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Wednesday, December 31

Milestone Celebration -- 35 Yrs Ago Today!

Proverbs 20:6, "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?"

It was 35 years ago TODAY!  Celebrating a personal milestone of faith and the life-changing legacy of model leaders in the spirit.  We hope our blog today will help restore and grow your faith in those who are not just saying they love God and people, but are making it easy to clearly see by looking at the fruit their life bears.  As you read, you will witness a demonstration of the most incredible moments on this earth - when two people live their lives to give to and serve God and others... completely and unselfishly!  Knowing how crucial it is to have strong spiritual leaders who stand up as role models, who faithfully help lead us out of our old flesh nature, and who help guide us into the loving arms of God and fulfillment of His purpose for us in His Kingdom, Paul teaches, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
Yours in Christ,
 Keith (and Brenda)
The term  "One-in-a-Million" best describes the profoundly anointed lives and ministry of Pastors Clay and Dee Davis, true Heroes of the Faith.  In an age where we are seeing an ever-increasing shift away from God's biblical example for the Pastoral ministry, it is beyond refreshing to know these wonderfully successful shepherds of God's flock.  With nearly thirty-eight years in the ministry, since 1977, they have effectively reached thousands of people with the  love of Christ.  Their compassion and selfless sacrifices toward everyone that God has placed in their path has literally been second to none.  I know this to be true; I am one of those people.
In 1979, I was just wrapping up a two-year road tour with the first British Christian rock group to come to America, The Alwyn Wall Band.  As we would travel from city to city, I had the privilege of meeting and working with many pastors and their ministry teams.  As our tour was drawing to a close, I found myself desiring more of a relationship with a solid, steady Church family.  I had visited the Davis's church on the coast of North Carolina just a year or so earlier, and I could tell from the beginning of, and all throughout, my visit that there was something different about them.  They genuinely loved people in a way that I had only witnessed a few times before.  When I stood with them, I felt like I was "at home".
As the result of my working with so many pastors over my years of touring, mixed with my hunger to grow in my knowledge of God's written Word, I began to develop the ability to recognize whether a pastor is truly called of God to be a shepherd over His flock, or not.  In my experience, I have found that, of the countless thousands of those who occupy the role of pastor over a congregation, there are a rare few who have God's heart for His people AND who truly share God's passion to see those in his care raised up to fulfill, with God, the plan and purpose God created in them before the foundation of the earth.  From the very moment when I was privileged to meet this anointed couple, The Holy Spirit revealed that I was indeed in the presence of a pastoral team who was truly ordained and anointed by God to care for His Children.  I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they truly love God and His people with a tremendous passion!
Just today, as I was reflecting on the new year of 2015 coming tomorrow, it donned on me that, on this New Year's Eve 35 years ago, December 31st, 1979, I stood at a very important crossroads in my life and ministry.  Just weeks prior to this memorable occasion, I received two unique and incredible invitations, simultaneously, offering me opportunities to go out on another Christian rock music tour.  The first offer I received was from Dana Key of the group "DeGarmo and Key", and the other was from Jerry Chamberlain of the group "Daniel Amos".  Both bands were very successful and well-known as contemporary Christian rock groups.  Wow!  I was overjoyed to get just one great offer, but now I had to decide between two great offers, both from really outstanding bands!  What do I do?  
The real dilemma can be summed up with this one question, "Do I take the well-travelled road I was familiar with, and go back out on tour where I know I'm comfortable and enjoy ongoing accolades that come with the rock-and-roll band lifestyle; or do I take a huge leap of faith and believe God to fill my desire to homestead with the NC Church Family?  This time of year for a fresh move to the coast of NC couldn't have been worse for finding, both, a place to live and a 9-to-5 job!  Being the middle of the winter, the coast of NC would be all-but boarded-up until it came summer-time again, bringing resort-goers from local areas and out-of-town.  Truth is, I knew in my heart the way I needed to go - to put down my roots in a good Church family and prepare for an even more fruitful ministry in the coming years.  So, from my hotel room in Charlotte, NC, I called Pastor Clay to ask if he would pray with me concerning this decision I had to make.  He greeted the opportunity with open arms.  I shared with him how I had learned, first-hand, that, without the individual people in the local church bodies becoming engaged in raising up and nurturing newly-committed believers, like those we led to the Lord through our concerts, there was a terrible disservice being done in the lives of those new believers.  Once I finished pouring out my sorrow and concern for the new recruits too often being left to fend for themselves after we led them to Christ, and once I shared with him my new-found options for my next season of ministry, Pastor Clay paused briefly.  Then, with all the love of a gentle Papa, he said, "Brother Keith, come on home!"
At that, I packed up my things, gassed up the car, and drove seven hours to the Outer Banks of North Carolina where Pastors Clay and Dee Davis led a vibrant and steadily growing congregation.  It wouldn't be long until I would discover how the conversation we had that New Year's Eve was going to profoundly change my life and ministry forever!
I didn't waste any time learning all about the spirit-filled Davis couple!  I have to say that their journey in the past, and the journey of each day in our new ministry together, was incredible and curious as only God could work out, being our Source and Supply!
The majority of the Davis's ministry has been in the eastern part of the country.  However, they actually both got their start growing up in the west.  Clay Davis was born in Livingston, Montana and was raised working on his family's ranch.  Dee Oslund was born in Spokane, WA and worked with Civil Defense throughout her high school years.  Clay joined the U. S. Air Force in 1951, taking technical training courses on Aircraft Engine Maintenance at the University of Southern California.  After being on a ground crew for maintaining B-29's in Denver, he transferred to Chanute AFB, IL where he trained airmen on B-29 and B-50 propeller engines.  Further into his 10 years of active duty service, he became a technical school instructor teaching airmen how to maintain jet engines on B-36s and B-52s.

