The blessing of the man who worships the living God

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by Tony Loseto

Church Planting Pastor, Gateway Church Old Brooklyn

Psalm 95:6-8

“ 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,”

The Psalms serve us both as a picture and a pointer. They are a picture for us of the faith of those who delight in God’s Word. They teach us how to stand on the promises of God and how to pray to Him in the midst of every circumstance and emotion we may feel.  Indeed, the Psalms could almost be called the scrapbook of faith, a collection of believers’ expressions of faith in the living God.  

But very importantly, the Psalms also point us to the one in whom all our faith is placed, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Anointed One of Psalm 2, the Son of God who reigns over all the earth, and the One who blesses all who take refuge in Him.  The Psalms lead us to the blessing of faith in Jesus, and Psalm 95 in particular gives us the invitation to worship our living God.

In these verses we are invited by God to feel the weight of His glory. He is our Maker and our Savior. How vital it is for us to feel the worth of God. How essential it is for us to remember that He is our God, and that all we desire and think and feel is to be brought under the reality of Who He is. We are also invited to trust in His care for us as sheep He has purchased with the blood of His Son. How counter-cultural it is to daily consider how our hope lies not in what we possess, but rather in the One who has taken possession of us through Jesus Christ. We are invited to remember continually whose we are in the gospel.

 And, crucially, this invitation involves not only the lifting of our hands in praise and the remembering of the care God gives but our bowing down before Him and listening to His voice.  He is the God not only to whom we speak, but the God who takes the initiative to speak to us. Our worship of God must lead to our willingness to bow before Him and to hear His Word, the Scriptures. Listening to His voice may not always lead us to hear what we want to hear, but it will always lead us to what we need to hear from God.

If we will worship God, by seeing His worth, trusting in His care, and listening to His voice, we will be able to see the expression of our lives becoming like the pages of the Psalms. Today, as we hear God's voice in the Scriptures, will we see His Worth?  Will we trust his care? Will we listen to His voice? 

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What a blessing that God has given us a written pathway to deeper intimacy with Him & greater impact in the world! Many thanks to Tony for this encouraging word! Want to be a guest contributor to Hope Notes? Submissions welcome! Email me your ideas at davery@clevelandhope.com

before you r-u-n-n-o-f-t…

Stop by the Events and (new) Resources pages to find out about offers & opportunities coming your way!

"From every man whose heart moves him..."

by Darin Avery

Exodus 25:1-8

The Israelites were free. God had rescued them; Moses had led them. Fundamental rules of divine worship and inter-human relationships (the Ten Commandments) had be given to the nation. But they’re still in the wilderness—and they will be for many years to come. As a further pledge of His presence among His wandering people, God wants Moses to build Him a tent, a portable sanctuary.

As with any building project, materials must first be acquired for the final structure to take shape. A desert isn’t a great place to find such things as gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, oil, incense, fine fabrics and yarns, etc. Yet God asks for them. He knows the people have them, not because they found them lying around the sand and rocks of the Sinai peninsula but because they’d carried them off in a day of great plunder from their former Egyptian oppressors. The stuff for building His tent would come from their tents!

But I noticed something reading this passage (Exod. 25:1) that I never saw before: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.'“ Interesting! This was not a compulsory collection. God was not demanding anything from His people; His only demand was that Moses announce the opportunity for people to freely return a portion of the bounty with which God had already blessed them as they fled Egypt.

We can see this principle throughout Scripture, can’t we? God is not so impotent as to manipulate His people’s hands; rather, He always begins by moving our hearts. He would rather have the widow’s two pennies than the miser’s moneybag, the willing boy’s basket over the baker’s bulging bundles of bread, a gift cheerfully given over a tax taken.

As Moses cast the vision of a tabernacle made of so many different materials, it wouldn’t be hard for every Israelite to see something of his or hers woven into the final structure. “The curtain is God’s, but a strand of that purple binding at its fringe was mine,” one woman might say to another strolling past the tent of meeting, water jars in hand. “The poles the priests use to carry the ark belong to the LORD now, but I remember dragging those unfinished acacia logs through the Red Sea thinking I might have to leave them behind when Pharaoh’s chariots were hot on our tail; I’m sure glad I didn’t!” one man might say to another, as his companion catches a fragrant whiff of incense wafting from the sanctuary—the very type of incense his Egyptian neighbor once gave him as a gesture of good-riddance.

What’s my point?

