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Posts Tagged ‘Cornerstone’

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  – Galatians 6:1-2

I’ve been through church crisis one too many times. The longtime head pastor of my church that I grew up in passed away due to cancer. Our popular youth pastor was fired abruptly because the new pastor that came in wanted a whole new staff in place. My good friend became an intern for our church (after just becoming a believer) and had an affair with one of the staff members. He took his life soon after. The accountant at my last church embezzled almost half a million dollars. My current pastor had to resign due to extramarital affairs. Yes… the church experiences death, scandals and affairs just like the real world. I must note that in most of these situations, the church handled them very poorly (something I’ve experienced personally as well).

But how are we doing as Christians in handling these situations? Do we deal with those caught in sin in a loving way? Do we restore them gently back to Christ with the truth of the gospel? Do we act Godly when the media tears into us or do we get defensive and attack back? All I know is Satan loves to attack the church when things are going well. All the situations I described above happened when the particular church I was at was at their peak and experiencing tremendous growth. We forget that when we became Christians that Christ warned us that we would face persecution. One of the things I know is that Christians today do not handle persecution well. Look at the Chick-fil-a and Duck Dynasty situations and see how defensive Christians get when our views are spoken against. I’ve been embarrassed how Christians have reacted in the media about gay marriage and other topics that go against our beliefs. Do we not trust that God will ultimately prevail?

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  –  Acts 11:19-21

God works during times of despair. He redeems and restores and takes these situations and uses them for his glory. The church isn’t perfect and it isn’t about one man or a building. It’s a living organic body of messy believers that come to together to grow and worship our Lord. We treat Pastors like rock stars and put them on a pedestal so high they could never meet the expectations we put on them. Pastors are just messy people being used by God. But God isn’t going to let his church fall. He is still faithful even when we are unfaithful.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”  –  Romans 3:3-4

I have been impressed with my current church and how they have handled our current crisis. They are doing it in a loving biblical way. My last two churches were clueless in dealing with people caught in sin and usually let them leave without any restoration. When I heard the news in church, the first thing I did was look at myself. I took this as a warning sign that I myself am a step away from falling into temptation and sin. I am thankful for my community and that I can come to them about anything that I may be struggling with. I am thankful for my church and that God called me to be here during this crisis so I can see firsthand his redeeming power at work. I remember when my last church was going through its scandal, I was quoted in the paper at that time by saying “God is bigger than this”. My viewpoint is still the same – God has got this and He will prevail.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world – John 16:33

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David Booth and Louie Giglio

Judah Smith

Judah Smith

They showed a video showing the global impact Passion has had on the world. Passion does a world tour every summer and we were asked to pray for the all the different countries. Louie Giglio brought out David Booth of the Vancouver Canucks to talk about his passion for Jesus. I love seeing people in celebrity status that are willing to make a stand for Christ. Next up was Pastor Judah Smith of The City Church to preach the next session. I actually got to attend The City Church when I was visiting my father in Seattle. Judah spoke to us on community from 1 Peter 2:1-10.

God is singular in character, but plural in person (Genesis 1:26). He is in community with Himself and we are made in His image.

Church = Community

God intended for each of us to live in community. If we are alone, it isn’t good because God designed us for community. We are to reflect His image and without community, the world will not see God. It is impossible to accomplish our goals without each other because we need each other. In 1 Peter, God describes us like a living rock and He intends to build something authentic and real in our lives.

It’s imperative for us to stay connected even though it isn’t always easy. Our community (the church) is different from the world’s definition of community. Jesus is the living stone – the Cornerstone. We are built around the living stone to make His portrait. Mercy, integrity, faithfulness – the definition of all of these is Jesus. The Bible isn’t a book of concepts and principles, it’s a book about a person – Jesus.

What makes our community different than all other gatherings? JESUS. He makes us unique. We are average without Him.

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I only know a few people in this Experiencing God small group (I would hardly call 25 people small..) that I am in. But tonight I shared my testimony with them so they could get to know me. A lot of them go to Cornerstone and to meet someone who had Pastor Linn as a youth Pastor and then to also meet someone who was a part of the beginning days of the church was interesting to them. They of course had lots of questions for me. For me, it was a time of reflection of my roller coaster life. Not that it has been bad, but I can see where God has always been present and how he has always been calling me back to him all throughout my life.

This week’s study has been focused on joining God where he is working and to be a servant for him. For me, I have always interpreted that as a service project or an event, etc. I have had so many opportunities that have come my way lately that I could easily jump on board with. I have been very careful about not keeping myself too busy or ignore where I am at in life. So I just commit to pray about each opportunity and to make sure it is part of Gods plan. Other than be father to my kids, God keeps telling me to be still. He doesn’t mean to just sit and do nothing, but to really take the time and build my relationship with him. I know it is because he is molding me for something bigger and better in my life. I have experienced things the past six years that only I can attribute to God, but I truly feel he has something even bigger than my puny brain can ever come up with. My relationship with the Lord is so rich right now, I can’t ever imagine walking away from it.

God has taught me so much about his sovereignty and the power of prayer. I always find myself in situations where I want to control my environment. But I am in a place right now that I know praying is more than enough for God to do his work and I don’t have to anything more. It takes the power out of my hands and teaches me to trust God. Last year, I left my last church looking for community to apply the gospel to my life. At that church, my life was mainly about me and my accomplishments (not to say there wasn’t good things.. but this was my idolatry issue there). There are a lot of people who like to pat themselves on the back there and I got caught up with that. I have learned the importance of community at my current church and I now have that and it has become a big part of my life. But now God is teaching me another part of the gospel – the cosmic part of it. This is the part where we look at all creation and trust God is in charge and that he is at work. This is huge because we all want to do things our way because our faith and trust in God is weak. This is where in my Experiencing God study that I feel God is wanting me to look at and join with him.

At church today they nominated Mark Durban to be a deacon. You know, Mark has stuck to me like glue these past few months. I have had many great mentors (I can’t tell you how important having older wiser people in your life is for growth. You will never get that from younger people or people your age), but Mark seeks me out each week to see how I am doing. My last counselor was great and he helped me with a lot of things. But what I have learned is counseling is a process that process needs to keep going, even when things are great. Mark has been counseling me each week for the past few months with the material from CCEF. This stuff is so rich with the gospel and is truly material for life long change. I have taken some courses myself, but to have is applied has been amazing. I’m not going to lie to you, I fought God long and hard my first month of counseling. Our tendency is to finger-point, blame everyone for our problems and simply to avoid them all together (I hate it when I fall into this trap). It is such an exhausting way to live and one will simply carry those burdens their whole life and look to quick fixes to get by. True change doesn’t even begin until you have a desire to change first and that you are willing only to look at yourself and your own heart issues and not anyone elses. We spent a lot of time re-visiting my childhood and I did not like seeing myself as that scared little boy in the corner watching my parents fight and my father abusing me. Or being picked on in school or going through divorce. But after a few weeks, I finally gave in and repented my crap to God and I have experienced so much freedom since. I quit blaming all these people and circumstances for who I am today and remembered who I was in Christ. Just learning about the gospel and my need for a Savior has so enriched my life. I have never had this much peace in my heart and I feel the changes going on in me will be life long changes. I am so thankful for Mark, my church, my MC and the scores of support from friends for their commitment to me and the changes God is doing.

So today the plan is to be still and allow God to mold me. I’m growing, learning and I love my life! I am so thankful I am choosing to go through the fire and trusting God as I face my problems and not side-step or hide from them. God has something huge in store and I want to be ready for it. And the glory part of it comes with how he used this broken guy who loves Jesus for his purposes.

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We might choose sin now but if we really know what hell is like would we still choose sin? Everything does have consequences both now and in the future.

Ron Merrell is a hero of mine. He has inspired me so much in so many ways. Cornerstone occasionally brings him back to speak on main stage. Here is an amazing message he gave today on our choice to sin.

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Getting showered with flowers

Cutting the ribbon

The happy village

Our team traveled far to dedicate water wells to two villages. These wells cost about $1200 and will provide clean water to an entire village. I had the honor of dedicating the first well. I’ve always had a heart for these water wells as I’ve partnered with Blood Water Mission in the past – an organization that builds wells in Africa. It was awesome to see how excited the people were when we started to pump the water from these wells. The second well was special to us because it was donated by a couple from Cornerstone. John and Sue dedicated the well and the people celebrated with their drums when the water started flowing. What an exciting time this was! (Add-on note: John and Sue are the anonymous couple that donated the well. They had been praying about building one of these wells and God delivered a check for exactly $1200 to them. There was a mistake in some paperwork from a place Sue worked at and she received that check at the moment they prayed. Praise God!)

John and Sue dedicate the well

Pastor Linn pumps some water

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Train station in Chennai

After lunch, we made our way down to the train station. First, we came by plane, next we took a bus, now it was time to take the train. We had to pull our luggage through large crowds of people. It gave us a little taste of what the people go through here with the overcrowding population in India.

Lady with a monkey

Boarding the train

Kory, Brian and I get prepared for our 6 hour journey

It was nice to finally get settled in. But our long travels weren’t over as we had to endure a six-hour train ride. It was pretty crowded and the vendors walk up and down the aisle trying to sell you street food. I slept most of the ride. There were a couple little girls that took a liking to Rick’s Ipad. They probably have never seen gadgets like that ever before. I really enjoyed looking out the window and seeing a little of the country of India.

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Day 1 is travel day. Twelve of us headed to Tijuana in two vans for a short but amazing weekend serving the hispanic community and bonding together as a team. Cornerstone typically does 2-3 of these trips a year. The purpose is to introduce someone to missions and give them an opportunity to learn about God’s heartbeat for the world. It is our prayer and hope that they would then consider visiting one of our focus countries (India, Peru, Kenya or Belize) on a short-term mission trip or begin to pray about possibly going on a long-term mission trip.

Mexico Caravan Ministries mission statement:

Mexico Caravan Ministries is a missions mobilization ministry. Our primary objective is the revelation of God’s heart for the world, the presentation of His plan for worldwide missions and the motivation of His people to take part in His global plan.  Groups come from all over North America and typically spend a few days to a week learning about world missions and build homes for local families in need.

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