Writing “Your Story”

What to Do:
Ask God to give you wisdom.
Make your story sound conversational, not academic or formal.
Be warm and personal.
Keep to a 3 minute limit. (That’s about 650-700 words.)
Be realistic, don’t exaggerate.

What Not to Do:
Avoid statements that reflect negatively on any church organization.
Avoid statements that reflect negatively on any individual.
Avoid religious-sounding words, denominations, or church names.
Avoid speaking writing in a preachy manner. Say, “I” and “me,” not “you.”
Avoid using vague terms like “joyful,” “peaceful,” or “changed” without explaining them.
Avoid using religious terms like “saved,” “sin,” or “convicted” without explaining them.
Avoid communicating that all your struggles and problems have now ended.

Writing Style:
Begin with an attention-getting sentence or incident.
Be positive, accurate and specific – sharing a few key details will help arouse interest.
Simplify – reduce the “clutter.” Mention a limited number of people and details.
Use Bible verses directly related to your experience. But do not use the references. For example, say, “One of Jesus’ disciples said…” rather than writing “1 John 5:11-13 says…”
Write things just as you would share with someone one-on-one.

Remember: Effective communication is brief, to the point, and clear. Sharing your story should not take more than 3 minutes. All right, now you’re ready to write! Just answer the following questions:

Before Christ: Who were you before you met Jesus?

Many people’s actions spring out of their unsatisfied deep inner needs. What were one or two of your unsatisfied deep inner needs before you came to know Jesus? What were your attitudes, needs, and problems before you received Christ?Examples: “I was seeking for…” “My life revolved around…” “I gained happiness and security from…” “My life was missing….” “My attitude was…” “My life was filled with problems I could not solve…” (Use an example from your personal life here. For instance, did your security come from money, your relationships, etc? Remember, avoid being overly sensational.)

Non-Christians are usually trying to satisfy their deep inner needs through unsatisfactory solutions. What unsatisfactory solutions did you use to attempt to meet those deep inner needs?

How did trying to meet your deep inner needs this way disappoint you? How was your life unfulfilling? How did you come to realize this? What were you struggling with (if anything) just before you received Christ?

Receiving Christ: How did Jesus change your life?

This part of your personal testimony is where you come to the transition in your life, where God’s work begins to become evident in you. Remember to follow the same guidelines as before.

Describe the circumstances that caused you to consider Christ as the solution to your deep inner needs. When and how did you first hear about and truly understand the story about Jesus? What were your struggles just before you received Christ?

State specifically the steps you took to become a follower of Jesus. Share truths about the gospel – that you realized you have disobeyed God, that you realized you did not deserve His forgiveness, that you realized Christ died to forgive you, and that you realized your need to receive Jesus to be forgiven and to be changed forever. Remember that it’s the gospel that has the power to change lives (see Romans 1:16). So, include how you came to understand that Jesus came, that He died on the cross in your place to save you, and that He rose again.

You likely cannot remember exactly what you prayed when you received Christ. But sharing a few words about how you prayed (shat you may have said) might encourage someone else to express their faith in a similar way.

After receiving Christ: Who are you now?

When giving a personal testimony, many people concentrate on the sin they had before they received Christ – even the sensationalism. However, an effective testimony focuses not on our sin, but on the work of the Holy Spirit in us, so that Jesus Christ takes center stage. It is at this point that your testimony really begins to shine the spotlight on Jesus.

State how Jesus filled or is filling your deep inner needs. In the before section, you express your needs and how you tried unsuccessfully to meet them. You now want to briefly show the difference that Jesus has made in your life.

What happened when you received Christ? How and why did your attitudes and actions begin to change? What has happened since you received Christ? How has your life changed? When did you notice that change? How are you motivated differently now?

If there is a particular verse that applies, this would be a good place to use it.

***

If you received Christ at an early age…

Perhaps you grew up in a Christian home and you received Christ at a very early age. If so, you can use a slightly different approach to writing your story.

1) Before: State the deep inner needs you see the people around you trying to fill. Describe how you see people unsuccessfully trying to satisfy those needs.
2) How: Explain how Jesus has helped you avoid some of the struggles many people face. Refer back to your conversion experience and state how you trusted Christ as a child. Make sure you briefly include truths about the gospel.
3) After: Illustrate how Christ has met or is meeting your deep inner needs. Remember not to communicate that all your struggles and problems have now ended. End your story by sharing how Jesus is still changing your life.

Example Testimony

Please use the following headings as your write your testimony.

Assurance

If you were to die today, are you sure that you would go to heaven? Please explain.

Assurance is intended to provide confidence, a promise, a pledge or a guarantee.

In John 3:16, God assures us “that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life in heaven”. God gave his one and only son, and it is only through Jesus and His death on the cross that my sins are forgiven that I can have eternal life with God in heaven.

John 10:27-29 says, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Scripture to think on:

John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:38-40, John 6:47, John 10:27-29, Romans 8:1, Ephesians 1:13-14, Philippians 1:6, 1 Peter 1:4-5, 1 John 5:13

 

A Gracious Introduction

Tell us about who you are.

I am 35 years of age, married for 11 years, and have 2 children. I am blessed with many family members, friends and neighbors. I worked for 13 years in a corporate and small business environment. I was raised going to church with both my father and mother heavily involved in the church activities. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and now live in Broadview Heights.

The Good in Your Past

What are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for a loving family who loved me well. I’m grateful for God’s provision in my life, that before I knew who He was, He still loved me, protected me, and gave me the opportunities to encounter Him.

 

The Sinfulness of Your Past

Share some thoughts, actions, and attitudes unpleasing to God.

I have struggled with judging people due to anger and bitterness. My attitude was at times hostile if I felt someone had more than me.  Another area I struggled with is my speech habits, because the words of my mouth were not always pleasing to the Lord. My thoughts were not always pure or Godly thoughts. I played the role of a good person but deep inside I knew I was not leading a Godly life. I was living my own life for me.

The Gospel Message

Explain the Gospel message in your own words. Use Bible references and share the basics of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I realized my sin, how every person (including me) sins, and how that sin separates us from God (Romans 3:23). I remember coming to the realization that my sin demanded condemnation from holy God and that I would live apart from God when I died (Romans 6:23).But then I heard the good news – I could be forgiven and made right with God through the death & resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus, on my behalf. I repented of my sin and prayed to place my trust in Jesus Christ alone for my eternal destiny (Romans 5:8). I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I am a believer and I love Jesus! I am in Christ and a new creation with my sins forgiven due to sincere, ongoing repentance and communion. God gives me many promises daily through his biblical words and providing me guidance through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture to think on:

Ezekiel 36:26-27John 1:11-12, John 3:3-8, John 3:16Luke 24:46-49Acts 3:19, Acts 10:34-43Romans, 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:231 Corinthians 15:3-42 Corinthians 5:17Ephesians 2:5

 

The Circumstances of Your Conversion

Who and/or what were instrumental in your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

It was a little over two years ago that I attended my first service at CVC with my neighbor at Easter time. I had not attended a church in years because I had been deeply hurt by the church I was attending as I was going through difficult family situations. At the service the Pastor spoke about how Christ allowed Thomas to doubt for eight days when he could have easily told him earlier. On hearing that, I then felt that God by His grace allowed me to doubt for years as well. So, I was confronted with my doubting and asked the Lord to help me believe! After that service my life began to change day by day. A CVC friend gave me the book “Living on the Edge” by Chip Ingram. I learned about what a Christian’s life should look like. That fall I joined a LifeGroup, and these people have become truly my sisters and brothers in Christ for they have shown me what a Christ-like person should look like. As I’ve grown in understanding His word, I gave over ALL my hurts, difficulties, sadness, problems…and truly put them in His hands. God gave me peace in a joy-filled way. It felt like He was saying, “You finally got it! I will carry everything for you! You are mine! My Beloved!”  I danced with lightness as I realized I no longer had to carry my load. My coming to Christ has been happening over these past two years in gentle, loving ways.

Changes after New Life in Christ

Describe your New Life Transformation.

