The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a Bible reading plan if you don’t already have one. There are so many plans available to help you. Here are some links with printable resources and on-line resources.
Printable plans from Ligonier Ministries: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/
Online plans from the Bible App: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans
The Bible App is an easy way to get started, particularly if you want to use your phone. It keeps track of what you’ve read and opens to the next reading each time. You can also listen to it read by professional readers if you’d prefer.
May the Lord bless your time in the Word in 2019.
seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…
There are so many things we can follow. We follow people on social media. We follow news outlets. We follow auctions. We follow the party line. We follow athletes and mentors and gurus. We follow career paths and education tracks. As believers of Jesus, we first follow Christ. All of these other things that we chase after, God knows that we need them (at least some of them), and he is faithful. Following Jesus is the solution to the anxiety that chasing after all of these other things creates.
This call to follow Jesus is given to his disciples. While we tend to think of it as an individual call, it is really a corporate call. We were never meant to follow alone. This is why Jesus calls disciples together to follow him. This is why he spent so much time in his last teaching on the new command to love one another. To follow Jesus is to follow together.
Here’s Cornerstone’s 2019 strategy for following Jesus together. First, we want to simplify. This past year (2018), the officers have been working through a book by Thom Rainer called, Simple Church. Dr. Rainer conducted extensive surveys of a variety of churches and noted a common theme in those that were healthiest—their mission and method was simple. Over time, most churches tend to add a little here and a little there to address particular needs as they arise. It sounds good as they seem to have a lot to offer. But the reality is that their energy and focus is so divided that little gets done well, or at least as well as it could, and there is less and less “togetherness.” If you ask people in complex churches what the next step in following Jesus, you get as many answers as people. You may get it your way, but you also may be alone in your way. That’s not Jesus’ plan. So, we will continue to look to simplify our mission and method of following Jesus at Cornerstone. In our session retreat this fall, our mission statement “rough draft” is something like this “Cornerstone seeks to make disciples that worship God, love in community, and serve the world.” This helps us simplify our disciple-making process. We want to lead people to worship, engage them in a small group, and equip them to serve.
In terms of worship this year, we will finish the book of John and follow that up with a study on the church. It is so easy to drift into the “me and Jesus” way of thinking so prevalent in pop-Christian cultures. But “me and Jesus” thinking is about as misplaced as a rat in the pantry. Jesus’ commands come to us in the plural. He certainly invites us into a personal relationship with God, but not a private one, not an isolated, individual one. It is always shaped by the church. Much of 1 Corinthians 10-13 is about this very thing. After we look at the Church, we’ll take a walk through prayer in the Psalms.
Excited to follow Jesus with you this year,