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Living New: A Self-Assessment to Help You Grow Spiritually in 2017

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

Our mission at CVC is to invite people to new life in Christ. What does new life in Christ look like? How do we know if we are successful?

Here’s what we measure: Are we seeing people grow in the Fruit of New Life? Are our people Living New?

What’s the Fruit of New Life? What does Living New look like?

  • Beloved Child
  • Self-feeder
  • Servant
  • Investor
  • Discipler
  • Missionary

Our goal is that every single person at Cuyahoga Valley Church goes 6 for 6 – that every single person sees himself or herself as a Beloved Child, hungers for God’s Word as a    Self-feeder, volunteers as a Servant in the life of the church, gives finances generously as an Investor to advance the cause of Christ, equips believers within the church as a Discipler of others, and reaches out in word and deed to share the good news as a Missionary.

So, how are you doing? Give yourself a grade on a scale of 1-10.

(Remember, this is not a time to beat yourself up. The gospel is grace not law, love not legalism, freedom not constraint. God is pleased with your effort; He’s not demanding your perfection. See this exercise as an opportunity to draw closer to the One who knows you best and loves you most.)

  1. I see myself as a Beloved Child _________________________________ 
  2. I hunger for God’s Word as a Self-feeder __________________________ 
  3. I volunteer as a Servant in the life of the church _____________________ 
  4. I give my finances generously as an Investor to advance the cause of Christ ____ 
  5. I equip believers within the church as a Discipler of others _________________ 
  6. I reach out in word and deed to share the good news of Jesus as a Missionary ___ 
  7. What are your strengths? ________________________________________________________________ 
  8. How can you leverage your strengths to grow an area that needs more attention? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
  9. Who do you know who shows proficiency in an area that is a growth opportunity for you? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
  10. How might it impact you if you simply over coffee or lunch asked that person to share their story of growth with you?  _______________________________________________________________
  11. What are one or two seemingly small habits you could develop that might make a big difference in helping you bear more of the fruit of New Life? ___________________________________________________________
  12. What might happen in your life if you revisited and reworked the chapter in Living New in those areas where you need the most growth? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Consider making the answers to your questions a part of your spiritual growth plan for 2017.

To reiterate: God is pleased with your effort; He’s not demanding your perfection. May you enjoy Jesus more and more as you grow in Him deeper and deeper.

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Love Your Neighbor #4

by the CVC Leadership Team

  • Be sensitive and aware of the obvious needs in your neighbors (see pp. 22-27 in the CVC LifeHouses guide).
  • Offer to do some grocery shopping for your neighbors
  • Rake leaves/shovel snow/pick up sticks in a neighbor’s yard
  • Offer a date night to busy parents in your neighborhood, and watch their kids

“Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ What if we did more than just wave as we drive in and dirve out, as we work in the yard, as we get the mail? What if we did more than sometimes ask, ‘How are you?’

To truly love our neighbors, we must be willing to serve them by looking out for their own good as we would want to be looked out for.”

(LifeHouses Guide Book – available for all at the information table in the foyer)

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How to hear from God about where He is sending you…

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

In a message on Isaiah 6, we learned to say to God, “Here I am, send me!” But how do we discern the specifics of where God is sending us? How do we discern the who, what, why, where, when, and how of God’s call on our lives?

Should I sell my house and move to a foreign country as a full-time vocational missionary? Should I join or lead a short-term mission team? Am I supposed to stay in the states and be a missionary cleverly disguised as…? If so, what does that look like?

Below are 8 steps to help you hear from God about where He might be sending you. 
 
1.     Schedule unhurried time with God.
 
Make space in your schedule. Find a place where you will be uninterrupted. Use a journal for writing down what God will say.
 
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
 
2.     Determine that you will do what God says.
 
Confess to God those times in the past when you have resisted His will. Then, on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross, receive His forgiveness. Now say to God, “Please, Lord, give me grace to not only hear Your voice, but to also follow Your will.”
 
“Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4).
 
