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All the People

Have you ever been around a flock of sheep?

It’s disgusting.

The worst part is their backsides. The condition of their wool makes even the scraggliest man’s beard look downright attractive.

And let’s not talk about the smell (of the sheep… not the beard).

The point is, working with sheep would be terrible. It makes sense that shepherds were considered second-rate citizens in biblical times. Yet these are the very people God displayed his glory to after the birth of Jesus.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” Luke 2: 8-14 (ESV)

Of all the people God could reveal his glory to, why did he choose shepherds?

The answer lies in the proclamation of the angel: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

“All the people” sounds good because we know that includes us. We know we don’t deserve God’s grace but we’re joyful because we’ve been included in it. That’s why the coming of Jesus was such good news!

But it’s also good news of great joy because “all the people” include those we might not. If it were up to us we probably wouldn’t have told the shepherds first and maybe there are people today we don’t really want to tell. People with different political passions, people with more money and people with less money, good people and bad people, people we like and people who have hurt us.

The call for us to show the love of Christ to others, at times, requires us to say and do things for people we might not otherwise associate with. That’s what it means to Go Bold.

A question worth asking yourself this holiday season is, “Who needs me to step out and share the love of Christ in a bold way?”

Who needs hope and joy, and how can you be used by God to bring it into their lives?

It could be someone less fortunate than you, or someone you’ve been at odds with, or someone altogether different than you. It could mean you meet a need, invite someone to a family gathering, serve selflessly, or offer forgiveness. Whatever it is and whoever you do it for, God could use you to bring good news of great joy to all people.

– Lance Lawson, Church on Wednesday Campus Pastor

The Perfect Person for the Job

A group of masked invaders are armed with hammers, pry bars, wheel barrels, and shovels. They look on, impatiently waiting for directions.

“Was it in the flood water?”

“Yes.”

“Has FEMA been here?”

“No.”

“Has your insurance adjuster been here?”

“No.”

You can see the anxiety on her face.  A whole host of decisions need to be made on the spot. She could have never anticipated having to make these decisions and she has no experience to serve as a basis for her choices. She has no way to know the financial consequences of her choices. She is very much at the mercy of the masked invaders. They gather around waiting to hear what she chooses to do and their presence compounds the stress.

Mike pulls her aside. He is calm. He is knowledgeable. He is experienced. He has spent years building houses and years dealing with emotional, anxious homeowners. He patiently describes the construction issues relevant to each decision. He explains the ease or difficulty of replacing or rebuilding, and the probable cost of each one. He is careful to explain the dangers of mold but rationally and sensibly. He gives her options she has no other way of knowing she has. He explains which decisions can wait and which part of the work should be done while the masked invaders are present. For every choice she needs to make he gently emphasizes that he will support her decision.

Mike has earned her trust. He is not in a rush. He does not pressure her. He leads his team of masked invaders to be careful and conscientious. Every exposed nail is pulled. Every floor is swept and vacuumed. Everything that can be saved is saved. He genuinely wants to know if there is anything more she needs from him or his team.

Serving with Mike in houses that were flooded by Harvey gave me an up close and personal look at how God can use each of us to show Bold Love. I don’t know if it has even occurred to Mike, but God put him in that woman’s house because God had prepared him for years to be the kind of presence Mike is uniquely gifted and experienced to be in her life and her home after a hurricane.  Like so many who led and served in the aftermath of Harvey, Mike is a quiet hero.

I know huge events like Harvey shine a spotlight on the kinds of gifts Mike has. But I also know there are “mini-Harveys” that go on around us all the time. You can’t, and you don’t have to, know how to respond to them all. But God has been preparing you and me for years in the same way he has been preparing Mike. We just have to do what Mike did – make our gifts and experience available to God when we are the person who can make a huge difference for someone who is enduring a “Harvey.” That is what Bold Love is all about.

– Greg Poore, Associate Pastor

The Birthday List

My wife’s birthday is this month. To be honest, I’m not a great gift giver. But luckily for me that’s not how she feels loved. She feels loved when she is served well, and she feels loved with words of encouragement. So this month I am writing notes of encouragement every day leading up to her birthday. Mainly, I’m leaving sticky notes on the bathroom mirror each morning that include a reason why I believe this year will be her best year yet.

Clear Creek Community Church celebrates a birthday this month too. I won’t say how old my wife will be, but CCCC turns 24 years old on October 31, 2017. What started as a church plant in 1993 has grown to a multi-site church reaching thousands of people each weekend. What began with the mission of leading unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, is doing just that in it’s 24th year through an emphasis we’ve called “Go Bold.”

The big idea behind Go Bold is to actively and generously show the love of Christ to our neighbors, friends, and community throughout 2017 (and hopefully beyond).

As of mid-October that’s exactly what has happened. We’ve seen God do some incredible things through the people of our church. And, to be honest, he hasn’t needed Go Bold to do it, but in his grace, he chooses to use his people to accomplish his mission, and Go Bold has gotten to play a role in that.

The best part is he’s not done, which means we aren’t either. And just like words of encouragement inspire and re-energize my wife, our words can do the same for the people in our church doing their best to Go Bold, and help those who haven’t jumped in discover what all of this is about.

So what if we gave CCCC an early birthday present and created a list of reasons why Go Bold matters, and how it’s already made an impact? I’ll get us started with a few, but, please, add to it! In the comments section of this post on Facebook and Instagram share you stories of ways you’ve seen Go Bold in action this year to encourage us all to finish strong.

  1. GO BOLD has shown the love of Christ in tangible ways.
  2. GO BOLD gave us a reason to get to know our neighbors.
  3. GO BOLD called hundreds of volunteers to action supporting local non-profits and ministry partners in our community.
  4. GO BOLD challenged us to leave our comfort zones.
  5. GO BOLD is teaching our children the importance of loving and serving our community.
  6. GO BOLD led us into Bold Love – the next step in our 4B Vision.
  7. GO BOLD threw some great block parties and neighborhood events.
  8. #GOBOLD has trended on social media in League City, Clear Lake, Friendswood and Dickinson.
  9. GO BOLD washed fire trucks, served police officers, visited nursing homes, and served an animal shelter on a Community Impact Day this spring.
  10. GO BOLD adopted and fostered children in our community.
  11. GO BOLD played a big part in helping us launch our 5th Campus – East 96.
  12. GO BOLD mentored and tutored children in CCISD.
  13. GO BOLD hosted school supply, food, and baby drives.
  14. GO BOLD helped prepare our hearts for Hurricane Harvey.
  15. GO BOLD mobilized thousands of CCCC volunteers to muck out houses.
  16. GO BOLD washed hundreds of loads of laundry.
  17. GO BOLD cooked countless meals for people in need
  18. GO BOLD challenged small groups to serve together and many have done so.
  19. GO BOLD helped provide generous monetary donations to Go Partners in the 4B area.
  20. GO BOLD invited our friends and neighbors to worship services.
  21. GO BOLD reached people with the gospel that may have otherwise been unreached.
  22. GO BOLD opened homes to friends who were displaced by Harvey.
  23. GO BOLD expanded our view of generosity.
  24. GO BOLD has challenged our priorities.

Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment, or share this post, telling us what you’ve seen through this year of Go Bold.

– Aaron Lutz, East 96 Campus Pastor

Harvey and the Church

We started blogging about #GoBold back in January and had no idea what lay ahead. Read through the posts and you’ll find words of motivation and encouragement to step out and love your neighbor. Our words of motivation and encouragement seem weak compared to the flood waters of Harvey though.

Your response to Harvey has been…epic. I didn’t want to use that word (because I’m not a bro) but you’ve left me without a choice. Thousands of you have served thousands of our neighbors. These last few weeks the love of Christ has been visible in kayaks and big trucks and food and shelter and laundry and piles of debris and sweat and N95 masks.

Your response to Harvey is the clearest representation of the love of the early church I’ve ever witnessed.

Acts 2:42-47And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

The context is certainly different, but the love for one another is the same.

Harvey started this mess but the church of Jesus Christ will have the last word. We love because He first loved us.

As things return to normal, fight to hold on to the willingness and openness you’ve lived in these last few weeks. Fight to continue to see people as God sees them. Fight to remain generous in the love of Jesus.

– Lance Lawson, Church on Wednesday Campus Pastor

Pursuit

One of my favorite TV Characters growing up was Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, a bumbling and corrupt sheriff character in the American TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.

