God be praised for another Lord’s Day in His presence. On Sunday, I began to reflect upon the goodness of God for how He has sustained my family and I; and continued to hold our congregation together amid a vote that took place a little over one year ago. On August 23, 2016, the results were in. I had been voted in as the new Pastor of Shiloh MBC in Fort Worth. After over 60 resumes were submitted, I had made my way to being the final candidate. The vote was 262 yea’s, 69 nays and 2 abstainers. Fast-forward one year later, I could not help but remember how difficult it was for me to stand on the 4th Sunday in August one year ago; and tell my beloved congregation in Victoria that I had been called to serve as the next Pastor of Shiloh; and that I believed God was telling me to go. Inso-being a year later, I became astounded in how swiftly the time has passed; and the significant (seemingly insignificant) milestones occurring since then. Mt. Salem has since called a new pastor. We were preparing to install one of the Sons of our congregation as pastor of the Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Fort Worth. In addition, so many people with whom Dee and I are connected through family, churches and friends were rocked by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Even as I write, Hurricane Harvey has not settled; and the affects of his presence are yet fully unknown. All the while, the inimitable V. Michael McKay was with us over the weekend to both promote his new book; and galvanize our already stellar music department. Amid other things that I will leave for another time, to say it was a day filled with worship and mixed emotions would be an understatement. I was just so grateful that all of my family was accounted for (including our parents, some who were with us); and with some inconveniences on them, all of our family, church members, former-coworkers, friends and loved ones are safe and accounted for. I am absolutely grateful, even while empathizing with many who are still searching for family members and looking for help.
I preached a stand-alone sermon on Sunday out of . It is the story of Mary breaking her alabaster flask and pouring her extravagant oil upon Christ. I wanted to utilize my time between two series of messages and deal with GIVING; but I also wanted to take advantage of Minister McKay’s visit and cover WORSHIP. The Holy Spirit led me to the passage in John 12 as a perfect harmony of both subjects, giving and worship. My title was, “If It’s Not Broke, Break It.” Years ago, I had attempted to preach this story recorded out of Mark 14. It didn’t go so very well years ago. I think the Lord blessed my feeble attempt in preaching.
In the afternoon we journeyed across the city to install one of the “Sons of Shiloh”, Rev. Reginald Andrews. Before I arrived at Shiloh, Rev. Andrews had spent almost 30 years faithfully serving both Shiloh and Rev. Albert Chew, Jr., my predecessor. While he has never said it – I know that he not only misses Rev. Chew immensely; but it has been challenging to find a way to walk and do ministry amid the void of a presence who has essentially become a giant in his faith. All in all, I am grateful for Rev. Andrews, his love for Shiloh, respect of me and his unfailing love for the person and memory of Rev. Chew.
In summary, I think the Lord has displayed over the course of this year (continued reinforcement this past Sunday) that life, ministry and people keep moving on. We make a mistake in thinking that everyone will be happy, comfortable or cheerful regarding change. We also make the mistake of thinking we can do anything significant without resistance, friction or difficulty. God has blessed me to pastor some great congregations. I honestly believe Shiloh is one of God’s best churches. But to say that it has been a “cake walk” would be a complete fabrication. There are some of those ‘nays’ who have come to embrace me as their leader; and then there are some (I am sure) who are not my fans; some who are still there and some who are not. I am grateful for the presence of them all. None of it is personal; even when it seems like it may be. The truth is – we are in a spiritual fight and battle. Often, the people who inflict seeming pain fail to realize that they are being used by Satan. They honestly believe their antics are legitimate, purposeful and maybe even godly. Yes, I am fully convinced that there are times that we need to pray an imprecatory prayer the likes of Psalm 109 — for God to destroy our enemies. But we must be discerning — for there are times when God allows difficult times and even difficult people to remain to refine our character, develop our patience, strengthen our convictions and deepen our prayer life. There are even times where both are in order. Then….there is an important truth — that it isn’t really our task to separate the wheat from the tare; it is God’s! Often our calling is to do what God has called us to do, get out of the way; and let Him do the rest. As a consequence, I pray and lift every Christian church and ministry, spiritual leader and sinner who needs repentance. God loves us; and He will not ‘rejoice’ until the world hears the message of His love, grace and faithfulness.
May God bless and keep you, is my prayer!