Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jun 19
2020

Upcoming Opportunities to Pray With Us

Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

With so much happening in our world, I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:5b-7, as a reminder to take my anxieties to God in prayer:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage has a remarkable anchor: The Lord is at hand. It is because God is personal, loving, and near to us that we can cast our cares on him and receive the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. The instruction for us is simple: in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. In other words, we are to pray—especially in response to our anxieties.

Today, June 19th, commemorated as Juneteenth, is the anniversary of the effective end of slavery in the US. 155 years later, much has changed, but we continue to lament ongoing racial injustice. We yearn to see people of all nations, from all tribes and peoples and languages, come to know and treasure the gospel of Jesus Christ. And while we wait for Christ’s return, we cry out with all creation to be set free from our bondage to decay and await the fulfillment of our adoption as sons of God.

In the midst of a global pandemic, and with ongoing racial tensions in the US and political unrest in our city that doesn’t know the Savior, there is much to pray for. Consider praying with us in any or all of these upcoming opportunities:

  • Saturday, June 20th, at 4PM: The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is hosting “A Night of Lament for Racial Justice”, a guided time of prayer and singing that will be simulcast on multiple platforms. Learn more…
  • Monday, June 22nd, at 7PM: Seattle area pastors will be gathering publicly as followers of Jesus to affirm the inherent dignity and value of all people, especially those in the black community who have been historically marginalized and oppressed. In solidarity, we will fast and pray together for unity in our city as we speak from Scripture. Churches are invited to join in person at Gasworks Park, or pray with us remotely. If you’re interested in attending with us, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org.
  • Sunday, June 28th, at 5PM: DCC’s corporate Prayer Night, hosted via videoconferencing, will be an evening of prayer, scripture, and song, asking our Father to do what only He can do in our lives, our church, in our city and the world. Learn more…
  • Anytime: We are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle, alone or in small socially distanced groups, praying for the welfare of our city from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this.

Let’s continue to come before the Lord in humble dependence together.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

Jun 8
2020

Engaging Conversations on Race with DCC

Community, Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

Recent events highlighting ongoing racial injustice have moved many to want to learn and act positively to address racism and injustice from a biblical perspective. To that end, we want to continue facilitating meaningful, faithful, and loving discussion with each other, while encouraging one another toward Gospel-centered action.

As Christians, we know that every human is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), who is the source of human value and dignity. Yet, we live in a fallen world, marred by the sin of racism, that devalues others on the basis of their skin color.

In American history, this has tragically led to ongoing violence and inequality for African Americans and other minorities—which is not the way it will be in heaven (Rev. 7:9), not the way God desires it to be on earth (Ps. 37:28), nor in his church (James 2:1-13).

Therefore, we’re bringing together a number of opportunities this summer to help us engage in these issues with others in DCC. Our hope in these sometimes difficult conversations is to draw close to one another in love, founded in our unity in Christ, in order that we may live out the commandments to love one another (John 13:34) and to be salt and light to our city (Matt. 5:13-16)—a testimony to the world around us of God’s love and his power at work among us.

Here are four practical steps you can take with us:

#1 PRAY

Flowing from our recent day of fasting and prayer, we are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle. Our desire is to see our people gather in groups of 5 or so walking the streets and neighborhoods where they live with one goal—pray for the welfare of that place you live, from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this!

#2 DISCUSS

This Sunday, June 14th, we’re hosting an event called the UNDIVIDED Forum, which will be a chance to open God’s word and discuss with others the biblical call toward racial reconciliation, especially within the church. Read more and register HERE.

#3 READ

This summer, I will be hosting a book discussion of Divided by Faith (a look at why the church in America is racially divided) followed by United by Faith (a look at multi-ethnic churches as a solution). If you’re interested in joining this book discussion, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org

#4 CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION

We’ve created the Racial Reconciliation group on Church Center as a place for us to post content, discuss topics of race, and share opportunities to take action together. Read more and join HERE.

Let’s continue to pursue mercy and justice as we love and pray for one another in all humility, gentleness, and patience.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

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.

