Life is Change!

We live in a day and age where change occurs very rapidly. Technological innovations are occurring each and every day to the point where my IPhone 6S will be considered old and obsolete in a couple of years. We see the air of change in the political climate in the United States and around the world. There are also social changes occurring all around us, as well as a change in the way that people treat others. We only need to look around us and notice that change is taking place all over—some of it is good and some of it is bad. 

When we look at the changes that I mentioned above, most of these really don’t have a dramatic impact on our lives, making the effects of the changes on our lives a little less dramatic. But there’s one thing about change—it does affect us at a very deep, personal level sooner or later. As I’m writing this article, my life is in a tremendous period of change, and I can honestly say that I really don’t like some of it. I’m writing this article just after receiving news that my grandpa has just passed away. This is a huge change for me, living the first moments of my life without my grandpa being here. I don’t like this change. As a pastor, I’m also grieving over the change of my partner in ministry being called to a new venture in Alabama. While I know that this is God’s will and a great opportunity to be stretched for them, I don’t like the fact that someone I’ve joked with, fought the battles of ministry with, and saw great things happen here at CDAC with won’t be in that relationship with me anymore. These changes are tremendously difficult for me. 

Changes always bring a time of uncertainty. The status quo is now different, and this impacts all facets of life. For me, I now face the uncertainty of what will it be like not to celebrate holidays and milestones of life without my grandpa? I don’t know how it will be! What will God call us as a church to do with a new ministry partner? I don’t know! And if you know me at all, this is a really big deal for me. I hate uncertainty, and life is full of it. 

But as I spent time praying this morning, I was reminded of a very important point from Scripture. When we face times of uncertainty, we can trust in the certainty of God. Even though these changes impact us, they don’t have an effect on God. He is far above these issues, changes, and feelings. Friends, God is the fortress that we can run to and rest in. 

As we face change in our lives, remember that God is our fortress of rest, stability, and reassurance. You will get through change. God’s plans and purposes will continue to accomplish His will no matter what. Even in this time of uncertainty, there is no one more sure than God Himself. 

 

On Mission in Alabama

Many of you have heard by now that Megan and I will be transitioning our ministry to a church plant in Birmingham, Alabama.   It's been difficult to explain the emotional tension between bitter and sweet that this new opportunity brings to us.  On one hand we are so excited to be following the call of God in our lives and on the other we are heartbroken to leave the people we've grown so close to.   I am so thankful that God brought us to CDAC in this season because this church has treated us like family and it's been an absolute joy to serve here. 

On August 1st we will be making our way down I-81 to Birmingham, Alabama to take part in a church plant of the C&MA.  Things will be different for sure.  Neither Megan nor myself will be taking a salary from the church, we will no longer be working with teens, and we will have to start using words like y'all and fixin'.  We are excited to be learning how to disciple others and how to plant a church in a post-church culture.

There are three things I'd like you to consider as CDAC sends us out into the "mission field."

1. God has always been faithful.

CDAC has a rich history of serving the community, worshiping in spirit and in truth, and equipping people for ministry.  It's incredible to hear of the men and women that this church has touched in the past 75 years.  I have no doubt that God will continue to use CDAC as a place where people encounter God.  

2. God is still working.

As I shared a few weeks ago, we are leaving in the midst of good times.  God is working in and through people's lives right now at CDAC and it's awesome.  Home Groups are thriving, the youth ministry is growing, and we can't seem to find room for all the people coming on Sunday morning.  I am so glad that the next pastor who comes after me will be entering a healthy place.

3. God will provide.

As you pray with the Elders for the next staff pastor, know that God is a provider and will give the church exactly the person He wants to be here.  He has already been working in that person's heart and has been leading him here.  Pray that the Lord's will be done at Circle Drive in these next few months.  

Where We Go Wrong

Some of the most powerful teaching tools, especially when it comes to teaching who God is and what He is like, are children’s songs.  I am blessed to have been raised by parents who introduced me to Jesus and gave instruction and opportunities to know Him more and more.  Because of this, I had the chance to participate in Children’s Church in the church that I grew up in. 

