I Want To Die


Galatians 5:24 says “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

As a Christian, I know there is a war inside me that wages on a daily basis. My flesh has no desire to follow the Holy Spirit. Why would it want to? No one wants to live a life of sacrifice and discomfort. Let’s face it, we as humans are selfish. No one can argue that. It’s natural to be concerned with our own well being. It’s in our DNA. We were born with that instinct. There is only One throughout all of history who wasn’t born that way, and He proved it with the scars in His hands and feet.

In September of 2010, my wife and two children moved to Charlotte NC to volunteer with an inner city youth ministry called One7. For those of you who follow me on a regular basis, you probably already know about it. We came here to make a difference, to change lives and further the Kingdom of God. What has happened is the complete opposite. We are the ones who have been radically changed. God has used the people and youth involved with this ministry to teach us all about dying to ourselves, and living for others.

You all know that writing is my passion. I love to write fiction more than anything else. I have three novellas on Amazon which you can learn about on my Bookshelf page. A lot of my blog posts are fiction. It’s what I do best, or at least that’s how I feel. The more we began to get involved with One7, the more satan tried to distract me with writing. I started to stay home nearly every night and write instead of heading over to the one reason we had been called to Charlotte.

At this present time, I don’t work on my fiction novels like I used to, actually, I haven’t worked on one in quite a while. I do have time for a blog post every now and then, but that’s about it. And unlike a few months ago, I’m okay with that. I’ve learned that Jesus needs to be at the top of my priority list. The number one spot. Everything else falls below that. Family. Job. Ministry. Passion. Hobbies. TV shows. You see where I’m going with this.

I believe that in order to truly know Christ and follow His example, we have to die. We have to die to everything we want. We have to die to everything that other people want for us. We have to die to the part of us that continuously fights against the Spirit. Is that easy? Um, not even close. And it’s not supposed to be easy. Following Christ is hard, and not usually very fun at all. The Bible is riddled with examples of men who followed God and gave up everything for the Gospel.

My wife and I have talked about our life before moving to Charlotte. We were doing absolutely nothing that had purpose when it comes to following Christ. I would work. My wife would home-school the girls. I would get off work. We would eat dinner and then watch TV all night. That was it. All I can do is shake my head when I think back to those days. We even sponsored a child from Honduras for awhile thinking we were making a huge difference. I think we actually believed doing that was somehow making God smile. Maybe it was, but that wasn’t truly giving everything for the Gospel.

I’ve met a lot of people through One7. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’ve been asked so many times what One7 is all about. It’s so hard to explain. I always tell people they just need to come out there and see for themselves. It’s the closest thing to the early church in Acts that I’ve ever been a part of. There is no model. There is no five year plan. It is completely led by the Holy Spirit. We live in community. We eat together. We worship together. We seek God together. We help each other in times of need.

It hurts me when I see people, who give everything they have for the Gospel and ask for nothing in return, struggle to have food or pay bills. Yet, they do it with joy. Three years ago, I would have merely said a prayer and told them that God would provide. Now, we do anything and everything we can to help. We don’t always have the monetary means to assist, but we can usually find someone who does and is willing. I like giving especially when we get hit with an unexpected bill for hundreds of dollars. While our natural instinct is to close our wallet and save that money for our own bills, I believe that giving it away kicks the devil right in his face with faith that he can’t compete with.

I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I fail. And that’s okay. Through all of my weaknesses, God’s strength and power is made known. I can’t do anything without Him. It’s got to be either all or nothing. There is no grey area when it comes to serving Christ. I used to be a person who went to church, sponsored a child overseas, and felt bad when I saw someone in need. I don’t ever want to be that person again. I don’t want to sit there listening to pastors, leaders, and speakers who talk about living in faith, and then drive back to their million dollar homes in their BMW’s. I want to be on the front lines of the battle. I want to be uncomfortable. I want to be stretched so thin that only God can provide a way out, not me.

How about you? Are you ready to die?

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It’s Time


Darkness. An endless expanse, void of light. A blackness so deep and encompassing that the dead embrace it, and the living fear it. My son passed away, and I am heartbroken. I knew this day would come. The absence of life requires the presence of death. It’s a well known fact that at the moment of birth, the long journey to the grave begins. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. That’s how life works. Death doesn’t care if you’re young or old, male or female. It doesn’t see color or religion.

Some would say my son was unique, special even. Before he was born, I knew he would accomplish great things. He was a natural born leader. People were drawn to him, and most of the time, they didn’t even know why. When he spoke, people stopped what they were doing, and they listened. He was slow to anger and quick to forgive. He had a gift of explaining things in such a simple way that anyone could understand. He was far from simple however. He was a miracle baby.

His compassion was endless. He was always the first to help anyone in need. His friends often marveled at his gentle way of dealing with those whom most of the world would reject. The broken. The poor. The ones who had lost all hope in a society that long ago pushed them to the curb. He never had much, but he gave everything he had. It was just his way. He never lived for himself, only for others. He showed love to those who didn’t do anything to deserve it, but that never stopped him. Even when people, who didn’t understand, tried to turn others against him, he pressed on.

His mother was very young when our son was born. She didn’t fully comprehend the weight of responsibility that was placed upon her, but she accepted it, and tried her very best. He loved her so much, and she loved him. It was a bond strengthened by trials and hardships that would have severed most relationships. Even though she couldn’t understand it all, she also believed our son was destined for greatness. She often talked about his purpose in life, and expressed her desire to see him grow up and change the world. Even though it wasn’t how she had imagined, he did indeed fulfill that desire.

