Monday, 12 May 2014

And the greatest of these is love.....

I was sitting in the sun this afternoon reflecting on the reminder given to us in Thessalonians 5:19-22

"Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil" (The Message) 
I also love the simplicity of the New Living Translation - 1 Thessalonians 5:21 
"but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good" (NLT)                      
The wisdom of this passage has helped me navigate many of the prides, pitfalls and challenges of faith and life - and avoid a few bruises along the way.....

As I meditate on challenges that groups of friends in faith are facing in the UK, the US and Australia as I write, my heart is warmed by the exhortations of Timothy - 2 Timothy 1:7
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control." 
I am so thankful that God gave us all (yes even me!):
  • a sound mind 
  • a spirit of power, love and self control 
  • discernment 
  • and the ability to rely equally upon the absolute truth of the Word; and the unmatchable wisdom of the Holy Spirit living inside of us as believers
Life is complex - its rarely simple and yet using these awesome gifts that are God-given, we can each determine the right paths and decisions to make on this journey of life.

My prayer for the week ahead is that we all (in different parts of the world and in wildly different seasons) navigate the challenges before us using God-given discernment, the Spirit, the Word and sound and well exercised minds - and all with an abundance of grace, love and thankfulness.

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it" Colossians 3:14-17 (The Message) 

Be encouraged friends. Be bold! Stay blessed

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Be Still And Know That I Am God

I have been reflecting lately on Psalm 46 and wanted to share some thoughts on this wonderfully simple and yet incredibly powerful passage of scripture.

Psalm 46:10 says:
Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honoured by every nation. I will be honoured throughout the world 

So why should we BE STILL? 


Submission to God’s will and plans for us acknowledges that God is God and that we are utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit (see Zechariah 4:6 below).
Without seasons of feeling like we are under the blowtorch, would we really be in a place to actually listen, look for, hear and see the lessons that He wants to reveal to us in our submission?

He knows the beginning from the end  

He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. So if for example, someone lost their job last week - they really can be still and know that the God who created the very universe already knows when they will get their next job - or the next opportunity that He wants them to pursue. He also knows how He is going to provide for that person in the meantime
I think the paradox of how a person drowning at a beach often lashes out in panic and almost drowns the lifesaver who is trying to save them is a good one for how we often thrash around drowning out what God is saying to us and trying to reveal to us as He saves us from the tough circumstances that we have found ourselves in. We often start thrashing around as if we are trying to alert God as to our predicament. And yet our all powerful God knew exactly what was to come - and why. 
Whilst we can’t drown the God who spoke the very stars into existence we can certainly drown out his voice and exhaust ourselves as we thrash around unnecessarily

God promises that He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us

Jeremiah 29:10-11 says:
This is God’s word on the subject:
“As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”

He will give us the grace to get through whatever it is that we are facing

His grace is sufficient for me
His power is made perfect in weakness

All of our needs whether material or of character will be provided if only we will trust and be still

I love the words of Corrie Ten Boom in Tramp for the Lord (1974)
‘When I was a little girl,’ I said, ‘I went to my father and said, ‘Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.’ ‘Tell me,’ Father said, ‘when you take a train trip from Haarlem to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?’ ‘No Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.’ ‘That is right,’ my father said, ‘and so it is with God’s strength. Our wise Father in heaven knows when you are going to need things too. Today you do not need the strength to be a martyr; but as soon as you are called upon for the honor of facing death for Jesus, he will supply the strength you need – just in time.’ 

He promises to never leave or forsake us

Jesus is the only believer who has ever had to be separated from God, in order that we may never know that separation. So we can be still - precisely because we are never alone

So why is it that we continually insist on struggling against the plans and intentions of our Lord and Saviour? 

I know from personal experience that if we try to sort out our predicament ourself, He will usually leave us to wallow.....until we surrender. Not because He is a cruel God but simply because He knows what is best for us - and surrender is pivotal to all that is best for us
It is when we have surrendered that God has room to work

God is our defender

Isaiah 54:17 in the Message says:
“No weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar. This is what God’s servants can expect. I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best. This is God’s decree!”
Now that’s a powerful reason to be still!