My biggest transformation has been this past year really learning to trust and be challenged with my faith and obedience through temptations and trials that I have had no control over. Knowing God is beside me, allowing the suffering to bring me closer to God, not becoming withdrawn or detached, falling into sinful ways to relieve unpleasing feelings. I am continually becoming a new person in Christ…each and every day. As I study and read the Bible, go to my LifeGroup, meet with others outside of church, and try each day to follow the will of Christ, I find new ways to stretch myself more in doing God’s will. I try and reach out to those in need. I hold myself morally to what Christ has said in his word. Along with my daily bible reading, I listen to sermons daily, so I continually learn more and more about Jesus.

What is Baptism?

In your own words, describe what baptism means and why you would like to be baptized.

Baptism is the mark of a New Life in Christ. Jesus commands us to be baptized as an outward sign of an inward commitment. It lets others know that we have left the old life behind, and we have entered New Life in Christ. Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.

 

 

The Covenant of the Ring

By Dean Siley, Pastor of Care & Connections at Cuyahoga Valley Church

Do you find yourself frustrated with some of the relational patterns you experience in your marriage and within your family?

Do you keep stumbling over the same irksome “dance steps” in your relationships?

Our early life experiences teach us how to love, for better or for worse. People usually have no clue there is another way – a better way to love. A good first step would be to take the “Love Style Assessment”. This is a free assessment that you can easily access here: https://howwelove.com.

We are also offering “How We Love” in a LifeGroup format, with three available options this summer. Join us as we take a look at how our life experiences have shaped “How We Love” others. Begin understanding the painful patterns of relationships that keep you stuck, and learn how to create the close nurturing relationships you desire. We will take a look at a 7 lesson DVD series called “How We Love” by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. These studies are open to all (married, single, divorced). If you are married, it will be most helpful for you and your spouse to attend together. However, if your spouse in unable to attend it will still be worthwhile to come.

The 2018 session dates are —

Mixed Groups

Sunday mornings from June 10-July 29, 9:30-10:50 AM (skip July 1)
Wednesday evenings from June 6-August 1, 7-8:30 PM (skip July 4 and 25)

Womens’ Group

Wednesday mornings May 23-July 11, 10-11:30 AM (skip July 4).

To sign up for any of these sessions, or for more information, please contact Wayne and Gail Douglas: live.new.marriage@gmail.com.

I hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities that will help you to experience relationships as God intended them to be.

13 False Gospels

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor of Cuyahoga Valley Church

Here’s a list of 13 False Gospels from week one of our Liberated sermon series. It’s adapted from a list found in “Counterfeit Gospels” by Trevin Wax.  Notice that they are “Man-centric” not “Christ-centric”.

  1. Therapeutic Gospel
    Sin robs us of our sense of fulfillment. Christ’s death proves our worth as humans and gives us power to reach our potential. The church is here to help us feel happy and feel good about ourselves.

  2. Moralist Gospel
    Our big problem is sins (plural) and not sin (nature). The purpose of Christ’s death is to make us better people and help us have spiritual willpower to be more moral.

  3. Mystic Gospel
    Salvation comes through an emotional experience with God. The church exists to provide me with powerful experiences to help me feel close to God and pursue a mystical union with Him.

  4. Works Gospel
    We have to pursue more good deeds than bad deeds in this life to be made right with God. Jesus showed us the way. Now, it’s up to us to do enough good works to be let into heaven.
  5. Legalistic Gospel
    Sin is failing to keep Christian rules and behavior. Once we become a follower of Christ we will live up to certain spiritual standards and the church helps us know what those standards are by giving us the religious rituals to keep, and divine expectations to fulfill.
  6. Universal Gospel
    We don’t have any personal responsibility in regards to our sin nor in responding to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Everyone will be saved because of Jesus, so just do the best you can in life to be kind to others and leave this planet a better place than when you arrived. God will reward all and judge no one – except maybe the extremely evil people from human history.
  7. Spiritually neutral Gospel
    As long as we have a sincere faith in something and follow a spiritual path of some kind, God will accept us. All spiritual paths lead to God and heaven. It’s just better if we make Jesus a part of the path since He is such a good example and heroic martyr.
  8. Fire Insurance Gospel
    As long as we prayed a “sinner’s prayer” at some point in our life then we are saved.  No life transformation needs to be evidenced, we are covered by this prayer and can go on living life as we choose free from the worry of hell.
  9. Prosperity Gospel
    Jesus wants us to live a life of health and wealth.  If we really have faith in Jesus, then we will be untouched by the brokenness of this world and live out God’s desire for us to be successful, rich, powerful, and daily a recipient of His special favor only reserved for those who truly believe in Jesus.
  10. Poverty Gospel
    As followers of Christ, we can never possess or enjoy anything in this world. A true faith relationship with Jesus results in choosing to be materially poor and spiritually rich. You cannot be a Christian and enjoy material possessions or earthly experiences.
  11. Social Activist Gospel
    Jesus died and rose so that we can be social and political activists in our culture.  Individuals hearing about the person and work of Jesus Christ is not as important as our efforts to bring social justice and peace to all areas of society.
  12. Self-Help Gospel
    We are our own worst problem and our negativity about ourselves hinders us from fully achieving all that we are and can be. Jesus wants us to see how great we really are and then pursue letting that greatness out. The solution to our problems is already within us and He is there to cheer us on.
  13. Labelistic Gospel
    Dedication to our own subcultural label of Christianity (conservative, liberal, evangelical, political, denominational, racial, or gender association). You convince yourself that the only people who understand the Bible and Jesus accurately are those who align with your particular label, language, views and subculture.