During his active duty tours of service, Clay attended The University of Southern California, University of Illinois, San Jose State College, Wake Forest University and the USAF College Institute.
Airman Clay Davis met Miss Dee Oslund in Spokane, WA in 1953.  He was vacationing at the same area lake resort where she was with her family on vacation at the same time.  This is where it really gets  good!  The way they met is definitely one of the most unique hookups that I've ever heard of!  While Airman Davis was enjoying a swim with his buddies one day, he began to get cramps and lost control of his limbs.  He began to drown.  At the time that this was happening, Dee was sun-bathing on the dock and noticed that Clay went under the water, but did not come back up.  Realizing he was potentially about to drown, she ran to a nearby boat, jumped on board, and quickly made her way out to save him.  She dove into the water after him, searched under water until she found him by grabbing his hair, and pulled him up and out to safety.  She literally saved his life that day.  What a catch!  Little did they know that the events of that day were not only a divine appointment, but also marked the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship.  They were married in September 1954 and haven't looked back since.
In 1961, Clay left the USAF to go to work for IBM in Atlanta, GA.  There he would come to be promoted to Field Manager for the Norfolk, VA office.  Though the IBM office was in Norfolk, Clay and Dee chose to live in Virginia Beach, only a few miles from the Rock Church of Virginia Beach.
While still working a full-time job with IBM, Clay became increasingly involved in the ministry at the Rock Church.  At first, Clay was primarily responsible to oversee the construction program for the church's new state-of-the-art facility being built in the early '70s.  In 1977, after the obvious leading of the Holy Spirit, Clay resigned his position with IBM so he could go to work at the church on a full-time basis as their Business Manager.  Sister Dee soon resigned from her position where she had been working with Virginia National Bank, so she could begin to manage the church's new bookstore.  She soon found herself involved with speaking prophetically into the lives of the store's patrons.  She soon became "Momma" to everyone in the church building.
Recognizing God's obvious touch on both of their lives, their pastor, Bishop John Gimenez, approached them about becoming the pastors of the first satellite Rock Church.
Toward the end of 1977, they moved to Colington, NC where they would accomplish an amazing number of  feats in just four years of serving there.  They started an accredited Bible Institute, a Christian Academy (K-4 through 12th grade), a wonderfully successful clothing and food distribution ministry, built a beautiful new worship center complete with offices and classrooms, built a parsonage, and the list goes on.  Besides their accomplishing all of those things, they did them without ever going into debt.

As great as these accomplishments were, they can't even begin to be compared to the hundreds of lives that God was able to profoundly save and raise up through their ministry.  Sister Dee, while deeply involved with every aspect of their work, somehow found the time to counsel folks on a regular basis, head up the hospitality ministry, serve as the church's secretary, be a model wife, and be a model mother to four very active children.
One Sunday morning after service, I remember the first big miracle that I had ever witnessed taking place in their home.  As was a custom of Sister Dee's, she invited a large number of people from church to come to their home for lunch after Sunday service.  This one particular afternoon, as we arrived at their home, I made my way into the kitchen to offer my help.  Without hesitating, Sister Dee handed me a bowl of vegetables and ask if I would help set the table.  As I looked at the food that she had prepared, I glanced in the dining room at the number of people there that she had invited, and I couldn't help but notice the fact that we were going to have a five loaves and two fishes situation on our hands.  As Sister Dee began serving what was obviously not enough food to feed everyone, I began to notice something remarkable.  The amount of food seemed to mysteriously multiply!  By the time we left that afternoon, not only did every one of us wind up with plenty of food on our plates and have a full tummy, but we noticed that there was, somehow, plenty of food left over as well!  Everyone not only left the Davis home that day with their fill, but was thoroughly amazed at what they saw God do through these precious saints.  The more that I have had the privilege of walking with them as the wonderful, remarkable servants they are, the more obvious it has become that these kinds of things are pretty-much common-place in their lives.

From 1982 to 1985, Pastors Clay and Dee founded Proclaim Christian Center and Haven Home for Girls in Winston-Salem, NC.  While in Winston Salem, Pastor Clay served on the Governor's Task Force to rewrite the maternity laws for NC.

The home for unwed pregnant girls went on to do great things in the lives of many young women!  Under their loving supervision, at last count, 55 beautiful babies were brought into the world through their Haven Home for Girls.
Their endless sacrifice and ministry in Winston-Salem have shaped the lives of many young men and women who serve in both part-time and full-time ministry today.  Through their lives, they produced a Godly heritage that continue to reach many people for Christ.  Pastor Clay would go on to enact vital guidelines for "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" in both NC and VA.  Those guidelines have vastly improved the way those facilities operate.  What a bountiful harvest!

In the spring of 1985, Pastor Clay and Sister Dee were asked by Pastors Arlie and Jerri Whitlow to come and join them, as co-pastors, in their new church plant in Sterling, Virginia.  Pastor Clay and Dee then turned the Winston-Salem work over to Pastors Phil & Kathy Dowdy, moved to Sterling, rolled up their sleeves, and went right to work.  Their dedication and expertise played a key role in the church's reaching, and even exceeding, its goals in much less time that ever expected.  Once again, God flowed through them to impact countless lives.  From those tremendously effective years in Sterling, right through to the present times, these humble servants continually touch many others.  Despite both of their recently mounding physical challenges, Pastor Clay and Sister Dee never cease to gird themselves with the towel of loving service, and carry out assistance to whomever God brings their way.
Pastors Clay & Dee Davis now reside in the northern VA area where they are close to two of their four children.  Although they are retired from full-time pastoral ministry, they continue to regularly have the opportunity to mentor young pastors and other church leaders.
Would that the Church of Jesus Christ have more pastors like Clay & Dee Davis!  Over the past 35 years, these precious servants of God have richly bless my life in a most profound, wonderful way!

With the close of 2014 upon us, would you prayerfully consider including Toward The Mark in your end-of-year giving? Your gifts are tax-deductible, and every gift helps.  Best of all, when you partner with us by regular monthly contributions, you help encourage the 6,220+ people who take part in this ministry's resources every month (on average).  You certainly encourage us by sharing the vision and passion of TTM - to make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached. Thank you in advance for your ongoing or new sponsorship and support!

Email questions or mail check payable to TTM, Inc. to:
Toward The Mark, Inc., P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152

For more Scripture-based truths to help as you Press Toward "one-ness" with The Heavenly Father, check what else we have available:

~"Toward The Mark's Wisdom-Packed Wednesdays" Facebook page;
~Keith's "Between The Lines" Podcast channel;
"Sharing with you the Secrets God Whispers" monthly web messages; and
"TTMSingingSgt" on Twitter.

Thursday, December 11

The Little Guy letter

"So, when it comes to my supporting a ministry, I’m supporting the little guy who does big things for God.  Thank you for every-thing you do for us!"

     This is a short, but uplifting account that we pray and believe will tremendously bless you as it has so blessed us. It is based on a simple little note offering a great big message from a brother in Christ (who asked to remain anonymous); All praise and glory to God!-- Keith & Brenda Shealy
         I was recently at a meeting where a young man that I had led to the Lord several months earlier walked up to me and slipped something into my pocket.  This fellow had struggled for over 15 years with heroin addiction, and he is now on the long and difficult path toward a complete lifestyle change.  When I arrived home later that evening, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small crumpled-up envelope.  As I opened it, out fell a worn twenty dollar bill with a note that read, “ Brother Keith, having been raised in an abusive and very poor family, I know what it is like to always be the underdog.  So, when it comes to my supporting a ministry, I’m supporting the little guy that does big things for God.  Thank you for everything you do for us!”  

With the close of 2014 fast approaching, would you prayerfully consider including Toward The Mark in your end-of-year giving? Your gifts are tax-deductible, and every gift helps.  Best of all, when you partner with us by regular monthly contributions, you help encourage the 6,220+ people who take part in this ministry's resources every month (on average).  You certainly encourage us by sharing the vision and passion of TTM - to make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel that Jesus Christ preached. Thank you in advance for your ongoing or new sponsorship and support!

For more encouragement and testimonies, get your copy of “TTM Magazine” online at Toward The Mark.com.

For more Scripture-based truths to help as you Press Toward "one-ness" with The Heavenly Father, check what else we have available:

~"Toward The Mark's Wisdom-Packed Wednesdays" Facebook page;
~Keith's "Between The Lines" Podcast channel;
"Sharing with you the Secrets God Whispers" monthly web messages; and
"TTMSingingSgt" on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 3

Leave it ALL on the Field

You wanna know how I can tell that God has put something in you that is crucially important to the fulfillment of His plan for all of His creation here on earth? ...  YOU'RE HERE!

I once had a very sobering revelation of what it would be like to stand before the all-mighty, all-loving God without having finished the things that He had
put me here on earth to fulfill. To say the least, just the thought of not finishing abundantly fruitful made me heart sick! There I was, standing before the all-loving God - “Love” Himself - not having been fully about my Father’s business while on earth. I was keenly aware that I had not fully used the talents or abilities that He had given me
for the purpose of glorifying His matchless name.

I can remember being overwhelmed with grief, not from fear of being condemned by God, but from a deep regret and sorrow the likes of which I had never known! I wished that I could have just one more chance to go back and work with Him to finish all of the things that He had created me to do. Now, I can tell you, that is NOT going to be me! As we used to tell each other in football before a game, “Leave it ALL on the field!”

We would like to encourage you with all of our strength to, “Leave it ALL on the field!” Overcome intimidation, fear,
procrastination, and anything else that may be keeping you from finishing what God has so richly programmed you to
fulfill from the foundation of the earth. Before it is too late, get the things God has placed in you, out and, into the hands and hearts of others who need what God has so richly deposited in you. Don’t take to your grave the books, the music, or anything else God has put in you to complete while you're here! This lost and dying world needs
you to, as we would hear from our coaches in football, “Keep your head in the game” and make sure that, as this lost and dying world needs you to do, “Leave it ALL on the field!”

For more on this topic, and many others, get your copy of our book entitled, “XII Smooth Stones” online at Toward The Mark.com.


We never want to be remiss in inviting you to become a part of providing life-changing messages of Toward The Mark, Inc!  To become a member of the sponsorship family, click the PayPal button below and securely offer... 

For more Scripture-based truths to help as you Press Toward "one-ness" with The Heavenly Father, check what else we have available: