We often think of the place we go to meet God is at the altar in the confines of a Church, but Jesus can meet you anywhere. That altar of invocation can happen any place and that includes in a ’49 Ford. There’s a great song by Johnny Cash called, “Would You Recognize Jesus,” it says that you can find Him everywhere throughout the circumstances of your Life. The Chorus goes onto say, “Would you recognize Jesus if you met Him face to face, or would you think He’s just another face you couldn’t place? Jesus might not come in a chariot of the Lord. Jesus might be riding in a ’49 Ford.”

This song has special meaning to me as I reflect back over my life and my family’s history. Over sixty years ago now, my father was riding in a ’49 Ford with my grandma. They were going to pick up my grandpa from work. Just another average day. My grandparents were just young kids, still in their teens and struggling to get started in life. My father was just about two years old then and this was in a time before they had car seat laws for children. On that fateful day that afternoon to pick up my grandpa, my grandma’s car, with my father in the front seat, was hit by a drunk driver. The driver of the other car survived with just minor injuries. Not the case for my grandma. Looking at a picture of the wreck you would be amazed that anyone would have survived. They had to cut the door off to get to her and all she wanted was her baby who was violently thrown into the windshield. My father still has the scars on his face from this accident today. My grandma’s leg went through the floor board into the engine compartment and it is a wonder her and my dad survived.

She would go on to have over thirty six painful surgeries in attempt to save her leg and be in a body cast for many months. It wouldn’t be until years later that my grandfather and my grandma would make their decision to follow Christ. But long before they made their decision to choose Christ in the annals of eternity Christ chose to save them. I believe Jesus was riding in that ’49 Ford. He was there when they were hit. His hand protected that young baby from certain death and his teenage mother. He heard that baby’s cry and that mother’s voice screaming for her child. And more than that he heard their hearts cry for a Savior long before they knew they had need for one.

As I look back to see in the rear view mirror of my own life’s history, I can see God’s providence and his hand following me as he gently directed my steps and sheltered me through out my own life. Many years later I was driving my truck down to the church that my Grandpa now pastors to shovel the snow prior to the morning service. The road was still covered that morning in a layer of freshly fallen snow. And as I continued down the road that morning to the Church I encountered a dangerous stretch of road and lost control of my truck. Traffic was coming right at me and I couldn’t do anything, but He was there. Jesus guided my truck right into a telephone pole where I came safely to a stop and then the light on the pole fell down upon my truck. The light hit just the right spot as to not fall through my roof. As I sat there dazed and realizing what just happened, I realized God’s hand upon me. With my driver door smashed into the pole I had to crawl out the passenger side. As I stood there a lady came out and offered her phone to me. This was in the days before everybody had a smart phone. After I called my dad to come pick me up from my own accident, I surveyed the landscape and realized how blessed I was. Many people had lost their lives on that same road. I stood there and then I saw it. A ditch just fifteen feet from my truck that I could have landed in. It looked like something you wouldn’t be able to survive, but Jesus was there with me. This I know and it reminds me of what Augustine once said, “Man is immortal until his work is done.” I believe God had a reason for sparing me as I shockingly looked over myself to have just walked away with a few small scratches on my hand. Jesus was there.

The Bible tells us that man plans his ways, but it’s the LORD who directs his steps. He has been there all along in my life and the life of so many of my family. And if you will allow God to open your eyes, you will see Him too. And be prepared to be amazed. He is a loving God who seeks His children out and saves them. He is the LORD of host who hears your plea when you call to him. He was there at the dawn of creation. He was there in that lowly manger as he came to save His children. He was there on the cross as He took my sin as His own so I could be free from my sin forever.

Jesus was there in that ’49 Ford. He walked my grandparents through that tragedy and turned it into part of their testimony. My grandma with a stiff leg and the scars that remind her all these years later of that moment, will gladly tell you that she will one day get a new leg when she gets to heaven. More importantly she will let you know how blessed her and my grandpa have been to have already received their new life in Christ. The scars we carry as Christians can carry us through the pains of our life and strengthen us as we look back on them and see that God’s hand was upon us all the time. They remain to remind us that Jesus was there. Look to Him in your hopeless situation and circumstances and when you look to Him He will be found. But you must look and be Saved. May God open Your eyes and you will find Him there. He was in that ’49 Ford and He was with me in that truck and when you look to Him, you will find that He is there with you. What a blessing of assurance. May God open your eyes to see His Son in the daily circumstance of your life, guiding you in His redemptive plan of salvation. If you look you will find Jesus is There. You will find that the common places of life can be the best places to have an altar of worship to our Lord and Savior. Even if it’s an altar in a ’49 Ford in a moment of great need. When you look back you’ll find that Jesus was there. Look to Him. Worship Him. And give to Him the sacrifice of your praises that is due His Holy name. When you do, you’ll find that He is there.

