Facing Affliction for the Faith

by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church Founding Pastor

Here in Northeast Ohio, our people take seriously the command to “make disciples.” We see ourselves as missionaries cleverly disguised as baristas, homemakers, lawyers, bricklayers, teachers, plumbers, nurses, etc.

Because of this reason, many from Cuyahoga Valley Church have faced opposition, ridicule, and rejection. We shouldn’t be surprised. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know”
(I Thessalonians 3:3-4).

On Facebook, I asked, “What kinds of criticism, opposition, ridicule, rejection, alienation, or marginalizing have you faced for sharing your faith with your family, in the marketplace, or in your community?”

I’m grateful that many from Cuyahoga Valley Church are standing strong for Jesus in spite of the opposition we have received. Here are the responses… 


  • Laughed at…
  •  Words such as, “Oh you are one of them, you are a Jesus freak”. She said that often to me, with a great deal of anger. Or, “that doesn’t sound very Christian of you”
  • That may be for you, but it is not for me. I’m good with God so leave it alone. Why do you Christians think that you got it right anyway? And everybody else has it wrong?
  • That is not what the nuns and priests taught us!
  • Cut off by family who do not want you included because of your spoken beliefs 😕
  • Being a hospice nurse I have had three encounters this week with two agnostics and one atheist. One a lawyer, one an engineer and the other a famous photographer. The lawyer and the engineer shared that there is something out there but scientifically don’t know what it is. The lawyer told me that he hates organized religion. The photographer an atheist, was on his deathbed. I boldly stated “_____, you are going to meet Jesus soon now you have to make a decision”. By this time he could not speak. I said the sinners pray with him. He motioned his hands in prayer. I believe that my patient is saved. He passed away gently three hours after that prayer. Praise you Jesus!
  • Verbal and relational hostility/adversity- couched in accusations of being narrow minded or bigoted- often it seems like misdirected anger toward God
  • Forbidden to talk religion in workplace hospital
  • Family very liberal…gay family members
  • Oh, you’re one of those Jesus freaks
  • Oh you’re not Catholic anymore?
  • I’m a server at a restaurant and since this past Sunday, am wearing a “I Love Jesus” pin on the collar of my shirt. I caught some of my co-workers walking by looking at the pin and rolling their eyes. I watched as some customers read it and smiled. Not taking it off!
  • Christian are not supposed to be human and make mistakes or that would be a hypocrite.
  • As a Candidate for Mayor of Cleveland this year I was called the devil. Must say that was a first.
  • Not practicing the rituals that were practiced with Catholicism. Why do they not baptize babies? Why don’t they “make” their communion” “why don’t they go in a confessional” “”why don’t they make confirmation” “where does the church money go? How can the pastors be helping people if most of their homes are gorgeous” “how come communion isn’t every weekend,” “why does it seem like the pastors there only talk to people they know” ….and the list goes on…
  • My Son Samuel who I Love dearly has criticized me for my belief in The One and Only Way, JESUS/YESHUA! Sammy thinks there are other ways, like Buddhism or others. One night Sam asked me if He would go to hell if He did not believe in JESUS/YESHUA. I told Him the TRUTH. JESUS SAVES! Only JESUS/YESHUA SAVES! I could see pain in His Beautiful eyes at my answer. I felt pain for my Son. TRUTH is,The TRUTH will set You Free !!! I Pray daily for the Salvation of my Children, Lauren Marie, Marisa Lee, and Samuel David. I PRAISE GOD for The Salvation of my Daughter Rachel Eve !!! My Son thinks I am narrowed minded. That is O.K. with me. I hope and Pray He and all my Children see and Walk The Narrow Way, The One and Only Way. JESUS/YESHUA!!!!!!!
  • I always get, You believe the Bible? Your one of those holy rollers that think same sex marriage is wrong. Get a life.
  • I was born again in 1980. At the time, I was the only true Christian in my predominantly steeped in religion family. For years, I was an outcast. Given the ultimatum of your new church or the family I chose the church. I had no contact with my family for almost three years
  • I had a relative berate me because I didn’t believe how they believe and they since have decided to have nothing to do with me.
  • Don’t you feel badly or guilty for what you did by turning your back on the Catholic Church?
  • When I started going to church on a regular basis in my 30’s, I realized how hungry I was for God’s word, and was going to the classes, bible studies, became a Sunday school, etc. My mom called me a Jesus freak, which upset me very much, and I went into defense mode and didn’t know how to respond as a Christian. Later it came to me that my response to that is now, “Thank you!”
  • I was criticized by my boss because Zek and I were waiting for marriage for sex and living together, because “the Bible doesn’t say that” and it’s something that Christians have decided to do so they can seem better than other people
  • Made fun as a Jesus freak behind my back.
  • People I converse with usually have legitimate reservations about biblical mysteries, be it the creation timeline or seeming contradictions, that there really is no agreed upon explanation for.
  • “If you’ve read the book, then you know the rules. Just follow them. It’s not that hard but all you Christians can’t figure it out. It’s hypocritical.” That’s a big one. Also, I hear the idea that we’ve “evolved beyond a text that is over 2,000 years old”; it’s not timely anymore; too many interpretations, no one knows which is the “original” text; evolution arguments, etc. I could go on!
  • I was told when I first came to CVC that I could have gone to the other church in our family- the Catholic Church. I said I was looking for a church for my daughter but found it was for me too. Now I get you have great messages at your church and we pray together daily
  • I’ve been told in the past that I have to be careful of mentioning too many God or church things when co-workers talk casually about what we did over weekend to ensure I don’t offend anyone. In 13 years, though, I’ve not had any be offended by my faith.
  • That faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord can’t be the only way… or often times a person will intellectually agree but as soon as they are examined personally (just like James of the Bible would do) they reject that faith and obedience in Christ is the only way to be right with God.