He was accompanied by his pet/police dog basset hound named Flash. He was constantly chasing them “Duke boys.” It seemed like every episode, as Bo and Luke Duke came flying past him in their Bright Orange 1969 Dodge Charger with “01” painted on the side and a rebel flag emblazoned across the roof, Roscoe would say, “Come On Flash, we are in hot pursuit!

[CBS/Getty Images]
As I’ve had some time to rest and reflect this summer and focus toward this Fall, the word “pursuit” has continued to surface in my mind and I’ve been asking myself three questions:

What are you pursuing?

Why are you pursuing it?

Who are you pursuing it for?

 

What are you pursuing?

What flashes across your mind throughout your days that grabs your attention, and you go in hot pursuit after? I can be easily distracted by unhealthy cravings and desires as well as things that appear good but might not ultimately be best.

In 1 Timothy 6, we are encouraged to look at what has us distracted and the apostle Paul pleads with us:

“But as for you, O man of God (woman of God), flee these things. PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

 

Why are you pursuing it?

I’ve learned to ask this question to get to the root of why that thing seems so enticing to me, why I think that thing or relationship will bring ultimate fulfillment. If you are honest, it doesn’t take long to self-assess the motivations of your longings and pursuits. Is it a longing to find contentment, pleasure, power, prestige…in something? Fight hard to get to the root of your pursuits and lean back into your identity in Christ and what Jesus has done for you.

“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

 

Who are you pursuing it for?

Am I pursuing the things I am in hot pursuit after for me alone? Is it so I look good, or I gain power, or I have more comfort, or pleasure, or security?

Ultimately, we need to realize the pursuits in our lives that are most satisfying are those things that bring glory to God.

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16 

I pray you would pursue Christ as you continue to Go Bold this fall with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness.

– Chris Alston, West Campus Pastor

Discerning the Body

I was preparing for the Lord’s Supper at the Gathering at Egret Bay last week when I had a moment that made me think about Bold Love.

You’ve heard this text many times in preparation for the Lord’s Supper. Paul writes:

”For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

Then he adds this, as part of correcting the Corinthian’s great misunderstanding of the meaning and purpose of the Lord’s Supper:                                    

”Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29

If we eat and drink without “discerning the body” we eat and drink in an “unworthy manor,” and are therefore guilty concerning the body and blood of Jesus – “guilty” meaning we disrespect the meal.

When we come to the table we are to examine ourselves, discern the body, and then eat. We examine ourselves to remember our own sinfulness. Remember you annoy some people and make some people angry. Examine yourself and recognize that for someone else you are the in-grown toenail in the body of Christ.

Remember Jesus’ body was broken and blood shed for every believer; not just you, and not just me. Every believer – even the ones who drive you crazy, make you angry, even the ones who are stuck in a pattern of sin… We are the body.

As our Father graciously responds to us we must respond to each other – forgive, bear with, submit, have patience with, be considerate of. We must “discern the body.”

Here is my Bold Love moment: if we stopped with obediently doing those things it would be good, it just wouldn’t be enough to truly glorify Jesus and to truly honor the Lord’s Supper, because Jesus wanted more for us.

Think about this part of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in the upper room:

“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:10-11 

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23

Jesus repeats in prayer that his glory in this world right now, and the key to his mission, is our perfect oneness. As Father is in Son, Son is in us, and he prays so we would be one with each other.

We have awesome campuses, inspiring music, engaging teaching, amazing ministries, and people going all over the community doing great things to love their neighbors. That is all good! It is just that Jesus doesn’t say his mission or his glory is dependent on any of those things.

Jesus says the world will believe the Father sent the Son when the oneness we, his followers, share is a perfect picture of the glory of Jesus’ oneness with the Father – he prays for that!

Bold Love? We can serve in schools and stock food pantries and volunteer all over the 4B area. But, if as we do that stuff we disrespect, gossip about, are indifferent to, carry grudges – you know, do all the things we so often and casually do to each other in the body – Jesus would say we undermine his glory and his mission.

Don’t save it for the next time you are preparing to take the Lord’s Supper. The next time you are preparing to volunteer or to take a meal to someone, take time to “discern the body.” What is going on with you and any other believer that mitigates against oneness with the body of Christ? Go do something about that first, then go be a volunteer in the community.

– Greg Poore, Associate Pastor