Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mom reads my blog!

Can you believe it? Who would have guessed 10 years ago that this would have been the way a family keeps current? On this particular entry, I made a comment about my mom, and she caught it!!! Now I have to behave myself even here!

Which leads me to two questions:
1. How old do you have to be before your mom stops being your mom? You know what I when she stops saying "Brett" in "that" voice? (MOM: Private note to you - remember how you taught me it isn't just what you say, but it is your "tone of voice"?) I am pushing 41 years of age...and I still have a "mom". I guess that's a good thing!

2. Who else is reading this? Why not comment and let me know? All you have to do is click on "comments" beneath this and in the box, type it in and hit publish. Voila...c'est tout!

Now that mom is reading this, I guess I'll have to take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Read THIS. These are today's devotions for the Cornerstone family. Pretty cool that God doesn't want us to live this Christian journey alone. We need each other. Notice in verse 23 of Hebrews 10 that the words are we and us, not I and me. And the Lord goes one to challenge us as to why. We are to spur one another on to love and good deeds. In other words, we need to help each other to grow! It's so hard to grow alone. And that is also why it is so crucial to meet together...for worship, for prayer, to study, to pray, to fellowship. This is where we see God at work more completely.

What about you? Where do you need "spurred on?" For me, it is in my daily devotional time. I get too busy and distracted. I need encouraged, and maybe chastised, to be more faithful. Any other brave ones out there willing to let us help you grow?

Monday, March 27, 2006


You know, sometimes I get so distracted by the little things that bug me. It seems like 95% of my life can be going great, but I'm focused on the 5% that ain't! Why? Anybody want to gently and lovingly get me back to the TRUTH?

Anywho, you know what God told me to do? He said THIS! So, I'm gonna!

I'm thankful for Carla. She is such an awesome person. She is such a great friend. And she loves Jesus so much that it oozes out of her.

I'm thankful for my CIT camp this past weekend. What an awesome group of young people. Also, Karen, Nate, and Monica (Rachel) were awesome.

I'm thankful for Cornerstone. What an awesome church family! What an amazing group of people seeking to live the Kingdom!!!

I'm thankful for Pete and Linda and the Mission Team. They are leading us in some amazing outreach.

I'm thankful for Natalie and all the crew for Life Size CandyLand!!! This is going to be so cool!!!

I'm thankful for Laura and a praise team who leads us in some amazing worship!

I'm thankful for Joe and Sandy O who led a work team to do some sprucing up of a former member's home to try to help it to sell. This was just amazing!

I'm thankful to Bill who keeps our building spic and span!

I'm thankful to Pat who sees herself as someone in ministry to help others in ministry!

I'm thankful for a calling that is so much fun...I get to be a pastor! Thank you!!!

And most of all, I'm thankful for a Savior, a Lord, a Friend in Jesus Christ. Forgive me when I forget to be thankful...

What about you? What are YOU thankful for today? What can God use to distract you from the garbage and allow you to see Him?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why I Do What I Do

Tomorrow, I am leaving for Camp Allegheny for a few days. I'll be back early Sunday morning to preach at the church I love to serve, Cornerstone Church of Cranberry. I love going to Camp Allegheny. It has been a part of my childhood, and now my second childhood (commonly referred to as "adulthood"). I am the dean of a camp program entitled C.I.T. Camp. CIT stands for Counselor In Training. We work with 15-17 year old youth who demonstrate leadership potential and an on-fire love for Jesus. We will spend the weekend with them to begin the training process and to determine their eligibility to continue. Then in June, we'll bring them back together for a week of training. After that, they are eligible to serve as "Junior" Counselors in our denominational camping ministry.

Now the reason I am so anxious to go is: It reminds me of my calling. Every time I hang out with these kind of "ministry hungry" youth, I get all fired up. It does me good to see how God is working in the lives of young people. I am reminded of my Bible buddy Elihu (read about him here) who is young but filled with the Holy Spirit! Let me tell you, when you're around other people who are filled by God's amazing, powerful, transformational (any Monday night class people listening?) presence, you cannot help but be transformed yourself!!!

So if you attend Cornerstone, look out. I may be tired on Sunday, but I'll be fired up!!! And I'll be fired up because I've spent some time with others who are on fire for Jesus. And.....

....I'll be reminded once again of why I do what I do....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I need a...

