49 Questions for The Intentional Husband

Husbands, live with your wife in an understanding way…

1 Peter 3:7a

Asking your wife a series of good questions (and listening intently, actively, and non-defensively to her answers) is one great way to get to understand her better. Below are 7 categories, each with 7 questions.

What good things could happen in your marriage if, over the next 7 weeks, you took your wife on a date and asked her at least some of the questions in each category? You, no doubt, will think of other questions to ask.

It’s our prayer that you will experience new levels of intimacy in your marriage as you learn more and more to live with your wife in an understanding way.

7 Questions to Get to Know You Better

  • What are some of your favorite things about yourself?
  • What’s something you always wanted to do as a child but never got to do it?
  • What would be your ideal day and how might I help you experience that?
  • What are a few of your dreams that I might be able to help you achieve?
  • What were some things we used to do before we were married that you miss now?
  • What is something about your past that has helped shape you that I sometimes forget, overlook, or minimize?
  • What are some things you wish I would do to better show you that I truly love you?

7 Questions to Help You Explore Your Feelings

  • What are you most excited about in our relationship?
  • What are your biggest fears about our relationship?
  • What makes you feel overwhelmed?
  • How could I grow to be more understanding of who you are?
  • What could I do to make you feel more valued?
  • What are some things I could do to make you feel safer?
  • In what ways could I nurture and cherish you more?

7 Questions about the Current Reality of Our Marriage

  • What do I need to know most about you right now?
  • What words would you use to describe our marriage today?
  • What issues about our relationship concern you most right now?
  • If you could change some things about our priorities as a family, what would they be?
  • What am I doing (or not doing) that you see could be a possible threat to our family or our relationship?
  • How would you describe the current level of intimacy we are experiencing?
  • If our marriage keeps going the way it’s been going, what will it be like for us in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years?

7 Questions to Assess Our Relationship

  • What do you think is going right in our relationship?
  • Where are we going wrong?
  • What strengths do I bring to our relationship?
  • In general, how am I doing as a husband?
  • In what ways can I improve as a husband?
  • What can I do to encourage and support you better?
  • What is something you would like us to do to invest in our marriage this year?

7 Questions Related to Our Spiritual Growth

  • What are some things I could do to help us love God more?
  • What are some things I could do to help us serve God more?
  • What would it take for me to be a better spiritual leader in our home?
  • What do you think God wants us to pray about as a couple?
  • What are some areas in our marriage where we are most missing the Lord’s leadership?
  • How could we grow to be better stewards of the resources God has given us?
  • What can I do to make you feel more confident about how we are stepping into the future God has planned for us?

7 Questions about Our Next Steps to Take as a Couple

  • What could we do differently over the next 90 days to help us take 2-3 steps forward as a couple?
  • What steps could we take to improve our dating life?
  • What are some ways I can help you around the house?
  • What steps do we need to take to make sure we are growing stronger financially?
  • What would you change to make our sexual relationship better?
  • What can I do to help you health-wise?
  • As a husband, how can I show more sensitivity to you?

7 Questions about Our Future Dreams

  • If you had three wishes for our future, what would they be?
  • What are your dreams for the future?
  • What would be your dream date night or weekend with me?
  • Where would you like our relationship to be this time next year?
  • What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?
  • What goal would you like to see me accomplish in life that would bring you great joy?
  • If you could see some things change about me, what would they be?

Reflections on 1 Peter 3:1-6

Pastor Chad asked several women within our CVC family to answer four questions related to 1 Peter 3:1-6.  Here are some of their answers.

QUESTION 1: What makes living out 1 Peter 3:1-6 so difficult?

“My own stubbornness and independence. I like control over my life. I lived nearly 20 years as a self-sufficient single adult making my own decisions before I got married. To suddenly be put into a relationship where I need to submit to another’s ideas, it makes my self-sufficient pride cringe.”

“(1) Authoritarian behavior on the husband’s part—this naturally breeds defiance; (2) A woman who is not yielded to the Lord; (3) When the husband does not obey the Lord; (4) When the husband demands submission.”

“It can be difficult because of my own pride.  Growing up, my mom modeled a great deal of pride, and argued daily with my dad.  She impressed upon me the importance of never depending on a man.  This pride has been difficult for me to weed out.  As a follower of Christ, I have had to lean into Him to show me how to do this.  In following God’s greatest commandment to “love God, love others,” I can demonstrate this to my husband when I submit to his leadership of the family.  This has been extremely difficult throughout the years, especially when we originally held different values and ideas.  We were not on the same page spiritually.  Submitting was most difficult when I knew some of his decisions were being made from his broken places.”