We sang songs, played some games, did a lesson, memorized a verse of Scripture each week, and had a chance to be with our friends each week as we learned more about Jesus.  It was here that I learned just how great and big God is—He could hear everyone around the world at the same time, see what people were doing and thinking and feeling all at the same time.  We sang songs like “My God is So Big” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  As a child, I had no doubt in my mind of the power, size, and strength of our great God.

Let’s fast forward 30 years for me (for some of you it might be longer).  I must admit that when I’m confronted with life’s problems—financial issues, relationship stresses, the global climate of increased terror and hatred, and total uncertainty for the future—there are sometimes when worry and fear creep in and I wonder if God is capable of handling these issues.

Let’s stop for a moment.  How did we get here?  How do we go from children who have such a huge and accurate view of God where everything will be and is okay because God is big and in control to a place where we wonder if God can deal with my financial worries? 

I believe the problem that brings us to this point is that we forget who God really is and what He’s like.  A.W. Tozer reminds us of the ultimate solution in his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy” as he writes this paragraph:

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worth of Him—and of her.  In all her prayers and labors this should have first place.  We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.  This will prove of greater value to them than anything that art or science can devise.  (p. 4)

Friends, let us return to the childlike view of God—He is awesome, big, perfect, stronger than anything that has ever been or will be, has everything in control.  Remind yourself of who He is when you face fear, uncertainty, or simply when the world falls apart because our checkbooks read “zero” at the end of the month. 

Our God is so much greater than all of that.  Remember this simple, yet foundational point as you live for Christ in 2016!

Give Thanks

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November is upon us. While I’m not a fan of the colder weather and the shorter times of daylight, there are so many things that I love about the month. I get to celebrate my wedding anniversary, my birthday, the birthday of my son and grandmother, and we get to celebrate those who were called to service in the U.S. Armed Forces on Veterans Day!

This is a great list of opportunities for rejoicing and celebration. In my article for the CDAC Newsletter last month, I mentioned what the purpose of life is—it is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. There seems to be a common theme between the chief end of man and all of these great things that November brings—there seems to be a response to all of the greatness that God has bestowed on you and on me. My friends, the response that we see in Scripture is the response of thanksgiving.

We have a lot to be thankful for. If I were able to write down everything that I’m thankful for, the newsletter would quickly turn into a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Instead, I want to give you 3 brief reasons why it is so important for us to be a people of thanksgiving.

1. Giving thanks acknowledges that we have been given everything. Whether it is our salvation found in Jesus or the food we eat every day or the healing that we received from a devastating diagnosis to the love of a wonderful family, by giving thanks we understand that all has been given by such a gracious God.

2. Giving thanks leads us into worship. The first words of Psalm 136 are “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…” But then the Psalmist doesn’t simply leave it there, but he leads us into worship of God by uttering, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” Giving thanks to God can only lead us into worship because when we look at the great love, power, and provision of God, we can’t help but give thanks and worship.

3. Giving thanks is the mark of the redeemed. Giving thanks is not a natural thing for a human being to give. Thanksgiving is the mark of the children of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

If we are all about God, we will be a people who constantly give thanks. May you all have an incredibly blessed Thanksgiving season this year!

Pastor Adam K. Sellen, Lead Pastor

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. 

If You're Tired and You Know It…(clap, clap)

From the March 2015 Newsletter

I was tired all of last week. Not just normal tired but more of a feeling that I had nothing left to give yet there was so much more being asked of me. It was as if I ran out of gas several miles away from any gas station and yet I still had many miles left to travel. I think many of us can relate to this for some reason or another. Maybe we've over extended ourselves and committed to too many things.

Sometimes we have seasons where we find it hard to say no or there are time sensitive assignments that occur in times where there are events scheduled at the same time. Whatever the reason is most of us can sympathize with being tired. As I was reading through the scriptures I came across Isaiah 40:28-31. As Isaiah was writing to the people of Israel who were in captivity they needed to be reminded that God was their strength in their time of weakness. Here are three things I believe we can learn from the words found in Isaiah. 

