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Saving Faith Works

by Rick Duncan, Founding Pastor

As we launch our new series on risk-taking faith, it’s important to understand the connection between faith and works.

Pastor Jeff Ziolkowski preached a powerful message to launch our new series, Risk Takers. He quoted from Hebrews 11 and James 2 and taught us how faith leads us to take risks and how risk-taking requires us to do good works for God’s glory.

Someone came to me after Jeff’s message and asked a question: “Rick, you’ve taught us that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So, how do works fit into the picture?”

Let’s take a quick look at a famous passage that connects saving faith and good works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

And if you will get these verses correct, you will never get skewed. You will never get confused.

Remember your high school English class? Remember what a preposition is? There are three key prepositions here. If we will keep them straight, we will keep our theology straight. To keep the faith-and-works relationship biblically correct, remember 3 prepositions: 

These three prepositions are: by, through, and for. Let’s say them: “by, through, for.” Say them one more time:  “by, through, for.”

We are saved by grace through faith for good works.

If we have real faith, it is going to be for good works. We are not saved by good works. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Again, we are not saved by good works. We are saved for good works.

You cannot save yourself. Good works, a little or a lot, don’t save. They don’t help save. You could no more save yourself by good works than if you were drowning could reach up with your hand, take yourself by the hair, and lift yourself out of the water. 

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but the grace that saves through faith never stays alone. We are not saved by faith and works, but we are saved by a faith that works.

Is this a Paul vs. James issue? No! James is not pitting works against faith. Paul isn’t pitting faith against works. They are both fighting against a professed faith that is false.

Are we saved by our works? No. Are you crystal clear on this teaching? It’s His work apart from your works that saves you. But once you have been saved, then the proof of that salvation is good works. Faith alone saves. But the faith that saves is not alone. 

  • Faith is the root of salvation. Works are the fruit of salvation.
  •  Faith is invisible, the root beneath the ground. Works are visible, the fruit above the ground.
  • Faith is the foundation of our faith. Our work is the building that is built on that foundation.
  • Faith is inward. Works are outward.
  • Faith is the provision of our salvation. Works are the proof of our salvation.
  • Faith is the means of our salvation. Works are the marks of our salvation.

So, in 2017, let’s all live by faith. Let’s all take risks. Let’s all do good works. Not because they will save us, but because we are saved! The risk-taking will prove it!

 And, as Pastor Jeff said, let’s not settle for small steps. Take a big leap of faith. Go out on a limb for Jesus in 2017. Why? That’s where the fruit is!

 

 

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New Year Old Lies 

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:4-5

Eve was offered a lie.  She was given an invitation to receive it, believe it and to act upon it.  It was an enticing lure dangling and dancing in front of her by the master angler of falsehood.  She bit.  And so did Adam.  The effects were swift and destructive. Instant shame.  They were hit with an overwhelming sense of guilt and unhealthy self-awareness and made a poor attempt at covering up their own reproach.

Fear and insecurity came flooding into their souls.  Their intimacy with God was broken and they attempted to hide from their Creator and Father.  Fellowship and connectedness with one other was contaminated and they set in motion man’s default of avoiding responsibility and repentance but to deflect and place blame elsewhere.  

The day man fell was tragic.  The effects of that grievous day are still felt by us today.  Praise God that one day the Lord will restore all things back to their original splendor and perfection and reverse the curse. Until then, by the grace of God and empowering of the Holy Spirit let’s resist our sinful nature.  Let’s take the risk of rejecting lies and half truths.  Let’s take the risk of being truth speakers. 

Let’s take the risk of rejecting lies and half truths.  Let’s take the risk of being truth speakers.

Let’s take the risk of accepting responsibility for our actions, seeking repentance and forgiveness rather than trying to be shady and blame others.  Let’s take the risk of standing in the open before our God, rather than attempting to hide, to draw near and be vulnerable and exposed before the One who loves us despite our blemishes and who can heal and cleanse us.

