I am in a sermon series right now called “This is our City”
I have been thinking about it and dreaming about it for months. Praying about
how God could use me and the church he has ask me to shepherd to make greater
impact for His Kingdom.
In the meantime, I have been reading books, studying
scripture and keeping a close eye on my city and my interactions with it. For
some they maybe wouldn’t call my City an actual city compared to other large
cities in the US. But Allentown is the fastest growing City in PA and is experiencing
growth all around.
This series has been eye opening, gut wrenching and thought
provoking. But honestly shouldn’t all series be that way? I started with the
scripture found in Deut. 14 27 And
do not neglect the Levites in your town, for they will receive no allotment of
land among you. 28 “At
the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and
store it in the nearest town. 29 Give
it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as
to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns,
so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless
you in all your work.
This scripture I have read many times, but new insight popped
out at me. God loved community so much from beginning to now, he put a structure
in place to care for it. He loved is to much he put “churches” in community to
protect it, to care for it. He puts a whole tribe in place to guard community.
And if the church operates like it is supposed to then we would need a whole
lot less government involvement. And yet, the church hasn’t done a stellar job
at times in history of protecting the community and meeting its needs.
The directions are clear on how we are to care for the
community and the people in it. First, I should say, I do not have an answer for
the crisis on the border. I am not smart enough or educated enough to know how
to handle massive amounts of people seeking a fresh start, safety and basic
needs of life. And I am in no way making any kind of political statement here,
laws and the ability to support this must be in place or people fall through
the cracks, children get lost in the shuffle and lives are damaged not helped.
What I do know is that as a Christ Follower, I better be
taking care of them, showing them kindness, helping them in any way I can when
they show up in my community. That is the church’s job. Maybe it is helping
them navigate a broken process or helping them with basic needs or simply being
a friend with open heart and open home.
Taking care of the marginalized, the widows, the orphans, I
wish it was easy and clean. But it isn’t, it is difficult and messy. Looking at
the state of PA alone, over 15,000 children in our foster care system, and over
15,000 churches… what if just one family from each church stepped in… we would
take care of every child needing a home in the state of PA.
I love Jesus with all that I am, and sometimes I get it
right but often I get it wrong. I love the church, the body of believers called
to live out the great commission of Jesus Christ. My eyes have been open of
late to things I have never picked up on before. My heart has been broken in
fresh ways for the way the world is broken. But if I throw stones at the
church, who does that help? No one. It just shows the world that we can’t even
get along so why should they be part of it.
A year ago, March, something significant happened in my
life. I became a Gigi. Michel’le our beautiful bonus daughter gave birth to our
adorable little Nora. Her life was prayed over and for long before she took her
first breath. My days with Nora are filled with snuggles, giggles and playing. Maybe you wonder how this has to do with love
our city… Let me explain.
Nora looks a little different than me, I tell everyone she
has my eyes and smile. I don’t see her different than me, but that isn’t the
reality of the world we interact with. Recently we went to the store together,
she had her Starbucks Tea, I had mine (Shhh… don’t tell her mommy!) and I
noticed with fresh eyes how people begin to look at us. Some ladies gave me the
bless your heart for caring for “that” child look. Others looked away. But then
there was a young couple with their little boy, who waved, smiled and
interacted with Nora and we stopped and talked. Then as we were leaving a beautiful
African American couple stopped and talked to me about my beautiful
granddaughter. We exchanged names, information and where we went to church.
I left sad that racism on all sides exist. I left reflective on how I can be a voice of
change. The church I shepherd is 84% white and although it reflects our immediate
neighborhood it doesn’t reflect our city. We strive to honor God in our worship
not just reflecting just one style or ethic groups. Finding worship music that
transcends all races and styles. Looking at the global church and seeing what
can be done in multicultural, multi-generational settings. And yet even then,
those would still stay, we are just not doing it right or effective or reaching
I just don’t have the answer, other than my heart is that we
find ways to close gaps, heals hearts and be a true representation of the
global church of Jesus.
As I continue this Series “This is Our City” my prayer is
that it just won’t be four weeks in the year we look at how to make in roads
into making a bigger impact on our city. My prayer is that we take seriously
how to be the pastors of our neighborhoods, missionaries in our communities and
the people that carry the Hope of the world. That one day we will look back and
see that walls have been broken down, and God’s kingdom came here as is it in
I leave you with this quote from the book that I am reading
and rereading by Alan Briggs, Staying is
the New Going, For God’s work to become
tangible, it must become local, invading our everyday thinking and the places
I have said it often that time goes very quickly. Sometimes when I turn another month in my calendar and see the year splashed at the top I can’t believe it. 2016. Jason and I have been married for 21 years and have found ourselves in some form of ministry or another for 19 of those. Some of those years have been served through local churches and some of it through non profits.
