Saturday, March 31, 2012


When was the last time God surprised you?

I love it when God shows up in the little ways, just to show you how personal he is!

I went to Rebecca's wedding this afternoon and knew I would see some old friends that I hadn't seen in years! Sure enough I was speaking with Dale who I hadn't seen in quite some time. I shared with him that I had just gotten back from Atlanta. He asked what I was doing in Atlanta. I told him that I went to see the author of the book Toxic Charity, Bob Lupton.

He replied, I know Bob! What! I replied in a loud voice. How? Dale used to live in Atlanta and knew Bob when Bob was working on renewing his first neighborhood. The same neighborhood I had just heard about for the last few days.

This is crazy and it gets better!

I told Dale that Bob would be in Richmond in June. He asked if he could hook up with him when he is in town.

I then proceeded to tell Dale about the church on brookland park that I had been praying for. He asked for more specifics about it's location. I told him that it was across from the converted school building that is now Brookland Park Plaza. He said the Bethlehem Center?

I said yes! He then proceeded to tell me that he used to hold young life clubs back in the 80's there in that same building, that I have been praying for the last two months or more!

I can keep going because it gets even better!

Let me give you some background. Dale used to live in the same apartment building as I when I first got married 27 years ago. Dale had just moved to Richmond from Atlanta not long before that. He lived a couple of floors above mine.

The story has a real twist.

My wife and Dale had to help my pitiful memory, I am over 50 now!

Back in the day, Dale used to bring the kids from Brookland park and the Bethlehem Center into MY APARTMENT!

I slightly recall that time, but my wife surely remembers it!

This is the same Church building that my heart cries out for every morning that I drive by it.

What other surprises does God have in store!!!!

Thank you God for your wonderful, sense of humor and SURPRISES!

Dream Catcher

What's a dream catcher?

I'm not sure I know, but it sounds good!

As I flew into Richmond last night, we began to circle the city. I joked with Mark that we were doing a prayer circle around Richmond. I think I have taken it up a notch or two!

It was fun to see the possibilities from 10,000 feet! When you're up that high you can see it all. I could almost see my whole Metro prayer circle around Richmond!

At one point I could see the space I have been praying for quite a while now. I make it sound like it's been a long time, but it's only been a couple of months. God is moving pretty fast around here!

The space is the old Sav-A-Lot at the raceway shopping center just outside of the entrance to Richmond International Raceway. It's about 14,000 sq feet of building. I believe it could be a great thrift store that might even have a coffee house in it!

In Atlanta that is exactly what we saw!

I would ask that you pray with me that this dream might come true and soon!

Let's dream it, pray for it and then step towards it!

A Dream Catcher!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reality check!

Today was my first day in Atlanta visiting Focused Community Strategies or FCS Urban Ministries. 

"FCS (Focused Community Strategies) is a collective of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. We are vision-driven by the collective executive leadership of our called, front-line visionaries. Self-preservation is not a goal of FCS. We are committed to remain nimble as a learning organization to respond to the vision at hand. As a collective, we currently have multiple organizations that work together to transform communities."

I now have a much better idea of how things might work in the Richmond area. It has to do with a number of organizations coming together for a common goal. This would incorporate so many different areas like affordable housing, employment and prevention. I also have heard of what it means to live within a distressed neighborhood. 

I love what was said to me the other day of "moving people from shelter to stability". I now have seen in Atlanta what could be! It's exciting to dream, but what does it look like tomorrow in Richmond, Va?
I come home and back to reality. If I stop there then not much has happened or has it?
The dream is ALIVE and well in Richmond!
Houses are being purchased and renovated. Lives are being transformed. Jobs are being filled by those who have been unemployed. The dream has only just begun in a very short time. Now is the time for more folks to come on board and be a part of the dream!
Do you want God to work through you? 
Keep in mind that God must first work in you before he can work through you!
This is a God sized dream to make a huge impact on the Richmond community. Do you want to join in?
Watch Muhammad's video above and at the end you will be given choices of next steps.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The next chapter?

I am really excited about tomorrow!

As fast as things have moved along in this adventure, I can't believe Jeff, Mark, Cassie and I are going to be together in Atlanta for a few days.

We are going to visit with the author of the book Toxic Charity. Great book!

