Pastoral Notes for Sunday, June 16, 2019

I was so deeply encouraged by the mission report last week in worship. To see folks uproot from their very comfortable middle Tennessee life and make plans to move overseas to serve Jesus Christ is crystal clear evidence of God’s work in our midst. If you would, please intercede for them this week especially. They will be spending the next ten days on the ground visiting three prominent cities. They’ll also be meeting their team for the first time and exploring new opportunities for mission. Thank you for loving and supporting them so far, but let’s go further still. Let’s turn up the volume of prayer this week as they take these big steps of faith.

It’s a joy this week in service to hear from Rebecca Giles. Recognize that last name? I bet you do. Rebecca is Tony and Mary Lynn Giles’ daughter! Since 2015, Rebecca has been serving with Next, Mission to the World’s ministry to reach the next generation for Jesus Christ. Her specific role is “Transition Specialist,” helping families navigate cross-cultural transition to and from the mission field through specific care for teenage missionary kids and their families. Rebecca will continue in this role going forward but not in the same location. Rebecca is moving from St. Louis, MO, to St. Andrews, Scotland! Now, some of you hear St. Andrews and think of golf. When Rebecca hears St. Andrews, she thinks of the Chalmers Institute. Why is that? Well, in addition to her ongoing work with Next, Rebecca has accepted a call to be the Director of Operations for the Chalmers Institute. The Chalmers institute provides a rigorous study of theology for European men and women, preparing them to exercise faithful, biblical leadership in the church and in society through discipleship and mission. This morning Rebecca will share more with us about the Chalmers Institute and provide information for how we can support her in the work of mission. Please listen closely to her report and take time to stop by her table out front for more information. You can reach out Rebecca personally by e-mailing her at

 Finally, next Sunday we’ll have the privilege of commissioning a small band of our senior high youth and chaperones for a ten-day mission trip to Uganda. This trip is a capstone to the years these youth have spent serving the Lord in our Youth Ministry at Cornerstone. They will be serving at an orphanage in Uganda and leading a VBS for children. We’re absolutely delighted to be sending them off to serve the Lord abroad in Africa.

Did you catch that? Asia last week, Europe this week, and Africa next week—that’s three continents in three Sundays! Is there anything better than seeing God’s people taking holy risks for the spread of the gospel? Truly, it’s an immense joy to witness, even more to support and send faithful gospel workers into fields ripe for harvest around the world. May the Lord of the harvest be glorified in all this!

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, June 9, 2019

“What are you reading?” It’s a question I get quite often. It’s a question I love to answer. This past week I was asked the question yet again, and as I rattled off several titles, the person suggested that I share what I’m reading in the Pastoral Notes. So, I’m doing that. Below are a few of the volumes I’ve been chewing on the last month.

·      The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud by Meghan Gurdon – Gurdon gets into the neuroscience behind reading aloud. She shows how reading aloud addresses significant 21st century challenges like attention deficit, loneliness, imaginative development, emotional maturity, and much more. As I read it, I kept thinking how Gurdon is putting flesh on Paul’s command “…to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim. 4:13). Isn’t it interesting that one of the main practices the church is called to do is read aloud the Scripture together!

 ·      Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating by Norman Wirzba – Pulling from ecological, agrarian, cultural, biblical and theological resources, Wirzba reflects deeply on the spiritual significance of food, the death to life exchange in the act of eating, the invitation to communion, the practice of “saying grace,” and one of the biggest questions of all—will we eat in heaven? This book is replete with biblical theological insights, and the role eating should have in family and church life. In a way of speaking, this book is one long exploration in what it means to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).  

·      A Tender Lion: The Life, Ministry, and Message of J.C. Ryle by Bennett Rogers – A welcomed introduction to the man behind the writings of such classic works as Thoughts for Young Men and Holiness. Rogers highlights Ryle’s tenacious commitment to evangelical doctrine and practice within the ecclesiastical challenges and controversies that marked much of 19th century Anglicanism. Thanks to Rogers, I now know far more about one of my favorite authors.

·      Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray – I love just about everything that David Murray writes. His book Reset I’ve returned to several times—a truly great work for anyone dealing with anxiety, stress, and burnout. This particular volume explores the condition, complexity, causes, and cures for depression with clarity and conciseness (It’s 112 pages). If you’re battling with depression yourself or walking with those battling depression, this is the place to start.

Well, space and time fail me again. Alas, no time to talk about fiction or poetry or history. But don’t despair. Maybe I’ll turn this into a two-part Pastoral Notes… Maybe. In the meantime, I’d be interested in knowing what books you’ve enjoyed recently. When you have a minute, drop me a line at and let me know. Let’s keep the pages turning this summer! Tolle lege! 