The reality is ministry is hard. When we started this road we neither one knew where it would lead. Jason was confident that his role in the local church was to support it – have a corporate America job and support the local church with giving and volunteering. I thought my job was a wife and mom. I believed in the local church, no matter how broken and messy it seemed to be at times. I would always be involved and be willing to walk wherever I was asked.
I didn’t ever see women lead anything but Children’s/Youth/Women/Worship. I didn’t see women pastors taking up the leadership role in our churches. So in my mind I was a woman and I could support, be a side kick, but never give leadership and vision. And really for the most part that was okay with me. I was doing what God had called me to: a wife and mom… children’s pastor, non-profit founder and PTA vice president. It was all good. Until it wasn’t…
When God calls us to something we have no choice but to walk in obedience. I remember the pull of my heart to go back to local church ministries after a few years away from it. It didn’t make sense. Everything was going okay I thought, but this desire for more, to reach more families and more people for Jesus, was growing. The kids were getting bigger, my role as mom was changing, and I was seeking God to discern what was next. That story is long and someday I will write it here but for now I will just say in that process God called me to be a pastor. To step out of my comfort zone into the unknown, to walk in obedience, surrendered to whatever His will was and would be.
Jason’s journey to ministry is different than mine, and I think he will be a guest writer on here very soon, so he can share it. Because it’s important to know why we are here in Allentown, PA. The details are nothing short of God designed moments, ordained long before Jason and I even knew.
That brings me to today. Last week we launched a new service at Trinity. In two short years, God has been blessing and expanding our church. People are coming to know Jesus. The de-churched and the un-churched are finding a place they can be in community and hear God’s Word and ask questions about this man, Jesus. God is at work. And when God is moving, we also see the attacks of Satan.
John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
And that is our mission: to lead one percent of the Lehigh Valley to a full life in Christ. And we know that on the way we encounter the attempts of the thief to steal, kill and destroy… but we must stand united in our mission to keep pressing forward so that God’s kingdom is expanded and He receives all glory and honor! We have the hope and holiness this world so desperately needs! The hope and holiness we so desperately need! It is not us against them! It is us fighting for them.
Is growth and change hard? Absolutely! Is community messy? You bet! But church, if we can vow to stay together and value and love people, we can be a change agent in the Lehigh Valley. It will be uncomfortable. It will push us outside of ourselves and our own four walls. But on the other side of uncomfortable is eternal impact!
There are times as the pastor, as your pastor, I can sense your questions and fears. And I bring those to the Lord. I know that it will take us being bold and courageous to walk the obedience that God has called us to. I also know that God never intended the church to be a holy huddle of believers. The church, you and me, were called to reach those who are spiritually unresolved and bring them to Jesus. No one is exempt from that calling. Every week you and I should be sharing our faith with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. That means people who probably don’t think like you, look like you or act like you. It will mean building relationships and inviting people into your life so that you can show them truly and authentically who Jesus is.
But that’s just it… faith is taking risk. Faith is more than just saying a prayer and reading your Bible. Faith is believing in things you can’t see. It is walking outside of what you are comfortable with and doing things that God has called you to! Faith will be risky, and messy…
It means we will change our methods of reaching people, but we will NEVER change the message! Jesus Christ died on a cross, rose from the grave to reconcile us back to His Father. Our message is clear! Our methods are changing but God is moving. You are part of a movement of God, and He has called you for this time and place.
Look around this coming Sunday – whichever service you are in – and talk to someone you haven’t met yet. Invite them to coffee, or your life group, or to dinner. Walk through the doors expecting what God is going to do and worship Him with a heart of gratitude. Be grateful that you get a front row seat to life transformation!
Do not sit on the sidelines anymore. Join the team! Be part of it. Serve in Kidventure. Volunteer with Pulse. Be a greeter, or usher, or work in the cafe. Sign up for a Life Group at our Get Connected event this week or next. Invite your neighbor, your co worker, or that mom in the grocery store to join you.
Trinity, thank you for taking a risk on the Colburns two years ago. Thank you for allowing the leadership to dream big, God-sized dreams to reach the Lehigh Valley. Thank you for being open and willing to allow God to move us out of our comfort zone into this next chapter. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in us and through us in the weeks ahead. I can’t wait to hear the many God stories of life transformation. Don’t miss it! We need you! I need you! The Lehigh Valley needs you!
Let’s reach the One Percent of the Lehigh Valley united together for His Kingdom’s sake…
Let me tell you a little bit about a place located in Allentown, PA. It actually sits in Upper Macungie Township. One of the fastest growing townships in PA. Allentown is the fastest growing city in PA. This place has been doing ministry for 102 years in Allentown. (more…)