Toxic Charity the book

He runs a ministry called Focus Community Strategies.

I hope we get a glimpse of what God has planned for the Richmond area!

Please pray for safe travel as well as some insight on what next steps we will take!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What is a Street Saint?

I started the day in the wee hours of the morning! I heard my phone go off around 4:30am! Who the heck would be sending me a text at 4:37am? At that hour, it is usually not good news.

I was too asleep to look, but at 5:23am I finally responded. It was a text from Charles. I wrote back and said he was quite the early bird!

What was really cool about the text was that he wanted to remind me to be looking for a job for his friend who was unemployed, but had some skills as an electrician. I had told Charles earlier in the week that I knew an electrician at church. He also knew that I get up around 5:30am in order to get ready for a busy Sunday!

Here is a man more concerned about someone else's well being, then sleep itself.

Charles is a very unselfish man who cares deeply for others.

How cool is that! 

Charles is what is called a "Street Saint!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012


4th ave house

Have you ever heard of the phrase "six degrees of separation"?

It has to do with the idea that everyone is six steps away from knowing everyone else on the whole wide earth.

 I believe God has his family connected a whole lot closer than that and not just the idea of knowing someone.

Isn't it amazing when you meet someone for the first time, that you can usually find someone in common that you know, or you try to make a connection. At least that's what I usually do. Do you know so n so?

Today for example quit a few people showed up to help refurbish the house on 4th ave. (Thank you to all who helped!!!!) I only knew Mike (whom I met two days ago) and JT the owner of the house.

We had all come together to help fix up a house for someone we didn't even know or have any idea of. 

What will that connection look like?

What I do know is that we all had a common goal of providing a safe and beautiful home for someone in the not too distant future. A home that some day might be the place where they started their journey back to recovery, back to a healthy way of life!

We may not have known each other when the day started, but we do now! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some new friends!

I came home excited about what was accomplished. Cabinets were hung in the kitchen, a window was replaced, painting was going on and drywall was hung on a ceiling!

I finished the day cutting my grass and running into a neighbor. She shared with me similar needs of housing for the people in south Richmond along Jeff Davis Highway. She also shared connections with similar organizations that I had heard of. I can't wait to see where that road will lead!

 I know God is up to something bigger than I can imagine!

 It isn't always about who you know, but everyone of us has something they can offer.

Do you want to be a part of the dream?

The dream that some day Richmond, Va will have homes for everyone who doesn't want to be homeless.

For the doubters just you watch what God can do!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adventure of a Life Time!

I think I am going to change my story from a journey to an Adventure!

A journey suggest a destination in mind. I can honestly say that I have no idea where God is taking me!

Let me share with you the Wikipedia definition of an adventure:

An adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. The term is often used to refer to activities with some potential for physical danger. The term also broadly refers to any enterprise that is potentially fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk.

I started this blog at the end of February 2012.

Has it been exciting? Yep!

Unusual? Yep!

Bold? You bet!

Risky? Check!

Uncertain? Most definitely!

Psychological risks? Yep
(Those who have seen my crying like a baby, would say I might be crazy or worse, that I am experiencing sympathetic menopause!)

So today, I started off walking and meeting up with my angel who has a name! Geraldine!
We had a blast talking about life and what God has in store for all of us.

I then got in my car and started to circle the neighborhood. As I was driving I called Charles and asked if he would be around his house. He seemed surprised to get a call from me at 8am in the hood! I stopped by and gave him some bus tickets to hand out to those in need. Someone from church had donated them.

I then went to the office and hustled to get my work done, so I could go on an Embrace Richmond tour! The tour was down in Hill Side Court one of the poorest sections of Richmond! I'm told the average income is $8,000 a YEAR or less! We had an amazing time!

As I was driving back to work I received a call from Charles, he told me a friend of his had just gotten a job because of our efforts! We were both ecstatic!

Then later that day I called a gentleman who came in yesterday with his wife to ask for financial help. His family consists of his wife, five kids and a sick relative living with them. They were behind in rent and they were unemployed. Your heart goes out for those in need!

I suggested a possible job opportunity.

Back to my phone call today. The gentleman said he was unable to reach Mark or I because he had left my phone number behind . An emergency had come up and he had to take his relative to the hospital. In the mean time late yesterday, he applied for the job we suggested.

