Friday, March 2, 2012

Lighten Up

    Lent (which is Latin for "fortieth") is the Christian observance of the season from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday.  It is intended to prepare our hearts through prayer, repentance, sacrificial giving, and self-denial. As we enter the annual commemoration of  the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, we recall the profound events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, culminating with the most sacred event in history on the Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    God gave us His only son, and we..

    ...typically, Christians will "give up something" for Lent.  This can be anything from chocolate to overeating to smoking or drinking.  In the main, much like New Year's resolutions, these soon become little more than guilty memories, leaving little changed.  This Sunday, Pastor Franco led us in a more effective and meaningful direction in his sermon  Responding to God's Glory.  Much like in the blog entry Green Monkeys, Red Monkeys we are advised to not only repent of three sins for Lent, but also to replace them with God's powerful counterparts. This Lent we seek to make the sacrifice of obedience.  

    It is interesting that we concluded last week that to walk out what the Spirit is doing at Cornerstone, we needed to return to the three Eternal things; to faith, hope, and love.  If you listen to this week's sermon, that is the very destination He was leading us all along.


Key Scriptures

  • Isaiah 6:1-13 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings : with twohe covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined ! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips ; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips  and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then Isaid, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go, and tell this people : 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive ; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long ?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are withoutpeople And the land is utterly desolate, 12 "The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.

  • Romans 8:15  15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba ! Father !"

  • Romans 8:28-31  28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the first born among many brethren ; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called ; and these whom He called, He also justified ; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things ? If God is for us, who is against us?
  • Romans 8:1-9  1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God ; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

    So What?

     After seeing Isaiah's response to and transformation by the glory of God, we (the "Sow What?" group), could easily see that proximity to God makes lasting changes in perspective and personality.  We arrive despising ourselves and our sinful natures, and depart cleansed and ready for the first mission He'll entrust us with. We are ready to work for the Kingdom.

      We were called to relinquish fear, and exchange it for faith.  We find the scriptural basis for this in Heb 11, Rom 10:17, and Phil 4:11. 

    We were called to exchange complaining for hope, supported by Rom 8:28-31, Ps. 119, Ps. 36, Is 50:10, and James 4. 

    We we charged to abandon the lies of condemnation,   and walk in Love, prescribed by Rom 5:5, and Rom 8:1-9.

   B.L.U.F. - the keys to actually "Lightening Up" by discarding these habits of darkness and integrating these fruits of His love and Mercy:

1. Fear to Faith - Abandon ourselves to the spiritual disciplines that we learned this summer, to foster the experience of  His glory -- the intimacy with God -- that makes the Isaiah 6 transformation happen for us.

2. Complaining to Hope - stay in relationship with His plan for us via scripture, prayer, obedience, and worship. Express our authentic gratitude to God.

3. Condemnation to Love - by knowing it is not ours to judge, by recalling  where God found us, by remembering who we are in Christ (embracing the Gospel), and by praying in the Holy Spirit to spread His love abroad in our hearts.

4. When we become aware of the undertow of fear, complaining, and condemnation we have 3 courses of action:

     1 - Act against it; do the work to make things right by God's standards
     2 - Make it backfire; determine what the enemy least wants for us to do/think in the situation and do it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
     3. - Ask God for actionable guidance. 

><> db

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Road to War

    It is a strange thing to try to capture the move of the Holy Spirit in words.  Here at Cornerstone, His intention has loomed large and noticeable since June 19, 2011...

    ..throughout the summer of 2011, we were called to become people submitted to the spiritual disciplines.  In   short, to put Him first, and draw near to Him that he might draw near to us, consistently, that we might have an authentic humility, brokenness, and intimacy with Him...(see blog entries from June 19th through August 24th 2011)...

    ..thereafter - until this past weekend - we have been led to a year of learning to hear & obey His voice...

    In the old testament, it was the God-directed practice of the Hebrew men (during that transition known as the Exodus) to meet annually apart from the women and children in order to receive correction and guidance from God.  The Lord was to serve as their rear guard, watching over their families and easing their minds of concerns/burdens as the focused intently on the move and message of the Lord of the Universe. 

    ..this weekend, in a split operation between our Men's Advance- The Time is NOW (103 strong - awesome of itself in modern America), and the message delivered through Pastor Rowena to those in our "Rear Detachment" entitled Why I Love Jesus  , the Lord has begun to task organize us (put names to missions) for the plans He has for us corporately and individually.  Plainly put, God is on the move in all His aspects, and has provided the patient teaching we require to carry out His orders by His power.  From the training we've received since June, it doesn't look like we are going to be receiving a "pretty" mission.

    We are transitioning, ready or not. Keep your head and hands inside the will of God at all times, and enjoy the ride.

    Between operations in the military, we do several things.  First thing we do is submit a L.A.C.E. report, standing for Liquids (our water and fuel status), Ammunition, Casualties, and Equipment status (vehicles, weapons, etc.).  We let headquarters know what (and sometimes, whom) we need and we drive on.  As the OPTEMPO (operational intensity) allows, we train between engagements with the enemy.  We do this understanding that warfare itself is excellent training.  Right now, for instance, America's armed forces are extraordinarily sharp (and exhausted, paradoxically), and ready.  Warriors fight on as they are being trained, and often before the benefit from resupply from higher echelons.  So it will be for us.

    Standing at this threshold, the Holy Spirit has led us to meet separately in separate locations.  We at "Sow What?" this week labored to not only understand the bottom line for each group, but also what direction was needed for our church as a single, unified fighting unit in this ongoing battle for the Kingdom.    

B.L.U.F. - Men's Advance

1. Die to self and our own designs for our being and circumstances; walk by faith and by the Holy Spirit.  Talk is cheap; Grace is never cheap.

2. Commit, lead and follow as Holy Spirit directed, war (with our mighty spiritual, God-given weapons) & worship to win; NOW.

B.L.U.F. - Rear Detachment

1. LOVE: the Godly verb - not the human sentiment, must prevail if we are to have victory in this season

2. FAITHFULNESS, in our prayer life and our magnification of God is a requirement.  Spiritual and other support must be consistent and robust.  

3. HOPE, without being miracle-minded and expectant that God will be who He is, we will fail.  The minute we consider that something is impossible, we are no longer even talking about our Lord anymore, much less to Him. We fall out of connection with Him, and so from the Holy Spirit power we need to do all that we do.  

B.L.U.F. - Church at Cornerstone

1. Walk by the Spirit to preserve purity and power

2. Obedience born of LOVE (John 14:15-21)

3. Commit, lead and follow as Holy Spirit directed, war (with our mighty spiritual, God-given weapons) & worship to win; NOW.

       Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my                 hands for war, and my fingers for battle  

Psalms 144:1


><> Dan & Nancy

Friday, February 3, 2012

Counting Footprints

    If you've been a Christian for more than a few minutes, odds are you are familiar with the poem below:

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed 
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

by Carolyn Joyce Carty

     It's a beautiful poem.  Problem is, it's misleading.  

    Truth is, there are almost never two sets of footprints after Jesus saves us.  He shoulders very nearly all of the weight on this journey.  

    Further, when there are actually two sets of footprints, one will often, sadly, be seen leaving Christ's side to head off and blaze their own trail. Or is that on a trail to blazes?

    This week's sermon - The Blessings of His Burden - seeks to set us straight about who carries what as we journey together by the water's edge.  And, sometimes, when we tread the waves themselves.


     The Bereans of "Sow What?" spent Wednesday night scrutinizing the sermon; the key verses are linked to here:

Mt 11:25-30

Ps 68:19

2 Cor 5:4

Burdens God Takes:
 What he has decreed, and What we give Him. God meets us in humility and meekness, handling our burdens tirelessly and in constancy.

Ps 38:4

Luke 11:46

Mt 6:31-34

Ps 81:5-6

Burdens God Gives:
We are not to accept the comfort of the enemy, instead carrying the burdens of God's heart for the world and for one another.

2 Cor 5:4 (yes, again)

Gal 6:2

Hab 1:1-3

Luke 19:41-44
Bottom Line Up Front

Why, exactly,  are His burdens a blessing?

* Leads to Joy 

* Leads to Peace

* Leads to Power and Authority

     We were able to confirm these truths via Ps 37:4 , Is 55: 11, and Am 3:7

How, exactly, are we to carry them?

* Stop Carrying God's Burdens to free your hands for yours

* Galations 6:2!

* Vigilance of your heart; know the Word, know it's Author, stay near to Him via the spiritual disciplines

     As time allows, next week we will discuss what this might look like in our homes, and when we venture out into the world.  

    Lord, help us all, and keep us.

><> Dan & Nancy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brothers in Arms

    This week's message, Come Together,  is a 'members only' kind of sermon.  Just like Christianity itself, it is larger on the inside than could ever be understood from the outside looking in.  It is classified FKUO -- For Kingdom Use Only

    It is rare that posting to this blog is so far beyond me.  I have been unable to get it done to my satisfaction, and decided at last to go ahead and share instead why  it has been so tough to do.  This week, so much of what we discussed in class seemed more based on our connection in the Holy Spirit than in anything we said aloud.  Capturing the unity we have in Jesus Christ in a few typed lines feels like trying to preserve a kiss;  a little foolish to even attempt.

    As a Church (capital "C" intentional) I think we all know there are rough times ahead; the flames are already warming our feet.  However, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,  we also know we are not alone as we enter the fire.  We have God, and we also have each other.

    So what?

    Well, that kind of unity, the bond that enabled the persecuted early Church to conquer the known world, doesn't just happen.  As things heat up, we would do well to understand what they understood about being brothers (and sisters) in arms.  We need to Get it, together , if we intend to see this thing through.

    Sow what?

    The early church left footprints when they walked this out; those tracks are our B.L.U.F. for this week.

    * Pray in the Holy Spirit, to shed the love of God abroad in our hearts (Jude 1:20 , Rom 5:5)

    *  Embrace the spiritual disciplines

    * Avail ourselves of the unfailing guidance of the Holy Spirit

    * Interdependence is commanded; we are to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2)

    * Embracing the gospel as individuals is critical to togetherness; our greatest common ground is the Mercy & Grace of  God. They were "in one accord" each time in the book of Acts right before the power of God fell upon them (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:46, 4:24, 5;12, 15:25).

    Next week, we study what it looks like when we all get out of the boat, and walk on water together.


><> db

Getting our Sea Legs

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Clock and the Compass

        The Bullet Train:   
    The very soul of the modern journey.  Serious travel, serious results, as rapidly and economically as possible.  The Bullet Train gets it done. The network, consisting of 1,483.6 miles of track, presently links most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, with construction of a link to the northern island of Hokkaido underway and plans to increase speeds up to 199 mph.  

      The Bullet Train, like the frenetic humanity it serves, is all about watching the clock and the bottom line.

     This week, in the sermon The Journey We Are On, we learn that today more than ever, we need the Compass more than we will ever need the Clock.   Our conclusions, from pouring over the key verses of this message, point to a plan that takes us far from the map and modes of the masses (say that three times fast), and uses faith in God and His Word as the bottom line.  The mission is, frankly, more than a little daunting.  Like combat, it nearly always seems foolhardy in the natural, and yet in truth is needfull and quickening.  The journey in Christ is the only one worthwhile. 


Key Scriptures:

a) Jeremiah 29:11 / Romans 8:28-31

b) Deuteronomy 4:1-2

c) Deuteronomy 30:11-16  


  For our new Bereans: 

  So What (= truths)? & Sow What (= application)? Our B.L.U.F. - the walk-away truths that we apply to our lives from this message

Bottom Line Up Front: 

1) Nothing more; nothing less.  Only God has the perfect plan and path for our lives.

2) John 14:15 - 21 : Love-based obedience to God works.  It's not about what we can do, it's about who we become.

3) We must walk in His way; if not us, then who?

4) We must be those who believe His Word more than our circumstances and senses. Isaiah 30:21

5) We must understand and practice that our Heavenly Father honors Worship that is in Spirit (the Holy Spirit) and in Truth (Jesus Christ).  That is to say, practically, 100% committed to the whole of who God is.

 Note for our new folks:
* the site looks differently each week, so don't be surprised by changes in its appearance  

* the post above contains several links, that may be clicked on to listen to the sermon, read the referenced scriptures, and so forth.

   Have a victorious week! 

   ><> Dan & Nancy