Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

Dear Family & Friends

Can you believe another year has passed? Of course this also means that it is time for another McDuffie Christmas letter. This year has again been jammed packed with happenings, not to be mistaken with one of the worst movies of the year, “The Happening”.
Anyway, let’s dive right in. When we left off last year the church plant was not taking root into the community very well and we were unsure of what direction God was taking us. In April of this year we celebrated one year as a church. It came with little fanfare, but it was a special moment for those who had persevered. In September, we put on a series called PureSex. It gained more media attention than we ever could have imagined and many people were upset that we were allowed to meet in a school because we were a church, but little more came of it than that. (You can Google it if you want.) What we thought was the beginning of a new start for the church, was really the beginning of the end. It wasn’t long before I went through the seven stages of grief, I could not believe this was the end. It felt like two and half years down the drain. In October, God led us to do three things. First, I taught through a great book called Wild Goose Chase, second, we started a small group studying what I consider to be the best Bible study of our generation called “Experiencing God”, and last but not least, God also began to speak to me that the church plant was coming to an end. I fought with God for awhile, but decided He has always known best before so I finally gave in. November 30th was our last service as a church, and on December 7th we merged with our parent church who is struggling itself, But, we had no doubt that God was leading us. I am currently the associate pastor with Central Baptist, with co-preaching duties. It has been an eventful few months to say the least.
To be honest, I have no idea what is next, but I know God is in control. A perfect example of this came along in the past few weeks. With the close of the church plant, we took a pretty big pay cut to stay on with Central, as my salary came from different sources. After working through the budget, we realized we were going to have to move which was heart breaking to us, and we were not sure if we were going to be able to stay the course as we had already been forced to move for the third time in the past few years in April of 08. It’s a long story, too long for this letter, but our landlord wanted to live there instead. Anyway, as soon as we resolved that we would be faithful no matter what, God provided. Our landlord called and lowered the rent by $200 a month the next day. WOW, what a God we serve!
During the summer, we took some friends from the south up the mountains to the North of the city to grill some burgers and enjoy the cool mountain air. As we were just about to eat, a bug landed on our daughter’s arm, which she is terrified of by the way, and she starts running around in mindless circles and then BAM, right into a concrete table. She fell backwards with thud. It was one of those moments where you wanted to laugh, but she got up screaming so you had to be sure she was ok first. She keeps our hands full for sure.
In other news I still work for Starbucks as a shift-supervisor; Stacy took on a new venture and has been leading the PowerPoint and sound ministry for both churches this year, Aurora turned four in June of this year and of course, is again thrilled about the coming of Christmas. All in all it has been a very eventful year. A year that has dealt us some tough cards, but as we went through the valley, we found out how faithful our God truly is.
As I come to a close, I can’t help but think that I can’t wait to see what news next year’s Christmas letter will bring. If you want to stay up to date feel free to follow my blog at
May the celebration of Christ’s birth be a blessed time of year for both you and your family!
Merry Christmas,
Jeremiah, Stacy, & Aurora Rose McDuffie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God Always Comes Through!

There are times in life when you have to take a step back, take a deep breath, and jump in the water. When you say, "I am still in this until God pulls me out". These are usually moments when God shows up in big ways, where you stand amazed at His work. Stacy and I just experienced such a moment.
To be honest when we figured out that with the loss of income from merging the churches that we would have to move again, we were about ready to throw in the towel. It was our breaking point. As I have been talking to God, I have been discussing with Him how I don’t know if we can do this again, a fourth move, maybe a fifth in three years, not with everything else that has happened. I came to a point though were I told God, “If you want to move us we will stay faithful to this call until you call us somewhere else”. I took a deep breath and jumped in again with God, "whatever your will Lord, we will follow". We had already packed twelve boxes and told our landlord the situation. This was also hard for me because I believe the Bible teaches us to keep our agreements, and I have never broken a lease before. We were down in the dumps Thursday through Saturday. Then God gave us a really good, fun, worshipful, relaxing day on Sunday. Exactly what we needed to lift our spirits, and then yesterday the news came. Our landlord calls us, it’s been about a week since she got the news, and says, “what if I lowered the rent to $750”. That’s a savings of $200! We sat down looked at our current budget, and what do you know, we can’t spend any more than $750 without stretching ourselves to thin.
I am absolutely amazed as time and time again God has answered our faithfulness, with faithfulness. I praise God for His provision, and I thank Him for keeping a promise. You see in the scriptures it says that God will not give us more than we can bear. God knew that Stacy and I were at a breaking point, and as we held on to Him He came through for us. If you are struggling today, I encourage you to hold on to Him, because He will never let go of you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Really God?..."Moving and searching"