1. God does not get tired. 

God can commit to so many things and remain faithful. He doesn't need to worry about over extending himself or having to say no because he is exhausted. He doesn't even get tired with the many requests and problems of His children. When we have so many people asking so many things of us it can become easy to just stop listening and put ourselves on auto-pilot. God doesn't do this with us. When we have a real need or concern we can come to God knowing that it's not a burden for Him. Because God is an "everlasting God" He operates outside of time. Because He operates outside of time it's quite easy for Him to give us His time when we need it. If we are tired, we need to remember the one who always has time for us. 

2. He gives strength to those who are tired. 

God is the ultimate supplier of strength. He has an abundance of power and he longs to administer that power to those that call on Him. God wants His people to be strong because it actually displays His power and glory. God is all about getting the glory. He wants our lives to reflect how great He is. So if we rely on His strength He will ultimately receive glory. 

3. It is better to wait on God than to jump the gun. 

"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength." When we are tired we need to ask ourselves the question "Have I said yes to things that God would have wanted me to say no to?" There are many good things out there to spend our time on but not all things are for us. We need to make sure that we know what God wants from us so that we can say with wisdom" yes" or "no". Ministry is to get involved with what God is already doing, not asking God to bless what we are doing. Let's take time to acknowledge what God is already doing and wait on Him for the cues. 

Silence

From the March 2015 Newsletter 

 It is a rare occurrence when I get to have some quiet time alone in the morning, especially as a father of two young children. It seems that everywhere we go in life, there is always noise—an IPhone ding informing of a text or an email message, phones ringing, people looking for something, a coworker sharing about their day or how their family is doing, music blasting, televisions imploring us to buy the newest gadget or car that has just arrived off of the market. We are bombarded by this noise on a daily basis. But as I woke up today, there was this eerie sound that I never hear—the sound of silence. My family was still sleeping. No phone dings or television on. Simple silence. 

We must pause this narrative here and examine what was now going on in my mind. I had a choice of what to do. First of all (and what is really an all too common solution to the condition of silence), I could have turned on the television and radio and totally rocked the house out as I made my breakfast. I can imagine that this is what happens in most houses in the morning, it is usually at mine! Or I could choose the other route; one that is followed much less frequently, but still worth the journey. I could embrace the silence. Today, silence was my choice. 

While silence can be a scary time for most people in today’s world, I want to point us to the great benefit of silence. The Old Testament book of 1 Kings talks to us about a man named Elijah. He was someone who did some great things in the power of God, but one day he was feeling incredibly depressed and wanted to talk with God. So God decided that He would show Himself to Elijah. But when God finally revealed Himself, it was in a gentle whisper, or in our vernacular, silence. It is in the silence when we best hear God and are able to spend this intimate time with Him. 

We are approaching the Easter season, and during the month of March, we will be taking a look at Jesus’ journey to the cross—who He met and the lessons that He wants us to learn. But in the midst of these lessons, it is important for us to remember—Jesus took time to be with His Father in the silence of the day. It is my encouragement to each of you that you will follow Jesus and be determined to spend time in the silence of the day. I can guarantee that you will find it rewarding and exhilarating as we come to know God more and more each and every day. 

Time to Suit Up

Originally Posted February 27, 2015 By Pastor Adam

I was watching CNN the other morning and the discussion, I must admit, was one that made me both examine the situation thoughtfully and also go to prayer.  The host and the guest were talking about the ongoing terror threats that are happening in the Middle East and also around the world, such as in some African nations and even here in the United States.  These reports were discussing the thought of whether or not these actions were that of a religious war.  I must admit that I tuned out a little after the host posed the question to hear the conclusions that were made, but I began to think on this question–are we really at war?

To be honest, Scripture tells us that we are at war.  But we’re not at war with who we think–we’re not at war with any human being, whether he/she is a believer in Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion.  The Apostle Paul had this same conversation with the Ephesian church, and in chapter 6:12 our enemy is clearly identified.  He says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  We are engaged in a war between the forces of good and evil.

