So I thought that along with showing a couple pics from the 5 years, I'd write some thoughts about why I'm so grateful as I look back (and I am!), and what I am looking forward to as I look ahead.
5 Things I'm Grateful for as I Look Back
1. God Called
I was happy and extremely comfortable as the worship pastor in Simi Valley. I loved my job. I loved the people I served with. I loved what God was doing in the church. I loved being used by him to bring glory to him through the singing of his people. But he graciously saw fit to call me away from that. He knew that it would be much more difficult at times, but he graciously called. I am so thankful that he asked. And I am grateful that he gave me the faith to say, "yes!"
2. God Sustained
Many church plants do not survive. I knew that coming here. It is not because the pastors are not as good as me (you have no idea). I am lacking in so many areas. I pray for and strive to grow still. And when I came, even though I thought otherwise, I had no idea what I was doing. No, Cornerstone still being here is only because God has sustained us. It has nothing to do with me. In fact, it is in spite of me that we are still here. There were several times through the first four years where I either called or sat down with my pastor and friend from Cornerstone in Simi Valley and said, "I'm done. I think I want to come back. I can't do this any more." But God, being rich in mercy, dusted me off and as a loving dad always does, embraced me and said, "Get back on the bike, son."
3. God Refined
As I mentioned, Cornerstone still being alive and well is not because of me, but in spite of me. I am a prideful person. But thankfully God has used this church plant to chip away at that pride. To show me that I'm really not that great. I am grateful for that. Prideful people don't think they're prideful. I didn't. I had all the right answers... humble answers... when I came to Ohio. But there was a cancer in me. It would grow until God put his finger on it and began to reveal it more and more. Painfully, I might add. It has been a difficult process and one that I am sure is not completed. But I am thankful for what he has done. Even when it hurt and brought tears and frustration and anger. It all brought me to the point of seeing that I think too much of me and too little of Jesus and others.
4. God Gave
For 5 years we have never had a year where God did not give us more than we needed. Through this, we have been blessed to give much away and to meet the needs of the ministry here. This has been a wonderful point of worship for me. Seeing God provide over and over again has been humbling and exciting.
5. God Built
I am so grateful for what God has built. If you are reading this and attend Cornerstone, you know what I mean. I love the people here. It amazes me how they love Jesus and respond to his word. We are not done. We have not arrived. But this is my favorite church ever.
He has also allowed us to see missionaries come from our body. Erica Snyder is currently in Mozambique; the Kirkwoods are leaving in just over a month for full-time missions; and the Ronyaks are raising support to go to Papua New Guinea. Amazing and wonderful!
There is much more I could write about the past. But I will continue in my next post by looking ahead. Let me end this post by quoting Paul:
1 Timothy 1:12-17 - "I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."