Today, he said with enthusiasm that he got the job!

That's two more jobs!

You can't tell me I'm not on an ADVENTURE!

I am responsible for GOING on the Adventure and God is responsible for the results!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's get to it!

This was an email I received from Cassie Mathew from Hands Up Ministries.

Opportunities abound!

Dear Atlee Friends,

First and foremost, thank you for your support in the Homeless and Affordable Housing Initiative! We are so grateful for your commitment and your involvement in changing lives, one family at a time.

I want to tell you where we are in the house rehab on 2411 4th Ave. We are finally not considered an indoor pool, we have graduated to full plumbing and all pipes have been repaired, we have a working toilet(need one more) banking on no further leaks/broken pipes we are unaware of thus far. We are now ready to move into hanging drywall, finishing work, repairing leaks on the roof(tin) and fixing rotten window sills. The bathrooms have all been gutted, framed for tile, going to hang bead board in downstairs bath, add a vanity(do not have) and then we will add a new bathroom shower/tub insert(which we have not purchased as of yet) to the upstairs bath. This house is two bathrooms, 5 bedrooms, we took out the bath tub downstairs and put in a shower, just waiting for tile to be put up... in case that is your gift.

The laundry room is really the only room ready for painting and one bedroom, all other rooms had water damage and we need to put up the drywall first. The kitchen is completed with gutting, painting(one small finishing spot) and new tiled floor, we are ready to put in cabinets, that we are recycling from another home. So that will be like putting a puzzle back together.

The house is really coming together, we have a screened in porch that has no screen yet, we have painted it, but it needs a second coat. There is much soffet damage to outside roof line, new treated wood needs to be put up and then primed and painted... As you see... there is a lot of work to be done, we are hopeful to be done by early May, we have more to do but I don't want to overwhelm you more than I am already overwhelmed.

There will be much painting to do we hope by next week end... this week we are concentrating on drywall and tile, and window repairs.

We are grateful for anything, any amount of time you feel like you have to offer.

We will be at the 4th Ave house this Sat. from 9am-4pm, if you have an hour of 6 we would love your hands and heart.

Please just let us know how you'd like to help, or in fact you are coming. If you are unsure at this time, just show up and find JOHN(JT) he's your Guy(My darlin' husband.)

Address is: 2411 4th Ave rich va 23227. If you have your own special tools bring them. Park in alley or back yard, there leave nothing in your car you love, especially your dog. We are trying to be good neighbors, so any kindness extended is especially appreciated. Say "hey", if the chance arises. We are different, and we, like any one with differences want to be kind and accepted... we are not always accepted so don't take anything personally, my friends do not want pity, they want to be equally valued.

My Heart is full with your willingness to help. If this week end doesn't work out, there will be more opportunities. I post much on Hands Up Ministries facebook page, if you "LIKE or FRIEND us" you will be constantly informed.

Blessed beyond Measure... Cassie Matthew

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Monday, March 19, 2012

You asked for it!

You have not because you ask not! 

Well let me sum up the what has happened since our services on Sunday!

I received $350 worth of bus tickets for those in need!

A person who was unemployed for quite some time, now has a job as a direct result of our services on Sunday!

A 20' cargo trailer (looks like new) was dropped off in the parking lot to be donated to the church!

A person approached me about buying a house for the homeless!

Best of ALL!

Almost 30 people raised their hands to receive Christ after the services Sunday!

I spoke before about what God is doing!

Now you see it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Keep it simple stupid! (To myself)

For those who would like to know what God is up to, please watch Muhammad's story above!

The story tells all there is to know about how God is going to end homelessness in Richmond, Va.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

If you have any interest at all in helping solve homelessness in Richmond, Va, then come to either campus of Atlee Community Church tomorrow 3/18/12 for services.

We will be launching our FIRST homeless initiative!

You will get to hear a true story of life change as a result of The Church coming together!

For those who have been reading this blog, at the Mechanicsville campus you might get to meet Charles, Rudy or Muhammad! At the West End campus you will see Michelle!

God is doing something BIG! 

Come see what God is up to!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What are the possibilities?

This film series called Restore from really sums up the learning process I have been on. The interesting thing about it is, I just learned of these videos a couple of days ago!

There is an intro video and three other short videos as part of the series.

