Downtown Cornerstone Blog
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

Apr 16
2020

Discipleship in this Season: Classes, Community, and Connect & Prayer

Community, Discipleship | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Discipleship in this Season

Downtown Cornerstone,

This is certainly a unique season we find ourselves in amidst Covid-19 and “social distancing.” As we continue to approach God’s throne of grace for mercy (Heb. 4:16), we know that God is sovereignly in control (Ps. 46:10) and that He, in His wisdom, has appointed this time and season (Eccl. 3:1-8). We can trust that He is working through this season to carry out His will and purposes in ways both seen and unseen.

Among those purposes, we know that God desires for his people to continue to grow in knowledge, faith, and obedience (Col. 1:9-14). And we, as Jesus’ church, remain called and committed to discipleship (Eph. 4:11-16) and have shifted our normal rhythms to virtual platforms. This season especially highlights the value and necessity of personal discipleship and meaningful relationships!

NEWCOMERS’ COFFEE AND FOUNDATIONS

If you are new with us, we invite you to join us this Sunday, April 19th at 12PM for our upcoming Virtual Newcomers’ Coffee. This is an opportunity for you to meet a pastor, connect with leaders, hear our story, ask any questions you may have, and identify your next steps—along with others who are doing the same. Learn more and register…

We also encourage you to join us for the Foundations class on Wednesdays at 6:30PM, starting on April 22nd. This five-week class covers the essentials of who we are as a local church and is the primary relational on-ramp into the life of our body. Throughout the class, we’ll discuss who we are and what we believe while building relationships and community together. Learn more and register…

SPRING CLASSES

As you consider how God is calling you to take the next step in your faith, our upcoming set of classes are a great way to grow in your knowledge and love of God and all that He is for us. In light of Covid-19, we are offering these classes virtually via video call where you will be live with the instructor.

  • Session 1: Begins Wednesday, April 22nd and includes Christianity Explained and Suffering: Understanding & Experiencing God’s Grace.
  • Session 2: Begins May 27th and includes Developing Meaningful Relationships and Meeting With God.

If you are new with DCC, we would encourage you to start with the Foundations Class which takes place at the same time.

Learn more about our classes and register…

CORNERSTONE COMMUNITIES

For those who have already taken the Foundations class and have been participating with us for a while, we invite you to further embed in the life of our church by joining one of our Cornerstone Communities. While this season presents new barriers to fellowship, our communities are still operating virtually, and would love to welcome you in!

To join a Cornerstone Community, check out the current list of communities, and fill out this form.

CONNECT & PRAYER

Below are some additional ways for us as a body to connect, pray together, and share life in the midst of “social distancing”:

  • Pre-Livestream Connect & Prayer: These calls are facilitated by DCC pastors and are an opportunity to go before the throne of grace before the livestream gathering-while-scattering. Look out for Sunday Morning Guide email with meeting details.
  • Midweek Connect & Prayer: These calls are facilitated by DCC pastors as well and are meant as a way to fellowship with one another through the week. Check out our weekly DCC News emails for meeting details.
  • Prayer Night: We regularly gather together for an evening of prayer, scripture, and song, asking our Father to do what only He can do. Our next Prayer Night will be on Sunday evening, April 26th. Learn more…
  • New to DCC and looking to meet others? Cornerstone Connects exist to help connect people with shared interests. With current gatherings restrictions in place, our Digital Connect is a way to meet others in our body for social hangouts, games, and more! Check out upcoming events and join here.

Lastly, I encourage you to stay connected with us by installing the DCC App where we post important church-wide updates and notifications.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org. I am praying that this season will be one of growth in your knowledge, love, and trust of the Lord!

Blessings,
Justin

Apr 9
2020

An Invitation to Good Friday and Easter 2020

Easter, Good Friday | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

We are quickly approaching Good Friday and Easter.

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday marks the day that Jesus was unlawfully tried and brutally murdered on a cross outside Jerusalem, nearly 2,000 years ago. It can seem so far removed from our lives—historically and culturally—that we simply dismiss it as a mere footnote of history. But, it is not a footnote. Good Friday marks the culmination of the redemptive promises of God in the substitutionary death of Jesus, to rescue all who place their faith in him (1 Pet. 2:24-25).

What is Easter?

Easter Sunday marks the day on which Jesus triumphantly rose from the grave. His resurrection served as an exclamation mark to all he said and achieved (Rom. 1:4). While many reject the resurrection as an ancient fiction, we should ask whether that rejection is well-founded or merely a by-product of cultural bias. There was no reason to invent the resurrection. It was completely implausible to begin with. So, the question isn’t “What do I feel about the resurrection?” but “Is the resurrection true?” If the resurrection is true—and it is—it changes everything about everything.

