Our Youth Rock!!

Our interim Youth Leader, Christopher Slagley, just tweeted this update today about how are youth are helping to lead the way with the “Food Drop 2012”…

First of all, Christopher is doing a phenomenal job of leading our youth to know and serve Jesus (he’s doing this while traveling and working at his full-time job). I’m so impressed with his servant’s heart and “make it happen” attitude.

Secondly, I am equally impressed with our youth who continually rise to the challenge when our church puts out the call to do something big. They get it! I think about Paul’s words to Timothy…

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Many times our young men and women are jumping over whatever bar we set! They are setting an example for all of us.

Great job Christopher and Cornerstone Youth!!

Rusty

Food Drop 2012, etc.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday than by serving others in our community! I think He is pleased and honored to watch his followers offer mercy, compassion and kindness in a way that shines a bright light into the darkness of our world.

I’m excited to be a part of a church that loves sharing Christ by filling a box (or boxes) full of food and feeding families right here in East Alabama who will be struggling in the first part of the new year. I love watching people carrying these boxes into the worship space with a big smile on their face. Then there is always the question – “how many do we have so far??”. As of right now we probably have around 170 filled boxes in the worship space and around 800 boxes that have been taken but not yet returned to the church. We would really like to have 1,000 boxes in the worship space by Christmas Eve (hint, hint!). My family and I are working on putting ours together this week. Also, remember we will have the little gift boxes available again this Sunday with the card you can send to someone if you would like to put together a box of food in their honor. For more information on the food boxes, go to Food Drop 2012.

There just seems to be a lot of “buzz” and energy within our church right now as we are filling boxes, wrapping gifts for free and preparing for the launch of our new site in February! I just want to say “thank you!!” I really appreciate the way we are all responding to God’s calling on our church as we exponentially impact the people around us for the sake of the Gospel.

Rusty

What Does it Mean to Multi-Site?

(This is a guest post by Cornerstone’s admin guy Jack Fisher)

I grew up in the United Methodist Church. For as long as I can remember we got dressed up, went to Sunday school, then to the worship service and after that we went out to lunch. For our family that is what going to church meant. It was a few hours where our lives centered around visiting the big box called church and then getting to go out to eat.

Things have certainly changed for me since those days. I discovered something called “contemporary worship” when I started attending Cornerstone in 2000. It was a little odd at first, no hymnals, no Sunday school and I didn’t have to get dressed up. But the odd experience soon turned in to a deeper relationship with Christ that I had never had before. For me the contemporary style of worship eliminated some of the barriers I had growing up. These barriers kept me in a mode of playing church rather than experiencing Christ.

Now we are talking about a multi-site church strategy here at Cornerstone. For many people, like me, who grew up knowing only one style of worship, multi-site might be a little hard to grasp. It’s not a church plant, it’s not a church split, it is Cornerstone in many locations. The same church, the same leadership, the same beliefs and values and definitely the same mission. And to be honest it’s really not a new strategy, it’s how the New Testament church grew almost 2000 years ago.

Take about two minutes and watch the video above if you haven’t already. It has a simple explanation of what it means to multi-site as a church. Yes, it’s also a promotion for a couple of books. But, those books were part of the process that helped us decide to move forward with the multi-site strategy here at Cornerstone. Oh, and by the way, you can buy them in our bookstore.

Visit the Leadership Blog weekly for more updates on our progress towards our first multi-site location. And if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask the church leadership and staff.