Apr 23
2020

God Listens When You Talk To Him

Event, Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Prayer Night

God’s Surprising Emphasis on Prayer

There are 154 references to prayer (pray, prayer, praying, etc.) in the 260 chapters of the New Testament. That means, when averaged across the whole, prayer is mentioned in every other chapter. That is incredible. God is not careless in what he emphasizes. His emphases always have purposes.

Consider this small sampling of references to prayer in the NT:

Mt. 6:5,6,7 “When you pray…”
Mt. 6:9 “Pray then like this…” 
Mt. 9:38 “Pray earnestly to the Lord” 
Acts 1:14 “All these…were devoting themselves to prayer” 
Rom 12:12 “Be constant in prayer” 
1 Cor 7:5 “Devote yourselves to prayer” 
Col 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer” 
Eph. 6:18 “praying at all times in the Spirit…” 
1 Thess. 5:17 “Pray without ceasing”

What might God’s purposes be in giving this emphasis to prayer? I suggest it is because God wants us to know that he listens when we talk to him, like a good Father (Mt. 6:9), and acts on our behalf, for his glory and our joy.

Four Powerful Enemies of Prayer

Yet, even so, prayer remains one of the most neglected gifts God has given to his people. Why is that? While there are many reasons, let’s consider four common enemies to prayer.

First, prayer is humbling. To pray is to acknowledge that there are things (the most important things, in fact) we can’t achieve in our own power. To pray is to say, “God this is your universe, not mine. My life is ultimately in your hands, not mine” (See Acts 4:24-30). Prayers like that cause our self-sufficiency to bristle.

Second, prayer requires faith. To pray requires a genuine living trust that God not only loves us, in Jesus, but also delights to hear and answer our prayers. As Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt. 21:22). That kind of faith causes lingering unbelief to bristle.

Third, prayer takes patience. While God promises to answer our prayers, he typically does so on his timeline. What feels urgent to us, doesn’t always appear urgent to God (see 2 Peter 3:8). This is why Jesus encouraged us to pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8). Yet, this reality causes our impatience to bristle.

Fourth, prayer calls for grace. This is particularly true when praying with others. When we pray with others, we quickly discover that others pray differently than we do. They use words we don’t use. They ask for things we would never ask. They talk longer than we’d prefer. Corporate prayer can cause our self-love to bristle.

So, it’s not difficult to see why we so quickly give up on prayer, right? There are mighty, though subtle, enemies warring against our prayer life, whether personal or corporate: self-sufficiency, lingering unbelief, impatience, and pernicious self-love.

How do we go to war against these enemies? By praying. We defeat the enemies of prayer, by leaning into prayer through faith in the living God who loves us and is for us (Rom. 8:28). This is why prayer is described as an irreplaceable weapon in the armory of God (Eph. 8:18).

An Invitation To Pray This Sunday

Therefore, I am writing to invite you to our next church wide Prayer Night this Sunday, April 26th, at 5:00 PM via videoconferencing. The link to the event is found in our most recent DCC News email and will be posted again in our Sunday Morning Guide and by notification through our app.

Yes, I know it is easier to pray alone. Yes, Jesus himself commends it (Mt. 6:6). Yes, it takes less time and is far more convenient to do so. Yes, you can avoid the discomfort of praying with those you don’t know.

But, there is something unique that takes place when Jesus’ people set aside time to pray to him together. It is significant to note that every spiritual awakening in the history of the church was preceded by Jesus’ people humbly, fervently, and consistently praying together. It is also important to note our church exists for the same reason.

Allow me to end, where we began: God wants us to know that he listens when we talk to him, like a good Father (Mt. 6:9), and acts on our behalf, for his glory and our joy. What might he do next?

I hope you’ll join us.

Praying with you, and for you, in Christ.
Pastor Adam

Oct 24
2018

If God is Sovereign Then Why Pray?

Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

“If God is sovereign, then what is the point of prayer?” It’s an age-old, and understandable, question. Who hasn’t asked this? After all, if God is in complete control of the affairs of history, and perfect in wisdom, what difference do our measly prayers make? Won’t his will come to pass regardless of what we pray? So, why pray? As a result, unfortunately, many don’t.

Anytime we face a difficult question like this, it helps to step back and consider precisely what the Bible says.

“ASK, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN.” – Mt. 7:7

On, the one hand, there are many calls, commands, and invitations for us to pray. It is evident from these invitations that the authors did not see their prayers as meaningless words or wasted time. Rather, they saw prayer as achieving something.

  • Jesus himself encourages us to pray, saying “Ask, and it will be given…” (Mt. 7:7f).
  • There are over 20 references to prayer in the book of Acts (e.g. Acts 1:24; 4:31; 6:6).
  • The Apostle Paul’s letters are filled with prayers (e.g. Col 1:3f; Eph. 3:14-20).
  • Paul also regularly requested prayer, on one occasion saying, “Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).
  • Likewise, he encourages Jesus’ people to pray “at all times” (Eph. 6:18).
  • James writes, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power…” (James 5:16) and notes that the reason we don’t have certain things is because we haven’t asked for them (James 4:2).

Even a cursory reading, of these few passages, indicates that our prayers matter to God. God wants us to pray. God hears our prayers. God answers the prayers of his people, according to his infallible knowledge.

“HE DOES ALL THAT HE PLEASES.” – Ps. 115:3

At the very same time, the Bible is emphatic that God is sovereign. God’s sovereignty refers to his ability to do anything that is in accordance with his character. In other words, he rules over the entire created order to bring about his pre-appointed purposes—which nothing can stop, not even evil.

  • After all, he “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11)
  • He does whatever he pleases (Ps. 115:3; Ps. 135:6).
  • He “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) and in him “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
  • Even the decision of the dice “is from the Lord.” (Pr. 16:33).
  • He also rules over geo-political affairs, making some nations great, while destroying others (Job 12:23).
  • This is why Jesus can say that all things are possible with God (Mt. 19:26).

The overwhelming testimony of the Scripture is that God is sovereign. This is more significant than we tend to recognize. After all, if God is not sovereign, then why pray at all? We shouldn’t.

“THEY LIFTED THEIR VOICES TO GOD AND SAID, ‘SOVEREIGN LORD…’” – Acts 4:24

So, what do we do when faced with a biblically clear call to pray and an equally clear revelation of God’s sovereign power? Answer: We accept them both. There is no contradiction or inconsistency here.

“But, how does that work?” The answer of pastoral-theologians throughout the history of the church is that God has sovereignly ordained human prayer as a means by which he accomplishes his sovereign purposes. That’s a mouthful, so you may want to read that again.

God’s sovereignty doesn’t exclude our prayers, but includes our prayers to bring about his purposes. Let that sink in. God isn’t a fatalistic machine that mindlessly churns out his will. God is more like a skilled sovereign artist, who willfully includes our inferior prayers into his superior purposes. As such, our prayers serve as a means to his ends.

Understanding this changes how we pray. Knowledge of God’s sovereign purposes through our prayers brings significant purpose, confidence, and joy to our prayers. God’s sovereign artistry gives our prayers purpose because we trust they are chosen means of achieving his will in the world. God’s sovereign power gives us confidence in prayer because we trust he is more-than-able to bring about all that we ask. God’s sovereign wisdom gives us joy in prayer because we trust he will always do what is best.

In God’s economy, our prayers matter—more deeply than we know.

Praying with you and for you,
Pastor Adam

 

P.S. Also, please join us this coming Sunday, October 28th, for DCC’s bi-monthly prayer night. Doors will open at 5:00 pm. We’ll begin our evening of corporate devotion, song, and prayer promptly at 5:30 pm.

Jun 6
2018

Stories of Grace | This Side of September

Prayer, Stories of Grace

“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.”

Years ago, I prayed: If you teach me, Lord, I would learn. Teach me to fear You, to love You.