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, June 2, 2019

As we transition from the spring to summer season for Sunday school, this is a good opportunity to show gratitude for the volunteers from the past months and to highlight what was taught and what is upcoming for the summer season. We wanted you to hear from the various Sunday morning discipleship ministries:


Nursery—Christy Shurden, Coordinator

The nursery Sunday school consists of caring and playing with the children. During their snack time, we read a bible story and sing songs. The children know the routine and love it! Volunteers for the nursery are: Missy Chapman, Katie Patton, George Reitz, Kristin Lee, Celeste Nichols, Kevin McClung, Jessica Michaud, Cindi Wolk, Carolyn Vermilye, Bonnie Snyder, Julie Kesler, Colleen McGarry, Debi Haggard, Mark Haggard, Peggy Mueller, Suzann Allen, Karen Holland, Becky Payne, Laura Coughlin,  Lindsey Elliott, Karen Koellein, Rachael Zecher, Jan Norris, Sue Steffens, Bob Wolk, Eleanor Ware, Lisa Fiedler, Gari Vernier, Kristen Oakerson, Alli Faulk, Mary Lynn Giles, Dan Fiedler, Katie Ewing, Meredith Suits, Julia Morton, Joanie Pittman, Lauren Smith, Barbie Bankes, Martha Brooks, Poppy Driskell, Kristin Diggs, Shari Black.


Elementary—Meredith Suits, Director

Here are our volunteers for the 2018-19 school year: 

PreK leaders: Joe and Joy Marlo, PreK assistant: Gari Vernier, K/1 leader: Katie Patton, K/1 assistant: Katie Ewing, 2/3 leader: Ellie Terrell, 2/3 assistant: Anneke Seely , 4/5 leader: Dave Raymond, 4/5 assistant: Gwen Smith, 6 leader: Charlotte Robinson, 6 assistant: Mary Lynn Giles 

Our children’s Sunday school classes have had a wonderful year learning about God and studying the Bible together. We are blessed with thoughtful and energetic teachers who do everything from playing games and singing songs with our littlest children to studying catechism questions and curiously exploring the Bible in new ways. Students are learning to pray for each other in class, and we have sweet stories of students praying for their teachers and building important relationships within our church community. Our teachers are planting seeds in their young hearts, and we are so thankful for the time our teachers invest in our children. Many of the teachers will be returning this summer, as well as a few new volunteers, and we hope that our summer session will bring just as many joyful moments. 


Youth—Randy Allen

The following folks taught youth during the 2018-2019 year: Nancy Guthrie, Dan Apple, Randy Allen, Will Kesler, Preston Brooks, Nate Shurden, Jim Payne, Tony Giles, Barbara Cheney, Matt Suits, Steve Green, Jay Williams, Kent Coughlin, Marty Smith, John Millard, Matt Michaud, Gene King, Jerry Palmer, Allison Millard, Taylor Thompson, Sara Nixon.

Continuing our series on teaching the Bible, the 7-9th grade covered Proverbs through Malachi.  The 10-12th grade covered II Corinthians through Jude.  This summer all the students will be learning the book of Revelation.  Special thanks to all of our teachers who made the trip over to Merridees, and for the prayers and the preparation that you did.


Koinonia—Larry Thompson, Coordinator

The Koinonia SS Class welcomes adults of all ages.  It is a Bible discussion/fellowship class led by various members and special guests.  Discussions over the past year have included the Westminster Confession of Faith, Biblical figures from the Hall of Faith (Hebrews Chapter 11), topical subjects (What do the scriptures say about ___?), and most recently and ongoing, a discussion of the Book of Romans. Guiding principles are the inerrancy of the scriptures in the original and 2 Timothy 3:16.   

Discussion leaders included Larry Thompson, Terry Cheney, Bob Vermilye, Mark Haggard, Joe Haworth, Kent Coughlin, Nate Shurden, Emil Posavac, George Rietz, & others.


Chapel Class—Tony Giles, Coordinator

Objectives: Biblical teaching and dialogue on topics selected from Cornerstone’s adult education curriculum 


2018- 2019 classes included

Doctrine of Salvation (Kent Coughlin) 

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (Tony Giles)

A Short History of Church Music (Greg Wilbur)

Neighboring Franklin (Todd Russell & Tony Giles) 

Mindscape: What to think about instead of worrying; a study of Philippians 4:8  (Andrew Boswell & Tony Giles)


Each short series has been rooted in Cornerstone’s Christian Formation and a balanced emphasis on 

Head (doctrinal clarity; world and life view)

Heart (worship and faith) 

Hands (mercy and love 

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, May 26, 2019

Biblical scholarship agrees: the central focus of Jesus Christ’s earthly mission was the kingdom of God. For instance, when Matthew describes the ministry of Jesus Christ, he says this, “And he [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matt. 4:23) Similarly, when Mark summarizes Jesus message, he cites these familiar words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, Luke takes us to Nazareth where Jesus stands and reads from Isaiah 61 about the coming kingdom and then concludes with this bold statement, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve likely heard pastors speak of “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven,” but it might not be clear what is meant by that terminology. In short, to speak of God’s kingdom is to speak of God’s rule and authority. For instance, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” in the Lord’s prayer, we are praying that God’s perfect rule and authority in heaven would increasingly be manifest on earth.

As the Gospels indicate, the coming of the kingdom of God is tied with the advent of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ’s first coming, we see the inauguration of God’s rule on the earth. That is, we witness the beginning of what the prophets had long ago foretold would take place when the Messiah arrived (Isaiah 40:9-11, 52:7-10; Zech. 14:9). Through His miracles and teaching, Jesus brings a foretaste of the rule of God’s saving power. In the cross and resurrection, He defeated the kingdom of darkness and established the kingdom of light and life (Col. 1:13). In His second coming, the full flowering of that established kingdom will be brought to completion—the earth being filled with the knowledge of God (Hab. 2:14).

On June 2nd (Ascension Sunday), we will break from our series on Genesis and begin a ten-week series on life in the kingdom of God. We will take a slow walk through the most familiar and, quite possibly, the most misunderstood teaching of Jesus Christ on the kingdom—the Beatitudes. In preparation for this important series, take time this week to read through Matthew 5:1-16, asking the Lord to bring His kingdom more and more into our midst (Luke 17:21). 


“Blessed: Life in the Kingdom of God”

(Matthew 5:1-12)


·      June 2 – Matthew 5:1-12, “The Kingdom of God and the Christian Life”

·      June 9 – Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” 

·      June 16 – Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who Mourn”  

·      June 23 – Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the Meek” 

·      June 30 – Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness” 

·      July 7 – Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the Merciful” 

·      July 14 – Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the Pure in Heart” 

·      July 21 – Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the Peacemakers”

·      July 28 – Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are those who are Persecuted”

·      August 4 – Matthew 5:13-16, “The Kingdom of God and Christian Witness”


Pastoral Notes for Sunday, May 19, 2019

On Sunday, May 5th, we announced the need to raise $30,000 by the end of the budget year (June 30) to be in the clear financially on the landscape project. Thanks to several of you, money has started to trickle in. In the last week, $1450 has been given toward the project! That means we have $28,550 to go! Whether $10 or $10,000, we'd love to see everyone contribute something—even if it’s just the nickels and dimes buried in your couch cushions! Please prayerfully consider going above and beyond your normal tithes and offerings and help us achieve this goal. When you give, remember to write “Landscape” on the memo line of your check or contact the church office if you'd like to contribute in another way.  

Also, if you weren’t present for our congregational meeting on April 26th, I gave a brief update on our search for a second Assistant Pastor. At that meeting, I reminded the attendees of Tony Giles’ shift in hours this past year. As Tony continues to faithfully listen to God’s call on his life, he began to sense a desire to spend a bit more of his time in helping pastors in church leader development. For those of you that have been on the receiving side of Tony’s gospel coaching and discipleship, this was no surprise. God has uniquely crafted our brother with abilities of perception and wisdom for encouraging and developing leaders. In fact, that’s why Serge (previously World Harvest Mission) came knocking on his door! Just as the Lord was stirring this desire in Tony, Serge began looking for someone to help pastors in personal leader development, multiplication, and discipleship. It proved to be a match. In addition to his work at the church, Tony has spent 15 hours a week working with a number of pastors from around the U.S. and even the world. It’s been a joy to see our brother use his gifts to bless pastors around the globe!

As this shift in hours took place, we had to answer some questions on our end. For while Tony’s hours at Cornerstone were decreasing slightly, the ministry needs were increasing! A conversation about how to meet these increasing needs began to take shape among the elders. In time, that conversation turned into a search for a second Assistant Pastor.  

Right now, the Personnel Committee is speaking with a small band of qualified ministerial candidates. Though each man is unique and brings his own mix of gifts and graces to the table, we believe each man is a strong candidate for the role. It would be premature to say much by way of timelines, but we want you to know that in the not-too-distant future, we could be extending a call to one of these candidates. We ask for your prayers as we continue to interview, deliberate, and seek God’s face for wisdom. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the elders or myself. We would be happy to speak with you.