“Submitting to anyone is difficult!  If love and respect were not mutual and a cornerstone to our marriage, this would be impossible for me.”

“I think it is difficult because it was no longer natural and easy for us after the fall. It was in essence a part of the curse. Instead of it being a blessing to compliment my husband, I can want to compete with him to get my own way.”

“I tend to be set in my ways and enjoy making decisions based on my own preferences. Getting married really opened my eyes to this self-directed sin nature in need of sanctification.”

“I think the hardest part for me was the realization that I had to die to myself.  As you probably know that is not easy!”

“What makes it (perhaps) difficult is how affected we are by our USA culture.”

“What makes it difficult for women within the church is a misconstrued definition of the word subjection, in particular with dealing with wives being subject to their husbands.  I have very often seen this text taken out of context greatly misinterpreting the privilege and calling of women to live free and godly as servants of God in their role as woman and wife. I have seen the word “subjection” take on a very demeaning sense that almost dehumanizes women as if they were objects or property to serve the best interests of man (husband).  Objectification and self-objectification of women throughout history is still very much alive today in our culture and embraced in the church as well unintentionally and unaware. It causes great heartache to women trying to maintain an external image of beauty along with the pressures to be perfect, to win approval and affirmation “as the lovely wife” so to speak and rarely known by anything else, sometimes not even by name. It can remove individualism and giftings and strengths that can lie dormant if you remain in this position of misunderstanding.  This causes women to be devalued with an unhealthy focus to PLEASE MEN rather than to PLEASE GOD with respectful and pure conduct.”

“The most difficult part of reading and applying this passage has been to sort through the stereotypes and preconceived assumptions attributed to these verses from inside and outside of the church.”

“Submitting is difficult when I disagree with him.”

“As a strong-willed person, the flesh makes it difficult. If I’m not praying, in His word daily, and seeking His presence this can’t and won’t happen.  As a person who has held leadership/management roles, the culture makes it difficult. I get accolades for my strong decision making and problem-solving ability. I’m looked to for direction and have been blessed with much success in my career. Women are told they can do anything but have learned it comes with having to harden your heart a bit—be stronger, louder, firm—in order to be taken serious in the business world.  So, if I follow the values of the culture, not Scripture, this leads to pride and reliance on my ability and this can get me into trouble in my marriage.” 

QUESTION 2: What makes living out 1 Peter 3:1-6 easier?

“When your husband loves the Lord and it flows to his wife.”

“Understanding the Scripture and its context.  1 Peter tells us how to live as Christians in order to be a testimony to the world of God’s grace and mercy.”

“(1) When the husband leads with gentleness and collaborates with his wife in decision making, and (2) Knowing the word of God and living by it on the part of the wife.”

“When my husband pursues the Lord, and his behavior in turn is kinder and gentler with me-this makes submitting easier!”

“I was a much less mature Christian when we first met and so it has always been fairly easy to follow his lead because he was leading me in a good direction (towards Christ). My husband is a born leader and that helps make this easier for me.”

“What makes living out 1 Peter 3:1-6 easier is that it can essentially take the pressure off of us. There is an element of trust as a wife to trust that your husband is walking with the Lord and his convictions are then from God, and there is also great responsibility with that for a husband. I am thankful to not have that on my shoulders!”

“It is easier [to be subject to/follow the leadership of] my husband because I know he is subject to the Lord above all else. More importantly, if my Creator/Father God is instructing me in this way – I am choosing to obey God and HIS design for my life and family. There is blessing and peace that comes from choosing to honor the Lord in the way I interact with my husband. I believe our children will receive a blessing that overflows from our obedience to the Father. In this way, even if a wife has an unbelieving husband, her husband and children will reap blessing from her decision to live a holy life (set apart from worldly ways and worldly thinking). Showing a husband honor in this way honors God.”

“For me, as a believer wanting to honor God and follow His Word, made it easier.  There came a point in our marriage when my own way was less important than following God’s way in showing encouragement, support, and respect to my husband.  However, it did take me many years of God’s conviction and my spiritual growth to get to that point.”

“What makes it easier is how affected we are by and how obedient we are to our caring Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit.  So very thankful.”

“Accurately understanding the correct definition of submission which is to combats self-centeredness in both man and woman, husband and wife.  Practically this is a daily dying to self and honest transparent communication with a focus on grace, respect, and love. It is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God and prayer.”