3.     Quiet the voices of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
 
Ask God to help you tune out other competing voices so you can tune into His.
 
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (I John 2:15-16).
 
4.     Literally ask God to give you His wisdom about where He’s seeking to send you.
 
Remember God has promised to give you wisdom when you ask for it.
 
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5)
 
5.     Be still and listen for God’s voice.
 
Be quiet. Be patient. Be discerning. Wait on God. Remember, God’s voice is sometimes described in Scripture as a still, small voice – the sound of a low whisper (I Kings 19:11-12).
 
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
           
6.     Write down what you hear God saying to you.
 
When discouragement, confusion, and doubt come our way, it’s helpful to have a written record of what God has said. Recording what God says in a journal is a helpful tool to keep you moving onward and upward. It also helps us not forget.
 
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2).
           
7.     Share what you’ve heard with other mature believers.
 
Be willing to take Godly advice. Remember, God’s will never contradicts God’s word. God puts people around us who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gifts and limitations better than we do. Nothing but good comes from carefully weighing what Godly pastors and leaders have to say.
           
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).
           
8.     In faith, do what the Lord has said.
 
Sometimes God asks us to do big things. Often He asks us to do small things that may seem silly or inconsequential. But something little can be something big when God is in it. Obedience to God is a demonstration of a trust in God.  
 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
 
(Note: One of the greatest treatments on getting guidance from God is found in J.I. Packer’s classic book, Knowing God. It’s found in chapter 20, Thou our Guide, pp. 209-220.)
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A Season of Harvest

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

Keith and Natalie Back are missionaries supported by CVC. A portion of your gifts to the general fund go to support them in their work with Cru. Keith is the son of Doug and Sue Back and grew up in the ministry at CVC.

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Keith and Natalie live in Indianapolis and serve at the IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis) campus seeking to reach over 2,500 international students with the gospel. They work through Bridges, an arm of Cru.

They serve students from countries like China, Japan, Ghana, Iran and India.  These students are the best and brightest of their countries and when they graduate they will return to their home countries with the saving message of the gospel. On November 15 Keith and Natalie had their biggest outreach of the year, a Thanksgiving celebration.  90 students attended, including Iranian women with headdresses.

The students had a full-fledged Thanksgiving meal, a talk on the American tradition of Thanksgiving and a gospel presentation. 40 volunteers helped out. 16 students indicated a decision to receive Christ! Coming in, the students knew this was going to be hosted by the Christian organization Bridges.

Thank you Jesus.  May the seeds that were planted on Tuesday night sprout and bear fruit for the glory of God.

Please join us in thanking God for the fruit in this ministry. Please remember Keith and Natalie Back in your prayers as they serve on mission.

Thank you for your gifts to the general fund of CVC which makes it possible for our church to support these fruitful missionaries.

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Love Your Neighbor #3

by the CVC Leadership Team

Try as you might, it is becoming increasingly difficult to focus first on Thanksgiving and then Christmas! It seems as though we’ve already skipped the turkey and have gone straight to snow! Regardless, the holiday spirit is officially settling in for the long haul.

Take advantage of this atmosphere, when both Christians and non-Christians alike begin feeling more sentimental, are friendlier towards strangers, and messages of goodwill are everyday occurrences. Utilize this to further your relationships with your circle of 8 neighbors, or even better, use this time to begin growing your LifeHouse and getting to know your circle of 8!

Here are a few simple ways in which you can grow your LifeHouse or get one started!

  • Invite a neighbor for dessert and coffee
  • Host an Open House
  • Open your home to watch a game  (football game, basketball game, etc.)
  • Take a pie to your neighbors
  • Take a pot of Mums to your neighbors
  • Take caramel or candy apples to your neighbors

“You live where you do for a particular purpose. Your talents, hobbies, and life experiences have been strategically placed by God to impact your neighbors and neighborhood. If you have new life in Christ, your presence helps bring new life in Christ to your neighborhood” (LifeHouses Guide Book – available for all at the information table in the foyer)

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#Election2016

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

I, like many of you, I’m sure, am concerned about the unity of the Church in NE Ohio and in our nation. After such an exhausting and exasperating election, we know that not all true believers today are feeling the same.

