Stop Living For Jesus

Christianity is not simply a cause that needs defending or a movement that inspires people.  At it's core, Christianity is a relationship between God and His church.  The Bible actually uses relational terms in referring to the church when calling it His bride (Rev. 19).  As we look even closer to the relationship that God has with His people we see that God calls them His children, who have been adopted into the family.  The emphasis that God puts on relationships is so visible we can tell that God cares about people and He wants to be in relationship with them. 

If we fast forward to today's culture we see that everyone likes to identify with a cause.  Whether it's black lives matter, 2nd Amendment rights, clean water for developing nations, or to end human trafficking people love to defend, help, and support others.  To say that the generations coming up are standing up for those that can't stand and helping those that can't help themselves is to say something good of the next generation.

In a culture that is seeking to serve we see that the church can often be viewed in the same way.  Not as a relationship that we cultivate but a cause we defend.  Not a person that we love but an agenda we seek to advance.  It's much more popular to do a service project for your community, feed the poor, or dig a well(all good things) than it is to spend a morning fasting and praying.  If we're not careful we can substitute a life with God for a life for God.  We can sacrifice the relationship withGod for the mission of God.  When we pursue the relationship the mission will come naturally. 

I hope that as you are reading this you take an honest look at what you're doing to cultivate that inner personal relationship with the Lord.  That relationship is how we are empowered to do ministry.  I hope that as you begin to spend more time in prayer and in the Word and as God places a burden on your heart for people you will be empowered to love, listen and serve them.  Don't spend so much time living for Jesus that you stop living life with Him.

Are You Ready?

Have you ever wondered why some denominations have certain traditions or celebrations that define their year and others don’t adhere to these same celebrations? Our district put on a conference in January called “Training Ground” where we had an opportunity to learn more about how we make disciples of Jesus Christ. At this conference we had the opportunity to hear from the president of The Alliance John Stumbo. In one of his remarks he stated that he often questioned why we “don’t celebrate the milestones of Christianity?” This statement got me thinking about the same thing—why don’t we celebrate the important dates and events in the life of a believer? That’s a question that baffles me. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been approached by some people asking me about Lent. If you’re not familiar with Lent, let me give you a little background on the subject. Lent is a 40-day period where we take time to focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a time of preparation for this event; a time of repentance and refocusing on Him so that our relationship with Jesus Christ is healthy. 

With an event that is designed to draw us closer to Christ and strengthen our relationship with Him, I must ask the question, “Why don’t we celebrate Lent?” On one hand, I know that many who don’t observe it do so because in some Christian circles it has become rote or the message of the observance has been lost. But is this really a reason not to adhere to the Lenten principles of repentance and refocus? I don’t believe so. 

Easter is less than 40 days away now. But it is not too late to take time to repent of our sins—the ones that hold us back from enjoying true fellowship and communion with Christ—and bring our focus back on Him. Let this month of preparation make you ready to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with a new fervor and passion. Let’s be right with God. Are you ready? 

How to Thrive as a Christian in Today's Culture

Have you considered unfriending a few people recently? I think my mood goes from happy to miserable every time I check my newsfeed and it's not because of the countless memes I have to sort through either.

As I've been observing the hot button issues of our world I have wondered: where do we fit in. Whether we're talking about abortion, gay marriage, immigration, Starbucks cups, taking prayer out of schools or saying Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays the church needs to know how to respond and how not to respond to these types of issues.

When it comes to living a faithful life to God in a different culture I can think of no one better than Daniel. Daniel is the perfect example of a man after God's own heart who thrived in a community that wasn't his own under a government that wasn't his own that worshipped a god that wasn't his own. So what was the secret to Daniel's success in Babylon?

Daniel was more concerned with his personal integrity than those around him.
Daniel 1:8-21 tells us how Daniel refused to eat of the king's food in order to show the power of his God. He didn't mandate everyone around him to prescribe to his way of doing things, he simply did what he thought God wanted him to do. When it comes to moral issues in today's world it's not our job to educate every person on how God expects His children to behave, it's our job to remain faithful to what God expects of us. If a law actively keeps us from obeying God then we need to prioritize God's law over man's, but we cannot legislate morality for everyone.

