Tend the Garden

On Wednesday nights, we recently finished going through the book of Genesis with the teenagers. One of the big themes we focused on was humanity’s special identity and purpose. We all bear the image of God, and with that special identity comes the important task of tending the garden. God gave humanity the privilege of ruling alongside him, of making sure that his will was done in creation. Jesus renewed this original calling for humanity in the Great Commission.
 
After finishing the series, we have spent time examining our present world, how it is in line with God’s will, how it is out of line, and what we can do to make things better. Our actions, big and small, can push things closer to or further from the way God intends things to be. If kids go without food, we can start a backpack program at a school to provide for them. If our schools have lonely people, we can befriend them. If a person loses everything in a fire, we can lead the charge in rounding up supplies to provide for them.
 
We have received an exciting role as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Join with your kids in learning to recognize the areas in our day to day lives in which we can bring the light of Christ into a situation and make the world a little bit better.


My Identity Found in Christ

Finding our identity in Christ can seem like some mystical process comparable to becoming a Jedi knight, but it’s really not difficult or complicated, because the Holy Spirit directs our steps if we simply follow his lead. When the two would-be disciples Andrew and John showed curiosity by following Jesus, He turned to them and asked, “What do you want?” That question underlies almost every other question Jesus asks.

In his book You Are What You Love, James K. A. Smith penned, “Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behaviors flow.”

Pay attention — this is important: finding our identity in Christ and becoming a disciple of Jesus (a Christian) go hand in hand.  Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, fasting, living in Christian community, generosity, practicing a weekly time of Sabbath rest, and attending weekly worship, cultivate our new identity. Each of these disciplines puts us under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which steadily extracts our corrupted nature and rebuilds the new person in the likeness of Jesus. Church people call that process “sanctification”.

A great many would-be disciples fail to find their identity in Christ because their connection with Jesus is more like adding chrome to a Harley, redecorating their house, or adding a new Christian playlist to their Spotify account. Surface treatments never result in transformation. Finding your identity in Christ requires a change of heart and action.

Quoting James Smith once more: “So discipleship is more a hungering and thirsting than a knowing and believing.” As we align our desires to God’s (mercy, justice, forgiveness, etc.), we will super-naturally identify more with Jesus. Our goal is to fully match our desires to God’s desires.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you submit. Make yourself available to watch and learn from other disciples. Our desire grows with our doing, so practice your faith, and in the process your identity in Jesus will become more evident.

Grace & Peace, Bob Paddock



Be Still

Our world has more noise than ever before. We have grown so accustomed to it that most of us can’t tolerate sitting in silence with nothing consuming our attention. We have a constant pseudo-connection with our friends, a buffet of television and media to consume at any moment, teenagers consume more than 24 hours of media a day. All of this can be good and fun in moderation, but when we fall into an uncontrollable binge of it, the result is no better than any other sort of binge. Our media binges leave no time for deep thinking about anything. Not having to sit through quiet moments makes us highly prone to boredom which drives us further into the rut of seeking that next hit of entertainment. Less free time leaves us less capable of creativity. A life spent bouncing from one passive consumption of media to the next leads to looking back on large swaths of time spent doing nothing of value leaving us unfulfilled and unsatisfied. And the person with no quiet moments to spare undoubtedly lacks any sort of participation in spiritual discipline.
As parents, make time where the thunder of outside voices gets silenced. Set up times and places where the tv doesn’t come on and the phones don’t come out. Set aside a specific period, maybe even a day a week, in which we don’t use our screens. Enjoy a day out in nature. Help your kids learn a skill or hobby that isn’t reliant on screens and content creators. Talk face to face and develop the conversation skills that young people increasingly lack. Grapple with big issues and develop critical thinking. Pray. Meditate. Read. Exercise.
 
Lead on this parents. After all, study after study shows that our screen addiction is actually worse than our kids’.
Larry Hunt, Student Minister


Mercy

This is an interesting process for me. Writing a newsletter article to go with my word/topic for the month isn’t as easy as you’d think. What I do on Facebook every morning is finding God’s words and various song writers’ words about the word/topic of the month. I enjoy reading many different variations on a theme (and I hope those who are following are, also). It’s amazing how many different ways you can talk about (sing about) a particular topic and it opens your eyes sometimes…kinda’ like how you can read a Bible passage over and over, for years and years, and suddenly “ding ding ding” it makes sense or you have a whole new understanding of it. But to sit down and think about the word/topic, and write out my own thoughts, memories or opinions is a bit more difficult. Hopefully it’s making me more aware of things I should be doing…..or not doing!
 
