Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jun 5
2020

Our (Tentative) Plan for Resuming Life Together

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

The Lord has built waiting into our experience of life and that waiting is particularly acute in this season. But, we wait in hope (Ps. 39:7; 62:5; 130:5). In Him, our waiting is not in vain, wasted, a mere obstacle, nor necessarily riddled with regrets of “what might have been.” In His hands our waiting is doing something—even if we don’t know the full extent of what that is from our vantage point—because our God is sovereign.

We are in unprecedented territory as we consider resuming life amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic. What will things look like on the other side? No one knows for sure.

At this point, Washington State’s Governor, Jay Inslee, has proposed a phased approach to re-opening. Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks, provided the occurrence of the disease meets state-designated metrics. The CDC and the state have also provided additional direction for churches. Therefore, it seemed prudent to craft a tentative plan for DCC to resume life together around the four government-mandated phases.

We’re reluctant to commit to anything in writing as the situation continues to evolve and there remain many unknowns. Yet, we understand it is helpful to have a general sense of the direction we are heading, even if we must adapt along the way. Expectations are helpful, even if they are not our preferred outcome.

YOU CAN FIND OUR TENTATIVE PLAN HERE.

Let’s continue to pray—for one another, other gospel-preaching churches, and for justice to prevail in our city. Let’s ask Him to uniquely use this season to create a spiritual awakening our city has never seen.

Christ is all, always.
Pastor Adam

Jun 4
2020

A Prayer of Lament

Global Issues, Prayer

A Prayer of Lament

On Sunday, May 31st, we took some time during our morning gathering to pray and lament over the events that have taken place in the last several weeks in our nation and in our city. Below is the prayer that was prayed by Pastor David, and which we wanted to make available, as we continue to grieve and process the unfolding events in the days and weeks to come.

____________

Father, many of us are coming to you this morning with very heavy, burdened, fatigued, sorrowful, lamenting, frustrated, and maybe even angry hearts.

It has been a rough week, really a rough few weeks—especially for many of our minority brothers and sisters—as we again see and feel the weight and brokenness of this world on full display.

From the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching videos of murder we witnessed in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, to peaceful protests for justice being hijacked for the destruction of our city and many cities around the country, to the ongoing pandemic and the racial targeting of our Asian-American brothers and sisters…

Lord, we can’t even open up our phones, turn on the TV, or even step outside some of our doors, without being reminded of the brokenness of sin in our world.

And if we’re honest, we’re tempted maybe to emotionally shut down, throw in the proverbial towel, and look for a way of escape.

And yet Lord, we know this season is not a surprise to you. In fact, you tell us in your word, that because of sin there will be “men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” and are filled with every kind of “evil, greed, depravity…envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice” (Rom. 1:18, 28-29).

And our hearts cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, O’ Lord?!” (Ps. 13)

  • Father, our hearts long for restoration, for your redemption, and for your justice and righteousness to prevail.
  • We long to see an end to the racial violence that continues to separate our country and our world.
  • We long to see leaders, politicians, and those placed in power, rule with justice and equity.
  • We long to see your justice prevail in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many many more.
  • Father, we know, deep down, that what we ultimately long for is you!

And this season is a stark reality, that there is no hope in this world apart from you.

There is no hope for the human heart, except for it to be radically transformed by your grace.

So Father, our hearts grieve and lament. We lament, because our world is not as it should be.

And we lament because we are not what we should be.

And yet, this we call to mind, and therefore we have hope…“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23-24)

And we know that hope in you is not a vague feeling that we “hope things will one day get better”, but a confident expectation that your Gospel is big enough to heal the brokenness of the human heart.

It is big enough to free us from our own biases, our own blind spots, our own indifference, our own self-righteousness, our own unrighteous anger—and ultimately our rejection of you as Savior and Lord of our life.

So, Lord, we come humbly to you this morning and ask:

  • That you would comfort the black community that is hurting right now—whether that be in and through us as a church, or other churches in Seattle, or and maybe most of all, by and through your Spirit. Remind them that you see them, you know their hurt, their concerns, and their pain. And as Psalms 23 reminds us, that even though we go through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us, and your rod and your staff comfort us.
  • That you would bring comfort to the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, as they are deeply grieving right now. We ask that you would help them see that you are their ultimate vindication.
  • For repentance, salvation, and justice for the officers and others involved in these killings.
  • For wisdom for Minneapolis, Seattle, and other city leaders around the country. We ask that you would allow them to rule and lead with wisdom, equity, and justice, and that those in positions of authority would fight for reform where needed. And we ask that you would carefully guide every person involved in the judicial process of all of these cases—so that truth and justice would prevail.
  • That you would give us a deep love and empathy for our neighbors. That we wouldn’t write all this off as political, but be willing to listen and learn. Be willing to hear and console, and be willing to encourage and exhort.
  • That you would make us a bold people, who are willing to stand for truth, stand for justice, and stand with those who are oppressed—not because we’re supposed to, but because we love our neighbor.
  • For other area churches and pastors who are already knee-deep in pastoring through a pandemic, we ask that you would help them love and lead their people well this morning; that you would give them wisdom in their words, to point everyone back to you as the ultimate answer to the deepest problems we are faced with.
  • And finally Lord, we ask that you would protect the unity of the Church, our church, and not let another gospel of nationalism, personal autonomy, good deeds, activism, or even altruism, to strip the true Gospel of its Saving power.

Lord, we long for the day, where you tell us in Revelation, that your work will come to an end. Where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death, no more racism, no more injustice, no more Covid-19, no more suffering… and where there will be perfect peace.

God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Until then, Father, protect us from wanting the Kingdom without the King. Protect us from not caring about the plight of our neighbors who are lost without you, and help us keep our eyes fixed on you.

Make us teachable and willing to learn, Keep us humble. Give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, the truths that free us from bondage to sin, and give us life in you.

And we pray all these things, in your name, the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Jun 3
2020

A Call To A 24-Hour Fast

Community, Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Friends,

We are living amidst tumultuous times (e.g. ongoing racial injustice, protesting, violent rioting, exploitive looting, a once-in-a-century-pandemic, near record-level unemployment, deep political divisions, an inability to gather as a church, in addition to the every day trials and temptations of our personal lives) and one vital means of grace the Lord has given to his church amidst such storms is fasting and prayer.

Therefore, I am writing to invite you to join the elders in a 24-hour food fast (fasting from food, but not water) beginning tonight after dinner, Wednesday, June 3rd, and lasting up till dinner tomorrow, Thursday, June 4th (i.e. skip breakfast and lunch on June 4th).

If protests are an appeal to earthly powers, fasting is an appeal to the Highest Power. Peaceful protests and calls for justice are good, right, and have their place. But, only the power and presence of God can bring about the nature of changes that are most deeply needed in our city. That means, we must pray.

Ask yourself: Am I seeking God’s face with the same intensity by which I am seeking to remedy the injustices of the world? Does the heat of my prayer life out-do the heat of my protests? Does my pleading with God out-weigh my pleading with others? Does my virtue signaling signal that God is my highest virtue? If not, we must pray.

Racism, violence, and injustice are demonic at their core (Eph. 2:2-3; 6:12f), not earthly, and a spiritual cause requires a spiritual solution. Therefore, while there are many things we could do, the one thing we must do is pray.

One of the primary ways to bring focus to our prayers is to fast. The purpose of fasting is to express absolute dependence on God. It is a way to say to God, “This much, O God, we need you! We are not self-sufficient, but entirely dependent. We can’t sort this out on our own. You must act if anything is to change!” As such, fasting is always coupled with prayer as you allow every hunger pang to highlight your need for God.

