Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CORNERSTONE'S NEW SEASON

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

YOU SAID WHAT???



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

BACK TO THE FUTURE


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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I AM WOMAN...HEAR ME....

Yesterday was International Women's Day. This woman wants to say something. :-)  One of my tendencies God has had to address with me is being a people-pleaser,  with a fear of being misunderstood. Unfortunately, too often, those are twin traits that are valued in women, although we lose ourselves and our best contributions when we have them. God has been faithful to love me patiently into exposing my authentic self, and it has been a wonderful journey. I am thankful to be HIS woman, THIS woman today.

I am a strong woman, a strong-willed woman. Not the "hear me roar" woman, but the "hear me" woman. Being a strong-willed woman is not a negative trait. (Little girl leaders are not "bossy" any more than a little boy leader is "bossy". Unfortunately, too often we think HE does it like a boss, SHE is bossy.) I am not a man-hater. Most of my great mentors have been male, and they are my colleagues, my friends. The men in my personal life are among my greatest encouragers and supporters.

I have never been rebellious, and I am fully capable of being quiet and compliant appropriately. I have a tight grip on submission, first to my Lord, and then mutual submission in relationships. I am willing to go first in the submission challenge. I can take orders very well, and when I work for someone, I will be their loyal employee.

I am not a pushover. I will never allow you to force my will. But you will be surprised at how easy it is to get along with me. I give my will freely. I have surrendered my free will to the One who gave it to me, and like him, no one takes my life from me. I have the authority to choose to lay my life down or pick it up again, and I work to choose in his wisdom. (John 10:17-18)

I have a deep desire to make a difference and I am willing to make the tremendous sacrifices to make sure my corner of the world is never the same again.

I love fiercely and loyally. I will never betray you, and will be cut to core when I suffer it from others.

Neutral is my least favorite gear, and I cannot coast for long. I need to be involved, doing. Waiting on the Lord is my greatest challenge.

I am almost impossible to ignore, not because I am in your face, but because unless God says a big NO, I rarely ever give up. Whatever I choose to do, I do with my whole heart. I have a compelling desire to do what is right and just, and it empowers me to overcome my fear of being misunderstood. I am able to admit that I am wrong, I am capable of sincere and deep repentance, and am usually the first to apologize and take responsibility in a conflict.

People think I am extraordinarily gifted, lucky, charmed. I AM blessed and anointed by God, but I am fairly ordinary, rarely lucky, and definitely not charmed. My life has had plenty of struggle and hard times, but as I focus on my Father, I recognize he has always had me. I am grateful for the head start my incredible family gave me, but I know it can be trashed and burned by one or two poor choices on my part, or by simply taking it for granted. People who think my life comes easy have no understanding or realization of the daily hard, hard work and perseverance and the depth of sacrifice that adds up to what they see.

I am a cork. I get hit with crisis and discouragement and initially it feels like it will overwhelm me. But before long, I pop back up to the surface and am ready to give it another go.
I am a crocus. I am generally among the first to take a risk and stick my neck out on the bleak landscape where nothing seems alive.

I draw my strength, my strong will from my best friend, my example, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Every morning I wake with this confidence: "God is within her; she will not fall. God will be with her at break of day." Psalm 46:5

I am a bold, strong woman, in love with a bold, strong Savior. To all the many women who are like me, who read this and felt, "She is talking about me!", be encouraged! God created us this way for his great purpose. To all the men who love and encourage us and don't try to "tame" us, you are princes and kings, and I honor you. To all those who wish we would sit down, slow down, shut up, and shape up, don't hold your breath. We love you are and we ARE listening--just to a wiser Voice than your's.

"So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them....and he saw that it was very good." Genesis 1:27,31