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As I sat down January 1 to shepherd myself and my kids I decided to come up with a group of questions that we could ask ourselves EVERY DAY to evaluate how we are abiding with the One we profess to follow. It all starts with daily learning more of Jesus and His ways and continually yielding to His Spirit which dwells in all who believe. My deep conviction is that as our lives increasingly have full and meaningful answers to the following questions our lives will increase in joy, fullness and serve as a greater source of glory to our King. I am sure you can improve on my list of questions, but as for me and my house, we are going to purpose to improve our ability to faithfully answer them every day (Matt 6:33-34). Feel free to add your own….but in all your adding stay focused on using them to sharpen each day the Lord gifts you (Psalm 90:12). Check out more on these by listening to what I shared at Watermark this past Sunday here. Hope you are encouraged!
What have you done to grow in wisdom and stature today?
What do you know today about God, His Word or His purposes that you did not know yesterday?
What are you going to do differently as a result of what you have learned?
1 Tim 4:7; James 1:22
How is this world or are others better today because you have stepped up and been God’s servant?
When you showed up, how was evil restrained, injustice conquered, love multiplied, captives rescued and/or joy increased.
What have you done today to make someone else know of God’s great love for them? Has your motivation for everything been love of God and others?
“May this small act of kindness remind you of God’s great love for you.”
1 Cor 13:1
Have you laughed out loud today?
Have you laughed uncontrollably?
Have you laughed till you cried?
Have you made others laugh much today?
How have you shown generosity today? Who is better off because God stewarded you with His resources?
2 Cor 8:9
LIVE with gratitude:
How have you expressed a heart filled with Thanksgiving today for the multitude of blessings you have received?
LIFT others up:
Who have you encouraged today with a word, a phone call, an email, a note or a card?
LEAN on others:
Who are you relying on to spur you on? Confront you? Shepherd you?
Who has access to your heart? Who faithfully reproves you? Sharpens you? Admonishes you when you are unruly?
When is the last time you repented and changed because someone who loves you “smote you in kindness”.
Ps 141:5; Pr 13:20
LIVE it all by faith (by yielding to the Spirit):
What have you done today that only makes sense because you believe in the grace of Christ and the resurrection of the dead?
Have you lived today by faith? By the power of in constant relationship with the Spirit?
Col 1:29; Eph 5:18
Many of you have asked for the “Generation Why” letter that I read at Watermark in response to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. If you weren’t with us on December 16th and missed hearing the message on “Darkness in Newtown and the Light of the World”, I’d encourage you to check it out here so that you are equipped to answer questions posed by those who are appropriately hurting, confused, and skeptical that the God we serve is in control of such evil. The letter was originally written in response to the Columbine shootings by Marcy Musgrave, who at the time was a junior at Texas A&M. I hope you read this and are spurred on to pray diligently for our country as darkness continues to increase. My prayer is that after watching the message you are ready to join me in lovingly shepherding the lost and hurting people around us. Pray with me friends…first for the church to do its job (Matt 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:9; Phil 2:14-15) and for the families of those who lost loved ones in Newtown. May the Gospel bring comfort and peace into a town and country where chaos and confusion are increasing daily.
I am a member of the upcoming generation—the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name. So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next. I believe I know why. The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the “next” in line. That way, they won’t have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache. “What heartache?” you say. “Don’t you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?” Yeah, we know that. Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can’t be reconciled with money. You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary. Money isn’t the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation. I will admit that I wasn’t planning to write this. I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole “next” mentality. But after the massacre in Littleton, CO, I realize that as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad. Let me tell you this: These questions don’t represent only me but a Whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world. We all have questions; we all want explanations. People may label us Generation Next, but we are more appropriately Generation “Why?”
“Why did most of you lie when you made the vow of ‘til death do us part’?” “Why do you fool yourselves into believing that divorce really is better for the kids in the long run?”
“Why do so many of you divorced parents spend more time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend than with your own children?” “Why did you ever fall victim to the notion that kids are just as well off being raised by a complete stranger at a day care center than by their own mother or father?”
“Why do you look down on parents who decide to quit work and stay home to raise their children?” “Why does the television do the most talking at family meals?”
“Why is work more important than your own family?”
“Why is money regarded as more important than relationships?” “Why is ‘quality time’ generally no longer than a five- to 10-minute conversation each day?”
“Why do you try to make up for the lack of time you spend with us by giving us more and more material objects that we really don’t need?” “Why does your work (in the form of a cell Phone, laptop computer, etc.), always come with us on vacations?”
“Why have you neglected to teach us values and morals?”
“Why haven’t you lived moral lives that we could model our own after?”
“Why isn’t religion one of the most important words in our household?”
“Why do you play God when it comes to abortion?” “Why don’t you have enough faith in us to teach us abstinence rather than safe sex?”
“Why do you allow us to watch violent movies but expect us to maintain some type of childlike innocence?”
“Why do you allow us to spend unlimited amounts of time on the Internet but still are shocked about our knowledge of how to build bombs?” “Why are you so afraid to tell us ‘no’ sometimes?” “Why is it so hard for you to realize that school shootings, and other violent juvenile behavior, result from a lack of your attention more than anything else?”
