My Last Night


So many people are lost and hurting. The ministry we used to be a part of was full of youth who struggle with major issues on a daily basis. I’ve talked to many of them who have faced suicide at one point or another. Like everyone else on this planet, they need love. They don’t need to be judged for what they’ve done in the past. They need to know who they are in Christ. I wrote another song this morning as I sat here thinking about that.

 

My Last Night
Copyright 2014 Chris Martin

(verse one)

Standing at the edge of silence, time is no longer my friend
In this moment, I have to decide, no one will hurt me again
The tears stream down, I tremble in the shadow of my fear
I cried out to You, no reply, thought You said You were always here

Candlelight flickers in the darkness, cold steel pressed against my skin
A note on the table, reasons why, I can’t be hurt again
You won’t understand, might force a smile through the tears
But no one will ever know, what you did to me all these years

(chorus)

This is my last night
I give up the fight
I can’t take this pain anymore
Time to step through the open door

I’m so alone, I need to be strong
I’ve carried this burden for way too long
Does darkness await, or will it be light
No matter what, this is my last night

This is my last night

(verse two)

Sitting at the edge of my bed, time is my only friend
In this moment, I have to decide, I want to let you in
The tears stream down, I tremble, but not in fear
I cried out to You, the answer came, I feel You here

Candlelight flickers in the darkness, cold steel cast to the floor
A note in the trash, I have no reason to doubt You anymore
You’re the only one Who understands, I smile through the tears
Soon everyone will know, You’ve been calling to me all these years

(chorus)

This is my last night
I don’t have to fight
I won’t carry this pain anymore
On bended knee, I step through Your open door

I’m never alone, You make me strong
I’ve carried this burden for way too long
The darkness is gone, I now walk in the light
No matter what, this is my last night

This is my last night

Courage in the face of adversity (From the One7 Ministries blog)


2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (NIV)

Picture the scenario. It’s the semi-final game in a soccer tournament. You are trailing by one goal with less than five minutes left in the match. You’re tired. You’re hurting. You have fought every step of the way, but just can’t score the equalizer. You leave nothing on the field, but the final whistle blows, and you can’t secure a win that would send you to the final. As the opposing team celebrates a hard fought victory, you sit in the grass, head down, while the brilliant rays of a golden sun slowly fade into twilight.

You can read the rest of this blog post HERE

Dropping Stones


One of my favorite stories from the entire Bible is about the woman who was caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11) The Pharisees were chomping at the bit to have her stoned. I can only imagine their frenzy as they dragged the woman to the temple courts where a certain celebrity was teaching. The Bible doesn’t say, but I wonder if they made a huge spectacle on their way to see Jesus. What were they saying to the woman as they neared the temple? Were they calling for other people to join them as they rushed to carry out what would surely be the Godly thing to do? End her life. Seal her fate. Write her off.

I can only imagine the condemnation being poured out from their self-righteous mouths, pushing her further down into the mire of her guilt and shame. Without even knowing who she was, or anything about her story, I bet others joined right in with their judgmental bashing. The Pharisees, after all, were the “holy ones” of the era. They were the religious leaders who followed God’s law without fail. They never got it wrong. No one dared argue with their wisdom and knowledge of the ancient scriptures.

What a surprise it must have been when they placed her in front of Jesus and explained the situation. Instead of immediately answering them with a command to stone her, Jesus ignores the most religious men in all the land, bends down, and begins to scribble in the dirt. There have been many views on what exactly He was writing. I tend to believe that He might have been writing out their own sins. Of course He knew them all, He’s Jesus. When the Pharisees realized what it was, they still repeated their question.

Jesus finally answers by saying that whomever has no sin can throw the first stone. There was no other option than for them to unclinch their tightened fists and drop the stones they were so eager to throw. What else could they have possibly done? I’m sure the crowd had pressed in to see what the great teacher had written. The Pharisees were busted. Here they were trying to trap Jesus, and He completely turned the tables on them.

If anyone standing there had the right to accuse the woman of sinning, it was Jesus Himself. The One with no sin. The One who led a perfect life. He chose forgiveness over her failure.

How often are we quick to judge others? Do we rush around to all of our “Christian” friends eager to bash another imperfect human because of something they’ve said or done? Do we turn our nose up at someone who is marrying a person of the same sex? Do we turn our backs on the fifteen year old pregnant girl who made a mistake? These are the people we should be running to with open arms.

Why would anyone want to follow Christ if all they receive is judgement and condemnation from those who claim to know Him?

Just as the Pharisees, who stood before Jesus thinking they were God’s gift to the unwashed masses, assumed it was their duty to judge, so do we. It’s not at all. We need to realize that just because we have Jesus, we’re not elevated onto some untouchable platform, and all the sinners are wandering around in circles below us. We are all broken. We all hurt. We all struggle. We all desire a relationship with someone who gets it.

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It’s hard to open up your arms to someone in love if you’re carrying a bag of rocks.

Behind the Smile


A gentle rain descends from a darkened sky as I lie awake in my bed. The steady sound of water, pattering on the window sill, should lull me to sleep, but I am troubled. While I am nestled warmly under the comfort of blankets, there are children somewhere tonight who have no bed. As they lay on dirty carpet with no pillows, their stomachs growl with hunger that is relentlessly familiar.

I close my eyes and find myself standing outside the window looking in at a scene of immense heartbreak. A young girl, no older than twelve, on her knees in the middle of the living room. She slowly folds her hands together and bows her head. Her father walked out on them a long time ago. Her mother works during the night, leaving the girl to care for her younger brother.

Rain mixes with tears on my face as I listen to her pray. She doesn’t ask for the newest game console, or clothes from Old Navy. She quietly whispers for her brother to get better. He’s been sick with a sinus infection, and they don’t have the money to take him to a doctor. She asks God to give her mother strength as she works through the night. She prays for her safety as she rides the bus home in the hours just before day break. She pleads with God to provide them with food and another bed so she won’t have to sleep on the floor anymore.

At the very end, with tears streaming down her face, the little girl prays for her daddy. She knows he left and most likely will never come back, but still she intercedes on his behalf. She longs for someone to tuck her into bed at night. She cries when she sees other children playing with their dads at the park. She misses the simple things like kicking a soccer ball together. She admits to God that she gets angry at her father for leaving, but she also seeks forgiveness for those feelings.

Her mother is doing everything she can to keep them from falling through the cracks of a society that so often looks the other way. The little girl pleads for help and a miracle to remove them from their dire situation. Roaches are everywhere, scavenging what they can in such bare conditions. The kitchen is practically empty except for a bag of rice and a carton of spoiled milk. 

I open my eyes and wipe the away the tears. The rain continues to fall as I climb out of bed and get down on my knees. I have so much to be thankful for, but I don’t know where to begin. I still see the little girl on the floor of her apartment pouring out her heart to God. She is a face without a name, a lonely heart in a sea of hopelessness. There must be an answer. There just has to be. 

These are the kinds of kids we see on a daily basis at One7. They laugh and play like all the other children, but deep inside, they are hurting. They come from broken homes, many with no fathers. Some have survived horrific ordeals just to make it into this country, thinking a better life awaited. Sadly, many continuously struggle to find food, clothing, and shelter. 

We need your help and support as we start a new year being the hands and feet of Jesus. Please check out the One7 website HERE If you would like to mail in a donation, or simply send a donation through PayPal, please visit the donate page HERE 

Thank you so much for your support.

We’ve learned that behind every smile, there lies a need.

 

Chris Martin

Reflections From a Broken Mirror (repost)


At some point in our life, I believe we have all been there. Unsatisfied with how we look, act, or fit in. It’s human nature to never be happy with how we are. In some cases, that can actually be a good thing, but for now, I’m talking mainly about our appearance and how we feel about life in general. In a world where we are bombarded with millions of different looks, fads, opinions, and opportunities, it’s a miracle we even know who we are as individuals.

It’s everywhere. TV. Movies. Books. Magazines. Billboards. Newspapers. Daily, we are subjected to what the world, society, thinks we should be. What we should wear. What we should eat. What we should not eat. What is healthy. What is not healthy. The list stretches beyond eternity where no one can see an end to the madness. People are looked down upon if they don’t keep up with their neighbors. Men are degraded constantly in TV commercials. No matter where we look, sin is shown as friendly and fun.

