Missing the Moment

From Luke 22 (NLT)…He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

Then they [His disciples] began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.

I don’t know about you but I can be preoccupied, deep in my own thoughts or frittering away my time mindlessly. Or I may have some challenge or concern that weighs on me to such a degree that I am physically present but mentally lost in the struggle. Sadly I have missed the significance of what was being said to me or deaf to someone trying to get my attention. I’ve missed the moment!

Fortunately people are kind and generally assume good will on my part. I can humble myself and acknowledge I was miles away or too weighed down to hear clearly. I watch the disciples completely blow this moment when Jesus is describing the blood stained road he must endure. I shake my head at their blindness but quickly find room for my own. They chose an ill timed moment to speak of VIP seats in the Kingdom. They had been faithful to Him, even if in their stumbling way. They had left all, so I don’t want to be quick to come down on them. As much as we try, it it hard to place ourselves in that moment for them.

The greater application for me lies in the question “What have I missed?” Have I missed some insight in the Scripture because I have skimmed across the top of the words? Where have I withheld some kindness that was mine to give? Has someone shared their thoughts with me and I missed what they really wanted to say? God, would you quiet my heart and tune my ears to hear what you most want me to hear today. In your mercy I ask this, Amen.


Living Lent Attentively and Gently

As I sat in the early morning quiet on the first Sunday of Lent, looking for something to stir and focus my reflections, I came upon this quote from Henri Nouwen…

Lent is the most important time of the year to nurture our inner life. It is the time during which we not only prepare ourselves to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also the death and resurrection that constantly takes place within us. Life is a continuing process of the death of the old and the familiar, and being reborn again into a new hope, a new trust, and a new love. The death and resurrection of Jesus therefore is not just a historical event that took place a long time ago, but an inner event that takes place in our heart when we are willing to be attentive to it…

Lent offers a beautiful opportunity to discover the mystery of Christ within us. It is a gentle but also demanding time. It is a time of solitude but also community; it is a time of listening to the voice within, but also a time of paying attention to other people’s needs. It is a time to continuously make the passage to new inner life as to life with those around us.

When we live Lent attentively and gently, then Easter can truly be a celebration during which the full proclamation of the risen Christ will reverberate into the deepest place of our being.

One Step at a Time

There is a quote attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu which says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. I had some similar thoughts the other day as I sat writing in my journal…

1% to my goal. That tiny sliver of accomplishment stares back at me, seemingly inconsequential. But such are goals at the beginning. The first step, the first push up, the first time we say “no” to a habit we are trying to break moves us a little bit closer to where we want to go and who we want to become.

Discouragement is lurking in the wings for anyone who chooses to pursue a goal. When we stumble on the path or don’t see the benefit right away we can be tempted to abandon the pursuit. There will be days when I will want to disown my pursuit or disavow any knowledge of ever having set that goal.

Then I look again at my goal tracker. Next to my goal is another number…the days left to achieve it. 358 days. I look at that number and ask “how will I fill those days?” Will I fill them in pursuit or passivity? I have 358 days to live into that answer. So do you!

Galatians 6:9 says: ”And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”.

In Philippians 1:6 it says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”.

“Goals are dreams with deadlines” – Diana Scharf Hunt

Oh Night Divine

The other day as I was listening to the Christmas carol, “Oh Holy Night,” the repeating phrase “O Night Divine” seemed to rise off the page. I began there and let my heart wander in the lyrics.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn’
Fall on your knees, O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine

…The darkness blackens, and the chill of the night’s air pierces my clothing. I huddle closer to the fire, rubbing my hands. My watch begins as others curl up comfortably and slip off to sleep along her warming edge. I’m alone with my thoughts…thoughts of what my life might become. Deep down there is a desire for more.

Too many days end as they begin, rudderless and ordinary. So much of life just carries me along. The current is same enough to leave me undisturbed in this malaise I feel. Ah but the night sky, with its deep, dark backdrop, grips me with a stillness so mysterious. The noise of conversation recedes and I can hear myself breath. Looking long into this speckled majesty, thoughts of true north summon me on a journey more courageous.

An argument quickly begins in my mind, shouting down thoughts of change. The first wave is followed by another, asking “why would I cast away security?” Another more subtlety asks, “what would you do?” or “would you feel any different?” The next is more debilitating because it casts a heavy blanket of doubt over whether I could do anything more significant. Wave after wave comes until I slump down in defeat and the glowing embers are snuffed out.

Sometimes we hold on to whatever we have, however meager it is, however bland its taste, however colorless its beauty. What keeps us there? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about commitments we make that are all the stronger for the wintry barreness that they weather. There the unseen is rooted, courageous and life-giving as we surrender to the season’s purpose and persevere into the fruit that will remain for all eternity.