Restore Participants Guide

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Selling Out!

According to Wikipedia one of the definitions of sell out is: Sometimes a sellout is seen as a person that is disloyal to one's group that he or she belongs (usually ethnic group) in order to gain money or become successful.

What does that have to do with me?

What I am learning about myself over the last few weeks, is that I need to get out of my comfort zone in order that I might know Christ! Put yourself in a position of totally relying on Him!

Give it all up, in order to gain Christ! 

I am not going to pretend that I have come close to being completely sold out. I don't want anybody to think that I am bragging. I want folks to know that God can use ANYONE!

What I want to share is that this journey to end homelessness in Richmond is NOT my idea! 

It's God's!

In the near future, when you start seeing results then God gets the credit!

I just happened to be open to allowing God to work through me in the process. When I became willing to let go of everything, everything broke loose! (you will have to catch up on my blog)

Here are some of the things that I have found myself doing, that eight months ago would have been unheard of!

I have read at least 10 books!

I am writing a blog!

The other month I gave a homeless guy a ride! Never before in 25 years!

I have never spent hours prayer walking around a neighborhood where just a couple of weeks ago some one was killed in a drive by shooting!

I have never had a great friend who was homeless for 30 years and a crack addict!

Never before have I found myself picking up trash like beer bottles, cigarette butts and birth control items!

I have never before walked the streets of Brookland Parkway till now!

This is CRAZY!

I am a 52 year old white male and God is still using me!

The best part of selling out for Christ, I am having the BEST time of my life!

It's Fun!

Will you sell out?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Angel got her wings!

I am so excited about this post and what lies ahead for today I couldn't sleep.

My wife just rolled over and reminded me that it was 3am! What's up she said? Then in a sigh of bewilderment she went back to sleep.

Yesterday morning was a BLAST! I went on my usual walk, but was running late! I had just gotten the idea that I wanted to see the bus driver, my Angel. I wanted to share with her that I had written about her in my blog.

I got excited but I knew I was running late, as I sped through the neighborhood to get to my destination. I parked my car in the usual spot and as I came over the slight hill I could see the bus parked on the side of the road. I took out a pen and wrote down my blog address on a business card.

Now the last time I had seen the bus driver we passed each other on the road as it was late that particular morning. She drove by and I called out to her, Hi Angel! She had no clue what that meant.

This morning I quickly walked up to the bus window and said hi and handed her my card. I said " I want you to look up this address and find the article that says, I saw an Angel!" I then said " That Angel is you!"  You could see her spirit soar!

She was so excited! She said I made her day! She then said to me, you have a blessed day!

Some times it's just a few kind words to a complete stranger that can make all the difference between an ordinary day and an extraordinary day!

Today is going to be EXTRAORDINARY!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Forward Motion

What does forward motion look like in ones relationship with God? The past few months have produced a lot of excitement, but that isn't what I am referring to. 

I have come to learn something new in the last couple of days. I have heard it said, that if you aren't moving forward than you are going backwards. Can this be said of my relationship with God? 

What I can say at this point is, that I know what forward motion looks like. It isn't always crazy events or some big break through. It may not look like what you think it should!

I have come to see it in very small steps! 

Last night I couldn't sleep. I was so excited about what the future holds. I could see all the possibilities.

I am certain that we can bring an end to homelessness in Richmond for those who want it! 

I KNOW it to be true!

I got up in the middle of the night and I read for a bit and eventually collapsed on the couch. This is very strange because I usually go to sleep very easily, keep in mind my wife expects to see her husband in bed at 2am. Fortunately Pamela slept through my trip to the couch and I didn't scare her this time!

Today I went on my walk again and God gave me a new contact to consider. I then shared it with Mark. Later I received an encouraging email from my new contact and towards the end of the day I had a great conversation with Cassie!

These were small steps, not huge breakthroughs!

I came to realize that I was totally excited and grateful for the small steps! 

The Forward Motion!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Michelle's story!

                                    Michelle's story shared during the service!

                                               Link to actual story online

My plan stinks!

I know that I always like to be in control, but with God that's not in his plans. God wants to be in control and believe it or not it's a lot more fun allowing him to be in control. 

I look back over the last few weeks and know that no one can deny that God is in control of what is happening in my life and the life of the Church.

