Pastor Jeff’s Log – West Coast Dream Center tour & Vision update!

January 15, 2013

There are so many reasons for us to celebrate  together all that the Lord has done, in and through us as a church family in 2012 – the first year of our three year commitment to the “By His Grace & For His Glory” Vision.

When the Vision was first presented on September 11, 2011, acquiring the entire shopping center was a distant dream with many obstacles, but as we trusted the Lord for “the next right steps”, He began to unfold His plan and move in the hearts of His people. In the first half of 2012, our Over-and-Above-Giving (which represents the amount over and above the church operating budget) totaled the amount needed for the down payment and settlement costs to purchase the entire shopping center for $2,500,000, while not increasing our monthly expense over what we were previously paying in monthly rent.

We incorporated as an independent church on May 9, 2012 to sign the contract of sale and entered into four months of spiritual, financial and real estate due diligence exercises. The Lord went before us in all areas of the transaction and we settled on the property September 4, 2012. The elders dedicated the entire property back to the Lord at the settlement table with the congregational dedication taking place on Sunday, September 9, 2012 – exactly one year from the Vision casting.

The elders diligently sought the Lord’s direction as each new Vision development opportunity was presented. The following areas were funded during the second half of 2012 through           Over-and-Above-Giving and are in development for sustained impact in the region: Adopt-A-Block; CareNet; Disabilities; International Ministries; Youth Internship Development; Regional Partner Support to wHoly Chicken, Young Life and Southern Community Services; Auditorium Chairs, Grace Kids Renovations, Gym Outreach Program and Equipment, Leadership Team Development, GFC Timonium Loan Repayment and a GFCS Emergency Fund.

We thank the Lord for your continued spiritual and financial commitment to the Mission of    Grace Fellowship Church Shrewsbury to Bring people into relationship with Jesus, Build them up into His image and Send them out in their unique calling and giftedness for the Cause of our King. We are also deeply grateful for your continued support of the ongoing development of the York Regional Dream Center.

We acknowledge with great confidence, that everything accomplished has been done “Only By HIS Grace and All for HIS Glory”, and we remain committed to following HIM every step along the way in 2013.

With gratitude for your partnership in the Gospel,

Pastor Jeff

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September 9, 2012

Dedication of the Shopping Center by Pastor Jeff

“Father, we now give it all back to You and acknowledge it was Yours before we ever had it and it’s Yours now.  And we ask simply only this… that You would have Your way… that Your Kingdom would come and that Your will would be done right here on earth as it is in heaven.

And Lord, as lives are changed, as good things happen and as Your blessings come, we pray that You will help us to stay humble before You and, always pointing up, give You all the glory and all the honor because You alone are worthy.

We pray this all in the precious name of Jesus… AMEN!!!!”  

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September 4, 2012

Dear Family of Grace,

Jesus has done it again!  He has dumbfounded us all and silenced our mouths before Him.  He has accomplished the miraculous!  After only twelve short months since casting a vision on September 11, 2011, of what we believed the Lord had in store for us here on the hill, He has placed the entire shopping center – all seventeen acres and 118,00 sq ft of buildings – in our hands.  Who could’ve imagined?

And just as soon as He placed it in our hands on Tuesday, September 4, the very moment that ownership was transferred – we gave it all right back to Him!  It’s all His anyway… its never been about a shopping center anyway…

It’s always been about HIM!  HIS Grace, HIS Love, HIS Goodness, HIS Faithfulness… about seeing HIS Kingdom come, His will being done, right here in Shrewsbury – as it is in Heaven!

So, together we begin the next season of ministry, just as dependent and desperate for Him as ever.  More fully in awe of who He is, and more confident that He can do all things because we have seen it happen right before our very eyes.

He is building His Church (not a church building, but His “Church”), right here in the midst of our dark little world, and His promise is true – – the gates of Hell will never prevail against Him.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’.” Revelation 21:5

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Greetings Family of Grace,

By HIS Grace, I’m back home from an incredible “Dream Center” scouting trip to Seattle and Los Angeles. This was an amazing time away for two weeks experiencing three different “Communities for our King!”

I spent time with Dr. Ray Hampton of the Seattle International Dream Center – a “church without walls” in downtown Seattle. I “soaked up” inspiration and information like a sponge with Rick Cameron, the Director of the South Sound Dream Center located in the southern suburbs of that same city. I then flew to Los Angeles, where I (and my two oldest children) worked with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the LA Dream Center for five incredible days!

