27 June 2017

The first movement of the Gospel story liturgy is ‘Creation.’  And where does creation begin?  With God.  ‘In the beginning God…’ (Gen 1:1).

The sovereignty, rule and reign of God extends from eternity past even before He created time, space, and formed the world.  He is the ‘…only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Tim 6:15-16),’ and He alone is worthy of all honor, glory and praise.

As we gather to worship, there will be those who are following Christ, and those who do not.  And both groups need to be reminded of the transcendent reality of our great God in a world overwhelmed by fear, and uncertainty.  Our lives and circumstances may seem out of control, but nothing is ever beyond His control.

“Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” Ps 115:3 



20 June: Tuesday Refocus

Spurgeon said, ‘The most important daily habit we can possess is to remind ourselves of the Gospel.’  Why?  Because we are forgetful people.  Scripture is full of commands to ‘remember.’  And full of examples of those who forget – no sooner does Israel step foot out of 400 years of slavery do they long for the ‘comforts’ of their former bondage (Exodus 16).  After Joshua dies, a whole generation is lost to idol worship because those older failed to pass along the works of the Lord (Judges 2).  Paul reminds the church in Galatia not to submit to a yoke of slavery – because they had forgotten their true identity as children of God.

The Gospel – the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done demands a response: worship.  So we want to use our liturgy to remind people of the Gospel.  To rehearse the old old story – that God is the Author of CREATION, at the FALL we sinned and as a result all things were broken and distorted, but God promised REDEMPTION which is accomplished in and through the work of Christ on the cross,  RESTORATION with God and one another is won for us in that completed work, and one day we will be fully GLORIFIED – perfected as we sing and celebrate the Gospel story in the very presence of God for all eternity.

There is nothing more essential, or of greater significance we can offer those we are leading and serving than to help tell the Gospel story.  Over the last several months all of the people who have been putting set lists together have been using this Gospel pattern – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration, Glorification in the structure and order of our songs.  So as you practice, think and prepare for Sundays – rehearse the gospel again and again and again – because ‘…we never move on from the cross, only into a deeper understanding of it.’

Rehearsing and Remembering,


13 June: Tuesday Refocus

“Liturgy is education.” – William Willimon

What is liturgy?  It is the work of the people, the structure, rhythms, purpose and intention behind our gathering.  And over the next couple of weeks I want to walk you through our liturgy at Cornerstone - what we do, and why we do it.

Why is liturgy important?   Because a gospel-centered liturgy runs counter to the liturgy of the culture, reeducating, reforming, reshaping us under the authority of God’s Word, by the power of God’s Spirit, as God’s people.  Liturgy is education. 

Liturgy connects us to a larger story… As we gather, we join the saints and angels in the very presence of God, all of heaven, every nation, those who have gone before and those who will come after in seeing and responding to our God (Rev 5:11-12, Neh 9:6, 1 Pet 2:9, Phil 2:10-11).  Using the Word, prayers, and songs that have stirred wonder and worship in God’s people past, and will continue long after we are gone.  It shapes how we gather, how we are sent and how we engage on mission together.  Liturgy is connecting.

And liturgy sets a framework of long-term discipleship, ensuring a balanced diet of understanding and expression (more on this in the weeks to come).  It allows those mature in their faith as well as those exploring faith, and those who are mourning as well as those who are celebrating to enter in, engage, and respond to God’s revelation of Himself.  Liturgy is discipleship.

Growing together,


6 June: Tuesday Refocus

‘I was made by Love, for love and to love – I will fulfill my destiny.’ – E. Stanley Jones

Our one true calling: to love.

Your gifts are not an end in and of themselves, but an opportunity to exercise love. 

You are only walking in your calling with your time, talents, relationships and resources when those things are done because of Love, by love and to love.

‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.’ – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Love well.  And use all you have and all you are – including your musical, vocal, and technical abilities to have God’s love perfected in you (1 John 4:12).