“Truthfully, I have never found it “difficult” to live out this verse. To me it is no different than “honor your father and mother.” It is a guide for relational living and when I am filled with the spirit of Christ, I am able to discern exactly how He wants me to “honor” and “respect” those around me.  However, we both know that “honor” and “respect” can look differently to different people.  I believe this is where societal norms and stereotypes get in the way of applying these verses. “Winning our husbands or wives over” does not look the same to every person and “winning them over” should never come at the expense of obedience to God.”

“When I disagree with him, opening up dialogue (without fighting) and hoping it results in each of us understanding why the other feels the way they do. Being an active listener creates understanding and gives both of us perspective.  It’s much easier to submit when there is clarity.”

“What makes it easier is having faith and trust that the Lord is for us, loves us, and gave us this directive for our good. He wants a husband and wife to become one, to glorify him, and this is how it will work. Should make life simpler.  We don’t have to figure out who should lead but obey Scripture and follow, then reap the blessing. We should be filled with peace and joy when we follow His model. Unfortunately, there is sin and it’s not easy and can lead to the opposite in a marriage.  Having a godly husband should make it easier! However, I’m sad to say I still struggle with this issue. My husband follows the Lord, knows the word, and tries to implement truth in every area of our marriage and family.”

“It is biblical…so I need to TRY my best, TRUST, and OBEY.  My husband actually makes this easier for me than I believe some other women have it.  He involves me and honors my advice, suggestions, and will.  There is no fight in it.  We sometimes agree to disagree.”

“When I have come across a wife who is struggling with submission, it seems to me the foundation of her struggle lies with God, not just her husband. God commands us to submit to our husband for our good and that we may win some to Christ. If a wife believes that, it makes all the difference.  Picking and choosing what we obey in the Bible is dangerous place to be.”

“How cool is it that by the way I obey my husband, by the way I love and respect him, I can reflect Christ and hopefully win some to Christ!  What an important role!  What a privilege. What a holy calling.  I can beautify myself by submitting to my husband!  I want to be beautiful!  This isn’t a punishment.  It is a beauty regiment!”

“The husband’s role in submission is key.  I think submission gets sticky when husbands aren’t loving their wives as Jesus loves the church.”

QUESTION 3: How does this look (practically speaking) in your marriage?

“Makes me think of a pyramid.  My husband on one side, me on the other, and Jesus at the point.  My husband and I need to focus on Jesus more than each other.  As we do that, we both climb up the pyramid closer to Jesus, thus allowing us to grow closer to each other.”

“With my viewpoints, I need to be cognizant and respectful that my husband’s opinion is also valid and that my arguing ultimately can hurt our marriage. In the long run, it doesn’t matter who does the household chores (and sometimes doesn’t even matter IF they get done).  It’s the whole Win the Battle, Lose the War.”

“I have to sing my husband’s praise here.  He sure makes it easier for me to be subject to him. He is a selfless servant leader in our home. He always listens to my opinions on everything, though I don’t always agree with him on every matter.”

“I had to learn to speak my mind concerning these decisions from a place of love, not a place of pride.  I had to grow in seeing my husband through the eyes of Christ, as a beloved child…”

“Practically speaking, my husband now has the final say on all of our big decisions.  However, he always seeks my opinion and involves me in the decision-making process.  I have found that in giving my husband the space he needs to be the leader in our family, he flourishes.  At the same time, I am freed from the weight of these big decisions, and I can focus better on my role as wife/mom.”

“Before we got married, we went to different Christian churches. He knew that our marriage would be best served in a church that wasn’t the denomination I grew up in, yet for many years we went to my church, and he was very patient with me.  As I grew as a Christian, I eventually needed more, so we chose our church together. If he would have started our marriage with a heavy hand and disrespect for my background, I am not sure I would have been so open and who knows where we would be now.  We don’t agree on everything so when we can disagree in a loving, kind, and patient way, things usually work out.”

“There are many times in my marriage that this has come to play. I often see the importance of communicating my weaknesses and desires to my husband so that he can pray for me but also so that he knows the areas that I may need him to be sensitive to and handle me more gently in. Then when it comes to making a decision when we are not on the same page, he knows where I stand, but I trust his judgement in the next step because of his walk with the Lord.”

“Practically speaking, in the times where we do not agree on how to proceed in a decision, I trust his motives to honor God – I fall back on God who put us together and has our good (for His glory) in mind for whatever comes our way.”

“God gave me joy in denying myself of having to do things my way and he was doing the same.  This gave my husband and I a healthier marriage where we both were being more thoughtful, appreciative, and were serving one another.”

“Honey works better than vinegar.  Wives set the tone (usually) in the home.  Do I want to be demanding, desiring my own way and cause hurt and bad feelings?  What we can easily forget are the vows we made. Those seemingly old-fashioned wedding words are impactful.”