Over these 24-hours, and beyond, let’s pray…

  1. That God would unexpectedly show up in His saving, life-changing, and heart-transforming power, in Jesus. That His local churches would be innocent and wise (Mt. 10:16), being salt and light in their spheres of influence (Mt. 5:13-16), and communities of love that shock the city (Jn. 13:35). That the gospel would be clear and central. That the unifying power of the gospel would be displayed in His reconciled, multi-ethnic people who are bound together by the Spirit, which is stronger than blood, as local embassies of the kingdom to come.
  2. That justice would prevail, especially in favor of communities of color. These recent events are not isolated, but are part of a long, unbroken string that stretches back hundreds of years. Shockwaves of past injustices continue to ring out into the present. Let’s seek to be a force for good, because we are gospel people. Further, let’s pray that earthly justice would not end there, but ultimately lead to gospel revival and renewal, and true reconciliation, throughout our city. Let’s pray that this city-wide desire for justice would lead those of our city to Jesus, the only purely Just One.
  3. That city, state and national leadership would have wisdom. These are complex times. Let’s ask our gracious God to grant favor, wisdom and mercy to decision-makers. Let’s pray that our leaders, and upright police officers, to humbly love truth, walk in the light, and leverage their positions of influence for good, not harm. They are under tremendous pressure and are finite, like us, so may God grant them mercy.
  4. That we would learn to depend and do good amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease continues to kill people every day, plunder the economy, promote personal despair, and prevent Jesus’ people from gathering. Let’s pray this season will come to an end soon. That we would learn the lessons He has for us to learn. That our hope and joy, in Him, would not waver. That we’d have spiritual eyes to see how He is moving around us, so that we can join Him in that work.

Joining with you, in fasting and prayer. Let’s pursue Him together.

With you, in Christ, for the sake of the world—
Pastor Adam

P.S. If you are unable to fast for medical reasons, or your schedule does not allow you to participate on the dates above, please feel the freedom to adjust the type or length of fast you practice and/or the dates on which you practice it.

May 28
2020

Pursuing God Together in the Midst of Weariness

Discipleship | by Pastor Craig Sturm

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

I woke up recently feeling tired and weary, honestly a bit worn out—like a rubber band that has been stretched too many times to hold its elasticity.

It had been a hard week, wrestling with disappointments in myself, frustrations over the quarantine, and feeling the weight of entering into the struggles of others—broken relationships, racial heartache, fear of the future, unrepentant sin, discouraging health prognosis (just to name a few).

A phrase from Psalm 6:6 that represented my heart that morning was simply, “I am weary.” I remember crying out to God: “I am tired. Lord, it feels like the tank is empty.”

Can you relate?

A couple of days later I was reading back through a devotional resource I have used for many years. Inside the back cover I found a faded sticky note in my own handwriting. On the top was written: “In the Midst of Weariness…” Under that were four simple statements on how to work through my weariness. I’m not sure when I first wrote it, or who I got it from. But, it was a kindness of God to me that I found it!

So much so, that I wanted to share them with you (with a fifth I have added).

#1 REST IN GOD’S GRACE TO RESTORE YOU

Isaiah 40:29-31:

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Notice here: we will all grow weary! But, in our weariness, we have the strong assurance that God—who never grows weary—will renew our strength as we wait, in faith, on His kindnesses and strengthening.

#2 ROOT OUT YOUR IDOLS

Galatians 6:7:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

When it comes to seasons of weariness, I have found it crucial to ask: “What am I trusting in to give me rest? Is it a life free of fear, stress? Is it perfect health?” In other words, what have I been sowing, that is contributing to the weariness I am reaping? In searching my heart, I am seeking to root out whatever I am trusting in, apart from God, to be for me what only He can be for me. And then bring that in confession before Him, seeking forgiveness and restoration.