My word/topic for February is MERCY. An appropriate topic for the month of February when the world tends to focus on love (Valentine’s Day), don’t you think? One dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm” and “an event to be grateful for, especially because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering”. Hmmm….do I practice this? In some instances, particularly in the past, not so much. I may not have physically done something to harm someone, but I definitely have thought of all sorts of creative ways that it’d be nice to get back at those who’ve done things to me or to those I love. Pretty sure this falls in the same category as “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 NIV) and “ ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.’“ (Matthew 5:21 and 22a NIV)
 
Are we really showing forgiveness to those who do us wrong? Would we be there to help them if they fell on hard times? Are we truly praying for them? And I don’t mean praying for God’s judgment to fall on them either….y’all know exactly what I mean! Are we following God’s directive “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44 NIV)? This month (and ever afterward), let’s all actively work to put this concept into practice. Let’s look for ways to show mercy to those folks that we believe have wronged us. I’d be interested to hear how this works out. Shoot me an email evidencetech@juno.com or let me know when we see each other. Would love to share and celebrate how God works!!
 
Tia Harmon, Administrative Assistant


Elevate Your Compassion

Since the Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade in 1973, 58 million children have been killed through abortion and today one in three women have suffered through an abortion. In Virginia 51 abortions occur every day. I pray the following points in bold will assist the Church to elevate our conversation and compassion for unborn children and their pregnant mothers.
 
Preborn people are people. From the first moment of fertilization the child has her own DNA, distinctly different for her father and mother. The child’s heartbeat often begins 16 days after conception. Abnormalities that begin inside the womb can often self-correct and babies born long before due dates can survive. Babies who survive abortion should convince everyone preborn babies are people. Gianna Jessen, a survivor of a saline abortion two months before her due date, educates groups all over the world on the issue of abortion. Mother Teresa said this after hearing Gianna’s story, “My prayer . . . for all who listen to her, is that this message of God’s love will put an end to abortion with the power of love.” Listen to her story at (www.giannajessen.com) and share it with others.
 
Young mothers, especially the unwed, need loving support. There’s nothing more beautiful to see a church reach out to support a single mom and nothing more tragic when a church only offers condescending judgment. The single parent needs love in action.  Recently a first time single mom shared with me the overwhelming support she and her baby received through several churches and how it gave her courage to not give up and deepened her faith in God. Each year at Cornerstone we raise support and awareness for the Martinsville Pregnancy Care Center (www.pregcc.com), which offers love and resources including sonograms to mothers in need and other mothers considering abortion.
 
Millennials are passionate about social justice. In a recent Barna survey 53% of millennials agree that abortion should be made illegal in all or most circumstances. And in a 2010 Gallup poll found that “support for making abortion broadly illegal was fastest growing among young adults.” A few of the reasons for this cultural shift include younger generations include: a reduced stigma toward single parent families in which many grew up, exposure of the dark industry of Planned Parenthood and they come from a generation which believes they can enact change through social media.
 
One day the courts may reverse Roe vs. Wade, but that won’t eliminate the needs of the unborn and their mothers and fathers. The crisis of an unplanned pregnancy creates an opportunity for the Church show God’s love in a life changing way.  We read in James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

 

Blessings, Bob Paddock



When Wrong Turns Happen

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road.” C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce
 
I have been attending a women’s Bible study in Danville.  The drive there each week consists of many twisted backroads that make you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.  I have finally mastered all the turns on the way there, without using my GPS!  However, on the way back I almost always miss the first turn.  I don’t know why.  It comes up fast and it is often several minutes before I realize that I must turn around.   On my most recent trip to Bible study I once again missed the turn, but discovered it right away.  I was so proud of myself that it didn’t take as long to turn around that time!
 
I have been parenting for over thirteen years (that’s a story for a different day).  You would think that I should know my way around by now.  That I would know what roads lead to peace in my home and the hearts of my children.  That I wouldn’t often miss turns.  WRONG!!  I still make many of the same mistakes over and over.  I miss signs of tiredness, needs for attention, hunger…. all things that might contribute to a child acting differently than if those needs were met.  
 
God has grown my heart in repenting with my children.  There was a time when I would hold on to anger and be unwilling to yield.  I am happy to say that often now after I make that wrong turn in parenting I realize quickly that I need to turn around.  I stop, take a minute and pray.  I ask God to tell me what to say to the child that I need to ask for forgiveness from for my harsh tone, unwillingness to listen or quickness to anger.  I am thankful to God that He helps me get back on the right road.  “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 “Pursue peace…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble.” Hebrews 12: 14-15

Because of Jesus,

Michelle Clinton Children’s Minister

Proverbs 3:5-6

 


Transformed to Transform

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16 NET. 
 
In this passage, Jesus points out that the Church will have an impact on the world around us. That impact, however, only becomes possible when the people that constitute the Church experience transformation. The life of Jesus flows into us, transforming us, and then out through us transforming the world around us. 
In November, the leadership of Cornerstone considered our congregation’s strengths, weaknesses, history, and potential and planned a strategy for the next three years. That strategy can be broken down into two parts, to elevate the maturity of the members of our congregation and to elevate the compassion of Jesus in our community. These two prongs of our strategy make me think of the twofold call of Jesus to be salt and light so that we bring his Kingdom more fully into the world around us.
 
As Cornerstone as a whole focuses on these two goals, we will also look at how they play out specifically in our student ministry and in our families. I think we have a lot of potential right now to bring God’s transforming power to bear on our community and I am excited about what the next few years hold. 
 
Larry Hunt
Student Minister


Elevate

ELEVATE — to raise something up to a higher position

For the next three years the family of Cornerstone will hear and see the word ELEVATE often. Why? So glad you asked! This past November the leadership of Cornerstone spent a weekend evaluating what has happened through the ministry of this church, then looked ahead three years into our future.  We chose the word ELEVATE to summarize the vision of our next three years together.

As spiritual leaders we recognized the need to ELEVATE two target areas: first, our spiritual maturity as Christians, and second, the compassion of Jesus in our community. The church staff, the elders, and several church members will form two teams to develop a strategy to achieve these two goals by the end of 2021.

Think back to where you were spiritually three years ago and how your faith impacted your daily life with others. Now look ahead three years and contemplate where you hope to be in your spiritual maturity and what you hope the influence of Jesus will be in your family and your community. You see, what we our elevate in our life today greatly determines what will happen in our future.

When Jesus began His ministry, he chose twelve men to invest in, and they chose to follow Him. He taught each of them what it means to be his disciple and how to love others as He did. Those three years transformed those first followers and they became agents of great change in their world. By God’s grace, over the next three years Cornerstone will focus upon a deeper understanding of the path of Christian discipleship and discover new ways of sharing the compassion of Christ with our community.

To ELEVATE our spiritual maturity and our Christ-like compassion in the community requires participation. First, communicate to the leadership and staff what’s helping you grow spiritually and what’s connecting you with our community. Send me an email or fill out a Connect Card with your thoughts and ideas. Get involved in what God is doing right here, right now.

Jesus Christ’s unseen hand is guiding this church, and over the next three years He will ELEVATE Himself in our lives and in our community if we will simply join together and serve Him.
 

Elevating Christ, Bob Paddock



February Events

Wednesday Night Meals for February
  • 2.7 – Tacos
  • 2.14 – Barbecue
  • 2.21 – Santa Fe Soup
  • 2.28 – Hot Dogs and Chili 
 
Tony Vines – Saturday, February 4, 4PM
  • A concert followed by a potluck in Grace Cafe.
 
Climbing Higher – February 8, 10:30-1
  • Help serve a meal for people with special needs.
 
March 23-24: ModFem
  • An overnight event at Camp Pitt for teen girls.


What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Everything.

Name – a word used to identify a person, animal or thing.

A quote worth pondering this week: “The devil knows your name but calls you by your sin.  God knows your sin but calls you by your name.”  God uses names in the Bible to identify prophetic position, fondness and hope, change of character, innate character, coming events, and divine mission.  

We were challenged as leaders in Kingdom Kids to give each of the children an affirming nick-name to remind them that God sees the best in us.  As we identified each child with names like Strong Leader, Creative Kid, Fun Friend, Thoughtful Helper, and Force of Energy for God the results were amazing to watch.  Eyes lit up and smiles broke out hugely on faces.  One girl owned the name of Creative Kid and said, “I am creative.”  She went on to share how she had been creative that morning!  Another girl after being called a Kind Encourager threw her arms around the leader in a spontaneous hug!

A new year….A new name…

There will be a new name in Children’s Ministry at Cornerstone starting in January 2018.  This is Michelle Stallard and as many of you know, my family is in the process of adopting two boys.  Their names are Aiden, 2 yrs. and Gregory, 5 yrs.  In light of our family growing, God is calling me to step away from leading the children’s ministry here at Cornerstone.  I have loved being a part of God’s ministry here at Cornerstone, and I will continue to teach and be involved in many of the activities of the children’s ministry.  God has called Michelle Clinton to serve as our new Children’s Minister.   I am excited to work with Michelle C. as she has a beautiful, humble heart and desires to serve the Lord and love the kids and families here at Cornerstone and throughout our community.  

Hello.  My name is Michelle Clinton.  I have three boys Dimitri 16, Nathaniel 15, and Noah 12.  Recently I received an email from Noah’s school where the Principal ended the email with these three words…Because of Jesus.  Those words resonated deep in my heart.  I thought about why am I even a Christian when I did not grow up in a Christian home? Because of Jesus.  Why am I even alive today considering the choices I made as a teenager and a young adult? Because of Jesus.  Why am I entering Christian ministry after experiencing unimaginable brokenness? Because of Jesus.  I thought you might be wondering why I want to be the Children’s Minister at Cornerstone.  I want children to know that no matter what home you are born in, no matter what choices you make, no matter what choices are made for you there is always hope because of Jesus!  I look forward to serving you and your children in Kingdom Kids.  

As we have been working together these past few weeks in transition, it has been funny how the kids have worked through having two Ms. Michelle’s.  It has been quite comical, but has also caused us to ponder… what is in a name?  Yes, it is everything.  Before I came to Christ, my name was just the chains that I created to measure up.  Am I good enough…pretty enough…strong enough?  The answer was always, No.  But, fear not, because of Jesus, I am called by a new name…Child of the One True King…Loved…Cherished…Accepted!  It is a beautiful thing to be known and loved by Jesus, the Savior of the world.  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  -Isaiah 43:1 ESV

Together for God’s Kingdom, Michelle S. and Michelle C.