Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Mar 21
2019

Life in Community | Loving and Serving One Another

Community | by Justin Keogh

The Life in Community series highlights aspects of our life lived together in community through a mixture of theology, vision, and personal stories. Cornerstone Communities are the primary means of forming meaningful discipling relationships where we can be known, encouraged, and challenged by brothers and sisters in our body, and live out the “one another” commandments in our daily lives.

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…. By this we know love, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:11, 16-18)

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)

There is a direct relationship between our relationship with God (our “vertical” relationship) and our relationship with others (our “horizontal” relationships). How we love our brothers and sisters horizontally reflects our understanding and beliefs about how God has loved us vertically in Christ. This was not immediately apparent to me in my early days of faith – I claimed to love God, but that love did not result in love for my fellow Christians. It was in my freshman year of college, during a Bible study on 1 John, that God drew this to my full attention by His Spirit and through His word.

There I was, thinking I had a right understanding of God’s love – to which God called me a liar. I saw the stark contrast of my horizontal relationships which lacked any tangible grace, forgiveness, or love with the extremely tangible peace, forgiveness, and love of God to me in Christ. Thankfully, by God’s grace, this led not only to a deepened understanding but wholehearted repentance, which still to this day shapes the way I see my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you struggle to love your brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you to reflect on the ways in which God has (and does!) loved you in Christ, the depth of the forgiveness he has for your sins (i.e., all of them), and the abundance of his provision for you as co-heirs with Christ.

As the understanding of God’s love for us has hit home, and we desire to love and serve others as Christ has loved and served us, some very practical questions quickly arise. Here are four of the most common questions that frequently arise as we seek to love and serve one another in our communities.

1. What does it look like to love others “in deed and in truth”?

In contrast to “loving in word or talk,” we see that loving others is an action. On this topic, James writes: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16). We see throughout Acts – there was practical and tangible care for one another that included meeting material needs (Acts 2:45; 6:2). In our context, this could be as simple as picking up the bill for a shared meal for a friend who doesn’t have the same financial means, or it could mean rallying together as a community to help someone in your community pay rent and make ends meet when they are in between jobs.

2. What if I don’t have the financial means to help others? Or, what if the needs of others are not financial?

In either of these scenarios, we can still meet the practical needs of others. We have all been given a unique set of time, talent, and treasure from God to steward, which varies by his providence and grace. These gifts not only differ from one person to person but also from season to season. Therefore, we should not expect that there is a ‘one size fits all’ way to serve. Meeting material needs is not the exclusive way to love and care for others. How then? Well, it depends on the unique needs of others and your gifts of time, talent, and treasure. A family with young kids might have their material needs covered, but need a babysitter so that they can get a date night. A single young professional might have their material needs covered, but need Godly counsel and guidance. Together, they might form a mutually-edifying relationship where they meet each others’ needs and grow closer in the process!

3. How do I prioritize who to serve?

There are more people in the world with greater needs than you will ever be able to meet. Thankfully, God has not called us to be the savior of the world, but to love and serve those whom we are able – with the gifts that he’s uniquely given to us. The bible doesn’t give us a prescription on how to split our efforts, but rather principles on how to love our family in Christ and our neighbors. Knowing that I have to prioritize and choose whom I will serve, here are a few of the questions I prayerfully consider:
Who has God sovereignly put into my life already?
What are their needs?
What does the balance of my time, talents, and treasures look like this season?
Have I sought to love both my family in Christ and my neighbors?
Are there folks who cannot repay me, that I might serve unconditionally (cf Luke 14:12-14).
Very often, I don’t have to think long before I find God’s Spirit directing me to those around me – in my community, my church, my workplace, and my geographic neighborhood.

4. What if I’m the one in need?

We all have needs, and there is no shame or condemnation for being in need (Rom 8:1). Even so, we don’t generally like to be in need. For starters, by definition, it means we’re lacking in something. Secondly, asking for help from others can be a huge (albeit good) blow to our pride – fighting our social norms of individualism and our self-made images. Yet, we know that God has given us needs that we might depend on him and come to receive what we need for his glory and our good (cf. John 9:3).We want our Cornerstone Communities to be places of authentic, loving, discipling, and mutually-edifying relationships. This means that they need to be places where we can share our needs and our time, talent, and treasure to meet one another’s needs. It takes a humble vulnerability from the person sharing the need, and a compassionate action from those around the person sharing the need – but as this happens, people’s needs are met, we grow closer to each other, God is glorified, and the world around us sees a glimpse of the Kingdom of God (cf John 13:35).

