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The Altar of His Presence

The whole creation has been groaning as though it was experiencing the pains of childbirth. As followers of Jesus Christ we have a hope (concerning these pains) that the world does not have.  Our hope? The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness. When we do not know what to say or even what we ought to pray for, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Listen for carefully today for the sound of His voice. The wind of the Spirit is blowing again. He is ever interceding.

I have been writing about the Holy Spirit’s expression. He historically has revealed Himself as like smoke, water, rivers and wind.

Jesus said that the Spirit—like the wind—is sovereign. In John 3:8 Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is…

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Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6
leaderI’d known him for years yet we rarely got below the surface on life itself. Normally I just thought of him as being an angry old man willing to explode at any moment. When Jack (not his real name) was around it was always best to walk on eggshells.

One day, however, there was a crack in his armor. It had always amazed me how angry he’d get when talking about one of his sons who’d gone to college, gotten a business degree and has a great paying job in a distant city. At the same time, he talked proudly of his other son who went right to work out of high school and, while successful, was working at a dead end job.

The day the armor broke was shortly after the death of his mother – a mutual friend. He told me how he’d never forgiven her for forcing him to go to a particular college for a particular degree, right out of high school. He has his career plans set on a job that would have paid nicely in the agricultural area he lived in. Not a fantastic income, but a steady income doing something he loved. As we talked I realized his entire life was spent doing what he hated, missing what he loved, and all because he was ‘directed down a path’ that didn’t fit him.

Another friend of mine, I’ll call him David, was having coffee with me one day. He was very concerned, even upset with the path his daughter was taking. She was a bright kid with lots to offer. Yet her career choice was to be a tattoo artist! David, like me, grew up in a time when tattoos were only worn by people of ill repute. He was struggling with that and how to minister to his daughter.

One day, several months later, his world came crashing down. His daughter was forced to drop out of school and enter treatment. As the family worked through the treatment program, lots of painful things came to light. Like most situations, no one was completely innocent of the issues and everyone was guilty to some extent.

As David and I sat over a cup of coffee he told me how his daughter was making great progress. Then he smiled and said, “And look at this!”

He pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and displayed…HIS NEW TATTOO! David and his daughter got matching tattoos as part of the restoration process.

The two stories should help us to realize that as parents we have a huge responsibility to make sure we take into consideration our kids giftedness and dreams as we raise them. For those of us that are parents, we know there are no guarantees in life. But the odds are better if we build the foundation and let the kids build the walls of the house.

We need to teach our kids the basics of God’s Word while at the same time letting them spread their wings and let them fall a few times. Our children need to know that we love them, and God loves them and both of us will be there to help them back up after the fall. Rather than tell them about God’s love and grace, show them!

PRAYER: Father God. I confess that I’ve failed many times as a parent. I praise you for always helping me back up when I’ve failed. Help me to know the best way to show my children your love, faithfulness, patience and grace. Amen.



But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21

Jesus SavesI remember hearing a story of an old preacher who stopped to pick up a hitchhiker along the road. Usually he didn’t do this but ‘something in his heart’ told him to stop. As he drove down the road with this dirty, long-haired, tattooed young man they passed a highway billboard with the message “Jesus Saves’ with no other explanation.

The young man remarked “WOW, Jesus must be thrifty”.

The story reminds me of at least two things in the walk of a believer.

One is that we guard carefully the terminology we use. The fact of the matter is, few people in our society see the need to be ‘saved’. We have done a good job of convincing people that ‘we are okay’. Rather than throwing all sorts of evangelism terms around and speaking our language as though everyone else will understand, it may be more profitable to spend time listening to and learning the language of the unbeliever. What struggles are they going through? What fears to they have? What makes them angry? How can a relationship with Jesus ‘save them’ from the frustrations they are enduring?

The second thing that this story reminds me is that sometimes the most unlikely people may show an interest in who Jesus is. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the imaginary story, but the last time you saw a homeless person, or a person who obviously looked as though they we not doing well, did you look at them with sympathy, disdain or as a chosen creation of our creator God.

Jesus hung out with the people we avoid. He struck up conversations with the people we look on with disgust. He sought out the people we shy away from. Were Jesus to return, I think we would pass on most of our churches and feel far more comfortable in a soup kitchen. He’d be less impressed with the country club atmosphere than he would the ‘aroma’s’ of the streets and alleys.

How can we, as a body of Christ reach out to those who know nothing about Jesus or see him as a thrifty guy? I live in a rural area of America. We have many in our small villages that live at a poverty level lower than some ghettos. Yet they are hidden from view. How can we find them? How can we reach out so that they can find the fulfilling relationship we cherish?

PRAYER: Father God, I am so thankful for the many blessings you have bestowed on us. I confess to you that too often I’m so concerned about my own comfort that I fail to see the pain of others. Empower me to see the needy. Enlighten me on how I can reach them for you. Amen.



This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Isaiah 48:17

paths we choose“I told you so.”

Don’t you hate hearing those words? Perhaps they are the words of a friend or a parent or an employer. You thought you had a better idea. You were warned that your idea wouldn’t work. You went ahead anyway and did what you thought best.

If you had been right you’d be a hero right now. But you weren’t. In fact, your decision has made a huge mess for yourself as well as those around you. Now you have to suffer the consequences. Not only that, your decision is like a pebble dropped into a still pool. The ripple effect with affect your life and the life of others for a long time, maybe eternity. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Whether your decision was personal (such as family, kids, lifestyle), or career oriented, there’s some good news for you. We human beings tend to make decisions that lean towards our own understanding and comfort level. Our finite minds aren’t always able to grasp the full impact of our decisions.

The good news is that there is redemption available to us. Redemption is defined as “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.” The implication is that if you need redeeming it’s because of an action you are responsible for, or an action that is outside your control. In other words, whether the consequences are your fault or the fault of another you have hope.

Each of us have no doubt been told something by a parent or teacher and knowingly taken a different path because it looked better and easier to us. Even worse are those times when we knowingly go against what God has told us to do. We do so either intentionally, or in ignorance because we didn’t check with God before we acted.

We are redeemed. That’s the message God give us in Isaiah 48:17. The prophet reminds us that “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.

Another way of stating this verse might be to say this. “I know what’s best for you. I’ll teach you all you need to know. But WHEN you stray from me and take the wrong path, I’ll redeem you. When you focus on your own comfort rather than my glory, I’ll redeem you. When your actions cause turmoil for yourself and those around you, I’ll redeem you.

What a blessed promise we have of redemption through Jesus Christ. He alone frees us from everything that seeks to imprison us.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times I see my own comfort. So many times I take the path I think best even though I know it’s the wrong path to take. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you that he alone is my redemption from myself and the evil others plan for me. Amen.


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    From our series, “Famous Last Words“ Our hope comes from seeing our need and seeing Jesus for who he is.
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  • You Can Trust the Bible
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  • RESET your life when you’ve been forgiven
    From our series “RESET Your Life. God knows we can never love him the way he loves us but calls us to follow him in spite of our weakness.

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