There are lost and hurting people all around us, but sadly, most of the world turns round and round with an air of indifference. We are taught to look out for ourselves, move up the ladder of success, get the newest car, buy the largest house on the block, etc. We’re so busy chasing after the American Dream, we forget about the least of these. We forget that if we help the homeless man on the street corner, we’re helping Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) If we feed the woman standing outside McDonald’s with no money, we are feeding Jesus.

As I usually say when I publish blog posts, I am not throwing any stones. We are all broken. Your reason may be scars caused from past abuse. Maybe it’s an addiction. Or maybe we’ve been through such horrible things in our life, it’s sometimes difficult to even express in words. In my own broken mirror, the reflection I see looking back is one of heartbreak, loss, failure, hope, happiness, faith, and redemption.

In my opinion, one of the most powerful moments written about in the New Testament is the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:7) The religious leaders of that time brought her before Jesus and declared that according to the Law of Moses, they should immediately stone her to death. I get chills every time I watch that scene in Passion of the Christ when Jesus draws the line in the sand and, one by one, the stones drop from their clutched fists.

None of us have the right to judge anyone else for who they are, or more importantly, for what they have or have not done.

There is only One who can repair the cracks in our mirrors. When we see broken glass, we assume it’s worthless, and toss it into the trash. When God looks at our broken lives, he sees opportunity. He sees pain that only His perfect healing can replace. He sees beauty that only His perfect love can reveal to us. He sees worth that no amount of money, clothing, popularity, or status could ever appreciate. One by one, He replaces the broken pieces with His love. When He’s finished, we can finally step in front of that mirror and realize the greatness of our God and look at ourselves through His lens to see what we look like in His eyes.

We are His children. We are His family. We are His beloved.

 

Chris Martin

Living the Gospel (From One7 Ministries)


Check out the latest blog post from One7 Ministries.

As we go through life, we often miss the everyday needs of people all around us. We see desperation the most when we deliver food or clothing to apartments, where so many families are in need.

Click HERE to visit the One7 Blog and read the rest of this post.

 

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Have a blessed day.

Homeless families need your help


Obviously, the huge issue for discussion today is the Duck Dynasty television show and how the main guy was let go from A&E. Truthfully, I’m pretty sick of reading and hearing about it. We found out today that there was a huge fire last night at an apartment complex just a mile down the road from One7. One7 still rents one unit there, and we know a lot of the families who call the complex home. Many of their kids come to One7.

Here is a link to the video about what happened.

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/massive-east-charlotte-apartment-fire-leaves-26-ho/ncPds/

I hope that after watching this, people will realize what’s truly important in this world. It isn’t people on a television show. It’s the people who are real, and have real needs. One7 wants to help these families get back on their feet in any way that we can.

Here is the status from our One7 Facebook page. “As we get closer to Christmas and enjoying the holidays with friends and family, please keep these precious people in your prayers. This is in a nearby apt complex we do ministry with daily. They have lost everything. If you can help us be the hands and feet to these precious people, they need literally everything. Nothing was salvageable in their apts. We are collecting everything from soaps, shampoos, diapers, blankets, clothes, gift cards for the families to go buy Christmas presents since they were lost in the fire. Anything you can give to help them see there is hope, even in their darkest hour.”

If you can help, please go to our Donate page on the One7 website and click the button to give. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. These families lost nearly everything including Christmas presents for their children. Please help us help them. If you donate, please put a note that it’s for the families who lost their apartments in the fire. Thank you so much.

http://www.one7.org/donate/

 

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Have a blessed day.

Wrecked


Have you ever had a moment come along during your life when you were completely and utterly broken? A moment that wrecked you to the very core of your being, and reduced you to nothing but a pile of smoldering ashes? Something that didn’t just gently tug at your heart strings, but ripped them from the shell of human dust you were created from? These moments can be devastating but life altering in the same breath. I believe these are moments that God uses to show us things in life we may either be ignoring, or just innocently unaware of.

I experienced one such moment about three years ago.

We had just recently moved to Charlotte to volunteer with the inner city youth ministry called One7 that I frequently write about on this blog. I won’t go into all the details about the ministry here in this post. Check out the One7 link at the top of the page. I was asked if I wanted to visit a handful of apartments where some of our younger soccer players lived. We would go there and see if they needed anything like food, furniture, etc. I am a completely different person now than I was back then. Now, I wouldn’t think twice about it. Heck, I would even drive the van to get there. Back then, I was a little hesitant, but I agreed to go.