The point is this: Every child of God has "stuff” at his or her disposal, valuable stuff like time, money, church buildings, talents, material possessions, relational capital, technical know-how, interpersonal skills, etc. And while all of that is good and may be valuable to us personally (or congregationally), God is still in the building business and is looking for materials, “stuff” from which to finish His eternal dwelling place, called the Bride, the New Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb, a building not made with hands eternal in the heavens, a temple of living stones... Yet He doesn’t despair over not having enough, nor does He demand that we give anything to that most glorious project. He doesn’t have to! Why? Because not only is He still in the building business, He’s still in the heart-moving business too.

So, a question we need to continually grapple with is this: Do we think we can put our spool of “purple yarn”, our unfinished “acacia log,” or our chunk of “incense” to better use than He can? Sure, it involves a surrender of raw material to God’s design, but for now (and in eternity to come) which will delight our hearts more: yielding to the heart-movings of the Spirit to contribute freely, or resisting and keeping stuff for God’s tent tucked away in ours?

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Thanks for taking time to read this post. I hope it’s encouraging to you—and perhaps a bit challenging too! Want to be a guest contributor to Hope Notes devotional? Submissions welcome! Email me your ideas at davery@clevelandhope.com

But wait… there’s more!

Follow the links below to learn about opportunities and resources (or just click the “Events” tab above):

Eastside Pastor/Planter Breakfast (Mar. 19)

Lead Well Conference (Apr. 5-6)

Planter/Pastor & wives - Couples’ fun Nite (Apr. 8)

From your State Convention:

national assoc. of Ministry assistants conference (Apr. 24-27)

church planters’ Forum (May 9-10)

“You will wear yourselves out...”

It hit me hard yesterday morning…again!

We’re all familiar with Moses’ visit with his father-in-law, Jethro, following God’s rescue of Israel through the Red Sea. Jethro rejoices when Moses tells of God’s mighty acts on behalf of His people. But the next day, when he sees Moses, from sun up to sun down, singlehandedly sorting through every complaint and dispute, he knows it’s time to have a little talk with the father of his grandkids. Exodus 18:18 is one verse, but it contains two sentences. The first: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.” I’d always focused on Moses as the one getting worn-out and burned-out; he’s the leader after all, and the people are just standing around waiting in line to have their disputes settled. But Jethro says that this will wear the people out too, not just Moses. That’s true isn’t it; in our contexts, burn-out can also come in the form of boredom. People want to be part of a community where they feel listened to and cared for, but they also want to be part of a community where they feel valued and like they can make a valuable contribution for the greater good (most people, that is).

The next sentence in v. 18 says: “You are not able to do it alone.” Good words from ol’ Jethro! But hard words for leaders to hear. Often as leaders we get our worth-load from our work-load, and in doing so we fail to empower and deploy the very people God has given us for help in building up the community. It’s subtle, but this arrangement puts us too much at the center of things; it overvalues ourselves and undervalues the other resources God has placed in His community to keep it moving toward His goal of being a light to the nations.

Granted, none of us is leading 3 million people through a desert. But don’t be fooled, just because you’re shepherding 300 or 30 people, if you’re trying to do it all and assuming “Well, I’m the leader, so I guess it’s my job,” you’re headed for a burn-out breakdown—and so are your people, however many or few you’re leading. Empower. Share. Develop and deploy the people God has given you to care for the community so that everyone is rightly valued and able to contribute most effectively.

Hey welcome to the new ClevelandHope.com! This refreshed website for our association is a case-in-point of the above devotional. I am so thankful to Chris Schwab for seeing the need and working to get things into shape. As we move forward I hope this site will become more and more useful to you and your churches as a resource connector!

I’m writing this morning from Alpharetta, GA where I and 250 fellow associational leaders are participating in the RePlant Lab, an intensive training experience equipping us to help churches in need of deep change and transition in order to have fresh gospel impact on the future.

I hope you’ll take some time and look around our new website. I especially want you to visit the Events page for a few reminders about upcoming fellowship and networking opportunities.

Have a blessed day as you serve (and share) in the Lord’s work!

Darin

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Greetings Co-Laborers in Christ!

“Lord, all my life I have been striving to be a powerboat for Christ. The hull of my type-A personality is cutting through the waters of ministry. I've had my hand on the throttle of effective leadership principles. I've filled my tank with the high-octane insights of a seminary education. I seem to be making an impression with my visionary style. But...Forgive me. From this day forward, would You teach me what it means to be a simple sailboat?”

Of course, my mind was surging with the reality that a simple sailboat does not bring glory to itself but to the power of an unseen force propelling it along. It is dead in the water unless the wind blows. I knew the course might be a little unpredictable because of the nature of the 'wind,' but I was tired of trying hard to be a high-impact leader. I knew in the depth of my soul that God was revealing to me a better and more fruitful way.

