THE LONELINESS EPIDEMIC (Part 2)

(By Wanda Stutzman)

Part 2

“I was so busy with college. Every waking moment was spent studying or maintaining my life. Relationships were pretty much non-existent. I was lonely and wanted to invest in other people, but I simply did not have the time or energy. How could I connect in my stage of life? I started texting several friends in the morning before I left for class. I asked them how I could pray for them that day. I read their responses and then on the drive to class, I would intentionally use that time to pray for their specific needs. It wasn’t much, but it helped take my focus off of myself and do something for someone else.” -testimony from my friend

I believe what my friend did with her loneliness is key to combating it. It is so easy to focus on me and my needs and wonder why nobody notices them instead of asking God to show us the needs of others in our lonely season. There are so many people around us that we can invest in! Sometimes loneliness can be attributed to self-focus or not being open with others.

I remember as a young girl being told I had to talk to the new girl at church. After several attempts to visit and get to know her, and getting only the minimum answers to my questions, I gave up. We need to be able to engage and reciprocate the conversations or no one will enjoy talking to us. In other words, take an interest in other people. Get to know them by asking questions back to them, not just answering their questions. Have real conversations with people. Talk about more than the weather.

Loneliness should drive us to Jesus. He created us to be relational human beings and it is not His desire that we are lonely. A season of loneliness can actually be good for us, but God doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants us to invest and be part of a community because that produces growth in us and the people around us.

Something I often say to my girls is “Control your emotions, or they will control you”. That goes for every area of our lives. When we feel sad or lonely, we can feed those emotions and let them run rampant or we can control them by “taking every thought captive”. (II Cor. 10:5) We choose what we put into our mind. We choose the thoughts that are allowed to hang out in there.

The truth is that we all need each other. We need to have people in our lives who ‘tell us how it is’. When we are not in a community, we set ourselves up for a lot of difficulties. I mentioned the experiment with the rats last week in the email. Even stupid rodents need community. How much more do we, created in the image of God? We need to be having real, heart conversations with people. We need people to hold us accountable, people we can pray with and pray for, people who will call out sin in our lives, or encourage us. We need to invest in other people, because when we invest, we often get more than we give, and it grows our faith in the process.

If you’re not at a place like I just mentioned, ask yourself why. Look around and ask God who needs you in their lives? Who needs someone to invest in them? Pray about this. Jesus wants you to grow and become more like Him. He will honor your prayers.

As believers, we are all on the same team. We are headed in the same direction. We need cheerleaders, we need prayer warriors, we need each other.

Wanda Stutzman

THE LONELINESS EPIDEMIC (Part 1)

(By Wanda Stutzman)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loneliness and what an epidemic it’s become in our culture. Statistics say that 1 out of every 5 adults experiences loneliness on a regular basis. In an age where we can more quickly connect with people than ever before, why are so many of us lonely?

In a matter of mere seconds, we can connect with a multitude of people via social media or texting. We can have conversations with people overseas, just as if they were sitting in our living room. We can share photos of family and friends and keep up on each other’s lives in spite of the distance between us. So why the loneliness?

Loneliness drives people to do things they never thought possible. I read this interesting article recently and am sharing a portion of it here:

Dr. Bruce Alexander of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC reconsidered a famous lab experiment done in the 1970s involving addiction. He pondered that the presumptions behind the science could be flawed and incomplete. The scientific experiment in the 1970s involved a lone rat in a rat cage with two water bottles. One was laced with cocaine and the other just water.  In this well-known experiment, it was allegedly proven that nine out of ten rats in the rat cage will go back, again and again, to the cocaine bottle until they killed themselves. The conclusion taken from this experiment was that the rats were hopelessly chemically addicted to the point of suicide. Not so fast.

Dr. Alexander set up an alternative experiment that he called the Rat Park. The Rat Park was an environment where many rats were together in a habitat of relationships, tunnels, food, and exercise.

The results of the Rat Park were almost unbelievable. The previously addicted rats stopped taking the deadly drug without coaxing, withdrawal, or removal of the drug from their environment. The chemical hook was not strong enough to stand against the bonds of relationship that were introduced in Rat Park.  The self-mutilation and nihilistic addictive suicides were reduced to nothing in the Rat Park. Dr. Alexander summarized it this way:

The view of addiction from Rat Park is that today’s flood of addiction is occurring because our hyper-individualistic, hyper-competitive, frantic, crisis-ridden society makes most people feel socially and culturally isolated. Chronic isolation causes people to look for relief. They find temporary relief in addiction to drugs or any of a thousand other habits and pursuits because addiction allows them to escape from their feelings, to deaden their senses, and to experience an addictive lifestyle as a substitute for a full life.