We can be still amongst the storm - precisely because we have the most powerful, loving, all knowing Heavenly Father defending and protecting us His precious children
In Him we are totally safe!

God is sovereign

Psalm 103:19 says:
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all

The American Christian Author Chuck Swindoll says:
When you accept the fact that sometimes seasons are dry and times are hard and that God is in control of both, you will discover a sense of divine refuge, because the hope then is in God and not in yourself. 

God is faithful and always true to His word

Lamentations 3:23 says:
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning

My God is a BIG God

Jeremiah 32:17 says:
O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! 

The Lord's purposes always prevail anyway - so stop struggling!

Proverbs 19:21 says:
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails

So why the urgency in working this out?

It is so important to work out what ‘being still’ and ‘knowing’ mean because as surely as night follows day, the day of the storm will come. 

Trying to work these questions out whilst you’re already in the storm is akin to booking your first swimming lesson after you have jumped into the middle of a turbulent ocean.  
We so often need to change our perspective - simply and yet transformationally.
Instead of saying HOW BIG ARE MY CIRCUMSTANCES, we need to learn instead to say HOW BIG IS MY GOD!!

Zechariah 4:6 says: 
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts”
The Holy Spirit does God’s bidding here on earth - that we know. So we need to submit to God, then lean into the Holy Spirit, whilst standing on the unbreakable promises of the Word.
My prayer is that Christians everywhere may simply be still and know that He is God. 

This has been one of the simplest and yet most transformative revelations that I have been blessed to discover.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

My God is the GREAT Restorer.....

WOW.....what a night!!

Sometimes I am known to ramble when I speak. Tonight I am going to take the liberty of rambling as I write in Spirit-filled happiness - as I saw with my own eyes a great and magnificent work of restoration tonight in Jesus name. Tonight was DEFINITELY a Joel 2:25 kind of night.
"I'll make up for the years of the locust, the great locust devastation - Locusts savage, locusts deadly, fierce locusts, locusts of doom, That great locust invasion I sent your way. You'll eat your fill of good food. You'll be full of praises to your God, The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder. Never again will my people be despised. You'll know without question that I'm in the thick of life with Israel, That I'm your God, yes, your God, the one and only real God. Never again will my people be despised.
We have just arrived home from one of the best parties that I have been to in years. 

Not the most extravagant. Nor the most glamorous. But in all honesty, one of the most joyous, worship, prayer and praise filled celebrations that I have experienced in a LONG time - even in this year of the Jubilee and the Olympiad. And why was this party so special? Simply because it was a RESTORATION party.

What does "restoration" mean?

Let's take a quick look at the meaning of the word "restoration.

The Oxford Dictionary defines "restoration" as:
The action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition: 
The reinstatement of a previous practice, right, or situation: 
The return of a monarch to a throne, a head of state to government, or a regime to power: the restoration of a democratic government 

Would you agree with me that the word "restoration" simply points us to the name of Jesus?

Jesus' purpose was to put right or to restore our relationship with "our previous owner" (God!)

Restoration just screams out "renewal", "hope", "future" and "right relationship" to me. I am so thankful that God is the owner of the business called RESTORATION!

Much like in the book of Luke when the prodigal son returned home, tonight's party was one in which the cause celebre was the restoration of rightful relationship under God between brother and brother, sister and sister, friend and friend. So in that context hearing the name of Jesus being worshipped and honoured with many, many unified and triumphant voices was just awesome. Much like the story of the prodigal son, tonight's party involved an awesome feast  - but more importantly it was about celebrating dead relationships being returned to life and the lost being found!!

The Parable of the Lost Son

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.
The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 
“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 
The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ 
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 
His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. 
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 
We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!"

Tonight was a wonderful reminder that we are all parts of the body of Christ, the doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers, academics, nurses, pastors, students, a great multitude of children, social workers, artists, musicians, fashionista, tradesmen, aviation workers, children's workers, philanthropists, therapists - all different, all unique and yet all forming equally important parts of the body of Christ (the church).

When we shared communion in the midst of the celebration tonight I could sense the devil gnashing his teeth at the work of the Great Restorer. But more importantly, I could sense the REJOICING in Heaven. I am pretty sure THAT party is still going on now!!

As I sat basking in God's presence tonight I was powerfully reminded that our God is the Great Restorer..... He is the great I am. He is the beginning and the end. The alpha and omega. He is simply so powerful, magnificent, omnipotent, omniscient. He is so vast. His love knows no bounds. His mercy endures forever and ever. There is not a corner of the universe in which we can - or need to - hide from him.

There is not a hair on our heads that he hasn't personally numbered. Every breath that we take is ordained by Him. He loves us. He loves us so dearly. He treats us all as if we were His only children and He LOVES RESTORATION.

Our God is a good and just God and He pursues righteousness, truth and justice, for justice is His very heartbeat.....

The Scriptures say:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Tonight my friends, God's awesome restorative justice was served up. My God's purpose - to give us a rich and a satisfying life - was fulfilled in abundance. Amen

I believe that evidence of the fruit of God's work is never more obvious than it is when we see miraculous and powerful Kingdom restoration.

I have used this illustration before - and I will no doubt use it again, however when a car buff restores a car, he ALWAYS rebuilds it better, faster, prettier, more expensive and more loved than it originally was.

This is exactly the same as when God restores us - or something to us. It is infinitely better, prettier, more wondrous, more loved and more outwardly lovable - precisely because it has been REBUILT from the inside out!

The ultimate display of God's restorative power is in the restoration of the Cross - the restoration that we have in Jesus - restored to what we were always designed to be or to have - intimate relationship with the Father. The old has come, the new has gone..... 
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

So friends, I want to encourage you - when the devil attacks and takes from you stay steadfast and stand strong! Keep on believing for the season of feast after the famine. Our God is an awesome God and a God of RESTORATION and JUSTICE.

Friends, please join me in praying for continued restoration here on earth (as it is in Heaven). Amen

I want to leave you with - and encourage you to take a few (12 to be exact!) minutes to listen to this amazing musical rendition of the Prodigal Son. It is perhaps one of the greatest Christian songs ever written - Keith Green's the Prodigal Son Suite.

Thanks so much for sharing in my joy tonight. An after-party is so much more fun when shared with good friends.....


Andie Steele-Smith

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

That's My King.....

Friends, I am beyond excited to share with you a message that many of you who are more tech-savvy than I am, have probably seen and heard many times. But for those of you that like me grew up on cassette tapes - you just might share my excitement.....

So why am I so excited? 

Well simply that I received in my inbox a copy of one of the most awe inspiring evangelistic sermons that I originally heard as a young man on cassette tape - but this time it was a link to it online. A dear friend of mine the Rev. Ian Powell gave me that cassette tape many years ago in Sydney, Australia.  Man I played and played and played that tape until it LITERALLY self-destructed.

I have dreamed many times of hearing it again - and now I have.

So whether you have heard it or not, read it, I urge you. You will not be wasting your time. Better yet listen to it - it is as true, incontestable and stunningly inspiring as it was when the great man who preached it S.M. (Shadrach Meshach) Lockridge first wrote it.

That's My King

By Dr. S.M. Lockridge

My King was born King.

The Bible says He's a Seven Way King.
He's the King of the Jews - that's a racial King.
He's the King of Israel - that's a National King.
He's the King of righteousness.
He's the King of the ages.

He's the King of Heaven.
He's the King of glory.He's the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords.Now that's my King.
Well I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don't try to mislead me. Do you know my King?
David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament show His handiwork.
My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shore of supplies.No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

Well, well, He's enduringly strong.He's entirely sincere.He's eternally steadfast.He's immortally graceful.He's imperially powerful.He's impartially merciful.That's my King.
He's God's Son.He's the sinner's saviour.He's the centrepiece of civilization.He stands alone in Himself.He's honest.He's unique.He's unparalleled.He's unprecedented.He's supreme.He's pre-eminent.

Well, He's the grandest idea in literature.He's the highest personality in philosophy.He's the supreme problem in high criticism.He's the fundamental doctrine of proved theology.He's the carnal necessity of spiritual religion.

That's my King.

He's the miracle of the age.He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.

Well, He's the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.He supplies strength for the weak.He's available for the tempted and the tried.He sympathizes and He saves.He's strong God and He guides.He heals the sick.He cleanses the lepers.He forgives sinners.He discharged debtors.He delivers the captives.He defends the feeble.He blesses the young.He serves the unfortunate.He regards the aged.He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek.

Do you know Him?

Well, my King is a King of knowledge.He's the wellspring of wisdom.He's the doorway of deliverance.He's the pathway of peace.He's the roadway of righteousness.He's the highway of holiness.He's the gateway of glory.He's the master of the mighty.He's the captain of the conquerors.He's the head of the heroes.He's the leader of the legislatures.He's the overseer of the overcomers.He's the governor of governors.He's the prince of princes.He's the King of kings and He's the Lord of lords.

That's my King. Yeah. Yeah.That's my King. My King, yeah.

His office is manifold.His promise is sure.His light is matchless.His goodness is limitless.His mercy is everlasting.His love never changes.His Word is enough.His grace is sufficient.His reign is righteous.His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Well. I wish I could describe Him to you, but He's indescribable. He's indescribable.
Yes. He's incomprehensible.He's invincible.He's irresistible.I'm coming to tell you, the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explaining Him.You can't get Him out of your mind.You can't get Him off of your hands.You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him.

Well, Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him.Pilot couldn't find any fault in Him.The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.Herod couldn't kill Him.Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him.
That's my King. Yeah.

He always has been and He always will be.I'm talking about He had no predecessor and He'll have no successor.There's nobody before Him and there'll be nobody after Him.You can't impeach Him and He's not going to resign.That's my King! That's my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.Well, all the power belongs to my King.We're around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but it's God's power.Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory.We try to get prestige and honour and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His.Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? And ever and ever and ever and ever. And when you get through with all of the evers, then,

And here's another great video rendition of this awesome, awesome sermon. This version is put together by Mark Barnes

SM Lockridge's Official Obituary

Official obituaries included the following, however I think the words, the insight, the power and the ageless testimony of the sermon "That's My King" are just about the finest testimony ever written.....

S. M. Lockridge. 08-Apr-2000 Saturday  

For more than 40 years, the Rev. Dr. S.M. Lockridge's sermons boomed from the pulpit of San Diego's Calvary Baptist Church and far beyond -- at crusades, revivals, religious rallies and evangelistic conferences around the world, reaching the powerful and the meek.

This week, his voice was stilled. Dr. Lockridge died Tuesday at the age of 87 after several years of failing health."He was a giant among preachers," said San Diego City Councilman George Stevens, who was ordained by Dr. Lockridge and served under him as an associate pastor. "His messages were so powerful, so penetrating. You somehow felt that he knew totally what he was talking about."

During Dr. Lockridge's tenure at Calvary Baptist, one of the most prominent African-American congregations in San Diego, his ministry reached more than 100,000 people. He oversaw 5,000 baptisms and increased the church's assets from $25,000 to more than $1 million.But Dr. Lockridge's influence was felt far beyond the city. He served in key regional, state and national positions with the Baptist Church, including president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America.

He held doctorates and numerous honorary degrees and was often sought as a public speaker, even after he retired in 1993. He served as guest lecturer at numerous schools and universities and on the faculty of several others, including the Billy Graham School of Evangelism.Dr. Lockridge was active in the civil rights movement, and under his leadership Calvary Baptist hosted several of its leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson."His unique, powerful preaching gift opened doors for him that transcended racial boundaries," said the Rev. Timothy Winters of Bayview Baptist Church. "He was excellent in terms of breaking down ethnic distinctions."

Among his admirers was former Gov. Pete Wilson."He touched, and made better, thousands of lives, including mine," Wilson recalled in a written statement. "There was about him a dignity, a quiet wisdom and a gentle, healing power that made him both a truly great pastor and a great force for good far beyond his church."

Shadrach Meshach Lockridge was born March 7, 1913, in Robertson County, Texas, the oldest of eight children. His father was a Baptist minister, and "when he went to college he decided he was going to do something else," said his sister, Willa Faye Whitman.A graduate of Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, he worked for two years as a high school English teacher. But in 1940 in Dallas, he felt the call to preach. He was married the next year, to Virgil Mae Thomas. In 1942, he accepted his first pastorate at Fourth Ward Baptist Church in Ennis, Texas. 

In August 1952, he was named pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego. Those who heard his sermons there remember a tall, elegantly dressed man who spoke in a roaring voice about the Scriptures in a manner so commanding that listeners had a hard time remaining in their seats.

"At times we felt like we needed a seat belt," said Barbara Andrews, a longtime parishioner at Calvary Baptist and the church's multimedia ministry director. "You had to stand up . . . you just wanted to fly away."

Among those who heard his message was former state Sen. Waddie Deddeh."He was not just a pastor at Calvary Church; he was a pastor for all those people who listened and cared and wanted to have spiritual nourishment," Deddeh said.

Dr. Lockridge never had children, but to dozens of Baptist preachers who came up under his tutelage he was nonetheless a parental figure."He was like a father to me," said the Rev. Walter Wells, pastor at Mount Erie Baptist Church, who as a little boy belonged to Calvary Baptist. "You couldn't listen to Dr. Lockridge without being motivated and stimulated, and without desiring to be better and better."

Friends, I hope you have been as blessed to read and hear the great S.M. Lockridge's words about our truly great King as I have.

Thanks for stopping by

Blessings, favour and peace

Andie Steele-Smith

Monday, 4 June 2012

Things I hate.....

Guest Blog - by Ps. Michael Harrison

I am not going to get on my soapbox and talk to you about things that bother me.  That might be the fact that I dislike having to go to two different fast food places to get our kids what they want eat.  Or that I dislike when people throw their trash in the wrong place.

There are some other things that are heavier than just dislikes that I have come across lately that I hate.  Honestly, I believe that God has called me and our church to fight against injustice.

One afternoon last week I was visiting some people from our church when I met a young teen girl who had been raped by a 30 something year old man.  My emotions went from pretty calm and cool to angry and wanting to hurt someone.  The grandma I was talking to me told how this girl has been angry and mean toward others.  My heart aches for this girl and the pain she is going through and what will continue in her life.

I got a call a week or so ago from a friend who was helping a family that attends our church.  The story was about a young mother who was using her child to manipulate her mother, and this problem was impacting several other relationships, maybe even causing a divorce.  I was angry and still am.

A man recently got involved with our church, and his situation tugs at my heart.  He and his wife have been married for decades, and through the years his alcoholism has torn their relationship apart to the point that they are no longer together.  This situation frustrates me and pushes me to help something better happen.

Last Wednesday I met three new friends that are homeless.  Two of them are men who were taking shelter under a business’ awning during a rainstorm.  The other is a lady who is living in the woods near a shopping area in our community.  Their situations tug at me.  We need a homeless shelter here.  We need more help for hurting and homeless people.  My heart hurts for these people.

Jude 1:22-23 NLTAnd you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives 

Rescue those who cannot rescue themselves.

Show mercy.

Share His love.

All around us there is injustice.  There are people who have been hurt.  There are people who have never experienced the love and goodness of our God.  Our reaction, our actions and our acts of kindness may be the extension of God used to rescue someone from the injustice they are in.

Some things I hate don’t matter very much.  Other things I hate matter very much, and God has allowed me and you to do something about those.  One person at a time.  One situation at a time.  Do something about the things you hate because God hates them too.

Proverbs 31:9 (NLT) 
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. 

That says it all.....

Michael Harrison!/michaelharrison

Editor's Note:
Ps. Michael Harrison is a dear and cherished friend of mine. I am privileged and grateful to Michael for taking the time to write such an inspiring and gritty guest blog on the Justice Blog. Michael is a man for whom Matthew 25:40 and Micah 6:8 are cornerstones of his faith and life witness.

I am blessed and privileged to have seen the awesome work that Michael, his wonderful wife Julie and family, his leadership team, indeed the whole church and The Community Dream Center community live and breathe both Micah 6:8 and Matthew 25:40.

Michael is the Senior Pastor at the Community Fellowship Church in Collinsville, VA.

Michael is also the founder and one of the key visionaries behind The Community Dream Center in Collinsville, VA.

The Community Dream Center (TCDC) is a non-profit outreach dedicated to helping Martinsville / Henry County and surrounding areas. This ministry provides hope by meeting both tangible and spiritual needs.

TCDC strives to help solve moral decay, homelessness and poverty that exist in our nation. The vision of TCDC is to rebuild the dreams of broken people. A new life can be obtained through the efforts of our staff, volunteers, and rehabilitated individuals whose lives have dramatically changed.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

I Have a Dream.....

I would love to be able to say that the words in this post are mine, however they are not. All of the material part of this post - the call to arms - the "dream" - were penned by a dear friend and brother of mine, Aaron Dowds.

Aaron pastors the Vine Church in Dunfermline in Scotland. The Vine was started by Aaron's father, Jimmy Dowds - Jimmy is one of my spiritual fathers and is without a doubt one of the most significant spiritual influences - and influencers in my life. Rachel and the children and I are privileged and blessed to call the whole Dowds Clan both friends and family.

Immediately after I posted "Amazing Grace" on the Matthew 25:40 blog recently - - Aaron sent me the following direct message. And it literally blew my mind.....

It drove me to tears of desperation, hope, inspiration - and to be honest, more than just a little anger that I had allowed some tough circumstances and health concerns to slow down this dream that God had given me more than two years ago.

The words, prayers, dreams, sentiments, hearts desires, vision and words in Aaron's note speak (wonderfully) for themselves, however to hear them as if they were spoken in his native Scottish lilt gives them an Eric Liddell like lift. So friends, please read on and God willing you will be as inspired and as called to action as my wife Rachel and I were.....

I Have a Dream 
"I have a dream! Where the Luke's in the UK, the young broken, disillusioned, lost , broken, afflicted and addicted (the ptochoi) young men and women of our land who are lost in hopelessness and despair can be taken from the pit and placed on solid ground. 
I dream of 2 National Christian led Dream Rehabilitation centres where these lost ones can go for 12 to 18 months and be cometely restored, set free, energised, empowered, trained and equipped. 
These National centres, one in Scotland and one in England provide the best, world-wide, evidence based complete Christian based rehabilitation available anywhere in the world. Individuals are restored mentally and will be trained and receive learning opportunities with awards. Individuals are physically restored through health and fitness in state of the art gyms and army style fitness training. Individuals are spiritually restored through the best discipleship training in the world. Individuals are emotionally restored by the Holy Spirits power and forming new friendships at a depth they never thought possible. 
I have a dream that the church in this land is THE BEST Rehabilitators of the outcasts of our societies, those destroyed by drugs, alcohol and other vices. 
I have a DREAM. 
Let's dare to dream. Let's dare to believe. Let's stir up the pioneering spirit like never before. 
Let's reinvent the future for our nation before its vision reinvents us. Let's put in motion a legacy that will go beyond our years on this earth. 
Let's open our eyes to How Great and Mighty our God is. 
His anointing is "to good news the afflicted and hurting" , setting captives free, mending the broken hearted and opening the eyes of the blind. May this Isaiah 61 mission statement of Jesus be the mission statement of the church in this land once again!  
Keep up the great work brother. Let's step outside and look at the stars, it's time to DREAM BIG!"

 Isaiah 40:31
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. 

Friends, irrespective of your faith, creed, beliefs or philosophical bent - if you have a calling to seek justice for the unjustly opposed; to seek freedom for the oppressed or enslaved; or to seek food, shelter and comfort for the hungry and the homeless, will you think about joining Aaron and me and our families, in dreaming, in praying for, in believing for - and then enacting - this awesome, outrageously ambitious yet God-inspired, dream-able AND do-able dream??!! And if you neither live in nor have a strong affinity for England or Scotland, there are some unbelievable facilities that I would love to encourage you to support prayerfully, financially or with your time, passion and expertise - from LA to London; Manchester to Mumbai, Collinsville to Cape Town and more. You may know of such facilities nearby however if you don't, please drop us a line......

Thanks as always for joining us in this journey!

Aaron and Jimmy can be contacted as follows:

Jimmy Dowds

Aaron Dowds

Please feel free to leave a message on this blog or via the contact page on my website.

Every blessing