Summary: A message that I preached on the day we brought our new altars into our new sanctuary but one that is applicable in any situation
Back To The Altar
Genesis 12:7 (KJV)
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
I was raised on “black river road,” it has a letter but we never called it by its letter just black river road. About a mile and ½ up on the left hand side of the road was the house that I will always think of as home. Growing up the youngest of eight children and the seventh son, it was a necessity for mom’s sanity that when the weather permitted, we played outside. We lived on land that connected to Mark Twain forest, so there was no limit to places to play. There was however, one place that was our favorite. We called it Rock Mountain. The granite protrudes up into the sky, as a little boy, it seemed to be a thousand feet. In reality it was much less and just a little smaller mass of rocks than Elephant Rock State park which was across the way from our house. It was on this mountain of granite that many of the memories that I have growing up took place. We use to hunt rattle snakes there, climb the bluffs, have rock fights, play hide and seek, it was there that my brother Darren use to trap. And there where he got sprayed by a skunk one day before school. Some people will do anything to stay out of school. Anyway, on the east side of this mountain, was a great hiding place. You had to climb down through the rocks and down along the side of the rock to a place where a larger boulder overhung, producing a cave of sorts. That is where my brothers would stay when they ran away from home. It is where I dreamed of mountain lions and explorers, of gold diggers and dinosaurs. A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of walking with Tammy and the girls up to “Rock Mountain.” I am sure they enjoyed it as much as I did. We walked over Moss Mountain and I told them of forts and cowboys and Indians, and a thousand other stories about “when I was a kid.”
It wasn’t long until we reached the place that I had not seen for nearly 20 years. It was awesome! I probably was the only one that thought so but in front of me was that place where dreams lived. As we began to climb some of the rocks I saw that place. There on the east side of the mountain was, ‘The cave!’ Memories came alive as I relived those days from long ago. I just had to go check it out. As I walked up the rock and down the side of the mountain, which by the way has gotten smaller than when I was a kid, I arrived at this wonderful hide out. Now my point in sharing this story with you was so that you could go with me to a place that though insignificant to many was a place of awe and wonder to me and those of us who spent time there. It was a place where I would go when a spring or summer rain would come up and I wanted to find a refuge from the storm, or where more than once I would just sit and think.
As I shared that story, many of you began to think of those special places that were a refuge in your life, a get a way if you will. Friend, I want you to know, there is a place of refuge that is even more important to me than that place at “Rock Mountain.” There is a place that I have run to when the storms have come up and a place that I have gone to when I just needed to meditate. It, like that childhood hiding place is a place where I can hide in the cleft of the rock, it is the greatest place that I have found to go. It is that wonderful place called the altar of prayer. I remember long nights kneeling at what they use to call the mourner’s bench until the thing that drove me there was no longer important. My first trip there was when I met the Master and he took my sins away and it was there that I prayed through to the sweet Holy Ghost! I know that you can pray anywhere but there is something special about the altar. The altar is where countless thousands and dare I say millions have come and found a refuge for the soul.
Listen to the words of our General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Brother Thomas Trask; “One of my greatest concerns is the lack of an altar within the church, that entire area between the pulpit and the first pews. It’s there that conversion takes place. It’s at the altar that people met God. It’s at the altar that lives are changed. I appreciate the worship that God has brought to the church, and that’s needful, but worship must never take the place of the Word or the altar… So worship, yes-but then the Word followed by the altar.” He went on to say, “I kind of stand on tiptoes and say, God, what are You going to do, how are You going to do it, and where will it break out? I just want to be in the center of the coming revival…!” I want the Assemblies of God to be big enough in God that we can say, “Whatever You want to do, just breathe upon us! Let it be fresh from Your throne!”