— from "Old Paths, New Power" by Daniel Henderson, 2016, p. 60.

I was really encouraged to see several of you at the "Breaking Barriers to Transformation" seminar last Friday at CVC with Daniel Henderson. What a refreshing time! What a refreshing concept: that God is not looking for high-powered leaders or impressively complex strategies to accomplish His global mission. In fact, the first apostles were onto something huge when they limited the focus of their gospel efforts to the ministry of the word and prayer (Acts 6:4). Whatever the size or scope of your present ministry, and whatever your leadership gifts or style, I pray each of you will have an “Ah ha!” moment similar to what Henderson experienced.

FYI, I have a copy of "Old Paths, New Power" for each of you at our March pastor's breakfasts (or any other time you're able to meet; email chrissmith@clevelandhope.com to set up a meeting time Tu, Wed, or Thurs).

  • West side: Tuesday, March 12, 8:30-10:30 AM at Panera, Tiedeman & I-480.

  • East side: Tuesday, March 19, 8:30-10:30 AM at Panera, Creekside Commons in Mentor

Resources & Events

Every Church, Every Nation--Ohio - Sat. March 9

Please see the attached documents with information about a FREE missions training event hosted by pastor Tim Cline and Chilicothe Baptist Church in Chilicothe, OH on Saturday, March 9. To reserve space for your group, email pastor Tim at pastor@chillicothebaptist.org. If you're able to go, let me know; we may be able to arrange car pooling!

New Cleveland Hope Website - Info Needed!

We are getting very close to unveiling Cleveland Hope's refreshed website. Before we do so, we'd like to have the most current information available about our partner churches to share with the world. Please click this link and complete the info form: https://goo.gl/forms/bHS4uCU0TFHgbHHK2.

Weekend to Remember!

If you and your spouse plan to attend, don't forget to register under the CLEVELANDHOPE username!

Oneness can be yours!

Those with the best of intentions can let life get in the way of their marriage. But with a new focus, your relationship can be whole. FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® will have an immediate impact on your relationship.

Your local Weekend to Remember is 2 weeks away!

So take a break from the busyness of life and discover God’s plan for your marriage. Space is limited, register today!

2019 Lead Well Conference

Hey OAAF! Pastor Steve here. I pray you are having a great day!

I want to you to inform you about some exciting news. Because we are not able to get together often, we have a great opportunity to connect and fellowship at the 2019 Lead Well Conference being held at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on April 5th and 6th. What I would like to share with you is as follows:

  • Discounted rates for OAAF pastors and church planters.

  • Paid rooms available for those traveling for one hour or more to the conference.

  • Special OAAF Session before the conference.

More details:

First, for OAAF pastors and church planters we will continue to offer the discounted rate of $15.00 per person. (Includes lunch on Saturday and conference material.) Register today: (click here)

Please use this promotional code: OAAF/Pastors

The LEAD WELL Conference is designed to empower leaders. The conference is focused on helping you and your team move your leadership to the next level. This year's line up of speakers are an amazing group of leaders.

Conference Date: April 5 - 6, 2019
April 5th: 7pm-9pm (Conference Sessions)
April 6th: 9am-3:30pm (Conference Sessions)

Leaders and topics:
Stephen Owens
- THE NEXT LEADER
Dan Smith - THE NEXT MAIN THING
Ryan Strother - OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF LEADERSHIP
Gerald Saffo - WHAT'S NEXT? BECOMING EQUIPPED ENOUGH FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW
Dr. Martina Moore - EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP

Location: Mt Calvary Baptist Church - 271 Center Road Bedford, OH 44146

Register TODAY: Click here

Please use this promotional code: OAAF/Pastors

Hampton Inn - Solon
6035 Enterprise Parkway,
Solon, Ohio, 44139
TEL: 440-542-0400
FAX: 440-542-0353
Hampton Inn Website

Next, for those traveling one hour or more for the conference, we were able to secure a one night stay for you and your wife at the Hampton Inn Cleveland-Solon.

If this is you, you will need to contact the Hampton Inn and reserve your room ASAP. The rooms are being held under the name: Southern Baptist - Lead Well Conference. We have a limited amount of rooms so this is on a first come basis. The rooms will be held until March 12.

The one night stay is being covered by the SCBO so you can attend the conference, learn, and be refreshed. (CP dollars at work, please remember to give generously).

