Multiply 2019

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church Lead Pastor

It’s a new year and although we know that 2019 will bring us all new joys and new challenges, I hope your new year is off to an encouraging start.

I thought of our church today as I read a passage in our Bible reading plan that we are all familiar with:

Acts 2:42–47 – [42] And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [43] And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. [44] And all who believed were together and had all things in common. [45] And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. [46] And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, [47] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)

As followers of Christ, these well-known verses typically encourage us, convict us and motivate us.  What a great picture the Lord has given us of His church from His Word.  A few observations I want to highlight and remind us of:

  • The church was devoted to the teaching of  God’s Word.  I hope you have already started this year strong in your personal time with the Lord (I strongly encourage you to follow along in our CVC plan -it’s timely that we are in Acts this week!) Bible Reading Plan
  • The church was devoted to fellowship and being together. I hope your commitment to growing together in a LifeGroup has been refreshed, as well as just general fellowship with other believers – hang outs, conversations, coffee, meals, etc…
  • The church was devoted to prayer (we saw this as well in Acts 1:14a – All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…(ESV).  I hope your prayer life continues to deepen and grow!

    • I hope you plan on reading/re-reading our recommend book for this quarter – “Praying the Bible” by Donald Whitney.  It’s a great resource to help us transform our prayer lives by learning to better pray God’s Word..  Here are a couple excerpts from Whitney to help you know the vibe of his book:
    • “And when prayer is boring, we don’t feel like praying. And when we don’t feel like praying, it’s hard to make ourselves pray. Even five or six minutes of prayer can feel like an eternity. Our mind wanders half the time. We’ll suddenly come to ourselves and think, “Now where was I? I haven’t been thinking of God for the last several minutes.” And we’ll return to that mental script we’ve repeated countless times. But almost immediately our minds begin to wander again because we’ve said the same old things about the same old things so many times.” 
    • “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.” 
    • If you are a LG leader or serve here at CVC, I hope you have marked your calendars already and prioritized February 23-March 1. Our gifted brother Daniel Henderson will be in to help our team and church grow in prayer which will be followed by Seek Week.
    • I also am going to invite you and challenge our body to consider fasting on Thursdays this year. More on that to come!

  • The church saw a great multiplication of disciples.  Please know that at the root of all our efforts this year, and the years to come, is the hope and prayer that we will lead our church to be disciple-making disciples. This glorifies Jesus. This is obedience to Jesus.  New life in Christ means living with a growing obsession to see more and more people come to know Jesus, and to build Christ’s kingdom.  So I hope you are not only praying and planning on how you will see fruit through your direct discipleship, but also praying and planning for at least one person who will come to the Lord through their direct discipleship and so on.

I am praying for us to see an exceptionally faithful and fruitful year in 2019.  It’s a safe prediction to anticipate more of these points to emerge in the weeks and months to come 🙂   

I am regularly stunned that I get the joy of pastoring you, and serving Jesus with you.  I often thank the Lord for the church family that we have. It’s a new year, so let’s attack it with a new zeal and hopefulness as we invite people to new life in Christ!

Song of the Week: The Lord Our God

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Lord Our God – Kristian Stanfill

button_listen-on-spotify

“The Lord our God is ever faithful, never changing through the ages. From this darkness you will lead us. And forever we will sing, You’re the Lord our God!”

Promise-maker, promise-keeper. You finish what You begin. Our provision through the desert, You see us through till the end.

Screen Shot 2018-12-20 at 4.20.36 PMIt’s important for us to remember that God ALWAYS keeps His Word. You may have heard the statement before that “you can’t out God in a box”. This is true, but only to an extent! This statement used to be stated to remind us that God can work in ways beyond that which we anticipate or believe to be possible. However, God CAN put Himself in a box, and He does often. He has told us that we can trust Him because He is working for our good and for His glory in Romans 8. He has told us that he will never change in James chapter 1! Because God tells us that He will never lie, we know that we can trust Him to always be who He says He is! He will never fail us or become something or someone different! We know that no matter what comes, He remains faithful.