Drugs and addiction were never really the issue! Aloneness was the issue, though the “rat” would never have thought of it that way. You don’t know what you don’t know. {godsleader.com/loneliness-in-the-church}

I can’t help but think that most addictions are fueled by loneliness. Satan uses that tool to wreck people’s lives and he’s actually been pretty successful.

Don’t fool yourself, the lonely are often found in churches. If the body of Jesus Christ {church} has such a problem, what are we going to do about it? How can we as believers help?

(Part 2 coming next week)

Wanda Stutzman

REVIVAL HISTORY (PART 4)

In the mid 1850s American culture was moving at a rapid pace. There had been a large influx of Italian & Irish immigrants, but they were staying in the large eastern cities and forming violent gangs. Churches were dividing over the issue of slavery. Economically, business was booming and in spite of the social problems that were brewing, it looked like the culture was moving into an age of prosperity.

On October 10, 1857 the stock market crashed. Banks defaulted and businessmen saw their fortunes vanish in a matter of several days.But God had a plan. Just 2 weeks previously God had laid it on the heart of a pastor to invite New York businessmen to pray with him over the noon hour. The first week he sat for a half hour by himself and then suddenly six businessmen showed up. They prayed together and planned to reconvene in a week. The next week 20 men came. In the coming weeks and months the businessmen’s prayer times grew to over 10,000 men. They had to place signs around to ask people to limit their prayers to 5 minutes or less and to avoid any controversial discussions or expressions.

The revival that God stirred in the businessmen of New York City spread to the cities across the country and on into the rural areas of the Midwest. The YMCA was birthed in Philadelphia, as were a number of other ministries that exist to this day. One of the most impressive traits of the “prayer meeting revivals” is the way that denominations came together and even preached from each other’s pulpits. I’m of the personal opinion that it was a missed opportunity to shed the denominational labels that still create so much division to this day.

The two things that really marked the revival of the mid 1800s were large prayer gatherings of ordinary people and unity between churches. I long to see both of these again in our day. I believe that if we saw a movement of prayer we would also see an expression of unity.

It is worth noting that the civil war followed right on the heels of the revival and I’ve always had some question about why those two events happened so close to each other.  I could understand if the revival had followed the war, but why did the war follow the revival? The only way thing that makes sense is that history records that people’s hearts were so changed by the revival that they began to confront the cultural sins of their generation. That confrontation was met with opposition and quickly escalated into the worst war fought on American soil in our history.

Sometimes we think that revival would usher in an idyllic time of cultural peace and that our towns would look like Mayberry again. The truth is probably that if God blesses us with a nationwide revival we will suddenly be confronted with the sins of our generation and there will be many who repent, but there will also be many who will cling tighter to their sin. It is most likely that a revival in our day would be marked by unusual unity among believers and unusual conflict in the secular culture. I see look around and see both and it gives me hope that we may be on the verge of a large scale revival in the coming years.

My Prayer: Lord, give us a deep hunger to encounter You in corporate prayer. I plead for a move of Your Holy Spirit in the hearts of church leaders that brings us together and leads us to repent of our divisiveness. Help us to humble ourselves and reach across denominational lines in a unified repentance. Give us boldness and courage to address the sins of our generation and point people to Your Gospel.

REVIVAL HISTORY (PART 3)

In our day of college campuses being places of the most hostile people to faith and Christianity, it’s hard to imagine that a nation-wide revival would begin in a university like Yale College, but the second great awakening began on Yale's campus when Jonathan Edward’s grandson Timothy Dwight became the new college president.

Timothy was dismayed to see his alma mater turning toward enlightenment philosophy and at the beginning of his presidency there were less than ten students who publicly identified their faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy began to pray and engage the students in conversation. He even agreed to a public debate with some of the students over the authority of scripture. When the debate was over, Timothy had made such a persuasive argument for the authority of scripture that it quickly became popular to affirm scriptural authority.

The true revival really began though when a group of students began waking up early several times a week and praying for revival. The revival that began in that school year continued in various waves for over 60 years; long after Timothy Dwight had passed away. There were times of cooling for a few years and then students would begin to pray and the fires would begin to burn again. In one of those revivals over half of the senior class gave their lives to full time ministry

The revival spread to other colleges and eventually found its way to the wild and rough western frontier in Kentucky.

In Kentucky it was reported that crowds of up to 25,000 people would gather for worship and preaching in large outdoor gatherings. Preachers would stand on a stump, begin to preach and people would gather around to listen. At times there were dozens of preachers preaching to groups of people at the same time and each had a circle with hundreds of people around him listening and allowing God to change their hearts as they heard the Gospel.  It completely transformed the culture in Kentucky and surrounding states.

