Pastoral Notes for Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

“He is not here, but has risen.”—Luke 24:6

Easter is the crescendo of the Christian calendar, because the cross and resurrection are the center of the Christian faith. In breaking forth from the grave, Jesus Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities of this world (Col. 2:15) and put to death the last enemy, death itself (I Cor. 15:54). In rising from the dead, Jesus Christ sent a shock wave of recreation throughout the world, being the first fruits from the dead (I Cor. 15:20). In the victory of Christ’s resurrection, we participate in the power of the resurrection now through faith by the Spirit (Rom. 8:11), and when He returns at the second coming, the graves will lose their grip on those asleep in Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:51-52), and together we will meet the Lord in the air and live forever with Him (1 Thess. 4:14-18). Hallelujah! What a Savior!

The quality of our celebration today should match the importance of what we are celebrating—the most important reality in life and eternity. There is simply no risk of overdoing the celebration. If there was ever a time for worshipful abandon, for giving yourself to wonder, love, and praise that time is now. Join with the angels in heaven, and the saints from all the ages, and worship the risen Christ in Spirit and truth today. The tomb is empty, and the gospel is true. Let the celebration begin!

“A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Jesus Christ as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument of death’s defeat.”—Athanasius

“The resurrection is the first day of a new creation.”—Alistair McGrath

“Jesus is your Light

Jesus is your Savior

Jesus is your Resurrection

Jesus is your King

Jesus is leading you to the heights of heaven

Jesus will show you the Eternal Father

Jesus will raise you up by His right hand”—Bishop Melito of Sardis

“Everything in our life that is limiting, sorrowful, or dead becomes the dance floor

on which we celebrate our Easter joy.”—Wendy Wright

“The stem bent, pent in seed, grows straight

And stands. Pain breaks in song. Surprising

The merely dead, graves fill with light

Like opened eyes. He rests in rising.”—Wendell Berry

“Grant me more and more of the resurrection life:

may it rule me,

may I walk in its power,

and be strengthened through its influence.”—The Valley of Vision

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, April 14, 2019

As you prepare for worship at Cornerstone, the Shurden family is preparing for worship at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. As many of you know, we moved from FPC Jackson to Franklin nine years ago to plant Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, and we have many fond memories and close relations there. Very kindly, FPC Jackson invited me back this weekend to lead a marriage retreat and preach Sunday services. Though saddened to miss Palm Sunday with the Cornerstone family, I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with the sweet folks of FPC Jackson this weekend.

Sweeter still is the opportunity we will have this week to worship on Good Friday and Easter Sunday! It will be particularly special to worship on Good Friday with our sister churches Christ Presbyterian Church Cool Springs and All Saints Presbyterian Church in Brentwood. Please note that Good Friday services are at 6pm and 7:45pm this year. Due to the convenience of the 6pm time slot, we are anticipating that service to be very full. In hopes of preventing overcrowding and spreading attendance evenly between services, I would kindly ask those of you with flexible schedules to consider attending the 7:45pm service. Thank you for considering this.

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, March 31, 2019

On the behalf of the elders, it is my distinct privilege to announce the recommendation of Mr. Mark Elliott and Mr. Mike Payne for election as deacons at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church. These two brothers have faithfully completed officer training and sustained a thorough examination in the areas of Christian character, Bible knowledge, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the PCA Book of Church order, and qualification for church office (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Upon completion of their exams, they received a unanimous recommendation for election as deacons.

The election will be held on Sunday, April 28th during the Sunday School hour. Only communing members of Cornerstone are eligible to vote in the upcoming election. If you are a communing member of Cornerstone, we strongly urge you to participate in the upcoming officer election. Electing officers to represent, serve, and lead the church is one of the weighty privileges of membership at Cornerstone. 

Over the next month, please pray for these brothers. And if you don’t already know them, please take time to get know them better. Take them out for lunch or coffee. Ask about their testimony, their walk with Jesus Christ, and their sense of call to the work of the diaconate. They would love to hear from you, and I believe you’ll be encouraged by spending time with them.