This is something that we must be reminded of, because frankly it is easy for us to forget. The trials and tribulations of this life cause our faith to waver. However, I’m confident God foresaw the weakness of our trust in Him, and chose to remind us repeatedly that we can trust Him in His Word. Consider a few treasured reminders of His unchanging nature.

  • Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
  • Malachi 3:6 – “For I the Lord do not change…”
  • James 1:17 – “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from  the Father of lights of whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
  • Numbers 23:19 – “God is not man that He should lie, or a son of man that He should change His mind… Has he spoken, and will He not fulfill it?”
  • Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
  • Hebrews 16:8 – “…It is impossible for God to lie… have strong encouragement by holding fast to the hope set before us.”

There are many other passages that can remind us of this blessed truth! Why is it important to remember God’s faithfulness? The story in Joshua 9 is a sad example of what happens when we walk by our sight instead… So far through the book of Joshua, we’ve seen the Lord lead Joshua and the Israelites throughout the Promised Land, and do a serious number on its inhabitants. Joshua was a heavily successful leader, and the Israelites were hated. Many tribes and people groups joined together and attacked Israel, to no avail.

Another people group called the Gibeonites did something far more devious. They had heard about Israel and their God, and did not expect to beat them in battle. So they dressed themselves poorly and sent some messengers to Joshua, pretending to be from a land far away desiring to pay their respect to Joshua and Israel (when in reality they lived right next door! They went to Joshua and asked him for a peace treaty. Here is where the nation’s pride got the better of them.

Joshua 9:14,15 reads “the men examined some of their provisions, but they failed to ask the Lord’s advice. Joshua made a peace treaty with them and agreed to let them live.”

Joshua failed to seek the Lord’s wisdom in this key moment! Throughout the story of Joshua so far, He is quick to ask the Lord for guidance, but in this small thing Joshua thought He could do it on His own. This sin led to consequences from the nation for generations to come.

This story is a solemn reminder of why we must faithfully seek the Lord’s wisdom. Perhaps that’s why the lyrics of the bridge are so important for us to sing “We won’t move with You. We won’t move without You. You’re the light of all, and all that we need.” May we walk in the Lord’s guidance, and trust Him to reveal His way for us, to avoid the traps of our sinful pride that so easily ensnare.

button_listen-on-spotify

 

SONG OF THE WEEK: To God be The Glory

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church, Worship Arts Assistant

button_listen-on-spotify

“To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us His sin, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life gate that all may go in.”

“To God Be the Glory” was first written by the legendary songwriter Fanny Crosby in the 1800’s. The lyrics have long been staples in many churches across the world, declaring the glory of the Lord! Over the past few years, the Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC) Worship team led by Nate Green and Bryan Karas revised the melody of the song. This new version of an old hymn has been used often at CVC and is the title track of the album we released this year!

This song’s lyrical strength comes from its simplicity. God should be glorified because of who He is and because He has demonstrated Himself to be worthy of it! How has He done this? Romans 5:8 says that

“God demonstrated His love to us in that, while we were still sinners, He died for us.”

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 12.06.04 PM

Notice the word used there, “demonstrated”. To manifest, testify, to provide evidence of. This word choice reminds us that God was always love, but he proved it through His son Jesus. God has always been who He said He is! His glory and worthiness is not based off of what He has done, but rather declared through it! God isn’t merely worthy of our worship because He sent Jesus to die in our place, He proved that He is worthy of our worship! Jesus is the revelation of the glory of the Father! He shows us and reveals to us the splendor of Yahweh! John 1:14 reads

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The actions of Jesus Christ are not simply the reason why God is worthy of our worship, but through what He has done, we can know who He is. Love. Grace. Justice. Mercy. Compassionate. What an amazing God we serve!

button_listen-on-spotify

Song of the Week: Mercy Ran

By Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

Song of the Week: Mercy Ran – Evergreen

“For when justice called for payment mercy ran to die for me.
Come and praise the name of Jesus, the Lamb for sinners slain.”