Every time I read these stories I wonder if it could happen again. Could our colleges be so shaken with the conviction of God’s Spirit that it becomes normal to have Christian faith? Could God still transform an entire area of the country with the gospel? All of this could happen and so much more. Our God is not weak and His hand is not shortened by any difficult circumstance.

I believe that it is our sophistication and cynicism that keeps us from experiencing this kind of movement of God. We think that we are above complete abandonment to God. The enemy has convinced a whole church culture that deep commitment and surrender is just emotional fanaticism and that it's for the immature and emotional unstable. We need an authentic revival where our arrogance is exposed for the empty shell that it is! We are never too sophisticated for a move of the Holy Spirit!

My Prayer: Father, forgive us for our arrogance and cynicism. We’ve resisted Your Spirit out of fear of losing control and settled for a safe, acceptable faith that is approved by all. Shake us out of our complacency Lord! Set the fires of revival burning in our hearts for the sake of Your name!

Floyd Yutzy

REVIVAL HISTORY (PART 2)

The First Great Awakening in America is generally placed in the period of time between 1730 -1740. Historians credit Jonathan Edwards with the beginning of the revival at the Congregational Church he pastored in Northampton Massachusetts, but it’s worth noting that he succeeded his grandfather Solomon Stoddard as the pastor of that church.

Solomon had been praying for and preaching about revival for nearly fifty years before it began with his grandson. It doesn’t seem right to credit those who experienced the revival with the beginnings of revival, when there were people who labored in prayer and teaching for years beforehand.

When the revival swept through Northampton it affected the young people the most. One of the interesting affects of the revival was that the average marrying age dropped drastically. Before the revival young men and women waited till they were in their upper twenties to get married and the results were hundreds of children born out of wedlock. When those young people experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit and gave themselves to following Christ their values and morals changed drastically. Marriages happened and the college that we know of as Princeton University was born out of the need for a college for “revival minded” teachers and students.

George Whitefield was one of the most well known preachers in the first awakening and there are accounts of word spreading that he was about to preach in a location and literally thousands of people would drop what they were doing and run, ride, or boat as fast as they could to the location in fear that they might miss out on hearing George preach. There are accounts of over 30,000 people listening to him preach with such quietness that everyone could hear him. They said that the only sounds other than Whitfield’s voice were the sounds of quiet weeping as people came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

There isn’t enough space here to write of orphanages begun, sermons preached, lives changed, and missions planted, but the affects of this awakening are still with us today. It was the first that the churches began to welcome black slaves into some of the congregations and gatherings. One story is told of a slave owner who discovered one his recently converted slaves preaching in Whitefield style. The slave owner was amused and he called his friends over for some after dinner entertainment and made the slave stand on a box and preach. What he didn’t account for was the conviction of the Holy Spirit and he was dismayed as his friends listened intently and many were converted and changed for the rest of their life.

My Prayer: Lord, would you again place such a hunger in our hearts for your truth that we would drop what we are doing just to be fed by you? We have again become cold to Your conviction and need You to break through the cynicism and carelessness and stir our hearts again in such a way that changes us forever!

Floyd Yutzy


DO IT AGAIN (Part 1)

I’d like to take several of these articles and tell a few of the stories of revival that I’ve come across in recent years. Every time I read these stories, I find myself asking God to “do it again”.

I don't believe that we need a replication of the stories or the events of past revivals, but we do need the same move of God’s Holy Spirit, convicting the church of its sin and apathy. We need a time of purification that results in personal consecration. We need a demonstration of God’s power in the church again!

One of the many reasons that I know we need revival is how disinterested people are in ever experiencing personal revival. The apathy towards deep, intimate, and life changing encounters with God is Exhibit A of just how badly we need a nationwide stirring in the Christian church that sets us on fire!

I don’t know of any revival that has had as long lasting affects as the Protest Reformation. Luther is generally credited with beginning this revival, but a closer look at history shows that God’s Spirit was burning in a number of men during that era and if Luther had never nailed his 95 thesis to the door of All Saints Church, the reformation would have happened in some form or another. It was a time of great stirring and repenting of what had happened to Christ’s church.

Many suffered and even gave their lives for a faith that burned in their hearts. They struggled with connecting their present reality to New Testament Christianity, and didn’t always get it right, but when the revival fires had cooled a hundred years later the church would never be the same.  Christianity had again reclaimed a simple expression of church and clarity on the gospel.

Lord, would You stir Your church again with a holy discontentment? Give us dissatisfaction for the apathy we feel in our own hearts and see in the believers around us. Begin with me! Place a fresh zeal in my heart towards You and Your church!

Floyd Yutzy

REST

Sometimes I wonder why sleep is necessary. Why didn't God make us capable of running for 24 hours a day without the need to rest and sleep? Think of all the things that we could accomplish! Is rest really so important?

