," where they could otherwise get somebody to come out and do that.
So we've put together another website called watermark.org/memberneeds, and there we have opportunities for Community Groups to come alongside Community Groups or members alongside members and be the hands and feet of Christ in serving people. We're making sure we vet those to make sure we are helping and not hurting as we jump in and serve one another.
Todd: Yeah. This is an exciting opportunity to unleash something we've been working on for a long time. So many of you want to be the first responder to some needs. It doesn't even need to make it through the formal process that Charis… Charis, by the way, is where we get the English word charity. It's the Greek word for grace. We all need grace. That's why we go to our God, our Father, and it's why we're an expression of it to one another.
Charis meets the larger needs, more sustained needs, but as Beau said, sometimes… "Hey, nobody in our Community Group can get out" or "We're all working. We have small children. Can somebody run some errands for us?" and maybe even more complicated needs. We're going to begin to have a form for members only, and it's watermark.org/memberneeds.
You can submit ideas there. You can say, "Hey, I would like to meet that need with my Community Group." Now listen. The very first thing you have to know is you're not going to be able to put something on that website without your community going, "Yeah, we can't meet that. Let's put that there collectively so other communities can come around you and care for you in that specific way."
Beau: I'll say one thing, Todd, just to make sure everybody can celebrate as we've had the opportunity to celebrate. As we've given people the opportunity to jump in and contribute specifically to the Charis funding, $200,000 has been given by members of our body in the last three or four weeks to make sure we are caring for one another. Way to go. I hope everybody is encouraged by the way that rather than fear causing us to hunker down and worry about what we don't know about tomorrow, people are saying, "What can I do today, because God has provided today for me to be able to love and serve people?"
Todd: Yeah. It's really awesome. I'll say one more thing. If you're not signed up for the Click & Pray for our prayer ministry, the daily Family Prayer, please do that. Here's why. There's an example this week. There was one last week that was amazing. Folks weren't just praying for people. The way God answers prayer a lot of times is through you and through me and through us. I'll give you an example.
A sweet member of our body said, "I'm really struggling during this time with a sin struggle." Hers happened to be an eating disorder. One of the responses we got right away was, "Hey, I'm here. I'm recovering from an eating disorder. As I pray for my sister, can I also get in touch with her? Because I know how much it helped me to have somebody specifically who could relate to my struggle in that way."
So even our Family Prayer (watermark.org./prayer), as you receive those emails and you pray, you can raise your hand, get ahold of us, and go, "I'd like to follow up with that prayer request." We've seen that happen with physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs. Prayer is something that should move us to activity and not just to pray.
All right, guys. We've covered a lot. One of the things we really want to do and celebrate right now is not only has a lot of money been given to the opportunity to serve others; there has been over a half million dollars in the last couple of weeks of us activating through our ministry partners and through well-vetted giving opportunities. People want to help in significant ways.
We have a team that is vetting the best ways to serve our city and strategic partners that are set up to help folks who don't have the body that we do. Let's just pass it down the line and share a couple of the ways that you, the church of Jesus Christ, have been at work meeting the felt needs that our mayor has asked for, our city has asked for, and the people of our city have asked for. So take a shot, Beau.
Beau: Obviously, we've heard about how some of the challenges, particularly around economic means, can make it very difficult in this time. At the same time that there are economic challenges broadly, some of the opportunities with our ministry partners to meet needs have never been greater.
Brother Bill's Helping Hand and OurCalling and Cornerstone Baptist Church down in South Dallas are long-term ministry partners of ours that we've been serving with. We were able to give at least $100,000 to each of those ministries just in the last couple of weeks and are continuing to find opportunities to be able to help one another with that. So I'd be praying for them. Just jump in with us.
We're going to continue to jump in and invest with those people, and that's not the only way we're doing it. Obviously, there's a chance to jump in with ministry. We have to recognize that each of us has a ministry. We've had a lot of encouraging stories about how people are using their businesses to use that freed-up time, for some organizations, to really jump in and help with people. I'm happy to share those stories or if one of you has a story…
Brian: I've been so excited and encouraged by our External Focus Team, like Todd talked about, just the way we have, over 20 years, been building great relationships all across our city so we can serve our city in more effective ways. When this hit four or five weeks ago, we didn't have to go find and vet new partners. We already have great partners, and we are certainly looking and trying to build new ones where needed. I've just been so thankful for our team that has for years been so faithful in this area.
