Are You “Just” Spending Time In The Word, Or Is The Word Spending Time In You?

The following clip is from the message “The Secret Place as the Secret to Christlikeness.” You can check out the entire series here.

“You can’t do it if you don’t know whats in it. But not reading it is not even as a big of problem as reading it and not doing anything with it.” – Todd Wagner

Why Am I Still Single? 7 Things To Consider If You’re Single And Don’t Want To Be.

why-am-i-still-single-christian-bible-verses

To: Todd Wagner (pastoraloffice@watermark.org)

From: xxxxx

I have question that I’ve been pondering and praying about for a long while now and wanted to know what your views and interpretations of the Bible concerning singleness are?

More specifically, I am a 36 year old single woman who desperately wants to have a life partner in a deeply devoted Christian husband and of course children. I’ve always wanted a big family as I’m an only child to older parents and have a very small family. I always pictured myself getting married and having children, but I question if it’s in the cards for me.

Now, I know that Paul had written about marriage and staying single if it’s at all possible in I Corinthians 7 and I do realize that as a single, I’m able to do many of the things that married people cannot. I have the capacity to put more of myself into service for the Lord, get closer to Him and that my ministry can be much more than if I had a husband and kids.

My question is this: If God has a plan for me NOT to get married, wouldn’t I be wired by Him in a way that being single doesn’t bother me? I heard it preached at my former church singles group that for a very few people…those not meant to be married, that God would instill in them the capacity to not be concerned with whether or not they will get married…that they wouldn’t long for it like most of the population does. Do you think that is true? Is it true that if I weren’t meant to be married that God would sustain me and that I would have a peace about it?

I ask because I don’t have a peace about it. I’m also no spring chicken and wrestling with this matter a lot. On top of it all, I don’t think I’ve ever had past a 2nd date with a man. Am I meant to live my life single? Is this addressed in anymore detail within the Bible?

Your feedback concerning this matter would be greatly appreciated. I’m striving to get into the Word, to sit at the feet of Jesus and I know that He’s truly all that I need, but the want for a family can’t be shaken.

Thank you in advance for your counsel,

xxxxx

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From: Todd Wagner

To: xxxxx

XXXXX,

So encouraging to read your email and see you seeking understanding in this as we should in all things. I am sure you have already asked your community group their thoughts and what the Lord has already said to us about these things in His word. (if not I would beg you to stop reading here….see what y’all can come up with on your own and then take a peek at some of my thoughts.

Here are a couple of biblical truths I would share with you on this topic and additionally would love for y’all to meet with Cynthia Culver and let her share with you her own reflection on God’s word related to your question.

5 CHARACTERISTICS OF A GODLY WOMAN, AND 43 VERSES TO HELP YOU BECOME ONE.

how to be a Godly women

In a previous post we mentioned that one of the questions that’s often asked around here is “How to be a Godly man?” and today we wanted to write a post answering another question we often hear; “How do a become a Godly Woman?” Below you’ll find five characteristics of a Godly woman with verses that go along with them. We’ve also created a handout that can be downloaded, printed, and shared as well.

We hope these characteristics, and accompanying verses, help spur you on to be the kind of woman that God created you to be!

1. SEEK GOD FIRST: Reject the lie that anything or anyone else can satisfy you.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34

Other Scripture:

1 Chronicles 16:8-12, Psalm 9:10, Psalm 27:1-5, Psalm 34:10-14, Psalm 40:16,Jeremiah 29:11-13, Zephaniah 2:3, Matthew 6:25-34

2.  SPEAK FAITHFULLY: Love others with godly wisdom, boldness, and kindness as a faithful completer of others.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” – Genesis 2:18

Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:5-6

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. –Proverbs 31:26

Other Scripture:

Psalms 19:14, Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 13:3, Proverbs 16:13, Proverbs 20:15,Proverbs 24:26

3. SHOW TRUE BEAUTY: Bodies deteriorate, persons develop. Invest in that which lasts.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Other Scripture:

