Satan gives nightmares. God gives dreams. The Bible is filled with references of God giving the young and old alike dreams. Not just for their sake but His glory. It has been a whirlwind month. On May 3, Ruth I drove 220 miles to Richmond, VA. On Friday, May 4, my son, Andrew and I drove 4oo miles to Pennsylvania and on Saturday, May 5 my good friend, Gary Purvis and I drove nearly 800 miles (round-trip) to Greensboro, NC to preach four times in two days at the beautiful Life Community Church – Home of Jesus and Jake Thornhill. God really blessed. However, I hadn’t been home for 36 hours and I boarded a plane to Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, May 10-Sunday May 13. As I type this I have a 11AM flight to Atlanta tomorrow and will preach TWO revivals at two different churches in the next five days in the Peach State (May 16-17) at Grace Point in Macon, GA and May 18-20 with friends Lex Luger and Evangelist Ronnie Dean in Calhoun, GA. I am blessed to minister each night.
Words cannot describe or Websters’ define how fortunate I am to have had the high honor to witness firsthand what I knew all along. The Dream Center is not only the real deal but a living, loving community that serves, shines and stretches out to help meet needs and watch dreams become reality. Pastor Matthew Barnett is one of my heroes. I have been an admirer of his for several years and it was a JOY to finally catch up with him. First of all, the “greats are gracious.” Pastor Matthew wrote the foreword to our new book “BLESSEDNESS OF BROKENNESS.” He didn’t have to do that but he constantly and consistently lives to bless and sow into others. He is part of the solution and never the problem.
My goal was to thank him firsthand for his ministry and investment in my life and he gave me a personal tour along with a dozen other local leaders. I landed at LAX on Thursday and my first stop after getting the rental car was driving straight to the Dream Center. The staff at the Dream Center is second to none. Their hospitality and humility are off the charts and their facilities are state of the art. Even better than the bricks and mortar are the lives that truly make up the church. Over 700 people live daily on the property of the church. They feed 2,000 meals daily and serve 14,000 meals every single week. That is not exaggeration but evangelism!
In 1994, they bought an old hospital and converted it (literally) into a church. They are living the motto: “The church was never intended to be a museum for saints but a HOSPITAL for sinners.” They also get the fact: “Go after the folks, no one wants and God will bring you the folks EVERYONE wants.” Truly, “the least” matter most to God. The Dream Center looks for a need and then works to fill it. Today, 210 families are on the waiting list to live at the Dream Center. Homelessness for years was about individuals or couples but more than ever entire families are destitute and living on the streets.
Pastor Matthew and his staff took us up to the 12th floor and went on the roof of the Dream Center and the view took my breath away. You could see the ENTIRE Los Angeles skyline from the roof and I thought of Jesus whom wept over Jerusalem as sheep having no Shepherd. God has strategically placed Pastor Matthew to minister to both Hollywood and the homeless and everyone in between. Their church lives to Exalt Christ, Encourage Christians and Evangelize a Culture back to Christ. The Dream Center has renovated a room at a time to restore it to brand new. Even more important than “room by room” they have restored, redeemed and remodeled individuals whom were recently far from God now to be walking, talking disciples of Jesus after being dipped into God’s great grace. Watching Pastor Matthew interact with his community, members of his team, loving on the least the most and taking time out for a glorified goofball like me moved me to tears. Honestly, I wanted to kiss his shoes! The Bible says “Blessed are the FEET of those whom bring the Gospel.” Not to worship him but the One whom his footsteps follow. In a world filled with cubic zirconias – Pastor Matthew Barnett and the Dream Center are the genuine article.
That evening, they ushered us up front at the gorgeous Angelus Temple. It seats over 3,000 and 100 years old. Every Thursday night they bring in a guest speaker and recently they have had Pastor Mark Batterson, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble and other Christian leaders and that night – they had CHURCH! Scores of people responded to the Gospel after that service and Jesus is certainly the star of the show. The Dream Center is reaching recovering drug addicts, rescuing teens from prostitution, families are being fed, needs being met and souls saved graduating from sinners to saints now serving in the Savior’s Army.
After working for two U.S. Presidents and a couple leaders in between, I have been blessed to meet a few folks in life. Without question, it is eternally evident that God has raised Pastor Matthew Barnett to be one of the greatest leaders I will ever meet. That brother was born to minister. It was icing on the cake for my dear friend, Brandon Crouch and his bride, Marley to drive two hours on the LA Freeway to hang out with us that night. He also wrote a chapter in our new book. At the worship service that night to my right a couple rows backs were teens whom literally just left a life on the street and were finding freedom in faith in Christ. At that same service to my left was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers with arms uplifted in worship serving the Lord with his wife. Ironically, on Easter Sunday – Grammy Winner Stevie Wonder showed up un-announced and worshipped at the Dream Center. It is so true – go after the folks no one wants and God will bring you the folks everyone wants. At the foot of the cross, the ground is level and everyone needs Jesus.
It was a treat to be a guest the next day at TBN studios in Santa Ana, CA and God showed up! We will post that video soon and we are already in talks with producers about the privilege to return in the future. God is so good. In closing, what dream(s) has God birthed in you that you may have miscarried? Dreams you aborted or were told not of God? The Bible notes: “You were running well – who HINDERED you?” God showed me years ago, that Joseph in the Old Testament was a “dreamer.” He was the first person we read in Scripture that his own brother’s tried to keep him down. Most folks want you to do well but sadly not “real well.” Joseph’s brother despised him not only for his dreams but that he had the audacity to dare to do them. It was said: “Anyone can dream at night but those worth watching are those whom dare to dream by day.” Joseph’s brothers were not jealous of his colorful coat but the colossal call of Christ on his life. Praise the Lord that you cannot keep a “good man down.” Even better, you cannot keep the God Man down (because on the third day) He arose from the dead victorious over the grave. Sin couldn’t hold him but your heart can!
Ironically, 22 years ago I considered forsaking college and was going to move to Los Angeles “by faith” and start a ministry reaching out and up to Hollywood celebrities. The fact is the answer is not in Hollywood’s stars but Heaven’s only Son. It is awesome to see Pastor Matthew and his team ministering to all those whom God places in his path. Today, the Dream Center has expanded and over 250 churches have become “dream centers” all across America. It is fitting that the City of Angeles has some of the brightest angels at Angelus Temple and a church that still dares to Dream. I guess you could say they got an angle on angels God is NOT coming back for beautiful, brick buildings but blood-bought believers and the L.A. Dream Center is Heaven on Earth. Thank you Pastor Matthew but even greater - THANK YOU JESUS! WATCH this great clip of the Dream Center http://www.dreamcenter.org/about-us/