Set List - June 4

Welcome/Call to Worship: Isaiah 6:1-5

Corporate Confession: 

Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. 
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
[Worship Sourcebook]

  • YOUR GRACE [new song]




Romans 8:35-39


30 May: Tuesday Refocus

‘Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is illusion.’ – Brennan Manning

We live in a world of identity crisis, defined by what we do, where we’re from, our education, relationships, goals, talents and skills.  Christ followers are not immune, but before any secondary identifiers, we have a primary identity: loved by God.

When we see ourselves accurately as one loved by God, we begin to see others accurately as well.  To be loved much is to love much (Lk 7:47). 

What I pray our time in 1 John does for each of us is help to reframe our understanding of who we are, and why we serve.  We serve as those who are loved, we serve from love, we serve because of Love.

‘Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.’ Colossians 3:14 [CSB]

From love,



16 May: Tuesday Refocus

"Oh, if you would follow Christ, be not content with the world's Christianity! Tremble, tremble and repent." - J.C. Ryle

The most beautiful leading does not put songs or talent, clever showmanship or impressive production on display - it says 'come and see what I have seen.' And we can only say 'come and see,' when we have first seen. When we have gazed upon the beauty of the Lord and inquired in His temple (Ps 27:4).

The world's Christianity never makes you tremble. The world's Christianity never asks you to repent. The world's Christianity never says 'look,' because it has never truly seen.

Be not content with leading a song that you have not first dug in deep with His Word and His Spirit... because true sight is seeing, believing and knowing that there is more to be seen than the world sees.


9 May: Tuesday Refocus

‘Worship is wanting to be a tool in the hand of God for Him to do with as He pleases.’ – Rich Mullins

We understand that worship is more than a song. 

And conceptually grasp that worship is all of life… but when we are in the trenches of relationships, work, class, ministry and mission – do our lives reflect being a tool in the hand of God to be used however He pleases?  What would that even look like?

I think it looks like, living as Christ – and dying as gain (Phil 1:21).

And how did Christ live?  Emptying Himself, taking the form of a servant, humbling Himself, and ultimately became obedient to death (Phil 2:7-8).

So when you feel poured out in your Gospel Community, in the investment in your children, in your course work… empty yourself as Christ emptied Himself – as an act of worship.

When people take advantage and do not appreciate you… serve as Christ served – as an act of worship.

When pride tells you that you are not being treated as well as you deserve… humble yourself as Christ humbled Himself – as an act of worship.

And when you’re tempted to take the self-serving, easy way out… become obedient to death as Christ became obedient – because, for us, death is gain.

To serve,


2 May: Tuesday Refocus

‘Too many people are singing songs they’ve learned instead of songs they’ve lived.’ – Henry Seeley

Your most effective leading of God’s people will never be the songs you lead on Sunday… but it is in the songs you live.  Your most effective leading is offering not just your song, but your life in worship – which ultimately rises in a sacrifice of praise when we put on an instrument or stand behind a microphone (Rom 12, Heb 13:15).

Anyone can learn a song – melody, lyric, chords, parts and dynamics.  But if your desire is to truly lead, your life will be marked by the scars of the secret place – because make no mistake if you lean into leading, God will use His Word, His Spirit and His people to allow you the gift of living the songs you sing… ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling…’ ‘…turning tragedy to triumph, turning agony to praise, there is blessing in the battle…’ ‘…I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm, my help is on the way…’ ‘…All I have needed Thy hand hath provided…’

And as we lose our lives on the altar of this worship – we find our lives and lead other people toward Life (Matt 16:25).



Good Friday - The Cross Reflection Experience - April 14, 2017

I've always been a hands-on learner.  So I have always appreciated churches that work to engage all of our senses through worship.  This year, we wanted to provide many opportunities for people to see, experience, remember, reflect, respond and worship Jesus as we looked at His life, death, and resurrection.  One of the ways we did that was by creating remembrance stations for individuals, families and Gospel Communities to experience together.

1. Splinter [Romans 5:12]

2. Stone [Matthew 16:24-25]

3. Frankincense + Myrrh [1 Peter 2:24]

4. The Garden [Matthew 25:36-46]

5. Blood [Luke 22:39-46]

6. Tear [Matthew 27:51]

7. Thread [Isaiah 1:18]

8. Communion [Luke 22:14-20]

*This concept was inspired in large part by theGathering Fort Mill from Easter 2016.

Maundy Thursday - April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday was a really special night.  And for me that began with the preparations and rehearsals - they felt different - they felt worshipful in a way that I haven't experienced in my time of planning before.  God was obviously using my time leading up to that night to speak truth to my own heart that I was trying to articulate to those we would be leading.  It was the times of secret place worship that fed our gathered time.

Because Maundy Thursday remembers when Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Communion, we set up intentionally in a circle around the center of the room.  And at the center of the room - communion.  It is the center of relationship, the center of God's heart, and the central part of our gathering.  At the center of any family gathering is the table - at the center of God's family gathering - The Lord's Table. 

WELCOME:  Luke 19:35-44, 22:14-23, 47-53, 63-71, Matthew 27:15-26, 32-46, Luke 23:44-45, John 19:28-3




MAN OF SORROWS (Traditional)


Special Song: BONDS OF LOVE

This is a song that I wrote with Shelly Moore specifically for this evening...

The bonds of love a seal a sign Creation and Creator bind
The Word of God in overflow with breath and dust God’s image sown

The bonds of love reached down below, affections set, God draws His own                                             Once enemies, now calls us friends, He will be with us till the end

The bonds of love sent Christ the Son All wrath consuming love in One                                             Obedient in death and loss, He took our place upon the cross

The bonds of love have never loosed, though hell approached they will not move                                 Defeating fear and death and grave, the bonds of love forever reign

BREAD - Confession: "Merciful God, for the things we have done that we regret, forgive us; for the things we have failed to do that we regret, forgive us; for all the times we have acted without love, forgive us; for all the times we have reacted without thought, forgive us; for all the times we have withdrawn care, forgive us; for all the times we have failed to forgive, forgive us. For hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid, for unfinished tasks and unfulfilled hopes, God of all time, forgive us and help us to lay down our burden of regret. Amen." [The Worship Sourcebook]



ASSURANCE: We have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Jesus we remember tonight is the Savior of the world. In Christ we are forgiven. And through him God abides with even us.  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow! —based on 1 John 4:14-16, NRSV





BENEDICTION: The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, remain with you always. Amen.
—based on Philippians 4:7



As you plan, prepare and pray - you're also hoping and praying that the direction you're feeling the Holy Spirit leading you to pursue in song choice, liturgy, and space will help to communicate that heart and vision of worship, and not hinder it with distraction.

One of the most humbling pieces of feedback I heard as a result of this night, was about an older woman in our church who recently lost her non-believing husband; who said it was the first time since her husband died that she felt and peace and was able to sleep through the night and wake up rested.  And those are the times that the Spirit whispers He is ultimately the One who leads and speaks for all of our planning and preparation is nothing without His movement.  Praise God.

Set List - April 9

Welcome/Call to Worship:

All: 'Let us see Your glory!' [Ex 33:18]
Leader: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey. [Zech 9:9]
All: 'Let us see Your glory!'
Leader: Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    He is the King of glory! [Ps 24:7-10]
All: 'Let us see Your glory!'






Hear the Word of the Lord from Psalm 118:
Let those who fear the Lord say,
     'His steadfast love endures forever.'
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
     the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
     He has become my salvation.
I shall not die, but I shall live, 
      and recount the deeds of the Lord
In Christ, God answers us and sets us free!
In Christ, we are forgiven!  Thanks be to God.
[based on Psalm 118:4-5,14,17]




Set List - April 23

Welcome/Call to Worship:

God calls us to worship, and we come, some with laughter and songs of joy. God calls us to worship, and we come, some from a sense of obligation or habit. God calls us to worship, and we come, some with hearts heavy with grief.
God calls us to worship, and we come, some with distraction or exhaustion.
God calls us to worship, and we come, some with eagerness and enthusiasm.
God calls us to worship, and we come, some with stress, loneliness, or depression. As God’s dearly loved children,
we bring all our joy and pain, hurt and hope
into this place of Spirit-given grace, love, and hope. [The Worship Sourcebook]






Communion: Romans 5:6-10 + 1 John 3:!