 

23 Verses To Be Gospel Wise

Facebook-ShareIsaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

nsmitten by God, and afflicted.

oBut he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

pand with his wounds we are healed.

qAll we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

rand the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

John 3:16–17

“For hGod so loved ithe world,9 jthat he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not kperish but have eternal life. 17 For lGod did not send his Son into the world mto condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 1

Romans 1:16

For dI am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is ethe power of God for salvationto everyone who believes, to the Jew ffirst and also to gthe Greek. 17 For in it htherighteousness of God is revealed ifrom faith for faith,5 jas it is written, “Therighteous shall live by faith.”6

Romans 3:23-24

23 for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 gand are justified hby his grace as a gift, ithrough the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 5:8

but lGod shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23

23 dFor the wages of sin is death, but thefree gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in ChristJesus.

Romans 10:9–10

because, if myou confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and nbelieve inyour heart othat God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with theheart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Now I would remind you, brothers,1 of the gospel gI preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you jhold fast to the word I preached to you—kunless you believed in vain.

For lI delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christdied mfor our sins nin accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, thathe was raised oon the third day pin accordance with the Scriptures, and thatqhe appeared to Cephas, then rto the twelve. Then he appeared to more thanfive hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some havefallen asleep. Then he appeared to sJames, then tto all the apostles. Last of all,as to one untimely born, uhe appeared also to me.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 qFor our sake he made him to be sin rwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become sthe righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, thats though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Galatians 1:8

But even if we or qan angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, rlet him be accursed.

Galatians 2:18a

18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

Ephesians 1:13

13 In him you also, when you heard ethe word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, fwere sealed with the gpromised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were kdead in the trespasses and sins lin which you once walked, following the course of this world, following mthe prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in nthe sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in othe passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body1 and the mind, and pwere by nature qchildren of wrath, like the rest of mankind.2 But3 God, being rrich in mercy, sbecause of the great love with which he loved us, even twhen we were dead in our trespasses, umade us alive together with Christ—vby grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and wseated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable xriches of his grace inykindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For zby grace you have been savedathrough faith. And this is bnot your own doing; cit is the gift of God, dnot a result of works, eso that no one may boast. 10 For fwe are his workmanship, gcreated in Christ Jesus hfor good works,  iwhich God prepared beforehand, jthat we should walk in them.

Colossians 2:13-14

13 aAnd you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God bmade alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by ccanceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

2 Timothy 1:10

10 and which now has ybeen manifested through zthe appearing of ourSavior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and bbrought life and cimmortality to light through the gospel,

Titus 3:4–7

But when dthe goodness and loving kindness of God ourSavior appeared, he saved us, enot because of works done by us in righteousness, but faccording to his own mercy, by gthe washing of regeneration and hrenewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he ipoured out on us richly throughJesus Christ our Savior, so that jbeing justified by his grace we might become kheirs  laccording to the hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 2:14-17

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise hpartook of the same things, that ithrough death he might jdestroy kthe one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who lthrough fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he mhelps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had nto be made like his brothers in every respect, oso that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest pin the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 9:28

28 so Christ, having been offered once qto bear the sins ofmany, will appear sa second time, tnot to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly uwaiting for him.