Over this past year, Mercy Ran has grown to become one of more treasured worship songs that we use here at Cuyahoga Valley Church. This can seem a little surprising when listening to the song. The verses are very hymn-like, and the energy of the song doesn’t really rise until 4 minutes in (some songs are over within 4 minutes)! But the heart of this song is found in the lyrics of the bridge… “when justice called for payment, mercy ran to die for me.”

The verses of Mercy Ran tell us the story of the Gospel. We were once “orphans of the shadow” (Ephesians 5:8) that we were “bound by sin and darkness” (Romans 6:20) but set free by grace (Ephesians 1:7)! Now that we have been saved, this life is not our own. It is meant to be lived for the glory of Him who saved us! (Romans 14:8)

Mercy Ran‘s chorus tells of the wonder of considering that God Almighty would take the penalty of our sins through His glorious love (2 Corinthians 5). We should be amazed at the fact that God was willing to sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty that we deserved for rejecting Him!

Screen Shot 2018-12-07 at 10.07.23 AM

And finally the bridge of Mercy Ran… “When Justice called for payment, mercy ran to die for me.” Because of our sins against God, His just nature demanded payment (Romans 6:23) – this payment being death! We stood condemned by God for sinning against Him. In His divine and just nature, a payment had to be made. But God being rich in mercy, made a way for us through graciously giving us His Son. (Ephesians 2) Romans 8 tells us this “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
God has spared nothing in His plan to bring us salvation and extend redemption. He has spared nothing! He even offered up His own Son’s life. He has graciously given everything so that we could know Him and be spared the wrathful judgment that we deserve.

What an incredible reminder… To know that God held nothing back from redeeming and ransoming you from your self-inflicted sinful death sentence should be nothing short of life-altering. Singing these lyrics breaks my heart every time I sing it. Knowing that God didn’t hold back but through His justice, love, and mercy, died on a cross in my place.

“Praise the Lamb for sinners slain” because “Hallelujah. Jesus saves.”

button_listen-on-spotify

The Forgiveness of Sins

by Josh Stone, Cuyahoga Valley Church Pastor of LifeGroups

As we continued in our “Because We Believe” sermon series, here’s all of Josh Stone’s notes from week 11 as a resource to you.


“The Forgiveness of Sins” from 1 John 1:5-10

Cuyahoga Valley Church | December 2, 2018

Intro: Fellowship with God Requires the Forgiveness of Sins

  • Good morning
  • My name is Josh Stone and I’m the Pastor of Community Life, and I will be continuing in our series on the Apostle’s Creed
  • We are getting to the end of the Apostle’s Creed where we transition from truths about God to truths about ourselves and the church, like “the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints” and, today, “The forgiveness of sins” from 1 John 1:5-10 which was read a moment ago
  • You will need your worship guide and a pen today, so grab that if you would.
  • We are looking at God’s forgiveness of our sins, but also how that frees us and implicates us to forgive others, even those who have deeply hurt us.
  • Big Idea for today: Fellowship with God requires the forgiveness of sins

Pray

God is Light

  • Throughout John’s writings he refers to God as “light,” as in verse 5
    • John 1 says “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
    • John 8, Jesus refers to himself as “The light of the world”
  • In our culture, it’s hard for us to understand the significance of this phrase because light is all around
    • It gets dark around 5pm, but if I want to have light, I flip on a light switch, or I can go to Target or the Mall and have all the light I’d ever want.
    • But that is not the case for so many people today, and for virtually all people throughout history
  • In history, when the sun went down, it was total darkness other than a campfire or a candle
    • Darkness meant:
      • Danger, boredom, anxiety, fear, being cold
  • God is light
    • Light = safety, purpose, warmth. Also, it is used to refer to wisdom, clarity, truth
  • Scripture is saying that there is no substitute for the presence of God
    • God is the source of life, of purpose, of peace, of truth, of goodness, of beauty, of all things that are good
  • When John says that God is light, He is saying that God is who we want to be with, the one we want to know, the presence we long to experience
  • It is that basis that John gives us three tests to know if we are living in the Light or in the dark
  • In the passage on your bulletin there are three phrases that start with, “If we say…”
    • Let’s look together at those phrases to see if we are in the Light and if not, what we need to do about it

