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

Meet the Church Planter: Mark Johnson // Encourage Church

by Joe Valenti, Cuyahoga Valley Church – Missions Pastor

This morning I drove down to 79th and Superior and could not seem to find Encourage Church anywhere. I was planning to meet Mark Johnson, a church planter that CVC supports, at the location for this new plant. But for the life of me, I could not see a church building anywhere. So, I parked in the rear parking lot of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Professional Building and gave Mark a call.

“Do you see police cars?”

“What?” I replied.

“Do you see police cars?”

“Um…no”

“You’re on the other side of the building. Go ahead and park and walk towards the building. I’ll meet you there.”

I wasn’t sure what was going on. Was this just a good parking lot to park in? Was Mark going to walk me down the streets to the hidden little church that I could not seem to find on my own?

I parked, and started walking towards the building and, to my right, Mark called to me. After we introduced ourselves, we led me into the East Professional building. I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but I just followed along into this massive old high school.

The East Professional building used to be East high school – home of the Blue Bombers. But in 2010 the district closed the school as part of the Academic Transformation Plan and turned it into a professional development center for meetings, trainings, etc. for educators in the district.

At the same time, Mark Johnson had finished his seminary work at Princeton – yes, you heard the correctly – and he and his family had taken a pastorate at Liberty Hill Baptist just a mile away on 82nd and Euclid. And while Liberty Hill is a beautiful building, the issue for Mark was that many of the young men and women from the community did not seem very keen on stepping into a traditional church setting. So, as Mark and his wife Heather continued to seek the Lord, they heard him loud and clear – go out to them instead of expecting them to come in here.Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 2.47.03 PM.png

Fast forward to January 2016, Encourage Church, and the old high school turned professional building. The old East High building was not being used on Sunday’s, and so Mark and his team worked out a plan to utilize the building to start a new church – a church that would engage the community where they were. 

Mark stopped right in the front foyer and told me about the “hug line.”

What? – I thought. Did he say hug line? 

Yes, a hug line. Many of the ladies from Liberty Hill line up at the entrance and if the young men want to come in and play basketball, their price of admission is to hug all of these wonderful ladies. This is, Mark told me, a strategy to help these men get comfortable with the idea of feeling loved. What was once awkward is now a loved tradition.

After hearing about the hug line, we walked around the massive school and Mark showed me about the discipleship and care that is happening through Encourage Church. The building boasts a massive auditorium that probably seats over 1,000 people. They use this space to show faith-based films as a way to provide a safe and fun environment for families to spend time together. There are beautiful classrooms were children’s ministry and other Bible studies take place. But Mark noticed that he still did not seem to be getting the young men.

So, Mark decided to use another of his passions – basketball. Mark played professional basketball in Europe before going to Seminary and decided to open up the school’s huge gym (complete with 3 full basketball courts) to see if the young men would come. Well – they did. Now Mark and his team minster to to around 100 young men each week. After they walk through the hug line, they spend their time shooting hoops. Mark is building relationships and looking for opportunities to share the gospel one on one off the court.

It was an exciting time and I am proud that Cuyahoga Valley Church has the opportunity to financially support the work that God is doing through Encourage Church. Would you add the Johnson Family and Encourage Church to your prayer list? Let us lift them up before the Lord and ask him to open hearts and minds to the goodness of the gospel message.

Women’s Serve Day

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

On April 1, 2017 the women of Cuyahoga Valley Church will gather together to create, connect, bless and serve those in need in some way or another.  The day will be designated to exposing the needs/mission opportunities in our community, state, nation and worldwide with ways that we can, as women, get involved and help in tangible ways.  The added plus is that we get to connect with one another as we serve alongside each other.

Various areas we’ll be serving:

Here’s a spotlight on a mission organization we will be serving that day

RAHAB MINISTRIES
In 2002, armed with nothing but homemade business cards and prayers, Becky Moreland headed out to the streets of some of the roughest areas of Akron, Ohio to share the love of Jesus with women she met. Since then, RAHAB Ministries has served tens of thousands of female victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Whether it’s through providing basic necessities, mentoring, or safe housing, RAHAB is a constant example of the Gospel to the women it serves. Their mission is to Reach, Rescue and Redeem.

REACH
The outreach teams walk the streets of Akron every week ministering and praying with the women they meet. Those outreach teams also visit all Akron-area strip clubs once a month to develop relationships with the dancers. The relationship with the Oriana House Correctional Facilities has earned them the opportunity to both bring Bible studies into the facilities, and to pick up women and bring them to their weekly program.

By partnering with Summit County Juvenile Court, RAHAB provides mentoring for minor victims through a program called Restore Court, which seeks to expunge victim’s records. Volunteers visit and write letters to women in prison to continue to show them hope in Christ amidst their seemingly hopeless situations. Through these numerous avenues RAHAB builds the meaningful, Christ-centered relationships these women are so thirsty for.

RESCUE
True rescuing requires intervention. RAHAB aids in the long-term rescuing process by being a consistent voice reminding the women that they are worth rescuing. Women begin the rescue process when a safe relationship is formed and trust is established.

From there, they are encouraged to come to the Ministry Center for weekly programming including Bible studies, hot meals, positive community, and more. Safe housing is provided for victims of human trafficking with no safe place to live. By introducing them to a network of resources and stable, supportive people, these victims begin to believe they can have a different life.

There is hope.

REDEEM
RAHAB aims to provide practical needs while always pointing the women toward a relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone is the redeemer. They encourage and support women in reclaiming their lives.

They have seen women regain custody of their children, graduate college, get stable jobs, stay clean and sober, and go from believing they are worthless to walking in confidence. But above all, they’ve seen countless women give their lives to the Lord. They attribute every success story to the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

We invite you to be a part of this special Women’s 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.

Any Questions? Email Leigh-Ann Brisbin.

 

Mexico, Africa, and El Salvador

by Dahlia Orth, Cuyahoga Valley Church–Missions Coordinator

This month, we had the privilege of having 3 sets of missionaries with us that were raised at Cuyahoga Valley Church. Each person has accomplished different things for the Kingdom in different parts of the world. Here is a snapshot of each missionary and how God uses them to radically impact the Kingdom of God.  

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From right to left: Eric Kramer, Ron & Jo Cleveland, Rachel Klubnik

Eric Kramer
A few weeks ago we posted about Eric and his ministry with Mexico Medical Missions. He was a Cuyahoga Valley Church attender and God called him to the mission field to serve the Tarahumara people in Samachique, Mexico. Eric and his wife, Sheena serve the people and community there through a variety of different felt needs, the primary one being medical care.

Eric is an anesthesiologist but they recently came back to the states for him to complete schooling in family medicine. They plan to return to the mission field in 2018 with the hopes of opening their own clinic in the future to have further Kingdom impact to the Tarahumara people.

Ron and Jo Cleveland
Ron and Jo have been here at Cuyahoga Valley Church for the last 30 years. They started the Ghana Medical Clinic that God has used to reach the Nzema people in Ghana, Africa. They have mobilized many teams through Cuyahoga Valley Church to provide medical care and have helped develop church plants in Ghana. Ron and Jo have raised missionaries and equipped leaders to continue the work that is happening in Ghana for years to come. In a few short weeks, they will be moving and they have equipped Kyle and Amy Gustafson to lead the efforts in Ghana moving forward. Even though Ron and Jo will be moving soon, the will continue to be involved with the ministry taking place in Ghana. 

Rachel Klubnik
Rachel grew up at Cuyahoga Valley Church. When she was 14 she started traveling to El Salvador. God used her time there to burden her heart to develop a children’s home in El Salvador. She started Love and Hope Children’s home and has ministered to over 35 children. Her and her husband, Justin, are currently living in El Salvador full time at Love and Hope. Additionally, they have started a transition home for the kids who have graduated from Love and Hope Children’s home  to provide support to them throughout their time in college.  

God’s Faithfulness
When I sit back and reflected on the ways God has used and continues to use these people for His Kingdom, I marveled at his faithfulness. I was energized and encouraged by their stories and I hope you are too.

How might God be using you to impact His Kingdom?
Is God calling you to go serve on mission somewhere?

Seek the Lord and His leading. Be a Lifehouse, serve in our city, or check out the mission trips at Cuyahoga Valley Church. What a great joy it is to serve alongside of one another and see God’s faithfulness through our efforts! 

 

 

Celebrating the Cleveland Family

by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church – Founding Pastor

It’s rare for one family to be faithful, loving, joyful participants of one church for 30 years. Yet that has been the blessing Cuyahoga Valley Church has known because of the Cleveland family. We celebrate the Fruit of New Life we see in them.

BELOVED CHILD
We celebrate the faith and baptisms at Cuyahoga Valley Church of every member of the family—Ron, Jo, Josh, Sarah, Hannah, and David.

SELF-FEEDER
We celebrate their faithful commitment to the Bible as the Word of God and as the truth.

SERVANT
We celebrate their service in several areas:

  • Worship Arts (vocal team, choir, and handbell choir)
  • Elder Team
  • Compensation Team
  • Search Team Chair,
  • Missions Development Team
  • Finance Team
  • CVCYouth

INVESTOR
We celebrate their generous giving at Cuyahoga Valley Church and beyond for three decades.

DISCIPLER
We celebrate their involvement in LifeGroups.

MISSIONARY
We celebrate their commitment to pray, give, and go as evidenced by their initiating the construction of a hospital for the Nzema people in Ghana, West Africa.

Ghana2011-354.jpg

Ron and Jo have had distinguished careers in medicine in Northeast Ohio. We now send them as missionaries cleverly disguised, with our blessing, to North Carolina where Jo will continue in an exciting new season of her career.

Our hearts are full of praise to God for you. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Your Cuyahoga Valley Church family

Let’s do Lent!

By Chad Allen, CVC Lead Pastor

Let’s do lent!

No, not the kind we find in our dryer.  Lent comes from an ancient  word meaning “Spring” and is a special season of 40 days (excluding Sundays) of preparation for Easter.

One of the reasons that Christmas is special is that we experience the birth of Christ as as season. We do not just wake up Christmas morning and say, “oh yeah, it’s Jesus’ birthday”. We build anticipation from the end of November to early December as we get closer the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, especially for those who practice Advent.

In the same way, we have the opportunity to approach Easter as a season.  The life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Instead of waking up one day and saying, “Oh yeah, it’s Resurrection Sunday,” let’s take a step back and make a worshipful and reflective run at the most meaningful days on our physical and spiritual calendar.

As a community  of people who believe that there is a new life in Christ, engaging Lent can help breathe new life into our worship of Christ during this unique and meaningful season.

Key Thoughts on Lent: 

  • Lent is about Christ-centered sacrifice not self-centered spirituality.
  • Lent is about intentionality not religiosity.
  • Lent celebrates God’s grace it doesn’t earn God’s grace. 
  • Lent is about worship, not works. 

As you consider how you might engage be season of Lent, keep in mind your motive and heart.  We are reminded of the words of Jesus in John 4:23:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” John 4:23

We need to enter into worship and holy practices with authentic and heartfelt motives to draw close to Christ.  God hates–yes, a strong word–hates empty, vain and insincere religious behaviors (Amos 5:21-24; Isaiah 1:11-17).  So remember whatever you do, or don’t do, let Christ, and what pleases Christ be your motivation.  

Whether you are an experienced “Lenter” or a newbie here are a several ways you can engage Lent this year:

  • download/print out the Lent Guide to Fasting for readings, prayers, journaling space and specific fasting challenges to help guide you.   FYI- this guide has Scripture readings that will provide a great compliment to our “I Am” teaching series starting this Sunday.

  • for families , use this guide (or another similar one) with your kids each week for  dinner devotionals to help create a sense of “season” for them around Easter.  You can also decorate or use creative ideas to make sure this holy season doesn’t get overshadowed by a bunny and eggs.  Having a hard time coming up with ideas, sit down and have a “Pinterest- fest” to help 
  • come to Ash Wednesday Prayer to kickstart your Lent season on March 1st.
    • ASH WEDNESDAY PRAYER | WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1
      SELF GUIDED PRAYER | 6AM-7PM
      GUIDED PRAYER | 7-9PM
      As we approach Easter, our desire is experience God. Ash Wednesday prayer allows us begin a heartfelt preparation to enter into Christ’s historic passion week. Join us for a time of prayer, seeking the Lord together, as we engage this holy season at Cuyahoga Valley Church. Childcare will be provided 7-9PM.
  • intentionally give up/fast from distractions or vices that clutter your life and keep you distant from Jesus, as well as add/increase disciplines and devotional habits that will help you simplify and grow in your faith and draw closer to Jesus.
  • start a reflection and repentance journal out and journal each day with a more focused time of prayer– writing down prayers, confessions, observations, praises that focus on your gratitude for Christ’s death & resurrection.
  • increase your worship music intake at home, work, or in the car. Create a playlist! Have worship music themed around the cross and resurrection playing. It’ll help you draw into a place of prayer and worship.

Lent is not mandatory for Christians.  Do not feel obligated to participate.  But if you are looking to grow in worship, your relationship with Christ and experience a more meaningful appreciation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, then we highly recommend participating in this Lenten season.

Lent Guide to Fasting