I tend to associate tiredness and the need for rest with a broken world that is deeply flawed because of sin, but the fact is that rest and night time were established before the fall. God created a perfect world in six days and then He rested on the seventh day.

Why would God chose to rest? He is unlimited in His energy and power. He has no lack that needed to be filled. He is so complete that there is literally nothing that a day of rest could have added to Him; yet He rested. He carefully and clearly established a pattern for His people; that we should build a rhythm of rest into our lives, and it is part of His perfect plan for creation before it was affected by sin.

I don't pretend to understand all the reasons why God designed rest, but I know pretending that we don't need it has bad affects on all of us. Nobody can function the way we were intended to without resting. When we get tired, our whole personality can change. We're easily confused, easily angered, easily tempted, and most of what comes out of our weariness just plays into the agenda of the enemy of our souls.

So get some rest if you're tired! Sleep. Read a book. Take a walk. If you have discovered a way that recharges your batteries, then do that regularly. Don't wait until you're trying to repair damage you've done because of your weariness. 

One day, our work here on earth will be over and we will enter our eternal rest. We will be in a place where night is unnecessary because our new bodies won't get tired. Until we get there: get some rest. The universe doesn't depend on our relentless productivity. 

My Prayer: Lord thank you for the gift of rest! Forgive me for acting like I am too important to rest. Help me to stop and enjoy the seasons of rest before I become an easy target for the enemy. Thank you for the promise of eternal rest and we look forward to it!

Floyd Yutzy

PLANNING TO PRAY

This week I'm sharing some thoughts by John Piper that I came across recently:

John Piper: “Prayer pursues joy in fruitful fellowship with Jesus, knowing that God is glorified when we bear fruit in answer to prayer. Why do God’s children so often fail to have consistent habits of happy, fruitful prayer?

Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the reasons is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.

If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, ‘Hey, let’s go today!’ You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing is ready.

We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the same old rut.

If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.

Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need midcourse corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer — for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.”

CONTENTMENT

Do you like your life? If you were asked to rate your satisfaction level, with 10 being the highest rating, where would you rate your life satisfaction right now? 

Got your number in your head? 

Now; what would it take to move you one number closer to a perfect ten? And one more question: Does your answer require a change in circumstances that are out of your control?

If your contentment with life is resting on circumstances that you can't change, you will find yourself walking around mostly unhappy and full of self-pity. God didn't call us to stew over things we can't control, things like our talents, our looks, our family, our community, and etc. He doesn't call us to apathy either, but that's a subject for another time.

I can tell you what would move us a number closer to a perfect ten in contentment. We will move towards contentment when we start interpreting the circumstances of our lives through the lenses of trust and gratitude. Trust that God has sovereignly given us these circumstances and gratitude for the goodness of His heart towards us. 

Here's a quote from Andrew Murray that I came across recently:

In times of trouble, say, "First, He brought me here.  It is by His will I am in strait place; in that I will rest.
Next, "He will keep me here in his love and give me the grace in this trial to behave as His child."
Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow."
And last, say, "In his good time He can bring me out again.  How, and when, He knows."
Therefore say, "I am here 1) by God's appointment 2) in His keeping 3) under His training 4) Until his time."

My Prayer:  "Lord, help me to trust You completely and rest in Your sovereign plan. Thank You for the promises that Your heart is good towards me and that even when I can't see it, You are working for my good and for Your Glory"

Floyd Yutzy


REAL FREEDOM

Last week we celebrated our freedom as a nation with the 4th of July holiday and this week I'd like to celebrate our freedom in Christ.

A pastor asked me recently if the people in our church are free. I wasn't sure how to answer him so I just gave him a good diplomatic answer and moved on; but the question keeps bothering me. Are the people of Cornerstone living in freedom? 

If not, why not? ... If we are, then how?

II Corinthians 3:17 tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The freedom that Paul was referring to in that passage was a freedom to follow Christ without fearing men. He was giving a defense of his message and wanted them to know that he was free in Christ, so he didn't base his message on trying to make people happy.

How about you? Are you so free to follow Christ that His opinion is the only one you really care about? How would it be to live without the constant fear of rejection from other people? To be so secure in my relationship with Jesus that rejection from people can't control me. 

That is freedom!

It is only found in living a life under the control of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer this week: "Lord, thank You for giving Your life to set me free from sin, free from fear, free from law, and free from all the stuff that tries to destroy me. Help me to live in the freedom that you have purchased for me. Forgive me when I chose bondage to fear over freedom in Your Spirit. I surrender my life again to the control of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to do a fresh work in my heart!" 