1 Peter 2:24-25

24 eHe himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we fmight die to sin and glive to righteousness. hBy his wounds you have been healed. 25 For iyou were straying like sheep, but have now returned to jthe Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 3:18

18 For Christ also msuffered2 nonce for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,othat he might bring us to God, being put to death pin the flesh but made alive qin he spirit,

1 John 4:10

10 In this is love, onot that we have loved God nbut that he loved us and sent his Son to be pthe propitiation for our sins.

 

 

Grace Not Passivity

by Leigh-Ann Brisbin, Women’s Director

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 also think it’s forgiveness because 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 and said, “when we hurt, wrong, and offend each other it will have its own consequences, but I want us to be able to address what’s really going on, 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 mercy and grace, but never passivity. His death on the cross, was itself, a willing act of love and not a passive victimization.  One of the most defining moments in our marriage was a time when my husband’s love looked most like Christ’s in this way and he stood firm in boundaries that were necessary for our marriage and our family.

It is true that God calls us to forgive as he 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 recognizing that we act in self-preserving behaviors and learned unhealthy coping mechanisms and that usually underneath hurtful, harmful acts is a hurting person.  Forgiveness requires that I don’t retaliate with my own forms of self-preservation or passivity, but that I let the Holy Spirit lead me to a place of wisdom in my responses, neither shaming nor condoning. 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.”

“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”.

“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.”

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 non-negotiables. 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 your 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.”

 

 

Marriage Resources

There is no shortage of books and resources on marriage. However, there are few that deal directly with the ultimate purpose of marriage and how that purpose fuels every other area of marriage. Below are a few books and sermons that will help you dig deeper into the biblical view of marriage and gain tools for long-term covenant-keeping.

Also, this story illustrates well what I spoke about in my sermon  – that marriage is ultimately about showing the world what God’s love is like. It is worth your time and attention.

Inclusive exclusivity

by Rick Duncan, Founding Pastor

Yes, Christianity is exclusive. Unapologetically exclusive. Jesus claims to be The Way.

Some oppose Christians because of this exclusive claim. But they are invited to also recognize that Christianity among world religions is uniquely inclusive.

Christianity is not only exclusive, but also inclusive. Very much so. How so?

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, KJV).

Who can be saved? Red. Yellow. Black. White.

“Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, yellow, black, and white. They are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the children of the world.”

Anybody can come. Everybody can come. Whosoever will may come. We are all welcome. We are all invited.

Back in college, as I studied the religions of the world, it became very apparent to me that they all developed some kind of system for humans to be good enough to escape from the cycle of reincarnation or to get to paradise or nirvana or whatever their idea was of heaven.

Be good. Do more. Give your works to God. Then God will owe you.

Christianity says just the opposite. Jesus was good for us. God already did His more for us. He gives His works to us. Now, we owe God.

Trying to work your way to God is really exclusive. Only the good people dare apply. What about those of us who have been sinful, materialistic, ugly, greedy, selfish, mean-spirited? If you could work your way to God through all of the religions of the world, good people would be in and the bad people would be left out. That’s exclusive.

So, you see, both approaches to God are exclusive. But there’s more inclusivity in the gospel of Christ. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. You will be welcomed and embraced fully and instantly through Christ. Whosoever will – Jew, Methodist, Muslim, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Presbyterian, Atheist, agnostic, humanist, Republican, Democrat – can come!

One day, around the throne of God in heaven, there will be people from every nation, every language, every color, every tongue.

That’s inclusive.

The gospel, to be sure, is exclusive, but it is the most inclusive exclusive truth in all the world. It’s inclusive exclusivity. Or, if you prefer, exclusive inclusivity.

BIG Questions Resources

Go on a journey to investigate whether what we have communicated in our Big Questions series is true or not. Here are some resources we would suggest for you.

Introductory…

More than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell

The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel

Intermediate…

The Reason for God, by Tim Keller

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

Intensive…

Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton 

UNLEASH – Update

We couldn’t be happier to share we’ve received $1,389,215 (69%) of our $2,000,000 goal towards UNLEASH! Here’s the latest updates on UNLEASH.