Call us Generation Next if you want to, but I think you will be surprised at how we will fail to fit into your neat little category. These questions should, and will, be asked of the generations that have failed us. You have pursued your selfish desires for years, but now is the time to reap what you have sown. Some rude awakenings like the Littleton massacre have occurred and probably will continue until you can begin to answer our questions and make the drastic changes to put us, your kids, first. Time is running out, for in just a few short years, we will be grown, and it will be too late. You might not think we are worth it, but I can guarantee you that Littleton will look like a drop in the bucket compared to what might occur when a neglected Generation “Why” comes to power.
May 2nd, 1998 edition of the Dallas Morning News.
More than a few folks asked me if I knew about Bono being at one of our services yesterday. My response when asked was…”I hope he was and pray by God’s grace he was encouraged by the truth shared from the Word and the truth we declared in song. As the questions persisted and the pictures circulated…I decided to at least send the below email to my staff team. Thought y’all might also be helped/encouraged by reading it.
Guys…I have heard some say that we had a “celebrity” hanging around Watermark yesterday. I frankly don’t know if it is true or not (and if you ask me to speculate I would doubt it…look a likes abound) and I frankly don’t care. I do care that we love all people well and that we help our people love all people well. It is a completely normal and unsinful response to do a double take when you see something you don’t expect or have a chance to see something of beauty, tragedy, rarity (see also 2 tickets at fair to see big alligators, short horses, etc….) but, after the initial human response, we, as people informed by a Christ, are not to have a normal response, but rather a supra normal (see also divine) response that rules us.
Our job is to lovingly help those who are less mature in their faith, or who have no faith yet, act in a manner that makes everyone feel welcome and communicates that we love people because they are people, whether they are homeless or heroes.
I was going to sign this James 2:1-4…but I know I don’t have to.
Let’s make Watermark famous for how we love lost people, care for one another, speak the truth in love and hold fast to our hope and anchor…not for who may or may not have attended.
Update….I heard later from the friends who brought their friend that my speculation was correct.
If you are interested…this is who was there. http://www.bonodouble.com/ I pray by God’s grace Pavel was encouraged by the truth shared from the Word and the truth we declared in song.
Yesterday, I talked about the supreme importance of “not being a fool before God by making sure your mouth is full of the Word of God”. See that message here.
I am reminded of an email I recently received from a Watermark member about some verses in Revelation regarding the “Spirit of prophecy” (Rev 12:7; 19:10) and how that relates to the claims of some that they have the ability to speak authoritatively on par with Scripture. What is especially helpful about the answer that my good friend Bobby Crotty put together below is his excellent description (see bolded portion especially) of what I seek to do every time I teach/share God’s word with others. Here’s praying that this entry is useful to you and that every time you speak you are exalting to Christ and therefore useful to others and pleasing to your Savior.
From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 5:49 PM
Subject: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus
I have a question concerning core doctrine in the 7th Day Adventist denomination surrounding the “spirit of prophecy” and the “testimony of Jesus” noted in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. Could you shed light on what Watermark’s stance on this topic / scripture is?
I have a few very close friends in that denomination, and I want to know where my church, Watermark, stands in reference to this take on scripture.
I would greatly appreciate any clarity you have to offer.
From: Bobby Crotty
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 5:13 PM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus
Thanks for your email to Todd about beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church concerning Rev 12:17 and 19:10. He has asked me to follow up with you.
Watermark itself has not taken a position on this topic, but I wanted to share some thoughts and resources that may help you as you study this issue further so that you can engage effectively with your friends. A great starting point for any question of this type is the website gotquestions.org. Its articles and answers to questions are generally very solid and dependable. You can check its article on Seventh-Day Adventist Church at http://www.gotquestions.org/Seventh-Day-Adventism.html.
Now to your specific question. Wikipedia describes one of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church as:
18. The Gift of Prophecy:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb 1:1-3; Rev 12:17, 19:10).
Wikipedia continues: “Seventh-day Adventists believe church co-founder Ellen G. White (1827–1915) was inspired by God as a prophet, today understood as a manifestation of the New Testament “gift of prophecy,” as described in the official beliefs of the church.”
I personally would challenge that assertion. One of the marks of prophets in the Bible was the standard of their accuracy. If it was less than 100%, you could trust that they were NOT prophets of God. See Deuteronomy 18:20-22. It is my understanding that she made predictions that did not come true, such as one in 1856 that some then alive would remain alive until the Lord’s return. That obviously did not happen.
The phrases “spirit of prophecy” and “testimony of Jesus” appear together only in Rev 19:10. That verse closes with the following admonition to John when he falls down before the angel speaking to him: “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Dr. Tom Constable explains:
“To emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ in our testimony and to encourage worship of God, the angel said that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. The last clause of the verse (‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’) is capable of various interpretations. Some take the genitive ‘of Jesus’ as objective, which yields two possible understandings. Perhaps the angel meant that testimony about Jesus is the common substance of all prophecy, that all prophecy ultimately reveals Him. Alternatively the angel could have meant that the true spirit of prophecy always manifests itself in bearing witness to Jesus; prophecy that does not bear witness to Him is false prophecy. If the genitive is subjective, the angel meant that the testimony that Jesus has given is the essence of prophetic proclamation. This last view seems preferable since it affords the best explanation of why John should not worship the angel: Jesus is the source of revelation, and angels just communicate it. Moreover the phrase ‘of Jesus’ in the preceding clause also seems to be subjective.” http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/revelation.pdf at Rev 19:10.
