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Part 1

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi, and this is a Cornerstone Moment. With all the graduations that have happened recently I was reminded of how defeated; and even worthless I felt my Senior Year of High School! I felt like I had nothing to give to the world that I was about to enter. “Let’s face it”, I reasoned, “I get horrible grades; I don’t even know if I’ll get to walk on graduation day! I’ve never made the cut when it comes to team sports, and I even a girl friend told me I’d never amount to anything, because I had no plan for my life.”

I didn’t want to go on. Then something happened, I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and surrendered my life to Him. I prayed “Jesus, take my life, I don’t want to go on, if this is all there is.”

Jesus answered that prayer. I gave Him my life and He gave me a future and a hope.
That’s not all; He gave me a new identity. The Bible tells us that “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And what a wonderful life it is. -2 Corinthians 5:17

I stopped trying to be somebody. Because of Him, I realized I was somebody… because He said so!

God promises that all who receive His Son Jesus, as Lord and Savior, become His children” (- John 1:12) If you’re a child of God, you’re His masterpiece, you’re His treasure, you’re a new and beautiful creation. Don’t you forget it!

If you’re feeling like you have been drowning in your circumstance, and sick of the way your life has been going, if you feel worthless, there is hope; Jesus came to turn the tide in your life, so turn to Him now and let Him give you a future and a hope, like he’s done for me. -Jeremiah 29:11

Part 2

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi, and this, is a Cornerstone Moment.

Last Spring I was doing some much needed yard work, after strong winter winds had wreaked havoc and caused damage to my fence-line, garage and house. One task I had to tackle was trimming a large tree in front of my house that had damaged the gutters. I jumped up on the roof and began cutting, sawing and breaking branches away from the house. I then proceeded to trim down other branches, from the inside out, down below and up-top. When my wife returned home she said, “What happened to the tree, it’s half the tree it use to be?”

Now, I knew that my tree-trimming skills were mediocre at best. After seeing my work, even a neighbor shouted, “Don’t you come near to my yard with them clippers!”

A funny thing is, through the summer, that tree grew even more beautiful than it was before, and the leaves were much healthier, as were the cherry plumbs it grew.

As I reminisced about my tree trimming experience I thought, wow, that’s the story of my life! How often has He brought me through hard situations, where I felt cut down, defeated and shabby, and He built me back up again, even stronger and more fruitful than before? There are many times that God has been the tree trimmer in my life, getting rid of dead branches, that weren’t baring fruit and were harmful to myself and others. He’s all about making us the best tree we can be!

We’re reminded in Ephesians chapter 2:10 that we are God’s Masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us...”

Everyone who has come into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus is considered a masterpiece, that will continue to be trimmed like that tree, in order to stay healthy, produce good fruit and live a truly abundant life.

Part 3

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi, and this is a Cornerstone Moment.

Many years ago I took a group of students on a camping trip. Boy did we have a crazy and unforgettable time. One of the memories I have from the trip was when Josh, a rambunctious, 16 year old, picked a fight with a momma bear and her cubs! There we were, hunkering down for the night, telling stories and staring into the night sky, when about 40 yards away we heard clatter coming from where the dumpster and bathrooms were located. I said to the group, “You know what that is.” Just then my wife and several of the girls jumped up screaming and dove into their tents, which made my heart jump and I responded like-wise, followed by most of the others. Several youth jumped into one of the vans and then silence. One of the youth whispered, “Where’s Josh?” I said, “I thought He was with you”. Next thing we knew, there was Josh walking toward the Bathrooms and the dumpster, yelling “What, you want some of this?” We all started yelling for him to come back. My wife told me to go get him , I said, “Na ah, I’m not going out there.” Suddenly Josh started running back to the van, the door swung open and he dove in.

Shortly after that the momma bear and her two cubs slowly and steadily shuffled past the van, and our tents, and went on their way. No harm done. Thinking back on that night I’m reminded of how there have been times in my life that I put myself in harms way, not physical harm but spiritual harm. When I’ve been tempted to sin, and contemplated how far I could go, and still be a follower of Jesus. You see Jesus understands our temptation, and He wants us to steer clear of sin and its harmful effects. He came to save us from it, and bring us into the Light.

In Ephesians chapter 5 Verse 8 we read, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”

Children of the light have no place rushing out into the darkness, to the dumpster, where the bears hang out, figuratively speaking. God has a better plan for you than the dumpster life!

Part 4

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi, and this, is a Cornerstone Moment.

As a kid my uncle would take us up to a place called Knights Ferry, where we’d fish, swim in the river, jump off large boulders into the water below, go rafting and canoeing. One summer, my uncle took my brother and I canoeing, and shortly after launch we came to our first set of rapids. Now, I was fairly young, and new to this whole canoeing bit, and when we came upon these rapids my heart began to race. Thinking back on it, they weren’t real impressive white-water sort of rapids, but nonetheless, to me back then, they were monstrous. “keep it straight” my uncle yelled, “stay in the middle, watch the rocks.” Now, By the time I turned 10 I believed whatever could go wrong, would go wrong for me. I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence boosting experiences as a child. And here I was, not only flowing sideways, but not staying in the middle, and definitely not avoiding the rocks. And so I hit, flipped side-ways; water filling the canoe, and pulling me beneath it and between the rocks. I remember my panic, as my uncle quickly came to my aide, by giving me calm, clear, direct instruction, that enabled me to some-how break loose from the situation and float safely toward him. He pulled me up, told me good job and then worked to recover the canoe.

Now if I hadn’t listened to His instruction to stay cool, calm, and collected, and if I hadn’t followed his clear, direct guidance, I image it could have turned out a whole lot worse for me. Who knows!

It’s the same in our relationship with God. Through the rapids of life He is our guide, paddling along-side us, giving instruction, there to rescue us. When the world attempts to pull us under He’s there, beckoning us to look to Him, to follow His lead and obey His command, if we want to live.

1 John 3:24 says, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives… in Him”

To obey God is to live, and to live is to make it out of some dire straits, with God by your side.

Part 5

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi, and this is a Cornerstone Moment.

I grew up in a single parent family with an older brother and a younger sister. My early childhood consisted of many moves, from one apartment to another, one town to another, and in and out of grandma and grandpa’s house and beyond. Boy did I love being out at grandma and grandpa’s place, especially during the 4th of July celebrations. My grandparents would host the most elaborate parties, inviting people from all over the neighborhood to enjoy a huge BBQ, Hayrides, live music, fireworks and more. One of my favorite attractions: A big watering trough filled with ice and beverages, contributed by the many guests. I remember after one fourth of July party visiting that trough to partake in the left-over’s, or left-behinds. My plan was to stock up my makeshift fort out back, behind my grandpa’s garage, to assure hydration over the next few days as I ran around playing army, with guns and grenades made out of what-ever I could dig up in my grandpa’s old shed. Orange Crush, Pepsi Cola, Grape Soda; The works! Then it happened. He found me, I don’t know how but he found me.

You couldn’t get nothing past my grandpa; a Sergeant in the Marine Corp, who saw action in Korea. He raided my bunker and took my rations. I was found out. My grandpa never needed to dish out any punishment, all he needed to do is give you the look. You know, the look of shame, disappointment, and then he’d just walk away. The guilt would take over, take back, and attempt to make amends.

Among the many qualities I recall about my grandfather, was that we, his grand-kids, wouldn’t stay on his naughty list for long. Whether from losing his tools, letting the dogs in the house, or stealing soda from his party, he was slow to anger, quick to forgive and he would always be our papa no matter what.

The same rings true with God, He’s slow to anger, quick to forgive and He welcomes us with open arms every-time.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God is ready when we are. He knows what’s been stashed away in your life, He knows it when we’re attempting to hide and live lives that are contrary to the family name we bare. And He patiently waits for our admittance and return, and when we do He immediately restores us and sets us on His lap.

Part 6

Hello, I’m Pastor Ryan with Cornerstone Church in Lodi and this is a Cornerstone Moment.

Are you someone who occasionally has random dreams in the night; filled with bazaar imagery, or beset with your greatest fears? The other night, I must have eaten too much pepperoni pizza, for my dream was memorable, freakish and worth sharing.
There I was, up in an airliner with a few friends, including my pastor! I have no clue as to where we were heading, but I love to fly. I love to have dreams that I’m flying. So right from the start I thought, this is great!

There we were walking around the cabin of the plane, chatting it up, when the captain came on the speaker and told us there was turbulence ahead and that we’d best get seated and buckled up. I don’t know about the others, but I hopped over to my seat and buckled up.

Then it happened, like a scene out of the movie Top Gun! The engines lost power and we began to fall out of the sky in a flat spin. My first impulse was to panic, but for some reason I quickly switched gears in my mind and thought, hey if this is it, I’m going to give thanks to the Lord for the life he’s given me, and of course, I asked Him to save us!

Immediately after, the engines came back to life, the thrusters burned brightly, and our destination was changed. We were launched back on course with our flight plan.

The crazy dream reminded me of a Bible verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

I realize, as a follower of Jesus, that I am on a great adventure with Him, and adventure that requires me to keep my eyes on Him, stay focused, follow His lead and instruction; trust that I will arrive safely at my final destination, no matter how turbulent life gets.

Romans 10:13, "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." May be you feel like your life is in a flat spin, following out of the sky. God is asking that you call out to Him, that you put your faith in Jesus Christ, allow Him to give you hope and assurance today, and set you on a path, a flight-plan, to experiencing His faithfulness and His favor, day by day.