Do you ever have those moments where you are like, “Really God, really?” Yesterday evening I had one of those moments. In fact I thought that very thing, “Really God, really?” “Can a guy catch a break?” Here we are packing again…the fourth move in three years. Since this move is most likely to a month to month place we could make it five moves in three years. With the closing of ECC we can no longer afford to stay in our current house so we are moving again, this time something month to month or a very short lease. You might be wondering about all the other moves, but only one of them was our idea. The rest were God, leases, and landlords. I am trying to get a grip on this...Is God trying to teach us something, and if so what? We are trying to be good stewards with our money, yet with this move we are throwing a $950 deposit down the drain by breaking our lease (something I have never done), not to mention more moving cost. I would just like to know why? Is this our “high cost” of following Christ? Did we do something to offend you God?
The truth is I am kind of searching for my place right now. I know God led us to merge ECC with Central, but I am still unsure of my place in all of that, oh I have a title and all, but it is little more than that to me. It’s where my heart is that matters to me, and to be honest I am not sure where it is right now. I have no doubt that God has led and worked through this adventure that has been Tucson, AZ to this point, but I have no idea what is next. As cheesy as this sounds I’m reminded of line from a song from the 80’s by Michael W. Smith called “Place in this World”. It says, “I am looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world, my place in this world. I need Your light to help me find my place in this world, my place in this world”. I know who I am I am in Christ, I know who God has called me to be, but I am not sure where that fits now, or what it looks like.
For now I am doing what I know. I know God called us here; I know He called us to help merge ECC to Central, and I know we have to move, or eat up all of our savings…so I guess I am going to go pack some boxes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Running, Dying, and My Church Planting Journey Pt. 2

After a good night sleep, Starbucks open, and a shower I have recovered enough to write the promised part 2 to last night’s blog. I mentioned one of the songs I listened to was “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi. Now although I enjoy running to the song it got me thinking, it’s not really my life anymore. The day I acknowledged that Jesus is Savior and Lord of my life I gave up that right, it’s now His life to do with what He chooses. In fact it got me thinking about us as a church, and I mean all of us who claim to be Christ-followers, especially here in America. I wonder where we get off sometimes. What right do we have to expect comfort, or the easy path? That spits in the face of everything Jesus taught us about the high cost of following Him. The problem is that we who claim to be Christ-followers all too often live as if it is our life. We pamper ourselves in every way we can think of and we forget, it’s not about us. It’s about something much greater, the cause of Christ in this generation.
This is where it gets more personal for me. My wife and I with our small daughter left friends, family, and the land we love to answer God’s call to be a part of what He is doing in Tucson, AZ in April of 06. Simply put if GA was the land that I loved, Tucson, is the extreme opposite, I just didn’t know it yet. In April of 07 we started a church, and last month in November of 08 we closed its doors, metaphorically since we never owned a building, forever. God has led us to lead a merger of this church with another and overall the idea has some hints of insanity to it, but we are 100% sure God is leading it. People ask, “So do you think it will work?” I don’t know! What’s work? I know God called us to the church plant, and in normal human terms it failed miserably. The thing is though, I believe it was God’s plan for it to fail, for us to merge, and for…well that part is not written yet. You see when it’s our life we get wrapped up in how others will perceive what is going on, but in Jesus’ kingdom a cup of cold water in His name has eternal reward. So here we are not because we want to be or this is our dream, but because this is where God has placed us to be a part of the most important cause of my generation, the generations that came before me, and all the generations to come and that is the cause of Christ! This is not my doing, this is not the way I would do things, but this is God getting a hold of one guy, and getting him to step out of the way and let God work through him. It’s not what I can do, what I want to do, or how I think it should be done, but it is Christ working in me and through me. You see since I am a Christ-follower it’s not my life, but His.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Running, Dying, and My Church Planting Journey Pt. 1

So I am changing directions tonight. I went for a run tonight. 3 MILES!!! I skipped around in my i-pod nano starting with “Loose Yourself” - Emeniem. This was a mistake as that song always gets me going so I started out to fast, I then slowed it down with the “Chariots of Fire” theme song…you know the one. LOL. Then I listened to Vanilla Ice w/Korn singing the metal version “Ice Ice Baby”, LOL. I know, I know, but it got me moving again. It was then a smooth transition into “Ridin’ Dirty”- Chamillionaire. By this time my heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. Good thing for me the movie place I was returning my rented movie was right there. After a short minute break I got going again to a forgettable song, and then “The Final Countdown” - Europe, came on. I was dying, plus I can never get through the end of that song so I skipped to my pleasant surprise “Smells Like Teen Spirit” - Nirvana, which got me rocking again. I then came to a strong finish with “It’s my life” - Bon Jovi, and “Rebirthing” - Skillet.
Ok so now you know my song list, I have an interesting taste in exercise music, and that I must be out of shape if half way through a 3 mile run I felt like I was going to die, which by the way I am in some serious pain. Seriously though I am going somewhere with this one, or as one of my old preachers says, “Don’t get off the bus yet folks, were going somewhere”. LOL! I could really go all kinds of places with this one but I am going to keep it personal. “Loose Yourself” is the way I started out this church planting journey, guns blazing, I then had to back off the peddle, “Chariots of Fire”, but jumped right back with an upgraded weapon ready to take on the world “Ice Ice baby”, and “Ridin” Dirty”. I was able to keep that pace for a bit, but I was so spiritually out of shape I started sucking air big time. That next stage truly was forgettable, but then I felt a slight pick me up, but it was just a passing thing. I was dead, “The Final Countdown”. Feeling like I could not finish. Suddenly new life struck, “Smell Like Teen Spirit”, I was truly juiced. I got a little selfish for a bit “It’s My Life”, and then began to realize what I knew in the beginning and that is that “it’s not about me”, “Rebirthing”.
Right now you are probably thinking how did he come up with that out of those songs, and while he was dying on a run? Simple, I didn’t, God did. You see when we begin to seek after God He can and will use anything and everything to speak to us and we must have spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit of God would say to us. God spoke much more by the way, but that will have to be saved for another blog as I am in so much pain I don’t think I can go anymore. The truth is not long ago I was there too in my spiritual journey, but through Christ I have persevered and come out the other side. More to come…

Monday, December 1, 2008

God Speaks...Pt. 5 "The Why Factor"

You ever wonder the why in a situation? You know God is at work and leading you, but you’re not exactly sure what He is up too. That is kind of where we are right now. I honestly don’t know why it was time to bring ECC to an end, except that God spoke it, so we followed. We still had financial backing, we were still in it for the long haul, and our core was still committed. This is not a money or numbers decision. It is a God spoke, we listened and obeyed thing. God has given us a glimpse as to the why, as our parent church, although having no debt load has come upon finically hard times. I am still amazed as they knew that supporting us the way they did would drain them, yet they stuck with it all the way. I have so much respect for Pastor Travis, the man I am now co-pastor with at Central Baptist, our parent church. The easy thing to do when this financial news came would be to say it’s time to cut Jeremiah off the payroll, yet he has done the exact opposite, suggesting that his salary package, not mine is the problem. He has been here 20 years, is near retirement, and owns a home here. Even now he is looking for a part-time job so that the church can cut his salary so that we both can stay on and lead in this merger. I thank God for his example of putting the cause of Christ in this genration first and foremost.
This Sunday will be the official merger of Central and Element. Our first service together will also bring about much change for both churches from musical styles, co-pastors, and the canceling of all programs as we seek who God would have us become as a church. It is a huge step of faith for all in involved. So we have some of the why, ECC is coming to an end because we are supposed to become a part of Central Baptist, but from there each step is really a step of faith, God has not given us the big picture, but asked us to step out with Him. I can truly say with all of my heart, “What an exciting place to be”.