If you’re part of a Cornerstone Community, I invite you to prayerfully consider who is in need around you that you are uniquely gifted to serve this month.

If you’re not yet part of a Cornerstone Community, sign-up for the next Foundations class to get started.

Justin Keogh
Director of Communities & Mercy Ministries

Mar 8
2019

(Re)Create Night | This Friday, March 15th!

Creative Arts | by Maddie Olling

Next Friday, we will be gathering for our first (RE)CREATE event of the year. The name (RE)CREATE highlights the multi-medium ways we as image-bearers (i.e. “re-creators”) reflect the artistic originality, ingenuity and beauty of our Creator God. In these nights, we want to explore the intersection of art and faith, the tensions of the creative process, and necessity of beauty in the Christian life, among many other topics. (RE)CREATE is not just for “creatives”. This is for everyone!

Details

  • WHEN.  Friday, March 15th, 7pm-10pm
  • WHERE.  Downtown Cornerstone Church (MPR Downstairs)
  • WHAT.  The night will feature the creative work of DCC artists, including visual arts, graphic design, performing arts, videography, and more.
  • RSVP.  If you are already a member of the DCC Creatives Collective, you can RSVP at the event page here. If you have trouble getting to the event page, just email us at creativearts@downtowncornerstone.org.

Our hopes are that you would:

#1 Be inspired in deeper worship of God through the exploration of beauty and theology.

Everything that’s beautiful was made from, through, and for Jesus. He is the ultimate originalist. So every opportunity we have to engage in creative work, is an opportunity to worship our Creator!

#2 Forge new friendships and support fellow creatives seeking to honor Christ in their artistic endeavors.

Not only will we feature creative work, we’ll leave plenty of space to hang out, enjoy good food, mix and mingle, laugh and make new friends. Whether you’re new to DCC or a long-timer, this is a night to relax and enjoy each other, as we support the arts and creatives within our church.

#3 Expand your awareness of how the gospel shapes our view of the arts, vocation, and culture-making.

The gospel uniquely explains the paradox of beauty and brokenness we see in the world. How then can Christians be “salt and light” through art and vocation? We’ll seek to unpack that more, and the dynamics of being a faithful presence in a post-Christian world.

#4 Be stirred in your own creative gifts, ideas, and ambitions.

Original creative projects. Fresh takes. Insights and pro tips. Our hope is that these times would be richly inspiring and equipping, to help each of us utilize the creativity that God has placed in each of us. Now to just explore and enjoy it for His glory!

We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a great night!

For the beauty of the church,
Pastor Randy

 

Please contact us at creativearts@downtowncornerstone.org if have any questions or you’re interested in sharing your work at a future event. If you’d like more information, visit www.downtowncornerstone.org/recreate 

Feb 22
2019

Life in Community | Dynamic Communities

Community | by Justin Keogh

The Life in Community series highlights aspects of our life lived together in community through a mixture of theology, vision, and personal stories. Cornerstone Communities are the primary means of forming meaningful discipling relationships where we can be known, encouraged, and challenged by brothers and sisters in our body, and live out the “one another” commandments in our daily lives. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

On a Sunday this past fall, Pastor Adam asked for a show of hands for those who are not native to Seattle – and it was the vast majority of our body! We have people joining us from all over the country (and the world!), across the gamut of occupations and life stages, with a wide array of personal backgrounds and experiences. This is itself a beautiful picture of the diversity of God’s kingdom (Rev 7:9) and His supernatural power at work to bring together a new people as his treasured possession (1 Pet 2:9-10). With such a significant portion of our body being relatively new to Seattle, there are many implications for who we are as a people, including and especially how we live life together in community.

As such, I’ve taken to describing our community life as dynamic. While we are always working to build meaningful discipling relationships in our communities, that looks different season to season. It also looks different than we might expect, either from our own past experiences, or desires for new experiences. So I think it’s helpful for us to consider a few ways that our mobile urban context can work for – or against – the goals of our life together in community. I’m sure there are others, but here are five implications that have been forefront in my mind this year.

First, we are called to welcome others as we have been welcomed by Christ (Rom 15:7).

We ought to always be on the lookout for those who are new, but knowing that most of us are relatively new should keep this commandment forefront for us. Along with welcoming is to practice hospitality with one another, inviting others into our homes and our lives (Rom 12:13, Heb 13:2, 1 Pet 4:9). Welcoming and being hospitable is more than just taking someone out to lunch or having them over for dinner (though that is certainly included), but in the broader sense to be welcoming and hospitable is to say to others “I see you and I have room for you in my life.” In our hyper-busy culture, we must be intentional to make room for others, and in so doing, by God’s grace, live as welcoming and hospitable people.

