Quarterly Journals
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This Feels Like Home

“I will declare thy name…in the midst of the church.” – Hebrews 2:12

My conversion story is probably not unlike yours. I went to Church all throughout my youth. Participated in Easter Programs. Went to Sunday School. Learned Bible Verses. My father was a Deacon. My mother sang in the Gospel Choir and served a Nurse on the Nurses’ Ministry. We children would prepare for Sunday on Saturday night. That meant getting our hair done, laying out our best clothes, studying the Sunday School lessons, then getting to bed early, to be up on time for Sunday School and Church on Sunday Morning. There was no such thing as getting to Church late. Sunday School started at 9:30 am and we had to be there until afternoon service was over, and then would often go back for the evening worship. Baptized, I gave my life to Christ at an early age, and for years my Church-Life was the center of my life. But one day, and I don’t remember exactly when, going to church became less of a priority. My Sundays were crowded out by other seemingly more important things. It became the day to do my laundry; or clean the house; or just to rest. It became the day to recoup from the partying the night before. And at one point in my married life, it became the day that we spent on the ball field, where my husband was a star-pitcher. I don’t think I ever forgot what my Church-Life had been, it just didn’t seem important enough to fit it in. The time came in my early adult life when I had spent more time out of Church than I had spent in.

I remember one day that my children were singing Rap songs, and they knew every word, every pause, every beat of the song, and it dawned on me that they didn’t know any Bible Verses. I decided then, for their sake, and reflecting on my youth, that they needed to be in Church. Surely if they could memorize Rap songs, they could learn scriptures. So, one Easter Sunday, over 30 years ago, we visited the Shiloh Baptist Church; and like most of you when you came, sat in the back, probably the last two rows. You know, when you “come back” to Church, you want it to look like you never left, and what you don’t realize is that God uses that time past, those years of Church-Abstinence to draw you closer to Himself. So, we came, and we kept coming, and we kept inching, and inching more toward the Word, settling somewhere in the middle, until it felt like we belonged; that we were part of the Shiloh Church Family. And not just that, but a member of the Family of God.
 
It soon became evident that Jesus loved me, that He had never stopped; and it was all these many years (18) later, under the pastorate of Rev. Herman Washington, that I came to know the Lord Jesus in a way that I had never known-even in my youth. I came to know that regardless of what I’ve done, the Salvation I received at my conversion in my youth, was a sure foundation. There was no losing it. There was no earning it. There was no deserving it. I came to know, that even getting tired of my children’s Rap songs, was part of His plan for me. Even that was a way of Him getting my attention and changing my life. Being in the family of God is important, but it’s equally important to be in a place where you grow and feel like you belong-and for me and my family-this 112-year-old Church-feels like home!

 

Submitted by Deaconess Irene Gardon

 



JOY! Our Fundamental Need

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:11 ESV

Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. It’s been shown that the more joy we experience, the more productive we are.

In the Book of Philippians, only four chapters long, Paul uses the word “Joy” sixteen times. Funny thing though: Paul did not write this Book while he was in a joyful place in his life. He was a Roman prisoner, incarcerated, a dead-man walking, waiting to be executed. Howbeit, that in the darkest days of his life, he wrote about joy?

Paul makes no idle boast. He knew firsthand the wealth and privileges of prominence in the Jewish community and of Roman citizenship. On the other hand, he had suffered extraordinary hardships in his work – jailing, beatings, stoning’s, to say nothing of emotional and spiritual disappointments. What was Paul’s secret? The result, he says, was contentment.

The reality is that you can lose joy (contentment) quickly with just one phone call, or email, letter or conversation. We have a fundamental need for joy in our lives. Many of us live at the upper levels of material prosperity, abounding, as Paul puts it, and such is the temptation to forget God. 

As a Christian, you can enjoy life because you are secure in God’s love. We are learning together to be like Jesus, and for that reason we can laugh and have fun in church, because we are looking out one another’s interests. It’s OK. 

We fail to experience joy when we do not want to let God into their lives for fear that He will make us give up everything that is fun, thinking that to live Holy is miserable. But the truth is God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17b). If you’re going through a period when you feel like you’ve lost the spark, and you’re not as close to God as you used to be, and you’re just going through the motions of life, you need to know that the Joy of the Lord is your strength, and in Him you can get your joy back.

The first step is to tell God all about it. Admit that you’ve lost it and pray what David prayed, when he said, “Restore me to the Joy of Your Salvation.” Psalm 51:2

Extreme conditions test our character, and we are challenged in these times to be content, even when much of our culture demands more, bigger, better. 

But the sobering testimony of Paul is rather than looking to the possessions he had, or did not have, or to his circumstances, good or bad, he looked to Christ to satisfy his needs. 

Paul encourages us to follow his example, and to trust God for all our needs. In Him, we find joy, which is our fundamental need.

 

Submitted by Deaconess Irene Gardon