I think what Dr. Constable is saying is that the passage can be understood as proclaiming that either all prophecy is about revealing Jesus or prophecy is explaining the testimony Jesus has given. I agree with Constable’s choice of the latter view. Pastors today are essentially exercising a prophetic role as they explain the testimony that Jesus has given, which is recorded in the words of the Bible. Thus, the pastor under the filling of the Holy Spirit exercises a prophetic gift as both a pastor and teacher to explain the testimony of Jesus as recorded in the Bible, rather than to predict the future as biblical prophets often did. Todd does not predict the future, but he does explain Scripture in a way that is understandable, convicting, and inspiring to those in the audience. In doing so, he is exercising a prophetic role to explain the testimony of Jesus. But he does not say that his teaching on Sunday is authoritative on a par with Scripture. He explains Scripture in his messages, but he makes it clear that it is the Scripture itself that is the authoritative source of truth. Does that help you with the difference between the Adventist view and the view I am sharing?
In sum, the Seventh-Day Adventist views seem to ascribe to the writings of Ellen G. White an authority that properly belongs only to the Bible. I would differ with Belief #18 above by saying that only Scripture is the authoritative source of truth, and, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 points out, it is what is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Both Mormonism and Seventh-Day Adventism seem to elevate people and their writings to places of authority that should be reserved alone for the words of Scripture.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. There are a bunch of other thoughts we could pursue, so I would be happy to get together with you if you would like to visit further.
Praying that God will give you boldness and clarity from His Word to share Truth with your friends.
Men’s Equipping Director
Watermark Community Church
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”
24 “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.
HOLYwood lost one of its all-time greats today.
When you first met Louis Howard you may not have immediately thought of a ‘mighty warrior’. But that’s just because you have been too influenced by Rambo movies and other airbrushed Hollywood tough-guy icons. Louis wouldn’t get a call back from the casting director for the next action thriller, because in Hollywood, appearances (even surgically altered or medically enhanced ones) matter more than integrity and heart.
Though late in his life he may have physically resembled Mr. Magoo more than Maximus (and won’t we all), Louis was a constant reminder that true wisdom, eternal wisdom, and perfect wisdom do not look at appearance or at the height of one’s stature. Wisdom, the Lord’s casting agent and HOLYwood’s only critic that matters, looks at the heart.
Providentially for all of us, when the Lord of the universe was casting for His latest big budget blockbuster, Louis was exactly the hero He went looking for.
I have always respected and admired Louis, wife Rosemary, and their other “postmarker” friends for years. Yes, I said “Postmarker”. This is the name that, 10 years ago, the Howards and others came up with as they eagerly stepped up and created a ministry that would equip, encourage, exhort, enable and remind the older/wiser folks around Watermark to finish strong. Postmarkers, by the way, was a name I never liked or supported, because to me, it implied EXPIRED (like a postmarked letter), and I loved to tease Louis about it. Even more, I loved the way he shot back, as kindly as a man whose idea had just been mocked can, and if you know Louis, you know it was kind. His head slightly tilted, his voice gently lowered, his wry smile still present, almost giggling when he said, “Now Todd, I am fine with your thinking, but you asked us to come up with a name and we like Postmarks. To us it represents who we are. We are not going to quietly sit here while others start a new work. We are going to be a sign, a strong and clear signpost that marks the way so others can continue with us on the trail to faithfulness. Now you can laugh at our name…but we are going to mark the trail and challenge others to follow us.”
Needless to say, Postmarks became the name.
Now, ten years later, you can still go to watermark.org, hit the ministries tab, and there find a ministry by that confusing name which exists “To help people over 55 years of age get connected to the body of Christ at Watermark through community and service to share with others a wealth of lifetime maturity and accumulated wisdom”, and you know what, the name doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Louis, Rosemary, and others of their generation are heroes to me. They represent what I want to be. An octogenarian with passion for Christ. A leader who dies happily married to the same person they pledged their faithfulness to over 5 DECADES earlier. A man, who each passing year, grows more gentle, not more cantankerous. A man who considers his own preferences and even his own power, influence or titles as insignificant in light of Kingdom advancement and opportunity to see thousands more radically impacted for Christ. A man who fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. I’m going to miss your smile Louis. I’m going to miss your warmth. I’m going to miss your encouragement. I’m going to miss watching the way you loved your bride. Thankfully, because of you, there is a signpost firmly planted in the ground ahead of me that will remind me and show me the way I want to end this journey. Well done my friend. Thanks for blazing the trail.
May I, and the thousands of others who read this, have the wisdom to follow you until we get our “star” on the walk of fame in Holywood’s streets of gold. I hear the only Director that matters is still casting…and there are lots of parts to fill.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.