We worked in the projects of that vast city with their “Adopt-a-Block” teams. We were blessed to bathe in their expressions of worship and to “milk” their staff for all the information and inspiration we could hold. We saw their vast facility and how every available space is used to love the “least of these”. We even visited  “Skid Row”, a place where over 5000 homeless people live in 15 square blocks,… a place of deep and desperate poverty,…a place I will never forget!

In LA, we witnessed the deep depravity of humanity and a community of Christ followers that inspired me to want to give everything I have to the cause of HIM!

No different than here… they’re just a little further down the road.

This is an expression where thousands of lives are being touched on a daily and weekly basis with the good news of Jesus Christ, all through the building of relationships, all by the meeting of basic needs. The LA Dream center is used by Jesus to help meet the needs of over 40,000 per month – all for the Glory of God!

I need to be honest,… it’s been difficult to know how to feel since I’ve been back.

By HIS grace, I’ve tasted more of what God wants His church to be. My heart is both excited and frustrated – but it’s a Holy Frustration!

I’ve been here before….it’s a passion from HIM!

A passion to be stretched and trust Him in new ways, A passion to follow where He leads in order to bring greater renown to His Name. He’s telling me that His Spirit in us will be frustrated if we settle for less then what He wants!

And by HIS Grace we won’t!

People of Grace, pray that this passion stays alive!  If I stay close to HIM, I know that it will – it will become even stronger and more focused!  It will become a raging fire and I want it to!  but only because He lives in me. (My natural self would want to turn and run with my tail between my legs!)

Pray that the fire burns, grows and spreads… spreads to you, to others, to the surrounding communities, to other Kingdom expressions and even to those on the other side of the world.  This is the same fire that is already burning in those of us who are saved by HIS Grace.  It’s the fire that is spreading throughout our planet in countless places – and this fire will NOT be quenched!

That’s because the fire is Jesus!  And He is an all consuming fire, passionate to spread His Love and His Glory into every corner of this dark world.  AND HE IS SO FAITHFUL!  I’m so crazy about Jesus!  There’s no one like HIM!

And don’t look now, but I think He’s making this “York Dream Center” idea become a reality… right here in our community… ONLY by HIS Grace and ALL for HIS Glory!

Just you wait and see… He’s going to wreck us again and again with HIS Power, HIS Purpose, and HIS presence… and the little sleepy town of Shrewsbury, PA will never be the same again!

All because HE LIVES!

With Great Anticipation…..,

Pastor Jeff

“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21:5
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Good morning Staff Family,
 
Thanks again for all your prayers.
 
The Lord has continued to faithfully guide, provide and protect. He has given much insight and inspiration concerning a “Dream Center” ministry in Shrewsbury. I am very excited to come home and share all that I have learned.
 
We have two full days left. Today is our first and only “free day” due to the staff being off on Monday’s. I plan on letting Z and K sleep in and then taking them to Venice beach. Please pray for a fun and restful time. They have been tired, especially K.  Here’s an update plus ways I am praying this morning and how you might pray for the rest of our time here:
 
