An Altar

Exodus 20:22-24

And the Lord said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: You saw for yourselves that I spoke to you from heaven. Remember, you must not make any idols of silver or gold to rival me.

“Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you.


Early in the morning we gathered together and were divided into pairs.  Without speaking we would use the next 30 minutes to build an altar using whatever materials were available on the ground. Each pair ventured out into the area. Some stayed close to the church. Others continued further out.

There are numerous times when altars were built in times past.  I couldn’t help but remember Abraham’s journey up the mountain with Issac, and the altars of many others in the Old Testament. Not all the altars were to God.  Some were to other gods.

There were 450 prophets of Baal who when challenged by Elijah spent the day sacrificing and cutting themselves while waiting for their god to simply accept their sacrifice. Then Elijah made his sacrifice to God and had the people quench his altar 3 times with water so that the trenches around it were filled.  When he called on God everything was instantly consumed with fire.  Not a drop of water remained.  That day the 450 prophets of Baal were put to death.  Their lives were ended because they served a false god.

Where have we made altars?  In a real sense we build altars every day.  We spend our lives sacrificing for something every minute of every day.

Some of that time might be spent sacrificing on the altar of  family. Some of that time could be spent on the altar of success and/or money. Some spent on the altar of pleasure and comforts. Those choices dictate what we are sacrificing for and all of these things yield temporary results.

What kind of altar have you built and who are you building it to?

I challenge you to go out early in the morning and build an altar.  Contemplate on what and who you are living for.  Is it for the one who sacrificed everything for you or are you living for yourself?

What will you gain from those sacrifices?  Is it temporary or permanent?

On the dreaded altar of Golgotha, Jesus made a sacrifice and paid with his life for you to live.  Then, though he was dead, raised himself up again because he is the one true God.

Don’t make the mistake of making sacrifices to gods that have no power, that care nothing for you and will only steal your life.  Instead choose the one true God, the one who loved you enough to die for you and has offered you an eternal life if you would accept his gift to you.

Being Intentional

It was well after midnight.  As I laid in bed, I just couldn’t calm my mind.  Maybe it was the fact that I had 4 cups of coffee in the morning instead of my regular two. I should be tired after having stayed up until 2:30am the night before and driving home from our family beach vacation. I got up early to complete some gifts in my woodshop, ran several errands and packed for my trip to Tecate,B.C. Mexico.  My body ached and I was tired from being on my feet all day, but I still had a difficult time falling to sleep.  It’s like this sometimes the night before a long trip that I’ve been looking forward to.

This is my fifth year making the annual mission trip with the FCA.  Like every year in the past I never know what to expect. I’ve got the routine down.  I’ve flow the same flight every year. Joey meets us at the airport and we load up the vans.  Then we stop at In and Out Burgers, Target, and then drive into Mexico.  We arrive at our location, unpack and begin our mission.  I’ve got the routine down, but when Jesus arrives, the mission really begins.

Every year Jesus has shown up in a major way.  Many people say they meet Jesus here.  I know that to be true for me as well and I’m looking forward to seeing what he will do this year.

It’s a little like going to an amusement park to ride the roller coaster. There’s an anticipation while standing in long lines watching the coaster and other thrill seekers scream as it goes speeding by, knowing that soon, the experience will be firsthand.  Then the heart begins to race as you finally see the seat reserved just for you and off you go, climbing, peaking and then experiencing an exilerating loop de loop. Everything spins in all directions as the coaster roars down the track. The neighbors are screaming at the top of their lungs as you try to let out a screem when the g-force silences your voice.

While it seems like a thrill, the real thrill is seeing Jesus, what he is doing and can do through you in the lives of others.  It’s so easy to get trapped into a life where we try to make everything personal to us… perfect in our way, but that’s not Jesus’ way. Every time I’ve made this trip Jesus joined the party.  He is the thrill of the ride and what makes it special.

My first year Jesus showed up and helped me restore my relationship with him. He showed me a different way to live and gave me a renewed purpose for my life.  The next year, he showed me how he can work through me and use my voice when I let him. The third year, he gave me a heart for others and a passion for serving.  Last year, he taught me how to give.  This year he is teaching me to be intentional.

Jesus is intentional with people.  He is intentional about restoring a relationship with us. He is intentional about being there for us.  He gives his life so that we live.  He didn’t just die for us.  He continues to interceed for us with God every day and he commited to do that for us … forever!

When we marry, we are joined with our spouse and continue to live with them, hopefully for a lifetime, but when they are gone and our life goes on, many of us remarry.  Our relationships are fleeting … temporary.  Even relationships with our parents can be temporal.  But Jesus has made a lifelong eternal commitment that he will not break and he pursues us with intentionality every day.

Do you pursue him, or is he someone you reach out to when things aren’t going well?  If all he is to you is a problem solver, or the fall back person when you need something then you are missing out on the best part of knowing Jesus. He loves us with love so pure that it is incorruptible. You will find no one else who can love like that. There’s a thrill of being with Jesus that’s better than the roller coaster EVERY DAY. He brings life to every party and he promised it would be difficult, but that he would share it with us. He is faithful… forever.

1 Corinthians 13 defines his kind of love and what it means.  (As I was reading this passage it occured to me that the themes here in the first paragraph parallel my experiences in going to Tecate.)

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;* but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages* and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. 

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.* All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

It is so easy to forget that Jesus wants us to be intentional too. He wants us to be intentional in seeking him and finding him in our lives.  He wants us to be intentional in making sacrifices for those he loves.  This includes our enemies and our friends.  He wants us to be intentional about what we give and who we give to.  But most of all he wants us to be intentional in our relationship with him.  To be intentional with Jesus is to love him.

A few weeks ago I shared this with the boys in my youth group.  I challenged them to be intentional about seeking and knowing Jesus. When you want the attention of Mom or Dad, you go to them and talk with them. Do you do the same with Jesus?  When something is going badly, who do you tell?  Do you talk to Jesus about it?  Who do you celebrate with when you win a game or have a success in life?  When you love someone, how do you show it?  Do you give them something, give them encouraging words or do something special for them?  Do you spend time with them?
Love wasn’t meant to be one way. It’s best when shared, but it requires being intentional.

I don’t know what Jesus will bring to Tecate this year, but I am looking forward to being intentional with Him and the people I meet there. 

Tecate, Mexico – FCA

We don’t have a fancy budget or promo videos with mailing literature to recruit or advertise what we do. Probably the greatest advertisement we own is –

‘believe in what we do rather than what we say’.But the greatest thing we believe and trust is simply this:

‘Jesus + nothing = everything’…
That is enough.
Try it today & be blessed…

— in Tecate, Baja California.


FCA Tecate Mission will be serving with the 2nd Nazarene Church of Tecate Mexico. If you are interested in sharing in the mission with us in June 2017 just send an email from the contact page on this site.  I’ll pass your information on to the organizer.  Thank you & be blessed…