“For women, for myself I need to know and apply what it means to “adorn the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

  • Strive for a gentle spirit (Meekness)
    • This is the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest, self-occupation. I have to guard my heart when my flesh cries out and I want my way. Daily battle!
    • Women are master manipulators and they know it! This is taking advantage of your husbands love and I must guard myself from this learned behavior.
    • I have come to realize that everything God permits in my life is being used to purify my soul and his desire is that I submit to HIM without resisting and trust His way of working in our marriage and family without complaints. Oh how difficult this is but takes great strides in faith!
    • I must choose to respect my husband by guarding my words against him. It is always best when I remain quiet and take it to the Lord rather than complain or grumble to others. Lord forgive!
    • Honest transparent loving communication between husband and wife helps each other deal with their souls and all their difficulties. It must remain a safe environment between the 2. Marriage is sacred!
    • God wants to strengthen me by controlling my reactions in submission to Him so that in every marital difficulty my character responds with confident trust in God rather than in weakness or fear or selfishness. This is God’s redemptive work!

“This is going to look different in almost every marriage. We are all uniquely created, and the way one person feels “honored” or “respected” can be very different than how another person feels honored and respected. The challenge (and beauty) of marriage is finding how to honor and respect each other well while honoring Christ above ALL. If both spouses don’t equally experience honor and respect, even a Christian home can be filled with bitterness and resentment.”

“Good communication when we disagree.”

“As the leader, my husband takes responsibility for how he leads and is proactive, not reactive.  He asks questions, he takes into consideration my feelings/thoughts, he always tries to do what’s best for the us.”

“He will ask when I’m struggling with something and even ask me why I don’t want to follow. He’ll ask, “What do you think my motive is?”  That really helps me, it brings clarity and understanding. Because whatever I’m feeling, when I think about his motives and character, the why becomes very clear. I can see it’s my fear, or doubt or insecurity that is the problem and NOT his leadership. Then he will help me process that fear or concern.”

“I must work daily on this issue, to surrender to God, to remember the perfect example of Jesus’s submission to the Father. I discuss the difficulties of this issue with him. I seek guidance from women who have been married longer and ask for help. I need to admit that this is a struggle (which is a struggle at times!!) and seek help from the Holy Spirit (pray…pray…pray…). I take self-reflection seriously to try and understand is it something he did/said or is it coming from me.  If so, why?”

“You need the Lord to have it work. Because it’s not easy for a strong person to submit without having the Holy Spirit and knowing that the man is a godly man who has a heart that will follow after the Lord. Then you can trust in his motive and helps you to surrender in peace.”

“We have sought external counseling if we are landing TOO far apart on something.  We differ in our parenting strategies (A LOT).  Submission doesn’t mean becoming a doormat…when I still feel I am correct in something, especially when I have prayed and feel I am walking with the Lord in something, I ask my husband if we could get a third (or fourth) opinion.”

“I demonstrate to my husband HOW I process a decision or a feeling or an idea…he knows I have prayed about it and sought the Lord’s will.  I am having influence over him and being a good role model of faith.”

“99% of the time, if we are both being prayerful, it has been my experience that the Holy Spirit aligns our hearts.”

QUESTION 4: If there was one thing that you wish you could tell your younger married self about this topic, what would it be?

“Focus on Jesus more than the marriage.  If you both do that, submitting to one another will be a delight.”

“I damaged our early marriage by focusing more on making my point than understanding where he was coming from and why he was reacting the way he did.  I would tell my younger self to keep in mind my husband’s feelings, to try to understand where he is coming from before spouting off my opinions.  If it’s not a life and death matter (and most disagreements aren’t), concede out of a love for Christ, even if I don’t feel a love for my husband at that moment. Then trust in the Lord that this will ultimately strengthen our marriage.  And in the process, show the world how a loving, healthy, Christian marriage can work.”

“I came across a statement in a book recently, “A husband’s leadership in marriage is not based on superior ability but on divine placement” (Preparing for Marriage).  And that is what this passage in 1 Peter is also saying. This is what I wish I could tell my younger married self. Because earlier in marriage I used to wonder why wives must be subject to their husbands.”

“Men need love and respect. The more you can show love and respect to your husband, the easier this all will be.   Also, this passage would be impossible if you don’t understand the character of Christ. Read the Bible, get to church weekly, and actively pursue a relationship and understanding of God!”

“Let him lead and trust that the Lord will guide and direct him in the ways he should lead our family.”

