New. What a Great Word.

plant_new_life-wide
I remember the first new vehicle I ever bought. It was a 1984 Nissan S/T Pickup. I remember how it drove, how it smelled, how it felt to own something that had never belonged to anyone else before.

I remember our first new house. Not a home that was new to us, but a house that we built from the ground up. I remember the day we moved in and how thrilled Melissa and I were to be homeowners at a particularly young age.

But things change.

Sometimes I wish I still had that truck, but I’m sure now it is in a junkyard somewhere. Occasionally, I wish I was still in that little house, but when I go back, I realize how little it really is.

This is how it should be.

You see, the truck I bought in 1984 and the house we built in 1986 would no longer suit our needs. They were great at the time, and helped us get to the point in our life where we are presently. But we’ve grown and taken on newer things out of necessity. You see, in almost every facet of our lives, what got us “here” won’t get us “there.”

Because this is how God planned it.

God wants and expects us to live our lives in anticipation. He expects us to change and grow. He wants us to experience satisfaction in our desire for Him, but more importantly, to experience restlessness in the journey to Him. He wants us to crave new.

In his revelation, John gives us a sneak preview of a time to come…a new heaven and a new earth created at a time when God declares that He will make all things new. The skies will be peeled back by the voice of God, our world will be consumed by itself, and we’ll go home… to something eternally new. It’s tough to imagine our quest for new ever stopping, but when God makes all things new, it will.

So, until then, how about we seek new together?  Try to remember what new felt like as you began your walk with Jesus and be greedy to feel that again.  Try to remember the jubilation you felt the first time you helped someone else become a new person in Christ, and hunger for it to happen again.  Look for new ways to strengthen and grow the kingdom of God in this little corner of the world we call Clear Creek.

Let’s press on to new together.  But just remember, in our quest for new, what got us “here” won’t get us “there.”

– Joey

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Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun…

Picture1What have I just described?  My generation can tell you in a heartbeat (and sing the jingle associated with it)! These are the lyrics of an old McDonald’s commercial about the Big Mac… their famous heart attack on a bun.

When I look at the jingle a little closer, I realize that I can identify every ingredient but one… “Special Sauce.” Okay, what’s that? Big Mac enthusiasts will tell you that without the “special sauce,” it is just another cheap burger.

After a little research, I found that back in 2012, Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut revealed the recipe for McDonald’s special sauce. The ingredients are mayonnaise, relish, mustard, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and white wine vinegar. (You can find a video showing you how to make it on businessinsider.com.) This secret sauce was so popular that on February 16, 2009, a bottle of it was sold in a charity auction for the Ronald McDonald House to a bidder in England for $96,000 (65,900 British Pounds). It was the first bottle ever sold in England. They should have shopped online where a bottle goes for $5.

The phrase “secret sauce” has become synonymous with any type of trade secret. If a corporation is taking their market by storm, it won’t be long until other people will be trying to discover their “secret sauce.” Churches are no different. If a church is healthy and growing, other churches will soon be interested in what they are doing and how they are doing it… their “secret sauce.”

I was recently asked about Clear Creek’s “secret sauce.” Unlike McDonald’s secret sauce, ours has only two ingredients… a gracious God and dedicated disciples. I’m not talking about garden variety folks who attend church on occasion, but sold out, disciplined followers of Christ. These people are a unique blend of servanthood, encouragement, and selflessness. They are kind, welcoming, generous, studious, and unassuming. They are willing to be last as long as Jesus is first. They are willing to become the least because Jesus is the greatest.

Because of disciples, children are taught, the poor are helped, marriages are strengthened, and people come to know Jesus. Discipleship doesn’t happen overnight. Because of this, many saved people will never enjoy the blessing of deep discipleship. Discipleship is hard and slow. But a church that is healthy and growing owes its blessings to God working through such people.

