TUESDAYS, APRIL 18 – MAY 9: 6:15-7:15 PM IN THE WORSHIP AREA
Led by Cornerstone members Julianne and Tyler McGill, this will be a four week Equip focused on strengthening marriages for the sake of the Kingdom, the growth of and blessing to our families, and for the impact that all of us can have in a world that no longer values marriage according to its original design. This Equip, while focused on the marriage relationship, is intended for currently married couples and/or those couples preparing for marriage. Go here to register.
God designed us to do life in community; we weren’t meant to go it alone. Over the years Cornerstone Groups have provided that community for hundreds of people. What we know though is getting involved in groups at Cornerstone might not always be easy. There are many reasons that range from “I don’t have time in my schedule” to “There isn’t a group that fits what I am looking for.”
God is doing an incredible work in Nicaragua through our partners at Christ Our Rock Church. The leaders there, Marvin and Gretthel Ramirez, have an incredible zeal for their church family and seeing it reach their neighborhood and surrounding communities. Nearly all of their work focuses on one of these three areas: 1) Pastor training and leader development, 2) caring for the immediate needs of church members (nutrition, housing, etc), and 3) discipleship/education/nutrition of the children in their area. So when Gretthel invited us to come and help host a Vacation Bible School for 60 children, we jumped at the opportunity.
The world is continually convincing us that it knows what is best – the wisdom of the world so to speak would have us only and always look to ourselves for truth, validation, and direction. Thankfully the Lord knows fully well that people are fickle, waves tossed by the wind, sheep in need of shepherd, as Jesus would put it. The Bible is overflowing with the wisdom of God that nearly always runs counter to the current of worldly wisdom that engulfs his sons and daughters. While the nature of temptation has changed since the Bible’s writing and composition, the church’s need for Godly wisdom has always been evident.
We’re not just talking about fun in the sun! Last week hundreds of young campers from across our community came together to experience life-changing, memory-making, adventure-taking awesomeness that will impact their lives forever. There was Wacky Science, Under Construction, Archery, Girl World, Man Land, Musical Theater, Yard Games, Gospel Wednesday, Leaders in Training, Village Training, Wake Up, Power Surge, Musical Theater, Triangulation, Chick fil A and so much more!
Someone once said, “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” That is so true! Any change requires the awareness of a need for change to take place and the acceptance that it must happen. If there is one thing that is 100% true in church, it’s that in order to continue moving forward there must be change. So that is something we at Cornerstone will continue to do in order to lead more people to know and serve Jesus.
Your M25 Mission Team had a great week serving among the homeless in Atlanta last week. As a matter of fact, if you were to ask any of us, we’d say that we are “Blessed and Highly Favored.” That is the common response that our friends at 7 Bridges to Recovery say every time someone asks “how are you.” With great enthusiasm, mind you. Here is a small glimpse of how our week went.
This week kicks off the first of 10 weeks of WinShape Camps for Communities across the country. There are camps in 95 communities sharing the love of Jesus with close to 25,000 kids. WinShape Camps for Communities provides an unprecedented day camp experience for campers that have completed grades 1-9.
Our team just returned from Tipitapa, Nicaragua, last week. I have had the opportunity to visit twice now, and I have fallen in love with Nicaragua, the people,the children, and the culture. Ray and Sonya Abner have poured into this community for the last decade, and I am so thankful that God clearly placed them here at Cornerstone and put Nicaragua on our hearts! We are so excited about the partnership that Cornerstone is starting with Kosmos Ministries and Christ Our Rock Church. Marvin and Grethell (the pastor of the church) are amazing people and the vision of their ministry is so much like Cornerstone’s vision, simply leading people to know and serve Jesus and pouring out the grace of God on all.
One of the single most obvious, yet often avoided, ways to grow in our faith and love of the Lord is the study of His Word. Swept up in our piles of unfinished to-do lists, reading and deeply studying the riches God has left for his people in his written Word often fall down to the bottom of our priority lists. For some this is a willful decision – not placing God’s word as a high priority and primary authority in their lives; but for most us, life happens.
Most of the time we connect large crowds with success – a sold out concert, a line to purchase the newest iPhone and, most recently, a packed drive-thru at the new Krispy Kreme Donut Shop in Auburn. In the church world, crowds don’t necessarily equal success, but they are an indicator that something good might be going on. And that is true for our WinShape Camp for Communities that we held last summer. We had a total 290 campers, and that was a tight crowd in our building for a week.
