Mourning with those who Mourn

Today’s Ministry blog is written by one of our youth ministers- Kim Price. Kim has worked throughout the last few weeks assisting families in our church and the surrounding communities mud-out their homes.

I spent the first days of Harvey like most everyone else, glued to the television, plowing through food, congregating at Brookshire’s with others and talking about all the predictions. Like many, I underestimated the days ahead. My biggest concern at the time was making sure I was prepared for a few days without power, had all my favorite snacks, and that my phone was charged. My attitude seems almost naive looking back now.

I’ve lost track of the days since Harvey hit. I just know that we have gone from anticipation to trying to face the horrific reality of the largest storm in the history of the US…and for many, they are suspended there. I know that you may argue that we are in “recovery”, but ask a victim of Harvey that lost everything if they are in recovery. Recovery means “returning to what is normal or reclaiming what has been lost”. Many are not there. They are suspended in trying to face the reality.

I’ve spent most of the recent weeks going in homes, as a stranger, throwing lives out on the front lawn. I see their glazed eyes and blank faces as I take their most personal belongings to the curb. I’ve had to gently take the picture of a loved one, who died from leukemia, out of the hands of a weeping woman to throw away. I’ve seen ruined military awards that were the only mark of appreciation for years and years of service to our country. Day after day I go into another stranger’s home and throw away their children’s belongings, their heirlooms, collections, handwritten love notes, pictures, family bibles, and childhood treasures.

I haven’t seen anyone cry over newly purchased furniture or their expensive appliances. Not a single tear has been wept over something insignificant. Disasters have a way of reprioritizing life. They weep about things that represent a life. They are still trying to grapple with the reality that they have nothing tangible to show for a life lived, nothing left that marks the existence of a deceased loved one . They are trying to do this as they are displaced and unsure about the future.

I spoke to a woman from a church that is heading disaster relief teams just a few days ago. With worry in her eyes she told me they have a stack of homes they have not even gotten to yet and that the help is moving out. That means there are people still suspended in the wait and will be there for who knows how long.

For us that aren’t actually victims, we are the only ones in recovery. We are returning to a normal state, and while the world would say that we should get back to life as normal, God paints a different picture. He says we are to mourn with those who mourn, carry their burdens, give to those in need, provide shelter for the displaced, and provide the hope of the gospel to all. As believers, we can’t leave them. We must walk with them, however slow the pace.

If you are like me, you feel a little overwhelmed with how that plays out. I think small acts of kindness will go far. A text, a call, a hug, a gift that replaces something lost. It’s says you are not forgotten. It says, I will wait with you until you are ready to recover. Most importantly though, we can give the hope of the gospel. The greatest recovery from a broken world is Jesus, and the eternal hope He provides. Hearts are primed for the gospel. People are seeking hope. They are looking for something that cannot be lost or destroyed. We have what they are seeking.

Celebrating in the Storm

Today we are celebrating God’s work in and through the family of Christ-followers at Cornerstone. While there is still much to be done as our area recovers from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, we are hopeful and excited to see God at work in so many ways.

In the past three weeks, our church was able to distribute over $115,000 to churches and families in Southeast Texas. These funds were made available through the sacrificial giving of our Cornerstone family and from donations that came in from all across the country. We had churches from West Virginia, Oklahoma, and all across our great state of Texas that sent gifts to help our area in the recovery process.

When we set up this disaster relief fund, we started praying and asking God to send us resources. Our commitment was to get them to people who needed them as quickly as possible. We have worked diligently to keep our commitment! We have seen a real life demonstration of God blessing those who will use His blessings for His purposes! Every time we have discovered a need, the resources would come in to meet that need.

I know this testimony is shared throughout our area. Not all churches have received financial resources. But I’ve heard countless testimonies of unsolicited trucks showing up full of supplies. One church fed an entire community with a seemingly bottomless pot of chili. And God has consistently brought hope and His light into a very dark season for many in our communities.

We want to just take a minute to praise God together for His goodness to us!

There is still much to be done! There are homes to be cleaned out, homes to be restored, and prayers to be prayed!

Let us not grow weary in doing good! God is doing a wonderful work even in the midst of this difficult season. Let us press on! Continue to give your time, resources, and love to those who need it more than ever!

