QUARTERLY JOURNAL
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After All These Years…Where is Shiloh Headed?

According to Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Church,” every church is driven by something: Tradition, Finances, Programs, Personalities, Events, event-Seekers; or even the edifice itself. Any one of these things can become the guiding light in the ministry of the church over time. As we commemorate Pastor Washington’s 31st year of pastoral service at Shiloh, and on the brink of celebrating Shiloh’s 114th year of illuminous history, what will you say has been our shining moment. Beyond this building and the mission that began back in 1907 with Ms. Glendora Hankins, and a few, we are about more than tradition, finances, programs, personalities, or event-seekers. We are about something greater.

Most of our lives are filled with drudgery and the tedious tasks that draw upon our faith infects our witness and wreaks havoc on our discipline to live the Christian Life. Recently I expressed some frustration to Pastor about applying the gospel to my life; how it seemed evident to me that maybe the gospel had stopped working. But Pastor lovingly let me get out my frustration, then most assuredly let me know that the gospel still works; and he did it with the Word of God. What he said, I did not particularly like, shrugged my shoulders, and I went away like the rich man in the Bible, who Jesus told to sell everything, and then come and follow Him, “You still lack one thing.” (Luke 18:18-30). O, how it hurts for me to admit that to you.

But what Pastor said made me realize that it is through the drudgery of life that it is easy to allow legalistic obedience to muddy the gospel. We discover something beautiful about Christ and the gospel but then after some time (and life events) instead of it remaining transforming good news that overflows into worship, and gratitude, we turn it into a means of gaining acceptance, once again taking up the yoke of bondage to sin, our former master. Serving the Lord, and yet expecting that He owes us something. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Drudgery is defined as hard. Mindless. Backbreaking work. Exhausting. The term is used to define tasks which are unrewarding, boring, or unpleasant. If you have ever had to do laundry, wash the dishes, prepare the meals, change the bedding, vacuum the house, or clean the bathroom day after day, you’ve experienced drudgery. If you have ever had to take care of a sick child, or spouse; or an aging parent; or received the call that comes in the middle of the night, you have experienced drudgery. If you have ever had to bury a loved one, you know the depths of drudgery. With drudgery comes fatigue, and frustration of unpleasant things that must be done. We want to get away from the everyday drudgery of life, and we seek out ways to escape, but more to our detriment than good. And as quiet as it has kept, those of us who are Christians, expect that we can get a pass. Not so.

Drudgery is one of life’s greatest tests, because it repeats itself in our lives on a daily basis. There is no getting around the events of the surprises in life. Drudgery actually determines the authenticity of our character. It tests the truth of our spirituality, and it is the barometer to whether we are spiritually genuine, or not. In essence, but not in these exact words, Pastor told me to take a look at myself and to stop wagging my finger at God. He challenged me to weigh my expectations for my life by the Sovereignty of God, and that settled it. I confess to you that drudgery, for me, had become a personal battle, and I was letting drudgery win.

Pastor said it, and with some soul-searching, through the wisdom of God, I realize that obedience is the cure for drudgery; “Why are you so polite to me, always saying ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘That’s right, sir’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build life on.” (Luke 6:46-47 TMB).

Shiloh, I said all of this to say that for 31 years it has been Pastor’s calling to shepherd and lead us into a Healthy Body, where we can all grow. By teaching, preaching, and instruction in the Word of God, he has created an environment where drudgery and hindrances to our growth are removed. He has watered, turned over soil, pulled up weeds, and exposed us to Son-light, all in the interest of creating a healthy church. God, the Father, has done all that He is going to do in planning our Salvation. God, the Son has done all that he is going to do in purchasing our Salvation; and God, the Holy Spirit has done all that He is going to do, in Sealing us.  When it comes to taking initiative against drudgery, we have to take the first step. Drudgery makes us sick. We have heard Pastor say, ‘the church is like a hospital,’ many times. While we may look alright, we are all sick, and in need of Doctor Jesus. The good news is that the doctor is always in.’

When a human body is out of balance we call that disease, a malady in the body, which leads to illness.  Shiloh is an organism, made up of living things (you and me). Living things can grow or stagnate depending on their surroundings. Our Sovereign Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it. And now every believer’s body has become the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are In-Christ! And He is in us. We are the temple of God. There is no condition in life in which we cannot abide in Jesus.

