Archives for February 2012

Feb 28

Dream Center Reflections: Pastor Matthew Barnett

Yesterday, I introduced you to a place that is dear to my heart, The LA Dream Center. If you missed my post about the Dream Center and Skid Row yesterday, please click here.

The Dream Center is a beacon of hope for homeless families, addicts, abused women and children, victims of human trafficking, teen runaways, and many others who are filled with brokenness. Matthew Barnett discovered the cause he was made for when he relinquished his dreams of success and began listening for God’s dream for his life instead. When he sensed God was calling him to serve the poor and powerless, he co-founded (with his father, Tommy Barnett) the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA.

I had the honor of going on a missions trip to the LA Dream Center with Lysa TerKeurst and the staff of Proverbs 31 Ministries in August, 2011. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. While there, I had the privilege to serve on Skid Row, Adopt a Block, sorting clothes for the homeless, and packing trucks full of food to be delivered throughout Los Angeles communities in need. I also had the life changing experience of witnessing the various programs throughout the Dream Center for those who reside there and in the community. Testimony after testimony credited God, Pastor Matthew, and the Dream Center for restoring their lives and giving them hope. This only scratches the surface of what all the Dream Center does.

Meeting Pastor Matthew was quite an experience. I’m not sure what I expected, but I knew he was a very important man. I guess I expected him to be in his office working, planning, meeting, researching, and probably just very busy. I’m sure he has his days where this may be the case, but I was extremely impressed by the fact that this man knew every name of every person at the Dream Center. Not only did he know their name, but he knew their story. He walked around and visited with the people. And he was so enthusiastic. You could tell that he was so excited for each person there. He loved them and they loved him too. It was pure and genuine. I have not seen anything like it before. He had a smile on his face, enthusiasm that was contagious, and a huge heart for all people and God.

There were no presentations set up for us to listen to testimonies or stories from the Dream Center. Instead, while serving or working in a certain area, Pastor Matthew would happen to walk in and just pull someone from the Discipleship program or another program aside and say, “Hey, Tom, tell these ladies your story. Tell them where you were one year ago.”  And Tom would tell us. This happened all week long. We heard from folks who had been there just a few weeks, to those who had been in the program a year and then decided to stay and give back. Lives given hope. Lives where people found a place to belong. Lives changed forever because one man believed in the poor and powerless and took a bold leap of faith in founding the Dream Center. And once these people feel like they belong somewhere, they begin to believe…in themselves and God.

Matthew Barnett did not just found the Dream Center. He is also the senior pastor of the historic Angelus Temple. The Dream Center’s ministries reach 30,000 people each week through its multiple church services and more than 200 need-centered ministries.

The Dream Center’s record of success has led to the launch of over 100 independent Dream Centers nationally, as well as internationally.

In Pastor Matthew’s NY Times best selling book, The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World, you are shown how to recognize the unique gifts and opportunities God has placed in your life. When you discover and commit to your personal cause, you’ll find that God is right there beside you—ready and willing to partner with you in amazing ways. The cover of his book features real people from the Dream Center. I know this because I met many of them.

It is my privilege and honor to have Pastor Matthew Barnett as a part of our MTC Conference Call Series. If anyone knows about cravings, discipline, changing your life, and believing in dreams, it’s him. If you would still like to sign up for the calls you can do that here.  You will be sent links to listen to the first 2 calls that have already taken place plus the number and code to be a part of our next 2 calls (Matthew Barnett and Lysa TerKeurst).

Jennifer Davidson won the give away of Matthew Barnett’s book yesterday. I’m giving another one away today. Leave a comment on my blog today about the cause within you. Do you have a cause? Are you searching for one? Please share your thoughts.

Hope each of you have an amazing Tuesday and are enjoying our last week of study.

Stay COURAGEOUS!

Melissa
Feb 27

Dream Center Reflections: Skid Row

***Over the next few days, I will be writing about the LA Dream Center and it’s founder, Pastor Matthew Barnett. Pastor Matthew will be a guest on our Wednesday conference call. Even if you are not participating in the conference call series, please read these posts. They are important. We’ve been really focusing on ourselves over the past few weeks, and in our final weeks I want us to begin to also look outward.

Leave a comment on my blog in the comment section, a prayer for the people on Skid Row, the Dream Center, Pastor Matthew, or someone you know who is lost or hurting, and you will be entered to win Pastor Matthew’s AMAZING/LIFE-CHANGING book, The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World.

The winners of An Utroubled Heart are: Lori, who posted on Stephanie Clayton’s blog Feb 23 at 6:44 pm. Darla who posted on Feb 23 at 7:31 pm. Glenda who posted on Feb 24 at 3:42 am. Congrats. If this is you, email me at Melissa@MelissaTaylor.org.

Skid Row

Our plane landed in Los Angeles Thursday morning and by Thursday afternoon we were in the middle of one of the most notorious drug infested places in the United States. Skid Row.

Notorious for drugs, prostitution, rape, murder, homelessness, brokeness, hopelessness, addiction, abandonment, hungry and lost people.