Special OAAF Session

Finally, I would love to connect with you before the conference on Friday, April 5th, at the Hampton Inn Cleveland-Solon from 2 pm - 4 pm. It will be a time of fellowship, discussion, and planning for future events. I want to hear your thoughts, concerns, and hopes for OAAF and your ministries. This session is open to EVERYONE in OAAF, not just those who are traveling in from across Ohio.

If you are able to make this session, just reply to this email and let me know you are attending and who will be attending with you. I want to make sure we have enough space and appetizers for everyone.

You will also receive your conference material during our time together.

I look forward to fellowshipping with you and being encouraged by what God is doing in you and through you and your ministry. God Bless and see you soon.

Pastor Steve

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Day Greetings All!

Well, it's my birthday... again... already! The years are clicking by like dashed lines on the highway at full-speed (okay, maybe not quite that quick, but you get the picture.) All joking aside, a birthday is a perfect day to be reminded that life is a precious thing--to be thankful for all the "dashed lines" that have passed, and hopeful for those yet to come.

I'm happy to be alive today, but yet I'm heavy-hearted over the devaluing of life that we see all around us. The living God gives life, and therefore the most precious life of all is that life which He has made uniquely in His image: human life. And human life is precious at every age and stage from conception to coffin! I don't need to tell you, but human life is under attack in our cultural moment: unborn human life, elderly and infirm human life, disabled human life--basically any form of human life that finds itself at the mercy of a stronger human who would assert power over a weaker human in selfish ways for selfish ends. Abortion, abduction, abuse, absence and abandonment are just a few ways the strong who bear God's image can prey on the weak who also bear His image. What an awful, tragic consequence of the Fall! Those tragic realities have always been there, but they've come to light AMONG US as Southern Baptists in ugly ways in recent days; and we have to answer for it!

The Houston Chronicle Investigation: Abuse of Faith

I am sure most of you have already read and/or heard about The Houston Chronicle investigative three-part series on Southern Baptists and Sexual Abuse that dropped this past Sunday (link in heading above). If you have not, you need to read it and the following articles by Baptist Press to get a handle on what is going on. As church and community leaders we need to be able to offer informed answers to potential questions. Let’s seek to have a consistent voice as Southern Baptists. One case of abuse is too many. We should pray for SBC President, J.D. Greear and his Presidential Task Force on Sexual Abuse. I want to begin hearing and sharing tangible and viable ways to make our churches “hard targets” versus “soft targets” for molesters and abusers.

Coming Up This Week

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Breaking Barriers to Transformation - Friday, Feb. 22

Every church leader longs to see transformation in the lives of their leaders and members. Yet, most are confronted with personal obstacles that undermine fruitful, prayer-ignited influence. This session will address eight barriers to transformation that every leader encounters, with practical tools for a fresh breakthrough in spiritual impact. Join 6:4 Fellowship president, Daniel Henderson, 9-12 a.m. on Friday, February 22, at Cuyahoga Valley Church for this FREE event! (Click HERE for more info.) RSVP to Kristy Klasa kklasa@cvconline.org with your church name, address, email, and headcount. (No childcare provided.) Questions? Call CVC at (440) 746-0404.


Pastor & Wife Survey

Responses are trickling in! If you haven't taken our pastor & wife survey yet, complete the survey and I promise to send you a small gift at some point this year. But only if you fill out the survey! Here's the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KGCDRG8.


Who's Your One - Evangelism Initiative

If you couldn't join us a couple of weeks ago at CVC for the "Who’s Your One" preview simulcast with J.D. Greear, or would like to see it again, visit WhosYourOne.com/preview, and enter password WYO19. Download the Who’s Your One implementation guide and prayer guide for you to reference as you consider launching the campaign at your church. I'm excited to see how the Lord chooses to use this initiative to eternally change lives, and am grateful for your partnership in leading your church to be part of it. If you have questions or need more information, please call (800) 634-2462!

Please pray individually for this effort and, as you have availability, make it a point to join us in a biweekly prayer call on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m., EST. The next prayer call will be on February 19. Join the call at (515) 604-3112. The call will not go more than 15 minutes.

More resources pertaining to Who’s Your One will be available on February 20 at whosyourone.com and will be broadly circulated on social media, Baptist Press and other communication channels.


Weekend to Remember

Family Life is hosting two "Weekend to Remember" marriage conferences in northeast Ohio this March (Akron, Mar. 8-10 & Cleveland, Mar. 22-24). Senior pastors and full-time associate pastors can visit familylife.com/pastorwtr to learn about scholarships. Dave Rossiter can help answer questions as well (drossiter@familylife.com). To start the registration process visit http://familylifeministries.org/weekend-to-remember/ and remember to use the group name "ClevelandHope".