I have friends here in NE Ohio – all passionate followers of Christ – who woke up feeling very, very differently today.

Here in Cleveland/Cuyahoga county, we have a sizable number of passionate Christ-followers who voted for Trump mainly because of SCOTUS/pro-life issues even though his bullying, locker room-ish, sexist persona was deeply offensive to them.

We also have a sizable number of passionate Christ-followers who voted for Hillary because to them being pro-life means not only caring for the unborn, but caring about gun control and caring for those who are suffering from various kinds of social injustices.

We also have a sizable number of passionate Christ-followers who, despite the knowledge that a non-vote for one was a vote for the other, could not bring themselves vote for either candidate – who wrote in names like Mike Pence or Bernie Sanders.

I believe we need to respect the right of believers to land in different places regarding this election.

May this divisive 1 1/2 years not drive wedges between brothers and sisters in Christ. May it instead draw us closer to the Lord and to each other – to pray more passionately the II Chronicles 7:14 prayer, to pray for our outgoing and incoming elected officials, to put more and more trust in Christ, to grow more and more obedient to Him, and to pray and work together more faithfully to grow His Church in the nation and world.

Let’s listen more than we talk. Let’s remember that the appropriate posture for every believer before, during, and after an election is always a posture of brokenness, humility, and repentance.

The great Old Testament civic leader Daniel shows the way:

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession…” Daniel 9;3-4).

 

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Love Your Neighbor #2

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place (Acts 17:26 ESV)

by the CVC Leadership Team

With Halloween behind us and the first week of November already in the books, we find that holiday atmosphere already taking root in the world around us. Christmas trees are set up in town centers, stores have officially rolled out red and green decorations, and Thanksgiving commercials abound on television.

As we enter into the next two months filled with both chaos and joy, we here at Cuyahoga Valley Church encourage all of you who have experienced a new life in Christ to prayerfully consider how you can be a light to your neighbors amidst the hustle and bustle of this season. In continuing with last week’s post, below is a list of inspiration to help get you started in growing your LifeHouse this fall and winter:

  • Continue to pray for your circle of 8 neighbors around you, and prayer walk your neighborhood.
  • Ask if there are specific ways that you can pray for your neighbors. Fill in those needs and other family information on pp. 34-51 in the LifeHouses guide.
  • Who do you know in your circle of 8 or neighborhood that you could invite to Thanksgiving that might be alone?
  • If you have people from international cultures in your community, find out more about their culture, food and traditions.

“You live where you do for a particular purpose. Your talents, hobbies, and life experiences have been strategically placed by God to impact your neighbors and neighborhood. If you have new life in Christ, your presence helps bring new life in Christ to your neighborhood” (LifeHouses Guide Book – available for all at the information table in the foyer)

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Love Your Neighbor #1

 

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV)

By the CVC Leadership Team

Ways you can Love your Neighbor and be a LifeHouse at Halloween

As Paul demonstrates in his letter to the Thessalonians, not only did his love for these people compel him to share the good news of Jesus Christ, but it drove him to share his life and fellowship with them. That’s exactly what we hope and pray for all of you out there who are gearing up to grow their LifeHouses this holiday season. What perfect way to start than on Trick-or-Treat evening? After all, it isn’t every day that your entire neighborhood takes a few hours to walk, laugh, and initiate conversation at your doorstep!

For those of you needing a few last-minute ideas, we’ve compiled a list of simple, inexpensive, yet effective ways to begin showing your neighborhood the love of Christ that lives in you:

  • Move to the driveway or sidewalk area to give out candy
  • Set up a fire pit and/or chairs in your driveway to give out warm beverages (cider, hot chocolate, coffee) or even food!
  • Pass out glow sticks to kids
  • Give out hand warmers for the evening
  • Offer a few carnival games in your driveway (CVC has a few that can be borrowed on a first-come, first-serve basis by contacting CVCKids at 440.97.2261)
  • Combine with members of your LifeGroup to host a neighborhood party with food, cider, candy, and games from 6-8pm tonight!

