Why I am not a flopping brick, by the grace of God

Actually, that title sums it up nicely. I am not a flopping brick because of the grace of God. However, I want to go more in-depth than that…

Craig Cooper is a care group leader from my church. Yesterday evening at Volunteers for Christ (our church’s college ministry), he gave an outstanding message on the doctrine of the church, taken from Ephesians 4:1-16. The message helped renew my enthusiasm for the local church. One excellent quote he used (among several) was from Charles Spurgeon:

I know there are some who say, "Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to any church." Now, why not? "Because I can be a Christian without it." Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s command as by being obedient? There is a brick. What is it made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do.

I was humbled when, earlier in the week, Craig asked me to share my testimony at the end of his message. As Thursday neared, he helped me organize my thoughts and clarify my points. By God’s grace I was affected even as I read my testimony to the students. Anyway, I decided to post it here (with only a few minor changes).

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I was basically born and raised in the church. Growing up, I remained quite active, although much of my church participation was steeped in legalism—an attempt to earn acceptance before God through my works, rather than trusting in Christ’s finished work. I didn’t really have a strong opinion about the local church one way or another. Like Joshua Harris in his earlier days, I wasn’t any more passionate about the church than I was about the local grocery store; it was there and I was thankful for it, but I never got all hyped up about visiting Save-A-Lot.

In January of 2000, I went with Leslie Bowden and some other people from Cornerstone to a conference entitled New Attitude. While there, God radically changed my life. I’d been under the impression that I had been born again at an early age—and I might have (I really can’t say for sure, to be honest)—but I do know that Christ became my treasure that weekend. I had been operating under a mindset of duty and God began to change that to a mindset of delight. On an interesting note: Cornerstone had rented a large bus that year, which we all rode up in, so on the way back from the conference I sat next to this guy who discerned some legalism in some of the stuff I was sharing and called me out on it. It was Mike Plewniak. Even today, he continues to provide me with wise counsel.

After New Attitude, I started growing in my appreciation for the local church. A few years passed before God placed on my heart the desire to seek membership at a church that was grounded in sound doctrine. The search wasn’t that hard. In fact, I don’t know if you could even call it a search. Through my friendship with Leslie, I had known about Cornerstone and decided to attend the new member’s class. I was hooked. It wasn’t like there was a huge list of Reformed charismatic churches to choose from anyway, but I sensed God calling me to Cornerstone.

How has this church affected my life? An easier question to answer might be, how has it not affected my life? But for the sake of clarity, I’ve narrowed it down to three areas. First, Cornerstone has affected me in the area of sound doctrine. Until recently, I had been unaware how tainted my views of Scripture were by humanistic reasoning. Not only that, but I failed to recognize the centrality of the gospel, not just for the unbeliever, but for the believer as well. As I already stated, my tendencies toward legalism are strong and pervasive. Rooting my theology on the cross of Christ has helped reorient my heart to what really matters. My problem is not poor performance, my problem is sin. The solution is not meeting my felt needs, it is the gospel of the grace of God. I knew God before coming to Cornerstone, but it’s almost like that old Kellogg’s Corn Flakes commercial: “taste them again for the first time.” In a very real sense, my local church has reintroduced me to my Savior.

Second, Cornerstone Church has introduced me to Biblical fellowship. The people here are genuinely concerned about each other. They are purposeful in asking questions. They desire to encourage, exhort, and (where needed) correct each other for the purpose of pursuing holiness. I have never had so many men personally invested in my life—care group leaders, college students, fellow singles. There are several care group leaders—ones that aren’t even my care group leaders—who seek to invest in my life.

Third, Cornerstone has affected my priorities. I’ve always been interested in filmmaking—since birth, practically. I love making movies. I used to have a desire to make it big in Hollywood, and even though I disguised my craving to win an Oscar as being “for the glory of God,” I really had my own glory in mind. I still have a desire to make movies, but that desire has become secondary to my desire to serve in the local church. Cornerstone is my home. If God called me to another church, that would be one thing, but the only way I would stop attending Cornerstone is if I kicked the bucket. Until then, I’m staying right here. I believe my desire to make films is a desire given by God, but I also believe He will sovereignly orchestrate it so that I will not have to sacrifice my relationships and involvement in the local church to pursue that.

Finally, why do I participate in my local church? Because God’s renewing power has changed my heart to love Him and not hate Him. At the same time, my pride is still very present, so I am desperate for God’s grace and I am desperate for humility. Through serving in the local church, I am enabled by grace to pursue humility. I am realizing more and more that I need to be equipped pastorally with sound doctrine, to pursue biblical fellowship with others, and to have my priorities defined by God’s Word. I am also realizing that the gifts that God has given me are for the good of his church and the advancement of the gospel, not simply for self-fulfillment. God is building his church, and my desire now is to live, by grace, for his glory.

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I thank God for Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. It is a tremendous means of grace in my life. Without it, I would be a lone brick flopping around on the ground, doing no good.

Comments

Thanks for posting your testimony...it's very encouraging to read!
joanna said…
I just heard last night that you gave this at VFC last Thursday and was so sad to have missed it (I heard it was super encouraging). Today, low and behold, I find your blog with your testimony in its entirety. Thanks for posting it!! It is so good to be reminded of what God is doing among us in his local church. It fuels a passion to continue to throw our lives into what he is doing. Thanks for contributing to the edification of our souls.
LB said…
Capperelli,
This is so cool.

Isn't God's providence unusually inspiring?
Cap Stewart said…
Definitely. I remember "back in the day" when you once tried to encourage me during a period of suffering by pointing out the sovereignty of God. It went completely over my head. Now, I find extreme pleasure in God’s providence.