For example take the service this morning, Michelle shared her story of being homeless. She was not in control of what happened to her. She came to the church to seek help, but she also wanted to help fix the problems with the system concerning others who were homeless. Her heart was to see that others wouldn't experience what she had been through.

She had no idea that we had just started looking into what we as a Church could do to help with the homeless situation in Richmond. I didn't know her and she just walked in to Mark's office. God was in control. 

I am sure God was enjoying, watching Mark and I get all excited about the conversation we were having with Michelle. I knew then that something great was taking place.

My how her life has changed dramatically since this past fall. I am so excited to have her be a part of the solution for the problems that exist. I couldn't have planned it any better!  My plan is no good.

God has the best plan!

PS Come to church on 3/18 and hear God's plan for Atlee to help solve homelessness in Richmond!

PPS Bring a friend!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Keep Circling!

When it comes to a prayer walk you can't just stop! 

You need to pray through as Mark Batterson would say.

The other day I was pretty down and felt all alone. I wanted God to show up during my walk, but to no avail. I had to trust that he was still with me even though I didn't FEEL IT! 

Some times my emotions can dictate my relationship with Christ and that can give you a false sense of security! 

Your relationship with God is not just a feeling, but a commitment!

Well today was another day and God showed me that he hadn't gone any where! 

I went out early this morning for my usual walk around Northminster. I made a couple of laps and then proceeded to go on my prayer drive around the neighborhood. As I came up to the stoplight at Chamberlayne and Westwood ave I saw Elijah Winston once more! Elijah is the older gentleman that I wrote about back on 2/25/12!

I called out from my car to say hi! He asked if the church was open today? I said no, but did he want me to read scripture to him. He said he would love that, so I told him to get in the car. We proceeded back to the Church and park on the side of the road a half a block away from the Church in order to see the steeple and the cross on top of it. I then proceeded to pick up where we left off the last time in Exodus. 

He asked for a piece of paper to write on, I had to scramble through my trunk to find a couple of fliers that I had. I told him to use the back of the paper to take notes like the time before. I started in chapter 3 and stopped and he proceeded to read back to me his notes. It was SO MUCH fun reading to him!

After we finished a couple of chapters he took off. I said I wanted to buy him a notebook and pen so he could keep his notes in a safe place. He was thrilled with the idea. I ran over to Walgreens to buy the book. I hurried back to see if I could locate Elijah again.

Sure enough he was walking back to the large house on the corner where 19 other guys live with him. I asked if he had family and he said yes, that he had 5 other brothers and sisters and parents. I took him the rest of the way home and handed him the book and pens for our future time together.

I know that I will run into him again, if i just keep circling!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dreams can come true!

The other day I went to a meeting at First Baptist to be a part of a multi denominational group of Churches that want to come together to help end homelessness in Richmond. What a great group of folks! 

Whats going to happen here? With God everything is possible!

After the meeting, Amy approached Cassie and I and said that she had experienced a dream unlike anything before. She had a dream of a hotel? She then shared she was on a trip and stayed in a hotel and it caused her to remember her dream. Then on another trip she was traveling and noticed a hotel in Durham, NC but it wasn't a hotel, but yet it was!!!!!

It was the Durham Rescue mission in a hotel! 

I got excited because I have thought about the Days Inn at Chamberlayne Ave and I95 every day that I pass it on my way to work! She had thought about that one as well!

We were of the same mind!

Things are getting exciting!

Pay it forward!

In Wikipedia "The expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done to others instead."

As I have been reflecting on the last couple of days I have a new appreciation for the term "pay it forward". I have come to see a few individuals especially, take this meaning to a whole new level.

Two days ago I had breakfast with Charles. If you recall Charles spent over 30 years on the streets as an addict. He is now working with Embrace Richmond, a non profit working to make the poorest neighborhoods in Richmond a better place!

I spent most of my time with Charles learning from him. He has a wealth of knowledge to share! We spent some time dreaming of what could be. I love to dream of what could be with Charles.

The need for a women's facility like the Healing Place. 

The Healing Place

Right now the Healing Place is for men only! This is where Charles went for help.

We continued to talk about the different needs. There is a huge need for family's that have been displaced temporarily, such as the family that comes to Church right now that we are supporting in a motel. The need to reach teenagers with addictions! The list goes on and on! 

