• Lori Somerville

Church online has been working for lots of us.

As a matter of fact, it kind of saved our butts during the “stay safe, stay at home” order.

We've heard from all of you about church online.

Some of you have said “it’s just not the same”. And we agree. It hasn’t been the same for us either.

And others are saying “What do you mean come back to church? I never left; I’m online”.

Let’s be honest it is convenient to just watch from home. I mean we've all dreamed at one time about just being able to go to church in our jammies.

So here is what we have to say to all of you

“The Doors of the church are open again and we welcome you home. When you are ready".

As shepherd’s of God’s people, our primary concern is that church has become an “option” for a culture that glorifies busyness and that far too many people are not going to make it back to church.

However, we must remind you that the local church is one of only two institutions that God ordained for his people (and in case you are wondering, the other is marriage). So I guess you could say church matters to God. And if it matters to God……… has to matter to us too.

So we wanted to help lay a foundation for you in your decision making about when and how to safely return to church.

1. Drift is imminent without connection.

People are designed to be in community. And as your Pastors we have seen what happens to those who choose to “go it alone” versus those who remain in community. Drift from God is almost always the result of spiritual isolation. It is true that no one has to attend church to be a Christian. As a matter of fact, at Cornerstone we talk about how each one of us has a story to tell, uniquely your story, but your story becomes a part of our story when we join together in community. And every story we hear told reminds us again and again that those Christians with the more vibrant walk with Jesus regularly attend a worship service and are actively involved in their church community.

It’s not about sin. It takes nothing more than the busyness and pressure of everyday life to allow your walk with God to become a part of your life rather than the center of your life.

Drift from God will happen. Unintentionally. And the church is the primary leader, encourager, and teacher for maintaining an intentional, growing, vibrant faith.

2. Our worldview shapes how we live our lives.

We hear that word a lot. Worldview. Defined it is simply the set of values and beliefs about the fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influence our perception, thoughts, knowledge and actions. Life is challenging. And confusing. And if we want to maintain our Christian worldview we have to be actively involved in conversations that help us figure out how to live in the middle of the complex, ever changing culture we live in. This is one of the many roles that the church fulfills in our lives. And each one of us has to decide who or what is going to shape our worldview……….the Word of God or modern culture?

Even Christians don’t always agree………. But together we can wrestle through those tough decisions. And it’s having those conversations that sharpen us and stretch us and grow us (and build relationship with one another).

3. Living a vibrant spiritual life often requires coaching. Even with coaching most of us will readily admit we have lived a far from perfect life. But imagine how lost we could be right now if it wasn’t for the coaches that God put in our path to encourage us and redirect us in those moments. A coach can come in many forms: someone who helps you wrestle through a tough decision you are facing, a Pastor who helps you navigate a difficult family situation or a spiritual mentor who helps you develop the leader in you. No matter what a coach looks like to you, it should be someone with a vibrant spiritual walk, actively involved in a church community.

4. The church is a light in your community. God has given you gifts and abilities that only you have so that you can use them to serve others. Just as we need the church; the church needs you. The primary mission of the local church is to serve its community and it can do that so much better when we all roll up our sleeves and serve and reach the lost and hurting together.

5. Healthy habits bring stability. A healthy life consists of healthy patterns and rhythms based on biblical principles. For example, a balanced diet and some form of exercise form a healthy foundation for our lives. Similarly, a consistent connection with a body of believers become a strong foundation on which to build a vibrant spiritual life. We get it. No church is perfect. Why? Because it’s made up of imperfect people. Yet even the most imperfect church can become a stable foundation for a wonderful, vibrant, loving life. And you will make even the most imperfect church better. We say that at Cornerstone a lot. Our church is better because you are here. Those aren't just words to make you feel good. They are our truth. Cornerstone needs you and your gifts and your heart for eachother and those who are lost and hurting. Together we can make the world a little bit better.

So our doors are open.

We are waiting.

With arms wide open.

For your return.

  • Lori Somerville

We talk a lot about service in our church circles….but how many of us actually seek to serve…….to be a servant? You might be thinking, “a servant……….Boy that doesn’t exactly sound like something I want to sign up for.