  • We’ve been told we are narrow minded. We are creating self-fulfilling prophesies for ourselves and when these come true we say “God” did it (according to this person, there is no god and we are just creating it all for our own feel good story). We are just part of a club/organization. There’s no real proof. The bible was written and made up by man.
  • My husband had to put his Bible in the desk drawer.
  • My mother told me you do not talk about politics, raising kids, and religion when I tried to talk with her. She did not want to hear about Jesus or God. Just before her death my brother had an opportunity to share the Lord with her, Praise God, she accepted him within a week before dying.
  • I have been ostracized and forbidden to say the name of Jesus to children in the family.
  • My father often tells me that is not how or what a Christian should say or do. He says it about really silly things. So I know he is watching, I am trying but not always perfect. I have suggested that he should become a Christian then he would know how they act.
  • Broken family relationships, threats, ridicule, backstabbing, and name calling, spit on, becoming unpopular (praise God), and misunderstood. How Glorious it is to be faithful in spite of these things!!! Why? Because the living God Always shows up, speaks to defiant hearts, and overwhelms their offense with His Truth and Presence saving many. What a wonderful life we have in being abused for Jesus sake. Jump for joy. Matthew 5:11-12!
  • I was told to put down the Bible and get back to the real world. All because I was trying to defuse a bad situation.
  • You name it, I’ve gotten it & in 3 different languages! I’ve been pretty well shunned because I gave up the “true” religion, I’ve been gossiped about, corrected on my ‘bad doctrine”, grilled about the bible, poked fun of because I do not believe in evolution, been Facebook bullied. Many times people are just down-right angry and I have to remember that “those who are unreconciled with God are always angry”. But- it’s worth it all to please my Jesus.
  • My first job as a graduate from high school was as a maintenance man at Findlay State Park. We worked a 40 hour week but could alternate Saturdays or Sundays Once a month. When I told my boss I preferred to work Saturdays so I could attend church on Sundays he was absolutely incredulous and deliberately scheduled me on Sundays. He took every opportunity to make fun of me. At that initiation into the world I never understood the depth of scorn he had for me. When I got older I began to understand the spiritual battle the enemy wages when we intentionally share Christ. In my family I experienced absolute hostility from some because I identified with Christ. I didn’t say a thing to them about The Lord but they just knew. I believe we, myself included do not take seriously the truth that a battle rages for people’s souls. We must use the armor God provides. This is suffering that happens when openly professing Jesus but does show the genuineness of our faith.
  • Wow….a lot. Mainly at work. I will share my faith by trying to advocate for the individuals with disabilities by trying to request for rides and enough staffing to get the ones who want to go to church so they can celebrate THEIR faith. I run into roadblocks constantly with staff who feel that it is not important enough to take them because the staff doesn’t want to go. When I try to fight for the individual’s rights, I get told not to mix work with church or to stay out of it. I am trying to find a way to pick up these individuals and bring them to church and I am using all my avenues. I have been written up for getting involved and told that I need to back down. I tend to be looked on as a troublemaker and not as a religious advocate.
  • It is rather challenging mentioning Jesus because my parents are in a totally different religion. Even though they accept me for my faith they don’t want things said about Jesus.
  • I will say this. My family had been the hardest on me when I gave my life to Christ. 14 years later they have lightened up but I still find of chuckle when they don’t tell me about things they are doing because they know I will call them out on it. My nickname is “Moral Compass”. Just being honest I kind of like it.
  • Some of my husband’s family was afraid that we had joined a cult. My husband’s grandfather was mad at us at first and asked my husband-why did you do that? You were born a catholic, you don’t change that. We were also called the holy rollers by another family member and all because we wanted to talk about JESUS. In the workplace, I became good friends with a co-worker and one day she interrupted me to say… I never talk religion or politics. As time went on (and I kept talking “religion”) she allowed me to and has been to CVC several times!
  • My dad refusing to allow me to bring up the topic of “Jesus” and often yelling if I forgot this prohibition. Of course, God changed his heart in the end but for years I struggled to honor my dad by attempting to clearly communicate Christ with my actions while muzzling my mouth.
  • I was told by a relative not to return to the country of my upbringing because my faith would make it dangerous for my extended family to live in peace.
  • My siblings roll their eyes at me and sarcastically say, “hallelujah!” Then tell me to, “get out of here with that stuff.”
  • My sister gets very angry with me because all her children “who have a good heart will go to heaven.” And if you say they have to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior….boy…..she turns into a lion protecting her cubs and rips me apart. OUCH!
  • “Stop forcing your religion onto others, you not always right”
  • A friend said that he believes that when you die that’s it there’s nothing. I said you can’t believe that’s all there is. He said there must be other life out there or we just feed the worms. I said what would the other life out there do or have to do with it. He said he didn’t know he hasn’t read anything that told him. I said read your Bible and start with the book of John.
  • Two events come to mind. Having a rifle jammed under my chin as I was threatened by a communist “organizer” in Ethiopia. And, being held hostage in front of a chanting angry mob in the midst of a revolution in Ethiopia. In the second case a short prayer, “Lord, please cool down this mob.” About 10 minutes later we had such a heavy rain we could not see more than 20 feet. The mob was cooled and dispersed. We were safe.