1 Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 11:22,1 Peter 3:3-5

4. STAY HUMBLE: Be constantly aware of ‘pride and selfishness. Don’t think less of yourself but think of yourself less.

“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These arc the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” – Isaiah 66:2

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 2:3-5

Other Scripture:

Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 12:1, Micah 6:8, John 15:5, 1 Peter 3:8-9,1 Peter 5:5-7

5. SERVE THE LORD: Set your mind on eternal things, serve the eternal King, live to please only Him.

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:25-26

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. –Colossians 3:23

Other Scripture:

Psalm 16:11, Psalm 84:10-12, Mark 10:42-45,2 Corinthians 5:10, Philippians 1:21,Hebrews 6:10,1 Peter 2:21-23

How are you doing on these characteristics? Leave a comment below and let us know how we can pray for you!

Is It Wrong For A Christian To Do Yoga?

can a christian do yoga

Yoga? “Holy Stretching” or Something More?

To: PastoralOffice@watermark.org

From: xxx

Subject: Yoga

Hello all,

I am looking for some  clarity on the subject of Yoga. I am a member at Watermark (about 3 years now) and have been practicing Yoga for about a year. I have really grown to love it physically and mentally. I practice Vinyasa which is a flow type of yoga that is more physically than mentally focused, but I have appreciated the mental aspect because I have used my time in yoga to meditate on the word, and to pray.

I recently have experienced a big life change  and have been looking for something I can do part-time while raising my kids. When I started looking into teaching yoga, I realized how much controversy there is about it among Christian circles. From the research I have done, it is my understanding that yoga is a spiritual method, not a religion in itself. It actually pre-dates Hinduism and Buddhism, and although used in both religions, is not synonymous with either religion. Therefore, I have concluded that as long as my personal practice is for the purpose of giving glory to the Lord, prayer, and meditation on scripture, I don’t see a problem with my personal practice.

My concern is that because there is so much controversy over yoga, I may be teaching something that appears to conflict Biblically, or unknowingly encouraging others toward the type of new-agey, hindu spirituality that often accompanies some types of yoga. Many people believe yoga to be synonymous with the other religions it is used in. Even though I believe historically, it is not, I want to be careful here. I think of Paul talking about food sacrificed to idols. Yes, of course it is ok for us to eat it, but we may not want to if there are those who believe it is bad. This is all very confusing for me!

I have included some articles that have been influential for me. I would love to gain some more clarity and insight into this before I start my certification in September. Before I make such a big career/financial decision, I would love any and all thoughts from the spiritual leaders and community in my life! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/features/23243-is-it-okay-for-christians-to-do-yoga

http://pastormark.tv/2011/11/02/christian-yoga-its-a-stretch 

http://christianspracticingyoga.com/

– xxx 

——————————————–

XXXX-

I love your questions and the way you have sought to honor the Lord and each other in the way you’ve processed through this.

For starters, here is a quick and I think well-informed response… http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-yoga.html . Gotquestions.org is always a fantastic first stop when trying to get a hold of a biblical response to thousands of questions.

For me, actually participating in yoga would be a Romans 14 issue. Which is to say: if someone enjoys the physical activity and is convinced they are not compromising the principle of 1 Corinthians 10:31 and they are personally able to say what Romans 14:22-23, 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 admonishes us to be always able to say and they are not violating 2 Cor 6:3, then they should have at it!  Of course they need to be aware that they are potentially confusing others with their participation so there is a need to be clear how their choices is going to effect others. (1 Peter 2:12, 3:15-16).  This won’t be easy, especially in a large or very public class.  If they are in a class with nonbelievers, as they undoubtedly will be, they need to be intentional with them and prayerfully look for opportunities to be sharing the truth of and hope of Christ with them and clear about what they are doing in a “yoga” class.