...vacation!!! I'm experiencing all the classic signs:

  • I'm grumpy
  • I'm tired
  • I'm grumpy
  • I'm tired
  • and lastly, I'm grumpy

So, Carla and I have scheduled a week away in May. We're heading to Virginia. Some of the things that we're planning to see and do:

  • Historic Williamsburg
  • Jamestown Settlement
  • Huss & Dalton guitars, where my 2nd favorite guitar was built
  • Virginia Beach, which I remind you is for lovers!!!

We can't wait.

How about you? What vacation plans do you have? Where would be a dream vacation? How do you know when it is time?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


What, you ask, is MTD? That's simple: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism! What, you ask, is Moralist Therapeutic Deism? That's not so simple!

Group Publishing, a stellar youth ministry resourcing organization, has done an extensive study of American youth and their views about God. This is what they concluded. American kids have a:

Moralistic: God is all about us making moral choices. God gave us free will to decide what is right and what is wrong. He loves us when we make good choices, and doesn't when we don't.

Therapeutic: God exists for our pleasure, not the other way around. This belief leads to the thought that personal happiness is the goal of life. Not even God would ask us to sacrifice that personal happiness for Him.

Deism: Essentially, God is unknowable. He only gets involved in our lives to the extent that He is the judge. We can't have any kind of relationship with Him; He is just our "fix" when we get into a jam.

Group thinks this kind of thinking is unChristian, and dangerous. I agree. Do you?

In what ways are you MTD? How would you describe God? Is He a Moralistic Therapeutic Deism? If not, who is He? Let's hear it!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these....

Last night, I hosted our Senior High home group. What a blast...they keep me young! We actually started a youth version of the "Where Do I Fit?" class of our Stepping Stones ministry. We had a great time starting to figure out who God made us to be and how to live that out in school and in our careers. I learned as much from them as they did from me, I'm sure.

But here is the coolest thing: Were you worshiping with Cornerstone Church yesterday? If not, you can listen to the service. I am coming down the home stretch in a message series entitled "Lip Service or Life Service?" We are studying through the book of James and seeing how real faith in Jesus Christ will change us to act on our beliefs and on our relationship with the Lord. Well yesterday, we touched on that ever-so-unpleasant subject of confession. Read about it here. Well in there, God tells us through James to confess our sins to each other! Ouch!! Why in the world....? So that we can pray for each other and help each other receive the healing from our sinful lives that only Jesus can bring.

Well lo and behold (I sound like my mother!), one of the youth last night blurts out in the middle of it all "I confessed one of my sins to [another youth] in the car today." At first I was stunned, but then realized that it was true. Now we didn't elaborate as a group on what the issue was...we didn't need to. This young person found the strength to be bold and open up to a fellow Christian youth. That friend is now praying and helping out. Praise God!!!!

Now, how about us "grown ups"? What do you need to share with a close Christian friend to help you with? Why not follow the example of our youth? Why? Because Jesus said so...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Don't quench the fire...

OK. Sounds good on paper. But how? Today, at our men's small group, we were sharing about repentance. We were talking about some of the ways we need to turn away from individual sins and turn toward God. As we read some things together, as we prayed together, as we "be'd" together, I sensed it. The Holy Spirit. The presence of Jesus Christ within me. That got me to thinking that we can't quench something we don't have! So one of the ways I have come to be in the presence of the Holy spirits fire is to be with others who are seeking to get warm too! When you go to God by reading His love letter, the Bible.... When you go to Him by seeking His dialogue in prayer.... When you go to Him and see Him putting on the flesh in your Christian colleagues.... That's when you get warm with the fire!

Now, how to go about not quenching that. Gee, could it have something to do with what the Lord says through Paul in Philippians 3:10-14? Get to know Jesus. Come face to face with Him and experience His power. Forget the garbage of yesterday, or last hour. Press on toward Him. Keep walking in the light. How? That's right...the Bible, prayer, Christian associates...