 

We have Fellowship with God when we Walk in the Light

  • [vs 6-7]
  • Could you underline? “If we say we have fellowship with God”
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
  • Fellowship is a very churchy word.
    • I doubt many of you have ever exclaimed, “What great fellowship we have had!” after a productive meeting at work or game of tennis
  • Fellowship comes from the Greek word “koinonia” which means “together” or “in common”
    • It’s that which we share in common, or have together, and it expresses a two-sided relationship.
    • This concept of fellowship is unique to the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had a bloodline and a history and a land they shared in common.
    • In the New Testament, we have fellowship with one another first through spiritual commonality, through sharing a spiritual family
  • We have fellowship, or something in common, with God. What could we possibly have in common with God Almighty? We have Christ in common
    • We share in common a relationship with Christ. God is light, and Christ is the light of the World. Through faith we have a relationship with Christ, which means we have fellowship with God if we walk in the light.
  • We are given two tests to see if we have fellowship with God

Test of Fellowship with Others

  • 1) Test of Fellowship with Others
    • This is surprising to me, because I would think that fellowship with God is about me and God, a private and personal relationship with God, but the first test for walking in the light of God is based on our relationship with others in verse 7
    • “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”
  • Our relationship with God is personal but not private
    • A relationship with the Father is a relationship with the family
    • Last week Pastor Joe talked about the Communion of Saints, the Church. Being adopted into the family of God means we must have a relationship with the other adopted children
  • Test Yourself: How is your relationship with your spiritual family?
    • Do you have fellowship with other believers? Are you part of a Caring Community? Are you in a Lifegroup?
      • If not, get in one. You will see a number in your bulletin where you can get connected to a Lifegroup.
    • Is there estrangement between another person in our church?
    • Do you have unfinished business with someone?
    • Those who have fellowship with God our Father will have fellowship with God’s children.

 

Test of Accepted Sin

  • 2) Test of Accepted Sin
    • Last year Deborah and I had some brighter lights installed in our basement, and the first thing I thought when the new lights came on was, “Man, I need to clean this basement.”
    • It’s easy to keep the filth in the dark, but once it comes out in the light, it forces us to do something about it.
    • Is there a dark corner of the basement of your heart where you hide your sin?
    • Is there a sin in your life that you simply accept? Have you stopped fighting and have you given up?
    • Just as mold can’t grow in the light, neither can sin grow when it is in the light of God.
  • We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light.

 

We have Fellowship with God when We Say “I have sin”

  • Let’s look at the second “If we say…” statement
  • [read vs 8-9]
  • Underline “If we say we have no sin”
  • We have fellowship with God when we say “I have sin”
  • We have another test case with two options:
    • “I have no sin”
    • “I have sin”

 