I speak of existing, keeping up and getting by. Somewhere, somehow someone is setting the pace, tapping this feverish drum that so many of us, including me, listen to. We are tired too often. Weary so characterizes our generation. The “weary world” lives on with so much less than we were designed. “How are you?” Is followed by “I’m so busy.” Rarely is that wrapped in “I feel so fulfilled.”

We lack Sabbath silence to hear our true name. We don’t know much of the kind of solitude that gives meaning. There is a voice we need to hear in the midst of the night, a different drum beat that resonates with our calling to live fully. Hope lies in that moment when our “soul feels it’s worth.”

Listen! Let the Spirit’s courage lead you. The night becomes Holy because of who is born…what longs to be born in us.

Diving into the Disciplines

Megan Freund: Reposted from the Women at Cornerstone blog – June 7, 2014

I had read Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” many years ago with my small group. It made an impression on me, so unlike other spiritual books that have gone in and back out the door, this one I’ve kept around.

So I was excited when this summer’s growth series was announced – led by Pastor Sam Marcum and Aletha Schelby – on “Spiritual Disciplines”. They aren’t following Richard Foster’s book exactly, but it’s a good base.

Last Wednesday night was the kickoff session, with an overview and an in-depth look at the first discipline: Meditation.

Meditation has always been this elusive thing for me. I know it’s something I should be doing. Good friends of mine (Christian and not) swear by it. But somehow, if and when I get around to it, I always fall asleep.

So I was delighted when Aletha and Sam gave us examples and practical insights (including questions to ask ourselves) on what is mediation exactly, and how can we apply this to our own lives? They gave a few key points that really stood out for me:

1) Listen with Expectation.

I loved the focus on expectation. If I believe that God is going to speak to me, then of course I will enter into a joyful time of waiting and watching. Every other time I tried to meditate before, I would spend the whole time beating myself up, thinking this is not working! And yet, this approach resonated with me. Go into this meditation time with an openness and expectation that God’s word will appear.

2) Meditate to Bring Fullness

One of the things that really trips me up during my attempts at meditation to date is all those crazy thoughts in my head that won’t go away. Work. What I’m making for dinner. Anything. And so one of my real desires in meditation is to wade through all that noise, and find God’s peace. Eastern meditation is about emptying the mind – and for me, that’s true – I need the quiet. But Foster, Aletha and Sam introduced a new element to me in meditation – Fullness. For Christian meditation isn’t about emptiness – it’s about opening our hearts to bring in the fullness of God. The Lord is waiting for us to open the door. Can we open it, to feel his love and grace pour in?

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
(Revelation 3:20, NLT)

Finally, Aletha and Sam introduced the practical, through some pointed questions. What might be the biggest hindrance for me in trying to meditate regularly? Where would be a good place to try it this week? When would be a good time to try it this week?

I’m on day four. I picked 9:00 pm in my big brown chair. The chair was too much in the middle of the action, but the 9:00 pm slot has worked so far.

And you know what? My mind has still been racing with thoughts, but each night I’ve felt more peace.
And today, while driving, I felt suddenly, inexplicably full. Full of things I felt moved to say and write about. Full of God’s love.

Thank you Sam and Aletha for a great start to this series!

Spiritual Disciplines continues every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at the Mission campus through July 23. Register Here!


Lent Devotional – Week 7

This is the final installment of Cornerstone’s Lenten Devotional. We hope you have found it encouraging and helpful during this season. If you live in or around San Francisco, we also invite you to join us for Easter weekend. Click here to visit our website.


If you have never done Lectio Divina, don’t worry. Just click on the link above for a description. To start; get yourself into a comfortable reading position…take a few slow, deep breaths…and relax…let a few moments pass to clear your mind so that God’s word may come to rest within you. Now, you are ready to begin…and we pray that our Lord would richly bless you in this time of reflection!

prcas2184The Upper Room
John 20:20-29

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Margaret Silf – Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey in Everyday Life

Let yourself be there in imagination, and feel with the disciples something of the despair and fear that grip them.

Bring your own fears into the scene. Notice who or what is evoking fear in you right now. The source of your fear is on the other side of a locked door.

Is there anything you can do to open the doors to your fears? Simply notice how you feel, and what your real desire is in this place.

Now let Jesus come into your locked inner room, with his prayer, for your “wholeness.”

How do you feel? Is there anything you want to say to him? He shows you his wounds, and then he says that just as he has been sent by his Father, to kindle a new flame in the darkness of history, so he is now sending you.

But he doesn’t just commission you to go out into the world you fear so much. He gives you the empowerment to do so. He brings a new flame into being, and breathes new life, new hope, into the very heart of your being.

Can you remember any times when you have felt, perhaps unexpectedly, that you were able to cross some threshold that you would previously have thought impossible? If so, recall that “resurrection event” with gratitude, and take hold of everything it means to you.


“Being in the world without being of the world.” These words summarize well the way Jesus speaks of the spiritual life. It is a life in which we are totally transformed by the Spirit of love. Yet it is a life in which everything seems to remain the same. To live a spiritual life does not mean that we must leave our families, give up our jobs, or change our ways of working; it does not mean that we have to withdraw from social or political activities, or lose interest in literature and art; it does not require severe forms of asceticism or long hours of prayer. Changes such as these may in fact grow out of our spiritual life, and for some people radical decisions may be necessary. But the spiritual life can be lived in as many ways as there are people. What is new is that we have moved from the many things to the kingdom of God. What is new is that we are set free from the compulsions of our world and have set our hearts on the only necessary thing. What is new is that we no longer experience the many things, people, and events as endless causes for worry, but begin to experience them as the rich variety of ways in which God makes his presence known to us.

Henri Nouwen
Show Me the Way, pp. 20-21.


Mark 4:30-32
He also said, With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

Read Psalm 1:1-3
How do I see evidence that my life is fruitful for God?

Read Ephesians 4:14-16
In what ways has God called me to be part of his body of believers?

2 Corinthians 5:17
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

In what ways is God continuing to transform me?

Lent Devotional – Week 6

This is the next-to-last installment of Cornerstone’s Lenten Devotional. We hope you have found it encouraging and helpful during this season. If you live in or around San Francisco, we also invite you to join us for Easter weekend. Click here to visit our website.


If you have never done Lectio Divina, don’t worry. Just click on the link above for a description. To start; get yourself into a comfortable reading position…take a few slow, deep breaths…and relax…let a few moments pass to clear your mind so that God’s word may come to rest within you. Now, you are ready to begin…and we pray that our Lord would richly bless you in this time of reflection!

The Woman in TeaMary_Magdalene_sculpturers
John 20:1, 11-18

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance…

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

– Timothy M. Gallagher

I watched Mary Magdalene come to the tomb in the early morning. She sees that the stone has been taken from the entrance…She does not look in, runs to find Simon and John, and returns after they leave the tomb.

Now she stands alone outside the tomb. She stands, unable to leave, afraid to look into the darkness of the tomb. Her tears fall…yet still she remains there. I watch with reverence, I seek to understand those tears…I sense that she seems frozen in her sorrow.

I marvel now at her courage: “As she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.” She faces her pain, her fear: she looks into the darkness of the tomb…and finds that it is not as empty as she feared. A process begins that leads her from her tears to the Lord.

The angels ask: “Woman, why are you weeping?” I hear this question directed to my heart as well: Why are you weeping? Why is your heart heavy as you live day by day?

She sees the “gardener,” not recognizing Jesus who is already there with her, even as her tears fall…”Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” I answer this question, speaking to the Lord from my heart.

“Jesus said to her: ‘Mary.” Simply her name…I hear him pronounce my name…That one word says everything to me, as it does to Mary.

“Rabboni!” One word…which says everything. She knows now that he is alive, and will live forever, that he is with her, that his love will never leave her, that he calls her by name. She is no longer the woman in tears…I speak now to the Lord. I respond from my heart to his greeting.

The encounter becomes mission: “Go to my brethren and say to them…Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord.” I feel the joy, the delight, the energy, with which she proclaims the risen Lord.

“I have seen the Lord.” I speak with Mary Magdalene, I speak now with Jesus, and ask that this too be the central reality of my life, and my message to the world.

Now I sit with Mary. I gaze upon her face, and see there her radiant joy. I see the deep happiness of knowing herself loved, loved infinitely, loved forever…My heart now speaks …

After the Prayer

1. What word in this Scripture most spoke to my heart?
2. What touched my heart in this time of prayer? What did my heart feel as I prayed?
3. What did I sense the Lord saying to me?


The father took his only Son and sent him into the world so that through him the world might be saved. At the river Jordan and on Mount Tabor he blessed him with the words, “This is my Son, the Beloved, my favor rests on him…listen to him.” The blessed one was broken on a cross, “pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.” But through his death he gave himself to us as our food, thus fulfilling the words he spoke to his disciples at the last supper. “This is my body which will be given for you.”

It is in this life that is taken, blessed, broken, and given that Jesus Christ wants to make us participants. Therefore, while breaking bread with his disciples, he said, “Do this as a memorial of me.” When we eat bread and drink wine together in memory of Christ, we become intimately related to his own compassionate life. In fact, we become his life and are thus enabled to represent his life in our time and place.

Henri Nouwen
Show Me the Way, pp. 40-41.
Scripture references – John 3:16; Matthew 3:17 and 17:5; Isaiah 53:5; and Luke 22:19.


Mark 1:9-11
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Read Mark 14:12-65 and 15:1-47
Out of obedience Jesus was baptized; out of obedience he suffered and died so that I can have new life. Does the way I live my life reflect that I embrace this gift — the gift of Christ’s life for me?

Read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53
Jesus is available to me when I suffer. Am I available to him?

Read John 21:2-14
Have I learned to recognize the presence of the risen Lord in my life? Where and when have I seen him working wonders?