December 29, 2008

My Pastor

Chuck Arney has been the one and only pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church for the past 19 years. It is my honor and delight to serve with him. On good days, I think that I can preach. But I never think I can pastor.

Chuck pastors with passion, grace, and sacrifice. I do not know how many times Chuck has stood by my side--supporting and encouraging me, helping me learn what it means to live and love as staff at a small church.

When Jamie, Kaylea, and I moved to Lee's Summit from Texas, we had great difficulty selling our house in Waco. Chuck opened up the doors of his house, and we lived with him and his family for over three months! He spent more than one night helping care for and pacify a colicky baby.

Funerals and weddings, hospital visits, prophetic preaching, extensive writing for Miracle Word and Miracle Word Revolution, dinners with church family, Chuck consistently models dying to self, losing to follow, and great love through small things.

But yesterday was truly amazing. Chuck preached the singular most daring, risky, brave, challenging, and passionate sermon I have ever seen.

He stood at the front and simply said, "Does anyone have any questions?" Prior to addressing those gathered, he distributed a flyer with difficult questions ranging from doctrinal issues to Bible translations to The Shack and Irresistible Revolution to emergent and missional church.

And he answered every one. He said that Cornerstone is not a church defined by labels--Baptist, Emergent, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative--for labels are an attempt to control and comfort. He said that Cornerstone is a church defined by the extravagant and expansive love of God. Jesus Christ, sent by the Father, now sends us into the world to be a church for others, where we willingly engage culture and new friends with the hope, peace, and love found only through the resurrected Christ.

I am certain that some persons were offended. I am certain that he was misunderstood. I can only hope that the love and passion with which he preached communicated deeply to those gathered, leading us to be continually transformed by the Word together.

The year of Miracle Word is almost over.

The Revolution is coming.

May God continue to surprise us as he invites us to lose everything in order live his life in his kingdom today!


dfleenor said...

Very well said, Ethan. We are very blessed to be led by the two of you. I hope everyone reads this.

Love you

Sandy said...

It's hard to put into words what a humble, Christlike, gentle, loving person Chuck is.....but you've said it beautifully here. Thanks for your heartfelt words.
Love and grace to you ~~ Sandy

The Waiter said...

Good word.

Jamie said...

I'm so thankful that God called us to Cornerstone church! I've been so blessed by Chuck's leadership and the many wonderful people of Cornerstone who are willing to risk their personal comfort to follow God. I can't imagine being anywhere else! It's good to be in a place where we can ask the hard questions!

godrocks said...

Ethan, I appreciate the honesty and straight-forwardness of your words and the words of your pastor. I agree -- the Revolution is coming and it will be grand! I believe the time of denominations is concluding and the time of oneness of all of us is beginning. A oneness without denominational walls and controlling barriers. A oneness in heart, mind and spirit led by Holy Spirit. God seems to do something HUGE every 500 or so years and now is that time! I'm excited to be a part of His plan! The future is full of life and love and spiritual unity! The best is yet to come! Thanks for your words!

Kali said...

I forget how much I like to read your blog--just another way for us all to connect.

I agree. Risk is scary. Giving up comfort and control is scary. But God is on the move and I'm glad too that we have Chuck to humbly lead us in that way, continually pointing us to the extravagant, unsearchable love of the Father!!! Keep writing! Hope you're enjoying San Diego--sounds like a great trip.