Tag Archives: Lehigh Valley

 

 

Below is a poem/prayer titled “Resurrection” in the Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer Book.  Few posts in this chaotic time at West Valley PCA.  May God be delighted with the gratitude and joyful offering we bring to him.  May he resurrect our broken lives and stir us to actually believe what we believe.

 

O God of my exodus,

Great was the joy of Israel’s sons,

when Egypt died upon the shore,

Far greater the joy

when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.

Jesus strides forth as the victor,

conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;

He bursts the bands of death,

tramples the powers of darkness down,

and lives forever.

He, my gracious surety,

apprehended for payment of my debt,

comes forth from the prison house of the grave

free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.

 

Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,

that the claims of justice are satisfied,

that the devil’s scepter is shivered,

that his wrongful throne is leveled.

Give me the assurance that

in Christ I died,

in him I rose,

in his life I live,

in his victory I triumph,

in his ascension I shall be glorified.

 

Adorable Redeemer,

thou who was lifted up upon a cross

art ascended to highest heaven.

Thou, who as Man of sorrows

wast crowned with thorns,

art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.

 

Once, no shame more deep than thine,

no agony more bitter,

no death more cruel.

Now, no exaltation more high,

no life more glorious,

no advocate more effective.

Though art in the triumph car leading captive

thine enemies behind thee.

What more could be done than thou hast done!

 

Thy death is my life,

thy resurrection my peace,

thy ascension my hope,

thy prayers my comfort.

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west valley pca website

please visit the west valley pca website (wordpress turned temporary church website) to learn about our recently defined values.vision.mission!  WWW.WESTVALLEYPRES.ORG

This is but the work of our hands… and O God our King – in spite of and through our brokenness, show us how you have been at work among your servants in crafting these words and in bringing them to fruition!

Psalm 90:1-2; 16-17

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!

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west valley prayerletter (July 2008)

Below you will find West Valley church plant’s July newsletter… sorry to those who also received emails with the pdf version (and you came here for something creative to read – not today!).  – Jim

 

  west valley PCA church plant – lehigh valley PA

a historic place     a new place. 

a historic Church       a new church.

 

The above duality adequately describes the nature of our church planting context in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  Our target area is both historic and new, from the gentrifying ‘buy local’ Borough of Emmaus (settled in the 1740s) to the suburban sprawl of Lower Macungie Township, the fastest growing municipality in the Commonwealth of PA in 2005-2006. 

 

 How do we faithfully and relevantly contextualize the gospel in such a place as this?

 

 We believe it can only be through the historic Church – the very “dwelling place of God by his Spirit” – being incarnated as a new church, a new community of broken-but-redeemed, weak-but-strengthened people who contagiously communicate and celebrate Jesus Christ as their only hope.  Just as the apostle Paul confirmed the new status of the Ephesian church, we believe that we – 40 adults and 40 children from Cornerstone PCA in Coopersburg PA – are “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit”(Ephes. 2:22).  That dwelling place is a new church plant.  More particularly, it is a church in the west valley of the Lehigh Valley.  God is birthing West Valley Presbyterian Church (PCA).

 

Much has happened since we have corresponded with many of you:

1.       We have incorporated as West Valley Presbyterian Church, Inc.

2.       We have travelled from Chicago, IL to Florence and Columbia, SC fundraising and visiting friends and speaking at churches.

3.       We have vacationed, trying to manufacture the calm before the storm (Lina, Kori and her dad, Doug/‘papa’, biked across Georgia – not exactly rest).  

4.       We have “gone to the mountain” with other West Valley church-planters to seek the Lord’s vision for West Valley PCA, and are in the process of honing and owning that vision now.

5.       We have found a local artist for logo and web design.

6.       We have begun regularly gathering on Sunday evenings for ‘prayer/planning’ – eighty adults and children prepping for a Fall public launch, Lord willing.

7.       We have continued to probe our target area for a place of worship that will be accessible, functional, strategic and aesthetically apropos for the purpose of beautiful, God exalting worship.

8.       We have an office, thanks to numerous hands and feet (and sweaty brows) that worked to ‘flip’ our Main Street space – where we anticipate being a gospel-incarnating blessing to our community for years to come.

9.       We have begun cutting the umbilical cord, as my duties at Cornerstone are tapering off so that I might focus on West Valley.  Thanks be to God for giving CPC a vision to release people for the extension of Christ’s kingdom!