Floyd Yutzy

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Today is "Independence Day" in America. The day we celebrate our freedom from a tyrannical English government. Amid all the celebration, we some times forget to be grateful for the freedoms we have and let God know that we are grateful to have been born in a country where freedom is prized and fought for.

I love living in a country where we are free to worship, free to speak our minds, free to own property, work hard, and make a better life for ourselves. If you take a glance around the globe and the governments that so many people live under, you quickly realize that most of the people in the world do not share the same freedoms that we do. Imagine needing to fear arrest because you dared to speak against actions that your government was taking. Or imagine living in a place where it didn't matter how hard you worked, you would always be in the same economic level because the government owned all the property and you were just at their mercy. 

The civic freedom I appreciate the most is the freedom to worship freely. We attend religious gatherings at will without any concern of repercussions. It is good to know that we have local law enforcement who would literally fight their own government to protect this freedom. As disconcerting as it is when people worship false religions or take their Christian faith to some bizarre extremes and practices; I appreciate living in a society where it is legal to be wrong and wrestle through the issues of worship and faith freely. The gospel impact in global missions from this country has been unprecedented in world history and that is could not have happened without our civic freedoms. 

The parallels between civic freedom and spiritual freedom are somewhat obvious and I'd like to talk about our spiritual freedom on another day. Today though, I just want to stop and thank God for allowing us to live in this particular spot of the world. I know that it's just a temporal kingdom, but the freedoms we enjoy here actually make an eternal difference. I'm also grateful for the men and women who have risked life and limb to guard these freedoms. There are those who continue to protect us from evil running rampant and destroying our freedoms, so I appreciate those in law enforcement and the work they do. 

Here's my prayer for today: "Lord thank you for allowing me to live in a country where I enjoy freedom. Thank you for putting this burning passion to be a free in our founding fathers. Thank you for the work that you have done in the world; advancing your kingdom with people who are free. Thank you for the men and women who have filled their role in history and have struggled to protect these freedoms. Forgive us for being so ungrateful and taking these things for granted. I ask that you would put the love of freedom in the generations to come so that they to will prize it and guard it with their lives. Help us to use the temporal freedoms we enjoy here and lead people into a spiritual freedom that lasts for all eternity!"

Floyd Yutzy

INTRODUCING CORNERSTONE YOUTH MINISTRIES

(By Wanda Stutzman)

4G:

This is our high-school ministry that meets every Wednesday night. We are primarily geared toward kids in grades 9-12, but have opened our doors to older kids if they’re interested. Currently we have kids attending from at least 5 different churches, including Cornerstone. We love the variety of church backgrounds and would love to see more unchurched kids also participating in youth group.

Youth group is made up of a variety of activities, including Bible Study, usually taught by Leon, community outreach/projects, and fun, relationship building nights. We are currently going through the book of Matthew at Bible study.

We are planning a bus trip to the Creation Museum and the Ark in Petersburg and Williamstown, KY on July 26-28. We are looking forward to a lot of good times and opportunities to build relationships on that trip.

As the size of our youth group increases, we see the need to be training/mentoring young people to step into the role of leadership and grow their faith and learn practical skills in the process. This summer, we have three college-age young people from Cornerstone helping us set up an internship program that will begin in August and require a year-long commitment. We are really excited about this program and see that long term not only will it give us some assistance in youth group but also raise up leaders equipped to take on leadership roles.

We are anticipating meeting with these interns on a regular basis and mentoring them in their relationship with Jesus. The interns will be expected to help plan, organize, and lead all 4G activities and events. You must be out of high school to be part of the internship. You will need to commit to up to 10 hours a week towards this program, whether that be in actual participation on Wednesday nights, or reading books/listening to messages on leadership development, or meeting one-on-one with Leon or Wanda. We’ll have the entire registration process available on our website soon.

You can check in with what we’re up to on Wednesday nights by following us on Instagram @ 4gyouthministries.

CONNECT:

This is our college-age/young adult group that meets one Sunday a month at Leon & Wanda’s for lunch. As we gather around the table over food, we have a subject chosen ahead of time for group discussion. This can be a lively time of sharing opinions or answering thought-provoking questions. Jacob and Dorcas Potsander assist with this ministry.

Currently, Jacob and Dorcas are also leading a 9 week teaching series on Single, Dating, Engaged, and Married by Ben Stuart (Breakaway Ministries) on Saturday nights after church at the downtown building.