The need could be for a Dream Center right here in Richmond. Let's pray for what God wants to do here in the city of Richmond!

The Dream Center

As we spoke about teenagers and drugs, Charles shared with me the mindset of an addict. It was all new to me. Even though I have done my fair share of things in my past I had no idea of the depths of the problem. It's easy to distance yourself from things if you don't put yourself in a position to hear! My mind was running crazy as we continued to talk. I could see how things could change. If you don't believe I was going crazy, then just ask the staff how I was when I came back to the office. 

As I paid for the breakfast I asked Charles if he needed any bus tickets. He said he could use some for different people he could help. What you don't know about Charles is that he goes around Richmond and I mean the whole city filling needs. He sees a need he goes and fills it anyway he can. He does amazing work like finding shelter for folks or finding furniture for a pregnant woman who is sleeping on the floor of her apartment with her kids and the list goes on and on. Charles once described folks that help out in situations like this as "Street Saints". Even though he wouldn't call himself one because he is that humble of a man Charles is a "Street Saint"!

Then later on that morning I found myself walking the streets of Brookland Pkwy with Rudy and Wendy. Wendy runs Embrace Richmond where both Charles and Rudy are employed. We were studying the vacant buildings to see where Embrace might set up shop. It was a new adventure for me. Wendy and I were the only white folks around and it was obvious! 

Again it was a chance to dream with others of what could be!

After some time Wendy took off and Rudy and I took a look at an empty building that was for rent. As the owner came out of the building we made an inquiry and literally he said he had just rented it to another tenant five minutes ago. I then asked what kind of business? Guess what he said! A thrift store!!! I was actually excited, it was as if God was confirming the plan.

Then Rudy and I went to have lunch together. Rudy had also come from the Healing Place. In our conversation Rudy spoke of how he had seen God move, but that he had never seen God move so fast! It sent chills down my back to hear those words! I told him that God was moving very fast and that we best get ready! This just got me more pumped!

As I sat there I learned from a man who had a heart of gold! He cared so deeply for the teen addicts on the streets. He shared that he didn't want to see teens waste away ther lives. They still had a chance to change and still have the majority of their life to live! Rudy is also a "Street Saint" looking to help others.

The next person I would like to mention is Michelle. She has gone through a lot of difficult circumstances in the last year. I would encourage anyone to come to Church this Sunday to hear her story first hand. It is exciting to see the lives of a woman and her three children change so quickly! She and her family came out of a shelter and now she wants to help change the things that are broke in the system that prevented her from getting help. Michelle was brilliant in her approach and she wrote an article online where she received the necessary help to get employed and more. 

Michelle has joined a team at Church to help with the homeless initiative and not only that, but for the last few weeks she has volunteered with Cassie and Hands Up Ministries to provide tutoring for kids in need!

Pay it forward has a whole new meaning! 

If you think about what Christ did for you and I and then remember that we are called to serve, then you can replace the definition above with service! 

Christ first served us that we might serve others!

Charles, Rudy, Michelle and others are paying it forward!

By the way they are all "Street Saints!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I found IT!

You know what's fun? 

To go to bed so excited that you can hardly sleep! To wake up exhausted from lack of sleep, but excited at the same time for what God might do today! You can't wait to see what God wants to do in your life.

It has been a long time since I have felt this way. I mean 25 years plus!

I can remember the feeling shortly after I met the Lord in 1982. I don't know when I lost IT, but I believe I have found IT again!

I told Jeff yesterday that I am not sure what the difference was. 

Could be my confession, a few months ago that I loved money more than my relationship with God and that was going to change.

Could be that I hate to be a leader. I never wanted to lead people, I just wanted to take responsibility for my own actions.

Could be the obstacles I placed in my life as to reasons to why I would not fully commit. I never wanted to perform weddings, much less funerals. I haven't yet!

Could be a lot of things!

I am not sure exactly which one, but they all apply!

What I realize is that if you want IT, then you better be willing to surrender all of it because IT is well worth it!

PS The pun comes from Craig Groeschel and a message I heard him give a while back.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I saw an Angel!