Sin: Rejected by Culture, Gospel the Solution

  • In our culture today, it’s common to view sin as an outdated religious relic.
  • Today, sin has been substituted for words like “misunderstanding” or “disagreement” or “mistake”, all of which puts the blame not on an act but on unfortunate circumstances
    • Sin seems too uncomfortable a term, and I even find myself pausing before talking about sin.
  • But there are dire consequences for losing the concept of sin, both for an individual and a culture
  • We all see that our public discourse has become more and more polarized.
    • People view those whom they disagree as “evil” or “wicked” or “stupid” rather than as someone whom they simply disagree
  • Many cultural commentators from the right and the left note that we have switched religious ideas and political ideas where politics has become the religion of our culture.
    • We have become afraid to call out sin, but happy to call our opponents evil and our allies good, no matter what they do morally.
      • Without the concept of sin, moral right or wrong is not based on what someone does but rather which group they are part of
    • Have you seen this too?
  • The Gospel is the solution to this problem
  • The Bible says that we all sin and no one is perfect. God alone is perfect, and we need other people – even people we disagree with – in order to better understand what is right, especially in the arena of politics.
    • If you are a Christian, you may be utterly convinced of your political positions. But as a Christian, you also must believe that you are a sinner and you are regularly wrong.
      • The Bible calls this “humility”
  • As in verse 8, those who say they have no sin, that they are never wrong, deceive themselves.
    • If we look at our business, family, politics, money, or any other arena of life and say, “I have no sin. There is nothing in me that needs to change to be more like Christ.” Then we are self-deceived.
  • Followers of Jesus must hold tightly to the truth of God’s Word, and hold loosely to the belief that you or I have it all figured out
    • The fix to our polarization is an uprising of humble followers of Jesus
  • Those who say, “I have no sin!” are self-deceived.

Believe by Faith and Confessing your Sins

  • But there is a second group
    • Let’s read verses 8-9 again: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Christians must constantly be confessing our sins before God, because confession is a vital part of a relationship with anyone, especially with God.
  • Sometimes Christians think of the idea of “confession” as the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession.
    • But the Bible teaches that confession of sin should be a continual pattern in a Christian’s life, not merely something you do in a confessional booth to a priest
  • When a person receives Christ, when they get saved, they have what the Bible calls “Belief through faith” where they believe that the work done on the cross is sufficient to pay the penalty of sin
    • A necessary part of belief through faith is confessing that we are guilty of sin and in need of a Savior.
  • Belief through Faith changes our status from an enemy of God to a child of God
  • After you are saved, you never need to get re-saved to experience forgiveness. Christ has already forgiven you for all the sins you will ever commit.
    • Your status is secure.
  • Nonetheless, confession must be a regular part of the Christian life because it restores our relationship to God.
    • God’s heart doesn’t move away from us, our hearts move away from Him when we sin.
    • When we confess our sins we are taking ownership of our sins. We are saying, “I’m sorry.”
    • In confession our hearts are drawn back to God’s heart
  • If you have been spiritually born again through Jesus, then confession does not change your status but restores your relationship.
  • Illustration: Adoption
    • One of the illustrations in Scripture of our new birth is adoption, and adoption is also a major emphasis here at CVC. Three of our pastors’ families have adopted.
    • When a child is adopted, the parents commit to this child for the rest of their life.
    • When the child disobeys, and there is a distance in the relationship of the parent to the child, it does not mean that the child is less of a son or daughter.
    • No, when a child sins against his parent, his status is not at risk. But the health of the relationship and the intimacy with his parent is impacted.
    • Verse 9 says that God forgives us and “cleanses us from all unrighteousness”
    • In our confession, God cleanses us from the distance we have caused in our relationship with Him
  • Confession does not change our status but restores our relationship.
  • When we do confess our sins, God is faithful and just to restore us.
  • We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin! Here they are. Help me.”

We have Fellowship with God when We Ask Forgiveness

  • The final “If we say” statement is verse 10 and functions as a summary statement
  • [vs 10]
  • We have fellowship with God when we ask forgiveness
  • Maybe you are here today and have never asked for forgiveness from God.
    • If that is true, then you are saying that you have no need of forgiveness and you have no sin.
    • But God says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If you have never asked God for forgiveness, then you are saying that God is spreading a false rumor about you and he is lying.
  • Here is some good news: The only relationship that will never require your forgiveness is a relationship with God
  • If you have never put your faith in Jesus by confessing your sins and trusting in the work of Jesus on the cross to pay for your sins, you need to do that today.
    • You do that by telling God that you have sinned, that you cannot pay God back for your sin, but you want to be forgiven through Jesus and you commit to living as a child of God
    • Mark on a response card to let us know you did that today