Be Encouraged

by Cuyahoga Valley Church

As we focus on being Encouraged this summer we wanted to share some encouragement from a dear friend of Lynne Robie who lives in New Jersey.

“I visit New Jersey, my home state, a few times a year. The last time I was there my friend and I were discussing the power of prayer.  I shared with her about the prayer room at Cuyahoga Valley Church and how it is used and what it has meant to me.  I told her about the prayer warriors that meet in there and pray.

Last week I spoke with my friend and she told me she was so inspired by the prayer room and that she went to her church leader and requested the same for her church.

I am so delighted to say that she is now heading up the creation of a prayer room.  Another woman at her church is in the process of recruiting pray warriors to meet in their prayer room.  An eagle Scout in her church has made it his Eagle Scout project to build a mailbox outside of their church specifically to leave prayer requests in for not only the congregation, but those that may be passing by.

My friend requested pictures of our prayer room to give her ideas of what she can do with her prayer room.  I shared with her that we have people who spend their time in the prayer room during each service, praying over the pastor, the worship team, the message and the people receiving the message.

I also told her about, Live New 10/24, when we wrote names on cards and hung them up in the prayer room to be prayed over.  These were new concepts to her that she was extremely excited about.  She was so thankful, appreciative, inspired and ENCOURAGED by all I shared with her.

Thank you for providing an opportunity and place to pray which provided me with an opportunity to share and encourage my friend.

Please know that in Milltown, New Jersey, there is a prayer room being created and prayer warriors being recruited because of the prayer room and prayer warriors that exist at Cuyahoga Valley Church.

Praise God for he is truly good.”

Wisdom from Mom

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor of Cuyahoga Valley Church

One of the great things about Mothers is their advice and the lessons they teach us. We think about the good ol’ phrase, “mother knows best.”  Advice and lessons are samplings of the gift of wisdom that God allows for us to help each other, especially the next generation.

Let’s not forget that Scripture is good to remind us (more than once) that our parents have wisdom for us to glean.

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Proverbs 1:8
My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Proverbs 6:20
This past week I asked on social media, “What good advice did your mom give you, or what lessons did she teach you?  The feed blew up quickly and I wanted to share the collective wisdom we remember from our mothers.  It’s a variety of shared wisdom ranging from practical to funny. Thanks for your feedback. Enjoy!