Neighbors:

  • We now have money set aside for our first campus.
  • That’s $237,000 toward our goal of $350,000.
  • We’re doing our homework to prepare for campus.
    • Talking with local and national leaders who are multisite experts.
  • We’re looking at a relatively close area (10-15 miles away) where we have an existing base of attenders and LifeGroups.
  • Continuing to seek the Lord for guidance!
  • Please pray with us that the Lord will show us WHERE to launch, WHEN to launch, and WHO will be our first campus pastor. 

Nations:

  • Earlier this year, we found out that a couple from Texas (who is not connected to Cuyahoga Valley Church) decided to make a donation of their own.  So now, between what we as a church have committed and this very generous couple, the entire cost of the translation project is covered. 
  • As of March 31, we have paid $169,259 towards our $250,000 commitment.
  • Books of the Bible:
    • Team One—
      • Genesis is complete.
      • Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Ruth, and Ezra are well under way.
      • Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges are in the beginning stages.
    • Team Two—
      • Matthew and Mark are complete.
      • 1 & 2 Thessalonians and 1, 2, & 3 John are being completed.
      • Luke and Romans are in the beginning stages.
  • “This is the very first time I have read the Word of God with a clear understanding because it is written in my language! I do not really understand the Scripture in the national language.”
  • Several Bible study groups in the main town have been using pieces of brand-new translated Scriptures and they can’t wait for more of God’s Word in the language they understand best!
  • Please continue to pray for the translation teams!

Next Generation:

  • All that remains on our mortgage note is $201,874!
  • We’ve been able to do this through the UNLEASH contributions and through additional payments out of our cash reserves. The plan is to pay off the loan completely by July 1, 2018, which is when the mortgage note is due. Obviously, we do not want to refinance, especially with such a small balance, so we are essentially reducing our cash reserves to pay off the loan quicker. Once the note is paid off in July, we will replenish our cash reserves with the UNLEASH contributions. Better to pay Cuyahoga Valley Church back, rather than giving it to the bank.
  • Please pray for our leadership as they pray through and plan for how to re-channel that money into reaching the next generation for Christ!

Stay tuned! We’re planning to have a membership meeting in July to give additional updates everyone on UNLEASH.

What We Still Need TO DO.

We’ve made a lot of great progress towards our UNLEASH goal. THANK YOU!

Don’t forget, we still have a ways to go, about $611,000, so please continue to follow through with making your UNLEASH contributions so we can finish strong.

5 Reasons to Believe the Bible is Trustworthy – Part 5

This post continues the series we began earlier this week. Why do we believe that an ancient book has real relevance for today? Last time, we took a look at the witness of fulfilled prophecy. Today…

The witness of personal transformation

The British pastor C.H. Spurgeon said that a Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to actually transform the lives of people. God has used the Bible to change the lives of murderers, drug addicts, government officials, business people, husbands, wives, and students.

The Bible is not merely a book that tells us how to live. It is literally packed with life-changing power. It is the Word of God with the power to transform lives.

“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 competent, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).

Dennis Prager once debated Jonathan Glover, an atheistic philosopher from Oxford. Glover didn’t believe the Bible. So, Prager asked Glover, “If you, Professor Glover, were stranded at the midnight hour in a desolate Los Angeles street and if, as you stepped out of your car with fear and trembling, you were suddenly to hear the weight of pounding footsteps behind you, and you saw ten burly men who had just stepped out of a dwelling coming toward you, would it or would it not make a difference to you to know that they were coming from a bible study?”

Glover had to admit that it would make a difference. Even skeptics know that the Bible changes lives.

Why should we believe the Bible? Because of the witness of internal consistency, manuscript reliability, eyewitness credibility, fulfilled prophecy, and personal transformation.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Can I change? Can I kick this habit? Can I become more patient? Can I live free from fear?” You need God and His Word. The Bible is the means He’s given us so everyone can live new every day.

Read it through. Pray it in. Live it out. He said, “My Word will accomplish My purpose in your life” (Isaiah 55:11). Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent out His word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20, ESV). God can use the Bible to change your life.