10.   We are resting on the power of Christ to extend his kingdom and build his church amidst our weakness and brokenness, even as we are struck by the lengths Satan has gone in effort to undo us.

Please pray:

1.       Pray for a hedge of gospel-protection around Kori and myself (our marriage), and on Lina, Meggie and Nate (our parenting) – as well as on the families who are launching out with us.

2.       Pray for our vision/values/mission process as we are clarifying (by Word, Spirit and community) the identity that God would give us for his glory and for the West Valley.  I look forward to sharing more acutely who we are in the next prayer letter.

3.       Pray for a worship facility within the target area of Lower Macungie or Emmaus.  Pray for wisdom as we network to discern options – whether churches, community centers, colleges, etc.   Pray for a space and lease term that will provide us with consistency and flexibility.

4.       Pray for our Sunday evening ‘prayer/planning’ meetings.  Pray that God would grow us in unity and maturity.  Pray that a culture of refreshing transparency and prayer will define us prior to our launch of public worship. 

5.       Pray for the children of the West Valley church planters.  My children frequently ask, “Daddy, are we going to church with the same people but in a different building again?”   “Yes girls, ‘cause the church is not the building”… yada yada yada preacher-man.  Actually, with serious intentionality we are seeking to craft an environment where the 40+ children participate in the kingdom calling of their church-planting parents.  From day one our children must be a centrality, not a casualty.

6.       Pray for the formation of ministry teams – from Children, to Worship Arts, to Hospitality, to Community Groups, to Administration and Finances.

7.       Pray for the formal establishment of a “provisional” session of elders (through presbytery).  Rather than starting with our own elders, we will begin with oversight and accountability provided by a select group of presbyters – pastors and ruling elders from sister churches.

8.       Pray for the “skeptics studies” that we intend to hold at our new church office in late July and August.  Our hope is to provide a safe place for the un-churched and non-believing to engage and question a biblical worldview as it relates to their own presuppositions about life/God.

9.       Pray for the budgeting process along with my continued fundraising, as we will be on our own as a church (living off of tithes/fundraised money) beginning September 1st.  Pray for wisdom in forecasting the ministry opportunities of the year in light of anticipated local tithes and outside gifts.

10.   Finally, please pray as Christ taught us:

 

Our Father in heaven,

thy Kingdom come in our West Valley as it is in heaven.

 

We are excitedly docile as we pray, knowing that this is the Lord’s work alone. 

Our hype and strategies and zeal and winsomeness will not build Christ’s church. 

He does not need us to bring his kingdom to the West Valley (Acts 17:25)!  We are set free! 

 

I  will  build  my  church

Matthew 16:18

 

What a privilege of grace to get to participate in Christ’s work –

a work for which we ourselves are indebted

a work that our efforts cannot impede

a work that we cannot do alone

 

Confident in Christ and in you,

 Jim

__________________________

 

Tax-deductible contributions, send check to: 
Mission to North America,
1700 N Brown, Suite 101,
Lawrenceville, GA 30043-8122
(write Jim Powell on memo)
online debit/credit cards:
 https://processor.pcanet.org/mna/donationsII/donation.cfm
under ‘church planters’ menu, select “Powell, Jim / West Valley”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Screwtape Letters, again

This is a terrifyingly real thought.  In the following section, Screwtape is impressing upon his nephew the entire point of tempting their “patients” – you and me.

Screwtape speaks about the importance of tempting people not with something enticing, but with Nothing…

Nothing is very strong; strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiousities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off. 

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.  But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards if the cards can do the trick.  Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,

Your affectionate uncle Screwtape

Kinda makes me glad for the pointed struggles of reality’s particular moments.  Better that than to “ease on down the road.”

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church plant gathering

It’s here.  Finally. 

On Sunday, March 9th, from 5-7pm, we will hold our initial west valley church plant meeting at Mas Cafe in Emmaus PA.  This gathering will be for the sake of burden inculcation and kingdom anticipation in the West Valley through a PCA church plant.  We will not be vision casting or planning… but rather discussing the unique needs of our demographics in the East Penn area of the Lehigh Valley.  What are the needs?  What are our responsibilities before God if we would be his church in our target area?  Who should be involved?  How will things unfold in the next 6 months?  What is it to be a church plant that is wide open for the sake of kingdom and gospel ministry among our neighborhoods and communities?  Why is there a need for a church plant? 

Ray and his wife Courtney, owners of the new Mas Cafe, will be providing a full slate of coffees and cappacinos – in addition to snacks.  Childcare will be a block away at the Powell home where we will have a handful of college/career age adults watching our children during our gathering.  If you know you and your kids will be joining us, it would help if you would leave a comment or let me know.

If you are curious as to the nature of the church plant, the needs of Emmaus/Lowermac, or the sacrifice involved for those God will call to be ‘church planters’ – then join us!  Will you consider DOING KINGDOM and planting a church that will be for the renewal of the West Valley (west side of the Lehigh Valley) – for the renewal of our broken, sinful hearts – for the renewal of our families and neighbors – for the renewal of our secular culture and its comprehensive need for mercy and worldview transformation through Christ and his BIG gospel!

Mas Cafe

332 Main Street, Emmaus

Sunday, March 9

5-7pm

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Update

update time:

I put the application in for the West Valley church plant office (per my Jan 10 post)… You know, the one on Emmaus’ main street, right on the Triangle.  The beauty of it is this: 7 guys joined me last Thursday night for a walkthrough and to assess location-location-location.  Is it really as intriguing as I think?  Is said office spot really advantageous to being a gospel-kingdom blessing to the people who hang out in the coffee shops and developing retail marketplace of the Triangle?

Yes, so it seems.  After walking through – we hung out next door, chatting and listening to the live music at Mas Cafe.  Not bad.  Quite mellow actually.  To a man, we agreed that the space is ideally suited for the plant, well-priced, and even more, that timing (we will not be worshiping as a new body until the Fall) should not deter our acting on it.   The next step, then, is to formally address the CPC elders about their backing.

But is it a blessing to the West Valley, particularly Emmaus?  (it is nice to consider this question before we even exist)

One of us asked the realtor if he thought we would be a blessing or if we were taking a prime spot for retail that would benefit Emmaus’ economy in a way that we simply couldn’t.  He made the point that the space is zoned commercial, not retail… The owner of the building does not want to make the changes to rezone it.  He indicated that most small commercial offices don’t bring people to the downtown (i.e. the previous lessee didn’t, as he ran an internet book store).  In contrast, he thought our church’s office most likely would.  He thought the blessing would be apparent.  Thanks be to God.

There are details yet to be worked out.  It is not done by any stretch, but the possibility is more than a thought now… and I thought some of you might like to know-pray.

This is just the beginning of re-routing where we (I) walk and talk for the glory and extension of Christ’s kingdom of grace and justice and mercy.  Just the beginning.

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Nothing goes with dinner like Vision

This Saturday night, Cornerstone (where I serve on staff) will be holding our annual Vision Dinner.  Much like last year – due to all the planning and administeratering – I am, in part, just looking forward to the dinner being over!  But even more, it’s exciting to anticipate a formal declaration to the congregation that we are moving forward with the West Valley church plant in 2008.  Yep-indeedy. 

My prayers are for my pastor and mentor who will be addressing a church that has no building; that has one extra pastoral staff in addition to himself (me); that has no current youth minister (etc.) why the session of elders sees God calling Cornerstone to have a church-planting vision and why that vision is set in action even now. 

I guess what I am most excited about is the declaration that my role will be changing.  I love my job.  I am learning things I never knew I needed to learn.  I am weak and dependent on Christ more now than when I came to CPC.  But God called us up here for the sake of planting a gospel-centered kindgom-incarnating culturally-apropos church in the West Valley.  Much has already been done in preparation, but it has all been behind the scenes so as not to be a divurgent direction for Cornerstone people to think about (as their life and church IS at Cornerstone).  But now, following Saturday night, it is time to let the cat out of the bag – to more directly inquire of people who sense that God may be calling them to be missional by committing to an embryonic church plant.  It is soon time to gather…

Of course – and I love John Kinyon – my pastor and mentor is excited about the thought of calling Cornerstone to a new gospel-centered missional focus as well.  The Vision night will emphasize how Cornerstone is not just releasing some people to be on mission through a church plant.  Rather, Cornerstone – mother ship herself – is embarking on a new kindgom mission as well. 

2008 will hopefully be about two churches.  Two parts of the Valley.  Two missional callings that hopefully will subsume every gospel-dependent believer who currently attends Cornerstone.

O God, with the announcement and vision declaration on Saturday night (along with the good food/community) would you give us a glimpse of your kingdom spreading through this Valley in ways that we could neither ask or imagine (Eph. 3:14-21).

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