“I showed up here at Watermark in 2013 thinking I knew everything about church. I went to The Porch on Tuesday nights and lived with one foot in with Christ and the other firmly planted in the world. I was trying to figure out life, knowing that I should follow Christ but finding it hard to release my grip on the party scene.
“I had grown up in church but disconnected from the Lord when I went to Texas Tech. I only went to church when I was at rock bottom or concerned about a final exam. In college, I dated a girl on and off for several years, and she moved to Lubbock when we got tired of the long-distance thing. During the summer after undergrad, she broke up with me via social media. That was rough.
“I tried to heal the wounds from that broken relationship through partying, chasing success, and more inappropriate relationships. Now that I was in Dallas, I had a fulltime job to support those bad habits. I used my work with children in the medical field to make myself look better in the eyes of people I met. I wanted to create a version of myself that would never be hurt again. Looking back at my behavior, I am aware of how prideful I had become.
“I eventually burned out with that lifestyle, and I accepted the invitation to visit The Porch at Watermark. I went on a whim, and the messages I heard each week were something I could not ignore. I read Matthew 7:24-25 and knew if I continued to live with one foot in God’s Kingdom and the other one in the world, it was straight-up disobedience. I wanted to build my house on the solid foundation of Christ.
“At The Porch, I heard a message illustration that really stuck with me. The speaker described a mountain climber who had slipped and was hanging off the edge of a cliff. To hoist himself to safety, he had to throw away anything he was carrying that weighed him down. That’s also what I needed to do, so I scaled back on everything that was holding me back or entangling me in sin. I felt so encouraged as I started to ‘run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing [my] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.’ (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Not long after I started following Christ, two things happened that changed my outlook on life. The first was the sudden death of my cousin, and the second was an unexpected personal health scare. I had a sharp pain in my leg that I’d ignored for a while. I’m thankful that some friends on the Kids’ Ministry team noticed the icepack on my leg while I was serving and encouraged me to go to the hospital and get it checked out. After an exam and an ultrasound, I quickly found myself in the E.R. The doctor explained that I had a blood clot in my leg; if it dislodged my life could have been over. It was a heart-check on what I believed about God’s grace and a reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised, so don’t waste a minute.
REACTING VS. RESPONDING
“Being in community with other believers was so different from my church experience as a kid or the Uptown bar scene, where even when I tried to be known, there wasn’t a response. At first, I didn’t think I would get along with the other guys in my community group because it seemed like we didn’t have much in common. I didn’t know what it was like to be fully known or have genuine friends who cared about me.
“Unlike other social situations, the guys in my group really got to know about the things I struggled with. Rather than reacting to what I had to say, they responded, because they were equipped with God’s Word and knew how to share it with others. It got messy sometimes, as authentic relationships do. But I’m so thankful for the men who have been in community with me over the years. It is a whole new level of comfort and security to have true friendships that are rooted in Christ.
“Whether I’m serving at The Porch or with Watermark’s External Focus ministry, I want people to know that God has used His Word and other believers to radically transform my heart. If I were talking to a guy like I once was, I’d want him to know that the only thing I’ve found that sustains me is not alcohol or relationships, it’s a personal relationship with Jesus. Friends leave, last call comes, and bars eventually go out of business, but faith in Christ is the only thing that brings lasting joy. Serving Him is the only place where life is found, and we don’t have a moment to waste in trusting and pursuing Him.”