#3 REMEMBER, GOD IS IN CONTROL

Galatians 6:9:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

In my weariness, I need the reminder that He promises a harvest of good fruit—if I will not give up and persevere. And that good fruit will be good according to God’s definition of good: my growth to be like Jesus; the giving of grace to others in their time of need; and most importantly, the bringing of glory to His name.

#4 CONTINUE TO WHOLEHEARTEDLY INVEST IN PEOPLE

Paul ends his thought on persevering through weariness with an outward application in Galatians 6:10:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a vital piece of the puzzle when I am weary, is to continue to press outside myself to invest in the lives of others. Notice this was fourth on the list…As I rest in God and find my strength in Him; as I root out false idols I am trusting in besides Him; and as I remember that He is in control and will bring the harvest of good fruit — then I can look at the opportunities I have been given to invest in discipling and caring for those He has brought into my life.

That brings me to the fifth piece I have added: In the midst of weariness, as I am working through the previous exhortations, I must continue to pursue God.

#5  PURSUE GOD

The psalmist displays this pursuit so beautifully in Psalm 63:1,8:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water…My soul clings to you your right hand upholds me.

I love how A.W. Tozer spoke of this pursuit: “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit…but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand…”

AN INVITATION TO THE PURSUIT OF GOD DEVOTIONAL READING GROUP

I’d love to invite you to a tangible application of this call to pursue God. I am going to be facilitating a devotional reading group, working through Tozer’s classic The Pursuit of GodThis is one of the few books I have found myself reading, and re-reading over the years!

Consider joining myself and others as we reflect on what pursuit of God looks like in our lives. We’ll work through the ten chapters, one per week until we’re done. FYI, the chapters take about 12-15 minutes to read (or you could grab the audio version).

I’m going to offer it both Tuesday mornings at 7:30AM and also Wednesdays at Noon. We’ll talk about 30 minutes and then pray. If you are interested in either of those, email me at craig@downtowncornerstone.org, and I’ll get you set up so that you receive reminders and the Zoom link. We will begin next week.

Participation would look like this: reading or listening to the chapter for that week; coming prepared having thought through the chapter, especially thinking: “Is there anything in the chapter that draws my heart to understand God better? What in the chapter was helpful in helping me understand what it looks like to pursue a deeper relationship with God? What is a tangible action I can take moving forward?”

Praise God He is the God of the weary! May our pursuit of Him refresh, restore, and renew our weary hearts, minds, and bodies.

Pastor Craig

May 15
2020

Longing for Justice in a World Gone Mad

Community, Global Issues, News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Downtown Cornerstone,

By now you’ve seen the news of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, outside Brunswick, Georgia. Travis McMichael, and his father, attempted to make an armed citizen’s arrest of Ahmaud, who they believed was involved in a string of residential burglaries, while he was jogging unarmed. However, an altercation ensued and Ahmaud was shot two times in the chest, resulting in his death. Since the victim was an unarmed African American and the assailants were armed white men this is understandably seen as another sad episode of racial violence in our nation’s history. Additionally, the fact it took three months for the McMichael’s to be charged has rightly raised significant questions about the just handling of this case by local authorities.

So, what are we to do with this news?

FIRST, WE MUST LAMENT

Regardless of the details, this is another deeply troubling manifestation of a world groaning under the weight of sin. This world is not as it should be—it hasn’t been since the fall (Gen. 3) and it won’t be until Jesus returns (Rev. 20-22). Relationships break down. Words are wielded to wound. Power is abused. Sexuality is distorted. Biases exploit. Emotions manipulate. Violence reigns. Justice is perverted. Unarmed joggers, made in the image of God, are shot in broad daylight. Unfortunately, this isn’t new; this is as old as humanity itself. It is right to long for justice amidst a world gone mad.

So, how are we to cope? The Bible’s answer is, in part, to lament. A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow to God. The Psalms are filled with such laments (e.g. Psalm 12, 22, 44, 88). In fact, an entire book of the Bible is called Lamentations, which laments the fall of Jerusalem to foreign invaders. To lament is to express your pain, your struggles, your doubts, and your unresolved questions to God. Start with lament by directing your pain Godward.