It’s a new year: 

  • What lies and half truths have you been believing that you need to reject?
  • What fear has held you captive long enough that you will now shake off by the power of Christ?
  • How will you come close to God and not run and hide from Him?
  • How have you been dodging truth and responsibility and will now will step out to walk in light and truth?

Identify something from above.  Write it down. Lay it before the Lord in prayer.   Then share it with your spouse or a friend to get support, prayer and accountability.

It’s a new year, there’s no place for old lies.

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Missionary Minded Progress

by Kristy Klasa

When CVCers give to our general fund – our regular operating budget – a portion of those monies go to support a wide variety missional causes around the world.

One of those causes our CVC Missions budget supports is NEO360, a church planting organization focused on assessing, training, and coaching church planters who have been called to start new churches in NE Ohio.

We recently received a progress report:

We just wanted to give you a quick update for this year at NEO360.

Over the past 12 months we have managed to plant 3 more churches and train 9 new leaders. 

We have partnered with church plants in Ohio City, Kamm’s Corner, and Cleveland Heights. We are finishing our last learning cohort with 4 more leaders and getting ready to start our 16th Launch Class, now called Multiply Group, since we founded NEO360 9 years ago.

We have trained 62 community minded missionaries and seen 40 new works start with an 86% success ratio. You have also been a part of helping 1,096 men, women and children receive Christ through these new churches. 

We want to take this moment and celebrate with you. We are so grateful God called you to be on mission with NEO360.

With Cleveland now in the spot light nationally, we believe starting new churches is even more important today than ever before.

So, thanks to all who give to CVC to help make this (and more!) happen to build Christ’s kingdom in NE Ohio and around the world.

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Discerning Truth

by Leigh-Ann Brisbin

Dear CVC Ladies,

It has been on my heart to share a few things with you about discernment. There has been some Christian news around Jen Hatmaker and other well known women bloggers/speakers/authors and recent beliefs they have that are contrary to scripture. Many of them are ladies who are without accountability, discipleship and/or under advisement.  A few years ago I watched a video of Jen promoting her book For The Love. What was memorable to me about the promo piece was that she made a judgmental statement about men/husbands that was said in jest, for a laugh.  I did not think it was funny.  It may seem I am overreacting, but let me explain. God has called teachers, speakers, leaders to a standard of leadership to lead others in Christ-likeness so my radar went immediately up.  When we use humor to degrade another it is not funny. We are called to respect our husbands and everyone as children of God with worth and value. In one quick joke the opposite was communicated.

In the summer of this year my oldest daughter (who is not touchy feely by the way) hugged me and thanked me for being a mom who respects her children. I thanked her and asked what had prompted that statement? She took me to Jen’s Facebook page where I read a post discussing how she was disciplining her child to teach her respect. The problem was that it was in a way that was disrespecting and embarrassing her.  Our children learn by how we model our own behavior.  She prompted others to share similar stories of how they parent, or were parented, because it is just “too funny”.  I read posts that literally made me cry because I was so heartbroken. Story after story shared of disrespecting children, putting them on display and showing “tough love” all in the name of discipline.  I wanted to respond but retracted for fear of it only causing facebook banter and reminding myself that it is God who convicts, and it is not me to judge.  I am no perfect mother myself.  However, after a few days of really wrestling with the fact that so many people were following and reading this post, I sent a response from a mother, counselor, and fellow sister in Christ urging women to remember how words and actions can have lasting negative effects on our children especially as they are developing the part of their brain that makes sense of their identity and value.

A few months later a friend of mine attended Jen Hatmaker’s Belong tour and shared with me how upset she was that it was quite secular and had very little mention of God, His Kingdom focus, or scripture.  Recently you may have heard that Lifeway books has pulled her books from their shelves and no longer endorses her because she retracted her post affirming traditional marriage and publicly endorsed same sex marriage and LGBT relationships.