We, as believers, have a responsibility to engage in this fight.  But it’s not in the way that you might be thinking.  Our engagement in this fight, as Paul counsels the Ephesian church, consists of two points.  First of all, we need to suit up with the armor of God.  If you’re not familiar with this term, the armor of God is a use of symbolism to get the faithful to be totally enveloped in God to use Him as our defender.  When we engage in this battle, we need to have protection, and only God is sufficient enough for the task.

Secondly, we have a responsibility to be on offense as well.  We are fortunate to have some powerful weapons at our disposal–the Word of God and Prayer.  Friends, the only way we can fight and make a difference in the world today is to live by the authority and power of Scripture and to seek God through prayer to do His work.  When we fight the battles of prayer, only then will this battle truly be won.

I am troubled by all of this.  I hate the fact that there is all of this trouble, killing, and sorrow in the world.  But, I do believe in the ONE who is the victor in all of this–our Lord Jesus Christ.  With the certainty of the victory, my challenge to each of you is that you suit up for the fight and become a warrior for the Lord as you pray for this world.  Pray that people would find the true hope that is only found in Jesus.

Something Special

Originally Posted February 11, 2015 By Pastor Adam

It is incredibly hard to ignore, based on the amount of commercials that have been streaming over the television and webpages lately, that Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching.  I was amazed yesterday when I observed my daughter gawking over a 4 feet tall stuffed bear!  The toy is taller than she is, and yet she thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread!  Some people hate the commercialism of Valentine’s Day or even think that the holiday is a conspiracy between the chocolate companies and Hallmark.  While I don’t believe that it is a conspiracy, one thing has to be noted–Valentine’s Day is a special day.

It’s important for us to come to the understanding of why Valentine’s Day is important.  I do have to say, the holiday isn’t about the gifts or chocolates or flowers or dinner.  It’s not about wearing red or exchanging Valentine’s cards.  Valentine’s Day is about love.  Not simply the emotional response of love, but the real, life-giving love that first comes from God and then that we express to those around us.

I want you all to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year–not for the commercial reasons, but for this simple reason: when we celebrate love we celebrate God because God is love.  With this in mind, I pray that you all have a blessed day doing something special with the ones you love.

A Trust Exercise

Originally Posted January 29, 2015 By Pastor Adam

We had a unique opportunity to participate in something that, I would imagine, was quite difficult for the people of Circle Drive Alliance.  But before I let you all know what went on, let me take you back to 4 weeks ago and the challenge that I laid out before the congregation during our worship on that brisk January morning.

The morning worship service began as many of them do–a great time of worship through singing and then proceeding into a time of prayer.  As I was heading to the stage and preparing my heart to lead the congregation in a time of prayer, I felt led to offer the congregation an opportunity to ask the Lord Jesus over the next 3 weeks to pray and ask the question, “How do you want me to participate in sharing the hope of Jesus?”

I left it to the congregation to pray and I’ve heard some great stories of how God was leading them through this time of prayer.  Then we came to this past Sunday and I challenged the congregation to write on an index card the answers that God had given them of how each one can participate in sharing the hope of Jesus.  “Does He want me to pray for workers or pray for the lost?”  Then write that down.  “Does He want me to be faithful in giving of my finances?”  Then write down a number or percentage that He’s calling you to trust Him with.  “Does He want you to go, whether here in our community or to another culture?”  Then take the next steps to find out where to go and what to do.  This exercise stretched me and I know others into really hearing what God has for me and for us.

Now that the exercise is over, I’m now in the position to ask this question of myself–do I really trust God to provide and lead me in these areas?  Do I trust Him with my finances?  Do I trust Him to equip me to serve in ministries or even as the one who shovels the snow?  I know that I don’t have all of the answers on this, but I’m reminded that our God is faithful to do all that He has promised to do.  My encouragement to you and also to myself is this–if God has called us to do something, let’s trust Him and do it!  He will never let you down.  What a great trust exercise this has been and continues to be!