If you have any questions about any of these ministries, feel free to talk to Leon or Wanda. In case you haven’t noticed, Cornerstone is made up of a high percentage of young people and our desire is to see them invest in the lives of others, whether that is in leadership roles or otherwise. Please pray for the young people of Cornerstone and that God could do His work in their hearts.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR

(by Wanda Stutzman)

Last week I talked briefly about fear. This week the same topic is on my mind. It may be because we just had a thunderstorm and the forecast looked like it could get a little crazy before it’s all over. I used to be afraid of thunderstorms. Deathly afraid. I was especially afraid of wind. I had a very harrowing experience in a windstorm once and I carried tremendous fear from that experience for many years.

Today I was outside weeding my flowerbeds as the angry looking clouds swirled around above me. I went inside just as the storm hit, going out on the porch several times to watch the rain and the wind.

An interesting side note:I married someone who loves storms. Leon would put me and our 4 little kids safely in the basement then go outside to watch the storm. It made me so angry. So we’re all safe but he’s going to die?! (insert eye roll)

I can’t tell you exactly when my fear of storms subsided, but I do know that as I began the healing process of dealing with pain and hurts from my past, some things that were once so big to me, became smaller and smaller until one day, I realized it wasn’t a big deal anymore. I’ll probably never stand outside if a tornado is headed my way, but somehow i don’t think that’s so very abnormal.

Dealing with our issues is a long, sometimes painful process. It’s easy to become discouraged when we see little or no progress. But baby steps are better than none, and 2 steps forward and one backwards is better than not going forward at all.

Are you gripped with paralyzing fear towards something? Ask Jesus to take away that fear and replace it with trust. Trust in Him and His goodness. The fear may not disappear overnight, but as you continue to ask God for strength and help, you may be surprised to find out one day, that the fear is gone.

FEAR

(by Wanda Stutzman)

When he told you you're not good enough

When he told you you're not right

When he told you you're not strong enough

To put up a good fight

When he told you you're not worthy

When he told you you're not loved

When he told you you're not beautiful

That you'll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar

He will take your breath

Stop you in your steps

Fear he is a liar

He will rob your rest

Steal your happiness

Cast your fear in the fire

'Cause fear he is a liar

The words to the song "Fear" by Zach Williams have been swirling in my mind recently. Isn’t it crazy how immobilized we can become by fear?

Fear keeps good people from doing great things.

Fear takes our dreams hostage.

Fear focuses on our inadequacies.

Fear paralyzes good intentions.

Fear distorts truth.

Fear makes everything look impossible.

Fear is not from God! Ask Jesus about your worth and your value. Ask Him to take your fear and set you free.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE, STARTING WITH ME

(by Wanda Stutzman)

For a long time I believed the lie that the little town of Kalona was a predominately churched community and if you really wanted to reach our community, you’d probably have to go to Iowa City, and find all the liberal college kids.

Over the past number of years, God has slowly been opening my eyes to the fact that the little town of Kalona is in desperate need of Him. This little town needs Jesus ‘with skin on’ and I’m not even kidding.

Leon and I are constantly looking for ways to bless the community on our once-a-month outreach night with the youth group. Recently, we got information on the Summer Lunch Program and on Monday, kick-off day, I was privileged to help out there, along with my girls and 4 girls from the youth group. To say I was impacted is stating it mildly.

I watched as people from all kinds of social statuses and backgrounds came together and simply ate together, forming a beautiful little community gathered around food. I watched kids play and do art projects and get ‘loved on’. I watched lonely, elderly people enjoy conversation, maybe one of the few conversations they’d have all week.

Not once did it occur to me to ask what church these people attended, or if they attended church at all. We didn’t have to discuss our views on Creation or God or politics. We just ate together and shared a friendship. And it was simply beautiful.

I heard a message recently by Christine Caine and she talked about the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand men, plus women and children. She asked a question that I’ve honestly never thought of before. “Was the little boy who gave his lunch to Jesus really the ONLY person there who had brought a lunch?” Perhaps there were more, but they thought their little lunch far too insignificant to even bother offering that day.

You see, if Jesus was depending on me to change the town of Kalona, I’d have to have ALL the resources in place before I started the project. But Jesus has never depended on any one person to get the job done. He just asks us to be faithful and obedient. Ultimately, He has all the resources in place. He just needs us to offer our little bits and pieces, and then He can bless them and reproduce our efforts.

I’m excited about the Summer Lunch program! I’m not exactly sure yet how much God wants me to be involved, but I do know that it’s a ministry worth checking out. You may be called to do something else. But can I just implore you to do something? Don’t just sit on your duff while the whole world around you is crying out for someone to be Jesus to them.

This summer we have an unusual schedule for our church. It’s the perfect opportunity to invite people to the potlucks or invest in someone’s life that you’ve been thinking about for awhile.

We all have the same 24 hours in our day. We are responsible for how we use our time. Is it all about me, myself, and I, or are we willing to give my measly little lunch to Jesus and let Him use it for his Glory?

Have a great week! See you all on Sunday at the park.

Wanda Stutzman

SUMMER PLANS

This is that time of the year when we ask each other about our summer plans. Summers tend to fill up quickly and invariably, there are still things left undone when fall comes. If we aren't intentional about making plans we will spend our days busy with work and activity, but without accomplishing much. 

Most if us are actually very intentional about the things that are most important to us. We all have a list of activities that we deem worthy of careful planning and putting on the calendar well ahead of time. I challenge you to be that intentional about making a difference in someone else's life. Don't wait for opportunities to just fall in your lap. Look around your life and find someone who would enjoy spending time with you, then plan it! Put it on the calendar!

If you are a regular attendee of Cornerstone, you will have most of your Sunday mornings open this summer. Use the opportunity to connect with someone that you don't normally spend a lot of time with; maybe someone who you attend church with but don't know very well or a neighbor who doesn't have a home church. You could fix a Sunday morning brunch, go somewhere together, or just sit out in your yard together.

Plan ahead and get it on your calendar!

Floyd Yutzy

CHRISTIAN LAMENT

"To cry is human but to lament is distinctly Christian" (Mark Vroegop) 

Last week I wrote about the problem of complaining. This week I want to share some thoughts about how to take our complaints and turn them into a lament that is redemptive and healing. Lament is throughout scripture, but it is most commonly found in the Psalms. It is the way that people who have deep faith in God work through the painful seasons of life. I want to share 6 stages of Christian lament that I believe are key to finding healing and wholeness.

1. Arrive to Prayer: I'm amazed at our tendency to avoid the very thing we need the most in our times of pain. We wear ourselves out with our own solutions and talk to everyone  except God about our problems. We will not find resolution with people or programs. We have to come to the heart conviction that we need God's intervention and come to Him.

2. Articulate the Problem: Tell God everything. Literally. It's odd that we try to sanitize our emotions when we come to God and talk to Him as though He can't handle what we're really feeling. Bring your questions, your doubt, your anger, and your disappointment. Spill it all out. He can handle it. 

3. Admit Weakness: This is typically the hinge point of the process of lament. When we let the Holy Spirit show us our failures, such as, pride, idols, and selfish desires, we can confess our sin and weaknesses. It is then we begin to make progress in finding healing. When we address pain as victims of injustice (self pity, blame, etc.) we get stuck until we admit our need for God's grace.

4. Ask for Intervention: This is where we cry out to God to intervene and change our situation. If we get this stage ahead of admitting our weakness (which we usually do) we spend a lot of time frustrated with God because we don't see Him rushing in to fix everything. If we first realize our tendency toward sin, the intervention we will want the most is His intervention in our heart. We will be more driven to see a miracle happen in our heart than we will in our circumstances. The request for a changed heart is the prayer that God loves to hear.

5. Anchor Yourself in Christ: The waiting can be the most difficult. It is in this stage where we have found some answers but nothing seems to have changed. It is here that we must trust fully. We can not afford to grow impatient and start looking for other answers. Imagine tying yourself to a stake in the ground and anchoring yourself there as your only hope. He waits to be trusted and we must not waver in our belief in His goodness toward us. 

6. Accept the Process: Make peace with His plan for your life even if  you don't understand it. Hold onto the belief that God knows what He is doing and submit your heart to His timing and process. It is here that we reach a new level of maturity and discover peace that passes all understanding, and it is also here that we discover deep healing and wholeness. 

Pain is a gift because it is an opportunity to experience God in a way that we don't experience Him in the good times. I have found my sweetest times with God to be in some of my darkest moments. I would not be who I am today without the fires of testing. I don't enjoy struggle, but I'm learning how valuable it is. If you are in a difficult season of life I challenge you to lament with humility and honesty. The essential difference between complaining and lamenting is faith. Faith that God is at work and can be trusted with our story.

Your prayer of lament could go something like this (fill the blanks in with your own personal situation): "Lord I'm feeling _________________. I'm sorry for __________________ and I need your grace to help me overcome _________________. I need you to change my heart from ________________________ to ____________________. I will trust You even though I don't understand what You are doing. I submit to your timing in _________________ and believe that You have a glorious plan for my life." 

I've learned most of what I share, in various degrees, from listening to thoughts by several men: Mark Vroegop, John Piper, & Tim Keller. I have the links to a couple sermons that have been so helpful to me right here: https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/hemans-cry-of-darkness-2/   http://www.strategicrenewal.com/2017/10/16/keynote-message-2/  If you are going through a difficult season of life, I think that you will find these very helpful. 