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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When I open my eyes in Heaven; what a wonderful sight I will see

As I look upon my Savior; the one who bled and died for me

I will take in His majestic glory, as I humble my heart before Thee

I’ll be in awe on how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean

He reminds me of His blood He gave, to purify and wash me clean

And there I will praise Him forever, for His glory will be a wonder to see

I will sing a new song of worship, praising the one who died for me

Worthy is the Lamb to be worshiped, all praise I shall give to thee

I’ll be in awe of His splendor and glory, and with my redeemed heart I will sing

Holy, Holy, Holy is my Lord God my heart will ring

Worthy is the Lamb to be worshiped, worthy is Jesus my King

He died on the cruel cross at Calvary, so from the curse of sin I’ve been redeemed

There I will praise Him in glory

Forever to my Redeemer I’ll sing

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, worthy is Jesus my King

From the cruel fate of sin He saved me

Forever to His cross I will cling

By the power of His resurrection, life He gave me

There my Redeemer I’ll see

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

Broken Manicals

Chains…. Chains rattle, chains shake, we all have them and best of all chains break.

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Jesus is freedom….from your chains. Freedom is not… the ability to do whatever you want, or to be whatever you’ll be. Freedom is… to realize your destiny and to be what you were created to be… in Christ. Jesus can break your chains.

Jesus can set you free…

from the Slavery of a life that is not what it was created to be. A life destroyed by sin…chains… a life bound by the weakness of the flesh…chains… a life that is yet to realize it’s true purpose in life… chains… a purpose that is to be found only in Jesus…

Let Jesus break your chains…”If the son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”

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And When you’re free…yes the devil will come and rattle those old chains… He will remind you of what you were…but don’t believe him…. your chains are gone. Jesus has made you free, “free indeed.”

What do chains look like? Chains are shaped from the depths of our depravity. The deceiver disguises them in the appearance of freedom. He appeals to our lower nature. Chains say I am free to choose my way. I am responsible for me. I am free to do what I want. Chains are shaped by me. It’s all about me. It’s not about God, but me. That’s where our chains begin to be formed in our pride. Chains sound like reasons. I can have this drink, because I deserve it. I can go to this place where sin forged my chains, because I need it. I can take this drug, or live this way because this is me expressing who I am. When all we are expressing is our sin nature that builds our chains. We cover up our chains in the appearance of freedom.

The flesh will build your chains, but the Spirit will break them.

Chains. Everybody has them…

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They come in all shapes and your favorite colors…

They look like freedom and feel good at first. Until they start pulling us in a direction we don’t want to go. A place of addiction. A place called destruction.Places where we don’t want to go. Why? Because the Bible tells us, the end of the chains we call sin brings death. “The wages of sin is death.” Wages we earned. It’s what we deserve. Our chains bring suffering. Heartache. Remorse. And they bring consequences that we must face. Why? Because we forged our chains in our depravity and appeal to our sin nature. A nature that brings death.

What is sin? It’s whatever keeps us from hitting the mark of what God calls us to be. Sin is falling short of God’s righteousness.  

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“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…To declare, I say at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”         ~ Romans 3:23-25 & 26

Your chains will keep you from reaching who you were meant to be in Christ. The Good News is Freedom from your chains is found in Christ!

He has the power to Break your chains and set you free. That freedom is found at his cross. And the power is his blood.  

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As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the tree with every pound of the hammer your chains were being shattered. Your chains cost something. They require payment to be freed. That payment came in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His blood. The chains of sin and death tried to put their chains on Jesus, but he broke them. They tried and held him for three days, but he broke them. Why? Because He is God’s Holy one. The one and only person to walk this earth with no chains. No sin. And the Bible tells us that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, comes to live in us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Now if those chains couldn’t hold Jesus. Then they can’t hold us any longer as we receive and then identify ourselves with Jesus in his death and resurrection.

Beware! Don’t think you can break your chains on your own. You can’t. Your hammer isn’t big enough. You need a Savior to rescue you from your chains. His name is Jesus.

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And when Jesus breaks your chains. The world will try to put their chains on you.The world likes chains and they demand that you like them too. And if you won’t accept their chains that bring sin and death. A death that is sometimes physical and always spiritual. And it’s always permanent.

They will put chains on you. But as Jesus tells us, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

The world’s chains can’t hold you once your sin chains have been broken. They may persecute you, ridicule you and despise you. But Jesus forgave you and saved you. No fear. Just “Be of good cheer” because the worlds chains our only temporary and your sin chains, which last forever, have been broken by the cross of Jesus and lost their power at His resurrection. You are free. Your chains are gone.

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“If the son therefore shall make you free. You shall be free indeed.” ~ John 8:36

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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What makes Good Friday so good?

Three words; “It is finished.”

After thousands of years have passed since God first said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” and after the snake first tempted the woman and man fell into his snare of death, God had a plan of redemption. When Adam, the first man, was hiding from God from his shame in the garden, Jesus, God in man, was preparing for his first steps on the hill of Calvary.

Planned before the foundations of the world, God knew man would cave in and give into sin. Sin which brings death and suffering. But why?

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WHY?

Why would a God who is love allow this to happen? Why would He allow man to make such a deadly mistake? Why would he give His only Son to suffer for all of mankind to pay the price of man’s failure for sin? Why? The answer is simple and yet mind boggling. The answer is, God is love. God loved man, so He created him. Man was made to love God, but love without the freedom to choose is not truly love.