My guess is that for WAY too many “believers”, doing yoga (and probably most everything else) is something they do without thought or conviction and certainly without either intentionality or a burden of responsibility for those around them. This kind of “unintentional living” is a bigger problem then yoga itself. If they work on 1 Corinthians 10:31 and see EVERYTHING they do as part of their walk with Christ and live their life according to the purpose of Colossians 1:28-29, then they are going to be okay around a yoga class… whether it is a “Christianized” version or not.

Of course there are some classes that are led by individuals who are using yoga as a means to push people toward more than physical exercise and the promise of something redemptive other than Christ, and those classes are problematic. But how great it would be if more believers were in exercise classes, developing loving relationships with non-believers, meditating on Scripture and sharing their faith and explaining the failed hope of becoming one with a perverted and wanting idea of “god”.  I am familiar with Eliot Miller’s writing on the topic… specifically the point that the “eight limbs” of yoga are embraced by (and even find their origins in) Eastern religions as a means toward a “salvific” or religious experience. I know only two of the “limbs” are purely physical aspects (posture, breathing). Obviously, “working the core” and breathing correctly while you do it is not a problem. But why you do, or why others are doing it could well be. I would tell you to be honest about the yoga class you are in, and be wary of supporting it or endorsing it by your presence).

Two last comments on this.

1) If you are leading it, consider calling what you are doing something other than “yoga” (because it is) and work the core of your body. Don’t try to redefine “yoga”, as that may be difficult. Instead focus on the benefit of working out the body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit without confusing it by calling it something that clearly has its roots in pagan religion. Exercise is NOT the problem. YOGA as traditionally defined, developed and deployed may well be. Lose the confusion by losing the name. “Holy Yoga” may be tough to pull off (just like “holy adultery” or “holy voodoo” is), but holy living/exercise should not be. Take away the confusion and keep the core in shape.

2) If we as believers are being honest, more of us probably struggle with the idolatry of body image and yoyo dieting than we do the idolatry of Buddha, meditation and yoga. As leaders of anything we should call others to focus on the “why” as much as the “what”, and we always need to make sure that the “what” isn’t something the scriptures tell us is a “don’t”. (Sex with someone who isn’t our covenant spouse is again a good example – that is a “what” we are can’t ever sanctify no matter what we call it. See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7.)

Exercise, and using posture and breathing correctly when we do it to maximize its benefit can clearly be redeemed, but exercise itself for the sake of self-glory and beauty cannot (again, 1 Corinthians 10:31). Anything for self-glory, no matter what we call it, is sin and a distraction that will lead to disappointment. Whenever we exercise our physical temple we should double down on improving the spiritual person. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 is clear on this). More believers are lazy about worshipping self (the most common form of paganism) than have ever fallen into Hinduism/Buddhism because of yoga. Call it cross-fit or yoga. If it’s not done for the glory of God it is sin.

Again, greatly encouraged by you ladies’ desire to wrestle with the tough questions and honor the Lord with your temples. May all of us who profess to follow Christ be diligent to live intentionally and make the most of the short time God’s gifted us with! (Ephesians 5:16)

Encouraged by your faithfulness,

Todd

214-239-8809

www.twitter.com/wordsfromwags

pastoraloffice@watermark.org

www.watermark.org

What are your thoughts on Christians taking part / teaching Yoga? Leave a comment below and chime in.

What does it mean to be “God’s Man (or Woman?)”

“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” – Seneca

As a Dad to three girls and three boys I have been given the great privilege of helping my kids sail toward the right harbor of Christlikeness and the responsibility of helping them know the right winds that might take them there. The Scriptures exhort us to “act like men” (1 Cor 16:13 NASB) yet when you ask many men today what it is to be a Godly man, they cannot give you a biblically based answer (much less model a biblically informed life). Same with too many women. The New Testament exhorts them to “adorn themselves with ‘proper’ clothing…. as is proper for women making a claim to Godliness” (1 Tim 2:9a; 10b).