We’ll be posting further tips and resources for loving your neighbors and being a LifeHouse in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, so be sure to keep checking back!

 

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Living God’s Word

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

When experience the power of Living in God’s Word by embracing it’s…

  • Teaching – the true way, right way, right doctrine. 
  • Reproof – “Reproof” means to convince or expose, to refute an opponent.
    God’s Word has the power to expose sin in our lives and to convince us that we are in the wrong. And then refute or rebuke us.  If you’re not allowing the Bible to confront your own sin, then you’re not growing in righteousness as God would have you. 
  • Correction – to make straight.  Did you know that we can’t walk in a straight line? NPR science reporter Robert Krulwich – did a study, blindfolded or in poor visibility – every person could not walk in a straight line. Scripture is God’s focal point for us, the Bible straightens us out and straightens out our misunderstandings.

“Humans, apparently, slip into circles when we can’t see an external focal point… Without a corrective, our insides take over and there’s something inside us that won’t stay straight.” Robert Krulwich

  • Training in Righteousness – The Bible doesn’t just point out where we’re wrong and leave us there. It also tells us how to get right with God, with others, and with ourselves. God’s Word equips us to live pleasing to God, like training a child.  Just as parents work with their children over the years to train them in various social graces, morals, relational skills, and useful habits. God, through His Word, trains us in all areas of life so that we can know what pleases Him.  

QUESTIONS FOR LIVING GOD’S WORD

  • Teaching
     What’s the truth that God wants me to know from this passage?

 

  • Reproof
    What attitudes, behavior or thoughts does this passage confront or rebuke in my life?

 

 

  • Correction
    How might this passage straighten out certain thinking, beliefs or misunderstandings in my life?

 

 

  • Training in Righteousness
    How does this passage help prepare me for a moral, mental, emotional or spiritual challenge in my life?

 

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Listening Through Prayer

by Leigh-Ann Brisbin, CVC Women’s Director

Too often we think of prayer only as our utterances to the Lord and forget or negate the significance of being still and knowing Him. We have not taken enough time, or time at all, to listen for His voice as He reveals Himself and His truth to us.   

“Be Still and Know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10 

In scripture we see that Jesus went away and was quiet with His Father. He listened for His voice, His perspective and His direction. He valued the voice, heart and will of the Father and He sought after it.

The word of God also tells us that His people, those that know Him, do hear His voice.  John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” It is easy to think that God is silent, not listening or answering our prayers. It is also easy to “know the right answers” in our head but struggle with believing it in our heart where lasting change occurs. Somehow, at times, we fail to really know how to listen to the Lord and how to let the power and redeeming work of the Holy Spirit to occur.

God desires that we come to Him with a humbled heart willing to let him work within us to churn up and root out what is not of Him and to hold fast to His truth. There in the place of reverence and humility our Heavenly Father meets us and the still small voice speaks deep into our soul to reveal, teach, transform, heal, comfort, strengthen, redeem and guide.

Join us for SPEAK a free one day Women’s Prayer Conference this Saturday, October 1 from 9AM to 4PM to listen, hear and worship.The purpose of the conference is to help women deepen their prayer life and intimacy with God as well as build community with other women. It is a free event at Cuyahoga Valley Church.  “Speak”, the theme of the conference, is to emphasize that prayer is two way intimate communication between God and his beloved children. Register at www.cvconline.org/speak.

Large group sessions will include topics such as why we pray, who we are praying to, the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer, how to hear from God, and praying for our needs with thanksgiving. We will also be hosting 6 different breakout sessions on various forms of prayer that facilitate a deeper prayer life.

You may choose the prayer sessions that best fit your desired needs in prayer. The session topics include why and how to pray:

  • Prayers of Praise and Exaltation
  • Prayers of Consecration
  • Praying Scripture
  • Prayers of Intercession,
  • Prayers of Being Still and Listening
  • Prayers of Protection.