God be praised for another Lord’s Day.
Admittedly, I am ready for this pandemic to be over. More recently, I’ve found myself wondering if the pandemic will ever end. Maybe I’ll look back upon this blog, grateful for the challenges 2020 presented; and smile at how we made it through this time, thankful for the vaccine created; and overwhelmed at all of the blessings that emanated from this time in all of our lives. Of course, with all of the news, opinions and rumors…from the spikes in new cases to the notion this may last two years to the hypothesis which says this is the ‘new AIDS’…people are drawn to fear, cynicism and anxiety. That being said…I miss my parents; my brothers; and my Shiloh family.
I’ve been preaching to a crowd of ten or less for about three months now. The early days of my pastoral ministry were full of empty chairs, a few amens; and quiet moments following the preaching event. You would think I, of all people, would be in my element; and at home in such an environment. The issue is, for me, I fell in love with the PEOPLE of Shiloh; and not the place. The place is beautiful and prestigious. Built in the 60’s, it is dated, but there is a regal flair about our church facilities. But the people of Shiloh – I can write a book about the uniqueness of our members. As I have contemplated the past few years about how we can grow, build a state of the art College ministry to attract the students of TCU and Texas Wesleyan; and expand our men and women and couples ministries to galvanize and facilitate ministry to ‘families’, I often wonder where will we find those persons who will ‘click’ and ‘stick’ to 1) such an eccentric pastor (I admit I am special. But so was my predecessor, so most of the members accept me) 2) such a unique, eclectic group of great people. I conclude that God will do it. I am seeing Him placing us in a position to move us to that reality.
Leading up to Sunday was both challenging and unusually peaceful and empowering. Somehow, what I had been wrestling with for some time in my own life, God gave peaceful reassurance that He would be with me and stand by me. Actually…not that He is with me; but that I am with Him.
We celebrated our high school graduates!!! I look forward to the month of June because every year we celebrate them on the 2nd Sunday of this month. For many years, Pastor Acie Jefferson, who pastors in Houston, would share with the graduates an uplifting message. This year, I was led to get someone local; and also someone who had ties to our congregation; Rev. Michael Green, from Concord Church, in Dallas. Because of the pandemic, things changed. I encouraged our Minister of Youth (now in charge of Graduate Recognition) to preach. He implored me to speak to our graduates. Lord knows I’ve been talking so much during this pandemic that it has seemed so hard to remain fresh; and especially relevant to these young people. He suggested that this year is different; and in the midst of a worldwide crisis, they need to hear from their spiritual leader. Now I don’t know if he was just trying to get out of speaking; but I accepted the challenge. I have preached every Sunday since the pandemic started; and taught every Wednesday night. As strange as it seems, I’ve enjoyed it! Though it is quite tedious; and I pray God’s people are being blessed…I am grateful that our people keep returning.
I shared from Psalm 105 and talked about God’s promises. It is a passage I preached from once before probably over 10 years ago. The one thing I have learned during this season (something I thought I’d mastered) is that there are many surprises with technology. Going live is really GOING LIVE. This has really been a work in progress for us. The real MVP in our church is a man who leads the media ministry in our church. The Lord placed him upon my heart after first arriving; because of his spirit. God has given me the gift of discernment (it is one of my spiritual gifts); and I knew instinctively that he was loyal, passionate, teachable and an emblazoned leader. In addition, a Prarie View A&M Grad (I’m’ partial to PV alumni; my great grandmother attended and taught there many years ago). He has worked very hard to make sure our media goes and continues. Shiloh should be so very proud of him. While people thank me for working hard to get our streaming going, and moving us into the 21st century – he’s the guy who took it, ran with it – in the midst of having a full-time job; and his own things going on. I will always have his back.
That being said…we wanted our visit with our graduates to surprise them the day before, added. On my way to church, I was informed that the video presentation would not be ready following praise and worship, as we had planned and worked on for about a month; and more than likely, it wouldn’t be ready at all. How I was able to focus on my message; in addition to some important things I needed to follow up on with our church; plus ending the note with telling our members, the graduates; and their visiting families who were tuning in – ‘oh by the way…we don’t have a presentation. But thanks for watching!’
God knows me. That’s what I do know. He knew I had something pressing on my heart; and He ALSO knew I wanted to make the day special for our graduates and also appreciate the hard work the media and our Minister of Youth did. Any feelings of not sharing what I knew I needed to share were placed aside not only by conviction, and communicating with our members; but because I couldn’t end the service. It was almost as if God was saying to me literally, ‘You won’t get out of this. Share what I told you to share.’ God’s reassurance is so overwhelmingly peaceful. When I finished sharing what He told me to share; I looked up….and the video was ready.
I already try to look for a lesson in every blog. Maybe the lesson here is that we trust God’s process. It is so very important to move when God says move; and remain still (and quiet) until God says move ahead. It is so dangerous for us to get ahead of God. It is even more dangerous to speak out of turn, when God says to keep silent. God really will fight every one of your battles – in your family, your ministry, your work environment and anything else. If you remain obedient; prayerful; walk with integrity and do right by God and love people – God will place a hedge around you; and he will also expose the antics of the adversary.
In what ways have you seen God’s hand at work in your life during this pandemic? What have you done to make it through this season? I would love to hear from you. Please comment, share and subscribe. Blessings to you this week!