School is out for just about everyone and we look forward to spending some extra time with your kids in the coming months. We hope to take advantage of their downtime to build up their faith in big ways this summer! Check out all of the events and activities we have planned to help your kids grow closer to God and to one another.
For the past few summers, we have been taking our 4th and 5th graders out into the community to serve. This summer we will host our Summer Serve Days once again at Cornerstone during the month of June. This is a great opportunity for kids to get to know each other and to learn about needs in our community.
I have enjoyed getting to know our older elementary students through Summer Serve Days each year and am always so touched by their heart for others. They are always very excited to live out their faith in tangible ways! We will begin each serve day at Cornerstone with a devotion and prayer and then will head out to serve. We will end the morning with lunch out together.
Every man struggles – each on our own there is not a single day that men aren’t impacted by the temptations of this world. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always there, like a lighthouse in a dense fog, so to the Spirit of God never leaves his children. For that, we, the sons of God, should be eternally grateful. During this our third week of Equip:Men, we are continuing on in our four week discussion of these traps each of us face on a daily basis. If I am the most thankful for the guidance of the Spirit through these waters of idolatry, I am also thankful that God saw fit for me to take this journey alongside other men.
Happy Mother’s Day (a few days early)! If there’s anyone deserving of their own day, it’s definitely moms. Always there for support, love and care but still strong and always the hero. Thank you moms for everything you do! You are appreciated and loved.
This Sunday we want to celebrate and honor our moms and also support a great organization, Women’s Hope Medical Clinic. We will be selling roses in the lobby for $5 each with proceeds going to Women’s Hope. Both cash and credit/debit cards will be accepted. If your mother or mother figure is not here or has passed away but you would still like to honor her with a rose, we will have a vase set up in which you can put the rose. This vase of roses will be a loving reminder of those moms who have gone before us.
A form will also be available Sunday morning from Women’s Hope for you to complete if you would like your memorial or honorarium in their newsletter.
It’s going to be an awesome Sunday, and we can’t wait to celebrate all of our Cornerstone moms together as a church family. Don’t forget to bring some extra cash with you this Sunday to buy mom a rose!
If you would like more information about Women’s Hope and what they do, visit http://www.womenshope.org. Thank you for partnering with us to help all moms!
This Sunday, May 1, you will see a big purple bus in our parking lot. It’s the exciting new BigHouse bus that functions as a mobile clothes closet and is used to serve children in foster care across the stage. The bus will be here at Cornerstone as our collection point for your donated swimsuits and towels to support BigHouse’s annual Swimsuit and Towel Drive.
The joy of baptism is being cleansed by the water and grace of God. This Sunday we will celebrate with the Cornerstone Church family those who are being baptized and confirming 17 Youth. The Baptism Celebration will be memorable as it will mark a significant step these individuals are taking to publicly profess their faith in Jesus. Baptisms at Cornerstone Church are a unique experience that you do not want to miss. All are welcome! Following the service, we will enjoy a hamburger and hot dog feast and truly celebrate among the community of faith at Cornerstone Church. Rain or shine, your presence will make this experience even more meaningful.
My Spanish needs some serious work! I’ll be doing a little brushing up on it in the near future. In fact I’ll be looking for others who are fluent in Spanish to help me out because our church will be partnering in ministry with Christ Our Rock church in Tipitapa, Nicaragua, very soon!
We can’t wait for WinShape Camps for Communities to return to our area in June! We had such an amazing experience last year as kids in our community got to be a part of WinShape for the first time. Our camp days were filled to the brim with incredible worship, recreation, sports and activities, and God’s truth communicated through staff and volunteers in a way that was relevant to our kids.
Hope Rising. Our time over the last three weeks journeying toward Jesus’s last supper with his disciples and his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest on Maundy Thursday, the Cross of Christ on Good Friday and his death for the forgiveness of our sins, and ultimately His resurrection on Easter Sunday was an incredible experience together with the family of Cornerstone Church. Yet these words, as I write them, seem to land far short of adequately explaining our time together during Holy Week and Easter. Remembering Rusty’s words from his Easter sermon, we press on as we continually celebrate Forever Easter.