Lord, you've put the fire in me today. Thanks. Help me stay right by your flames!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Continuing on the theme. Todays devotions deal with how patient we are to be. We were instructed to make a list of all the ways God is being patient with us, and then compare that to what or who He is desiring us to be patient with. Ouch! I discovered that my list of things that God has been patient with me about is MUCH longer than the list of things I am attempting to be patient about. Now that will preach. Then I stumbled upon 2 Peter 3:9. I rediscovered the reason why God is patient with us, and why He wants us to be so patient. It is so that we might come to repentance...a saving knowledge of His love and His plan for us in Jesus Christ. Wow. Then, I read a little further in 1 Thessalonians 5 to verses 16-19. Voila some keys:

1. Rejoice (can you think of reasons to in your impatience?)
2. Pray (thanks Pat Dignazio for our Wednesday prayer ministry!)
3. Be thankful (see point #1!)
4. And don't put out the Holy Spirit's fire....sounds like a blogject for another day...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I can handle the pain until it hurts...

I love bluegrass music and one of my daily haunts is a great site called iBluegrass. Every day they have a goofy thought for the day. Today is "I can handle pain until it hurts." Good point. I never really thought about it, but that pretty well describes me. As I have been working out at a local gym, I think I know what this guy is talking about!!

At Cornerstone Church of Cranberry we are doing daily devotions that go along with the weekly message. You can access them here. Today, the reading is from Romans 8:22-27 which you can read it online here. The theme for this week is patience. And how appropriate that when we deal with patience, we think about pain. Isn't it painful to wait? Isn't that why Paul, who wrote Romans on God's behalf, talks about the groaning that we feel? Isn't it cool that God wants to help us bear the pain? He says that His Holy Spirit will come along side of us and pray for us when we're in too much pain to pray. He reminds us that He knows our thoughts, our hurts, our struggles, our secrets. And in that, He takes our case to God. All this we have in Jesus, that is, if you have Jesus.

Lord, I can handle pain today, until it hurts! Thanks for taking it from there!!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday, Monday...

Monday, Monday; Can't trust that day
Monday, Monday; Sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh, Monday morning you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me....

That's the classic annoying song from the Mamas and the Papas. They do a pretty good job of summing up the world's view of Monday. The world hates Mondays. It seems like drudgery. It conjures despair. It seems uncontrollable and dark.

And yet, it seems that as a Christian, that ought not be our approach. After all, isn't God all about second chances and starting over? And isn't that what Mondays could be, in Christ? Think of the great flood...God said "enough", let's start over. That was a big "Monday" in the history of the world (and I'm thankful for it.) Think of the cross....God said "enough", let's start over. Jesus brought the biggest "Monday" of all to us. As I think to the time when I first realized that this was all true and I truly received it, it was a huge "Monday" in my life.

So here it is the literal Monday. What do you need to start over? What did you flub up last week? In your job? In school? In your family? In your faith? In your friendships? (Thank God I don't have to list them here...) Well, I am going to grab this Monday by the horns as a new start.

Psalm 40:1-3 says "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." (NIV) Today, I have those words humming in my mind in the tune of U2's "40", a paraphrase of that Psalm. Those of you who saw them with me in October at the Mellon Arena know how they ended their concert. Thanks to the Lord who inspired them, that isn't how I'm ending my "concert", it is how I am starting it!!!

"...I will sing, sing a new song..."

Saturday, March 11, 2006


What a wierd day, especially for me. I take Fridays off to spend with Carla (PS: we had fun yesterday...pretty much just goofing, gutiars, Shadrach, take-out Chinese, Scrabble, and a babysitting mission....). That makes Saturdays like Mondays but with a twist. Tomorrow is my favorite day of the week. I love to worship (read: tell God I love Him!). I love to fellowship (read: be with other people who want to tell God they love Him too!). I love to preach (read: God telling us He loves us more than we can ever love Him!). So I never dread "going back to work" on Saturday (remember, that's my Monday). It is a day of preparation and anticipation. As a Christian (read: someone who understands and accepts that God loves us and that He proved it by showing up in the world...coming to our Jesus), we ought to experience life differently. On Monday, I plan to offer my (read: worthless!) view of Mondays and how the world and the church should differ on that.

Tonight, it is off to Mars (PA, not the planet) to see a couple of our Cornerstone youth in the musical "Bye, Bye, Birdie". Break a leg Marissa and Mackenzie!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Life IS good!!!

Small groups...

