Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made were at a Pentecostal altar. Thirty-four years ago, at an altar, I met Jesus Christ. Not the Jesus merely portrayed on the stations of a cross, or the Jesus pictured in homes, nor the Jesus pinned around one’s neck, lapel, or on the dashboard of a car. No, I met the real Thing. Promised. Present. Right there; at the altar. My life was forever altered. Behind that altar I was baptized in the saving name of Jesus Christ. At that altar I later received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
I found myself at the altar—every week. There, I started feeling the tug to Africa. Well, not really a mere tug, but a continual wave of African faces.
I said, “I do” at a Pentecostal altar. Now married for going on thirty years, I’m still saying “I do” and still building an altar in my home. I dedicated both of my children at a Pentecostal altar. Their eventual vocation selection didn’t matter. What mattered was, is, and is to come that they serve God and bow their knees to His name. At an altar!
I’ve had the awesome privilege of praying literally hundreds through to the Holy Ghost at altars spread across the globe.
Last night I found myself at an altar….again! I’m not ashamed of my weekly trips to a communal altar at my church. Neither am I embarrassed of the altar I invisibly build and sacrifice upon on a daily basis.
One of my favorite Scriptures, prayed and acted upon daily is: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
It’s my daily prayer. At times I drag myself on to that altar. Sometimes I fall off. What do I do? Pull myself back on to the altar again. God is concerned about my availability and willingness to be a living sacrifice. Paul felt it was so important that He begged us to offer our lives daily.
One African missionary tells of a thanksgiving service where many gifts had been placed at the front of the church including a huge basket. When it looked like all the gifts had been given, the pastor prepared to go on with the service. He paused as a skinny, frail old man made his way to the front of the church. Empty-handed he went to the large woven basket and climbed inside. With no offering to bring the man had decided to give the only thing he had–himself. It is the gift of gifts.
During this holiday season let us renew our commitment daily. Find your altar again today; stick with it, stay on it, and never stray from it.