Saturday, April 21, 2007

Please forget about the church service; really!

Here is an interesting quote from C.S. Lewis.

Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament or repent or supplicate or adore. And it enables us to do these things best - if you like, it 'works' best - when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of, our attention would have been on God.

Maybe in our attempt to have interesting worship services, we run the risk of drawing attention away from God and onto the service itself. This is something I pray that we never do at Cornerstone. Although I do not believe that our services should be boring, they should never become a show. They should never be so grand or foul that they divide our attention from the true Object of our worship.

Easter Photos

As promised, here are some Easter photos.

Easter Photos

Meet the Robinsons

I took the kids to see the movie "Meet the Robinsons" last night. Amy had a school function and so the kids and I headed for Pleasure Island AMC to see the latest Disney offering. I was very happy with the movie. I went away feeling good, and had several opportunities to ask the kids their opinion of the life lessons that they learned. It was cool that when the kids saw Amy this morning that Andrew told her that it was a movie about friendship. He learned some values! Hooray! I will say that it was a short movie, and rather than let people feel cheated time wise, The theater put a 15 minute Disney cartoon before it. It was so long that I thought I was in the wrong theater. All that being said, it is a great family movie, and lives up to what we expect from Disney.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Video from 2nd Anniversary cookout

I was looking for something to post that you might enjoy and I came across this video back from our 2nd anniversary. I dusted it off and posted it here for your viewing pleasure. It is good to see some of the faces of people who came along side the church at the very beginning who have moved away or moved on to other ministries. It is better to see the faces of those who have stayed by the stuff and are still working hard to serve God here in Four Corners. Thanks for your faithfulness! I got a kick out of watching it and thought you might also. - Link -

And I thought I was Boycotting France...

Last week my 5 year old son caught me using his Bic 4 color pen. He said I could keep it....I was ecstatic. It has 4 colors in one pen. Brilliant! Despite my enthusiasm, I have owned one before, but I rediscovered a love for the versatile little pen. I like to underline and circle words, I bracket and scribble notes in the margin as I read along in my Bible Study. Now I can do it in technicolor. I find myself wanting to reread previous passages and underline new words using red for commands, blue for promises, green for .... well I haven't figured green out just yet, but now I have options. To Bic's credit, according to their official website the pen was invented in 1970, much earlier than my half hearted boycott. I wonder when they invented the fry? Maybe I could just boycott all new french things...but now I am rambling.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mission Zamibia Report From Our Friend Wayne

I got this letter from Bruce Burress forwarded from his cousin Wayne. Last month while Wayne was visiting with us we prayed for him as he was leaving for a short term mission trip to Zambia. Here is his report.

Just got home from Zambia yesterday afternoon and I'm now trying to adjust especially to the weather. Karen is quite happy that the weather is so nice (sunny&50degrees), I personally think it's a bit cold since I'm now use to 90 degree weather. The trip went well all flights were on time both coming and going. I was worried because the first 2 flights going and the last 2 flights coming home were on NW Airlines and I have had poor luck with them over the years, but everything went well. The flights on South African Airlines were very nice. They have been the nicest International flights that I have had. My only hitch was going, they made me pay for excess baggage from Johnnesburg to Ndola. After arriving in Ndola we traveled to Kitwe to the Mondola Ecumenical College where we stayed for one night. The next morning we were off at 4:30 am on our way to Zambezi. The trip use to take 15hrs. but the Zambian government has started improving the road so it only took 10 hrs.Half of the trip was on dirt roads and our driver was a wild man. I don't know how he could avoid all the bumps and pot holes he did traveling at 60 miles/hr.(120KM/Hr). Going out we were lucky because they had had a bad storm the day before so the dirt road was not too dusty, coming back was a different story. After 5hrs. on a dirt road our luggage had had a half inch of dust on it and our had completely turned to the color of dust, when we took a shower that night in Chingola on the trip home the water was brown from the dust coming off of me.
We arrived in Zambezi early afternoon and the orphans were waiting for us along with Pastor Bernard Lumene and his family. There were hugs and greetings all around.The kids range in age from 4 yrs. old to 16 yrs. old we think. Some of the kids don't really know how old they are. Zambezi is quite different from the rest of Zambia because it is so isolated. They people are very poor but they are not so poor and underfed as the rest of Zambia so stealing is not quite so rampant and there was very little begging. The people in general were very polite and friendly. The kids are very well behaved and very warm and loving.
We started right off the next morning going out to the orphanage work site. There were 5 of us 2 of were from my church and 3 were from one of our local Baptist churches. One of our team has a small construction company, one a small plumbing business and 3 of them are soccer coaches and in Zambis it's called football and it is the main sport. On Sunday afternoons after church, they play soccer. The orphan have a team that play other kids, the women of the church have a team that play other women's church teams and the men of the church also have their team. So every Sunday there are 3 soccer games one right after another on the same field which is kept mowed by cows and oxen grazing so one must learn how to avoid cow pies. The players play on the rough field some with tennis shoes, some with street shoes and over half with no shoes.
At this time the pastor's house is close to being completed. We help put in the plumbing there.We did no electrical work because they will not have electric at the site for at least a year or two. The walls are up on the girls dormitory. The girl's and boy's dormitories will each hold 48 orphans. There are presently in Zambezi over 100 kids living on the street and that doesn't count the orphans associated with the front porch orphanage or those orphans who are living with a distant relative and that is from a community of about 7000 people.We worked mainly on the dining hall and kitchen building. There are 2 large dining rooms with the kitchen between the two of them. The dining rooms will double as study areas and classrooms. Pastor Lumene's wife Betty teaches the kids English in the afternoon after they have returned from the local grade school. Average classroom size in the grade school is 61pupils.
We would start working at 6:30 in the morning and stop for lunch at noon. After lunch we would return and work only 2-3 hours because of the heat. We were all drinking about one gallon of water a day to keep hydrated. We were able to get most of the roof up and completed on the dining - kitchen building before we ran out of supplies. The basic problem is you have to travel 10 hrs. to Kitwe to get supplies. We were also able to build new benches for the church but even then we bought every screw that was available in Zambezi to build 11 benches. We would start our day with prayer and end our day with prayer.
We celebrated Easter there and it was a moving experience. A normal church service is usually 3 hours long with much singing and dancing by both the choir and congregation and much praying by the pastor and the congregation. They have a time when everyone is called to pray individually at the same time out loud. It very different. The people here are very religious and put their trust and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When they sing they are singing not to themselves but they are singing to God. This experience was very meaningful to our team both in what we gave our time and money and what we received God's love and grace. We were blessed in what we accomplished and that we had very minor injuries and no illness.

Please Pray for Bruce Clark

I am asking you to pause to pray for one of our members, Bruce Clark. Last week Dr.'s discovered an 11 cm cancer on his kidney. Today at 9:15 he has surgery to remove the tumor, and they will also check to see if their are any other cancers in the region. Also, lift up his wife Sue and three kids Emma, Anna and Robert. Here is a picture of Bruce and Sue following their baptism last fall. I will try to post later today and give an update.

I just got back from visiting Bruce at the hospital. The surgery was successful and he is in great spirits. Please continue to keep all of them in your prayers.

Revival in Afghanistan, a military news website has an interesting story about a recent revival at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. You can read the article here.

April Mission Letter from Gene McKinnley

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Dear Pastor and praying Friends:
What a blessing it is to serve the Lord!

Last month we ordered the pew coverings and they said it would be 14+ days. We needed it earlier than that, so prayed that God would get it here sooner. God answered by having the materials in our hands within 8 days. I told the man at the shop that he was looking at an answer to prayer. I was able to give him a Gospel leaflet and briefly tell him of the God we serve.

We finished getting our building ready, and we had our first official meetings on Easter Sunday. We had 23 people present with 6 first time visitors. God answered prayer by bringing Tom and Luke’s Mother and Dad out for our Easter Morning service.
We are continuing to see God work on people’s hearts as we are out knocking on doors. We had 2 opportunities last week to give short presentations of the Gospel. I praise the Lord for each opportunity to share the truth of our sin, the penalty for that sin, and God’s glorious payment to redeem us from sin death and Hell.
We are very busy now trying to finish several things. Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance in all that we do. Tom and I are trying to finish our assignments for our Baptist History 1 class, we are trying to get the next Good News Paper finished and ready for printing, and we have several visitors coming from the States at various times this summer.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Ephesians 6:18-20
Your servant in Christ,
Gene McKinnley

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Question Mark Kid

From the Orlando Sentinel ........ "During introductions on the first day of class last year, Cho Seung-Hui sat sullenly in the back of the room and refused to speak. On the sign-in sheet, he had put only a question mark for his name."

On Sunday, we focused on attention on Words. Little did I realize that our message from James about the words we use that can turn lives around would strike so pointedly this week. In the message, I referred to Eric Harris and Dillon Clebold, in an illustration about Frank Perretti's experiences as a "monster." It is true that our words are powerful. You can listen to Sunday's message here.

I don't want to re-preach my message, but who, in our lives is living a "question mark existence?" Who needs a exclamation of God's love. That they mean something to someone period. How did Cho get this far without someone who has God's love in their hearts sharing Jesus with him?

Maybe he had been shown God's love and rejected it; in all honesty I don't know. But this one thing I know. Monday's massacre is just an illustration of the meaningless existence that humanism has loaded on our backs. Jesus Christ's death on the cross gives us hope of eternal life. If you do not have Jesus in your life, then pray to God and invite Jesus into your life today.

Do not wait, pray this prayer with me. "Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, I know that Jesus died on the cross to take away my sins. I place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior."

Now, if you prayed to accept Jesus, please let me know by adding a comment to this page. I will happily contact you and talk to you about God's answers to your question marks.

Nasally's a form of singing

Watching American Idol last night, I almost fell out of my chair when Chris Richardson challenged Simon's criticism by actually defending his nasally sound. He said, to the one before whom he stands in judgment, ''Nasally's a form of singing; I don't know if you knew that or not." Simon wanted to discuss it further, but was cut off by Ryan. Essentially Chris should be voted off simply for his statement, if not his lack of tone. In a way, he is right, nasally is a form of singing, but not one people want to listen to. Alley cats have their form of singing too.

The lesson I take from this is that when I am criticized, my natural instinct is to defend myself. Rather than be quick to defend I should listen and take the criticism. It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Later, I will have time to process the criticism and gauge its validity. Fortunately for Chris, I am predicting that Sanjaya's house of cards falls this week. Like a cat who has now caught and finally killed a mouse, the life is gone for most of us in the vote for the worst campaign. His arrogance, along with his terrible sound takes all the fun out of it for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome Home

We want every guest who attends Cornerstone to become actively involved on a weekly basis in the life of our church. We really want everyone to know our goals for involving them in the life of the church and to know where they are in that process. One of our values is to NOT coerce, or pressure people to take spiritual steps, but to present them, and encourage them to follow God's leading in their lives. Our blueprint includes 4 distinct environments.

Our first ministry is to build a foyer where you can be introduced to God and to others in the church. For us this is our Sunday Morning Worship Services.

Secondly, we attempt to provide living room environments where you can relax and enjoy true fellowship. These are the various events and activities provided by our Bible Fellowship Groups. These may be anything from dinners to ball games, golf outings, camps and retreats.

Third, we invite everyone to the dinning room where we study God's Word, and apply it to everyday life. Most of these groups meet before the morning worship services on Sundays. These groups are where ministry takes place. Each group prays for each other's needs, and helps one another as they are able.

Our fourth environment is the kitchen . This is where ministry takes place, as we take what we know and use it for the benefit of others.

It is our goal that everyone associated with Cornerstone will consistently work through all of these environments. Just as you would not live in only one room of your home, building life together involves regularly walking through each of these rooms. If you are new to Cornerstone, we hope that you will understand our love and desire to build life alongside you. That you will understand our process and where you are in that process, and that you will continue to build life together.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Prayer response to the VA Tech shooting

They just announced that there are over 32 fatalities in the shootings today at VA Tech University. My heart is broken for the families and friends of the victims. We as a church and Christian community must lift them up in prayer. In response to this I would like to give some people that we are praying for:

1. The families and friends of the victims.
2. The Christian student unions as they minister to their classmates.
3. The faculty and staff at VA Tech as they deal with the emotions and try to finish the year.
4. The family of the shooter, theirs is a terrible loss as well.
5. The area churches as they respond to the tragedy.

6. Tomorrow's Convocation

Inside Out Umbrellas

In spite of tornado warnings we had a great day at Cornerstone this past Sunday. Just as the second service crowd was coming in the sky fell out. Inside out umbrellas, yellow wet floor signs, cold, wet, but happy. It was great to see some of our great UK members return after months apart, as well as the return of several of our new Easter guests. The worship was awesome, bringing tears to my eyes as we sang in unison of our Holy God. If you missed because of the storm, I highly recommend that you catch up by listening to the message here.

Update: I got this from Chuck Stephens and thought I would pass it along...

"... I wanted to say what a wonderful day yesterday was! The worship, message and small group time were all exciting and uplifting. I’m very anxious to see how God continues to work in our midst at Cornerstone." - Chuck Stephens