– Bro. Rusty

Wednesday Nights @ Cornerstone

Throughout the Fall and Spring, one of the most exciting times at Cornerstone is watching our Wednesday night activities take place. Between our adults, youth, and children, we had over 200 people on campus multiple times last year! It is wonderful to see so many serving, loving, and growing together.

At our Children’s Ministry meeting yesterday, we started preparing for a new year and a new season of ministry on Wednesday nights.

Starting in September (details/dates coming soon!) we will begin a new Wednesday night schedule that will have activities for the entire family.

We will begin every Wednesday night with a family fellowship meal. Our kitchen crew always does an outstanding job. We are excited to provide an opportunity for families to sit around the table and enjoy some time together. We do not charge for these meals, but we encourage donations to help offset the cost.

Our children will be starting a new program called “Cornerstone Kids!” They will be learning the story of the Gospel from creation, to the cross, to today! There will be music, teaching, discussion time, and lots of great activities. Pray for the leaders and workers that met last night and will begin planning for this new ministry in the coming days. We are excited to see what God will do!

Our youth ministry will continue to focus on making disciples of the guys and girls God sends their way. Bro. Ryan and Mrs. Kim, along with several wonderful servants, do a fantastic job of leading them as they learn to follow Jesus.

We are also excited to announce that we will be starting a mid-week worship service! While the children and youth enjoy some age-specific discipleship, our adults will take time to renew and recharge through worship and the Word. This service will be open to anyone who wants to attend. Some families may choose to come to worship as a family, while some may send their family to the various age-specific ministries- both of those are wonderful options!

We believe this new Wednesday night schedule will create an opportunity for the entire family to come together and be discipled. We want our families to look forward to Wednesday nights, to see it as an opportunity to be refreshed and encouraged! These new ministries will allow those called to serve in children and youth ministries the opportunity to fulfill that call, while also creating an opportunity for families to grow as disciples of Jesus through consistent worship.

There are still more details to come- but will you join me in praying for our Wednesday night ministries? Pray for those involved in leading our Mid-week Worship, our Youth Ministry, and our Children’s Ministry. Commit to come and be a part of what God is doing on Wednesday nights!

(Starting September- dates to come!)

5:15PM- Family Fellowship Meal
6PM-7PM: Mid-Week Worship, Youth Ministry, Cornerstone Kids

A New Vision for Children’s Ministry- Are You Called to Serve?

This has been an interesting season at Cornerstone. For the past several months, the word the Lord has continually brought to my mind is “simplify.” We have been in a period of “evaluation” ever since our Missional Church Conference. Every ministry and program in our church is being evaluated and reimagined as we move forward with the call to be disciples on mission for Jesus.

We know that families have many things pulling for their time and attention. And as the Church, we want to get back to what God prioritizes in Scripture. In Acts 2, we see the early church focusing on three primary things- 1. The teaching of the Word, 2. Fellowship, 3. Prayer.

We long for our families to grow in Christ. We long to see parents who love Jesus and teach their children to love Jesus. But this doesn’t happen through a program. This happens through discipleship.

Our children are really important to us. And we want to create a dynamic ministry full of disciples who are called to disciple children. This is where you come in! If you are called to serve and teach in our Children’s ministry- we want you to join us for a special meeting this Sunday, July 17, at 4PM in the sanctuary.

We are not recruiting volunteers. We are not going to beg people to serve. We are not going to guilt anyone into participating. We are calling for those in the body of Christ who have a real call to minister to our children! We want to equip you to have a real impact on the children God sends to our church.

If that is you, then please join us Sunday afternoon for an important conversation about the future of our children’s ministry.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING IN OUR CHILDREN’S MINISTRY- PLEASE ATTEND OUR MEETING SUNDAY! IF YOU CANNOT MAKE IT, PLEASE CONTACT BRO. RUSTY OR BRO. GERALD TO LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SERVING

Josh Chevalier Update

We got this update from Josh last Wednesday- we thought we would share it with you. Please continue to keep he and Joseph in your prayers as they minister in Zambia!

“We finally made it to the town we are working in after 3 extra days that weren’t accounted for because our supervisors got sick. But we’re here now and it’s really pretty here. Really dusty because the dirt is like a red dirt and it’s the dry season. We still haven’t gotten to do a sports camp yet because [of planning conflicts]. But we should get to do our first ministry thing tomorrow. The market here is really cool and weird at the same time, you can just about buy anything there ranging from fruits and veggies to batteries and backpacks.”