As a “warrior” that is given 6 arrows (Psalm 127) it is my job to “aim” them while given the time. In light of this, years ago I sat down and wrote down 5 broad categories of Biblical manhood and womanhood with a general explanation of each and relevant verses. These are the “winds” that Wagner men and women are trying to “catch” as we head toward the life our Lord has called us to. Use them as much as they are useful to you or better yet come up with your own biblically supported definition of a Godly man/woman. I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn from your prayerful efforts. 

Feel free to right click and save these documents, pass them along to a friend, or share them on your social networks. If you would like to download them as a pdf you may do so by characteristics of Godly man and women or  you can hit the links above to hear messages that will provide more encouragement on the topic.

-Todd

5S Man web pdf

5S Women web pdf

A Few Thoughts On Exodus’ Ministries Exodus From Ministry

 exodus-ministry

The quotes below are from Alan Chambers’ comments as reported in this story. (You’ll find my responses below each quote.)

 “I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite — or worse.”

Good for you Alan. Any believer that doesn’t stand up to people (professed Christ-followers or not) who are not speaking the truth in love should repent (Proverbs 27:5-6; Colossians 4:5-6). Here is a message I gave on the topic years ago where I acknowledge and speak out against the years of failure the “church” has on its résumé in loving the LGBTQ community.

 “I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents….”

I am sorry as well that “reparative therapy theories” or “stigmatizing parents” were ever the chosen methods of a ministry seeking to help people struggling with same sex attraction (or anything). The hope of God’s word is that we will be able to overcome our bondage to self through the mercy and power available in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship allows us to not be conformed to this world, or our sinful desires, but rather to live in a way that is good, acceptable, perfect and free from guilt and shame (Romans 12:1-12).

“In a 2009 report, the American Psychological Association concluded that “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.”

No new news here. God’s word has been offering that truth for thousands of years. There is, however, an abundance of evidence that Jesus offers to all men everywhere the means through which we can die to ourselves (1 Cor 10:13; Gal 2:20) and live in relationship with Him in obedience to His kindness which produces hope, joy , righteousness and peace (Proverbs 3:13-18; 21:21).

“Chambers, who is married to a woman, said in his apology that over the years, he had “conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions.”

Isolation and inauthenticity are never our friends. It is sad for him that his study of God’s word or fellowship didn’t continually teach/remind him of this. Too many men “conveniently omit” their ongoing temptations to their own destruction (Proverbs 18:1; James 5:16). Temptation (of any kind) is NOT sin (James 1:14-15). Isolation, inauthenticity and lack of confession however are.

“They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away,” he said. “Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there.”

Jesus never promises to take away our temptations. He hasn’t taken away mine either. Hiding our struggles doesn’t make them go away. Confessing our sins and seeking prayer and encouragement while living in the freedom of a grace-filled community that loves and honors the Word of God delivers us from guilt and shame and is part of the Lord’s means of grace which allows us to walk in the freedom His grace makes possible. Christ, His Spirit, His word and His people provide the grace and power to not be a slave to our temptations (whatever they are), but rather a slave to righteousness (Titus 3:3-7; Col 3:5). I accept that I am not with my King in a glorified body yet, and therefore I daily must be vigilant against my flesh, the ways of this world and the enemy who has come to steal my joy, kill my hope and character and destroy my relationship with God and others (2 Peter 3:17).

“Our goals are to reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities,”

I am praying for Alan. May the Lord continue His work in his life and may somehow he come to know of the joy I have living in the midst of a local church that is a safe, welcoming and transforming community free from fear or the need to isolate.

Alan….I hope this blog post makes its way to you and you can come visit us at Watermark where there are thousands of transformed and constantly tempted men and women of all sexual preferences and backgrounds that are by God’s grace abiding with Jesus and walking in freedom (1 Corinthians 6:11).

From the Reuters story on the same topic:

Exodus International’s mission statement was “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.”

Here is praying that this continues to be the passion of every member of the body of Christ not just to those struggling with same sex attraction, but to all and every person struggling to find life in a world impacted by sin and death. Here is praying that the way we go about ministering is consistent with the Truth of God’s Word and not the confusion that comes from ways that seem right to man but in the end are the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

Todd

214-239-8809

www.twitter.com/wordsfromwags

pastoraloffice@watermark.org

Does God Love Us More As We Keep His Commandments?