Wisdom from Mom

  • Put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
  • She taught me to persevere through hardship.
  • They won’t buy the cow if they get the milk for free.
  • Compassion for people and animals.
  • How to be selfless as a mom 💕🌸
  • “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I now say it to my girls 😊
  •  You can learn anything and do anything, you just need to change your mindset.
  •  Remember birthdays and don’t talk about yourself, focus on others.
  •  Keep our family business to ourselves.
  • My mom was moved around a lot as a kid and went to several different schools. Her parents divorced and things weren’t always stable. She was a teen mom. She found herself pregnant with my older sister at just 16… but she kept that baby… took respon took responsibility, still went to college, had a career, made a really good life even with the stigma and stereotypes of being a young mom. What she has always told us and taught me is that there are no excuses in life and that your past does not define your future. We can accomplish anything.
  • Stay away from credit card debt. I didn’t listen and had to learn the hard lesson myself.
  • My mom and grandma taught me to tithe from my very first paycheck as a teen. A value I have carried throughout my life.
  • My teenage daughter has the 50/50 rule on her paychecks, no matter how small. Spend 1/2 and save 1/2.
  • Both my parents instilled tithing into me and always attending Sunday services. We grew up Lutheran. Of course my parents served at the church and taught us to do that as well.
  • Love.
  • People are your greatest asset.
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right
  • I can’t think of what my Mom didn’t teach me. She’s a wonderful Mom, a great person, a woman who taught my brother and I God and church is first and to always love one another.
  • Go to church every Sunday! And she always said to be nice to people, the old saying… If you don’t have nothing nice to say, then don’t say nothing at all!
  • Obviously she taught me many, but the best advice was only three words and they were “Just trust Jesus.”
  • Mom always said, “They laughed at Noah.” Point being, do what lines up to GOD’s Word and do what’s right, despite majority opinion or belief.
  • Momma also used to say, “Life is like a box of chocolates…”
  • When God closes one door, He opens another one. And the verse about God clothing the lilies of the field. I can never remember the exact verse, but I remember what she was trying to teach me.
  • My mom was the one who spoke the gospel to me as a child. She then showed me through word and action how to cling to HIM in the hard times. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 11 she and I memorized Psalm 91 together. When things got scary we would cling to those verses. To this day when things get scary I envision myself being covered in HIS wings as I lift my concerns and fears to HIM. She taught me how to run to my Rock and my Refuge and to Trust Him with all our cares and sufferings.
  • Don’t grab for the last chicken leg on the plate, you’ll get a fork in the back of your hand.
  • Don’t major in minor things.
  • She taught me how to cook, garden, and budget.
  • Mom taught me that God had a special reason for keeping me alive. He apparently still does! Thank you Jesus!
  • Do the best you know how in whatever you do.
  • Be an encourager today.
  • Don’t discuss political opinions or how you vote with anyone else.
  • Don’t cry over spilt milk. She always looked on the positive side of everything!! People used to say they needed some “DottieLand” glasses…..(instead of rose colored).
  • Work before play!
  • If you’re going to laugh about in 10 years, you may as well laugh about it now.
  • My mom has taught me to always lean on the Lord in all circumstances. She always reminds me how he will help carry me through any and all situations. We enjoy going to church together and hearing your sermons. They have really helped us through some difficult times. Thank you 😊
  • During my mom’s final days at Hospice, she had visions. It is those visions she described to me that were her greatest gifts.
  • You can fool some of the people some of the time, and most of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool mom!
  • Everyone has flaws and bad qualities. Focus on the good in people.
  • Work hard. Fight tough. Give all the glory to God.
  • I have to agree with some others, there’s really nothing my mom didn’t teach me. She was awesome. One of the best things though was you can do anything you set your mind to do. And later in life we had fabulous Bible studies together.
  • The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line.
  • Don’t forget to go to the bathroom before you leave, because if you get into an accident they won’t let you go in the Emergency Room.
  • My grandma had similar advice: never pass up an opportunity to use the bathroom. 😆
  • Now 87, my mom recently told me that I should always try and make friends with younger people. She said that if I didn’t I would only experience a part of the circle of life… people getting older, sick, and dying… If I made friends with people younger than myself I’d see the joy of graduations, marriages, babies, job successes etc….
  • “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
  • “Do it right the first time.”
  • Find yourself a good Christian woman!
  • Wait for no man to do tomorrow what you’re capable of doing today. Her strength and her love of God will forever be in my DNA.
  • My grandma Hannah taught me to love the Lord, and my mother taught me to seek Him.
  • My mother was very disciplined… wish I could say it rubbed off, but I really admired that about her.
  • I took care of my Mom for 11 years in our home after she had a stroke… she never complained!
  • Don’t be a complainer because it accomplishes nothing and drives people away from you.
  • Listen. Forgive. But so much of what she taught me wasn’t in words, it was how she treated others. When she was spoken of unfairly (it happens to pastor’s wives), she would be gracious. Smile, and not even try to defend herself. She would give the rides to the people who smelled bad. I could go on and on. I miss her so much!!!!
  • She taught me that God loves me no matter what. Also that God already know the special person he has planned for you. Plus God only gives you what he knows you can handle.
  • That God loves you no matter. Be respectful. Treat people with kindness.
  • My mother taught me that serving others is more important than serving yourself. I didn’t learn this lesson from words, I learned it by watching.
  • She always says “It all came to pass, nothing ever came to stay.”
  • Always have a backup plan.
  • Reading, writing my first word, patience.
  • These merely summarize the things she did teach me and still do.A mother really deserves 3 times the respect and honoring as to a father. This is for all the things she did for us to be who we are now.
    “Your mother, your mother, your mother and then your father.”
  • Always believe in yourself.
  • My mom shared the Gospel with me, and never stopped praying and pleading with me to come to Jesus! I can only hope to be that kind of mom, that continually prays and shares my love of Jesus and the Gospel message.
  • It never hurts to ask.
  • Always walk in another’s shoes before you judge someone…..and….what goes around, comes around.
  • “Give it time” (be patient) and pray about it.
  • God always knows the end from the beginning.
  • My mom always took advantage of the opportunity to say something good about someone and conversely always declined to take advantage of the opportunity to say something bad about someone. My mom was a great woman who loved the Lord & people wholeheartedly. She was such a Godly example to me every day.
  • She used to say, “Jump only the height of your meter stick”… basically live within your means.
  • My Mom was such an amazing human! She had six children and taught us all so much! She loved children and always said we should treat children like gold because “they didn’t ask to be born.” She also didn’t have patience for bragging or meanness or self-centeredness. She taught us patience, kindness, humility and the importance of putting others first. My siblings are all shining examples of her gentle heart, and snappy sense of humor, even sixty years later. Thank you for asking!
  • Do your best. Don’t complain. Cook good down to earth food. Always help others. Be frugal. Drive politely. Care for the least of these. Volunteer with anything you or your children participate. Buy good books for the kids and grandkids and read to them often. Marvel at the creation. Enjoy rural ranch life. End well.
  • Always stay in touch with your family and friends.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Whenever I left the house when I was younger, my mom would ask where are you going? I replied with, going to pick up chicks! She then gave me this great advice. Well… make sure you put them back down.