– Joey

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

In 1997, the Daytime Emmy Awards honored one of my personal heroes, Fred Rogers, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Television Excellence.  His acceptance speech went like this:

“Oh, it’s a beautiful night in this neighborhood!  So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away, some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, and wanted the best for you in life. Ten seconds of silence … [raising his wristwatch] I’ll watch the time…”

Esquire magazine’s Tom Junod described the scene this way: “There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And, so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier.  And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly ‘May God be with you,’ to all his vanquished children.”

When viewing this on YouTube, my emotional response shocked me. Some of the reaction was for a genuinely good man who truly deserved to be honored, but mostly because I participated in the exercise he had assigned. In those ten seconds, countless names sprinted through my mind. People who poured their lives into mine, making goodness, even greatness, seem attainable.  In that moment, I became overcome with how much I earnestly treasure these people.

Who would make your “ten second list?”  Who has loved you into being?

A more telling question is, “Am I on anyone’s list?”.  Who in my life can say that I helped them become who they are, wanted what was best for their lives, and even loved them into being?  Who in your life would say the same?

Summer’s coming, and with it will come ample opportunities to make somebody’s “ten second list.”  Whether it’s loving a child during Summer JAM, helping at Work Camp, pouring yourself into those in need through an overseas mission, or even sweating it out in our local work camp, there are so many ways we can make a difference.  So many opportunities to look forward to.  How about you take advantage of one of these opportunities, serve someone you may not know, and see what happens!

I hope someday at some random time and place, Mr. Rogers’ plea for introspective appreciation is recalled and repeated.  And I hope someone there will think of us… you and me… and how their time at Clear Creek made all the difference, and helped love them into being.

Joey

 

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If I sang, “If you’re happy and you know it,” what thought immediately enters your mind? Clap your hands? Stomp your feet? Shout “Amen?”

What if you’re happy and you don’t know it… what do you do then? Blankly stare? Shout “huh?”

Worse yet, what if you’re not happy and you know it? I don’t want to even assume that you’d clap, slap, stomp or shout in this situation! Yet this situation is the one our society is built on.

Products are sold, empires are built, politicians are elected by and for people who are not happy and they know it. We buy new cars before our old ones are worn out because someone told us we weren’t happy, and so now we know it. We have closets full of clothing that we never wear because someone told us we weren’t happy, and now we know it. We build bigger houses to store stuff that we don’t need, can’t use, but bought anyway… because someone told us we weren’t happy, and now we know it.

Our streets teem with anger, the market for depression medication is booming, and the image of the brooding millennial is on the verge of cliché… because we’re not happy and we know it. Or do we? Are we really sure we’re unhappy or are we believing a lie?

Abraham Lincoln once said that “most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  That’s why celebration is so important. You see we live in a world that has forgotten how to celebrate… we’d rather party. What’s the difference you might ask? A party just needs a place, a celebration needs a purpose. People do all kinds of useless stuff and call it a party. But to celebrate is to intentionally, and with great effort, take stock of the good in our lives and joyfully call attention to it by sharing this good stuff with others.

That’s why this Celebration Magazine is so important. It calls our attention to our blessings, to the things going on around us that should be recognized. It reminds us that we’re happy and we know it!

So, as you read this magazine… and you get happy and you know it… instead of clapping, stomping or shouting, how about doing something a little different? Find the people who are mentioned in these articles, celebrate with them, and ask them to autograph your magazine. If you get everyone’s autograph, bring your magazine to me and you’ll get a surprise… and after that we might just clap our hands, stomp our feet and shout “Amen.”

-Joey

 

Here’s to hoping 2017 isn’t a Blockbuster year!

Does anyone within the sound of my keyboard remember Blockbuster?  Blockbuster was a movie rental store … a multimillion dollar corporation … that no longer exists … that has been replaced by vending machines called Redbox.

RBX_KIOSK_LFT_LB2_v1.pngLong before the demise of Blockbuster, I sat in a board room listening to someone predict its collapse. He spoke of a new way of delivering entertainment through coaxial cable and telephone lines. This new technology would enable a “subscriber” to view an extensive listing of entertainment choices, purchase them remotely, and download the videos directly into their devices (television/computer/phone) … to be stored there … forever!