A Man Unlike Any Man

Therefore, this weekend is all about Jesus—the best known and most influential person the world has ever known. More lives have been changed by him, books written about him, and songs sung to him than anyone. The Western calendar literally revolves around his arrival. Today, 2.2 billion people identify themselves as Christians and see him as the way to God. That means that followers of Jesus make up a greater proportion of the world’s population now than ever before. No other figure comes close to crossing cultural, racial, political, historical, and geographical boundaries as extensively as Jesus. Why? Because he rose that first Easter morning.

The Details

We will livestream our Good Friday service on Friday, April 10th at 6PM. We will sing, pray, and reflect. This time together is always uniquely moving and helps to heighten worship on Easter, so we encourage you to participate. This service will be 90 minutes.

We will also livestream our Easter service on Sunday, April 12th at 10AM. As usual, we will be holding our pre-livestream prayer and connect at 9:15-9:45AM. The Easter sermon will be grounded in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, in which we will consider the importance and historical reliability of Jesus’ resurrection. This service will be 90 minutes.

Let’s ask Jesus to save, awaken, and reinvigorate souls to the breathtaking reality of his resurrected love over this weekend—in our lives and in the lives of all who do not yet know him.

Because the tomb is empty,
Pastor Adam

P.S. The landing page for both livestream services is found here.

Mar 27
2020

Covid-19 Update: Staying Home, Livestream, Lord’s Supper, and Giving

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

There is scarcely a page in the Bible that does not deal with the trials and troubles of life, from the mundane to the catastrophic: sibling murder (Gen. 4:8), cataclysmic flooding (Gen. 7:22), betrayal (Gen. 37:24), forced enslavement (Ex. 1:13), rebellion (Num. 16), unwanted wandering (Num. 32:13), inept leadership (Jud. 21:25), economy-ruining famine (Ruth 1:1), infertility (1 Sam. 1:6), impossible battles (1 Sam. 17), political turmoil (2 Sam. 15), fear (2 Kings 10:4), exile (2 Kings 25:11), life-altering loss (Job 1:13-19), pestilence (Dt. 28:21), heart-rending grief (Neh. 1:4), opposition (Ezra 4:4-5), humiliation (Est. 7:7-10), haunting questions (Ps. 42:11), prolonged waiting (Ps. 40:1), failure (Ps. 51), sickness (Isa. 38:1), weeping (Jer. 9:1), lament (Lam. 2:5), mourning (Dan. 10:2), regret (Mt. 27:5) and more.

Yet, over them all, the “Lord our God the Almighty reigns” (Rev. 19:6). He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11); not merely some things or most things or easy things—all things. This means he is always at work and that nothing can thwart his purposes (Job. 42:2), including Covid-19. God’s sovereignty over suffering sustains the soul, even amidst death, because his purposes are wise (Isa. 28:29) and good (Ps. 73:1). The Scriptures are a living testimony to this wisdom and goodness of God amidst trial and trouble and are, therefore, meant to infuse our lives with endurance, encouragement and hope, in Christ (Rom. 15:4). So, I hope this brief note finds you tethered to God through God’s Word.

In light of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order issued this week, I am following-up on three points:

#1 We will continue to livestream on Sundays @ 10AM.

Governor Inslee’s order requires all state citizens to remain at home unless we need to go out for essential services or are performing those services ourselves. While there was some ambiguity earlier in the week, we have learned that the government does include churches providing streaming as “essential.” This was confirmed by our lawyers here and Inslee himself here when he said, “Religious institutions can have…a certain number of people present at places of worship to ensure that online remote services can be afforded to their flocks” (2:30 minute mark). Therefore, by God’s grace, we will continue to livestream on Sunday mornings at 10AM while being “subject to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1-7).

#2 We will not celebrate the Lord’s Supper until we are gathered again.

Some have asked whether we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper virtually during this time. The short answer is: no. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance that points to the new people of God whom Jesus redeemed and is therefore corporate by its very nature (1 Cor. 10:17). This is why it is only celebrated when we come together (note the language of “come together” in 1 Cor. 11:17,18,20,33), not merely as individuals, households, or smaller segments of the church. Perhaps the Lord will use this time to grow our love, appreciation, and longing for celebrating the Supper together.

#3 Let’s be generous, sacrificial, and cheerful givers together.

This season is financially impacting many in our church in dramatically different ways. Many remain gainfully employed, whereas others have suddenly lost their jobs or found themselves on furlough. Amidst this season of uncertainty, we are still called by God to worship him through our finances by placing him squarely in the middle of our budgets. This giving is to be voluntary, eager, and cheerful (2 Cor. 9:7). God rewards these kinds of givers in a myriad of ways (2 Cor. 9:6). So, let’s continue to trust him in our giving together because His mission continues, the gospel must go forth, discipleship never stops, churches need to be planted, and our city is ready to be served.

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

With you, in Christ.
Pastor Adam