I got to the Northminster neighborhood about 7 am this morning to go on my walk. I saw the typical folks walking their dogs or driving off to work. I made one circle as usual around the block. It happened to be quite cold outside! I noticed my hands were freezing. I then recalled what it might be like for those folks who were homeless and living on the streets. How cold are they this morning?

As I made my second lap around the block the school bus pulled up in its usual spot and parked for a few minutes as it waited to proceed on its daily route. I prayed that I might get the opportunity to speak with the woman driver. I had spoken to her briefly in passing a few weeks ago when it was quit warmer. We exchanged niceties on that particular morning, but this time I felt a calling for something more.

I came around the corner and the bus was straight ahead of me several yards away, I noticed that the driver of the bus rolled down her window and spoke to the man walking his dog ahead of me. I was excited that this was the moment I was looking for. I couldn't wait to reach the bus!

By the time I came along side the bus, the driver had closed her window and was busy reading some paper work. She didn't even notice that I was passing her by. I asked God what was up with that!

I continued my walk and became very resolved in my mind that it was not meant to be! I had another block to go to get to my car. I turned the corner and began to approach my car and up in front of the car a few yards away I noticed the bus driver was walking around the church property!

I was headed to to my car because this was my second lap around the block and it was time to leave. I began to question whether or not to drive off. It was like the arguments you have in your head with yourself trying to make a decision on something that is not quit clear to you. I could see both sides.

But wait a minute wasn't this a divine appointment? Wasn't this the opportunity I was looking for? I passed my car by and proceeded to catch up to the bus driver.

I asked her what had happened to the warm weather? She said this is what it is. She began to share with me the latest tragedies in the news with all the storms in the Midwest, but she had a beautiful perspective on life! She couldn't have been more grateful for her life and her outlook was awesome. This lady was so positive and excited I felt like I was speaking to an angel! She was very encouraging! She said we all needed to make a difference in life and that it started with the small things!

I could relate!

She proceeded to say we may never understand everything that goes on in life. I said maybe when we get to heaven and her response was its not going to matter at that point.

I walked away from that brief encounter encouraged and excited for what the next time will be like when we cross paths.

On another note:

Jeff got an email this morning from someone who asked has the church ever considered opening a thrift store! 


Then Mark saw on national news a video story about a thrift store in New York that was doing quite well and ALL the proceeds go to the HOMELESS!

I know God is moving!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Snow like prayers?

Got up early to do the prayer walk! The wife was taken back because it was 5:30 am! Who gets up that early? I can't explain it other than God has been speaking to me early in the am. I went through my regular morning routine and left the house around 6:15 am. I felt led to do the drill around the house again. It's called praying through! It also helps to do it before the sun comes up so the neighbors don't think your crazy!

Then I started to drive to Northminster when the thought occurred to me to do the prayer DRIVE around the metro Richmond area again. As I headed down I95 it started to snow. My wife had said to me before I left to be careful. In her mind I would be walking around in a bad part of town.
As I drove down the interstate in what looked like a blizzard I began to question what was worse, driving on the interstate in the snow or walking around a dangerous part of town in the wee hours of the morning?

As I drove an exciting thought occurred to me to consider as part of the homeless initiative. I will be praying to see what happens. I will keep you posted.

When driving on the interstate alone you have a great opportunity to pray and reflect on God. As the snow flakes fell on the car and immediately melted, it occurred to me that the snow flakes represented prayers. Prayers that went unanswered and melted away for they were never asked!

May I learn to pray unceasing and boldly and that my car might be buried under the avalanche of answered prayers from God!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Start a blog?

I received an email from Lil suggesting that I blog.
Here is what she said:

"You need to start a blog, which is really just an online journal when you think about it. But that way you can keep track of all the things God impresses on you during circles - and his confirmations and other cool finds - in one place.  Who knows the followers you could get, and the role they might play down the line...."

Well I now feel like this could be an encouragement to others to see what God is up to. Before I felt like it would be another task. Now I feel it might inspire others and be a REAL blast to do!

