Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Our Future Begins Today

Two of our dearest friends in the ministry were with us last week to be a part of our church anniversary celebration. We were able to spend some time with them just talking and hanging out.

In one of our conversations, Pastor Frank King  told us that he did some research on Harrisburg and discovered that our city is one of the new emerging cities in the United States. It has been listed as one of the top cities in America for people to live. That distinction has gone out all over the country through various high level business reports and publications. Therefore, it is estimated that this entire region, (both east and west shore) is about to increase by over 500,000 people. This is about to become a bustling metropolitan community of over 1 million inhabitants.

He confirmed what the Lord has told us and what we have often shared with you, that Urban Life Church has been established to reach people who are about to move to this area. Can you imagine over a million people in this Capital region? That’s why we’re observing so much new construction with many new banks, houses, shopping malls and expansion on the roadways. The landscape of this entire area is about to make a dramatic change.

Please believe us when we say that several thousand of those new people are going to be looking for a family oriented church. When people move into a new area, they’re looking for excellent schools, outstanding shopping malls, nice restaurants, family entertainment and a good solid, positive, friendly, faith-building, hope-inspiring church. That’s why the Lord is preparing us. And we’re going to be ready for them when they come!

Over the next few months, we’re getting our hearts and homes prepared for the growth that is coming to this community and to our church. Remember the Words that the Lord brought to us this past weekend through Pastors Frank and Robin King. Our legacy is alive right now. Like the almond tree that the Lord showed the prophet, we’re blooming NOW.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Launching Into A New Beginning

Seven years ago we launched a ministry with a mission to rebuild, restore and renew hearts and homes in the Harrisburg community.

When we started in a renovated warehouse on Seventh Street in uptown Harrisburg, our hearts were filled with excitement. We spent six months in prayer and strategic preparation. We opened our doors to a full house on Good Friday on March 25, 2005, with a celebration of praise and worship. Then on Resurrection Sunday, March 27, 2005, we held our first Sunday service.

Six months later, in September of 2005, our overseers, Bishop Raphael and Pastor Brenda Green, came to Harrisburg to officially install us as the Senior Pastor and First Lady over the church. Little did we know, that just like Jesus was acknowledged by His Father during His water Baptism and led into a season of trial and testing, we were about to walk the same path.

However, today we can proclaim, ‘To God be the Glory for the things He has done.’ God gave us grace after our failures, wisdom to navigate treacherous passages, favor to overcome opposition, comfort for our seasons of mourning, consolation for our process of grief, light in our darkness, joy  in the midst of disappointments, and a new closeness with the Holy Spirit that we could never have imagined if we had not crossed through the  wilderness.

In spite of attacks from the evil spiritual forces that seek to control the hearts and homes of this region, the Lord our God still caused our paths to cross with each of you. All that was intended for evil, God has used it for our good.

From chance meetings on our jobs, to unexplainable connections on the internet, God has brought people in and out of lives and brought this congregation together, one person at a time. We have met in hotel conference rooms, a local church’s classroom, the pastor’s living room, and now we meet in a board room. It never really matters WHERE we meet. It’s all about the wonderful experience that we share WHEN we meet.

We have laughed together, cried together, danced together, worked together, had our moments of disagreements or misunderstandings, and managed to come back together through forgiveness and now we’re stronger than ever.

We are not a large gathering yet, but somehow, that really doesn’t matter. We’re doing more than building a big ministry. We’re building people who will do big things for God.
Recently, we took a poll and asked the volunteer team, “What is the one thing that Urban Life is really good at doing? What is the one hallmark of this ministry?

The response was unanimous. It’s RELATIONAL. People matter. People feel welcomed. They feel that they belong.

So after seven years, the foundation has been set. The standard of God’s unconditional love has been cemented in our church family. WE have become an assembly where the atmosphere is safe for those who are searching, thirsting and longing for more than what religion has to offer.

The number SEVEN symbolizes that this phase of our growth and development has been completed. Now we are launching into a New Beginning. We had to go through the process of death to reach this place of new life.

Jesus said in John 12: 24-25, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

After our overseers laid hands upon us in September of 2005, we thought we were about to take off and soar. Instead we were buried and died. But today, we are looking at much grain. When we hear your testimonies of how the vision of rebuilding, restoration and renewal is taking place in your hearts and homes, we are can only say, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dipping In the Jordan River

As we continue to meet each week to worship the Lord and receive from His Word, He is knitting our hearts together. Even though the daylight savings time change was a bit of a challenge, most overcame it and was able to receive a timely word of encouragement along with prophetic prayer.

We’re getting closer to our church anniversary celebration and as that weekend approaches, God is positioning us to be ready to receive a fresh anointing and a special impartation for our next level.

We are still a very small gathering, but each of you has come to a place where you are willing to do whatever it takes to be healed. Your simple acts of obedience and perseverance have brought you to the brink of a major promotion in God’s purpose for your life.

As we prayed for one sister during last Sunday’s gathering, the Lord brought forth a wonderful revelation about this ministry. In the exhortation, she was encouraged to invite friends and family to come to Urban Life even though it would be like dipping in the Jordan River for many people.

To understand that reference you must read 2 Kings 5:1-16. In this passage you will discover the story of a Syrian king whose name was Naaman. He was stricken with leprosy and was told about a prophet in Samaria who could heal him.

When he visited the prophet, it turned out to be the prophet Elisha. The prophet did not come out of his dwelling to greet the king and just merely sent instructions for him to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman was insulted and left in a rage. How dare the prophet treat him so disrespectfully! He ranted about how the prophet could have come out and called on God and waved his hand over the leprosy and healed him. Instead he just sent instructions to go dip in the worst of three rivers.

However, one of Naaman’s servants humbly reminded the King that he had been instructed to do a very simple thing. If he had been told to do something difficult, he would have gladly done it.

Basically his healing was all based upon the king humbling himself. When he followed the servant’s advice and did what Elisha told him to do, he was healed after dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River.

We believe that this narrative depicts the Urban Life Church experience. In a sense, there are nicer churches with better facilities in Harrisburg. Many have choirs or worship bands. They have scores of volunteers and are able to enjoy numerous exciting activities.

Yet, the Lord has sent His Word to many people about Urban Life Church. He is leading them to a small gathering where there will be no spectacular displays of waving hands and calling down fire. It will just be them, God and the simple instruction to dip themselves in the waters that flow through this house.

We believe that in the weeks and months to come, you will receive many opportunities to tell people about a place where they can be healed of their spiritual leprosy. They may ask questions like, how many members does your church have? How big is your choir? What kind of multimedia equipment do you guys use? What is your pastor’s title?

That just means they might want to dip in the other rivers that seem to be nicer. Some may have a picture in their imagination of how God is going to heal them. You may have felt the same way before you visited Urban Life. However, they will discover, as you did, that this ministry is not about its pastors, the music, the singing, or the facility. This is all about the presence of the Lord and our willingness to humble ourselves to receive what he has for us.