Second, we should expect there to be movement as a part of our life together, without keeping a distance.

Our primary purpose in community is to foster meaningful discipling relationships – and the fact that some folks might be leaving can tempt us to keep things shallow, to avoid getting real with others. But we must walk this tension to build and maintain authentic community – and seek to make meaningful relationships with those who are in our body, for as long as they’re in our body. God is sovereign over all the details of our lives, and that includes the people that he’s brought into your life and our body today.

Third, we should commit – in community, in church membership, and in stewarding our gifts for the upbuilding of the body (1 Cor 12:7).

Commitment is like a bad word in our day and age, but it’s essential in order for us to be a healthy family. In order to be known and know others, we have to commit and consistently show up. When we aren’t willing to commit to go be with our community, what we’re really saying is that community is primarily about “What’s in it for me?” rather than “How can I steward my gifts for the upbuilding of the body?” Surely, there will be days when circumstances prevent our full participation, but that should be the exception and not the norm. Directly related is our experience of intimacy with others – if we’re not willing to commit and show up, then we won’t be able to receive the blessing of meaningful relationships with others. This same consumer mentality can lead us away from church membership, which then limits how well we can care for each other because we’re not committed to each other. And not surprisingly, if we aren’t committed to others in community or the church as members, it will be impossible for us to commit to using our gifts for the upbuilding of the church – which is a disservice to ourselves, our community, and our church family.

Fourth, we should get involved quickly, even if we’re not sure how long we’ll be here.

Some of us may only plan to be in Seattle for a year or two and be tempted to say that it won’t be worth the relational effort to get connected. There are three reasons that this temptation leads us to waste our time: First, 1-3 years can see a LOT of growth, and if we don’t take a step to commit, then we’ll miss out on the opportunity to grow while we’re here (after all, Jesus only spent three years physically with his disciples). Second, I’ve known many people who’ve set out to be here for six months, only for the project to get extended three months at a time, or a new relationship started, or a job change, which leads to them being in Seattle for years. But because they hadn’t committed to anyone, they’ve remained on the outskirts and being lonely for much longer than they thought they would be. Third, the commandments for us to make the best use of our time (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5) still apply to us, even when we’re expecting to be somewhere for a short period of time.

Fifth, we need to persevere and not be discouraged if people you’ve invested in leave.

Often we will grow close to someone and then seasons change and they move away – leaving us behind, perhaps relationally tired or even hurt. The temptation arises to say “Well, I’m done getting hurt or spending my energies on others.” But if we withdraw, this leaves us further isolated and hurting. So, the solution is not to withdraw, but to welcome others. Certainly, there will be some relational cost and loss as people move away – but for us as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is less like we’re losing family but extending our family. Lord willing, those relationships can still exist to some extent even if people move to another community, out of state, or across the world – but even if not on this side of heaven, we’ll be able to celebrate for eternity when we gather together around Jesus. Our call is the same – to continue to stir one another up to love and good works, and continuing to meet together (Heb 10:24-25).

If you’re not yet in a Cornerstone Community, the best place to get started is with the Foundations class, which lays the groundwork for our life together in DCC. The next class starts this Sunday, 2/24, at 9a. You can read more details and register here.

Feb 13
2019

Our Search With The Preacher Begins Sunday

Teaching | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

This Sunday we begin a new series through the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a timeless, and timely, book. In it, the Preacher-King, recounts a lifelong search for meaning, purpose, and satisfaction “under the sun.” His quest is an attempt to make sense out of life on a purely horizontal plane, without God in the picture. To do so, he exhausts every nook and cranny of the created order and human potential. Yet, again and again, he discovers “all is vanity.” Path after path leads to a dead end, so by the end there is only one way left.

This makes Ecclesiastes a unique book. It belongs with the wisdom literature of the Bible (i.e. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon) yet is also distinct from it. While the other books portray the fruit-filled wisdom of following God, Ecclesiastes portrays the fleeting nature of seeking life anywhere else. There are lessons here that are not found anywhere else in the Bible.