But should it? The answer is………….absolutely………..whether you want to lead or not………… we should all, as disciples of Jesus, be cultivating servant hearts.

I did a word search in the Bible using the word serve and discovered this – the word serve shows up in the NIV Bible 289 times. Depending on what version of the Bible you use – it may be a little more or a little less – than that.

& not just by Jesus. Here are some Old Testament examples – before Jesus was even born:

Deuteronomy 13:4 – It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Joshua 22:5 – But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 Samuel 12:24 – But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

& a few from the New Testament

Matthew 20:28 – Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 22:26 – But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

John 12:26 – Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Galatians 5:3 – You my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

I think that’s probably enough to determine that service matters to God.

And if it matters to God, and we call ourselves his kids, it should matter to us.

Jesus showed us what greatness looked like. It’s described in Matthew 20:

Matthew 20:25: Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus modeled service for us. The Bible tells us that everywhere that Jesus went he served the people around him: he taught them, he fed them, he healed them, he cast out their demons, he encouraged them towards freedom. And then he carried out the greatest act of service of all – when he placed himself on the cross for my sins and yours.

1. What does Love have to do with service? EVERYTHING

If you love someone you should want to serve them. Not out of obligation but out of love.

Love is not a feeling. It’s an action. Love looks like something.

Mark 12:30-32. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this “Love your neighbor as yourself”. There is no commandment greater than these.

Love looks like something.

Service is nothing more than love in work clothes.

The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the greatest love story ever told. It’s the story of a God who created the world with us in mind. Who created a way out when sin entered the world causing us to be separated from him. Who has a plan to reunite us with him. Why? Because he loves us. He chose us. He longs for a relationship with us. Think about that. The God of the universe created the world with us in mind. The God of the universe sent his son to die for our sins. What greater service is there?

John 15:9-13- 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Who are you serving?

Are you serving your family, your church, your community?

Let’s look at what our lives as servants should look like. It’s found in Matthew 8:14-17

Jesus Heals Many

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”[b

Jesus entered Peter’s house to find his mother in law in bed with a fever. He touched her and the fever left her and she got up and began to wait on him….

Other translations use the words “serve him”

When evening came……….Jesus was besieged by crowds of people bringing their sick, their demon-possessed to him for healing.

How many of those people chose to stay and serve him?

Yet they all got set free……………

How many of us choose to serve him?

How many of us choose to serve each other?

Being a servant of Jesus is what we are all called to.

We have all been given talents, gifts, abilities not to keep to ourselves or to use for our own selfish gain but to SERVE EACH OTHER with

That is what the church is all about

Where do you serve in your church? You may believe that you don’t need the church but the truth is the church needs you. You have been given gifts, talents, abilities and a heart that only you have. The modern church needs what you have to offer.

Find a church. Serve one another. Love one another through your acts of service. Reach one another with the love of Jesus through our service.

  • Lori Somerville

Matthew 14:

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Let's look at a couple of these verses together:

At 14: When he went ashore he saw a large crowd of people and had compassion on them and healed their sick

· Jesus cares about your situation. No matter how big, no matter how small, He sees you and He cares.

At 16: The disciples wanted to send the people away but Jesus responded “You Feed Them”.

· Whether the disciples were concerned about the people or just wanted Jesus to themselves what happened next was an amazing teaching moment. When Jesus responded “You Feed Them” he was preparing them for ministry after he had gone. He taught them to think like a shepherd instead of a sheep.

What is he preparing you for today? What is he refining in you for that time when he looks at you and says "you feed them".

At 17: The disciples were concerned about their “not enough”

· Not enough can become more than enough when you:

· Bring what little you have to Jesus.

· Believe that Jesus can (and will) move in your situation and

bring forth abundance out of your lack

· Believe that Jesus can bring the supernatural into your natural circumstances.

Who is he telling you to feed today? What miracles does he want to do through you? Who is he trying to reach? Let's change our mindsets from one of sheep to one of shepherds. Let's be the church.

I love you and pray you are well during these difficult days.