Floyd Yutzy

KEEP ME FROM COMPLAINING

You have a free evening and two of your friends have told you recently that they'd like to spend more time with you. One of your friends tends to look for every opportunity they get to tell you what they don't like about their life, what they don't like about your life and what is generally wrong with everything. The other friend seams to be at peace with their life and occasionally mentions things about you that they really like. Which friend are you going to call and ask to hang out with?

It isn't hard to describe what kind of people we like to hang out with, but it's much harder to be the kind of person that's fun to spend time with. Complaining, negative attitudes are so much easier to see in others than they are in myself. When I complain I always think I have good cause for my whining. It is an easy habit to pick up and a tough one to put away.

When I look at God's response toward complaining in scripture it's easy to see that He doesn't enjoy spending time with whiners either. He tends to list the sin of complaining with things like murder and adultery. In I Corinthians 10:9-10 Paul writes that a lot of God's children in the Old Testament were destroyed because of their complaining. God is clearly not anxious to hear our complaining. 

I've been noticing how many times my prayers are just a spiritual looking form of complaining. I don't feel like I'm complaining if I can say that I'm praying, but if you remove religious words; it's complaining. Complaining praying will make us frustrated and disillusioned with God. We will feel like He's not listening to us because He's not interested in rewarding our complaining.

There actually is a biblical way to lament the difficult things in our lives and we'll pick up that topic on another day. There's also a fake gratitude that is super annoying, but that can be addressed on another day also. Today let's check our hearts and listen to our words. Have I become the person who I don't want to hang out with?

My prayer for today: Lord, you have been so kind and gracious towards me. Forgive me when I only look at my problems and forget your goodness. Turn the eyes of my heart to your glory and goodness, and help me change my attitude to gratitude. Amen

FloydYutzy

FEAR OF THE FUTURE

(by Michelle Yutzy)

Graduating can be a scary event. Graduating without having any concrete future plans, is what I considered to be an absolute nightmare. Suddenly people are asking what I'm going to do with my life without the realization that I'm just as clueless as they are. I wasn't the kid who knew they were going to spend a bagillion years in school, pursuing a PHD of some kind. I also wasn't the kid who was willing to just go with the flow and pray they didn't end up living in their parents basement as a 30 year old, cat lady. 

I became incredibly anxious and fearful of my uncertain future. I even became insecure in my walk with Christ. I believed the lie that if I was truly walking in God's will he would make my direction clear. What I didn't realize is that fear of the future begins to cease when our faith in Christ isn't dependent on it. 

When we live our lives so in pursuit of Christ we only want His absolute best. Faith isn't trusting because we know what the future holds, its trusting in spite of what we may think or even know of the future. This isn't some new age idea or theology, it's simply what has brought peace for me in the past year. 

"Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

"And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

I still don't know what my future plans are, but whether I go to college or end up serving a mission in a foreign country, I have faith that He will direct my path. So as you converse with all the graduates of 2018, maybe don't ask them what their future plans are. Instead, encourage them to rely fully on whatever God has for them. 

P.S. Happy national hospital week! To all of you who work in healthcare, you are the real MVP's! Love ya!

- Michelle

DAY OF RENEWAL

Elaine and I recently attended a "Day of Renewal" at Chicago Tabernacle that was hosted by Strategic Renewal. Strategic Renewal is the parent ministry that started the 6:4 Fellowship of pastors that I've been a part of for the past 6 1/2 years. 

Over the years I've made some friends in the 6:4 Fellowship and our time in Chicago was a time of reconnecting with a number of friends and making new friendships. The conversations were encouraging and I left there excited to be a part of a group that is so committed to prayer and the ministry of the Word. I also found my burden for prayer rekindled and strengthened.

It shouldn't be unusual for Christians to make prayer a priority, but sadly most people prioritize nearly anything else in their lives besides prayer. I've noticed that almost anything is an excuse to avoid praying. If a meal is planned, people adjust their schedules to make sure that they can be there, but if a prayer meeting is planned most people look for a reason why they can't make it.

The great need of Christianity today is not more programs, better buildings or more teaching. The great need for believers in our day to be filled with the supernatural power of God's Spirit in their lives. He invites us to experience Him as we pray, He promises to hear our requests when we pray and He fills our hearts with the power to live for Him when we pray. 

Yet we don't really pray.

I'm convinced that our pride is the number one reason that we don't make prayer a priority in our lives. We are so self-sufficient and we don't understand our need; so we don't cry out to God. Our lack of prayer betrays a proud, self-sufficient heart. We value comfort more than laboring in prayer.

If we could see into the spiritual realms around us for an instant, we would see a battle being waged over the souls of mankind and we would suddenly have a new framework to interpret the events of our lives, and believe me, we would pray like we have never prayed before! You desperately need the protection and power of God in your life. Are you asking Him for it?

We are in a battle! Pray!

Floyd Yutzy