Did you have a chance to listen to the song picked out for this week? If not, it's Cornerstone by Hillsong and you can find it here... and even listen to it as you read this! I admit, I had not heard it even though I love Hillsong, and it's actually a good fit for someone who grew up in a traditional church and is dipping their toes in the "contemporary" Christian music world. I put quotations around contemporary, only because I personally do not really like the phrase. Everything in this country, from technology to building structures to corporate infrastructure has always continued to grow and change and improve with the times. When we have more resources available, why not use them, right? But when the church puts a rock band on stage, we're viewed as "contemporary" and not just current with the times that we're living in... but I do get that some people are not as comfortable in that environment as they are in a more traditional setting, and that's okay by me. We always say as long as you're in a church, we're happy... it doesn't have to be ours if that's not works for you in terms of worshipping God.
WOW... what a tangent... sorry! All I meant to say is that this song is basically a hymn with some drums, so yes, it's a good mix of the new and the old. Cool? Okay, moving on...
Instead of reflecting too deeply on the song this week, I thought about that word: Cornerstone. I kind of knew what that was, but looked it up just to make sure I wasn't thinking of something else. Webster's Dictionary defines it as this:
(1) - A stone forming a part of a corner or angle in a wall; (2) a basic element: foundation
When I started this blog three years ago (already??), I never had any intention of doing any posts like this. I'll get into a lot of this in a future post, but basically the original concept was to simply have a place to update our friends and family on how we were doing after moving across the country. It was my outlet to write about our new home, new town, new friends, and our church planting experience, which I later found is almost impossible to put into words. But after we got married and through the process of planting our first church, my faith and trust in God was put to the test... A LOT. But you know what? The more it was tested, the more it grew. The more I doubted, the more I handed over to Him, and the more I felt His love. I am a completely different person now than I was three years ago, and when you think about it, that's not a very long time in the grand scheme of things. I had always known who God was, but I never really surrendered to Him, put my full faith in Him, or fully trusted Him. It was so often my way or the highway, and my way always seemed to lead to trouble. Hmmm... imagine that, right? It wasn't until I decided to live by the principles set out in the Bible and follow the teachings of Jesus and read the letters from Paul that my life truly began to change, in all kinds of crazy good ways. Sure, there are some tangible blessings: I have a great marriage (granted, that's all due to the two of us being committed to treat each other by what's outlined in the Bible), two beautiful children, a roof over our head, food in our refrigerator, money in our bank account (most of the time- ha!), and more friends than a person could ever want. But the true blessings have been the intangible things... the knowledge that even on my worst day, things are going to be okay; the comfort in knowing that there is a God who loves me for ME, no matter how badly I mess up; the willingness to make the wrong things in my life right; the freedom of knowing that I don't have to be trapped by my past mistakes or be pinpointed as the person I used to be; and the peace in knowing that Jesus died for my sins so that one day I can have eternal life in heaven with Him and His people. My life doesn't end here on this earth... I am just a visitor and my home is in heaven.
The reason my blog has weekly posts on a Christian topic now mixed in with the day-to-day stuff is because my life changed dramatically because of my relationship with God. I knew who Jesus was, but didn't truly meet Him and get to know Him until I first started learning what He actually had to say, and secondly decided to let Him guide my thoughts and behaviors. I am in such a better place than I have ever been and wish I would have figured this all out much sooner, but am thankful that I'm here now. And I want others to have it... so I have no choice but to share. A building cannot be sturdy without a cornerstone or a strong foundation as we learned above, and I, too, cannot be sturdy without Jesus in my life. He is my foundation. He is the root of all of my decisions and actions. And He ensures that I don't crumble into rubble only to try and build myself up again without His help. I've tried that path and although it works for awhile, it ultimately ends up giving you a lot of heartache. My best day without Him isn't near as great as my worst day with Him. And that, my friends, is news worth sharing.
My encouragement this week is to evaluate where you are at in your relationship with Christ and strive to make it better. If you don't have one, I challenge you to learn more about Him... read His teachings, learn His story, and perhaps you'll fall in love the way I did. If you do know about Him, work toward living BY his teachings, doing things HIS way, which again, might mean doing a little reading yourself to find out what all that entails. Doing things this way makes life SO much easier. And if you're not in a church, I challenge you to go out and find one... and one that connects with YOU. Just because you grew up Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc. does not mean you have to continued down that path if you're just going through the motions on a Sunday morning and not getting anything out of it. Those are all man-made religions, split only because of a few tiny differences in interpretation of something in the Bible. When looking for a new home, look at it through the lens of how the people treated you and welcomed you in and how the message spoke to you. You might know right away that it's not for you or you might be willing to give it a second shot just to see if that's the place. And remember that it's not just important for you to go each Sunday just to "do" your obligatory one hour. The reason it's so important is to surround yourself with others who are striving to live the way you want to live and trying to do life better. We all mess up, and if we surround ourselves with people who have behavior patterns that we're trying to get away from, they are just going to pull us back down with them... the temptation is too strong and we are too weak. But if we're surrounding ourselves with people who understand that we're not perfect and admit that they're not perfect and everyone is just trying to be better, well, chances are that path will be a little bit easier. It's all about community... and it's all about living in the word. Let God be the cornerstone of your life. Try living His way for awhile. Chances are, over time, you might find yourself blogging about things you used to roll your eyes at because you just can't keep it in. In the end, I know where I'm going and I know who ultimately will be the judge, and my days won't end here.
Please jump on over to Brittany's blog and read what she has to say here, and if you shared something, please leave a comment so we can check out your post. I will eventually start doing link-ups again, but right now it's a lot of work and we only have one or two linking up (if at all) so we'll just hold off on it.
For next week I'm going to put in a bit of a shameless plug and have us all watch a message by my personal favorite pastor, who I happen to be married to. He delivered a slammin' message last weekend, which I think is worth sharing. And for those of you readers who were actually there to hear it, perhaps you can share your reflections on it in my comments section next week. Cool? You can listen to it online here.
Alright... sorry this got up late this week, but better late than never, right? Have a happy Thursday!