As we look to where we are headed, Shiloh, let us not make the mistake of comparing ourselves to other churches, getting caught up in programs, and event-seekers; nor create agendas outside of God’s purpose and plan for us. Let us not be weary in well-doing. We have a clearly defined purpose and vision statement for our Church: “We Want to be Like Jesus. We are a Church that models the life, the teachings, and the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ to the best of our ability. We are a church that is willing to be convinced of who he is, an expression of his life; committed to what He taught, an expression of his teachings, and consistent with what he did, an expression of His ministry. We want to Live Like Him. We want to Give Like Him. We want to Serve Like Him”. In the Gospel of John 13:14, the incarnate God performs the greatest example of drudgery by washing the feet of fishermen, then says to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

If you have ever wondered, what Shiloh is all about, reflect on the words of our Vision statement. It clearly communicates our destination. As such we are on the road to a healthy church, where there is no dis-ease. I read somewhere, that ‘Vision without a task is only a dream. A task without a vision is but drudgery. But vision with a task is a dream fulfilled.” If we will arise and shine, drudgery will be divinely transformed. Our confidence is only in Jesus. He alone is able to complete what He started. And in these 114 years later, since the beginning of Shiloh, through fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, and evangelism, we are on our way to better. That is a reason to celebrate.

Submitted By Irene Gardon



Obedience is Our Response to Worship

Lately, I wake up in the morning fearful. Scared of facing the day. Not knowing what the day will bring. Not knowing if I can handle the unknown, and it’s not until I get into the frame of Worship, that I can shake it off.  Fearful of the gun violence. Fearful of the world’s hatred. Fearful of what our children and grandchildren must endure. Fearful that the next breath might be the last. And it’s not until I get into the mindset of Worship that I can shake it off. Debating whether my faith can trample over the fear. Wondering if my fear is evidence of my faithlessness. Am I a Christian for real? Can I suffer like Christ? Can I take up my cross daily and follow Him? Wondering if when the world sees me, do they see Him? Am I truly made in His image? And it’s not until I get into the posture of worship, that I can shake it all off.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold fast to me.” Psalm 139:7-10.

Pastor Washington has taught us that, “A Bible Reading, Bible Believing, Bible Practicing People Cannot Be Denied.”  I think I believe it. As much as I want to run away, or to hide from my fear of fear, it is not until I realize how much Jesus loves me, that I can truly exhale. Knowing that He is Omniscient. Omnipotent. Omnipresent.  It is then that I have no choice but to bow down… not to those things that scare me and make me want to throw up my hands and quit, but rather to fall on my face because the WHOLENESS of Him is all-encompassing; and His HOLINESS requires that I submit ………only to Him; and not focusing on the things that bully me.

In those moments, I truly have no choice: I must Worship! Worship is not ‘going to church.’ It is not ‘Spiritual Talk’. It is not donating to Charity. It is not doing the right thing. We error in our thinking when we do those things, thinking that we are honoring Him, when in fact, all those things can and do interfere with our ability to Worship. We perpetrate Holiness, and totally miss the encounter that we most need with Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God! It is right for us to assemble ourselves together, and we should do it often. It is right to call those things that be not, as though they were, and we should do it often. It is right to do the right thing, and we ought to, always. But that is not Worship. There are all kinds of worship, including self; but in Christianity, true Worship is the act of betrothing reverent honor and homage to God. It is the act of losing oneself in adoration of Him. He is the lover of our soul, and Worship is reserved for Him because He deserves it. It is for His pleasure. True Worship begins with our Being. Breathing. Moving. Speaking. Hearing. Seeing. Touching. Your speaking. Your hearing. Your seeing. Your touching. Your feeling, and we cannot help but cry out, “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isaiah 25: 1 ESV).

In Worship, we can bow down, willingly, or be brought down. His majesty demands it, and it is a lowliness that can in no way, stand in the presence of The Holy One. Here, and now, just like in the day the priests who served in the Temple, His Glory fills. His Glory spills, into a room in a way that leaves room for nothing else, not even our false humility; “The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (1 Kings 8:11 NLT). Praise is a part of Worship, but Worship goes beyond praise. Praise is reflective of Thanksgiving and focuses on what God has done; “Because your love is better than life, I will praise you. I will praise you as long as I live. I will lift up my hand in prayer to your name. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wing. I cling to you. Your strong right-hand holds me securely.” (Psalm 63:3-4 NIV). Worship in real-time focuses on the WHO of God, based on His worthiness; His worth-fulness. It speaks to intrinsic value and comes with a sacrifice that only one could pay. Death. Dying. Resurrection. Risen Savior. Regardless of my fears, there is no bidding. Just obedience. There is no discussion. Just obedience. There is no bargaining. Just obedience.  Our God Reigns and my obedience is my response to Worship. I must obey!

Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon



A New Thing

              As we approach a new decade with the onset of 2020, most of us begin with new resolves…things we will do no more; things we will do differently; things we will throw out; things we will no longer eat…. things, things, things. And we measure our success by looking at those same things declared over the previous years. But what I have found, personally, is that my disposable things have multiplied, and mostly because I never took the time to act on the declaration.  So, who is to blame for that?

You might say, ‘There’s enough blame to go around,’ since I did not have the time. I was too tired. It was too overwhelming. I had nobody to help me. But the weight of the burden can become so hefty, and unless we literally do something about it, we can be buried alive. You have seen the TV show, where hoarders have so much stuff that they cannot get out from under it. How much is our lives like that, even as we approach this New Year, and indeed a new Decade. One thing is sure. With the passing of every moment, we begin to realize that we do not have as much time as we think. The clock is ticking. There are still only 365 days in a year. 52 Weeks. 60 Seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 24 hours in a day. 7 days a week, and one of them is Sunday, so that leaves even less time.

I sat at my desk the other day at work and I had a few minutes, with no pressing issues, I began to clean up some old items on my desktop. It was a simple as moving the item into the trash basket. With the flick of my wrist, it was gone. Old files that I had saved…. gone. Things that I deemed important…gone. Reference notes, and contacts…gone. It took all of five minutes. And when it was all said and done, and I shifted the remaining things around, I had so much more space. The sigh of relief left me feeling like I had accomplished something. I had ridden myself of years of accumulation, and it was wearing me down. I think we hold onto things because it gives us a sense of security. We know if it is there, we can always count on it. Even if it is ten years later, and we have not yet had to use it. I think we hold onto things because we are afraid to let go. It fills a space that might otherwise be left empty. I think we hold onto things because at least, we have something.

I am not making a declaration about resolves this year. I did that for the past decade. But I am emptying my mind, and stretching out my hands, un-balling my fists, breathing slowly, and waiting for the new thing. I am tired of holding my breath. Tired of tippy-toeing around. Tired of being scared that the bottom is going to fall out of my life, so I am letting go of those things. I want something new. Not new clothes. I have those. Not new shoes, I have too many already. But I want the newness of life that God has promised me. A new thing is a good thing. He is making a WAY for us in the wilderness. He is giving us streams of living water in times we are in wastelands. Second Corinthians 5:17 says it this way; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”

John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give you- Love one another as I have loved you.”

Jeremiah 31:31 says, “Behold, days are coming declares the Lords, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…”

Ezekiel 11:19, says “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”

Isaiah 62:2, says “The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate.”

Ephesians 2:15, says “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace…”

And finally, Revelations 21:5 says, “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

 

Truth is, I may not lose the 30lbs that I need to. I may not show up every Wednesday for Bible study. I may still be late getting to places where I need to be on time. I may not clean out my closet. But I want to truly get to the place where I stand only on God’s Word so that I can be moved into the new place where He is taking me to. A place He has chosen just for me. He has more for me than I can imagine, and I have side-tracked myself, for too many years now, so that I cannot see the forest for the trees. He is making me new again, by creating a new thirst in me for Him. He has not changed, but I have! This year I want it back. I want the newness of life that He first gave me when He called me out of darkness into His marvelous light. This year, this decade will be like no other, because our Faithful, True, and Living God has given us something new; another chance, to get it right!

 Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon