A Perfect Act of Love

Self-Love (1)2If I ever do a perfect act of love, I’ll probably be proud of it, and then it won’t be a perfect act anymore. Maybe if I die in the midst of performing this act, I could do it.” – man on radio (wish I knew who he was)

When I heard it, this idea struck me. Even my best efforts are littered with selfishness and pride. My “wants” show up in the most unlikely of places – even when I “serve,” I want to be recognized – or I want someone else to take notice and look at me with more admiration, etc. My service serves myself. I’m sinful. Very sinful.

Scripture addresses this too.

Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

Romans 7:21-25 – “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

So here’s the question: How can I get rid of this? How can I serve selflessly? Of course the only REAL answer is Jesus. He alone has done a “perfect act of love” – the cross. He alone is perfect, and so all of His acts were perfect. Ours are NOT. Nor will they ever be. Our acts of service and sacrifice are always going to be tainted with at least a little bit of selfishness. We are sinners, but because of His “perfect act of love” (the cross), we can receive forgiveness and will be made holy. Our selfishness is forgiven and covered by His blood.

A perfect act of love? This is not a goal for us to attain, but a grace that Jesus has offered to us.

Valentine’s Dance

I watched her giggling across the room as she danced. The flashing lights sparkled in her eyes which lit up as she noticed me watching her. Her smile expanded even wider. She floated across the dance floor and threw her arms open to me saying “Hold me daddy!” We danced. Well….I danced and her feet dangled a few feet above the dance floor. It was an incredible night and I’m so grateful that I took the time to ask her out.

valentineKesleigh is 3, almost 4, and I had asked her to go with me about a week before the big event. As her father, it’s my goal to love her like God loves her. I know I’ll never do that well, but it’s my responsibility to be an earthly representation of Him to her. That’s HUGE! I’ve got to do all I can and pray that God will use my even feeble efforts to reveal Himself to her.

I also wanted to make a special effort that night to let her see how a man should treat her. I know it’s early, but I want her to grow up knowing what to look for in a husband. I got dressed up for her – that may very well be the biggest expression of my love. I opened the door for her and was courteous. I bought her dinner (Yes it was McDonalds, but that’ll change as she gets older) and held her hand as we walked into the ballroom. I proudly introduced her to the people around us and waited patiently as she picked out candy for her snack. I asked her to dance with me and even embarrassed myself a bit for her entertainment. I laughed with her as I tried to teach her a few dances – Chicken Dance, YMCA, 2 Step, etc. I tried to serve her in every capacity and when the time was right….in the middle of a slow dance, I spoke to her gently and tried to explain how much she meant to me. I know she’s only three, but she truly seemed to grasp the significance of the moment and before I even finished talking, she looked directly in my eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” as she wrapped her little arms around my neck. She just held me for the rest of the song. It was magical. The rest of the evening she wouldn’t leave my side. Even when I tried to get her to dance with her friends, she only wanted to be with me.

This is my prayer – that Kesleigh would grasp the significance of God’s love for her and that she would never want to be out of His presence again. LORD, may it be so.

P.S. – If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she won’t mention any of these events. All she’s gonna talk about is the “Candy Bar” and how she was able to go back as many times as she wanted.

Blazin’ a Trail

I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve climbed around that tree.

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  ~ Unknown. (Sometimes attributed to Emerson & McAlindon)

Meridian State Park (Texas) is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s where I first understood the cross. (I guess I’m actually still working on understanding it’s magnitude, but. . .) Anyway, one of my memories of Meridian was a time when my friend Shayne Hackworth and I went exploring. We blazed trails all over that park. We found natural springs and uncovered fossils. We saw and experienced things the rest of our group missed. We’d take turns leading each other. We waved big sticks in front of us as we traveled in order to clear the spiderwebs from the trail. In spite of our efforts, I still remember getting covered in those webs. Cuts and scratches all over our legs were common as well as the occasional poison ivy rash.

Leadership was not glamorous or easy. It was a sacrifice. It was a way to honor those behind you. The leader may have been out front, but he served his followers. He was in the lead position, but he placed himself underneath them. He believed they were more important and understood that they could travel further and accomplish more if he served them by taking the lead position. He got more dirty, more bloody, and more sweaty than the rest of the group.

Leaders serve.

Servers lead.

 

Miracle

Eric and I playing a Concert

I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.

There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!

OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally. It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.

I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?

Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”

God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)

Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!

PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Job Search

family 02smOur church has struggled through this rough economy. Every full-time programming staff position is being made “part-time” in January. They have been very intentional about communicating that this is not a “performance related” decision. Here’s a letter drafted by the SPRC chairman describing the circumstance: Clarification Letter Anyway, I have until January to find another way to support my family.

In spite of the title of this post, I’m NOT looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one in which I can bring Jesus glory and make a difference in the world. This might be another church position, a teaching position, or any number of endless possibilities.

Over the years in youth ministry, I have developed many skills and believe I can be an asset to almost any setting.

I have experience in:

Speaking
Teaching
Writing
Discipleship
Small Groups
Missions
Leading contemporary worship
Multimedia and film Production

I love dreaming, leading, casting vision, and chasing after God’s preferred future.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies. You can get some ideas about my philosophies and ideas about ministry from these articles:

Leadership:
Bottom Leaders
Change
Changing a Culture
Follow the Servant Leader
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Man, Movement, Machine, & Monuments
Wizard of Oz Leadership
Church Thoughts & Ideas:
Harvest
Planting a “Practice”
Social Media and the Church
Welcoming or Welcomed?
Worship by Sweat

I have also written a couple of articles that were published by smallgrouptrader.com. These are the direct links:

I’m not too proud. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. Miranda and I are confident in God’s hand of providence, but we will also need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

Worship by Sweat

dustan
Dustan sweated through the make-up with the kids in Mexico.

I was exercising this morning and started thinking about an old friend of mine. Dustan Thrift was a “sweat worshiper.” He once said, “If I didn’t sweat then I didn’t worship.” We had been talking about worship in our small group and had decided that worship was simply “honoring God.” Hebrews 12 says that worship is “offering our bodies as living sacrifices.” Dustan had a real servant’s heart – he was the first guy to move chairs (or skate ramps) or do any physical labor that needed to be done in order for our ministries to run smoothly. He was an awesome guy to have around!

Anyway, today I was sweating as I exercised and realized that my sweat was actually worship. God has called us to be good stewards of the things He gives us and He gave me my body. That means that when I take care of it, I’m honoring Him – and that, my friends is worship!

Of course you can sweat to make things happen that honor other things too.That sweat is worship too – it’s just worshiping the wrong things.

Anyway, I just thought it was worth sharing. Each little droplet of sweat can be like an offering to God. Hmm. . . I wouldn’t want to be the one to collect that offering!!

PS – Today I’m gonna help a friend move. As I try honor God by helping my brother in Christ, I’m sure I’m gonna experience a little “sweat worship” myself.

Twuilty

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twitterpointless1
Photo by: jmilles

I confess. I’m guilty. Guilty of twitter abuse. I’ve read a few articles (Twitter:What’s it doing to us?) lately about the effects of twitter on people. Here’s another: Does Twitter Kill Compassion?

The main idea is two-fold:

1. With constant bits of information, we rarely take time to think or feel deeply. Humans can sort information quickly, but complex emotions like compassion or admiration take longer to process. (from Twitter:What’s it doing to us?)

2. Tweeting about ourselves all the time can eventually make us into narcissists. (an “it’s all about me”-attitude)

OK – so what am I gonna do about it? I don’t want to become that kind of guy, but I do enjoy the twitter experience and I actually read the tweets (status updates on facebook) of my friends ’cause I do care about what’s going on with them too. Anyway, here’s my idea:

I think I’ll try a little experiment.

If twitter has a tendency to make us inward/narcissists then, I’ll try to use it the opposite way. Today, all my tweets will be for the benefit of others. Today my tweets will be “in the key of Encouragement.” Tomorrow, maybe I’ll use them to offer advise or share Scripture. Any other ideas?

PS – I will probably still share a few of the things I’m doing throughout the day or if something funny happens, but I will seek to truly think about my tweet before I send it. I’m praying that God would help me to make your day better with my 140 characters.

Advent Conspiracy

Is anyone else frustrated by the materialism that Christmas has become? We say we’re celebrating Jesus’ birth, but I wonder if he’d be happy with the way we “celebrate?” If you go to someone’s birthday party, do you get the presents? How did we get this turned around? Are we really helping our kids by giving them everything they want? Why aren’t we giving to Jesus instead of each other? We have some friends at a church called Ecclesia in Houston who decided to do something about it. Led by their pastor Chris Seay, they are taking a different approach to Christmas. It’s a conspiracy to take back the true meaning of Christmas. Chris says that he believes that 100 years from now, people will look back at the way Americans celebrate Christmas and feel about the same way we do about the practice of selling indulgences. They’ll be disgusted. Anyway, they are focusing their giving on Jesus. Instead of buying gifts for other people who don’t need them, they are taking the money they’d spend on gifts and giving it to “Living Water International.” They provide people in 3rd world countries with clean drinking water. I think it’s good idea and I bet Jesus likes it too.

Check out: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

Welcoming or Welcomed?

Welcome I had a random thought today when I was in the shower. (The shower seems to be a good place to think.) Anyway, I’m not even sure why, but I was thinking about what it means to be a “Welcoming Congregation.” For some reason, that phrase “Welcoming Congregation” was in my head. I don’t know maybe it was an official title that my previous church was trying to obtain through some sort of higher organization, or maybe it was just a phrase someone used in a conference – I honestly can’t remember. Anyway, I think every church should be really good at welcoming, but I wondered this morning if we as the church might oughta strive for something else besides being a “welcoming congregation.”

Here’s what I was thinking: Instead of working towards being “welcoming,” what would the church look like if we worked towards being “welcomed?” Instead of focusing on welcoming the visitors that we have in church, what if we focused on being the visitors who were out and about the community serving others. Trying to be the kind of people that others would “welcome” into their lives. Instead of trying so hard to have our church services attract visitors so we could welcome them, what if we tried to be attractive people who sought to be welcomed? What if the church went to the community with blessings instead of blessing the community when they come to church?

Anyway, all this is to say: Lord, help me to be attractive and welcomed into the lives of the people I come in contact with. I truly want to be a blessing to others and it’s only by Your Spirit that this can happen. Fill me with You Spirit.

Check out this post too: 3rd Space

Banner

06-09-11How should we live as Christians? What banner should we wear everywhere we go? Here’s something I found.

A young African pastor had this posted somewhere in his house where he’d see it regularly.

 

My Commitment as a Christian

I‘m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me–my banner will be clear!