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“Even though I felt like I was dying on the inside, I kept going because I felt like God needed me to do His work, right?”
If you had asked me about 3 ½ years ago how I was doing, I would have said, “Life is Good!” If you looked at my life from a distance, things were great. At that time, I was a pastor of a small church that was doing well. God had blessed me with a wonderful wife who is my best friend. We had our first baby who was six months old and somehow ended up being my favorite sermon analogy. I was able to play basketball and fish on occasion with my buddies. On the outside, life was good.
On a heart level, though, that was not the case. I worked long days seven days a week and was constantly busy “doing the work of God” because I believed that God needed me to do His work, so rest was not an option. But after a while, things started to change. Little problems felt like big problems and began to dig deep into my soul. The task of preparing weekly sermons felt like writing despised term papers, week after week after week. I would go days with minimal or no sleep...thinking, worrying, rethinking, re-worrying. After a while, even the simple things became confusing. Even though I felt like I was dying on the inside, I kept going because I felt like God needed me to do His work, right?
That’s the way I functioned, until I hit “the wall” or I should say the wall hit me. Through a series of events and conversations, it was clear to me that I needed to step down from ministry. My wife and I knew that we needed to go to a Gospel-centered church where no one knew us or “needed us.” That’s when we came to Cornerstone. Looking back, I could say without a doubt that coming here was the best thing that could have happened to our family.
Now after leaving ministry, I knew that I needed to rest and yet I couldn’t. My life was like a tight ball of emotions and wrong unhealthy thoughts. After some time, I came to realize that I really didn’t know the God who says to us “Come to me and you will find rest.” I also came to realize that this Gospel that I could roll off my tongue so easily was not the Gospel that I was experiencing on a daily basis.
Since that time, I’ve been on a journey to know God and to know who I am as a child of God. When I think about the early part of this journey, I spent a lot of time in the Gospels reflecting on the face-to-face interactions that common people had with Christ and the parables that Jesus told. Jesus’s invitation was very simple: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Stephen is a member of Cornerstone and serves through teaching.
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