I just returned from our Thursday morning men's Bible study group. What a blast. I find myself looking more and more forward to this time of the week. It is great to hook up with people who are trying to walk the same journey, but all with different perspectives. We laugh together, sometimes cry a little, and dig deeper and deeper into our souls and God's. I find that one of the greatest ways to better understand the heart of God in Jesus Christ is to do so with a group of others. It gives perspective, accountability, fun, wisdom... If you're not in a small group, consider joining one. At Cornerstone Church of Cranberry we offer a wide variety of choices...

I'm still trying to lean on God. In Exodus 14:15, God tells Moses to quit praying and start moving. I guess there is a time for both...I pray today that I'll keep my face turned towards the Lord at every turn (praying) and I'll be faithful to go where He leads me (service).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

...that depends...

At Cornerstone, we have been spending some time in the New Testament book of James. This past week, the theme is Dependence on God. It sounds so simple...and yet how? I had a friend who would often tell me "Brett, just let go and let God." A great plan...but HOW?!?!?!

I guess living a life of prayer helps. That doesn't mean kneeling by your bed for 7 hours a day (ouch). But just realizing that God is with us in each step we take. Taking 5 seconds to say thanks to Him for the little blessings He throws our way constantly. Or maybe a little time in the Bible. Last year, I read through the whole Bible in a year. This year, I'm taking a different approach. I'm trying to read small amounts and just committing them to my soul. I find that this is helping me to depend on God.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms... Lord, may I lean on your arms today. Mine aren't strong enough...

Monday, March 06, 2006


Our church's Discipleship Team is plowing through some stuff about leadership. What makes an effective Christian leader? What makes an effective Christian team? One of our team members used the word "inspiration" to describe it. A good leader is inspiring. Another team member used the word "instructive". A good leader is a good teacher/motivator.

I just read a short but good book entitled "The Management Methods of Jesus" by Bob Briner. Here is my summary:

1. (Direction) Jesus had vision...He knew what God was calling Him to do and worked for it unswervingly. He never lost sight of it or got bogged down in minutia. He also insisted on absolutes, knowing that a vision is unblurred and the direction to get there is unblurred as well. Some things just cannot be tolerated and He knew it. He never tried to serve two masters. He was inspirational...because He let the Holy Spirit spill out from Him and all around knew it. He was a constant evaluator.

2. (Teamwork) Jesus surrounded Himself with trainable people who had vision...He knew He couldn't do it alone. He chose people of vision and of potential, not people who had "arrived" or even thought they did. And Jesus taught at every turn...He was constantly instructive!!!! He "field-tested" His them opportunities to grow into their calling...He said thanks and shared the glory with His disciples...He was humble and insisted on humility from His team. Again, He never tried to serve two masters. God was His master, not the disciples...when the choice had to be made to honor God or the disciples, He made the hard choice to honor God. He established His authority and maintained it in love.

3. (Pace) He had a great sense of timing...He knew when to confront and when to forgive...He cut His losses and moved on when appropriate. He knew when to work hard and knew when to stop and pray.

What do YOU think? More importantly, what does GOD think?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ever faithful...

Psalm 18:25 reminds us that God shows Himself faithful to those who are faithful. Thanks be to God for being so amazing and real.

In that vein, I attempt to be faithful to my blog. It is Saturday...a great day to reflect and prepare for the day of worship tomorrow. My sermon notes are ready to go, the PowerPoint is done. But I am not yet prayed up! I seek the Lord's face, wisdom, and direction not only for me, but for the hearers as well.

It is a crazy day at Cornerstone Church. We had our worship team here earlier decorating our space for worship. Now there are children's ministries volunteers working feverishly on preparations for Life Size outreach to the kids of our community. Various Cornerstone people will dress up like characters from the board game (I am Lord Licorice!). The kids will be participants in the game. We will be removing the chairs from our worship center and setting the game up in there. I can't wait until April 1 for the big day. In the meantime, I thank God for the faithful...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

OK, I'll try again

Ever since my "friend" Keith McIlwain dissed me, I decided to try again.

It is a rainy day and it seems to be dampening my spirits. Fridays are my day off and I'm very much looking forward to a day to relax with my wife Carla. We're going home (Salix PA) to visit with our families. Her father has been ill since October but is slowly recovering. They are preparing to take their annual, albeit delayed, voyage to the Floridian south.

Our church's focus this week is humility. We are praying together to see ourselves the way God does. Then, we're hoping to be more faithful in our witness to the world. Why is it so hard to "humble yourself before the Lord?"