When I prayed that, I hadn’t the faintest idea exactly what it would require for me to learn those things, and I probably still don’t. In my more foolish moments, sometimes I think I would have liked to retract that prayer, but I am so thankful that the Lord in His infinite goodness went ahead and answered it anyway.

Circumstances took place this past September that brought me along the hardest and loneliest path I have yet walked, resulting in great depths of depression. Coupled with my acutely self-aware, introspective, introverted self, things were hard, to say the least.

In my many lonely, bitter hours this year, the Lord Himself sat with me–sometimes I did not even recognize Him–and did some of the most painful and tender searching of my heart. I found out how confused I was: I confused discipline with condemnation, I confused God’s voice with my own, I confused Christ’s righteousness in me with the call to “work out [my] own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) among other things.

It was okay for me to be confused; it was good for me to learn the difference between all of those things. But it was not good for me to do it alone. In all my confusion and navel-gazing, I would not go to God for answers or comfort or assurance, determined I could find them all within myself if I just looked hard enough. But I only became more confused and despairing of my sin, all the while thinking God was unapproachable.

When I came to the end of all these roads I walked alone, God met me there every time. Through a mess of sermons, books, and conversations with some trusted friends, He bid some storms to cease in me. He helped me and He taught me, with all patience. I learned that, of course, Satan would do everything in his power to keep me from going to God. The good word Jesus had for me was a word I was looking for for a long time without even knowing it: self-forgetfulness. There was no assurance that I would gain from mere self-analysis, because I could always doubt its genuineness. My best moments of assurance were not when I was thinking about my assurance. As Frederick Buechner wrote, I was “too busy apologizing for my own unworthiness to notice” the loving face of the Lord, which had never turned away from me. It required the power of God to simply lift my head and see it.

I am thankful that God is God, and as a college student, I know very well that it makes the world of difference to have a good Teacher.

If you teach me, Lord, I would learn. Teach me to fear you, to love you.

Would you pray this again, Vanessa? Will you continue to pray for this? I hear the Lord ask me sometimes, this side of September.

Yes, Lord, yes.

My word of encouragement is to all, but directed especially toward those who, even in the church, feel silenced by uncertainty or shame:

First, go to God, look to Him, ask Him. He is big enough for any emotion, and give the devil no opportunity for a foothold, because there is nothing to be gained the more we delay going to God.

Second, seek all of the above with the Lord Himself and with community, too. One thing I learned especially this year was that Christ called me out of my loneliness to dwell in Himself, but also to dwell with the family He gave me.

Lastly, it is cause for rejoicing and thankfulness when the Lord brings us to the day when we can say, in our own voice, that the gospel is good news to us. Even on days when we cannot do the things required of us, things we know we should do but have not the strength to do them, He will continue to do good anyway. And if you can’t believe that, He will help our unbelief if we would but ask. He who does not lie has promised it.

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways…Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:1-3, 23-24

– Vanessa Lim, DCC Member

If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email info@downtowncornerstone.org.

May 16
2018

Seven Hopes For Our Next Seven Years

News, Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Last month we turned seven years old as a church. You can read more about that here. Since many of you are relatively new to DCC, I thought I’d take this milestone as an opportunity to share seven hopes we have for the next seven years. These aren’t exhaustive, of course, and my assumption throughout is that our current culture of being a God-saturated, Christ-centered, Spirit-dependent, Bible-fueled, faith-filled, holiness-pursuing, people-loving-people will only deepen (which is why I don’t explicitly mention them below). If you’re not already a part of this family-on-mission, we invite you to join our next membership class this weekend. Here are seven of our hopes, in no particular order:

Hope #1 A Permanent Home

This can seem like a bland hope, but its not. We spent our first four years completely mobile, setting-up and tearing-down every single week. Every piece of equipment that was needed for a Sunday gathering fit into a barrage of boxes with wheels. During the week we had an office in a donated space on the 17th floor of a downtown high-rise. But, the office was so small that all of the staff couldn’t work there at the same time—and we only had four! For midweek classes, or meetings, we met at the Belltown Community Center or in various apartment community rooms throughout the city. In other words, being able to consolidate our base of gospel ministry in our current building has been a game-changer, even amidst its own challenges. With two years left on our current lease, in an inflated real estate market, finding a permanent home in the city is a significant point of prayer. 