One word sums up this time of the year so well I think – Pollen!! Well, actually (while that is one relevant word) the word I was thinking of was “hope”. We’ve been talking about hope during our current sermon series “Hope Rising”. Hope is something everyone needs in life. Hope says anything is possible and miracles can happen. That’s exactly what Easter is all about! Because Jesus rose from the dead, we too can have victory over death and live for eternity in heaven. If God can do a miracle in one man’s life then he can do it anyone’s life.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV
For centuries the people of God had been longing, eagerly awaiting, the return of their King. From the beginning of man’s rebellion in the garden, whispers were heard and seen even then. In every generation between Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden, rumors and stories were told of a coming day when a Savior would restore all things as they should have been from the beginning.
Summer is just around the corner, and we are excited that WinShape Camps for Communities will be coming to Auburn/Opelika for a second year! Please mark your calendars for the week of June 20-24. Cornerstone Kids and Youth, as well as kids and youth in and around our community, are invited. WinShape Camp is for kids and youth that have completed 1st-9th grades. S. Truett Cathy started WinShape Camp in 1985 with the hopes of creating a camp experience that would offer young people life-skills, adventure, lasting friendships and a closer relationship with God. Several years ago WinShape added Camps for Communities as an option to their overnight camp experience for the purpose of making camp more accessible to more kids.
Africa Renewal University (ARU) is one of our partners in Uganda. They are a new university that was officially formed in 2012 ,and they currently serve 350 students. In their own words, they “exist to prepare Africa’s future leaders to face the challenges created by years of wars, child abductions, corruption, and poverty.”
We are excited to let you know that WinShape Camps for Communities will be back in town this summer! In June of last year, Cornerstone had the wonderful privilege of introducing what was fondly called “The Best Week Ever” to the best community ever, our very own community.
The medical center building construction is complete, and what a beautiful building it is. It is obvious the contractor cared about his work, it shows in the details; everything from the thoughtful design of each room to the quality materials to the clean, straight lines.
It’s time once again to come together as the people of Cornerstone and celebrate all that God is doing through our church! I love this night. We’ve been doing this now for around 15 years. It never gets old to me! If you’ve never attended a Celebration Dinner, I hope you will seriously consider coming this Thursday, February 18 at 5:30 pm.
Eight years ago God opened the door for Cornerstone Church to begin a journey to partner with Buloba Community Church (BCC) in Uganda. BCC was a new church plant in the Buloba community and part of the Africa Renewal Ministries church planting efforts.
As I write this, the Uganda team is on a layover in Amsterdam on our way home. We have spent the last five days in many meetings with many people in Gaba, Buloba, and on the campus of Africa Renewal University.
It has been a very productive week focused on identifying new vision as we figure out the changes our Ugandan partner, Africa Renewal Ministries, is making.
It will certainly be a Happy New Year for the recipients of the Christmas Catalog offering. Thank you for your generosity as $37,520.18 was raised to impact our local community and our partner community in Buloba, Uganda. The impact you have made will continue to bless our friends and communities as God’s grace poured through you this Christmas.
Merry Christmas! I am really forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. These are such high and holy times in the Christian year. I love the celebration and fun this season brings. But I’m also reminded of the great challenge that comes through the message of Christmas. I want you to read this recent post from pastor Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg UMC.
On December 11 and 12, Cornerstone Church will be transformed into what some may describe as a shopping mall. We have partnered with the BigHouse Foundation over the past three years to host their Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s Workshop provides a shopping experience for the many children in foster care in Lee County and surrounding counties. It is a great opportunity for families, community groups or individuals to serve our community.
“Awesome” is a much over-used word these days. But it seems to be the only word that captures what I’ve heard about the Bless Project we have been participating in over the last month and a half! I have used it over and over to express how I feel about the stories people are sharing. The best part is how it impacted the “blessee” as much as the “blessor” (not sure if those are actual words!). It makes me think about so many of Jesus’ words about how the kingdom of God works.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is seeing the joy on the faces of my children when they open up their gifts on Christmas morning – watching as they shake each box, wondering what it could be. Then they tear off the wrapping paper, and their eyes light up with delight as they discover the treasure inside.
Wow, I think Trunk or Treat 2015 was a hit! I don’t know about you, but I had a blast! (I got to build a volcano for one of our youth small groups!) There were lots of new faces in the crowd. I spoke to several people who were visiting for the first time. We had hotdogs, a cookie bar (yes, that’s right, a COOKIE bar!), incredible pies, lots of hilarious costumes, fun and creative trunks, and a really good time of fellowship. Not to mention the weather turned out perfect and Fall-ish.
The progress on constructing the new medical clinic in Buloba has been amazing. When I consider the way in which the Ugandan workers have to do what they do in construction without large equipment, I am impressed. The clinic will be ready to go by the new year. With that in mind, we are planning our first trip to help get the clinic up and running.