Name: Mark Elliott

·      Born: Canton, OH

·      Vocation: Operations Analyst, LHC Group (Home Health)

·      Family: Married to Lindsey (11 Years). Children are Taylor (10), Noah (9), Amara (8), Zeke (6), Malachi (4)

·      Ministry Gifts/Passions: Serving, Finances, Shepherding

·      Church Service: Home Fellowship Group Leader, Children’s Sunday School Assistant, Nursery Volunteer

·      Recommended Office: Deacon 


Name: Mike Payne

·           Born: Rockford, IL

·           Vocation: Guitarist; Studio and Live work

·            Family: Married to Melissa (Mel) Payne for 8 years. Expecting our first child.

·           Ministry Gifts/Passions: Serving, Mentoring, Teaching

·           Church Service: Men’s Ministry Team, Watchmen, Home Fellowship Group Leader

·           Recommended Office: Deacon

Pastoral Notes for Sunday, March 24, 2019

Last week in this space we talked about the biblical origins of tithing and the shift in the focus of measurement in the New Testament toward sacrificial giving based on the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 8:1-15; Rom. 12:1-2). Commenting on this shift, several of you noted that it’s not easy to calculate whether you’re “giving enough” to the work of the Lord. If you thought that after reading last week’s piece, I sympathize with you. You’re absolutely right, and I think that’s the point.

 Instead of letting us rest in a percentage point of giving and feel like we’ve done our duty, God is calling us to continually reflect on the generosity of the gospel and repeatedly ask ourselves, “Am I giving of my material resources in a way that reflects the generosity of God’s gift to me in Christ Jesus?”As we hone our understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this matter and prepare to give generously and sacrificially to the Lord, let’s look at three other general Scriptural principles for giving:

1. Giving is a spiritual discipline that requires forethought and planning.At the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks of the collection for the saints, and he says, “On the first day of the week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come”(1 Cor. 16:2). Notice that Paul is teaching the Corinthians to set aside a portion of their resources each Sunday for giving to the Lord and meeting the needs of the poor. Paul knows that if we’re not intentionally setting aside resources and making preparations to give, we will fall into the trap of using that money for other things. Set aside your giving to the Lord on the front end to ensure that Lord has first place in your giving.

 2. Giving is to be commensurate with your income.In the passage I quoted above, Paul says to set “something aside” in keeping with how “he may prosper” you. He teaches the same principle in 2 Corinthians 8:12 when he says, “For if the readiness [to give] is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”Paul recognizes that resources rise and fall, and that our giving will rise and fall, too. He’s instructing us to give proportionally, and to not be bound by a certain number or dollar figure. Let your giving track with the normal ups and downs of income.

3. Give generously, cheerfully, and sacrificially.In Luke 21:1-4, the rich were placing their gifts in the offering box, but a poor widow came and placed two small copper coins in the coffer. Jesus says of her, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”On the surface, this principle appears to undermine principle #2 about giving commensurate with your income, but that’s not the point at all. Instead, the Bible is placing us in a good biblical tension.We’re being called to look at what we have and consider our basic needs, and then sacrificially invest in work of the church. We’re not sacrificing if it doesn’t cut into our lives—that is, if it doesn’t hurt.We’re beginning to practice biblical giving, if we’re actually having to say no to things we’d like in our lives in order to give to the church and meet the needs of the poor (see Acts 2:42-47). By placing these two principles beside each other, the Bible is inviting us into the wisdom of a giving pattern that’s discerning, generous, and sacrificial (2 Cor. 9:6-15).

As those who have been given so much, let’s not be stingy or begrudging—trying to get away with giving as little as we can. Instead, let’s joyfully prove our earnest love for Jesus Christ by giving to His church in a manner that reflects, even faintly, the generosity of the gospel.