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To: pastoraloffice@watermark.org

From: xxxx

Todd, 

… I attended your 9:00 a.m. service this morning and in discussing things afterwards, had one item that we wanted to touch base with you on to see if we misunderstood the message. I’ll give you a bit of information on me a little lower in this email (in the interest of full disclosure), but as for the discussion we had, you stated a couple of times that “God loves us first, then we love him, and if we love him, he will love us even more.” I suppose the question for you is whether the idea of God loving us more (after we love him) is an accurate understanding of the message you were conveying this morning (with the obvious understanding that this was just a part of the overall message you were preaching about this morning)…

… I think we were all struggling with the idea that God could somehow love us more if we love him. It seems like the overall message that you preach about, at least from a conceptual/30,000 foot view, is of a God that loves all people unconditionally and wants to have everyone be in a relationship with Him (and sent Jesus here to die for our sins and that we are saved by the grace of God), and I’m not sure how a God that loves like that could love us more (and love us more if we love him back).

I hope this email doesn’t sound like nit-picking of your message today…our little group was just a bit confused on this point. I appreciate your time. Thanks in advance,

xxxxx

***********

xxx,

I love your question. It totally encourages me that you are listening, wrestling with what you hear, talking with others about what you hear and most importantly that you want to study the Scriptures to see if the things you are hearing are biblically justified (Acts 17:11) and I appreciate it because it gives me the chance to talk more about God’s love. Below, in bullet points, is what I (http://www.watermark.org/media/series/312/ ) said and what I meant when I said John 14 shows us how God loves us more as we keep His commandments. Let me review the highlights of the message using bullet points for ease and clarity. I think I shared all this in the message yesterday so if you go back and listen you will hear it again…maybe in a slightly different order but it should all be there!

First of all, let me start by clarifying one thing. God CANNOT love anyone any more than He already has if, when talking about love, you are talking about the greatest love possible being the love you show when you give your life for another. (John 15:13) Jesus gave His life for the world (John 3:16, 10:11; Romans 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15; 2:4) so in this sense God loves all of us the same and can NOT love any of us anymore. That being said…here is how God “loves us more”.

God will disclose more (and I used love in this sense) if we abide with Him. John 14:21, 23,-24 make it clear that the more you abide with God the more you EXPERIENCE His love, His goodness, His grace, His kindness. Or to say it another way, we experience more of His love as we love Him more. We have an “epiphany” of Him, an unveiling, opening or revealing as he discloses Himself to us and in this way as we experience MORE of His love, His goodness, His grace and His kindness; we have tasted and seen the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and we therefore know Him more and in knowing Him more receive more of His love. Not only in the joy of our salvation, but in the reality of our experience.

John 14 seems to be saying, “you want to know more of God’s love? Let God who already has and WANTS to love ALL men more, love you more by abiding with Him and learning MORE of His love. Accept His word, believe in His Son, walk in His Spirit, believe in His name and enjoy the blessing of His goodness.” Isaiah says it well: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.19 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land;20 “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18–20)

God loves all men but some men experience MORE of God’s love.

Jesus had this in mind also when in Matt 13:11-13 (see especially verse 12) He told His disciples that He was going to give more of Himself to those who already had the most of Him and the more you take of Him the more of Him you will keep receiving.

Praying you taste and see His love for you by abiding in every way He intends and by running toward every provision He has made for you. I think you will see more of His love every time you walk in it. Remember, a huge part of walking with Him is obeying Him every chance you get, so you may experience His goodness and provision every time you do it. Trust in Him You will never regret any part of God disclosing more (John 14:21) of His person (God is love 1 John 4:8) to you.

God loves us first and will love us in return for our loving His love for us.

1 John 4:19,

Todd

214-239-8809

www.twitter.com/wordsfromwags

pastoraloffice@watermark.org

www.watermark.org