-  We have already spent many hours with staff members and “in the field”. Saturday’s “Adopt-a-Block” experience went far beyond my expectations. We first met with the leader, Jonathan Martinez, a Dream Center Discipleship Program graduate who many years ago was “court ordered” into their program for drugs and weapons violations. His life was so turned around that he now leads one of their most effective ministries: “Adopt a Block”. There were over 600 people participating that day, including teams from as far away as New Zealand. It would be impossible for me to put into words what I saw and experienced there, but it was nothing short of amazing!
-  We went from the gym of the Dream Center to the Watts area of LA by bus with our team leader, Rebecca.This area is famous for gang activity and rioting (1965, 1992, Rodney King riots, etc.). The “block” our team was released on was a section 8 housing development of 1500 homes. 600 people from the Dream Center covered 120 blocks that day, of which ours was just 1! We handed out food, played with children, met and prayed with some amazing people who live every day and every moment in horrible poverty.  We had the honor of walking with Rebecca the whole time. She was a wealth of information. Again, way too much to describe, but so many eye-opening experiences that the Lord will use to further His kingdom in our midst. Please join me in prayer for Jonathan, Rebecca and all the team leaders in the Adopt-a-block program. Please pray for all those who live in such deep and desperate poverty every day. Many not knowing where their next meal will come from. Please pray for a 97 year old women named Mrs. Johnson, a homeless man named Juno and a 5 year old boy named Keno. By God’s grace we were able to spend some considerable time with each of these people on Saturday.
-  We were at the the Angelus Temple yesterday for services, before and after. Learned a lot about how to tie a Dream Center to a church expression and were blessed with a time in Worship and Word.  Matthew Barnett’s wife, Caroline brought the message that morning and did a fantastic job. Matthew is currently in New Zealand speaking throughout the country about the Dream Center. It was amazing to see all the people from the “Adopt a Block” neighborhoods being brought in on buses to participate in the Sunday morning experience. We sang “We Worship You” and as we went through the lyrics, there was no doubt they were be fulfilled in our singing:  “people from every nation and tongue, from generation to generation – We worship You!”
-  All of us noted how beautiful is was to be among so many different people groups: black, hispanic, asian, white – all together worshipping God! Please join me in praying that God would continue to break down socio-economic barriers in our area and around the world.
-  Tomorrow will be a very full day. I have appointments set to meet with key staff people and need wisdom and discernment as to how best to spend my time. There is far too much that I could cover
 
- Please pray that God directs our steps as to who we spend our time with.
-  Also, there will be a team called “Under the Bridge” going out in the AM to Skid Row. This area is where some of the deepest poverty in our country exists, masses of people living in cardboard boxes and under tarps, etc. I am sensing promptings to go with this team. Pray that the Lord opens and closes doors as He desires.
-  We will also be touring the entire center tomorrow afternoon. Then we pack up and head for the airport where we’ll spend the night before getting up at 4:00 AM to catch a 6:15 AM flight to Nashville where we’ll meet Tracy and Noah.
-  Please keep Tracy in your prayers as she has been struggling considerably with her allergies while staying at her dad’s house. Please pray for safe travel and contentment as we drive 12 hours back home on Friday and Saturday.
 
Thanks again for all the prayers!  Please keep them coming, I so long to “finish well”!
By HIS Grace & for HIS Glory,
 
Jeff
Sent from my iPad

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 Thursday, July 12, 2012

Good morning Family of Grace,

I want to thank you so much for all your prayers.

The last few days have been outstanding! I sense the Lord’s presence guiding me and opening doors as only He can do. I sense your prayers being lifted up as a “fragrant offering” to Him on my behalf, and on behalf of this crazy movement called Grace! I’ll give you the highlights so far:

– Recording went very well! I had a great time with the engineer and producer, even stayed at their home. Blessed time!

– Up until yesterday wasn’t sure where I/we would stay in LA. Every hotel I had contacted was booked solid, looked way beyond “sub-standard”, or was over $300/ night. Kept praying I would make the right connection over the phone at the LA Dream Center. God answered that cry by connecting me with Kendra and Joel. Called their first recommendation for a hotel (1/2 block from the Dream Center). Guess what? They had only 1 room left, $90/night. What a good and faithful God!

– I noticed a friend’s FB post the night before I was leaving. Some of you may remember Paul and Elli Martin who used to attend GFC Shrewsbury. I remembered then that they live in Seattle! I made a connection and spent the night at their house last night and again tonight. Great time of fellowship and Paul will be lending me their car to go to the South Sound Dream Center today. God provides everything we need and more!

– My time with Dr Ray Hampton of the Seattle International Dream Center yesterday was outstanding! He is a passionate and committed man. After meeting with me he communicated a desire to come visit us in PA!  There was so much shared that I am trusting the Lord to help me sort through it over the days and weeks to come, with fresh deposits to come every day. Pray that He forms and informs, inspires and shapes me as only He can!

– Pastor Matthew Barnett has been in conversation with Joel Freebrain about our arrival. I will be talking with Joel by phone this afternoon in preparation for our time there. Pray that God orchestrates every detail of our time together, granting us “eyes to see and ears to hear” all that He has intended to impress upon our souls and minds.

That’s it for now. I am a blessed “man on a mission” and am so grateful that Jesus is my guide!

By HIS Grace and for HIS Glory!

Pastor Jeff

“Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? Wasn’t my home always open to them? Weren’t they always welcome at my table?”  – Job 31: 16-18 (The Message)

Sent from my iPad