So man had the option to love God by obeying him, or choosing to rebel in the form of eating an apple from a tree that was forbidden.

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Man failed.

Adam failed in his choice and since then every person to ever walk this earth, with the seeds of sin in their DNA since the beginning have failed too. The good news is that where man has failed, God’s love is greater. God gave man the free will to choose and God new that man would fail, so He, being the just and also loving God that He is, prepared a sacrifice in the form of man to pay for humanities failure.

It wasn’t just any man who could save humanity from their sins. It took God coming down in the form of man to pay for the sins of the world. There was a price to be paid, and it took the sinless Son of God to give his life as a ransom for our redemption.

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The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Why though would God after man’s big failure and rebellion love us. Because God is Love. But God is also a just God and He cannot accept sin. So the God of love sought to redeem us, but His justice demanded payment for our salvation. How did he accomplish this demand? How could He fulfill His love and satisfy His justice at the same time? We find the truth in the verses of John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

That is it! That is what is so good about Good Friday! Mission accomplished! The victory achieved! Man is freed! Where Adam failed to sin in the garden and hid himself. Jesus defeated sin and death as He hung on the tree for all to see. In the words, “It is finished” Jesus was saying man’s payment for sin is complete. At the cross of Christ came the end of sin and death’s terror reign over man, but that is not the end of the story. So many just stop there.

But something incredible happened just three days later. Jesus was risen from the dead in proclamation of His victory over death and the gift of eternal life. And because He is risen so will we who believe on Him also be risen to new life in Christ.

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“HE IS NOT HERE. FOR HE IS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID.”

Risen to eternal life. Life after this life on earth where there is no death. No sorrow. And no pain.

Death is certain for every man in this life, but defeat to sin and eternal death is optional. Like Adam and like Jesus we to have the power to choose our response to sin. Sin which brings death. We cannot do it on our own, but the great news is that what we cannot do for ourselves, Jesus did for us when He died on His cross. Today you can choose to say, “It is finished” to your old life of sin and receive eternal life in Christ. That is what makes Good Friday so good. Your and my debt for our sins, was paid in full and our salvation was secured in those three words that Jesus spoke as he died on the cross, “It is finished.” Jesus did his part. In His great love He chose to die for you and me and pay our debt that we couldn’t pay. Now it is up to us to simple say, “Yes, Lord I accept.” Accept His payment for your sins. And then, like Jesus, you can say, “It is finished” and your old life will become new in Christ.

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“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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There is a great quote that says, “How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” I’ve been blessed to witness this first hand in my life.  You see we may teach with our words, but we reinforce those lessons with our actions.  I remember countless times watching my dad as we would pass someone on the street who asked for money, or requested something to eat and my dad never turned them away.  Sometimes he would give them the last dollar he had in his pocket. Other times he would go to the nearby restaurant and buy them a meal and bring it back to them. My dad never missed an opportunity when he could help someone in need.  I know it’s true that there are many who will take advantage of people who give, like my dad, but he gave anyway.

My dad could have told me to give.  He could have said it’s good to be a giver and think of others.  But I saw him do it.  He lived his message and whenever one of his family would caution him that he might be taken advantage of and he needs to be more cautious, his response was always the same.  He would say, “The Bible says that we entertain angels unawares.”  My dad never looked at the person asking for a meal on the street, or a dollar to go buy a hot sandwich as a beggar or someone who was beneath him and an inconvenience.  He looked at them like they were an angel.  He saw what we so commonly pass by, and at times have to go to the trouble to avoid as his opportunity to serve.  I have learned a lot from my dad over the years and I hope that his character and influence will be a legacy I can also pass on.  My dad always made it clear that as the Bible teaches us, when we do it to the least of these my brethren, Jesus said, “You do it unto me.”  My dad didn’t see the broken of our society as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity to serve Jesus.

How my dad has walked down the streets of our town and never missed an opportunity to walk with the broken and give to them at the point of their need has spoken louder in my life than if he was rubbing shoulders with the great.  People like to get their pictures with famous people. To be seen on the same level with persons of status.  But the only status my dad has ever sought is to serve the one who he seeks to honor, Jesus Christ, not only with his words, but also through his actions. Many may not know that my dad is also a pastor and he has preached a lot of sermons in his life.  But the greatest sermon he has ever preached has been the sermon I have seen lived before my eyes all my life.  A sermon that has never wavered in his integrity and his actions.  Larry Dobbs, who was the president of Dobbs publishing group, once said in reference to his father, “The only inheritance that a man will leave that has eternal value is his influence.”  Today as my dad’s birthday is approaching this month I have been trying to think of what I could give him, but the realization has struck me that he has given me something far greater than any physical gift.  He has passed on his influence in my life and I would add to that his faith and that is what truly has eternal value. My dad and mom have taught me not only through their words but also their actions what true greatness looks like.  To see it you must look down.  Look down to where the need is the greatest and serve. As the Bible says, “The greatest among you will be a servant to all.”  Thanks dad for teaching me how to walk with the broken and what it means to truly be great.

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“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson