Wagner Email Bag: What Is Belief?


I came across an interesting email interaction I had with a Watermark member that I thought might be instructive/informative to more folks.  Take a look at this question, see how you would reply, and then search Scripture with me to see what a biblical response would be.  Would love to see your thoughts/comments!

From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 1:43 PM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Question for Todd


I called to see if I could talk to you a little about this, but discovered that you were in a meeting that goes for a long time; so I’m sending my question via email……..

A good question has come up that we are discussing in Community, and I’d really like to get your input. The question is whether or not it’s good enough to confess that Christ is the son of God, that He died for our sins, and the confession of our sins for us to get to heaven……..going to John 5:24 and many many other verses where hearing the word, and believing gives eternal life. We also have several places like Matt 7:21-23 which says that it just isn’t that simple. John 3:18-21 seems to take that middle ground of describing what “belief” is by telling us that whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…….therefore adding that its more than just confession, but living by the truth…………..so I think that it all falls on the definition of “belief”, and what that means………so if you don’t mind imparting your thoughts on this subject, many of us would appreciate your insight.

Thanks again.


From: pastoraloffice [mailto:pastoraloffice@watermark.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:40 AM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Cc: Jeff Kramer
Subject: RE: Question for Todd

Clay…great question, and I’m glad this is something you are discussing in the context of community/searching Scripture on with others.  That is typically the best way that I learn, and I’m encouraged that your group is challenging each other in this way.

To answer your question, I do think it comes down to how you define the word “believe”. Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,resulting in salvation.”  I think we can go through life with an intellectual understanding of the Gospel, but not allowing it to transfer to heart knowledge/infuse the core of our being.  That kind of belief changes you and re-centers your life.

Faith in something isn’t a feeling, but something to be put into action.  I often like to say that we are “saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone”, something I think I ripped off Martin Luther’s friend friend Melanchthon that he surmised from the Pastoral Epistles. You can check out this video that I helped our friends at Igniter Media put together…it more addresses the question of being saved by grace or works, but it is still applicable to your question of what qualifies that belief:


Below are also some links to messages where I’ve taught on this before.  It would be great if you could go back and listen to these as well:



Hope that helps.  Keep throwing those thoughts around in your group…I’ve CC’d Jeff Kramer here, who is the point person on staff for your community group so he can throw in and be of any help that he needs to…I know he’d love to join the discussion!

Todd Wagner| pastoraloffice@watermark.org




Wagner Email Bag: How Should We Vote?

More to come on this later, but for now I wanted to post a question I got from a Watermark member asking about voting for candidates with a different worldview/faith system than evangelicals.  Check out the following exchange and the links that accompany it.  Hope you get to listen to them with my friend…and remember, our hope is never in who we vote for but ONLY in WHO we follow.  That being said…I not only HOPE you vote, but would commend you to Scripture that commands us to actively participate in our society as salt and light.  Salt and light ought to show up everywhere it can, and that includes the voting booth where we get to speak into the kind of leaders we want to set the course, or correct the course of our land.

Jump in.

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 7:46 PM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Question


Sorry to bug you with a random question about politics. Our community group was having a discussion about whether or not it was ok to throw your support behind a candidate, running for office, whom is not a believer. The focus was on Mitt Romney who I believe is Mormon?

Every year since I have turned eighteen I have voted, and have even convinced others to vote. I am convinced that not voting is a vote. As Christ followers would it be wrong for us to vote for a candidate who does not believe in our God?

Thank you so much for your time,

Xxxxx Xxxxxx

From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2012 10:14 AM
To: Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Subject: RE: Question

Xxxxx…love your passion to elect Godly men and women into our country’s leadership positions.  I have actually spoken about this topic several times at Watermark, and I think you would love going back and listening to those messages…they should answer your question and continually be informative on what Scripture has to say about these issues.

I’ve included some links below…I would listen in the order I have linked them.  Hope these are helpful!






Todd Wagner| pastoraloffice@watermark.org




Remembering my friend Chuck Colson

If it is true that a man’s success will be determined by his successor(s) I believe the greatest days of Chuck’s life lie ahead of him…this is true not just because he is enjoying the presence of His Savior and the unquestionable delight Jesus greeted his redeemed and faithful servant with; no, though the heavenly reward and affirmation are eternally enough, I speak of Chuck’s continued impact on the temporal when I speak of his greatest days being ahead of him. This is because few men took Paul’s admonition in 2 Timothy 2:2 as seriously and fully as Chuck did. He poured himself constantly into others. He was continually on the look out for individuals whom he could inspire, encourage, help, develop, unleash and celebrate. He was a giant intellect and yet always gentle and willing to get out of the way so he might allow others to grow and be used. He was courageous but never in a way that made others feel like they could not fight significantly along side of him. He was a man of vision, warning all of us of the consequences of eroding the ethic that sustains and strengthens us long before it was relevant to do so. He was gracious, having received the unmerited favor of Christ he was unwavering in his offer of it to others. I pray that I am the faithful man who entrusts to others what Chuck has faithfully poured into me. I pray that I imitate Christ as Chuck did. I pray that I give myself away as Chuck did, as Christ did, as the Father bids me to do. Thank you Chuck, for leading us, loving us and living for others. May I imitate you as you have imitated Christ.

Wagner Email Bag: Faith and Prayer


I had another great email exchange recently that I wanted to share with you all. Hope this is a source of encouragement and training for us all as we seek to commune with God as we “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16)!

From: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:53 AM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: faith and prayer

Today’s Journey wrapped around “And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” ” (Mark 11:22-23)

Matthew 18:18, 19 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, IT SHALL BE DONE for them by My Father who is in heaven.

So my question is this…I have NO problem whatsoever believing that God CAN do anything! Anything. What I struggle with is can we believe He WILL do anything? I mean, according to scripture, it seems that we can believe that He will. But, what about the person for whom we stood in faith that God would heal their cancer this side of heaven and died anyway. Was that because I doubted? Or was it just part of God’s plan? I trust Him for His plan. I may not like. I may pitch a fit at first, but my heart comes around to knowing how great His love is. He is sovereign. I trust Him wholeheartedly, even though I may be caught off guard at first and lose my balance.

Do these verses literally mean that I can pray and believe that another’s heart WILL be changed to line up with God’s Word? Proverbs 21:1 says, ‘The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord. He turns it wherever He will.”

If I’m not seeing results, is it because of doubt? God says He is not a liar and that His Word will not return void. I don’t believe that it is idealistic to think that it is that simple. Its either Truth or its not. I have to remind myself that what I see with my mortal eye isn’t always as it appears. Maybe, the other factor is that it isn’t His timing. Truth be told, I may never see the answer to my prayer this side of heaven. But that doesn’t mean the ‘WILL” didn’t happen. Then my mind goes back to the example ‘what about the person for whom we prayed healing this side of heaven and it didn’t happen? Is it because I doubted? Then, the big question becomes how do I change the doubt?

What is your input?


From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 5:02 PM
To: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Subject: RE: faith and prayer

Xxxx…great questions about prayer.  For starters, I’d love for you to check out a series I did several years ago here called Vacate…the link is below, and I think it will be helpful.  Also linked below is a message in an apologetics series I did, responding to critics who ask the question, “Why should I waste my time praying when God knows what He’s going to do already?”



You are correct in saying that God CAN do anything.  And He loves His people enough to listen to our hearts/requests/want to spend time with us in prayer.  But His sovereign plan to glorify Himself is of His utmost concern as that is in everyone’s best interest…to know and understand who this God is that we are praying to.

If you feel that you aren’t seeing “results”, I would challenge you with two things: 1) to change your focus of prayer from results to communion with God; 2) remember that, as you have referenced, God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8) and there are always multiple reasons that He may not choose to honor requests that we present to Him.  Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) but it is not a force which obligates Him.  He is sovereign, good and wise.  I love this statement by Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Keep at it…would love to see you processing my response/the messages & Scripture above with your community group and see what they think/how they can continue to encourage you as well in this area.

I look forward to hearing how the messages and the conversation with your community helped you!


Psalm 46:10,

Todd Wagner| pastoraloffice@watermark.org

A Few Good Men: Confusion, crisis and the confidence to meet the challenge

Many of you have asked for some  content from week one of “A Few Good Men” so I wanted to get it in front of you asap.  My hope is that you would use it to encourage others who need to know of God’s good intention for MEN.  If you could not make our time together yesterday here is the link for you to catch it.  http://www.watermark.org/media/series/251/

A number of you specifically asked about the ‘battlefield story’ I used.  It was a powerful image to me when I read it and it was clear that it resonated with hundreds of you yesterday.  I pulled much of it from this link http://www.unearthedpictures.org/blog/fornicating-on-the-battlefield/

At the end I broadened it beyond Tony’s focus on pornography and added the following.

Meanwhile your kids are alone and wondering where their hero is.  Your wife is numb from the betrayal of your broken promises and endless affairs with your job, your iphone, your career, your alma mater , your xbox or your fantasy football league.  Your soul is empty.  Your sadness is growing.  You can taste your despair.  The only thing that keeps you going is the circle of other weak men you call friends or the isolation that allows you to convince yourself it really isn’t that bad, others are doing worse or your family is happy because of the way you provide for them.  But inside you are dying, wondering how you became so weak…so defeated…so pitiful. 

You were created for glory.  You are the son of a King but the Kingdom is so far from where you live the pigs that are your neighbors look more like brothers than swine that you are to rule over.  It doesn’t have to be this way…but you have to have the courage to acknowledge that you have left home.  You have to accept the fact that you have abandoned your throne.  The queen is lonely.  The young prince in your home is without a noble example. The princesses given to you are vulnerable to liars that pose as lovers.  You have to confess that you have left your King…and that the one you now serve is stealing your joy, killing your hope and destroying your life. 

You have to love the truth more than you fell the pain. You have to be strong.  It is time to grow up.  Time to be a man. 

Praying for you now…that you gird up your loins with the belt of truth and protect your heart with the breastplate of righteousness so you can lead and protect others.  Love to know your thoughts on week one if you were there or if you give it a listen and join me in praying for all the men that will join us for the next 4 weeks.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13–14

 For those who don’t want to hit the link above..below is the portion I read from the unearthed site.

Fornicating on the Battlefield by Tony Anderson

When I ask men about their sexual behavior, most guys are surprisingly honest when anonymity is a factor. We’ve spoken about porn, oral sex, prostitution, lust, marriage, thoughts, immorality, intimacy, desires, homosexuality, masturbation, sexual abuse, incest, greed, and idolatry. I’ve eaten meals with pastors, executives, bankers, doctors, religious people, church planters, frat guys, students, entrepreneurs, traffickers, and average guys that work 40 hours a week and stay relatively pure.

Most of us had absent fathers. 1 in 5 of us were sexually abused. Every one of us has learned the art of concealing sin. Around 80% of men in the church are currently using pornography. Some of us don’t need a girlfriend because we’re in full-fledged relationship with our hand or laptop. And some of us know the feeling of cold emptiness after leaving a strip club or a brothel. Some of you men know what it’s like to go to sleep next to an empty shell of a woman that used to be your wife because your infatuation with photoshopped women has extinguished the intimacy. You’re no longer lovers, you’re roommates with children. Some of you are fathers that see your sexual sin manifested in your children, but you’re too fearful to expose it in your own life regardless of the damage its doing to your marriage and family. “What if coming out with this stuff makes things worse?” is the only question you’ve thought of.

I know where you’re at. I know what you’re thinking. And I know the lies you’re deceived by. I’ve been where some of you are.

A good friend of mine has battled sexual addiction all of his life. He’s a graduate of Bible college and is part of a healthy church. He’s got a lovingly invasive community and has had numerous Godly mentors pushing him towards Jesus for the last 7 years, but he still uses pornography every chance he gets—disabling the X3 watch on his phone and computer. If he’s alone for longer than 30 minutes with an internet connection, he begins searching for filth. He still habitually masturbates. He lies about his sin. He conceals his secrets. He manipulates Christian women into sinning with him, then he lies about that. He exemplifies the epitome of selfishness and a lack of self control.

But he also calls Jesus his Lord…Are you that guy? It’s sometimes an anomaly to me when men can be sexually enslaved while following Jesus, yet that’s what the overwhelming majority of them tend to be living. Can the two coexist? Are they diametrically opposed? Isn’t one the antithesis of the other?

I’m not going to quote your favorite authors or offer free accountability software. I don’t have a PDF to read or an invitation to a men’s conference. You’ve probably already tried those things. You’ve read books and made countless commitments, which you’ve broken. You’ve tried accountability. You’ve gone through a “freedom season.” You’ve confessed your sin. You’ve been rebuked. You’ve disconnected the internet. You’ve been kicked out of the house. You’ve destroyed the computer. You’ve memorized the Word of God. You’ve pleaded with Jesus to remove the thorn in your flesh. You’ve shouted, screamed, and wept. You’ve tried everything and you’re still shackled.

Just imagine for a moment that this is reality: You’re on a battlefield. It’s dark. Chaotic. Cold wind is whipping your face. The stench of death fills the air. Corpses of demons lie all around you and the field is soaked in blood. You can hear the sounds of armor and weapons colliding while sparks are flying. Screams pierce your ears.

You see chiseled, powerful beings radiating in white and they’re destroying shadows, gripping the throats of principalities and slitting them with iridescent blades. But you’re without armor. You wonder how you got to this place and why you came unprepared.

“ Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

Men that you recognize are rushing the opposite direction—spears aligned, ready to throw. Swords sharpened, shields fixed, helmets lowered they’re ready for battle. They’re calling for you to join them. They’re rushing for the front lines—they’re unafraid. They know they’ve been given victory.

But not you. You’ve got your pants down around your ankles. You’re roaming in circles looking for the seductress that’s calling you by name. You can’t wait to fornicate on the battlefield.

And all the while, the kingdom is coming. The lost are being found. The sick are being healed. Demonic assignments are being cancelled. The veil is being lifted off of false religion and the persecuted church is exponentially growing in the face of opposition. Jesus is authoritatively mediating a covenant—the Spirit is interceding for the children of God, breathing life into dry bones.

You? You want an orgasm.

What I am most thankful for/excited about at Watermark and what do I see as the next big challenges our church?

Our passionate group of friends at Leadership Network are always combing the church world, assessing what is going on and then trying to figure out what the best way for them to focus on the “next thing” in terms of the organizations offerings. Typically their “what’s next” is driven by the priorities, challenges, opportunities and strengths of those they want to assist so they asked a number of church leaders, myself among them, if they could bullet out some quick answers to two questions.

I thought I would share my answers with you so you could share in thanking the Lord with me for His grace on us as well as join me in praying that we would be effective in the days and opportunities ahead.

Here were the questions:

1. What are you most excited about at your church? What is going on really well?

2. What are two or three challenges/opportunities that you have to figure out solutions for over the next 12-36 months?

Below are my answers.  I hope they encourage all of my Watermark friends out there.

What are you most excited about at your church? What is going really well?

1. I’m excited that we continue to stay on mission. I think we have met/are meeting the challenge of moving from a start-up/entrepreneurial/edgy church to an established church with a great physical plant. While we look like we have “been around forever” from the outsider’s eye, I think the call, the commitment, the passion, and the heart of what we wanted to be are thriving as much as ever. We still measure our success by our ability to be and make disciples and we are just as committed as ever to be biblical and authentic rather than big and impressive.

2. We are completely grateful for and intentional about the culture we have been able to create and maintain for our current staff and core leadership. Deep commitment, high passion, authentic beyond the buzzword, deep trust, and high professional/relational/spiritual trust are rampant.

3. I’m also grateful for the fact that we continue to develop, attract and deploy leaders. I keep hearing others say that leadership development is a major area of struggle/concern for their body….while we always want to do better, I am thrilled that Watermark is being used by God to discover, develop, and deploy leaders (Christ-followers, servant leaders, eternally-minded, culturally  relevant, and engaged leaders) on a tremendous scale.

4. I am excited about the things we have developed/are developing that will allow us to be more useful to other communities that desire to effectively and courageously be salt and light amidst the opportunities of their complex, continually changing, and challenging communities, countries, and world.

Some of these include:

ReEngage: A revolutionary way to serve marriages across a broad spectrum of health, develop leaders, reduce pastoral care issues, give couples a chance to lead and minister together, restore the church community to its intended place of care, help and restoration. We say whether your marriage needs to be REIGNITED or is in need of a complete RESURRECTION, REENGAGE is a safe place for couples to RECONNECT. The truth is that ReEngage is an effective place where communities of believers care for one another, disciple one another, admonish, encourage and help one another with great patience and instruction. Marriages are helped and healed, the lost are reached, hope is restored, and discipleship happens.

Re:generation: Re:gen is our recovery ministry. We were willing and grateful partners with Celebrate Recovery for years and saw the Lord do great things through our partnership. But from the beginning there were some areas where we did things differently than they preferred (with the knowledge and understanding) while still partnering with them. However the asked us not to mentor/help/teach other churches b/c of these differences. After years of careful conversation with our friends at CR we determined the best way for us to continue impacting our community and serve churches across the world was to develop our own curriculum and model. It has proven extremely effective and life-giving, and we look forward to sharing this material/strategy with others so they can serve the recovery community well.

Merge: Our tremendous pre-marital ministry and strategy.

Foundation Groups: Hundreds of new marriages get off to a great start as a result of these communities and curriculum.

The Journey: An innovative and effective tool that allows our body to interact daily over God’s word. It reduces a tremendous increase in Bible intake across our body, develops unity and intimacy among our large body, and is easily transferable to another community of faith.

Porch: One of the most effective Young Adult communities in the country producing transformed lives, healthy Christ-followers, future leaders, and a deep connection with this demographic within the larger church.

Other areas of strength and gladness not mentinoed:    (a) Annual spiritual advancement/re-covenanting efforts that keep vision and focus alive before core members.  (b) Equipping days/great questions classes/counterpoint lunches.  (c) On-line broadcast of complete services.  (d) Facility development, design and completion.

What are the two or three challenges/opportunities that you have to figure out solutions for over the next 12-36 months?

    1. Number one here will always be maintaining, improving, focusing excellence and commitment to the first three “successes” above.
    2. Effective launch and development of Watermark satellite campuses.
    3. We are working on increasing our intentional recruitment and development strategy for future vocational ministry leaders. Something that will supplement or potentially even replace the current models as the preferred place for church leadership (as opposed to academic/professorial/research) training.

Wagner Email Bag: Does God Love the Poor or the Rich?


As you know, from time to time I like to post some questions I have received via email along with my response in an effort to open the dialogue to a wider audience/make the answer known to others. Below is a recent interaction I had with someone wrestling with answers to whether God is a God of the poor or the rich. Read below and let me know your thoughts. May we all serve Him with increasing boldness and integrity today.

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012 9:19 PM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: A poor man’s god

Hey Todd,

I brought a friend to service two Sundays ago for the sermon on hell. I thought the sermon was fantastic but afterward he gave me his thoughts which were: “It sounded like God is a god of the poor”. I tried explaining to him that even though at the surface of the passage it appears God favors Lazarus and punishes the rich man (‘You in your lifetime received good things while Lazarus in his received bad things’), God did not punish the rich man with the consequence of hell solely because of the luxury he exhibited on earth. Rather, God punished the rich man because he did not help Lazarus. And again, on the surface it may seem that if you are wealthy and do not serve the poor, that you will go to hell. Not helping Lazarus in this situation was evidence that the rich man did not accept Jesus Chris and follow his teachings — the real reason for the rich man’s admission to hell.

Hopefully my initial response to his observation was accurate and summarized the sermon.

While I know that God IS a god of the poor…can you help provide me with some scripture and talking points that I can share with my friend that will allow him to know who God is with regards to his observation/thinking? — I want him to know that being wealthy/inheriting riches is not a sin, but what we think we possess is not ours and as Christians we have responsibilities in how we use what the Lord has afforded us.

Really struggling with how to respond biblically to his perception of rich vs. poor. Thanks for your help.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx

From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2012 8:31 AM
To: Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Subject: RE: A poor man’s god

Xxxxx…great question and I’m glad you are asking. As you know JP was teaching that Sunday as I was just getting back from teaching in Africa. What a great message for you to interact with your friend over. More conversation may be in order, but I’ll give a quick and brief response to get the ball moving.

God is not the God of the poor or the rich. He is the God of the poor AND the rich. Proverbs 22:2. God doesn’t care if we are prospering or living in poverty. He cares that we are living properly in relationship with Him, and therefore one another. Matt 22:36-40. The Scriptures teach us that God blesses those who are poor IN SPIRIT (Matthew 5:3)…and as we can also see through the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26) often worldly riches set us up to rely more on what is tangible versus humbling ourselves before a God who works in our weaknesses. Solomon makes it clear that it is better to be poor and walk in integrity than it is to be rich and be crooked (Proverbs 28:6). May I say it is better to be rich and walk in integrity than to be poor and crooked. Bottom line, we have no integrity (no wholeness of soul) without the grace of God making us new in Him. (Titus 3:5-6). I know many rich men who are “rich young rulers”, and also other rich men who are as humble as Lazarus with their lives and all that the Lord has entrusted them with.

There are examples of men who though they were rich became overly poor in Spirit and as such found life in Christ. Zacchaeus in Luke 19 immediately comes to mind. Again the issue is not our net worth, but whether or not we believe our net worth was fully displayed when the Father allowed the Son to demonstrate His love for us while we were yet full of ourselves (rich in sin and poor in righteousness).

Really glad you are seeking answers and bringing folks to join you at Watermark. I hope your friend comes back with you soon, and please make sure you both come up and shake my hand when you do.

Numbers 6:24-26,

Todd Wagner| pastoraloffice@watermark.org

So you want to meet with me…and Five Ways to Find a Mentor

Whenever someone wants to spend time with me, I almost ALWAYS ask them who they are already running with and what their specific questions are.  I LOVE getting with groups, and frequently “demand” that any individual who asks to meet with me bring with them 3-5 others who they “run” with or want to influence themselves.  I do this for several reasons:

  1. It multiplies my time.
  2. Life change happens best in the context of relationships.
  3. It keeps the conversation going and multiplies the questions.
  4. It removes the “excitement” of getting to be “the guy” who got some time with “the guy”.
  5. It minimizes any confusion that might come in something I said because only one set of ears heard it. (Of course, the opposite is also true. My stupidity could be confirmed by the masses and I’m willing to take that risk.  I have had a lot more trouble with the former than the latter.  People who are “advice seeking” love to isolate their counselors so they are the sole arbiter/interpreter of what they heard from their “multitude” of counselors.  Meeting with 10 different “counselors” one at a time is infinitely worse than meeting with the 10 of them together, and since it is hard to get 10 counselors together at once the next best thing is to have your community with you when you meet with any counselor.)
  6. It produces immediate accountability if something is shared that needs to be acted on.
  7. Nothing else comes to mind, but 7 is the perfect number, and I wanted to put something that looks like I had perfect thoughts on this.

The other thing I almost always share with people, and ask from them, is for them to come with questions. The majority of the time, I ask for the questions, or at least a good representation of what the main question(s) are going to be, in advance.  I know from experience that if folks really have questions, firing them right back is NO problem.  If, however, they are a victim of the “if I can just get a meal/cup of coffee with ‘the guy’ then my life will change, my dating life will pick up, my career will advance, I will become more popular and Jesus will be able to use me more” mentality, I sometimes don’t hear back.

So read the below, use the above, and keep seeking Jesus with all your heart.

Jesus is available, is worth telling others you know Him personally and you can spend all the time alone with Him you want.

Proverbs 4:7

Five Ways to Find a Mentor

By Michael Hyatt (This is a guest post by Daniel Darling. He is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of iFaith, Connecting with God in the 21st Century. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.)

The value of a mentor cannot be overestimated. A mentor is someone who is a few laps ahead of you in an area of life where you wish to find success. More than formal training, more than a book or a seminar, a good mentor brings his or her personal experience to bear on your life in a way that may shape it forever.

But how to find one? It’s actually easier than you think. Here are five ways to find a mentor:

  1. Don’t Start with Seth Godin or Max Lucado. Yes, we’d all love to have someone at the top of our profession mentor us. But not only is this unrealistic, it’s also unhelpful. Chances are that the advice of someone at the very top would be intimidating or unhelpful to you at your current pace of life. Instead, look for someone a few levels ahead of you in your chosen field. Someone accessible to you. There is a pastor in my community whose church is medium-sized, but not mega. Since I pastor a small church, he’s perfect for me and has the time.
  2. Attend trade functions or gatherings in your community. As a pastor, I regularly attend pastor’s gatherings in our area. I’ve also done this in the Christian publishing field. Simply attending and meeting new people has led to many rich mentoring relationships. If you stay inside your office your entire life, you’ll never experience the opportunity to be enriched by the wisdom of others.
  3. Make friendships through simple conversation. You don’t find a mentor by asking someone, “Can you be my mentor?” That’s a bit awkward and may seem to put a heavy burden on someone who doesn’t know you very well. Instead, meet people, develop relationships through conversation and let natural human interaction be your guide.
  4. Follow up with a request to meet again, one-on-one. If you’ve gotten to know someone you think you can learn from, get his contact information and ask him something like, “Hey, I’d love to sit for coffee and pick your brain on _______.” This is the intentional part of finding a mentor. I’ve done this a number of times both with pastors and with writers and have found them eager to share what they know about their chosen field.
  5. Ask questions. When you do meet for coffee, pepper the mentor with questions and then sit back and listen. Ask him questions like, “How did you get into this field?” “What have you learned over the years?” “What do you think of this idea?” Don’t try to wow him with all you’ve done. You’re there to learn from his success.

Mentoring relationships are valuable . . . and they aren’t complicated. They are simply friendships which have the potential to help shape your future.

Oh, and a bonus tip: pick up the tab. The wisdom you gain is well worth the price of a latte.

Are you a one-talent man? If so, apply here. Are you a ten-talent stud? If so, pay attention.

“What advice would you give me as young man wanting to be fully used by God?”

I get this question a lot, and my answer is always the same.

Pursue Him; don’t pursue usefulness to Him.

God is not looking for gifted people to use. He is looking for people who know that “apart from Him they can do nothing”. This is good news for the myriad who are convinced they are “one talent people” who have been denied the intellect of Lewis, the passion of Piper, the daring of Driscoll, or the platform of Tebow. God is not looking for great men. He is and always has been looking for faithful men. Not men who say they love Him, who want to be used by Him, who want to “do something great for God”. He is looking for those who know He is sufficient in all things.

Men who know that stutterers and sticks are enough for God to deliver nations.

Men who know that slings and stones in the hands of servants of the King slay giants.

Not men who talk about what God + nothing can do, but men who know that 10 talents – God can do nothing.

Solomon reminds us that “many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?” (Prov 20:6) He isn’t looking for people who give Him lip service, He is looking for men who fill their lips and hearts with HIS word.

It is the bane of gifted “type A’s” to charge ahead full of good intentions and passion without great dependence and constant prayer.

It is the bad of all of us to consider our apparent lack of gifts or resources to be a hindrance to an all sufficient God. Our God loves the impossible and He majors in using the impoverished to do impossible things.

I have purposed to base my ministry on the truth of 2 Chronicles 16:9, believing God is not looking for the strongly gifted, but the strongly surrendered to support.

The question that haunts me every day is this: “If I were an all-sufficient God concerned with advancing my glory for the good of all, would I support Todd Wagner as a vessel for my purposes?” My ministry rises and falls with God’s thoughts on that question.

I’m more grateful for grace than I am for my gifts. How about you?

Wagner Email Bag: Stem Cell Research


As you know, from time to time I get questions via email, and in answering them, want to share those responses with a broader audience in an effort to further instruct/encourage. Recently I was forwarded a request to read through the story of a woman who is precious to the Lord and suffering with Type 1 diabetes. As much as I sympathize with her plight and want to see the Lord heal her, I cannot Biblically justify some of her reasoning behind wanting to have research done for her disease in the manner she is pleading. Read below and think through how you would respond!

From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2011 11:33 AM
Subject: Pass this on!

Hey Peeps,

This is not my story. This is someone else’s, but she makes awesome points. She makes the same points that I try to make, but can’t always get across in a fluid fashion. I copied and pasted her story from the JDRF website so you might see the impact this stupid disease has on people who “follow the rules”. I realize that I have broken a few here and there, and so my credibility may be lacking. I urge you to think about this young lady and what she is saying. Furthermore, I don’t personally condone stem cell research on aborted fetuses, but there are tons in storage right now just sitting there. Use your judgement on that point. The rest of this stuff is dead on! So, please read it, think about it, and do something about it. Write somebody a letter. Donate a dollar the next time a Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund sneaker campaign comes around. Talk to your pharmacy reps and ask them why. Please, do something! My days are numbered folks. I have a beautiful little girl to raise and I cannot explain these things to her. So, please, do something. Thanks for reading my impassioned email for the day.;)

“I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 40 years. I’m almost 42, so diabetes has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was diagnosed in 1969, medicines & care protocols were primitive by today’s standards – but they were affordable. Today, the insulin I use, available only with a prescription, is over $100 per bottle without insurance coverage. A bottle might last a month, but often doesn’t for most diabetics. Insulin is not a luxury; it is critical for surviving with Type 1 diabetes. Without insulin, we WILL die.

The test strips we use to check our blood glucose levels can cost nearly $125 for a box of 100, without insurance. Type 1s should test at least 4 times a day for adequate disease management. A box lasts less than a month at that rate of testing. I use an insulin pump, which is a much more powerful tool for disease management than multiple daily injections. The pump itself is a one-time cost ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Yet I must meet a high deductible before insurance will cover even part of the cost of the supplies for the pump. The pump I use has disposable pods-which I fill with insulin-that must be changed every 3 days. A recent order of 3 boxes of pods cost $735. Based on that bill, a box of 10, which lasts a month, costs about $250. So every month I spend $250 on a box of pods, $100 for a bottle of insulin & $125 for a box of test strips. So diabetes costs me roughly $475 EACH month, not counting the cost of other meds I take.

And God help me if I lose my job & can’t get another one before my “prior credible coverage” period (usually 12 months) runs out. I’ll be unable to get health insurance on my own. Period. Once I find a job, I’ll be subject to a pre-existing condition waiting period, lasting anywhere from 6 months to a year or more. So insurance wouldn’t pay for the prescriptions & doctor visits I need in order to stay healthy, but they’d pay for the dialysis after my kidneys have failed because I couldn’t afford the insulin I need to survive. Illogical.

Something must be done to rein in the skyrocketing cost of the healthcare & meds we need just to survive. Insurance companies must be taken to task for their callous disregard for the health of their clients, & must reform their standards for coverage & care. Right now in America, insurance isn’t for healthcare; it’s for profit. That is greedy, shortsighted, & downright immoral.

Funding for research to cure Type 1 diabetes is just as important. So many huge advances have been made in the last few years in stem cell research that a cure may actually be found in my lifetime. People against embryonic stem cell research argue about the “rights of the unborn”, but my response is that I am already here & I am suffering. Am I less deserving of rights than a clump of cells in a petri dish? If so, why? Elected officials spend a lot of time worrying about the “unborn” while their living constituents suffer physically.”

From: pastoraloffice
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2011 10:17 AM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
Subject: RE: Pass this on!


With great compassion for this woman (it is easy to empathize with her), she is sadly participating in furthering a very dangerous idea about the dignity of life and so I could not support forwarding her email as it is currently composed. Her points are strong enough without having to make the case that the unborn should be compromised. As sad as it is (her thinking is the same thinking of those who follow her same line of reasoning that only the strongest and healthiest forms of life should survive) that others would argue toward the elimination of the weak amongst us who have diabetes (those whose clumps of cells are predisposed to need insulin and expensive care to survive). I am sure she would not like hearing this, but that untenable and offensive thinking is rooted in the same argument she makes about compromising the unborn for her good. They are already here as well…only not in as strong a position to defend themselves. As people who know that the value of all human life is rooted in the image of the One who created us and not in our utility or strength, we cannot be casual about our stance on this subject.

Bless you and may the Lord allow us to find relief for diabetics in the form of better more affordable treatments soon.

Todd Wagner | pastoraloffice@watermark.org