Sometimes crazy things happen at church. Sometimes you go to church, the bucket passes, and you put your money in. Then again, sometimes you go to church and you take money out (wait a minute, isn’t taking money out usually frowned upon?!). Well, at Cornerstone yesterday that’s exactly what we asked people to do when the buckets were passed. We began something called the ‘Bless Project”. Everybody in attendance received an envelope with either a $20, $50 or $100 bill in it.
For years Cornerstone has called our weekly group meetings that happen in people’s homes “small groups”. It is a name that, like so many others, tries to capture the essence of what we do or what we are when we meet in those groups.
Other churches use names like Life Groups, Growth Groups, Family Groups, Cell Groups and more. At their core, each of these is trying to build community and learn more about Jesus.
When Cornerstone Church first started in 2000, our groups were called Community Groups. Back then we were hoping to capture people who were coming from other churches in other towns with familiar language. At that time the most common name for weekly home gatherings was Small Groups, so we changed the name to Small Groups in 2001. As we examined what we are trying to do with our weekly gathering, build community and be Jesus to that community, and knowing that “community” is one of our church values, it makes sense to go back to Community Groups.
Men need help! Well, we ALL need help in some way, but we men have issues, needs, responsibilities and challenges that are unique to us. That is why we are offering an 8 week gathering just for the men of our church.
35 hours. That was the total time on an airplane to and from Africa. That’s a lot of time in a confined space (especially for a partial claustrophobe). You sleep, watch movies, eat, drink water, read, stare at nothing in particular and try not to look at your watch! That time is only made tolerable by the experience of being with brothers and sisters in Christ of a different culture, different nationality, different setting, who share in the same vision of reaching this world with the Good News of the gospel. That time is made all better the moment I see Isma (our family’s sponsor child) and realize how happy he is, how healthy he looks and how well he is cared for by his Christian community there in Buloba. That time becomes insignificant when I’m in a circle praying with the leaders of a rapidly growing movement of God in a land where witchcraft and Islam still permeates the culture. I firmly believe God is using the time, energy, talents and resources of our church to further His kingdom in this special place.
Lately I’ve been reflecting back on the moments when Leslie and I named each of our children during her pregnancies. With each one there was a shift that happened in us. They were no longer just “he” or “she”. They now had a name. And with that name it suddenly became even more real that an actual new person was about to come into our lives and the world.
The 2015-2016 year is now the 4th year of the Intern Program at Cornerstone Church. Each and every year the Lord’s faithfulness to bring students on to our church staff that are incredibly excited about the mission of the church never ceases to amaze me.
Fall marks a new beginning for quite a few things around here; football, tailgating, the beginning of school, a change of seasons. For the church it also marks the beginning of a new season of small groups. In the past Cornerstone (Hamilton Road site) has planned a small groups sign-up event by the end of August, but that will be changing this year. Our sign-up event will not be for a few more weeks.
Food! Who doesn’t love food?! From its very beginning, the church has been involved in making and serving food. We read in Acts 2:46, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” I know from personal experience that the best food samplings, along with the best fellowship, can be had at church events. And Guest Services at Cornerstone Church is looking for a few folks who would love to serve others by doing a little cooking.
Rusty, Katy and I have been back in Auburn from Uganda just long enough to realize we are no longer living on Uganda time. Rusty arrived home on Monday night and Katy and I arrived last night after spending some time in Amsterdam on our way home. With the time difference being eight hours it takes a few days to get back to normal.
The trip was a success and as I have mentioned we gained a lot of clarity on some of the positive changes happening with Africa Renewal Ministries, our Uganda partner.
While we were in Uganda we posted about what we did each day. The days were fast paced and filled with a lot of people and places and the posts included references to both as well as several organizations. I want to take some time to give you some clarity on many of the people, places and organizations we engaged with while we were there.
Some of the organizations:
Gaba Community Church (GCC)– GCC is the home church for the founder and director of Africa Renewal Ministries, Pastor Peter Kasirivu. Everything Cornerstone is officially connected with in Uganda is under the umbrella of GCC and their spiritual leadership.
Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM)– Arm is the cover for many ministries including Bethany Village, Loving Hearts Babies Home and the Child Development Project to name a few.
Child Development Project (CDP)– the CDP is a core program of ARM and is the program Cornerstone engages with the most. We sometimes refer to it as the “child sponsorship program”.