One thing I saw come across recently that I was encouraged by… We have a member of Watermark Plano who, through being a part of the SMU innovation center as a professor down there, built face shields with 3D printers that they then distributed to our Watermark health clinics just to protect our team there that's serving so faithfully during this crisis, and then also handing those out to other local medical centers and hospitals. There are things like that that members of our body have been so intentional about.
David: We have a lawyer in our body, and he has diverted some of the resources of his firms (they're a little bit less busy right now) to set up a part of his organization to specifically help other believers who own small businesses with things like eviction notices, "Hey, we're running behind on our payments." That's the way he's using his expertise, his love for Jesus, to serve the broader body.
Todd: And we have individuals in our body who own businesses, and they've repurposed some of their businesses and manufacturing opportunities to create some personal protection equipment to help individuals. Also, he went out of his way when he was able, by the grace of God, to care for his people and keep them employed to not just send them a paycheck this month but a devotional and encouragement during this time to let them know why he's adapting the business the way he is and what his commitment is to care for his people financially, physically, and spiritually.
I want you to hear, the church is at work. As we like to say, the work of the church is the church at work, where most of you are going every day, sometimes virtually. By the way, we're not just giving financially in hundreds of thousands of dollars to Brother Bill's and OurCalling and Cornerstone, but so many of you guys are facilitating and leading ministries online. You're discipling and encouraging those staffs at those ministries online with daily devotionals.
So I just want to tell you: way to go. One of the things I don't like about the size of Watermark is we don't even hear all of the great stories. One of the things you want to do is make sure you're having fun with us by tuning in to our very own little "Some Good News" that we've been doing. John Krasinski is not the only one who can call celebrity friends and celebrate little pockets of goodness.
There are mountains of goodness that are happening from you, and we're trying to share some of that with you right now, and then also in fun little ways on Sunday nights with Adam and David at Watermark Live, or Watermark News is what we do at 7:00 tonight. So tune in, and you'll see videos of members of our body who are doing innovative and creative things during this time. Anything else we want to touch on?
Beau: One thing you said and one thing Brian said reminded me… One is Watermark Health and how people can jump in there, and maybe what we are trying to figure out what to do next there, and then you mentioned people getting equipped and the chance we have for members to get equipped. One thing at Watermark Health… We sent out in Tuesday's Current this week an opportunity for people who said, "I want to come alongside the clinics we have and provide for tangible needs to serve people in our city."
If you didn't get the Current, obviously we'd encourage you to sign up for the Current, and if not, if you go to watermarkhealth.org, there's information there if you want to jump in. There's a wish list we put together for the clinic to give people the privilege of jumping in with them. So do that. And then we've been, talking about working with experts in the field, working with some people over at Envision, one of our partners, to do things.
Todd: Just so you know, we are in the middle of putting together a mobile clinic that can move outside of our Plano clinic and outside of our Dallas clinic into other areas of the city where there's felt need, but while we're doing that… Again, there are tremendous opportunities to invest in that ministry with us.
One of the people that have invested with us from the very beginning is Envision Healthcare. We're doing a public-private partnership with them to do on-site testing here at Watermark that people can sign up for and come and get tests, because one of the great needs we're going to have going forward is people are going to need to be tested to make sure they're not, I guess, carrying the disease and can potentially give it to others so they can work in areas where some at-risk people are.
We're also, through this public-private partnership, going to have an opportunity for folks to get tested who don't have the ability to pay for that with their normal insurance providers. So, that's going to start this week here at Watermark, and information about that I'm sure will be in the Current on Tuesday. Again, that's watermark.org/current to sign up for that.
There have been a ton of websites we've thrown at you today. We'll put a summary of that every day. There are sermon notes that will go out, and all of these will be listed in those sermon notes. If you just go to watermark.org and look for it, you're going to find all of these things reviewed for you.
Man, we're really encouraged and very grateful for the way you are being the mission and the way you're investing in the mission. If you're not able to be a member here, we'll still build into you. If you go to watermark.org/equippingcourses, there's a link for you to say, "I'm not a member. I'm not in community. I'm somewhere else, but I want to learn through all of these amazing resources you have."