All of this, makes Ecclesiastes a gift from God. Through it, God invites us to step back and consider what we’re living for so we don’t waste our lives on vapor. Our lives are typically too full, busy, and noisy to think deeply about such things—so God gave us an entire book to slow us down. This is good news for those who are looking for more or for something better. But, the search takes courage. It confronts, convicts, and challenges. It forces us to consider the most important questions of life and, if we learn, discover afresh unsearchable riches of the ultimate Preacher-King.

Here is how our search will take shape over the next three months.

Ecc. 1:1-11 — All is Vanity
Ecc. 1:12-18; 2:12-17 — Knowledge
Ecc. 2:1-11 — Pleasure
Ecc. 2:18-26 — Work
Ecc. 3:1-22 — Time
Ecc. 4:1-16 — Evil
Ecc. 5:1-7 — Empty Religion
Ecc. 5:8-6:12 — Money
Ecc. 7:1-29 — Success & Suffering
Ecc. 8:1-17 — Fearing God
Ecc. 9:1-10 — Facing Death
Ecc. 9:11-10:20 — Advantages of Wisdom
Ecc. 11:1-12:14 — The End of the Matter

We hope you’ll join us. Let’s pray for fruit.

Christ is all, 
Pastor Adam

Feb 11
2019

Start the Year Taking Fresh Steps of Faith

Discipleship, Teaching | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

As most of you know, we concluded our 2019 New Year Essentials sermon series last week. This has become an annual set of sermons that address topics to which we must repeatedly return for God’s glory, our joy, and the good of others. Of course, this is not an annual repeat of the same sermons. Rather, they are different sermons that take different angles on subjects we need to come back to again-and-again. 

Here is how our series came together this year: 

Storing Up God’s Word

A Gospel-Forged People in a Divided Age

Rebooting Your Prayer Life

The Wonder of Jesus’ Local Church

My prayer for that series was for the Spirit of God to move each of us to take fresh steps of faith this year. Faith does not stay put for long. Faith moves (James 2:17). Faith is a living dynamic force, given and fueled by the Spirit, that changes our every day lives, in ways big and small, for the glory of God. 

That prayer is what led to my weekly challenges, to the entire church, throughout the series. Each challenge was a practical suggestion for how your faith in Christ might move you to take fresh steps in the area under consideration. Here are the four challenges I gave to the church: 

#1 Memorize one verse a week 

In a world filled with words, we won’t make it unless we’re being fed and fortified by the right words. We need unshakeable words of truth to give meaning, strength and hope to our lives. Those words are found in God’s Word. Of course, the amount of Scripture will vary from person to person. What matters is that you are stockpiling the riches of God’s Word in your heart. What’s your plan? 

#2 Do not mirror the divisions of the world, within the church, but heal them 

One of the purposes of the local church is to show the world the new kind of humanity God is forging in Jesus. Unfortunately, the local church can look just as divided as the world. What do we do? The healing we long for doesn’t occur automatically nor by blaming others. It occurs when each one of Jesus’ people decides, in faith, to be an agent of healing themselves. In this sermon, we considered ten attributes of a Gospel-forged people from Romans 12:9-21. What are two or three relational dynamics in that passage that Jesus is inviting you to grow in this year? 

#3 Refocus your prayer life

There is no other way to reboot your prayer life than to begin to pray afresh. To do that it is critical to not see prayer so much as a separate activity, or even means of grace (which it is), as much as a vital means of ongoing communion with God. In other words, if we’re not praying, we’re not communing. This week my challenge was twofold: (1) Read one book on prayer and (2) prioritize each of our church-wide prayer nights this year.

#4 Consider afresh the wonder of Jesus’ local church—and join in. 

Jesus’ local church is not one of the many options. It is God’s Plan A for spreading his glory through the salvation of his people among the neighborhoods of Seattle to the nations of the world. There is no such thing as a churchless or free agent Christian. That is largely a modern phenomenon. Though it is unfortunately common, it is irregular and unbiblical. This year, link arms with this local expression of Jesus’ people (or join another) if you’re not yet a member. If you are already a member, keep in mind that membership is a living commitment to a living people. In what ways might Jesus be inviting you to become more deeply committed to his people this year? 

Bearing Gospel fruit in our everyday lives

In all this, we must remember that none of these make us right with God, nor earn us more of his love. We have God’s love, in Christ, through faith. Full stop. That is not our doing, it is a gift of God (Eph 2:8). However, as the reality of God’s love sinks into our hearts, it bears grace-laden fruit, such as storing up God’s Word, healing divisions, renewed prayer, and a growing love for his church. Let’s ask God to use these massive gospel truths to bear lasting fruit in our lives this year. Who knows what He might do through us?

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam