From Your Pastor
Today marks the end of my sixth year and the beginning of my seventh year as Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church. Following the retirement of Pastor Bob Price in March of 2015, I was voted in to be the interim Pastor. Then on June 7, 2015, you all voted to bring me on as Senior Pastor. I didn’t know what all we had coming for us, nor did I really know what I was doing; but what I knew for sure is that our only hope of health and growth was to be saturated with God’s Word and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, though I have made many mistakes over the years, the one thing I’ve sought to do above all else is to saturate us with God’s gospel-centered Word in preaching, teaching, counseling, and discipling. In six years, in one way or another, we’ve walked through over ten books of the Bible. And what we’ve went through has greatly transformed us: evangelizing the lost, edifying the saints, and magnifying the glory of Christ.
As of late we’ve been walking through Romans on Wednesday night and Hebrews on Sunday morning. As we’ve been walking through these books God’s Word has graciously given us a deeper look into the gospel. Lately that has meant marveling at the truth and beauty of our union with Christ. Because we have been united to Christ by faith, His life, death, and resurrection have been totally accredited to us, because we are totally linked to Him, making God totally for us. In the words of Romans 8:28, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And we can especially know this to be true because we are united to Jesus who has totally earned the Father’s favor for us.
Because we are united to Christ by faith, and because God is totally for us working everything together for our good, we can, as Romans 5:3-5 says, “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” And this makes me think of all we’ve been through over the last six years.
People have come and gone; people have been brought to Jesus and baptized; people have been discipled and matured; people have been married and had babies; people have went through counseling and marriages have been saved; people have fallen into sin and been disciplined; people have repented and been restored; some have fallen away showing they were not truly of us; and others died in Christ, finishing their race well and making it home to Christ. In and through all of this we’ve experienced joy and sorrow; we’ve been through much rejoicing and much hardship. We’ve been through controversies, splits, and what seemed like all out wars at times. But we’ve also been through times of sweet joy, fellowship, and communion.
I’m reminded of the words of Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor. One line of that hymn says, “And the calm will be the better, for the storms that we endured.” And that has proven true in and through it all. And in and through it all we have seen that God has worked it all for our good; by God’s grace our suffering has produced endurance, and endurance produced character, especially the character of Christ; and that Christlike character transformation has produced much hope, along with much joy. God has meant every part of all that we have been through for our good. And that is clearly evident in the maturity, health, love, grace, and unity that marks Cornerstone Baptist Church now.
It is a true JOY to be the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church. It is a true JOY to be a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church. It is a true JOY to have you all as a Church Family. You’ve been such a blessing to the Esch family. Over the last few years my immediate family and I have been through quite a bit of hardship and suffering… and yet in and through it all you all were there, loving us, serving us, caring for us, praying for us, and helping us in ways that still blow our minds and overwhelm us with thanksgiving. You’ve made room for us in your home when we had nowhere else to go. You helped us get our house livable when the unexpected hit. You helped me have a safe and reliable means of transportation. And far more importantly, you have loved and ministered to my family and I in such way that you have, by God’s grace, caused us to know Jesus more, love Jesus more, and live for Jesus more. And for that I am eternally grateful.
While I certainly know that Cornerstone isn’t about me, I can’t help but feel that you all are a gracious gift from God to me. And it has indeed been a gracious gift from God to be your Pastor over the last six years. But we are not done yet. As we head into year seven, I am more excited and optimistic about what is to come than I’ve ever been. As you know, as of late God has been growing us in numerous ways. No doubt, Cornerstone is growing in diversity of age and ethnicity, but far more importantly, God is growing us in our knowledge of, love for, and conformity to Jesus Christ. He is growing us in our maturity and in our unity. By God’s grace we have become a church that delights in our BIG GOD. By God’s grace we have become a church that seeks to treasure and rejoice in Jesus above all else. By God’s grace we have become a church that trusts in God’s sovereign grace and the truth of His Word above all else. By God’s grace we have become a church that rejoices in the doctrines of grace. And by God’s grace we have become a church that loves our triune God and loves one another, and that love is a powerful thing (see John 13:34-35).
And if God has already been doing all of that in and through us, what might He do in the days ahead? How might His Word transform us as individuals, transform our lives, and transform us as a church? What might God do, and what great things might He bring about as we seek to grow in our love for and trust in Jesus? Who might He save, and what role might we get to play in that? What churches might be planted or revitalized? What missionaries might be raised up and sent? What people groups might be reached? As I look back over the past and see how God has indeed worked all things together for our good, I can’t help but be joyfully optimistic for the future… especially as we are currently considering merging with Mission Church.
“To God be the glory, great things He has done!” And I believe great things are still to come. So, thank you for the privilege of being a part of all of the great things He has done, and thank you for the responsibility and privilege of leading us, by God’s grace, towards all the great things He will do. Thank you for the years gone by, and thank you for joining me for the years to come. May the Lord do what seems right to Him, for His glory and our good.
I am nothing; Christ is all!
Your privileged and unworthy minister and friend,