Review:

  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness
    • Vs 6-7: We have fellowship with God when we walk in the light
      • We walk in the light when we have fellowship with others and reject hidden sin
    • Vs 8-9: We have fellowship with God when we say, “I have sin!”
      • We must confess our sins to God
    • Vs 10: We have fellowship with God when we ask for forgiveness

Application: Jesus Paid our Payment

  • For the rest of our time this morning, I want to get into your business a little bit
  • During my study this week, verse 7 stuck out to me and I’ve been chewing on it ever since
  • Verse 7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
    • The first consequence of fellowship with God is fellowship with one another.
  • Fellowship always requires forgiveness
  • Jesus took the payment for our wrongs done to him, he absorbed it on the cross, so that we could be forgiven. He willingly took on that punishment so that we could be reconciled to God.
    • That’s what forgiveness is: it’s taking the consequences for someone else’s wrong.
  • We may say, “That’s not fair!” That’s exactly right.
  • God will never need your forgiveness, but he has offered it to you because he loves you
  • And, as he has forgiven us, he asks us to forgive each other
    • Every one of us needs to be forgiven and to offer forgiveness
  • Fellowship with God requires forgiveness, God forgiving us and us forgiving each other.

Prayer and Card:

  • In the next five minutes, meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God this questions, “Who do I need to forgive?”
    • On bottom of your prayer guide, you will see two boxes.
    • One box says, “Today I commit before God to forgive _______.”
    • The other box says, “Today, I commit before God to seek forgiveness from ________.”
  • I want you to meditate on Ephesians 4:32 and ask God, “Who do I need to forgive?”
  • Is it a family member whose decisions has irreparably impacted your life and the rest of your family.
  • It is an acquaintance that you knew for a time and did something to you that you will never forget?
  • Is it an organization? A Church? A boss?
  • Maybe the member of God’s family that you refuse to forgive … is yourself. Maybe today you will believe God that your sins are paid for and you have been given forgiveness
    • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, it’s not condoning or forgetting, and it’s not based on the action of others. Forgiveness is releasing that person of the spiritual payment that they owe.
    • If you are serious that today you will offer or seek forgiveness from someone, I want you to write that person’s name in the blank.
  • If you write a person’s name, you are committing to God that you will forgive that person.
  • Who is it that God wants you to forgive?

Time for Prayer

Resurrection

  • Forgiveness is extraordinarily costly, and it is extraordinarily painful. It’s like a death.
  • Jesus is our model for forgiveness. His forgiveness was extraordinarily costly to the point of death. But on the third day he rose again, and we get to reap the benefits of his resurrection.
  • Rom 6:4 says, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
  • Many of you have committed to God to do the hard work of forgiveness. God has promised you newness of life when you forgive.
  • That is my hope and prayer for you, that you will forgive as Christ has forgiven you, and you will walk in newness of life.

Let’s Stand and Sing

Grace Not Passivity

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

When my husband and I were dating he asked me what I thought was the most important thing in a relationship. I said love and respect for one another and healthy communication.  I asked him what he thought was, and he said, “I agree with you, but I would also say it’s forgiveness, because that exemplifies God’s sacrificial and unconditional love. What Christ did on the cross for us is like he gave us a clean slate forever. He keeps no record of wrongs and neither should we.” He took my hand in his and moved it as if he was erasing a chalkboard. He said, when we hurt each other it will have its own consequences, but I want us to be able to address what’s really going on and then clean slate one another and keep no record of wrongs that may fuel future fires we will face.” This has been a foundational part of our marriage for the last 22 years.

Christ’s love and forgiveness for us exemplifies grace but not passivity. Christ was never passive.   One of the most defining moments in our marriage was a time where his love looked most like Christ’s in this way and he stood firm in boundaries that were necessary for our marriage and for our family.

