Service of Prayer, Reflection, and Imposition of Ashes

Worship Spirit of the Living God
Worship Spirit of the Living God

Here are a few shots from our service last night. For me personally it was a physically and emotionally draining day, but a good one. I always like this particular service for the mere fact it starts a time of reflection and prayer, which moves our focus toward what’s really the greatest celebration of the year, Easter.

Last night was more about recognizing our own brokenness, our own mortality, and coming in a posture of humility to the Creator with our lives. It is still amazing to me how busy we get, how filled our schedules become, and in that business we often lose touch with the reason for our ultimate existence and why we do what we do.

Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms
Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms
Dustin Adams Playing Guitar
Dustin Adams Playing Guitar
Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes
Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes

Church and Amazing Lyrics of How Deep the Father's Love for Us

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Band Warmup

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Drummer Warmup for Worship

The shot above was one I took while the band was warming up for worship this morning. I never get tired of being around the worship band and their practices. It is just as much a part of worship to me as when the official worship time begins. This church location, our second site, has been meeting in a basketball gym since February, and I love how it forces us to look at church from a new perspective again.

One of the songs we sung today, a modern hymn called How Deep the Father’s Love For Us by Kings Kaleidoscope on their album Sin, which was original written by Stuart Townend many years ago, has become one of my favorites because of the amazing lyrics and how it was written. It was released almost 2 years ago at this point but every time I read this poem, or listen to it being sung, it just hits home why we believe what we believe.

As mere created beings we can’t possibly fathom how deep God loves us, but the part that always rests with me is when the writer says “I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” What an incredible thought to process and ponder. You can listen to the song from a link at the top of this post, but the rest of it goes like this:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I guess everyone has different stretching points in words and in music that makes them emotionally tied to one work over another. This one for me brings out the beauty and sadness in sacrifice for someone who finally gets it. I love that we can worship a God this great, through these words, and do it with a basketball goal above our heads.

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross :: Photos

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Last night was our Good Friday service, one that contained a combination of worship and examining confession at the foot of the cross. It’s hard to put into words what that means, and Brian said it best when he told everyone that the cross speaks for itself, and it does. There really aren’t words that are sufficient enough to describe the power of the cross and what Christ did on that day. So, in keeping with words aren’t needed, I’ll let the photos here speak for themselves as well, which is one of the reasons I love photography as much as I do.

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

Good Friday Confessions at the Cross

A Night of Communion, Prayer, Meditation, and Confession :: Photos

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Last night was the Cornerstone Church Maundy Thursday gathering, a time spent in prayer, communion, Christian meditation, and confession. This night was much different than last year, in many ways much more simple. This year a big part of looking forward to tonight, Good Friday, was to look at our own sin, and practice confession as it is called for in James 5.16, and many other places in Scripture. There weren’t really any good places to hide, but in a dimly lit worship area the boards were filled with people following the command to confess before each other, and before God. Confession in our culture has been almost completely removed at this point, so much so, I commented last night that we don’t even know how to do this any more.

For many of us, I’m sure it was the first time we had been given the opportunity to participate in confession in this manner, and it lasted until 1am on Friday morning. Below are some images I took around the room (before the congregation was brought in, no I didn’t not go around taking photos of people’s confessions). Tonight we all come back together again to observe the meaning of Good Friday. [On a side note, the image of Jon playing the guitar below in black and white is my Project 365 (P365.me :2012 gallery) image for Day 129].

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

Maundy Thursday Communion Prayer and Confession

The Friday Night Lights Live Album Recording :: Friday Feet

Today’s Friday Feet comes from a live album recording here at Cornerstone Church in Auburn. I will probably post a few more photos of the shoot tomorrow but for now, here is a smattering of feet and music from the night. The live recording took place over two nights, last night and tonight, and was the first live worship recording for an album our band has completed.

I love the privilege of getting to worship throughout the week and not just on Sunday, or at least in the manner we do on Sunday. This was a special night in many respects, and I enjoyed the unique experience of getting to shoot and worship at the same time. The shot of the guitar 3 images down serves today as my Project 365 [Day 3] image (see the rest of P365.me :2012 here). Have a great weekend all.

Mission Theology and Being a Multisite Church in Auburn

I love being part of a local church body that takes the GO in God’s word literally, and seriously. Last week I spent as much time as I could studying about mission theology and how it relates to the nature of God for an international missions paper. Even though my study was under the context of international mission, much of the study of mission theology relates to the mission that is being lived out through our local congregation here in Auburn, and local churches all across the country.

Sunday was our very first meeting and worship service for the new multisite location, and it was amazing to see about 150 people there to kick off the new site. With 150 people or more who have committed to making this new site a success it is already bigger than about 80% of the churches in the country. But more importantly, the people here have a huge heart committed to serving people in our area who have never walked into a church before, and that is exactly what scripture talks about through mission theology.

Throughout the Old and New Testament scriptures, God’s mission is deeply related to His own nature.  In fact, the two terms are so deeply related to each other that mission can be defined as being part of the “nature of God.”  The Latin term missio Dei is often translated as the “sending of God” or the “mission of God” and is derived from the very nature of God himself,  “encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on earth.”[1]  When we examine scripture in context we see that “God is the initiator of His mission” sent to redeem his people through Christ, and then through the Church.[2]

While mission is not the only “nature of God”, the nature of God can’t be separated from mission. It is in God’s very nature, and is played out from the calling of Abraham, to the exile and exodus of the Israelites, to the coming the Son of God the Messiah. It can be seen in the setup of the New Testament Church in the book of Acts, and on into our modern day evangelical churches like my own where our leadership long ago decided that this church would not sit idle while “someone else” did the work of mission.

The very mission of God, which is to receive the praise and worship of all nations, is so closely woven together that neither could exist without the other. In modern day cultural terms, mission is not often thought of as a theology, and is rarely related to other aspects of theology.  But, when scripture is closely examined, we see God indeed calls all nations to worship him, which then makes it “natural to build a theology of mission at the core of all theological studies.”[3][4]

All that to say, this is an exciting time here at Cornerstone as we move ahead with being one church in multiple locations. We are one of very few multisite churches in our area, or even the state, who are moving through a plan to reach people in our area through more than one location, and doing so with missio Dei as the focus.


[1] McIntosh, John A. 2000. Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, ed. A Scott Moreau, s.v. “Missio Dei.” Grand Rapids: Baker.

[2] Sanders, Van. “The Mission of God and the Local Church,” in Pursuing the Mission of God in Church Planting, ed. John M. Bailey, Alpharetta: North American Mission Board, 2006, 24.

[3] Moreau, A. S., Corwin, G. R., & McGee, G. B. (2004). Introduction to World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (1st Edition ed.). Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Academic, 75.

[4] Bosch, David J. 1980. Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective. Atlanta: John Knox.

Still Adjusting to Life in the Fast Lane :: Friday Feet

This is just about the first time I have felt like or had the energy to get back on my blog since I got home from Uganda. This particular trip has been the most difficult trip to readjust from and just back into just the normal routine of things. I got sick just about the day I walked into my house (and am still recovering), then Deborah got sick yesterday (and she is still recovering) so I never could distinguish between jet lag and sick lag. I could probably have seen this coming as I spent every ounce of energy I had in Africa over that 10 day period.

It’s more than that though, it’s a deeper connection made with some people literally half way around the world, and our life in my cultural context doesn’t give you any time to “adjust”, it just keeps moving forward at breakneck speed. There is nothing wrong with life over here any more than life anywhere else, ever single place has it’s own struggles, and often they are almost identical in nature, we just always think they are different because of the lens we look through every day.

Today’s Friday Feet comes to you from Kampala as we waited with the gals from Sixty Feet to go inside the second children’s facility in Kampala. I took those shots above that day with this post in mind, even if the two K’s (Kelsey and Kirby) didn’t know what I was doing, and honestly, I can’t remember which K’s toes are shown below, I think they are Kirby’s. What was really amazing to me about life over there is that almost everything we did was either preceded or followed by some kind of worship to our King, and it was often 60-90 minutes at a time, and it didn’t matter what day of the week it was. They just hauled the drums over, dropped them down and we were good to go.

I know Sixty Feet’s ministry name has to do with number of feet deep not actual toes and shoes, but it works for my Friday Feet today, thanks for being such great sports and for the work you two are doing over there Kelsey and Kirby.

They are Hidden but Not Forgotten

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

This is how our team started the day today.

This verse from Isaiah was on all our hearts as we headed two and half hours out of our comfort zone, into the Ugandan landscape, to visit some children that we have been praying for and about, for months now. Words just can’t describe the day we had today. How do you explain the heart of God in the midst of nine people who only want to follow a call that none of us seemed to understand, and in many ways, still don’t? I know there are just some days when you can feel God’s presence moving and working more than others. I think we all go through days like that when we feel farther away from God’s presence, and then there are days, like today, where God’s presence is so tangible that you wonder how you can keep time from moving forward.

Today we visited the first of two very special children’s facilities in Uganda, escorted alongside a ministry group that has been working very hard over here to be the salt and light to these very special children. We spent the day interacting with these kids, and we worshiped with these kids in a way I don’t think any of us expected. There wasn’t a praise and worship chorus sung, there weren’t any lights or electricity, it was just a few African drums and the voices of about 100 people, mostly kids, singing in a way only the Joy of the Spirit can provide.

The photos here (and this text) represent our day at this facility today in a way that is meant to show part of what we experienced throughout the day. These weren’t the photos I liked necessarily, they were the photos that the entire team picked out to include. As if the day wasn’t incredible enough, all nine of us waded through about 1,500 images and narrowed them down to these 16. Some images weren’t included here and were as powerful as any image I have taken in my 20 years as a photographer, but all of this was done with purpose and conviction with these kids in mind.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This is how the day ended.

Celebrating the Life of Erin Stephens Today at Cornerstone

This week our church lost a dear friend as the Lord brought home Erin Stephens. Erin touched this church and the Auburn community in so many ways, and this was quite evident by how many people came to say goodbye to her today. It was a privilege for me to be a part of that and I felt quite blessed to be able to share this time with her family. It’s always amazing to be able to celebrate a life lived for Christ, and that’s what we did. Her service was as she requested to her husband and family, a celebration of her life and a time of worship. One of my favorite verses from was read, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”, from John 11:25 along with a great message of encouragement from Rusty. We also sang How Great Thou Art, I Will Rise, and You’re Beautiful, a great song of worship by Phil wickham from the Cannons album. I love the last verse of that song, which says…

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

Here are a few photos from today’s worship. It really was beautiful.

The Mike Fisher and a Gibson Guitar at Cornerstone

The Photo of the Day today is of Mike Fisher who got his first chance to play guitar with the main worship band. It was pretty cool to see Mike playing with the worship band today, and although there is always almost no light in the worship area it does make for a more dramatic shot. I love the low light stuff, deep shadows and small reflections, like the light bouncing off Mike face in the second shot. Congrats on your gig this week Mike, keep moving forward.