Last night Jeff wrote me:

Thought of something tonight after watching the Dream Center video. Our first logo statement was "Where Dreams Come True"

Metro Richmond Prayer Drive vs Prayer Walk

Several weeks ago it was pressed upon me to do a prayer walk as a result of the study session from the book The Circle Maker. We started the study with staff during our devotion time. After work that day 1/24/12 I left on my usual route home as I traveled down a part on I95. I decided to circle the Richmond metro area. I traveled down I95 till I got to RT288 and then went North to I64 then east to I295 north and back to I95 south. The circle would be made! As I got on RT288 I was praying for the city and I noticed all of the different county signs as I traveled past the exits. At one point I looked up and saw the moon 

It was God smiling on what I was praying for!

It wasn't long after that that I started praying circles around Northminster and another circle around the whole area. Take Laburnum ave to Meadowbridge to Brookland pkwy to Chamberlayne ave.

Then on one of those mornings as I was circling Northminster I could sense that God was leading me. I began to cry for no reason. I then wanted to circle the neighborhood. I went on the usual route down Meadowbridge and turned on to Brookland Pkwy and behold I found a church that I had not seen before. I began to cry and felt God wanted us to have that church and that I might be led to lead it.

I was scared to death. I didn't know what to do. I drove in tears to work and felt like calling Jeff to see if I was going crazy. I asked him if he would be willing to skip programming. He wanted to know why, I said if it was of God, than it would be worth it. I proceeded to tell him what happened that day. Then at staff devotion I took the staff on a prayer walk around Northminster it was then that the Lord said to pray for the church to be filled.

We then proceeded to Brooklland pkwy and I showed the staff the church that I thought God was calling me to.

On another walk I realized that God wanted to use pods as a means to provide clothing and furniture from other churches. The pods could be placed and manned by paid locals to oversee the pickup of articles from different sites.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Awesome Day!

Awesome day! Started by taking Pamela and Caroline with me to the Free Market for the first time. I wanted them to see and meet some folks and get a sense for what was happening in me. I wanted them to catch a glimpse of what could be and what is already. As we arrived the market the girls got to meet Charles for the first time. Charles works for Embrace Richmond. He has a great story of how his life has changed and how he wants to serve others after spending over 30 years on the streets and being a drug addict and abusing alcohol.

We then ran into Cassie and they got to see the heart behind all that Cassie has done with Hands up ministries. After a while we got Eureka to give us a tour of the whole facilities at Northminster Church. What a huge church and the potential is unbelievable! I get totally excited about what the future holds!

What does it look like to come along side of Northminster and reach out to the community? What could be if we were to adopt a block together? What could we accomplish if we were to join forces for the Kingdom? What does God have in store for us as a Church. I pray that God will reveal that vision not only to me but leadership as well. I am praying that will be clear by next week!

I just finished the book The Cause within You by Matthew Barnett and I feel more inspired than ever to go out and reach out to the homeless and less fortunate. I have a dream that Richmond will solve the homelessness in this city and address the needs through community DEVELOPEMENT as well a Church like the Dream Center!

Tonight as a watched a video from the Dream Center in LA I cried like a baby!

I am reminded of a series that Craig Groeschel gave about "change your world in 52 days" it spoke to me in a deep way! The series was in September 2011. This is part of my journey! Here are the notes from the first of a four part series.

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Neh.1:1-4

3 qualities… God can use you

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. Neh. 1:4a

Nehemiah lived in Persia—almost 1000 miles away from Jerusalem
Lived in comfort—status, influence.
Sad, but that’s not my problem…Read, Tweet—move on.

Jesus approached Jerus—cried—Sheep without a shepherd


Child abuse/NeglBulliedBroken families
Physical/Sex AbusePoverty/Hunger Unwed moms,
Human trafficking Imrl, Callous to GodPeople w/no hope

Let it in. Feel the pain. Embrace the burden.
Disunity in the body of Christ…Knocked on my door!

I’m only one person. What can I do?
Invoke the God of heaven! God + 1 always = a majority!

For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Neh. 1:4b

Leadership genius, investigates, strategizes, delegates, opposition
All covered by intense and intimate prayer.
First of 12 different mentions of prayer in Nehemiah!

May be facing some walls that are down—looks impossible!
With God all things are possible!
Share your burden… Praying


Took wine to the king… Never been sad before—King noticed.

“…I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" 4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." Neh 2:3-5

Not okay… Not on my watch…
Somebody has got to do something—might as well be me.

This talk has spoken more to my heart than you can imagine. God is orchestrating something huge inside of me and I am scared to death!

Another great article about the dream center