There were five of us that went. I can’t remember what my wife was doing, but she wasn’t there with us. I really had no idea what to expect once we started knocking on doors. It was nearly dark, twilight had begun to overtake the skyline of Charlotte. Long shadows cast curious, and somewhat frightening shapes on the streets and neighboring buildings as we stepped out into the cool air. I had just moved from Johnson City, TN where the closest thing to gang violence was a group of preschoolers jumping on a teacher. I had no experience whatsoever with an inner city area like what we were stepping into. We had been helping out at One7, but just at the main meeting place, and that was only twice a week.

I had yet to truly step out of my comfort zone and open my eyes to a hurting community all around me.

When we arrived at the apartment complex and climbed out of the vehicle, I immediately felt as if I was in a third world country. The people we passed on the stairwells and the sidewalks were all from other parts of the world. I didn’t see one Caucasian anywhere in the vicinity. I began to wonder how we would communicate with the people if they didn’t speak English. I knew the kids that came to One7 could speak the language, but what if their parents couldn’t? How would we truly know what their needs were?

It didn’t take long to realize words wouldn’t have to be spoken to see what these families lacked. We entered the first apartment, after taking off our shoes in respect for their culture, and I looked around, shocked. At One7, I had witnessed smiling faces of kids who laughed and played with everyone else as if they had no cares in the world. Now, standing inside an apartment with the family, I wondered how they could act like that. Roaches were everywhere, not only in the kitchen. There was barely any furniture. Makeshift beds were scattered in different rooms on the floor. Younger siblings were walking around barely clothed.

My first thought was how could anyone be living like this in America. Sure, I had watched enough TV to know people suffered all around the world in these conditions, but right here? In my own backyard? I couldn’t comprehend that. I had heard stories of people in suffering, but I was experiencing it first hand, and it started to hurt. With every minute we spent looking around the apartment, checking the kitchen for food, and visiting with the families, a little more of my heart began to break. Every place we visited had barely any food in the kitchen, if any at all. We discovered mostly scavenging roaches, and even they were finding it difficult to come up with anything.

After leaving each apartment, it took more and more self control not to start crying. Each living situation told the same story. When we were finished, I returned to my car and started home. I couldn’t hold back any longer. I wept all the way back to our house. There were several emotions that formed the root cause of my tears. Empathy. Shock. Despair. Guilt. Those are a few. I say guilt because I started thinking about all the things I complained about, and I nearly vomited. These kids have lived through, and are still enduring, hardships in their young lives that I will never have to face in my entire lifespan.

That was a moment in my life I will never forget. We went back the next day and delivered food to all the families. It was such an amazing feeling being able to do that. God continues to bring people to our doorstep who are in desperate need of help. The broken. The hurting. The lost. The homeless. The fatherless. He uses us in small ways to slowly start the seeding process of Christ in these young lives. We are called to go into the world and make disciples. It’s not a responsibility we take lightly or for granted. God puts people in our lives for a reason.

The moment we forget there are others all around us who are suffering, is the moment we turn our backs on love. 

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Have a blessed day

Pictures Have a Voice (Re-blog)


This is a re-blog of a post on the One7 Ministries blog.

Pictures can be a very powerful thing. They are inanimate objects, therefore unable to talk or speak aloud. However, their silent voices can move people in ways that sometimes spoken words are unable to.

Click here for rest of post.

 

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day

Can You Help?


I have to admit, I really don’t like asking for things. It has nothing to do with pride or embarrassment at all. I know how hard life is and the struggles people go through, so I’m not always comfortable asking others for help. But wait, let me back up a little.

Three years ago, God called us out of our comfortable life in Johnson City, TN to make a radical change, not only in our geographical location, but also in our spiritual condition. In September of 2010, my wife and I, along with our two children, moved to Charlotte, NC to volunteer with an inner city youth ministry called One7. It was founded in 2008 and now has kids from Africa, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States. The One7 vision: To reach and transform inner city communities and families by intentionally forming cross cultural youth ministry teams while focusing on holistic change and spiritual growth. We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and we have never regretted the decision to move. One thing we have come to understand is that everyone has a story. All it takes is some time and active participation in someone’s life to develop a personal relationship. Just because a person is smiling on the outside, does not mean they are not ripped apart inside.

Back then, we were volunteers and basically showed up one night a week. sometimes two nights a week, to participate in any way we could. That involved leading small groups, driving kids home, and just getting to know the youth that came out. Presently, my wife and I are both on staff with One7. (You can visit HERE and click on the Staff page to see my ugly self right next to my beautiful wife.) It has become a full time part of who we are. Jennifer will take the girls to school and go into One7 around 8:30am Monday through Friday. Some nights, she might not get home until 9:30pm or later. When soccer season is in full swing, the weekends are just as crazy. She puts in about 60-80 hours a week. And that’s all on top of being a wife and mother.

I work 40 hours a week at my full time job, then spend another 20 or more each week with One7. I pick up kids several nights a week and help with soccer weekends. Ministry for us is nearly 24/7, 365 days a year. For example, yesterday Jennifer and I, along with three other staff members, spent the day with the 30 kids who live at One7. We started at 8:30, went over to another apartment complex, where One7 is about to end a lease on an apartment, and cleaned it out. We removed all the furniture, hauled off trash, and painted everything. After that, we returned to One7 so the kids could get cleaned up. We had a short devotion time and then took them all to eat at McDonald’s. We went back to One7, spent a couple hours hanging out, and then took them all to the dollar theatre to watch a movie as a reward for their hard work. We returned to One7 at 9pm and ended the night with a birthday party. I think Jennifer and I finally climbed into bed around 11. That was just one day. That’s how the weekends usually go.

Since 2010, One7 has grown in leaps and bounds. We have a new facility that houses our One7 Academy. We have an 18 unit apartment complex that we use for offices and living space to house some of our staff and also the homeless that God brings to our doorstep. We currently have over 30 kids living there who have no where else to go. They are split up among our staff members. Some of these kids have been through complete Hell. Some have had to witness their parents being murdered right in front of their eyes. Some were sleeping on the streets before they found One7. They all have stories that will wreck you, and shake you to the very core of your being. These are the ones we share life with on a daily basis. They have no one else. We are to stand up for the weak and abused. Provide shelter for the homeless and poor. Feed the hungry. The list goes on and on. 

One7 runs off 100% donations. We are a non-profit organization that depends solely on the generosity of others to keep the ministry going. The more we grow, the more expenses arise. It’s just a fact of life. One7 is able to pay two or three of the staff members, but not all of them. Jennifer is one that gets paid. I am not. We have our two girls, and another girl named Yomira who lives with us, (Brief story HERE) attending a private Christian school here in Charlotte. We are unable to afford the tuition, on top of everything else, with just my income, so what Jennifer does get paid through One7 is vital. It allows us to pay school costs, but also to help others. We believe that the more we give to others, the more we will be blessed. It’s a continuous cycle. 

Here is where you can help. We would love to be able to raise our own support so One7 doesn’t have to continue paying Jennifer. The money they use to pay her could go to another staff member or to other things needed by the ministry. Now, here is the part I don’t like getting into. I hope by now that most of my faithful readers know me. You’ve read my posts and my other ramblings on here. I’m always as transparent and honest about my life as I can be. I hope that comes across in my writing. I have nothing to hide. I am a sinner, saved by the grace of Christ doing my best to help others in any way I can. My wife is the same.

My blog has 15,428 followers and I have another 7,400 people following me on Twitter. Now I’m not stupid, I know realistically less than half read my posts, maybe not even that many. We want to ask that you prayerfully consider supporting us financially each month. No amount is too small. $1. $5. $10. It doesn’t matter. God can take even the smallest amount and stretch it for His glory. Just so there is no questioning where the money goes, your donation each month will go directly to One7 Ministries, not us, and then distributed to our family from there. One7 is a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization. Your gift is tax deductible. I urge you to check out the One7 website and see if it’s something you want to invest in. By supporting us, you are allowing God to continue using us to further the Kingdom. If you don’t want to support us each month, but would like to give a one time donation to One7, that would be greatly appreciated as well.

For those who are interested in pledging a monthly amount to our family for support, please send me a direct email at qualityupgrades@gmail.com, or reach me through my contact page. I will reply back with the specifics on how you can send the money in. Please take some time to look at the One7 main website and the One7 blog page. Click Here Both sites have links to the One7 Ministries Facebook and Twitter pages as well. 

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,