The Message of Ecclesiastes

by Joe Valenti, CVCMissions & Youth Pastor

I once read an article about choosing what to read and the author of the post said something that is simple yet profound – only read the best books.

51jsyrqw7tl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I have taken this to heart over the years and I do a lot of research before I buy a book. It is grace to us that we live in a time when there are so many user reviews on just about everything – books included.

As I started my prep for the book of Ecclesiastes several weeks ago, I started to look for the top commentaries and resources. The Message of Ecclesiastes by Derek Kidner rose to the top on many lists. After reading it, I understand why. It is clear but robust in content. It is also beautifully written and quite short. You can always tell when a person knows what they are talking about because they are able to make their point in a few words.

I recommended this resource during my sermon yesterday and I wanted to provide you all with a link just in case you wanted to pick it up!

The Message of Ecclesiastes by Derek Kidner

National Day of Prayer

by Dale Piscura, Pastor of Men’s LifeGroups

This Thursday, May 4th, we’ll observe the 66th Annual National Day of Prayer, here are a few thoughts on how to pray for America.

1. Protection

“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Ps. 32:6-7).

Pray for the Lord’s protection throughout the new administration’s term of office. Physical and spiritual protection is needed for President Trump and Vice President Pence and their families as well as for all of the administration, Congress, and members of the Supreme Court.

Lord, be our Defender!

2. Presence

“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Lev. 26:11-12).

Nothing is more important than the Presence of the Lord Himself in the halls of government. Far too many in our nation would isolate our faith to a private, personal one or to a house of worship. The Presence of God changes lives and meets the deepest needs—not just those of individuals, but also the needs of our nation and its culture. Welcoming the Presence of the Lord into government can open the door for a longing for His Presence in all of society.

Make Your Presence known, Lord!

3. Peace

“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and not one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country” (Lev. 26:6).

In the midst of a badly divided nation from top to bottom, we desperately need God’s peace. Pray for the Lord’s peace to come into the Congress of the United States and into the Supreme Court of the land. May this new administration, that during the campaign often stirred up controversies, become known as an administration that unites and brings peace. Pray also that God’s peace would touch the church in this nation that found itself badly divided over this election.

We long for Your peace to come to our nation, Lord!

4. Provision

“He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations” (Ps.111:5-6).