“Let him lead in decision-making—big and small things. Be gentle in how you go about expressing your disagreement. My husband’s heart needs to be more important than me proving that I am right or that my idea was better.”

“Put God first and do not neglect reading, studying, meditating, and praying through the Bible.  Pray more for your husband, being intentional about reminding yourself of the positives, instead of camping on the negatives.  Looking back, I know God was working on us as we submitted to Him.  Phil. 2:12-13.”

“Let your words be seasoned with grace.  Do I want to look back with regret?”

“You must find your identity and purpose in knowing who God is before you can be the woman and wife God intends you to be in subjection to Him first and foremost. All else flows from this relationship and finds its right place. Keep growing and glowing.  Pray consistent spirit inspired prayers based on God’s Word with your spouse. This is your safeguard for marriage and family! This unites you as ONE!”

Trust the Holy Spirit! Ask Him to help you discern what your next step should be. Ask Him to teach you what actions are honoring to your husband and which ones are just actions of going with the flow to avoid conflict.   I have learned that in every decision I make and every action I take I need to pray and listen to that still small voice from the Lord and trust that he will truly guide my decisions and my actions.  His answers might be slow or silent for a time or I may hear it incorrectly, but if I genuinely want to know His will and his way… He is faithful and I can trust Him. Therefore, I can trust the power of the Holy Spirit in me.”

“Communicate rather than stuffing resentment.”

“Don’t just read over this verse or avoid because it’s uncomfortable and raises lots of emotions! Discuss it together and talk about what is working in the marriage or what is not with regards to submission right from the start. Don’t let years go by before you address it. Be honest, seek help from godly counsel, and commit to working on it. It rears its head in big things and small things, so you can’t get away with NOT addressing it. It impacts the marriage!!”

“Surround yourself with other married couples that represent God’s design for marriage well.”

Song of the Week: “Christ Be Magnified”

Song of the Week: “Christ Be Magnified” by Cody Carnes  

by Kevin Lorow


 “O Christ be magnified. Let His praise arise. Christ be magnified in me. O Christ be magnified from the altar of my life. Christ be magnified in me.”

This song has been around for a short while, but it has quickly become a favorite of mine to sing at CVC. It has such a simple message and a catchy melody that our church quickly caught on and loved to declare it together.

The heart of this song is the heart of worship itself: to magnify Christ. When Christians “worship” or “ascribe worth” to something, we’re taking part in an action (not just singing) that communicates value, worth, and significance to God. To magnify something is to “make it seem more significant or great.” 

Put simply, worshipping God is making much of Him!

The verses of this song set the tone right from the start. “Where creation suddenly articulate with a thousand tongues to lift one cry, then from north to south and east to west we’d hear Christ be magnified.”

These lyrics are inspired by a few passages in Scripture that talk about the purpose of Creation. In Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” These lyrics cause us to stop and imagine what it would be like if creation around us had voices to speak with. If they did, we’d hear all of Creation singing out the greatness of God! The earth itself declares the magnificence of its Creator! Elsewhere in Scripture we’re told that if people stop declaring God’s greatness, the rocks themselves will start singing them out! 

However, the most striking part of this song isn’t until the bridge “If the cross brings transformation, I’ll be crucified with You. Because death is just the doorway into resurrection life and if I join You in Your suffering then I’ll join You when You rise. And when You return in glory with all the angels and the saints my heart will still be singing, my song will be the same.” 

What an incredible declaration! It sounds like a lot to commit to. It IS a lot to commit to. Those are bold words to say – “I’ll be crucified with you.” To say that we’ll join in Christ’s suffering is not something to think of lightly, but it is something that we see modeled for us in Scripture! 

 These words seem to flow right out of Philippians 3 “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him… That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Or maybe put more simply in Galatians 2 “Through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 
Paul’s encouragement to Christ-followers is this: When we repent of our sins and confess our need for Christ’s sacrifice, it is as though we died with Him on the cross.  Our old selves were crucified with Christ on the cross, and our new lives should look completely transformed into something unlike the old. 

They should look like Jesus.   

Our lives are meant to be lived in such a way that they make much of Jesus. Christ should be magnified by how we live our lives! This week, would you purposefully pursue making much of Jesus at work and home? Would you magnify the name of Christ by how you speak and how you act? 
Let’s join in with the song of Creation and declare the greatness of our God.

Song Link: https://open.spotify.com/track/0WfYGGL9NugwFZPWKLdz4N?si=4cdc8ef47e8c4b5a

For the fame of the King,
Kevin

Preparing for Lord’s Supper

We’ll be taking the Lord’s Supper together during all worship services this Sunday.  Preparing our hearts is an important part of taking communion together. Our Founding Pastor, Rick Duncan, shared some thoughts on how we can prepare for this special time of worship. For those who aren’t able to join us on campus, we’re also offering some tips on how you can participate with us from your home.

