Monday, January 15, 2018

The Cost of Love

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Martin Luther King

We fool ourselves when we believe that truly great love for people and God is a smooth path. The refrain "All We Need is Love, Love, Love" is a despicable lie that leads to despair and worse unless that love is expressed in the willingness to sacrifice, suffer, struggle, be misunderstood, and even hated for the cause. And the cause is people. You cannot bring about justice without love, but it is not a weak, soft emotion. This love will require your death in one way or another. For Martin Luther King and others, it was physical death. It might be the death of some relationships, of your reputation with those who cannot/will not understand, certainly the death of your self-focus. It will require the death of validating responding in kind.

Jesus was the greatest example. We're always quoting scriptures about his love, but often forget what love required of him. Luke 9:51 tells us when he knew that nothing but disappointment, torture, and death awaited him in Jerusalem, he steadfastly set his face toward Jerusalem. His passion drove him to face it without whimpering, whining, withdrawing--or hating. He received the full measure of everything he knew awaited him, and died--with love on his lips and in his heart. The cause goes on.

In lesser fashion, because no one approaches Christ in the weight of the burden and cause, but humanly almost unimaginable, MLK loved fiercely, suffered, sacrificed, and struggled for justice. He knew he was in danger, he knew he was misunderstood and reviled, but he never bowed to fear or self-protection. He died at the hands of haters, with love on his lips.The cause goes on.

May I strive to fight for the justice and the things that matter to God with similar unrelenting will to sacrifice, struggle, suffer, and love fiercely. Easier said than done. God, help me to die to whatever stands in my way of love like this.

"The time is always right to do what is right." MLK

Thank you,  Dr. King.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Cornerstone Church is in the middle of much change. So many have asked what is going on, and in the absence of the right story, alternate versions generally crop up. So, here is a simple explanation of where we are and why.

We have been a denominational church for many years. It is a good denomination, and we stand with them in all our foundational beliefs. However, over the last few years, the denominational priorities have made it increasingly difficult and financially unfeasible to fulfill our mission and responsibility to the local area and needs to which God has called us. We believe after Jesus, our first commitment must be to the area where we live and serve. We attempted to dialogue and mutually negotiate over the last few years, but the gap between us actually widened. In August,
the Cornerstone Church congregation voted overwhelmingly to discontinue denominational membership, and become an independent congregation for the sake of the mission. We believe that the kingdom of God, and bringing people into it, is bigger than denominational loyalty. So though we loved the denomination and agree with their doctrine, we could no longer work within their structure and polity and feel clear in our hearts about our responsibility to the community.

Our former denomination, like many denominations, has a policy that all church deeds have a trust clause claim, stating that the building belongs to the denomination, not the local congregation. Despite our desire to pay the remainder of our building loan to our denomination, and additional money billed to us, in exchange for keeping the property and additions we have paid for since 1984, the denomination has chosen to exercise their claim. Some don't understand why we don't challenge this. We have had very competent and affirmative legal advice from a variety of experienced attorneys. The trust clause has been challenged many times and been overturned many times. However, the Bible is very clear in I Corinthians 6 that believers are not supposed to take other Christians to court, that it is a bad witness to the name of Christ. So, our Leadership Board has chosen not to initiate a court battle, but to just let denominational polity have its way, and trust God with our future. As a simple matter of information, the trust clause was not included on the deed to our Mogadore property, and that campus will not be affected.

Are we are disappointed?
Of course, but we are not discouraged. This is just a building. A very special building, yes. But it is just bricks and mortar. The CHURCH is the PEOPLE and the relationships that have been built among those people. We have kept everything that is most important—the presence of God and his people. That makes my heart full and happy!

So, what does all this mean for us?
It means our last day to worship in the Killian Rd. building is Sunday, October 29. We will have all three regular services that day, and then at 6 o’clock in the evening, we will have an all-church praise service, sharing testimonies of how God has moved in us and grown us in that location, thanking God for his goodness, and believing him for the future.

Our new Portage Lakes Campus location is Coventry Elementary School at 3089 Manchester Rd. Our first time to worship there together will be Sunday, November 5. On this day only we will have just one, big joint service at 10:30 am in order to celebrate and dedicate this new space and place together in our journey to God. It will be a super day!

To be clear, if you see a group meeting on Killian Rd. at our former location any day or time after Sunday, October 29, it will NOT be Cornerstone Church. You will find the Cornerstone you know at Coventry Elementary every week at our regular times from November 5 on.

For decades in this location, Cornerstone has been helping people find the Father, a Family, and a Fulfilling Future. In recent months, so many new, wonderful people have become part of the Cornerstone experience. And I am confident—our best days are ahead of us, not behind us! God will work it all out for our good and his glory.  We will continue to serve the community and world we love, as we always have.

We are ready to have you join us in the adventure ahead.
We are saving a place just for you.

We are Cornerstone.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


At least 1 million words are in our dictionary. One study has found that the average 20-year-old American knows as many as 42,000 words. But 42,000 is just a fraction of the words we could use.  We reduce our vocabulary even more by using significantly fewer of those words when we verbally communicate with each other. Our reduced vocabulary puts limits on our ability to communicate. Regrettably, we have even more problems with words!
Words often mean different things to different people. Words have different emotional impact. To say, “That really makes me mad” may signify to one person that you are irritated, and to another it may be a frightening warning of  a volatile  explosion soon to come.  People often are more focused on their feelings than they are the words we say, and therefore care more about how we make them feel than anything else. 

Then, of course, we tend to comment on things that are either none of our business or things we know nothing little to nothing about, so our words are not always factual. Words often have less than precise meanings, so when we step away from “yes” and “no”,  it can get quite confusing.  

We also often make mistakes at times when we speak. Most of us have misspoken at one time or another and said something  stupid or cruel. Do we always really mean it? No. We often say things under the influence of our fleeting emotions.
I could go on and on. Wouldn’t it be handy to simply have a way to transfer information and feelings from one person’s mind to another? Actually, that in itself would really cause problems unless we had a way to be very selective. I remember Mel Gibson in WHAT WOMEN WANT was in trouble all the time because he was picking up the exact thoughts and feelings of the women around him!

All of these thoughts remind me that words can be very difficult because they really matter. We should work hard on ourselves to be as kind and precise and careful as we can with our communication. But, because we know words are difficult, we should cut each other a little slack from time to time with how we feel about someone who has violated us with words. We need to realize that neither we nor our language is perfect. Responding with kindness and asking for more information has a better chance of improving communication  than responding with words of our own that may multiply problems.  
Perhaps we should just pray this prayer:
            “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough.”

Or, David said it more eloquently:
            “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mother's Day Tradition

In 2009, the May after my mother went to heaven, my personal Mother's Day tradition began. I leave immediately after the last service to visit the cemetery where my mom's beautiful but worn out earthly glove is buried. It's not sad for me –  it's a reflective, wonderful time of thanking God for her and doing little things to take care of this spot where her earthly remains were placed.  I know she is not there – she is risen! Just as he said! Two years ago I planted a rosebush. It was good today to see it springing back to life again after the winter.  My sister Jeannie helped me take care of that rosebush. We would take turns stopping by the grave as we visited Dad, bringing jugs of water to make sure the little rosebush made it.

This year, in a surprising twist of life I did not anticipate and did not want, I found myself tenderly tending and showing devotion in this sacred place to the two tallest women in my life. Jeannie's glove now lies beside my mother's.  I came today expressing love and appreciation in humble and very humanly limited ways to my gracious and loving mother and sister, both of them wonderful mothers.

Charlie and I used to occasionally go to cemeteries on dates,  and even take our children there on walks from time to time. I know -- we're kinda strange.😉 But we found it interesting to look at the gravestones, to find the oldest one there, and to see what things might have been stated on the gravestone that told about lives lived. When ever I was there, I had a sort of curiosity about the assortment of things, small trinkets and decorations,  I would find around some of the cemetery plots. There was a tombstone – a flower or two. Wasn't that enough? 

Now that two of the dearest people in my world have gone ahead of me to heaven, I understand. Today the rosebush is coming to life, but it's not there yet. Jeannie's husband and girls are having her stone set soon, and there's no way to plant something alive and real until that happens.   Though Mom and Jeannie need no gifts for me, I need a tangible way to say for myself again,  "Thank you. Thank you for the incredible investment you made in my life. Thank you for making heaven closer and dearer.I am doing everything I know how to honor Jesus and you. Until I see you again, I will honor you with your favorite things, with a break in my day of celebration, to remember, to laugh, to express my covenant with you and God one more time to live honorably and generously until I join you at the table for that great celebration feast in our heavenly home."

What wonderful mothers you have been! What a legacy you have given to me and to the whole family! I am more grateful than words can say.

And now, it's time to get on with the life I now live. The kids and grandkids are coming over to celebrate me. The table is spread here today, we're having a feast-- I don't even have to fix it! My job today is just to sit back and enjoy, to gratefully treasure the life I have been given, and work on my own legacy. It's a good day, a blessed day.

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


During the last years, God has gifted me with an often painful gift, but it is so good for my future. I'm giving this gift to you right now. Most of you are much younger than I am and your tendency will be to barely give this a notice. But I pray for your good you will take it to heart.

Being a pastor/counselor to so many elderly people including my own precious father has made me excruciatingly aware that our memories have a very long lifespan. They outlive many of our other abilities. Things that happened yesterday we may not be able to remember, but things that happened years ago we can remember in great detail, even when we don't want to. Sins that are long past forgiven, things that perhaps no one but you and God knows, resurface in the many hours you spend alone and inside your head. The elderly people I speak with so regularly are not nearly as frightened by fears of the future as they are tortured by memories of the past.

When we confess and are forgiven, God forgives our sins and, as he said, he throws them away into the sea of forgetfulness. But HE forgets – we may not.

I am bringing you a message from your future self today. Live as cleanly, as kindly, as purely as you can. That little old man, that little old lady in your future will thank you.