QUARTERLY JOURNAL
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What are you Waiting For?

“…called unto the fellowship of His Son…” – 1 Corinthians 1:9 KJV

I wonder if I would sound like Carol, Donna, or Marissa if handed a microphone, and asked to sing. Alone in my car, I think I come pretty close. But as much as I wish I could, singing is not my calling. I do okay with the sanctuary choir, and I’m really good in the shower, but publicly – not so much. As much as I love praise and worship, I think I can cross singing of my list. So during my morning mediation just the other day, yet again, I wondered what God has purposed for me, and I confess that I have most probably looked in all the wrong places, and at other people, coveting their gift – wanting to live a life of significance.
 
I have often struggled with purpose, and question when I might do that great work for the Lord. I have a short list of things that I think I can do, but none of them seem significant enough. But I can hear my Savior calling. So in that moment during my mediation, I told Him again that where He leads me I will follow [even with one eye open] just in case He needs my help. Truth is, living a life of significance requires great sacrifice, and I don’t know if I’m ready. When called to His purpose we may have to pass the endurance test, and I don’t know if I can go the distance. Sometimes where He takes us is not really where we want to go. This year, my brother lost his wife, who had just turned 60, and I didn’t want to go there. My husband lost his oldest brother, and I didn’t want to go there. Sometimes God’s purpose takes us places that would never choose for ourselves, and while we declare that we want His will, I wonder.
 
I think I would like to be the next Martin Luther King, doing great things for humanity, having great impact in the World, not for notoriety, or fame, but merely to serve God, but I don’t think I could turn the other cheek. The older I get, and with each passing year, I wonder when He’s going to call me to that great thing, and if I’ll be ready. For a certainty, I know that God’s calling on our lives is not fantastic. We’re not just living, waiting for something to happen, and to jump in. His will for our lives is an expression of His love for us. So while in my mediation thinking about what He would have me to do, I surrendered again accepting that He knows what’s best for me. While His path may be a path of pain, life’s delays, difficulties and problems builds character in our lives and cause us to trust Him, in ways that I could not otherwise. Our Lord honors faith, and He promises wisdom for our next step. He wants us to understand His will. If we try to figure out everything in our lives, we become very frustrated, doing what we feel His will is, and allowing others to direct us. The error is that we don’t ask for His direction. We act on our feeling. Our feelings are unreliable, and our minds too finite.
 
God’s will is rooted in relationship. When we get to know Him, what we think becomes secondary. When I asked him again, He said, ‘You already know what I want you to do with your life! Why haven’t you done it?’ and much like the conversation He had with Job when Job questioned His purpose, to me, He said, ‘How much longer will you go to the end of another day, week, or year without doing what you already know to do? What are you waiting for?’ Selah.  

 

Submitted by Deaconess Irene Gardon



God Looks at the Heart

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-17 NKJV

Appearances can be deceiving. True character is shown by one’s life and actions, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit; nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.” Being a follower of Christ will make you different from those around you.

As Christians, we are not be like the world. The world focuses on what is attractive for the eyes and drawing attention to oneself. Our Christian influence and witness are affected by our appearance, but it is only effective if we are authentic and genuine on the inside.

The spiritual implications of our appearance include more than just the way we look and dress – the outward adornment through clothes and jewelry. Appearance includes lifestyle and the expensive homes and cars and gadgets we accumulate to impress others, can lead to covetousness and greed. The testing of guilt of the heart by the Lord was introduced to us in Numbers 5:11-31 (Please Read it).

We must stand before the Lord and give an account of ourselves. Those that we have trespassed against will not be guilty of doing anything wrong, but we will suffer for our sins if we do not truly repent and ask for true forgiveness. We ought not just say we are sorry but have a true change of mind and heart by confessing what we have done, by asking for forgiveness and demonstrating the authenticity of our humility by seeking to give restitution to those whom we have harmed.
 
The thief on the cross didn’t get baptized in water. He didn’t get the right hand of fellowship. He didn’t take Sunday communion. He wasn’t on the Usher Board. He didn’t sing on the choir. He didn’t even go to church, but he did do one thing for himself and one thing for the rest of the world. He confessed before the Lord that he was guilty of doing wrong which allowed the Lord to bring him into paradise, and he demonstrated to us that God really cares about our hearts.
 
When Christ came, His physical appearance was not attractive, His spiritual qualities kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness, undying love, were obvious to everyone, and He is our example. Will we confess that we are guilty, and that Jesus is King? When we do those two things, we will join the thief on the cross in paradise.

 

Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley



The Role of the Pastor

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,…” – Ephesians 4:12 NKJV

When I came back to Shiloh, some 19 years ago, Pastor was teaching on “Progressing Toward Spiritual Maturity.” I came at a time when I was very young in my conversion, and I was hungering and thirsting for more of Christ. I was a young mother, with a husband and two young children. I was juggling work, homework, and the struggles that life can bring, and I recognized my need for something greater. I didn’t know it then, but I was longing for a fulfilling love. I knew, even as a young girl growing up in Alabama, that there was something bigger; and I yearned for purpose. I had not met God then, and I didn’t know that He had a purpose and a plan for me.

Through my marriage of 43 years, to my husband at the age of 21, and the rearing of our children, I learned that God was always there, but I didn’t always know it. I can’t tell you exactly when I fell in love with Jesus, but I know that it was on Pastor Washington’s watch. I had been introduced to Him, but I did not know Him. My life was good, and sometimes difficult, but I never really attributed those times to Him. Knowing about God is not knowing Him personally, and the real tragedy of life is that so many of us go through life missing His purpose for us, as we go after houses, and land, and cars and things; and miss out on what we need the most: Jesus. It takes years for children to grow into adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen.
 
The same is true of our Spiritual Life. When we neglect Bible Study; when we neglect corporate prayer and worship; when we occasionally come to Church, and neglect precious time with Him, we become void of the strength that we need to endure the storms in our lives. We can’t be strong if we neglect the One who is our strength. The role of a pastor is to impress upon the people the need to maintain fellowship, and communion with Christ – no matter what. Our Pastor teaches Bible Study on a Wednesday night for a crowd less than a few as if there is standing room only. He teaches Sunday School on Sunday morning the same way; The Word of God goes forth from this pulpit, because our pastor is serious about his calling. The same God who saved you, and me saved Him. Christ invades our conversion life the moment we open our hearts to Him. He works in incremental steps in our lives to bring us into a place of His perfection. And it is the Word of God that keeps us when those tough times come. It is the spiritual family and the Word of God that will keeps us from collapsing.
 
Time and time again, calamity has come; discouragement has come; opposition has come; and faith has waivered, but it is in those times that I have been strengthened by the unadulterated preaching and teaching of the Word of God. The role of a pastor is to cause us to know that we cannot fulfill God’s purpose without Him. The role of a pastor is to make us aware that God has wired us o need each other. The role of a pastor is to point the people of God into the presence of Christ. It is when we meet with Him, that we have no choice but to fall down and worship. All these years later I am still progressing toward spiritual maturity, and I’m not the babe I used to be, because by the Word of God, I have been born again.

 

Submitted by Deaconess Irene Gardon