It is true that God calls us to forgive as has first forgiven us. If not, we end up being prisoners in our own resentment and cause a wedge in our relationship with Christ because of our disobedience.  Part of forgiving is recognizing we are all human and imperfect and we will fail one another.  Part of it is in recognizing that we act in self-preserving behaviors and unhealthy coping mechanisms and usually underneath hurtful, harmful acts is a hurting person. While God calls us to be like him and forgive, he does not call us to inflate or magnify minor offenses or to minimize situations that must be addressed. Louis B. Smeades the author of Forgive and Forget and also The Art of Forgiving, helps bring clarity on when our flesh gets entangled or we have a skewed perspective of forgiveness. In his book Forgive and Forget he says,

“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be it can make you into a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.”

Smeades sheds light on situations that he calls minor offenses and reunions/restoring in relationships. Minor offenses are acts that are done innocently or with pure motives. He states,

“Not every hurt calls for repentance or in need of forgiveness, any more than every cut needs stitching. In the cross-town traffic of human relationships, we have limitless chances to rub people the wrong way, thoughtlessly, carelessly and stupidly.  Mini wrongs can be soothed with a modest gesture that falls well short of repentance and in need of forgiveness.”

He also makes note that it is not always healthy to reconcile or reunite right away, or even at all, in every act of forgiveness by stating, “Forgiveness is something that is done within a person’s heart and mind and does not obligate us to go back. Forgiving happens inside the wounded person while reunion happens in a relationship between two people. Forgiving has no strings attached and reunion has several strings attached.”  I advise the people that I work with that those strings include boundaries that send the message “I will not let you hurt me (or our family)” and “trust is something that must be rebuilt”.

When I counsel couples and families I will often put out three plastic bowls and let them represent areas within the family system that need addressing. The first bowl represents the minor offenses, in other words, the things we need to let go of. The second bowl represents the things we need to compromise and work through to a healthier place for all parties. The third represents nonnegotiables. These are rules or boundaries that keep everyone safe. Boundaries will vary within each unique situation but there are times when separation for safety, counseling and healthy restoration are necessary.

The non-negotiable boundaries that include situations where someone is being abused, neglected, a threat of harm, or is no longer safe within his/her environment, require a physical separation for as long as the offender remains a threat to safety. In situations involving substance abuse/addiction, situations that put the family financially at risk, or cause serious emotional distress, the variance of boundaries is not as cut and dry. They vary from areas that clearly fall within the non-negotiable to ones that lend themselves to working through the underlying hurt to a place of possible healing, reunion and restoration. Here is where wisdom must lead.  Meeting with a counselor or pastor can help you navigate so you’re neither abandoning your spouse in a time of great need nor enabling their behavior.

Forgiveness is given, but boundaries must be set.  Consider what it looks like for trust to be rebuilt and at what level of restoration is healthy for all involved. Is the one who has offended showing evidence of humility, taking responsibility for their offense? Repented? Willing, committed and following through with counseling and/or treatment for their own healing? Meeting with a pastor or mentor regularly? Being honest and meeting with an accountability group or partner? Taking initiative or agreeing to the removal of opportunities to repeat the offense? Making a plan of action together? Respecting other boundaries you have set?   Trust can begin to be restored at a gradual level when there is a pattern of progression and commitment to healing and change.

In his book, The Art of Forgiving, Smeades states, “If we keep forgiving, judgment and good sense in their right places, we can let the miracle of forgiving do its own proper work of healing and leave the restoration of the offender to other practical considerations.”

 

 

SONG OF THE WEEK: How Wonderful

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

button_listen-on-spotify

SONG OF THE WEEK:  How Wonderful – Leeland

“How wonderful, how lovely is Your name
You captivate our hearts, You save us by Your grace
.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.30.19 AMSometimes, we just need to come to grips with the fact that words can never encapsulate the majesty and splendor of our amazing God. That truth is where songs like this take on a truly glorious and beautiful meaning.