We'll let you sign up and get in the queue, where we can put you together with other people and then put you through a facilitated time of equipping until you can find a local church in your area. Otherwise, don't miss the blessing of friendship that we pursue in community and in service together, and know that we love you. Anybody else?
Brian: I was just going to say, to tack on to what Todd was saying, just the need to continue to remind one another of what's true, because the reality is this is unprecedented, and it's hard, and we know there are members in our body who are really hurting and struggling. We're human, so we feel emotions. We can feel fear.
All throughout God's Word, he tells us what to do with that human emotion. He tells us to run to him. Psalm 71:3 is one spot where I've been reminding myself constantly, daily. _ "Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come…" _ And he is that. David is going to share with us along those lines, just encourage us.
David: Earlier this week, I spent some time in Psalm 21, and I was so encouraged. Honestly, as we've mentioned before, we get all the First Impressions. As I read this week's First Impressions, people responding online after our weekend service, I was reminded again that there are a lot of folks on this stage and there are a lot of folks in our body who are going through really difficult seasons. I mean, really hard stuff.
As I read Psalm 21… I want to read to you the first couple of verses and just remind you, as Buchek said, of what we know to be true. This is a psalm of David. This is also a messianic psalm. This is one of the psalms that points us to Jesus. It says:
_ "O _ _ Lord , in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart's desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the _ _ Lord , and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved." _
When I got to verse 6 and it says, _ "…you make him glad with the joy of your presence." _ It reminded me that this is not just about King David; this is about our Messiah, and the thing that brought Jesus joy when he walked on this earth… He wasn't just a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, as Isaiah says he was. He was a man of joy, and he found his joy through the Father. It says it was the Father's strength that allowed Jesus to rejoice. It was the Father's salvation that allowed him to exult.
I just wanted to remind you guys that what Jesus experienced when he walked on this earth, this broken earth where he was betrayed, is the same thing he has allowed us to experience today, which is we can walk through the midst of this cracked, dry earth, the famine that may feel like it's overwhelming you, and we can find our joy and our gladness and our hope and our salvation and our confidence in Jesus, because he has done for us that thing we could not do for ourselves.
He has reconciled us to God, and God is not mad at you. Let me just remind you, the ark is not closed, but there will be a day when the door of the ark is shut forever. So I just wanted to encourage you guys that it was the joy that was set before Jesus that allowed him to go to the cross (Philippians 2). Now he serves as our mediator. Right now, Jesus is serving as a mediator for us in the midst of this storm.
So, whatever you're going through…job loss, health issues, just fear and anxiety over the amount of unknowns, emotional fatigue from all the nonsense coming out of the media…Jesus is your mediator. He's going before the Father on your behalf to give you strength. He has given you his Spirit. Ephesians 1 says it's a guarantee that he is coming back to get us. This world is not our home.
Guys, this is a hard season, and we are praying for you weekly. We are so encouraged the way you have been holding each other up, and we want you to excel still more. If you need anything, we're trying to give you a lot of opportunities to let us know "I need help." We love you, guys.
Todd: It's pretty obvious to see the heart of the men who are leading you here. I want to thank our incredible staff team who have worked behind the scenes, and I want to thank you for giving to this ministry so we can have the technology to communicate to you this way, the men who can program and can set up all this stuff behind the work, and the incredible team that makes sure that when you want to get in a Community Group we can form it online; that if you want to see your group improved, we can improve it this way; if you want to be equipped, we can equip you this way; and that we can invest wisely together, and on and on and on.
I'm humbled by this staff team, I'm humbled by the body that makes it possible, I'm humbled by the Messiah who meets our needs, and I'm humbled by the body of Christ that is his hands and feet today. We love you. One of the things we're doing together is writing some songs, and there's going to be a new song we've written that my friend Jon and the rest of the team are going to sing. I hope you enjoy it.
All of these resources will be tagged on at the end. We'll put some slides up at the end of this song just to review all this stuff and all of the websites that are there for you to help you. We love you. We're going to be back in 1 Thessalonians next week. I can't wait to dive in there together.
God bless you, church. Enjoy the song, and have a great week of worship.