My response? “No way! That will never happen! That’s nothing more than futuristic mumbo-jumbo!  I’ll have more Blockbuster stock, please… ”

What I learned was valuable. I learned that change is inevitable, and quite often good. Even when I don’t understand it … even when I am content with things as they are … even when I can’t envision enjoying the change … change can be good. I also learned that ignoring the inevitability of change, and failing to adjust accordingly, is often done at our own peril. Just ask Blockbuster.

During 2016, this church has undergone tremendous changes. And even though it was uncomfortable at times, these changes have brought about increased volunteerism, more flexible opportunities to worship, and creative connection points that our church has needed. And your response has been … tremendous … gracious … hopeful … selfless.  Thank you!

But let me begin 2017 by sharing this … more changes are coming. I don’t write this because I’m aware of some “double-secret hidden agenda.” I write this because change is inevitable. Now, my crystal ball is broken, so I can’t tell you what changes 2017 will bring, but I can tell you that they’ll come. I can also tell you that whatever they are, we’ll do more than survive them, we’ll flourish in them because God’s on our team!

As 2017 begins, I ask you to continue to be tremendous … gracious … hopeful … selfless … even if you don’t understand things … even if you are content with the way things are … even if you can’t envision yourself enjoying something new. Have these attitudes because “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

So, get ready: the church is a living organism and all living organisms undergo a stretching that accompanies growth … or they die … just ask Blockbuster.

– J.D. Davis

It’s Time to Celebrate

When I think of what God has done in the years we have been called Clear Creek Church of Christ (since 2008), I think of the word “saved.” I think of all of the people who have been introduced, and reintroduced, to the saving power of Jesus Christ. I think of how these people made the important decision to live their life in the “YES” position by allowing Jesus to be the Lord of their life…saved! I think of all of the marriages that were crashed, or about to crash, on the shores of disappointment and disillusionment, yet were saved through the resources and encouragement of our church family, as well as the Spirit of God…saved! I think of the families who had given up on church, and how they gave the kingdom one final chance…with us. I stand amazed at what God has done with our feeble efforts and how the fruit of the Spirit has worked through our people to help reengage these families in God’s work…saved.

When I think of how God is working in our family right now, I think of the word “more.” We’ve retooled the idea of what it means to succeed as a church family and we’re seeing the fruit already. Our desire is to grow discipleship through worship and servanthood, and it is happening! Since transitioning to two worship opportunities, we are seeing more people worshiping in the Worship Center than we had last year…more! We are seeing more people finding a place to serve in the ministries of our church (almost 30%), whether its Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Small Groups, Worship, Greeting, etc., the results are the same: more people are committed to serving…more! As we continue to work through the transition we’re in, I continue to see people show more commitment to our church family and more loyalty to God’s mission…more! Make no mistake, God is in the middle of this church stirring the waters and rocking our boat so the outcome brings more to Him…more! Celebrate!

When thinking about where God will lead us in 2017, I think of the word “deeper.” In the upcoming year, I feel God is calling us into a relationship with Him that is…deeper! In 2017, we will be unveiling something called a “discipleship path,” a totally voluntary way to gauge where we are in our walk with Jesus. It will be simple and straightforward, yet complex enough to show (no matter where we are on the path right now) some next steps to growing a richer faith and a stronger resolve as disciples…deeper! Next year we will be reevaluating the activities of our church family in hopes of bolstering the things that propel us toward discipleship…deeper! Please pray that God will have His way within our hearts so we can continually pursue Him…deeper! Celebrate!

There is no greater truth than “light shines brightest when surrounded by darkness.” No matter how dark our world seems, we can take great courage in our relationship with Jesus, the Light of the World! Our job is to reflect His light deeper into dark places, so more people can come to know Him, and those people can be saved from the futility of life without Him. God has been, is, and will always be good. Let’s not forget to celebrate Him. Celebrate!  – J.D. Davis