Communion (the Lord’s Supper) is an ordinance given to all believers by Jesus to remember His sacrifice for us.  If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ and are in good standing with us at Cuyahoga Valley Church, you are invited to join us online to remember His selfless sacrifice. Consider this as an invitation, not a requirement.

The elements of bread and juice are symbols of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. Communion is not a means of salvation. It is an act of obedience and worship that demonstrates a believer’s faith in the atoning work of the cross. It’s a way for us to worship, to think soberly about our forgiveness, to commune with Christ, and to reaffirm our surrender to follow Jesus as Lord.

If you don’t feel led to participate or if you feel uncomfortable for any reason about participating, then don’t participate. At that point in the service, simply lift up your heart in gratitude to God for the sacrifice of His Son.  If you are not in the place where you consider Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or if you are unrepentant about sin in your life, then we would encourage you to pray quietly while others celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR PERSONAL PREPARATION:

  • Matthew 26:26-30
  • Mark 14:22-26
  • Luke 22:19-20
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

HOW TO PREPARE FOR COMMUNION AT HOME

Prepare your heart: Confess all known sin.  Seek restoration with anyone you may have hurt or offended.  God’s Word says that we should not eat of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way.  

Gather the elements: Grape juice and bread or crackers – find elements that best approximate those that we would use for Lord’s Supper at CVC.  

Prepare the juice: Serve the juice in individual small glasses for each participant.  We encourage you to use glasses that you would not normally use.  This will help you and your family remember the significance of Communion.  

Prepare the bread or crackers: Use a special dish or tray.  When you share the elements, allow people in your family to access the elements one at a time in order to maintain a safe distance from one another.  

Follow the directions: The Teaching Pastor will guide you to eat and drink together with others in the CVC family of faith.  

Praying for God’s Favor

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

***

It appears from the Psalms that we are on safe Biblical ground to “entreat” the favor of God. We are always right to use God’s words when we approach God’s throne. James reminds us that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). So, let’s not fail to ask God for His favor on our lives and ministries. 

Below is a prayer built from the Psalms to help us entreat the favor of God. 

***

Don’t use this prayer in a “meaningless repetition” kind of way. Instead, pray one verse at a time. Then rephrase that verse in prayer by using your own words. Move to the next verse and repeat the process until you are finished.

May the Lord cover you with His favor as with a shield. 

***

My heavenly Father,

You, LORD God, are a sun and shield. You bestow favor and honor. No good thing do You withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 81:11).

Your anger is but for a moment. Your favor is for a lifetime (Psalm 30:5).

Remember me, O LORD, when You show favor to Your people; help me when You save them (Psalm 106:4).

Let Your favor, Lord God, be upon us, and establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).

Show me a sign of Your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me (Psalm 86:17).

I entreat Your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise (Psalm 119:58).

For You bless the righteous, O LORD; You cover him with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:12).

I know that Your favor can only come to me through the merits of Your Son, Jesus.

So, I pray all this in His name, Amen.

A Prayer from Psalm 90:13-17

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

Dear Lord God almighty, my loving heavenly Father,

I praise You for being a God of great compassion. You delight in showing pity to Your servants even when we deserve Your righteous anger because of our willful sin.

So, I ask You to have pity on me. How long will You delay? Turn, O Lord, from Your fierce anger. Revoke Your sentence. Help me, Lord! Don’t wait!

When each new day breaks, surprise me with Your steadfast love. May my soul be satisfied each morning with Your unfailing love – a love demonstrated by Jesus when He died on the cross so I could be forgiven and brought into a right relationship with You.

Help me rejoice and be glad all day long every single day. I want to celebrate You to the very end of my life on earth and throughout all eternity.

You have been right to afflict me and to discipline me. But now, O Lord, make me glad for as many days as You have afflicted me. Make up for the hard times with just as many good times. Please replace the difficult years with good ones.

Let me, Your servant, see You work in me, through me, for me, and with me again. May Your power be revealed in my circle of influence. And do wonderful things for all Your servants, Lord God. Let our children see Your glorious rule and Your mighty power.

May Your favor, our Lord God, be upon me and upon those I love. Show us Your approval and treat us with kindness. Establish the work of our hands. Affirm the work that we do! Make our efforts successful. Yes, Lord, give permanence to the work of our hands.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***

This prayer has been composed from Psalm 90:13-17 by using words and phrases from the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, New Living Translation, the Amplified Bible, the Contemporary English Version, and the Message.

Developing Your 2022 Spiritual Growth Plan

By Pastor Rick Duncan

We all need to make changes if we are going to experience more new life in Christ in 2022, stopping some things that limit our life in Christ and starting some things that will enhance the possibility of God making us more vibrant.

We must clearly answer the “who, what, why, when, where, and how” questions when it comes to making changes.

I: Schedule an hour to put your plan together. Make an appointment with yourself to be alone with God. 

II: Spend an hour reflecting and praying.

You may want to think in these 5 categories: spiritual, relational, intellectual, emotional, and physical. Do an honest self-assessment using the 6 questions below. Then ask God to reveal the answer to the following question: What changes do I most need to make in order to experience more new life in Christ? Now, get out some paper and pen or pencil and start writing.

7 spiritual growth plan questions for 2022

1. Since our church has set a goal in 2022 of becoming a more unified family of believers who are devoted to the Great Commandment and motivated by the Great Commission, how will I demonstrate greater unity? What relationships need to be repaired? How will I decrease the presence of a critical spirit in me and increase the presence of a collaborative spirit in me?

2. As a Beloved Child, what promises from the Father do I need to claim in prayer this year? What is the most humanly impossible thing I will ask my Father in heaven to do this year?

3. As a Self-Feeder, what will I read and memorize in scripture this year and what books, CDs, and podcasts will I learn from this year?

4. As a Servant, what is the biggest time-waster in my life and how will I minimize that in order to volunteer somewhere significant as a servant-leader?

5. As an Investor, how will I grow in my generosity to my church and other ministries this year? (Think priority giving – Matthew 6:33; percentage giving – Malachi 3:8-10; and progressive giving – II Peter 3:18).

6. As a Discipler, this year how will I deepen my commitment to others, especially the others in my LifeGroup and how will I encourage/mentor a few of my friends?

7. As a Missionary, how will I commit to Missional Living, joining God in His mission to restore the broken so that others will come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord?

III. Write down your plan. Be realistic. Don’t set the bar so high that you end up discouraged if you should fail. Make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. Keep your plan visible and share it with family, your LifeGroup, and an accountability partner. 

Jesus makes all things new. Invite Him to help you.

Everyone. Live New. Everyday. 

The Christian’s Hope: A Prayer

by Pastor Rick Duncan

One of the greatest announcements of hope came from an angel to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 

In preparation to speak on Christian Hope on Christmas Eve 2021, I crafted a prayer for hope after looking up every instance of the use of the word “hope” in the Old and New Testaments.

Perhaps this prayer might encourage you as it has encouraged me.

***

O Lord God, the Hope of Israel,

You have called every Christian to live in light of the hope that is found in Christ alone and that is attained only through the gospel of grace. Thank You that this gift of hope is not something I have to produce through self-effort, but is empowered by the Your Spirit and encouraged by Your Word. Grant that I may enjoy and exhibit the hope to which You have called me so that I can be more and more pleasing to You, Father.

Teach me that Christian hope is not a worldly optimism that present circumstances will necessarily improve, but the godly expectation that You will redeem and reward Your people in the life to come. May this ultimate hope for the glory that is coming fuel my belief that You are now causing all the things that happen in my life on earth to work together for my good and for Your glory.

Thank You that my hope is not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation based on Your character as a loving Father who keeps His promises. Thank You that Your redemption, deliverance, and salvation will ultimately be mine because You have caused me to be born again to a living hope and because I have been justified by faith.

May my hope in You enable me to wait on You, to rejoice in sufferings, to endure hardships, to display proven character, and to find encouragement from the Scriptures. Remind me that my hope will increase as spend unhurried time with You in expectant prayer.

And so, Lord, even in the midst of the trials I face, may the hope You’ve given me enable me to experience a supernatural joy, purity, righteousness, security, endurance, and peace that causes others to notice it and to desire it. May hope stabilize my soul like an anchor as it connects me to Your steadfastness. May the confidence in You that I display open doors for me to gently and respectfully give a reason for this hope that is in me. 