Some would also say the people on Skid Row are worthless, a menace to society, losers, invaluable, throw away people, unlovable, worth abandoning, pathetic, outcasts, unaccepted, and dirty.

I came to LA on a mission trip with Proverbs 31 Ministries. We came to be a part of the LA Dream Center, serve with them, catch their vision, and reach out to the people who have been abandoned by the world….the hopeless, the unloved, the lost. (More on the Dream Center later…now back to Skid Row.)

We rode in a van from the Dream Center to Skid Row. I got out of the van with my team: Lysa, Holly, Hope, Teri, Samantha, Barb, Sheila, Vickie, Amanda, Kay, Darla, Amy, Kim, and Lynn.  We had just this very day come from our comfortable homes and now here we were in what was world’s apart from our normal.  Skid Row.

Immediately after arriving, I was pulled apart from my team to find a woman named Marie. She had been raped the night before and Lysa TerKeurst had informed our team leader that I had experience and a heart for those who had been sexually abused and were drug addicted. I didn’t want to go alone, so I asked my great friend and security blanket in that moment, Samantha, to come with me. She did.  To get to Marie we had to walk through the streets, appropriately nicknamed, Heroin Alley. It was here I witnessed the most devastation of human life I have ever seen.  People, who I knew were created by God…People, who I knew one day long ago were born babies with their whole life ahead of them…People who I’m sure at one time had hopes and dreams.  Parents. Children. Friends. Sisters…walking around like zombies, making no sense, moaning, wailing, needles-shooting themselves up-shooting each other up-one woman shooting heroin in her toenails, glazed eyes, checked out of life, drug deals happening right before my eyes…my heart was breaking right there on Skid Row.

Men, women, teens, white, black, hispanic, young and old…no discrimination on Skid Row. Some people appeared clean and polished and others looked like they hadn’t showered in a year.

I looked into every set of eyes that I could and what I saw surprised me.

Although the person looking back at me probably had no idea what they were looking at and didn’t care, I looked into their eyes and got a glimpse of their heart. Broken heart, lost heart, hopeless heart, abandoned heart…and it broke my heart.  I knew too that it broke the heart of God. He allowed me to see through His eyes on Skid Row. I saw beautiful people, created by God for a purpose. I saw people in need of acceptance, love, and hope. And in that moment my mission changed from hoping I could help someone to just being there to love. And that’s what I did.

I was surprised at how open to love most of the people were. I had many opportunities to hold someone’s hand, hug them, and look into their eyes and say, “I love you and I believe in you, so does God. I promise He has not forgotten you. And if you need help I can show you where to get it. But no matter what, you are loved and there is hope for you.”

In most cases, in return I got a smile, a story, an openess, and for a few, some tears. But no one desiring help. They all had excuses. And that was ok, because I was there to love.

Eventually, we found who we were looking for-Marie. A 41 year old woman who looked like she was at least 10 years older than that. She reaked of stale alcohol and clung tightly to her last cigarette.  She walked with a cane and a limp. Her smile revealed teeth that were discolored and some missing. She was dirty. And might I add…she was beautiful.

Marie came with our team and over the course of the next hour went from hysterical to having a seizure to collapsing due to exhaustion. She came back to the Dream Center and was given the care and evaluation necessary to get her help if she agreed. She had an open door for unconditional love, acceptance, help without judgment, a place to belong, food, shelter,and  all her needs met, but she had to agree to 1 year. You see that’s what the Dream Center requires…and it’s for a good reason.

Sadly, Marie is back on Skid Row today. That’s what she knows. That’s what she keeps going back to. Only 23% of the people brought back to the Dream Center stay. But those who do stay have amazing success.

I have so many stories to tell and one day I hope I can get them all on paper.

Before I close today, I have a favor to ask.  Will you join me in praying for the the beautiful people on Skid Row?  Today I want to have as many people as possible praying for these people created by God.  You know there is probably a Skid Row in your town too. It might look a little different or go by a different name, but I bet there’s one not too far from your home. You might even know someone who’s been there.  I know a few.

Pray. They need our prayers. They need love. They someone to believe in them. And maybe just maybe one day they will believe in themselves.

I’ve learned that most often people need to feel they belong before they can believe. Don’t get the two backwards. So many churches today get this backwards!  We don’t need to have the perfect words or the perfect plan. God just wants us to be who we are and love others. That alone makes more of a difference that you might think.

I couldn’t fix Marie, but I loved her. And that’s all I could give on Skid Row. And it was enough.

 

Next Post:  Matthew Barnett and The Dream Center.

Melissa
Feb 26

Made to Crave, 2012~Week 6

Hey my awesome Bible Study Group!!!  Do you know how much you have blessed me?  Last week was a big blur, especially Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I don’t wish the flu on anyone!  Taking the week off was good for all of us I guess. From your notes and comments, many of you needed the extra week and I certainly was out of commission. On the days I wanted to post something, I was blessed to run across Stephanie’s amazing “Sin Plays Dirty” message and Sarah’s sweet note about how God’s Word changed her perspective about this study coming to an end. I love how God provides!

Hope you are ready for a power packed final week~

Week 6~Homework and Assignments

Our word for the week is:

COURAGEOUS

Oh how I absolutely LOVE this word. Do you believe that you are courageous? Do you have the courage it takes to continue to rely on God? To keep believing that you are worth all the healthy choices you’ve decided to make? To admit that boundaries keep us safe not restricted? That this time around will be different? I hope you answered with a big ole resounding “YES” to these questions!

My favorite verse on courage can be found in the book of Joshua. It’s a verse that I gave to my 2nd son when he was born. God let me know that Hayden would need that verse many times throughout his life. He let me know I would need it too. Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV) Please read that and apply it to you and your life. You have what it takes, don’t doubt that. Grab on to courage from the Lord Himself. Be strong and courageous.

Our memory verse for this week is:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~ Psalm 73:26

This is a verse that strengthens me in almost any situation. God is enough. Oh how I need to remember this every day of my life!

Reading and Homework Assignments for Week 6:

Sunday-Spend some time in prayer for yourself and your study sisters about Week 6. Share in the comment section of this blog or on the Online Bible Studies Facebook Page where discussions and prayer requests about Made to Crave are ongoing 24/7.

Monday-Read Chapter 16. Highlight and take notes as you read. When you get to a Bible verse that Lysa mentions, take our your Bible. Look up the verse for yourself. Underline it and write “MTC” beside it. Think on the verse or passage a moment. Journal or make a few index cards with Scripture or quotes that will keep you grounded and give you truth.

Tuesday-Complete Chapter 16 Reflection Questions. Read the questions and record your answers in a journal or notebook. Be honest. These are just for your eyes or whoever you choose to share them with. Share as much or as little as you like in the comments section of my blog or on the Online Bible Studies Facebook page.

Wednesday-Read Chapter 17. Follow the same directions as on Monday. Check Melissa’s blog for an encouraging mid-week message! Post a comment to encourage others.

Wednesday-Conference Call with Pastor Matthew Barnett of the LA Dream Center and author of  best selling book, The Cause Within You. 1 pm EST.I had the amazing privilege to spend 4 days last summer at the Dream Center in Los Angeles. These were 4 life changing days and Pastor Matthew is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I can’t wait for you to meet him and hear his passion for God and all people.  For those of you who have missed the calls so far, it’s still not too late to sign up. You can have access to Call #1 and #2  plus today’s call and our final call with MTC author Lysa TerKeurst for $14. Just call the P31 Office 877-731-4663 or sign up online.

Thursday-Complete Chapter 17 Reflection Questions. Follow the same directions as on Tuesday. Share as much or as little as you like in the comments section of my blog or on the Online Bible Studies Facebook page.

Friday-Read Chapter 18 and complete the Reflection Questions. Follow the same instructions as Monday and Wednesday.

Friday Vlog– Log on to this blog, www.MelissaTaylor.org to watch a short video message.

Friday Option– If you want to have all your work done before the weekend, go ahead and complete the Chapter 19 and the Reflection Questions. Follow the same instructions as Monday and Wednesday.

Saturday Option– Read Chapter 19 and complete the Reflection Questions. This is our very last chapter. Boo Hoo :(

Okay, that’s it! Print or “favorite” this page so you can keep up with this week’s study. I won’t be posting the schedule daily, so hold on to this!

EMPOWERED~DETERMINATION~PEACE~TRUTH~

BENEFICIAL~COURAGEOUS

Remember, you have access to all six. You got da POWAHHH! Be DETERMINED to stay committed. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. And discover your PEACE in God, because I guarantee you won’t find it anywhere else. The TRUTH of Jesus Christ will set you free! Much is permissible, but we want to do what is BENEFICIAL. And my COURAGEOUS friend, you are worth every bit of it!

Have a great week! Keep believing this time will be different! And indeed it will. Have a great week MTC gals! I

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***Reminder: This study will wind up at the end of this week. The MTC book will be finished, but our road to great health physically, emotionally, and spiritually is just beginning. I hope you will continue your Bible study, either here or somewhere else. The next study on this blog is An Untroubled Heart: finding a faith that is stronger than all my fears.  It is written by author and Proverbs 31 National Speaker~Micca Campbell.  You can sign up in the right side bar of this blog. We will continue to have side discussions about our healthy eating plans and MTC progress, but we will be moving forward in to a deeper relationship with the Lord. We will continue to supply support, encouragement, and accountability as we continue to focus on studying and learning God’s Word. AUH begins March 25, 2012.

If you’d like to go ahead and order An Untroubled Heart, you can order it online at a variety of online venues or call the P31 office toll free 877-731-4663.  Ask for me and I’ll pray for you over the phone.  Just like the MTC study, we will offer Conference Calls (again at the low $14 rate) and author Micca Campbell will play a key role in our online study as well as join us in one of the calls. Check the Online Bible Studies Info page of this blog for all of the info! I hope you will join me! I’ll miss you if you don’t!

Melissa