Monday, January 23, 2012

Building your Altar

Growing up, my siblings and I spent allot of time outdoors. Partly because it was a lot of fun and partly because our mom always locked us out of the house until it was time to come in. She would yell, “You’re not coming back in forth in the house because you are letting all the flies in." She would say this while the fly Swatter ( flizewater if you are from the South) was tucked underneath her little arms. My mom is about 5 foot tall and back then her poofed up hair made her about 6 foot tall That Fly Swatter was also a deterrent for us siblings because it was also a rod of correction. She would use it to swat us when we misbehaved or got on her nerves. We were not innocent kids.
Anyway we would have a hearty breakfast and were pushed out the door once we were finished. Mom would lock the screen door and once in awhile stand at it like a guard in a prison ward just to make sure we were not trying to pick the lock. ( Oh yeah we tried it sometimes). I don't know what she would put in the breakfast food she made us; but we were hyper for the rest of the day. I remember climbing trees, doing gymnastic flips in the front yard (Mom would sometimes hollower from the winder " Stop doing that before you break your neck."), crawling on the ground like a commando, digging holes and making tunnels, swinging on vines in the forest, throwing rocks at bull frogs and seeing if I could get their inners to come out, and all of this was done just in the first hour! I think that woman put speed or something in our food there is no telling...
When school was in session; we would get off the bus, walk to our Trailer (House on wheels for those who don't know) and make our way into the back door. Guess what? The Warden was already standing there in the threshold" Drop your books at the steps and I will bring them in" Mom would say with sternness. “But Mom we want to come in, we been at school all day, we are tired.” We would say with a childish whine. “Here are some snacks for yell; you can come in when it is time for supper." mom would reply with a sinister grin.  We would eat our snacks and sure enough our energy would come back. It was powerful! One felt like they could fly to the moon in back. What did she put in that thing?
I often wonder what Mom was doing in our house all those times we were stuck outside. One day I discovered her secret. I was home from school due to having the measles. Mom did her motherly duty and took care of me. I would lie on the couch in the living room so mom could watch me. And there it was on the TV. She was watching SOAP OPERAS all day. SOAP OPERAS were these day time drama shows which a lot of American women use to get caught up in. It had romance and suspenseful situations. I watched as my Mom would just stare at the TV like someone who was hypnotized. She would give off gestures in grievance with the conversation on the TV. She seemed to be drugged. In fact, she stared at the TV so long; I had to get up and whip the drool that was dripping from her face. It was a sight to behold. (I hope you all know I am embellishing this story a little bit.) I never knew Mom was a SOAP OPERA zombie but there she was hooked lined and sinkered. Once I was better the SPECIAL FOOD was stuffed back in me; and I was off to make havoc on the outside of prison camp.

Actually the story above is a draw in. It has nothing really to do with what I wanted to express here today. One thing about spending your childhood outside was that one day you were bound to meet up with the Creator. When I became a Christian as a teenager my whole world changed for the better. I was in love with this great big God. I loved reading the Bible and tried my best to take Him at His word. I never forget reading about the stories of great men of God in the Old Testament who would build altars before the Lord. These altars were places of worship. They were meeting places where God would come down and speak to the seeker. The altars were land marks for future generations. When someone would pass by the altar they knew something great happen at this spot. Since I spent most of my childhood in the woods. I decided to build an altar before the Lord. One day I made my trek through the forest. I made sure no one was following me because I wanted my altar to be a secret place between God and myself. In our woods there was a creek which flowed down the center of the property. It had huge granite type rocks laying all over the place. I would get the rocks from the creek and make my way to the site. One by one I carried these heavy rocks until my altar was finished. To me the altar was a beautiful landmark where I could kneel upon it and pray. To someone else it probably looked like a beaver was building his house at the wrong place. Nonetheless, it became my sanctuary. Every day I would trek back to my altar and spend time with the Lord. You know God would meet me there many of those days. I could feel his presence; and it was a special. Even in the cold months, I would kneel and call out to my God. The Lord became more real to me during those times and I will never forget my experiences there. I had visions and visitations from the Lord. I had greater understandings from His word; and it was an amazing experience.
I am not saying you have to build a physical altar to get close to God, but you should have a place where you meet God. It can be your bedroom, a barn, or any private place
Psalm 43:4 Then let me go to the altar of God, to God my highest joy, and I will give thanks to you on the lyre, O God, my God.

We are called to go to our altars and simply worship the Lord. If the people of God would humbly meet the Lord in prayer, fasting, praise, and worship; there would be no sin among our ranks. There would be no quarrels and gossips. Once you spend time with the Holy Lord then your whole life is brought before Him. He holds your soul up into the light and reveals all the unnecessary things. Leaders of God, if you do not have a constant altar time before the Lord then either stop leading or take a sabbatical until you do. It is not about the ministry. It is not about how many you can lead to the Lord. It is not about the beautiful building you can build or how many people you can feed. It is about your personal relationship with the Lord. Out of that relationship comes the passion and wisdom “TO DO” the work. I travel, minister, reach out to others not because it is my duty but because of my relationship with the Lord. His compassion, love,passion,and desires are transplanted in me each time I kneel at that altar. Think of it this way. If you try to perform or do the ministry in your own strength then all those works and heavy labor is like dung to the eyes of God. If we are not spending time with Him to grasp His love then we are just banging cymbals together and making a lot of noise. Look at the scriptures below.

Philippians 3:1-8  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.  (2)  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.  (3)  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  (4)  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  (5)  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  (6)  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  (7)  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  (8)  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

1 Corinthians 13:1-3  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  (2)  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  (3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Meet the Lord at your altar today. One thing is true. The Lord will not build the altar for you to worship Him at. The altar must be built by your hands and your sweat. It must be something you pour your life into. I carried those 20 to 50 pound rocks from the creek to the site where my physical altar was built. It took me all day to finish. I did not wear any gloves either. I had calluses on my hands and my muscles hurt like crazy. In fact, I remember my hands bleeding a little and my blood was upon those rocks. I dropped one rock when I fell going up the hill and skinned my knee. Physically I was a mess but spiritually I was a superman. It is not easy spending time with your creator. The world is going on around you and you and I have to function in it, but how important is your Lord to you? To me, He is my everything.
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