Another seemingly similar red flag for me was with Glennon Doyle Melton. She wrote a best seller book called Love Warrior and has a blog, Momastery. I know many young wives and moms are reading her blog and going to her conferences. She shared about redemption in her marriage after infidelity. However, when I began to read a little further on her blog to see more of her postings I started to see warning signs of inconsistency with scripture.  I found several posts regarding what she believes about marriage and salvation. One of them a reader point blank asked her the question if she did or didn’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. She responded with an answer that is more in line with a Unitarian belief system than a Christian one.  Here are her own words:

I do not believe that every marriage should be saved. I’ve seen too much and listened too hard to believe that. I do not value marriage more than I value the individual souls inside of marriage. And I do not judge a love’s worth by how it ends… whether they stay or go.

I stayed…Sister left… We both did the right thing. Listen to me:  Some loves are perennials—they survive the winter and bloom again. Other loves are annuals—beautiful and lush and full for a season and then back to the Earth to die and create richer soil for new life to grow. The eventual result of both types of plants is New Life.”

She has now filed for divorce …

Reader – “ I am a Christian. It is a basic tenet of Christianity that Jesus is the only way to God. Do you believe that or not?

Glennon:  “Do I believe that Jesus is the only way to God? Yes and No.

One of my favorite definitions of faith is from William James, who defined faith as: “a belief in an unseen order of things.”

The way I think about that is this: There is an order of things that we can see happening around us. A visible, obvious order of things…We can see it in front of us as reality but something inside of all of us rejects this order of things. We know it’s JUST NOT RIGHT. We know there’s another way. A better order of things. One we can’t see yet but we know deep in our bones.

The better way, the underneath perfection of things that I feel deep in my bones looks like this: …There is Justice. Peace. Love. Equality.

This sort of unseen order of things — in my view — is heaven on Earth. Christians might call it the Kingdom of God. My Jewish friends call it Shalom while my atheist friends call it Love or Peace. Loving kindness. Our Buddhist brothers and sisters might call it something else. ALL PEOPLE who are working to bring the above unseen order of things to Earth now — whether they are atheist, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian — THESE people are my faith partners. I don’t really care what label you give yourself, I care about the unseen order of things you believe in and are working towards.

Do I think people need to follow the way of love and humility and service to see God? Yes. Do I believe they have to CALL this way Jesus? Do I believe that salvation is a matter of semantics? No.”

“Many Christians become concerned when I say that I don’t believe that professing faith in Jesus is a magic spell that unlocks the doors of heaven – On Earth or beyond. And that I do believe there’s a real heaven, and I do believe that ultimately we’ll all find our way there”.

There is truth and there are things out there that have a veil of truth but underneath loaded with falsity.  We must know which is which.

So, I share all this with you not to stand in a place of judgment, nor to demonize Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle Melton, or anyone else, but to say that as women of God, desiring to grow in our spiritual journey and more into Christ-likeness, we MUST be discerning as we read blogs and books, listen to podcasts and attend conferences. There are so many wise women out there and we definitely want to glean and grow from the resources we have been given, but information is at our fingertips and we must know HOW to discern if something we read or hear is truly from the Lord.   Many many women today are writing and/or are self proclaimed teachers/speakers, but that does not mean they are always wise. Let us not be attracted to humor, knowledge, similar demographic/circumstances, or even love without truth, but instead be attracted to Jesus. This will always be the best starting place and you will know when it is not about HIM.

We must also not be quick to judge either. We are fallen beings, and none of us is all knowing. We do our best to understand and wrap our human brain around the magnitude, mystery and vastness of God and how he relates to his people this side of heaven, but we don’t do it perfectly. Grace must also be offered. We are all on a journey of Christ-likeness and will make mistakes along the way. I started teaching 50-75 women at a weekly bible study when I was 25 years old and relatively unschooled in the bible. I was a self-feeder, had a great discipler, and was a willing servant.  Most of the women were older and wiser than me. I prayed everyday that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be acceptable to God who IS my Rock and my Redeemer! (Psalm 19:14) God used me anyway, fruit was born, but I certainly made many mistakes in my leadership and theology when my flesh got in the way. Still 18 years later, having been to seminary, grown immensely in my own walk and study of the word, and still praying everyday that the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart will be acceptable to my Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer, I am still going to make mistakes in ministry.  My flesh will still creep in and I do hope and pray that people will show me grace along the way. I say all that to say there are times I read something that someone else wrote, or hear something someone says that I don’t entirely agree with, or it is different than my Christian experience. That doesn’t mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater either.  The key is not be quick to judge either way, but to listen well, over time, test and discern, major in the majors and minor in the minors.

  • Think about the foundations of our faith (the majors) and what we believe. If it is contrary to the gospel it is not truth period! If someone has a pattern that is contrary to scripture, neglects, or disregards living out principles of faith in scripture (majors), this must be someone I reconsider following or run quickly from!!
  • If this is someone who is speaking truth on the foundations of faith based in scripture and this is just an area I disagree with, or know that it is not fully clear in the word of God (minors), then can I agree to disagree there and still hold fast to the teachings of truth?

As believers we must do our due diligence to pray for God’s wisdom to go before us, know his word, and be discerning.  I told you specifically about the red flags with Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton, again not because I expect them to be perfect, but because I want you to see why there were red flags. I read, watched, and waited to see how their ministries would unfold.  Ones true colors always show through. Think about those red flags I shared with you in relationship to this test of discernment and be wise about who you let lead you in your faith journey.  We must be self-feeders first.

A good rule of thumb I use to discern is this:

If it is of God it will…

  1. Exalt God and reveal His character (Is this about God? Does it help me to know more about Him? Are they speaking mostly about HIM! Does what I am reading/hearing help me See Him as Lord? Does it give me a reverence and right position with Him? Does it make me hungry to know more about Him?)
  2. Line up with scripture (If I don’t know scripture I won’t know if it does/doesn’t line up with scripture…so be in the word and be a self-feeder first! The more you do, the more you will see when things don’t line up with His truth.)
  3. Edify and humble the believer (refine/transform my heart, illuminate truth of my own heart, cause me to repent, and draw me closer to the Lord?)
  4. Be smarter than me/bigger than me (God’s perspective, not someone’s opinion)
  5. Be affirmed by my Godly counselors/Christian community

If it is not of God it will…

  1. Exalt self or others and expose flesh/ distort the character, identity and truth of God
  2. Neglect the value and necessity of, misuse/misinterpret, and contradict the word of God.
  3. Draw the believer more into pride, selfishness/self motivated actions, desires of the flesh, sin
  4. Be a limited / earthly perspective, cause a misinterpretation of self, others and situation.
  5. Will disregard effects and consequences of sin.

Ladies, please remember that this is of utmost importance that we learn to be self-feeders!  I do believe Jen Hatmaker is a believer with good intentions but some misguided teachings, interpretations and opinions, that are seemingly led by self/flesh.  I have serious questions about Glennon Doyle Melton and her faith.  God is love but he is also truth.  The word says Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father but through Him. Her words are contrary to this.   We are responsible for our own journey with the Lord and our own slippery slope that could lead us astray. Let us love and show grace, but be careful in who we follow and learn from.

Here are a few thoughts I have on who are good resources for our women. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, in part because I can’t fully know everyone who is out there and all of what they say, hence why being able to discern for ourselves is so imperative.

A few women leaders who are grounded in Scripture:

Two of our very own 🙂

 

With Love,

Leigh-Ann

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

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Love Your Neighbor #4

by the CVC Leadership Team

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

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

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

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

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

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

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

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

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

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love Your Neighbor #3

by the CVC Leadership Team

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

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

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

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

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

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#Election2016

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The great Old Testament civic leader Daniel shows the way:

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