SECOND, WE MUST MOURN

The historical relationship between whites and blacks in our country is filled with unconscionable violence and unspeakable injustice. That history serves as an important backdrop for how events, such as this, are perceived. From one angle, this situation could look like an over-zealous attempt-gone-wrong to protect your neighborhood. But, from another angle, it looks like yet another incident of a young unarmed black man who is killed without due process (e.g. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, et. al.). Was race a factor? We don’t know. But, it certainly doesn’t appear that ‘black lives matter’ when it takes three months and a public video release for the wheels of justice to get set in motion.

Regardless of the details, we must mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15). Not every minority or African American processes such incidents in the same way—just like anyone else. After all, suffering isn’t monolithic. But, we can still mourn that such situations continue to be a reality. We can mourn that some may wonder if they’ll be ok if they go out for a jog. We can mourn that some little boys and girls grow up wondering how they’ll be treated in a majority context. To every African American, we express profound pain and sorrow with you. We join you in this time of mourning and stand with you.

THIRD, WE MUST LEAN IN

These issues didn’t emerge overnight nor will they quickly go away. So, we must take the long view even as we seek to do as much good as we can today. If we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (which is the second greatest commandment, Mark 12:31) that means we must lean into areas we are unfamiliar with out of love for those who are different from us. As a church we continue to work to create a culture where we can lean into these issues honestly and openly, even amidst our many differences. To do so we continue to write articles, preach sermons, offer classes, and recommend reading. We must lean in together as we seek to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). For example:

ArticleRacism is a Radical Evil
SermonsThe Racism-Crushing GospelA Gospel Forged People in a Divided AgeGod’s New Humanity.
ClassUndividedIdentity Politics and the Death of Christian Unity
Reading: We also recommend reading Divided by Faith and its counterpart, United by Faith.

FOURTH, WE MUST BE PATIENT

It is easy to get caught-up in the emotional and politicized roller coaster of the news cycle. We want to take control. We want to do something. We want justice to prevail. We want leaders to propagate our vision for the world. We want the indifferent to wake up. We want to signal our virtue. We want this fixed now. This must not happen again. Enough, we think, and rightly so. There is much that is good, true and noble about such sentiments.

Yet, if we’re not careful, in our desire for justice, do we become unjust?

In our yearning for peace, do we create division?
In our passion to love, do we become unloving?
In our hope of righting wrongs, do we inadvertently add to them?
In our hunger for justice, are we also hungering for righteousness?
After all, only the poor in spirit, will enter the kingdom (Mt. 5:3)

We must be patient, but patience doesn’t mean passive inactivity. It means prayerful, God-centered, restraint in the face of opposition. It means being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Why? “Because the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James. 1:20). To be patient is to love (1 Cor. 13:4). Patience allows time for more answers to arise. Patience gives space for repentance to occur (Rom. 2:4). Patience is more likely to earn us a hearing with others (Pr. 25:15). We must be patient, even as we act.

JUSTICE IS COMING

Friends, let’s continue to humbly submit ourselves to God when we see events like this unfold before us. We know that politics, blogs, and social-shaming can’t ultimately change the human heart. We know that racial utopia is not possible in this life. We’re not naive. But, neither are we paralyzed. The world is in search of answers; we know who He is. While we long for justice in a world gone mad, we know justice is coming (Rom. 12:19).

We are in this city to know Jesus and to make Him known. Let’s build meaningful relationships with others who are different from us. Let’s engage in the discussion with wisdom, tenderness, and courage. Let’s passionately share the heart-changing, all-satisfying good news of Jesus. Together, let’s be a visible, albeit imperfect, local expression of Jesus’ redeemed and reconciled (!) people to a divided world in desperate need of healing hope.

My heart is with you, my prayers are for you,
Christ is all, always.
Pastor Adam