Good in the Midst of Disaster

Myself and several others from our church went up to Dadeville last Saturday to help in any way we could with the relief effort from the ef-4 tornado that hit that area hard. We got there and were given a couple of places to drive to and see if anyone needed help. As we drove down this one road and then down another and eventually out to a point on the lake where several houses were, I found myself speechless and stunned by the destruction. Homes completely obliterated and debris strown everywhere you looked, and huge pine trees twisted and snapped in half. It was somewhat chaotic as power company trucks were trying to get certain areas, clean up crews were maneuvering equipment into tight places and property owners were trying to salvage personal items. We helped this elderly lady (she was in the house during the tornado) move furniture, pictures, china and anything that was still in tact to a trailer where someone else was ready to haul it to warehouse. The interior walls of her home had been lifted up off the floor and then dropped. But while the walls were up in the air, several items were blown up under the walls before landing back on the floor. I found a picture frame holder sticking our from under a wall! Her garage was picked up and moved 30 feet. The front door casing along with the French doors were sucked out and blown somewhere unknown. It was shocking.

Our new friend was so thankful that her life was spared and grateful that we had come to help. She was so amazed that we had just showed up out of nowhere! She cried as she expressed her appreciation. We prayed with her, her family and some other helpers before we left. Galatians 6:9-10 comes to mind in light of our time spent serving this lady. It says,

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I really believe our church gets this! I love being the pastor of a church that wants to reach out to people. I also believe our state gets this! I’m proud to live in a state that takes care of it’s own people. I really believe God designed every person with the capacity to do good and reach out to others in need. (whether we exercise that ability or not is up to us). Sometimes helping makes us tired and is not always easy. It costs something to help others. But, there is a return on that work. God is taking our effort and turning into good that sometimes is seen and oftentimes isn’t.  The success of our effort is when it’s done ultimately to the glory of God.

So, keep up the good work.

 

An Incredible Holy Week and Easter at Cornerstone

What an incredible Holy Week and Easter we had at our Church! Words can’t describe how God moved in the hearts of those who were a part of our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter experiences. However, our IT director did a great job of putting into words our Maundy Thursday experience (complete with incredible pictures). Thanks Scott for all you do! Here are his thoughts…

Maundy Thursday 2011 at Cornerstone

Last night from 8pm to 8am (that’s Maundy Thursday from 8pm until today, Good Friday at 8am) our church, Cornerstone, had its annual observation of what Jesus and his disciples did on that Thursday night as explained in the Gospels. Our observations follow that tradition with communion, feet washing, and then an open area for prayer and Christian meditation similar to what Jesus and his disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane.

It is actually hard to explain. I was trying to find words, and obviously some photos, to explain the night to someone who wasn’t able to be there in person, but nothing I can think of gives an adequate representation of the night, and the experience I believe is different for each individual who moves through the worship setting. Each year I come expecting, expecting something specific, some preconceived notions of what the night will bring, and each year those are basically thrown out the window by the time I get in the car to come home. Last night was no different. While I didn’t spend as much time in the “garden” area last night, I did experience something new as a believe, and I had the privilege of helping others come into the worship experience who had never been here before.

Something interesting happens when we as believers take a moment to set aside time to spend with God without distractions, without cell phones beeping, without people running about. Our lives are so busy, so hurried from one thing to another that we rarely have time realistically observe Psalm 46:10, to just “be still and know He is God”. That is what last night typically tries to achieve. It isn’t something that just pops out of the air, it takes a lot of preparation, and a willing spirit.

Below are a few photos of what was the main part of the room. The photo above is Rusty preparing to serve communion and out of the photo behind me is a foot washing station. After communion people were able to proceed into the main area through the garden around the “I AM” statements of Christ where they could read scripture, contemplate on information about each area, write on an adjacent board with chalk, feel the grass of the garden, or just sit and pray.

Tonight, on Good Friday, we turn our eyes towards the cross and the amazing sacrifice Jesus made by dying for the sins of the world. It’s all connected, all part of the same story, part of my story. For some additional photos see Maundy Thursday, Chalk Board Prayers, Easter Sunday, or the Holy Week Gallery.

Swimsuits & Beach Towels!!

I just wanted to plug something that is happening in our pre-teen ministry this Sunday. Our Cornerstone Preteens have partnered with BigHouse Foundation to collect swimsuits and towels to help foster children throughout Alabama get ready for summer. Foster care is an area in our state and local community that is in real need of some love and attention. We are glad to work in conjunction with the BigHouse to minister to Foster families.

BigHouse is a Christ-centered non-profit organization designed to meet the needs of children in foster care.  Their mission is to connect the needs of foster families with the generosity of our community through the love of Christ.

There are 6,000 children in foster care in the state of Alabama and we want to help each one of them have a new swimsuit and towel this summer.

Our collection day is this Sunday, April 17.  Please bring NEW swimsuits and/or towels and drop them in our collection bins near the kids’ check-in stations.  All sizes, infant through adults are needed.

For more information about BigHouse you can go to their website.

I would love to see our church go over the top with this!!

Thank you for your amazing generosity!

See you under the ball,

Rusty

 

I AM The Good Shepherd, Lenten Reader Day 36

Thanks for checking out this blog post. You have probably come here via the “I Am” Lenten Reader (day 36) at Cornerstone. If that is not how came across this post, no problem, glad you’re here.

I taught this past Sunday from John 10:11 (NIV). In this passage Jesus declares to his listeners, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Jesus is comparing himself to a shepherd who loves his sheep and will do anything to keep them from ultimate harm (death) including dying for them. In fact, we now know that this was a statement foreshadowing what was to come for Jesus. He came to this earth for a purpose. It was His mission to get on that cross.

I think about that scene in the movie The Passion of the Christ where Jesus falls to the ground beside the cross, bloody and beaten up. Then he agonizingly drags himself over and puts himself on the cross. There were no soldiers forcing him, he willingly puts himself on the cross. I can just imagine while he was dragging himself onto that cross, in his heart he was calling out “I MUST serve people on this cross!” I MUST do this for others. I have come to serve not to be served”

Jesus’ mission was to SERVE. To serve others. I think about our life missions: to get married, to have a great career, to make money, to raise a family, to have a better body, to achieve at a higher level. These are all fine goals, but if they become our only mission and the object of our attention then we have missed the point of life. We too should live to serve.

Jesus had one focused objective – to go to Jerusalem and be sacrificed for the sake of the world. He was trying to get there as quickly as possible, not because of the cross itself, but because he was completing his mission of bearing the sins of humanity. He WANTED to get that done! He knew on the other side of that cross was FREEDOM! Freedom for you and for me.

What a good, worthy, approved, and valuable Shepherd!!

Some questions for you to ponder:
How are you handling your shepherd right now?
Does Jesus have your full attention right now?
Do you love the one who got on that cross for you? If so, how does that look in your life?

Dallas Willard in his book, The Divine Conspiracy said, “The Lord is my Shepherd’ is written on many more tombstones than lives.”

I pray this would not be true of you and me as we follow Christ. I pray those words, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, would be etched into our hearts as we live our lives.

Everything Rises or Falls on Leadership :: Leadership Matters

Just thinking a lot lately about the value of leadership. John Maxwell once said, “Everything rises or falls on leadership”. This tells me leadership matters! So, I’m reposting something I wrote last year on this subject. Here you go…

Paul said in Romans 12:8 if we have the gift of leadership then we should use it and take the responsibility seriously!

if it is leadership, let him govern diligently (NIV)

If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously (NLT)

I am constantly aware of this verse as I, along with our staff and Executive Team, provide leadership for Cornerstone. Leading other people is serious business. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Really, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, leading other people is a high calling.

Jack Fisher our Administrator sent out this article from Forbes.com entitled “Rising above your job description“. I liked this author’s take on leadership,

“The first step toward real leadership is understanding that it isn’t about title or hierarchy. It’s about attitude, specifically having an attitude that puts people above all infrastructure and process, considering them the center of all activities, not part of the periphery. To a real leader, people are not the means but the end. Under that leader they do their jobs not because they should or must but because they want to and are passionate about it.”

While that’s true in the corporate world, in the church it holds special significance because we are leading people, in the eternal sense, to know and serve Jesus. So, God needs people in these important roles who have died to power, worldly significance, prestige, self-glory and “serve me” mentality. He is looking for true servants who have clothed themselves in humility and love, who can point the way toward the redemption that God offers through Christ. Before leaders in the church ask others to bow the knee to Christ, they need to have performed that act themselves. Our outward attitudes should convey clearly our inward convictions.

Please pray for our Executive Team and staff as we discern our next step as a church. There are some very exciting ideas brewing in the heart of this team. They have committed themselves to passionately advancing our mission under the guidance of God’s Spirit. They will need the support of the whole body as they lead us into the future.

See you under the ball!
Rusty

I AM The Gate, Lenten Reader Day 15

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:7-9

My family and I spend a lot of time down at “the farm” in Dale county just outside of Ozark. In order to get to certain parts of the property you have deal with a gate. The gate is actually two gates that swing together and have a chain wrapped around them with a lock on it. So in order to get into that particular part of the property you have to open the lock, take off the chain, swing open the gates and then drive through. Once on the other side you have to close the gates, put the chain back on, and close the lock. Sometimes it’s a hassle when you’re running late to get in the deer stand or setting up on a turkey! But there’s no other way to get where you want to go than by going through that gate.

In this passage in John chapter 10 Jesus is telling us something very profound about gates, sheep and sheep pens. He said that we are like sheep who need a sheep pen. We need to be in a place that is different from everything outside the sheep pen. In fact, we need to be rescued from everything outside the sheep pen. Inside the pen is security, community, hope, joy, rest, peace and salvation. Outside the pen is loneliness, fear, insecurity, hopelessness, anxiety, worry and death.

Everyone wants what’s in the pen! But, not everyone accepts the responsibility that comes with “pen Life”. In some form or fashion, I wonder if we all haven’t done this. We want to have all the benefits from having Christ in our life (grace, salvation, joy, peace, etc.) but don’t want to do the work of faith. Things like genuinely offering unconditional love to other people; forgiving people (with words AND actions) who have hurt you or undermined you; sharing your faith with others; not compromising when we are tempted to do the wrong thing; caring for others when it invades our comfort or limited time and on and on! The gate of Jesus is one that requires something of us when we walk through Him. If we only take the benefits of salvation and not the responsibility, we cheapen the precious grace that cost God His only son.

I pray that your life reflects the glory of the shepherd who has laid down His life for us. I pray that you are living the FULL life that he has for you.

And so I’ll leave with these questions I asked on Sunday at the close of my message…

  • Do you need to confess and repent of anything today?
  • How about your walk with Christ, is it all it should be right now?
  • Have you given up, compromised, settled or been listening to other voices that have led you away from Jesus?

Are you ready to make a change?? Ready to give your whole heart to the One who gave it all for you?? He is waiting for you with unmerited grace and deep love.

I AM The Bread of Life, Lenten Reader Day 8

For those of you not tracking with us in our “I Am” message series, let me clue you in. This post is related to the sermon from this past Sunday on Jesus declaration “I am the bread of life”. If you are participating in this series with us then you were directed here by our Lenten Reader on day 8.

So here are some questions for reflection:

Jesus told the crowds that followed him across the lake, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give you”. What was he telling the crowd with this statement? What is he telling you this statement? How might this statement change how you live?

The crowds made a reference to the manna that miraculously came down from heaven when Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. What did Jesus say was the difference between the manna and the bread of life? Is there any possibility that you are still choosing manna over the bread of life?

“The bread of life is the antidote to having eaten the forbidden fruit” – with this quote in mind, how can you be a part of sharing this bread with others? Is there someone you know who needs this antidote? Write their name down in your Lenten Reader and starting praying that their heart will be open when you share Jesus with them soon.

Thanks for participating in this series together. I’m praying that God will continue to mold and shape you into the person he needs you to be.

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