Our God is beautiful, He’s amazing, glorious, and a great host of other grandiose descriptions. At the end of the day, there’s little more that we can say. He’s wonderful, kind, and gracious to us.

Ephesians 1:7-8 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

God has lavished His rich grace upon us. Grace undeserved and freely given. When Paul states that God has LAVISHED us, it means that God has given in “extreme and outrageous fashion”. He has given us far more than we could ever seek or ask!

Praise be to His beautiful name for His wonderful salvation!

Exodus 15:11
“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

Psalm 104:1 “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty!”

Psalm 145:5 “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.”

Psalm 8:9 “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

Sometimes all we can say is “How great is the name of our Lord!”

button_listen-on-spotify

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Way

by Kevin Lorow, Cuyahoga Valley Church Worship Arts Assistant

button_listen-on-spotify

SONG OF THE WEEK: The Way (New Horizons) – Pat Barrett

If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve still got this song stuck in your head from Sunday! We declared this anthem together while we watched several of our brothers and sisters get baptized and go public with their declaration of having received new life in Christ!

I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life
I believe You are
The way, the truth, the life

It’s repetitive, but this words are taken right out of Scripture in John 14:6.Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.25.15 AM“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”

There’s something unique and powerful when we affirm the decision to follow Jesus and to live believing what He has said. There is no other way, no other truth, and no other life apart from Him. The words of the bridge should also be a deep encouragement, and a defiant statement to the schemes that the devil can use to pry us away from our Lord.

And it’s a new horizon and I’m set on You
And You meet me here today with mercies that are new
All my fears and doubts, they can all come too

Because they can’t stay long when I’m here with You

We’re told in Lamentations:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

No matter what comes with the horizon, we can rest in confidence that God will be there as well, and that He will continue to show us His mercy! Because of that, we can live in defiance of our fears and doubts, knowing that our great and awesome God will conquer them! Praise be to God for the new life He has given to us!

button_listen-on-spotify

Unleash Update

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church Lead Pastor

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A year ago, we launched UNLEASH, which is an initiative to generate $2 million over and above our operating budget to reach our Neighbors, the Nations, and the Next Generation.

  • Our Neighbors—generate up-front money for capital expenditures for a campus ($350,000)
  • The Nations—translate the Bible for the SOLI people of Pearl Island ($250,000)
  • The Next Generation—get rid of our mortgage debt so that we can invest in all of our ministries (especially our next generation ministries) and also help with the ongoing operating costs of our future campuses ($1,400,000)

To date we gave generated $1,781,795 which is 89% of our goal!

We also want to let you know that even though we have not yet achieved our $2 million goal, WE HAVE COMPLETELY PAID OFF THE MORTGAGE. 

How did we do that when we have only reached 89% of our UNLEASH goal?

  • We had a number of contributions come in that were earmarked for debt reduction before we officially launched the UNLEASH campaign. So, when we publicly launched the UNLEASH campaign, our debt was closer to $1.2 million instead of $1.4 million.

Now what?

  1. Keep praying for UNLEASH & for Cuyahoga Valley Church leadership as we are getting ready for a new year of ministry.
  2. We still want to hit our goal of $2 million—and even exceed it—so we want you to fulfill your pledge to UNLEASH.
    • We still have $218,205 left to hit our goal.
    • The remaining dollars will still go towards our 3 UNLEASH initiatives
    • So even though the mortgage is gone, we can still use additional resources for investing in our ministries and our future campuses.
  3. If you did not pledge support to the UNLEASH campaign or have not given to it, you still can! In fact, we are praying to exceed our $2 million goal because every dollar given to UNLEASH supports reaching more people for Christ.  We have UNLEASH magazines in the foyer if you do not have one and you’d like to know more about the campaign.

Thank you for all your support of UNLEASH and Cuyahoga Valley Church.  You are helping to change people’s lives for eternity!

 

 

How the Holy Spirit Helps Us