Daniel respected the authority God put in place.
Daniel 6 shows us how Daniel worked hard for the king even though the king didn't honor his God. Daniel worked so hard that he was going to be put in charge of the entire kingdom. I can't imagine working for any king of Babylon in Daniel's day knowing that they were evil men but Daniel honored the king. There is a fine line between free speech and disrespect in today's culture and I have seen both in the church. Romans 13 tells us to honor and respect the ruling governments that are over us. As the church we need to be careful what we say and how we say it. The time for posting Facebook statuses without thinking twice is over because someone who says how they feel regardless of who it affects is much like a child with no self-control.

Daniel prayed.
Daniel 6:10 says that Daniel prayed three times a day. He knew that the only way God's power and glory were going to be revealed to the people around him was to ask the Lord. We cannot reason with an unbeliever and an argument won is a relationship lost. We need to pray for people to truly know God. That is the only way transformation and renewal will happen in our country and world. God doesn't redeem countries or governments, he doesn't love communities he loves people. God will not save the U.S. without saving the people who reside in it.

Next time we think that this nation has gone to hell in a hand basket could we consider that it's not them that needs to change but us? The Christmas season is not about your right to say Merry Christmas or to have a specific logo on your cup it's about a God who loved people so much that He sent His son to die for them. God deserved to have His son stay with Him in heaven but He didn't care about entitlement, he just cared for us.

Pastor Levi Owens, Associate Pastor

Ambassadors for Christ

I love to hear stories and examples of how God works in people’s lives. I love to hear how He provided for a need or how He worked a mighty healing. I love to hear how God orchestrated daily events and circumstances for someone to be able to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the past weeks, I’ve been privileged to hear such stories and to give thanks and praise to God. 

It is undeniable that God is the one doing the work in these lives. But it is equally undeniable that God has chosen to use His Church to be the instruments with which He works. As His Church, we are called to serve. We are called to put the needs of others way above our own needs and desires no matter what the cost is to us. 

I see the apostle Paul attesting to this in 2 Corinthians 5. Paul is talking to the Corinthian church about the need of reconciliation with God. We have to understand that because of sin, we are at war with God (James 4:4), which separates us from Him and the relationship that He created us for in the first place. But because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, paying the penalty of our sin and restoring the relationship of all who believe, we can be reconciled to God. 

There is an important question that Scripture poses—if no one tells the message from the King, who will be able to be reconciled? That’s why Paul reminds us in v. 20 that, “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” As believers in Jesus, we have been given a message to give to the world—be reconciled to God. We are His Ambassadors. 

We have a calling here at CDAC for every person to be an ambassador for Christ as you take the message of the gospel to those we love. It is important to understand just how this is done and what your role in this mission of service you have. 

  • Talk about Jesus with your friends and neighbors, family and coworkers—let them see Jesus in you and hear why you have hope in Christ.
  • Serving in outreach opportunities that take this message to the community—through VBS, Fall Festival, or our booth that was set up at the Arts and Music Festival—the Church provides opportunities for being an ambassador. 

Please be in prayer about how God would desire you to be His Ambassador specifically. 

My friends, we have been given a message to the world from our King. Let us be determined to deliver it and see Christ do mighty things in the lives of this world. 

Never Again

I remember when I was a child and heard the story of Noah for the first time. My first thought was how Noah fit all those animals on a boat. Then I remembered thinking about what life was like on the boat and that it must have smelled awful. Finally as we had finished the story I remembered being so thankful that God wasn't ever going to flood the earth again and how he gave a rainbow as a sign for us. Until recently that story has been just that, a story. But now I have come to appreciate that story for being a perfect illustration for our lives as Christians. 

In Gen. 8:20-22 Noah made an altar to God and sacrificed animals for a burnt offering and when God smelled the pleasing aroma he said "I will never again curse the ground because of man for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done". God is saying that there is evil in man's heart even when he is young but there is also something he loves about mankind. When God smelled that sacrifice a deal was made and God said he would never judge all of mankind like that again. Does this sound familiar? 

Paul uses similar language in Ephesians 5:2 "And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." This same fragrant aroma was breathed in by God when his Son Jesus died on the cross. Because of this sacrifice Christians no longer have to bear the full judgment for our sin. How many times do we (the church) dwell on our sin and let it turn into guilt and shame? God is saying that the things of your past pale in comparison to Christ's sacrifice for you. We should spend more time looking toward the mission of Christ and less time worrying about our past. When we have this perspective we will truly be able to walk in love without the burden of guilt and shame weighing us down.