Hope #2 A Missional Culture

God’s mission for us is to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9; Acts 1:8)—across the street and around the world. That happens as we cultivate a heart for the lost and seek to share the good news of Jesus with our not-yet-believing friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. It is easy for a church to subtly shift to being so preoccupied with its own needs that it neglects the greatest needs of our neighbors—to know and belong to Jesus. Therefore, a second hope we have for the next seven years is to continue to intentionally cultivate a culture that loves the lost and seeks to share the radical news of Jesus. 

Hope #3 A Discipleship Culture

Christians are meant to grow, mature, and develop deep roots in God. That process is called “discipleship” where a follower of Jesus progressively—amidst starts and stops—learns to walk in Jesus’ ways for our joy (Jn.15:11) and his glory (1Cor.10:31). Discipleship doesn’t happen in a vacuum, or merely by reading books or listening to podcasts, but primarily in the context of relationships with others who are seeking the same. By God’s grace, we do have a culture of discipleship in place, but there is more to be done. Imagine if every member of DCC had two to three people they were intentionally investing in to help them grow in Jesus. Our aim is to kneed this even more deeply and fully into the fabric of who we are as Jesus’ people in the next seven years.

Hope #4 A Diverse Culture

We know that God’s great redemptive purposes span millennia, continents, ethnicities, ages, genders, socioeconomic statuses and more (Rev.7:9-12). Jesus’ redeemed bride will be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-socioeconomic people. It will be like that then because that is the kind of people Jesus’ is redeeming now. That means we need to think intentionally and thoughtfully about how to cultivate a diverse people, in Jesus. We need to ask important questions like, “Why is the city, during the week, so often more diverse than the church, on Sunday?” Or, “Are there systemic and historical ways sin has created this bifurcation? If so, how we can intentionally bring healing there?” Believe it or not, as a church, we’re more diverse now than we’ve ever been. But, we know there’s room to grow. So we’re actively navigating these waters in hope, asking Jesus to allow us to grow as a diverse people in the years ahead.  

Hope #5 A Forward-Thinking Culture

I was recently struck by verse four of Psalm 145, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts….” In his wisdom, God has chosen to spread his fame and saving goodness, in Jesus, as one generation commends him to the next. I suppose this stood out because I recently turned 40. Now that I’ve crossed the 50 yard line I have begun to think about the importance of the next generation—namely students. I’m not saying I’m ready to hang it up! Far from it. But, its never too early to think about those who will be here long after us. How I long to see a generation of young people, passionate about the Lord, convinced of the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, gripped by the gospel of grace, with lives open to follow his leading. But, that doesn’t just happen. As with everything, intentionality is required. Therefore, another hope for the next seven years is that we are able to implement a plan to reach, equip, and send students, and other young people, for the cause of Christ. 

Hope #6 A City-Loving Culture

If you’re around long enough you will hear us say something like, “We’re not in the city to look down on the city in pride, nor cower under the city in fear, but to love and challenge the city with the reality of Jesus.” We love Seattle. God’s common grace here is staggering, if we have eyes to see. Yet, amidst the beauty, there is tremendous brokenness. So, we want be known for spreading the good news of Jesus, but also known for being good news in our city. Our hope is that this will continue to express itself in the form of expanding mercy ministries, partnership with like-minded churches, integration of faith and work, thoughtful engagement with the arts scene, and more. By God’s grace, we hope our roots sink even more deeply into the soil of this city for its good and the glory of God. Let’s love this city to life in the next seven years. 

Hope #7 A Sending Culture 

Our hopes for the next seven years go well beyond ourselves. Over the last seven years, together, we have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund church plants around the world, including places like Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Turkey, Japan, and all along the west coast (from San Diego to Alaska). This is, in large part, due to our affiliation with the Acts 29 Network. We hope to do even more in the next seven years. Even right now we are looking at developing a formal partnership with Radius, a training center for missionaries seeking to plant churches amidst unreached people groups around the world—three of our members are already involved. Will you join me in praying that the Lord will continue to grow us as a sending center for the sake of the world? 

What Might He Do Next?

I write all of this fully aware that, “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Pr.19:21). The Lord of all the earth will do what is right. Our role is to be faithful, while allowing the Lord to determine the fruit. Knowing that should cause us to pray big prayers and dream big dreams. This is not the work of one man, nor a particular group of passionate individuals—this is our work. This is the work of Jesus’ church—and we’re all gifted and called to participate in his unfolding drama of redemption (1Cor.12:4-30). Let’s enter these next seven years filled with faith, hope and love. “Come Lord, Jesus!” (Rev.22:20).

What might he do next? 

Expectantly yours, in Christ. 

Pastor Adam

Mar 1
2016

Why We Confess Our Sins Together

Prayer, Teaching | by Pastor Randy Lundy

If you’ve been running with us for some length of time, you’ve probably noticed that we often incorporate a form of confession into our Sunday gatherings. That confession can take the form of a prayer, a period of silence, or even a song. We do this regularly to highlight the fact that our faith is a living faith and our battle against sin is an active, daily battle.

In light of the season of Lent (read more HERE), we wanted to give a little more weight and emphasis to this element of our services, and specifically bring a corporate, collective nature to our confessions. Reading the words of a thoughtful, Christ-centered confession together in unison is a very unique and rich expression of our gospel identity as a people.

But for many of us, confessing our sins together can feel strange, uncomfortable, and clunky. The thought and practice of confessing our sins personally with God can be scary enough right? Why add another layer of complexity, awkwardness, and public acknowledgement of our sin when we already struggle to confess our sins privately? I’d like to answer that question, but first we should look at where we get the idea of corporate confession in the first place.

Corporate Confession in the Bible

The first question we should be asking is whether corporate confession is merely a liturgical practice or if there a biblical premise for confessing our sins together? I would submit to us that corporate confession comes first from our biblical heritage before any other church tradition:

Leviticus 16 – An entire day – the Day of Atonement – was set aside yearly for corporate confession among the people of God.

Nehemiah 9:3 – Upon returning from the exile to Assyria, Nehemiah led the people of Israel as they corporately “made confession and worshipped the LORD their God.”

Ezra 9-10 – In a time of widespread revival and reawakening to the Word of God, Ezra led the people in weeping, trembling, and confessing their sin together “before the house of God.”

Psalms – the psalms include numerous prayers and songs of confession, intended for use in the corporate worship of Israel. (e.g. Ps. 51:1 “Have mercy on me of God, according to your loving kindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.”)

Lamentations – the entire book of Lamentations is a corporate confession of Israel’s sin and national mourning over the consequences of that sin (e.g. Lam. 3:40 “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!”)

James 5:6 – we are invited as the church to “confess [our] sins to one another and prayer for one another”

Revelation 2:5 – the church of Ephesus is admonished by Jesus to corporately “remember” and confess where they have gone astray and to corporately return to their “first love”.

As we see from these passages, biblical confession is often more than a private encounter with God in our own hearts.There is something unique that comes from experiencing confession together, that God has designed to be formative and restorative for us as His people. So why is corporate confession a vital part of God’s means of grace to us? I think there are a number of reasons, but I’ll suggest just a few here:

#1 Corporate confession helps us see our sin for what it truly is.

The reality of sin is that we oftentimes don’t see it for how dark it is, until we bring it into the light. We don’t realize how deeply it has ingrained itself in us. We don’t see how pervasive it is in our actions, words, thoughts, and affections. The beauty of corporate confession is that it provides an opportunity to speak of our sin, exposing it to the light as Paul speaks of (Eph. 5:11-13). When done rightly corporate confession can help us identify species of sin that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. And God uses these prayers to awaken us, renew us, and give us eyes to see the ugliness of our sin and the beauty of His grace. Corporate confession is meant to lead us to Jesus.

#2 Corporate confession give us words when we have none.

You may feel the same way – sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when we’re confessing our sins. We see the selfishness, we see the pride, we see the greed, anger, lust, and self-righteousness, but we lack the words to articulate how much we want to detest and turn from that sin, as well as humbly ask for true repentance. Corporate confession gives us language – biblical, thoughtful, meaningful words – to express our sorrow and grief over our sin as well as our true and unshakeable hope in the gospel.

#3 Corporate confession reminds us that we are not alone in our need of grace.

This is a beautiful reality and unique benefit of being a member of the body of Christ. We are all humbled at the cross, every one. As we confess our sin together, we see quickly that we are not alone in our struggle against sin (1 Cor. 10:13). We see that we are as much in need of grace as everyone else around us. And we see that the same Savior has died and risen for all of us. Corporate confession gives us the permission to own our sin with each other, lean into his grace together, and walk out our growth and sanctification in a community marked by mercy and hope.

#4 Corporate confession exhibits the unity that we have “in Christ.”

To be “in Christ” is to be joint recipients of all the benefits that come from trusting the gospel of grace and the God of grace. By joining in one voice together to acknowledge our need and embrace his provision, we collectively magnify the One who has united us together through his blood, that is Jesus (Eph 2:11-14)! Corporate confession is a living, dynamic parable and apologetic for the gospel as we embrace our corporate identities together as those “in Christ” and invite everyone everywhere to the same hope in the gospel.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully you can see that there is much more going on when we confess our sin together, than may first meet the eye. It’s not just a private, isolated encounter with our need for grace. That is by God’s design. He wants us to experience redemption not just individually but as communities of faith together. It’s as we acknowledge our need for grace together that we experience our unity in Christ and we give testimony to the watching world that the gospel is enough, even for us. Jesus gets all the glory in that.

May Jesus give us the courage and grace to be a people who can regularly acknowledge the depths of our sin and the corresponding heights of his grace! The gospel is truly astonishing! His grace is sufficient for me. And His grace is sufficient for you. Let’s remind each other of that often as we gather. Love you all.

Soli Deo gloria,
Randy

Oct 23
2014

Annual Report: A Letter from Pastor Adam

Community, News, Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

AnnualReportBanner_620x130_1014_CSBeing part of a church plant is like watching God unfold a miracle over time. It was not long ago that we, as a people, did not even exist. God is gracious! It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be part of what He is doing in and through this church. Without question, every church is a unique work of the Holy Spirit, but I am deeply grateful to be part of this one.

Though much has changed over our short amount of time together, our reason for being hasn’t. We exist to build a great city through the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God. We want to see as many people as possible, from the avenues to the alley-ways, meet Jesus and experience life as it was intended to be, in Him, now and forever. We are part of God’s unfolding story, in our generation, in our city.

In our early days we put together a prospectus that outlined who and what we believed Jesus was calling us to be and do in our city. That was four years ago and most of you were not with us then. In light of that, we have created this Annual Report—our first ever—as an updated resource that captures who we are and where, by God’s grace, we are going.

There’s a lot of grace contained within the pages of our Annual Report. In this report we recount evidences of God’s movement among us, articulate who we are, introduce leaders, provide ministry updates, highlight fun statistics, offer a brief financial recap, and share our prayerful focus for the next season of life and mission together. We hope you find it to be life-giving, faith-building and God-exalting.

Jesus is our cornerstone.

We love Him because He first loved us. May He keep us on fire for His supremacy in all things in the year to come. Let’s lean on who God is and all that He is for us, in Christ. His promises are true and they cannot fail. He alone is worthy of our days, dollars and devotion. We continue to envision thousands of people, from many churches and church plants, from many parts of Seattle, united under a new identity in Jesus and sent to love, serve and challenge the city with the gospel. I invite you to join us in being part of seeing that vision become even more of a reality in the days ahead. Together, as always, let’s ask Him to do what only He can.

Christ is all,

Adam Sinnett
Lead Pastor

Follow this link to read a full version of our Annual Report.