Through the Peveto’s Facebook page- we see that they have had their first successful sports camp- and enjoyed a unique day of worship yesterday! We are so thankful for the work God is doing in and through Josh. Please commit to pray for him daily- we will post updates as we receive them!

ONE Church- A Special Announcement

Greetings Cornerstone family!

Bro. Rusty here, welcoming you to the newly updated “Ministry blog!” Since I have my own blog now, what used to be the “pastor’s blog” has been updated to contain posts from a variety of ministry leaders in our church family. Along with my old posts, you will soon find a couple of articles every month from various voices within our church family. We are hoping you will be blessed by these resources.

But we are starting this new season of this blog with a big announcement!

On Sunday, June 5, we will return to our ONE service format. Our traditional Cornerstone Bible Fellowships will start at 9AM and our ONE service will start at 10AM.

Summer is traditionally a low-attendance season for most churches. And we knew that one service would be able to accommodate our Summer services. What made this decision much easier is knowing that by the time attendance picks back up in the Fall- we will be getting into our new sanctuary! And we will be able to seat 350+ as soon as we start using the new building.

There is no doubt that God called us to this season of two services. It was not easy, it required a lot of work from a lot of people! But without this season, we would not have been able to seat everyone God sent to our church.

I want to take this opportunity to earnestly thank those who attended the first service. While many could not make this decision for a variety of reasons, many of you willingly set aside your preferences to advance the Kingdom of God. I believe that an eternal reward awaits you! I wish more would have answered the call, but I am thankful for the faithful few who allowed God to use them in this special way. Because of your willingness, I believe there are multiple families that have been comfortable and welcomed into our church family.

And for our incredible worship and media teams- you have doubled up on your workload for the past 18 months! Your work has been a blessing to many, and we are so thankful for your time and ministry!

This is an exciting time for Cornerstone! We are looking forward to opening our new facility and having what we have not had for a few years- room to grow!

But we are not taking off for the Summer! While we recognize that attendance is traditionally lower- we still have a lot of Kingdom work happening! Please commit to make worship a priority for you and your family! Don’t “take off” from serving and worshiping the Lord with your church family.

I pray that we will continue to make disciples and take the Gospel to our community and the ends of the earth- in this building, in the next building- and for generations to come!

It is a blessing to be your pastor. I love you all!
Rusty

New Website

Rusty Mott   March 15, 2016   No Comments on New Website

For those who don’t use social media- my blog has moved over to rustymott.com

We are in the process of converting this to a “ministry blog!” Beside me (Rusty), we will have various ministry leaders, elders, and deacons write articles about life and ministry to share with our church family here.

Looking forward to this new journey! If you still want to follow my blog- check out the new website! I am posted 4-5 times every week. God bless!

Fixer Upper- Make It Stick!

If you were at our services Sunday, you heard a message called “Fixer Upper.” The point was that each of us are in desperate need of transformation in our lives through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As an opening illustration, I talked about the many “home improvement” shows on television today. Mallory and I watch a lot of these shows, and that has become an increasingly dangerous thing.

Why? Because they make so many difficult things look so easy!

We live in a house built in the 1950’s. And in many parts of the house, you would know it is old just by looking at the design.

One of those areas is the guest bathroom. As per the style of the day, this bathroom is decked with bright pink tiles on the walls, the vanity, and around the entire shower area. It is a lot of tile, and a lot of pink! And on top of that, before we moved into the house, the previous owner repainted the cabinets in the house. Guess what color they chose…..Yes, PINK.

So our pink bathroom has been a point of discussion for a long time.

But this week- all of that changed! Mallory repainted the cabinets a couple of weeks ago. And yesterday, we started the process of repainting the tiles. If you have ever done this before- you know the struggle! It requires a special (and expensive) epoxy paint that is specifically made to adhere to these tiles. Mallory spent all day “prepping” the area. And then I spent several hours last night spraying, brushing, and getting the paint onto the tiles.

It is in the “curing” stage, and it will take a few days to dry. But it already looks significantly less pink!

This morning, I was thinking about the process behind the job. We had to sand the tiles, the clean them, and repeated that process three times! And then we had to use a special paint to make sure that it would “stick.”

This reminds me of the discipleship process. We really wish there was a way to snap our fingers and be done with the whole project! But the truth is, it takes time! Discipleship is a process!

Sure, you can slap a coat of cheap paint on the tile. But in a matter of days, it will begin to peel and fall off. Because without the epoxy- it won’t stick.

The Gospel is the “epoxy” of the discipleship process! Without the truth of the Gospel informing every step of our growth- it’s all just cosmetics. We can look good, act good, and seem like we have it all together. But the only way to make real and lasting change is to do the difficult work of coming to the cross and dying to yourself- and let the Gospel transform you from the inside out!

Battling Mondays and the “Monday-ish” Days of Life

Mondays are hard for everybody.

But for Pastors, Mondays follow a previous day of highs and lows. Some Sundays, we go home exuberant and overjoyed at what the Lord did during the day of services. But other days we go home drained and wondering if we spent the vast majority of our time working on a sermon that didn’t make any difference.

On the Mondays after the “highs” of Sunday- I find myself bored and uninterested in the daily grind that is the majority of my pastoral life. I can’t wait to get back in the pulpit next week! But I’m so excited that I can’t concentrate on getting started on what I will actually be preaching in the pulpit. So it is usually a rather unproductive day.

On the Mondays after the “lows” of Sunday- I find myself mourning what should have been. Thinking about how it would have been if I had worded something different, or if I had remembered that awesome illustration. Embarrassingly, I find myself looking through social media to see if anyone commented or made mention of the day’s teaching. Oddly enough, even when I find it- on the “low” days, it doesn’t really satisfy.

This may be an odd thing for you to be reading. I tend to write as if a group of pastors is reading and nodding along in agreement. As if this may be some form of encouragement to them. And maybe some are. But when I stop and think about it- this post won’t reach more than a handful of our church members….. and of course, my Mom and Grandmother!

But in some way- maybe this helps you.

I heard a pastor talk about the difference between being “authentic” and “vulnerable.” It is an important distinction!

It is popular to be “authentic” in our world today. We are all about being “transparent.” We are unashamed about who we are! But the truth is, even while being authentic, none of us like to vulnerable. We don’t like being open about our struggles, feelings, or problems.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you start airing all of your personal struggles in the public square! But even within our own souls, we have a tendency to run and hide instead of dealing with the struggles within. And by “dealing with the struggles,” I mean running to the Savior, who is able to help us in the midst of whatever situation.

But when you are prone to depression and dark nights of the soul, if you don’t sort through these kind of days- and let yourself be vulnerable before the Lord- the only other place to go is a place of hiding. Where nothing gets sorted out, and your struggles compound into an internal struggle that eats away at every part of your life.

So on Mondays, dreary sunless days, or in the “lows” of your life- don’t run and hide. Instead, be vulnerable before the Lord. He is the one who created you. He knows your heart. Let Him take it and heal it.

Three Years Later

Rusty Mott   February 17, 2016   2 Comments on Three Years Later

Tomorrow marks three years since Mallory and I loaded all of our belongings in a small moving truck and headed south to Pastor at Cornerstone.

I am prone to sentimentality. Markers like this always cause me to reflect upon my life and ministry. Things have changed more than I could have imagined.

Personally, we have a beautiful daughter with another daughter coming in the next couple of months. Mallory has found wonderful friends and places to use her many gifts in ministry. We bought a house, and have done some significant remodeling since buying it.

Pastorally, I’ve learned that I don’t really know that much! I’ve made a ton of mistakes, and I’ve learned that it’s ok. We’ve also seen God do some amazing things. I could never have expected our church to grow as fast as we have. We are in the middle of transforming our Sunday School to what we call “Cornerstone Bible Fellowships,” with groups meeting at different times and locations throughout the week. Our elders are also putting together our new discipleship curriculum designed to help call, teach, and develop leaders in our church. And on top of all of that, we are about to start construction on our new worship center! It will be interesting to see what God does in the next three years at Cornerstone!

Mallory and I talked about how quick it has gone- but also, how it seems like it’s been a lot longer than 3 years. We still miss our dear friends and family at Freeman Heights in Garland. We stay in contact with them, and go to visit as often as we can. God is blessing their ministry too! Those relationships encourage us to keep going here in Kountze. We have seen the fruit that 6 1/2 years of building relationships brings. Sometimes I wish there were shortcuts to get to that point- but we trust that God’s timing is perfect.

It is a blessing to serve the Lord! As we all continue to serve, it is important to take opportunities to look behind us and before us! Let God’s faithfulness encourage and bless you as you continue in His service.

And one, ten, twenty…..or three years later, you can still be confident that His grace sufficient.