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"...I went in search of Jesus."

In my younger years I didn't value things like pot-luck dinners, soup kitchens, and community breakfasts. If you can believe it, I was so caught up with evangelism that I saw them as unspiritual and even a hinderance to the 'real work' the Lord had His church doing. I knew everything back then... lol. Maybe you have felt the same way?

I know. I know. What an awful thing to say pastor!

You may be relieved to know I don't think like that anymore... most of the time.

On with the story...

As the Lord would have it, recently, I found myself with two Saturdays off from work in the middle of February. A local church scheduled a men's breakfast and invited us to come and join them. I confess. I didn't want to go at first. I had a pretty good supply of excuses available. I'm too busy. I'm too tired. And so on.

Here's the short version. I went. Jesus was there. What a story I have to tell.

First, how did the Holy Spirit help me control my bad attitude?

Well, His solution is easy... He helped me adjust my reason for going. Instead of fulfilling an obligation, or checking off a good work on my 'I'm a good christian' list or doing it for others... I went in search of Jesus.

Second, let me say I had a wonderful time at the men’s breakfast. Jesus was there touching lives and I am one of them. Thank you Pastor J and your helpers for serving us.

Ah, yes. The story...

I went in search of Jesus.

I rode there with a brother I know well. Jesus is working in his life.

I wasn't in the door two feet before I found Jesus alive in the eyes and lives of four men. Two had been there in the first decade or two after I met Christ. They faithfully demonstrated how to be a man and love the Lord. I bear the image of their ministry in my life today. I am thankful.

One man was injured a several years ago, an arterial wound in his foot while in the woods nearly killed him. Jesus is alive in this brother's healing testimony and the fact that He still breathes.

The fourth I met for the first time. Jesus was alive in his service to the teenagers of the North Country. In his testimony and inviting me to join them, I saw that Jesus was alive and still using willing people on His mission to seek and save the lost.

I was overwhelmed. We hugged. Even I get awkward in crowds when the Holy Spirit reminds me of some experience I shared with another in the past. I feel it. I see it in my mind. The remembering and the retelling glorify the Lord. I am filled with wonder.

I meet pastors I've known. I meet pastors I wish I had time to know better. Some are full of Jesus. Some are looking to be filled.

Jesus is everywhere here. Present in the changed lives of those who were once far away and now are one with God.

I sat down with a young man who I once saw get baptized in the Holy Spirit one night while we were all worshiping the Lord. He was laughing so hysterically he could only crawl toward the altar where he was trying to get. Two brothers dragged him there and laid him across the steps. Jesus is still working in his heart.

I get up for food. Donuts are gone. It's ok, I didn't need one anyway. Laughing to myself now.

I see an entire family working through the grief of the loss of their loved one. Jesus is so near to them. I am being broken and we haven't even heard the pastor share.

The rest of the breakfast went off as they often do. Men hanging out with men. Some pair off to talk, weather, sports, sports, sports... Some gather in family cliques that you have to break into to say ,'Hello.' Some men prefer to sit alone. Some men stand one place awkward not knowing what to say to anyone. Some men move around the event with purpose, meeting new people or re-connecting with old friends.

After a while we moved into the sanctuary to praise Jesus. There He is, sitting on the throne of our praise. Some men knew the songs. Some didn’t. Some sang. Some didn’t. Most worshiped quietly. I wrote in my journal, for the Lord was speaking much to me, and this would soon become history. It was history in the making.

Pastor J shared his testimony. Powerful, light, and full of love and care. I was keenly aware of how different we are as pastors. Jesus was there in him. With him. I felt the pain of this pastor's journey and the joy of his present.

Now permit me to add a pretty relevant side note: It’s about my mindset leading up to today. I had been wrestling with the application of Scripture in my own life. Understand my deep desire is that no message from God comes out of my mouth as a weak academic lesson, but a real Spirit and life attachment of Jesus to me and me to Him. First of all. Then for everyone else as well. I kept saying over and over that I just need Jesus to come into my house, to touch me, to cause all lesser things to flee, to transform my heart into a true minister of fire. A true servant.

It’s what I want for me. And what I want for all those I know. More of Jesus. So the best prayer I can pray,’Lord, touch this one’ or ‘Lord, touch that one’ is the answer to my heart’s cry, but it just seemed too simple.

I did say I came in search for Jesus, didn't I?

Pastor J shared that while confined in a detention center for the criminally insane somewhere around 1981, he lie in his cell, naked, on a mat, on the floor, with restraints on his hands and feet. Every night a guard would walk by his cell and stop. The guard would put his hands through the bars and pray, ‘Lord, touch this young man.’ Every night. Though much changed for pastor J, 9 years went by before he accepted Christ as his savior and was born again.

As far as pastor J knows, the guard has no idea how his prayer, as simple as it was, was answered a thousand times over. Jesus can do ‘immeasurably above all we can ask or imagine.

In that moment pastor J confirmed what the Holy Spirit was speaking to me… often all we need is someone to pray for Jesus to touch us.

Soon after he invited us to the altar for prayer. I wasn’t aware of anyone else moving up for prayer. I was busy for a bit writing everything I could.

Jesus was all over this room. Touching, healing, stirring hearts, making connections, building people up.

Taking advantage of the time off from work, and this holy space Jesus prepared just for us men, I wanted Him to touch my heart again. To fill me again. To remind me that we are one… Him and I. Father, Son, Spirit and me. The same is true of all of us, isn't it? We are all one in Christ. Today, I just needed Jesus. I waited as long as I could, wrestling with my own thoughts and insecurities. I'm a pastor after all... why would I respond to an altar call for Jesus to touch my life? What will people think of me if I’m the first one up? Will I accidentally hog all of the altar workers?

It may seem foolish to you, but that is what went through my mind. Soon my need for more of Jesus surpassed every fear.

I approached the altar, determined, and sat down in silence, and waited for some time. I was pretty sure I didn't want anyone coming to pray for me specifically. I am perfectly content to sit still where I see the Holy Spirit is working and simply know that He is God. In my mind, I could see me touching Jesus’ hand, He clasped mine. We were one. I was enjoying the renewing. When the room was mostly cleared out, I felt someone approaching me. Instantly I perceived that this wasn’t someone coming to ‘lay hands’ on me. It was different. As they knelt, they were weeping. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I felt the Holy Spirit reaching from Jesus, through me, to touch the hand on my shoulder. The weeping intensified.

I can tell you I have been at the altar many times in my life. I have had many different experiences while seeking the Lord there. But I have never been down this particular path before. I knew it was Jesus. I wasn’t sure what to do. So I worshipped. ‘Come on, my soul. Don’t you get shy on me. Lift up your song. You’ve got a lion inside of those lungs. Get up and praise the Lord!’

I sang it over and over, until the hand on my shoulder found its own small voice and began to sing with me. I perceived that Jesus was kindling this person behind me with His love and hope.

I kept singing. ‘So I throw up my hands and praise You again and again…’ Soon the weeping stopped and the brother moved past me to sit on the steps of the platform. Now it was my turn to serve. I knew this man. I had prayed with him not quite a year ago. He spoke a few brief sentences. There was pain. There was remorse. There was guilt. There was shame. Jesus prophesied to him through me. Jesus spoke Spirit and Life to him through me. Touched him… through me.

Through me… with all my shortcomings. With all my own struggles. I am an imperfect person who has been declared righteous by Jesus, who was now being used to kindle hope in someone else!

If He can do that through me. He can do it through anybody.

Then as we talked 6 of us men were caught up in a time of testifying to the glory of Christ, confessing our sins to one another, seeking counsel from godly men, and praying for each other.

I went to the men's breakfast to search for Jesus and I return with good news... I found Him there.

Maybe next time you have to go somewhere you don't want... decide in your heart you are going to go there in search of Jesus... then when you find Him, you can return and encourage others with your story.

Love, Pastor David

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