September 15, 2015

I Challenge You to Experience Cornerstone

As a child, I was expected to be “bored” in church. As a cradle Catholic, I went through the motions. That’s what we did. As I grew into my late twenties, the hunger for God was overwhelming. I wanted more. I began immersing myself into my Catholic faith, digging deeper into what it means to be “Catholic”.

My story is different than what you might expect. I love my Catholic faith; the reverence, the history, and the sacraments. What I was missing, however, was not anyone’s fault but my own. I felt trapped by the “transactional” relationship I had developed with God. I was checking all the boxes of faith, yet felt distant from Him. I was missing a relationship with Jesus. That is, until I came to Cornerstone.

My journey came head on with Cornerstone shortly after my wife was admitted to a local Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation facility. Seeing my wife arrested for Felony DUI and admitting her “powerlessness” to this thing that could kill her or ruin our marriage left me feeling alone and scared. The very real thought, especially in the early days of her treatment, of losing her was terrifying. The thought of being alone was unbearable.

Little did I know, I was not alone. As we “muscled” through the thirty days of treatment, I discovered that she was going to Cornerstone. As a Catholic, I thought this was “crazy” and “dangerous”. She loved it. It was the welcoming atmosphere that initially brought her through those doors. We made a deal to attend each church every other week.

Our first trip to Cornerstone was much different than I expected. As I walked in to what looked like a small concert hall, arms crossed and mind closed, I focused on the cross on the wall. The cross, that didn’t have Jesus on it. Not a crucifix to be found. Seriously, that’s what I focused on.

The power of the Holy Spirit flowing through the 11:40am service was much stronger than my stubbornness. After a few songs, I started to let loose ever so slightly. I wasn’t singing along with my arms up and eyes closed just yet. It was Pastor Josh’s sermon on Replenish that opened my eyes to the real message of “living” that we hear each week at Cornerstone. As he poured that water into the glasses, representing how we spend our limited time, I leaned in with interest. He asked us if we are spending our time doing the things that replenish our souls, the things that bring us closer to God. If my heart could cry, it cried out a resounding “NO”!

I remember checking my kids into CKidz the next weekend. I felt like I was “cheating” on the Catholic Church. For some reason, I shared this with the lady checking us in. She, too, had a Catholic faith and found herself fed by the spirit and community at Cornerstone, while not being forced to abandon her Catholic roots. I remember Charlie Lane speaking a welcoming message to the community before a Sunday Sermon. He reminded us all that we are a community of different people (Catholic, Baptist, non believers, Non denominational) who come here to find a relationship with Jesus. And all are welcome.

Pastor Ron Armstrong shared in a sermon that one of the first things we do when we walk into a new church is to look around and see if the people look like us. That’s the beautiful thing about Cornerstone. Most people can say yes to that. Cornerstone is a welcoming community that has grown into a diverse, caring, and Jesus loving mix of people. When I finally stopped looking for the crucifix on the wall, I started looking around at the people. Here I saw people on fire for worship and hungry for Jesus.

A few weeks into my Cornerstone journey, I found myself at Campout with Dad and soon thereafter a Men’s Breakfast. Today, only a few months later, I have found tremendous fellowship with a Men’s bible study and a growing relationship with Jesus. I joked to the group that I bought my first “protestant” bible. At least it is a little lighter to carry. The thing is, Jesus doesn’t call us to be Catholic, Protestant, “Cornerstonian” or whatever. He calls us to love him and serve others. Cornerstone is a place on fire with these values. From the rocking music, to Pastor Ron’s unstoppable messages (seriously there hasn’t been a bad one yet!), to the Small Groups, Ministries, and the free coffee we actually can take in to church, Cornerstone is a place comfortable enough to be called home, but real enough to help us grow in our faith, and to develop a long lasting relationship with our Lord.

Friends, this story doesn’t end here. In fact, it has only just begun. Cornerstone is not a “check the box” church. You can make it that if you’d like, but isn’t that a bit boring? This place is bustling with opportunities to get closer to Christ. Whether it’s an active service ministry you seek, or a growth experience like a bible study, there’s something more for you here. Jesus tells us “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Mathew 7:7 (NIV).

We have been so blessed to find Cornerstone, I challenge you to find a way to experience it even more. Email the church office, fill in a contact form, or simply stop by. When I raised my hand, I was asked if I could sing. Who me? Not a chance. Writing is my thing, so here we go with my first assignment.

By the way, you can usually see me at the 11:40am service singing away, sometimes even with my arms up!

– Rocco De Leo


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