Finally, I ask, O Lord, that my hope in You will bring great glory to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***

This prayer was taken from truths about hope found in Ephesians 1:17-18, Ephesians 4:4, Psalm 62:5, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 1:27, I Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:20-21, Colossians 1:23, II Thessalonians 2:16-17, Romans 15:13, Psalm 119:81, Psalm 130:5-6, Romans 15:4, Psalm 147:11, Colossians 1:27, Titus 1:1-2, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:3, Romans 8:18-28, Psalm 73:22, Psalm 130:7, Lamentations 3:19-24, Hebrews 10:23, Psalm 130:7, Psalm 33:18-19, Psalm 42:11, I Peter 1:3, Romans 5:1-2, Proverbs 23:17-18, Isaiah 8:17, Galatians 5:5, Titus 3:11-14, Romans 5:3-4, Romans 15:4, Psalm 33:22, Psalm 39:7, Jeremiah 14:7-8, Proverbs 10:28, I John 3:2-3, Galatians 5:5, Acts 2:25-26, Romans 15:4, Romans 15:4, I Peter 3:15, Romans 5:2, Ephesians 1:12, Colossians 1:27, and Titus 2:13.

Christian Hope As We Anticipate Christmas

by Pastor Rick Duncan

On Christmas Eve 2021, we will explore one of the greatest announcements of hope that the world has ever known. It’s what the shepherds heard the angels say on the night Jesus was born.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 

In preparation to speak on Christian Hope on Christmas Eve, I thought I better do my homework to define it. I looked up every instance of the use of the word “hope” in the Old and New Testaments.

Below is my stab at a biblical definition. As you read it, be asking yourself, “What stands out to you about this definition?”

***

Christian Hope

Christian hope is a confident expectation based on the character of God (Psalm 73:22, Psalm 130:7, Lamentations 3:19-24, Hebrews 10:23) that ultimate redemption (Psalm 130:7), deliverance (Psalm 33:18-19), and salvation (Psalm 42:11) will come to those who have experienced new life in Christ (I Peter 1:3) and who have, therefore, been justified by faith (Romans 5:1-2).

Christian hope is not a worldly optimism that present circumstances will improve, but the godly expectation that God will redeem and reward His people in the life to come (Colossians 1:27, Titus 1:1-2, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:3). It is this hope that enables Christians to believe that God is causing all the things that happen in this life to work together for good (Romans 8:18-28).

Every Christian has been called to live in light of the hope (Ephesians 1:17-18, Ephesians 4:4) that is found in Christ alone (Psalm 62:5, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 1:27, I Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:20-21), is attained through the gospel of grace (Colossians 1;23, II Thessalonians 2:16-17), is empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13), is encouraged by the Word of God (Psalm 119:81, Psalm 130:5-6, Romans 15:4), and is pleasing to the Father (Psalm 147:11).

This hope is a gracious gift to those who, because of the gospel, fear the Lord (Proverbs 23:17-18), wait on the Lord (Isaiah 8:17, Galatians 5:5, Titus 3:11-14), rejoice in sufferings (Romans 5:3a), endure hardships (Romans 5:3b), display proven character (Romans 5:4), find encouragement of the Scriptures (Romans 15:4), and earnestly ask for it through prayer (Psalm 33:22, Psalm 39:7, Jeremiah 14:7-8).

Even in the midst of the trials of life, the Christian who hopes will experience a supernatural joy (Proverbs 10:28), purity (I John 3:2-3), righteousness (Galatians 5:5), security (Acts 2:25-26), endurance (Romans 15:4), and peace (Romans 15:12-13) that will cause others to notice it and desire it. Believers who hope in God gently and respectfully give a reason for the hope that is in them (I Peter 3:15).

The Christian’s hope thus glorifies God (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 1:12, Colossians 1:27, Titus 2:13).

***

What stands out to you about this definition? How can hope for tomorrow give you fuel for today? What is God saying to you about your hope? What change is He asking you to make?  

Long Story Short – Write Your Four Minute Story, Part Four

We’re completing the work to write our own “Long Story Short”. The goal of writing our story is to share it with others. Remember: Effective communication is clear, concise, and compelling. Sharing your story should in total take 3-4 minutes. That’s between 500 and 700 words. These weekly guides will help you craft and capture the four segments of your story of faith in Christ.

Today’s Focus: RESTORATION – How would you describe your new identity and your new life in Christ?

Who are you now after you received Christ? What transformation have you experienced since coming to faith in Christ? What happened inside of you when you received Christ? How and why did your attitudes and actions begin to change? What have you noticed about yourself since you received Christ? How has your life changed? When did you notice that change? How are your life motivations different now? How does knowing you are forgiven help you each day? How does the promised hope of heaven motivate you to live your life now?

State how Jesus is filling your deep inner needs and redeeming you from your brokenness. In the previous section, you expressed 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. Shine the spotlight on Jesus and showcase His life-transforming power.

As you wrap up your story, if there is a particular verse that captures your conversion experience, or if you have a particular life verse, this would be a good place to share it.