We need to humbly come before the Lord and confess our need for His great provision to be poured out upon our nation. We need wisdom from above. We need the provision that meets healthcare needs in just ways. We need the provision of a robust economy that allows us to provide good jobs to those who are able to work. We especially need to be a nation that realizes that what we have comes from the Lord’s hand.

Thank You for being our Provider, O Lord!

5. Proficiency

“Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves.

So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace” (Ex. 18:19-23). 

We need a government that is proficient in all its ways. The people of our nation too often look to government as an example of that which doesn’t work well. 

Lord God, would You empower our government to properly use its power for efficient and just government!

How We Easter at CVC

by Cuyahoga Valley Church / Lead Pastor, Chad Allen

Can you believe it’s already Easter?  While we want to posture our hearts towards the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we often get caught up in the mix of family dinners, egg hunts, and odd work schedules. Here are a few of our practical recommendations to help invite people to new life in Christ as well as some resources to prepare our hearts and lead our families well this week.

Invite others
According to the Pew Research Center, more Americans are likely to attend church at Easter and Christmas.  So don’t be afraid to extend the invitation. Get creative!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Give a potted plant and include an Easter invite card.
  • Utilize social media—repost Easter Weekend service times with a personal invitation to come.
  • Ask someone to join you for Easter brunch and a worship service.
  • Post Easter invite cards on community message boards in your neighborhood.

Serve
Our volunteers are one of the BIG reasons Cuyahoga Valley Church is such a caring community. Would you serve this weekend? Help extend our caring community to the many new friends attending this weekend. Sign up here!

Opt for Easter Saturday Service
Many will choose to attend the Easter Sunday morning services. By choosing a Saturday evening service, you can help first time guests find seats during the 9AM and 11AM services on Sunday.

Easter Egg Grab
Join us rain or shine at 6:30PM on Saturday for a Family Easter Egg Grab. We’ll have 2,000+ eggs up for grabs. Invite some friends to the 5:30PM or 7PM service and plan to bring the kids to grab a few Easter eggs on the front lawn. Plus, we have an adaptive option for any children with special needs.

Choose the Family Venue
Instead of trying to get to the church super early to scout out seats—head straight to our family venue in 104/106. By opening up seats for others you may create room for a life changing opportunity.  You may also reduce some family stress in the process.

Park a Little Further Away
You may not realize—we know how you act in the parking lot at times. Please be courteous.

  • Follow those directing traffic.
  • Choose a farther parking spot so new guests can park closer.
  • Be patient.

Preparing Your Heart

While some have prayerfully journeyed through the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter, some may just now be thinking about Easter.  Several have crafted their Holy Week quiet times and others are open to suggestions.  For those looking for ideas, here’s a few of our recommendations for embracing Easter.

Read Scripture
Follow along with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection in Luke 19:28 through chapter 24.

Holy Week Prayer
As we approach Easter, our desire is to experience God. Holy Week prayer allows us to begin heartfelt preparation to enter into Christ’s historic passion week. The prayer room is open for group prayer as well as personal quiet reflection.

Lenten Guide to Holy Week
Start with Week 7 of our recommended Lent Guide.  These readings will prayerfully guide you through Holy Week.

Video Resources
Here are a few video streaming resources from Right Now media.  This is a resource we’re happy to offer from Cuyahoga Valley Church.  Need a FREE login?
Go to: www.cvconline.org/rightnow

  • 5-Minute Family Devotionals – Easter Week
    Wondering how to make the most of Easter with your family? Check out the 5-Minute Family Devotional from JellyTelly! Eight days of short video devotionals will help your family celebrate the importance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection this Easter.
  • I Believe in Easter
    How did Easter, a word with origins in pagan tradition, come to embody the oldest and most important festival in Christianity? Discover the origins of Easter in this thoroughly researched and emotionally charged documentary.
  • The Easter Experience
    The Easter Experience brings the passion, and resurrection of Jesus to life through dramatic storytelling and challenging teaching done in a highly cinematic style. Through these in-depth teachings, your small group will grow spiritually, bonding with each other as well as with the eternal message of Easter.
  • Is Faith Delusional?
    According to Richard Dawkins, there’s no difference between God and the Easter Bunny. Is God really just a trick or a deception like the Tooth Fairy? Is accepting God’s existence a fantasy fit only for the consumption of a child? In a world with so many tears is belief in God simply a lie we use to persuade a smile?

 

 

 

Cornerstone of Hope

by Leigh-Ann Brisbin, Cuyahoga Valley Church – Women’s Director

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

Ladies, Mark your calendars for April 1 and invite a friend to come to our Women’s Ministry Serve Day connecting women in service and helping those in need. We’re serving various mission organizations in the community, state, and world.  One of those amazing organizations that we will be serving that day is Cornerstone of Hope.

Cornerstone of Hope, located in Independence and offers hope to those who are grieving through love, compassion, support, and education. In May of 2000 Mark and Christi Tripodi lost their three year old son tragically. They searched for help and hope nationwide. They realized then the need for bereavement care and counsel for families experiencing loss and tragedy.

In 2003, the Tripodi’s founded Cornerstone of Hope, to not only help people understand and accept their grief, but to help them move forward and embrace a life full of hope. Cornerstone of Hope offers support groups, art therapy, programs and events, and camps.

One of the many projects on Women’s Serve Day is to make knotted butterfly pillows/comfort items for the children who are grieving a loss of a family member or loved one.


Other mission organizations / projects on Women’s Serve Day are:

We invite you to be a part of this special serve day and join the larger body of women of Cuyahoga Valley Church and our community.  Get to know someone new, create, connect and bless! Consider inviting a friend or family member and join us from 9AM-12PM. Register here.

Questions?
Email Leigh-Ann Brisbin.

 

Supplying Needs

by Joe Valenti, Cuyahoga Valley Church – Missions Pastor

15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:15-19

There ought to be biblical foundations to everything that we do as church. Every event that we sponsor, every choice that we make, and every initiative we launch. The CVCMissions Supply Drive is no different.  Churches partnering with and providing for missionaries is a biblical concept. And not only that, but providing for the needs of those who take the gospel from our church out into the world is an act of worship.

Notice how in verse 18 Paul refers to the supplies and gifts from the church as “a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This is why we do the CVCMissions Drive – to collectively worship God by providing for those who have gone out from among us. 

 But what is astounding about this text is how Paul confirms to the Philippians that the spiritual fruit from his work will be credited to their account! This is incredible! Our giving of physical and financial support ties us directly to the spiritual fruit of the work being done. This, church family, is why we are so passionate about growing in generosity. This is why we do the CVCMissions Supply Drive.  

So, as you consider picking up one of the supply drive bags or jumping online to the Amazon wish list, remember that each item represents a tool in that hand of a missionary. Flashlights on Pearl Island, Tylenol in Ghana, Lice Shampoo for El Salvador, Kleenex for those in Appalachia, and hot chocolate mix for Care on the Square are not just items on a list – they are tools to be used to take the good news of salvation found in Jesus Christ to those who desperately need it. These are things that will bear much fruit, and that fruit will be credited to your spiritual account. What a great and beautiful blessing. And what an easy way to be a missionary! 

So, go, pick up a bag or click on the Amazon link and let us emulate the Philippians in order that our missionaries might say with Paul, “I am well supplied.” 

 

Brackets

by Rick Duncan, Founding Pastor

If you look at the footnotes in most contemporary study Bibles, you will find that the story of Jesus forgiving the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 is bracketed. 

Most great New Testament scholars think that this story was not written by the Apostle John. They believe that the story was told over and over and was eventually placed in the Gospel of John centuries later. 

For example, the English Standard Version Study Bible says, “There is considerable doubt that this story is part of John’s original Gospel, for it is absent from all of the oldest manuscripts. But there is nothing in it unworthy of sound doctrine. It seems best to view the story as something that probably happened during Jesus’ ministry but that was not originally part of what John wrote in his Gospel. Therefore it should not be considered as part of Scripture and should not be used as the basis for building any point of doctrine unless confirmed in Scripture.”

So, is it appropriate to use this scripture in a message on a Sunday morning? I think so. I believe we can use it as an illustration of truths that are clearly taught elsewhere in scripture. 

For the diligent student who wants to be really in the know about John 8:1-11 , Pastor John Piper addresses this issue extensively in his sermon titled, “Neither Do I Condemn You”.

Then Piper asks what most every preacher asks, “Now the question is: What should I, the preacher, do with this story?”

Piper reports, “Both [New Testament] Don Carson and Bruce Metzger think the story probably happened. In other words, they think this is a real event from Jesus’s life, and the story circulated and later was put in the Gospel of John. Metzger says, ‘The account has all the earmarks of historical veracity’ (Textual Commentary, 220). And Carson says, ‘There is little reason for doubting that the event here described occurred’ (The Gospel According to John, 333).

Piper continues, “Perhaps. I would like to think so. Who doesn’t love this story? But that does not give it the authority of Scripture. So what I will do is take its most remarkable point and show that it is true on the basis of other parts of Scripture, and so let this story not be the basis of our authority, but an echo and a pointer to our authority, namely, the Scriptures, that teach what it says.”

This conversation absolutely the veracity of the John 8:1-11 story brings up another issue, namely, should questions about the integrity of a particular Biblical text cause us to doubt the trustworthiness of the entire Bible? 

Here’s a great response to that question from the website “Got Questions?

“Because we’re talking about certain editions of the Bible being ‘wrong’ in certain ways, we should include a few words on the inerrancy of Scripture. The original autographs are inerrant, but none of the original autographs are extant (in existence). What we have today are thousands of ancient documents and citations that have allowed us to (virtually) re-create the autographs. The occasional phrase, verse, or section may come under scholastic review and debate, but no important doctrine of Scripture is put in doubt due to these uncertainties. That the manuscripts are the subject of ongoing scholarship does not prove there is something wrong with God’s Word; it is a refining fire—one of the very processes God has ordained to keep His Word pure. A belief in inerrancy underpins a reverent, careful investigation of the text.”

Jesus the Bread of Life

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church – Lead Pastor

 Last week we kicked off our “I Am” teaching series with Jesus proclaiming that He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

When Jesus declared that He is the Bread of life, He was identifying Himself as the all-sustaining One, the only sustenance for our very souls. Ultimate satisfaction, fulfillment, and nourishment for our body, mind, heart, and soul is found in Jesus Christ alone.

During that discourse to the large crowd in Capernaum, Jesus also said that one would need to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.

 The Jewish audience made the mistake of taking Jesus literally rather than metaphorically, and interpreted His statement to refer to physically eating and drinking with the mouth rather than spiritually eating and drinking with the heart through belief. For obvious reasons, this was a gruesome consideration, not to mention a major violation of the Law (Leviticus 17:14).  No wonder people mistakenly accused the early church of cannibalism!  This teaching sifted the crowd that was present—the people who were stuck interpreting Jesus literally rather than metaphorically stopped following Christ.

No wonder people mistakenly accused the early church of cannibalism!

 The audience at the time of Christ has not been the only group of people to misinterpret Christ’s words in John 6.  There is a widespread doctrinal teaching and practice in the faith world known as “transubstantiation.”  That’s basically a fancy word for the teaching that the elements (bread and cup) taken at Communion/Eucharist/Lord’s Supper literally turn into the body and blood of Jesus.  Transubstantiation doctrine puts forth the teaching that once an ordained priest blesses the bread and wine, it supernaturally transforms into the literal body and blood of Jesus, even though the elements still look, smell, and taste as they originally did before their “consecration.” Once consecrated, the belief is that the priest holds the real presence of Christ in his hands, which is the reasoning behind why they alone can administer communion.

 This teaching is not biblical nor is it supported by Scripture.  When Jesus says to eat His flesh, He is referencing the offering of His flesh on the cross, and that believing in His death for sin and forgiveness is “eating.”  When Jesus says to drink His blood, He is referencing His blood being shed on the cross as the atonement for the sins of man and that believing in the power of His blood to forgive sins is “drinking.”

This language is symbolic and metaphorical.  Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).  Understanding that His words were “spirit” helps us understand that Jesus was using physical examples of eating and drinking to teach spiritual truths. Jesus never said that the elements literally became His body and blood and, at that point in time, the crucifixion hadn’t even happened yet.

 Here are the primary biblical reasons we reject the view of transubstantiation:

  1.  If the bread and wine literally turn into the flesh and blood of Jesus, then we are in fact participating in cannibalism and violating what God commanded in Leviticus 17:14.

  2.  Transubstantiation is an actual sacrifice of Christ again in order that we can maintain salvation.  Hebrews 10:10-14 lays the theological framework for the sufficiency of Christ’s one time death on the cross for the atonement of the sins of mankind.  Therefore, we do not need repetitious sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood.

    Verse 18 confirms that we no longer need offerings for sin, “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18)

We stand before God forgiven for sin by faith and belief in Jesus as Savior, not by relying on physical elements to be transformed to transfer or maintain God’s grace to us.  God’s grace was applied to us once we repented of our sin and placed our faith in Jesus Christ.  This faith, this belief, is “eating” the body of Christ and “drinking” the blood of Jesus.  Have you partaken of the Bread of Life?  

 Have you abandoned all other counterfeit saviors (that offer life yet eventually disappoint us deeply) and fed on Jesus, the Bread of Life?  Have you quenched your soul’s thirst by drinking in Christ, the only source of nourishment for our soul and our life?  If not, today can be that day!  Contact us if you are ready – connect@cvconline.org