Throughout his entire time on Earth, my son knew without a doubt what his purpose was in life. He wasn’t called to live like everyone else and just be ordinary. Royalty ran through his lineage, but he always said he would prefer to serve rather than be served. He was a king, but lived like a common man. He could have enjoyed the best that life had to offer, but he chose to be homeless and do without. He saw the best in people, even when they couldn’t see it themselves. When others said it couldn’t be done, my son said nothing was impossible.

He stood up for the weak and defenseless. He demonstrated to those closest to him how important it was to love others. He led by example, not just in speech. He said there was no greater expression of love than for someone to give his life for his friends. Whether they knew it or not, my son loved them more than his life.

The full realization of what was about to happen descended upon my son while he was praying in the garden. The struggle was so difficult that drops of blood streamed down his face. He cried out with anguish that was so deep and raw, because he knew what lied ahead, and he pleaded for me to provide another way. What I asked of him wasn’t easy, but there was no one else who could do what was required.

I watched as the soldiers brutally hammered my one and only son to the cross. Gabriel and a host of other angels stood at the ready, swords in their hands, anticipating his cry for help. That request never came. My son took upon himself all the sin and darkness of the world, and didn’t utter a single word. As his human heart became weaker with every beat, his love grew even stronger. His mother screamed out his name over and over pleading for his life, but even she couldn’t alter his destiny. I sent my only son to Earth to take on human form, and allow himself to become the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.

That day was the darkest moment in my sons life. When I turned my back, he cried out “It is finished.”

It’s been three days. There is work to be done. While Jesus hung there on the cross and death celebrated a monumental victory, I set into motion a profound event that would not only shatter the chains of death forever, but create a life altering ripple in the timeline of history. As the moon descended and dawn gave birth to a new day, I rolled away the stone of the tomb that held my son in whom I am most pleased. I breathed life into his lungs.

“Arise, my son. It’s time.”

 

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Finally Home (Chapter One)


Over the last couple of years, I have been working on a book entitled Finally Home. It is an attempt to describe the ministry my family is a part of called One7. To be honest, I don’t know when I’ll ever finish this story. I’m not even sure one book is enough for everything we’ve experienced over these past three years. Our main website is under construction at the moment, but you can find out more at the One7 Blog.

Finally Home (Chapter One) Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

She wanted to die.

Warm candlelight glinted from the razor-sharp blade pressed against her wrist. She possessed no reason to live. Loneliness and despair draped the girl with darkness no ordinary light could penetrate. Hope remained an illusion, a shimmering mirage across the wasteland of her defeated heart. It appeared for an instant, hovering within reach, but slipped through her fingers uncaptured.

Deep within the hidden chambers of a desperate soul, the awakened voice cried out. Invisible to the human eye, a spark flared, and then brightened.

A tear drop dangled from one eyelash, slowly traced the softness of her cheek, and fell into her open palm. More followed. Each one carried with it a glimpse of the life she never asked for. Paralyzing clutches of low self-esteem. Unyielding peer pressure at school. Parents incapable of demonstrating love.

The knife flirted with her skin as it tickled the surface. With a growing sense of urgency, the voice gained strength and momentum.

Tuyen suffered through more adversity during her fifteen years than most would face in a lifetime. Religious persecution in Vietnam forced her family to escape for the promise of freedom in America. They fled without looking back, nearly losing everything. She prayed the worst parts of her life would fade into distant memories.

The voice fought through one layer after another of her subconscious, ripping through the tangled mesh of past insecurities and failures.

While her friends sought after material things in life, Tuyen simply craved unconditional love. She longed for assurance that past mistakes would never compromise her worth. Boyfriends drifted through her world, leaving her delicate heart bruised and wilted like a trampled flower. Desire for unreachable happiness burned inside with desperate fervor.

A cruel, unimaginable life mocked her very existence. Breaking down resolve, it pierced the center of her being with barbed talons. Silent emptiness replaced the tender, innocent heart of a child with hardened resistance.

Fate’s most painful reminder proved to be her own reflection in the mirror. As time passed, Tuyen recognized the stranger staring back even less. Makeup failed to transform her features into a desirable appearance that demanded attention. Well aware of her limited beauty, Tuyen feared she would never fit in. Pretty girls walked the halls of her school every day, but none of them offered friendship. Their glances declared feelings that rendered words useless. She was unpopular. An outcast. Alien.

Tuyen cursed herself for not doing more to gain their approval. Changing her style and hanging out with the wrong boys had done nothing but attract more pain to her life. She often asked God why He didn’t make her more popular. Why didn’t He give her more talents, something to make her stand out from the normal crowd? Like impending storm clouds on the horizon, the unanswered questions continued to build.

Tuyen applied pressure and a small dot of crimson appeared. No longer merely a whisper, the voice sliced through the resistance, casting aside all thoughts of rejection and doubt.

She stopped and glanced around the darkened room as if awakened from a deep slumber. She frowned, having no memory of lighting the candle sitting on the bedside table. Across the walls of her room, ghostly shapes danced in rhythm with the hypnotic flame. The knife in her hand appeared like a viper that slithered onto her wrist unnoticed.

Tuyen shuddered. The cold, serrated edge chilled her to the core. Pulled by invisible strings, every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention. She balanced on the brink of uncertainty where the reality of life collided with the grandeur of fantasy.

Sweat beaded her brow. Shock tingled through her veins. Her pulse quickened. The possibility of merely existing in a dream entered her mind, but Tuyen dismissed the thought. The hardened steel kissing her skin anchored all perception to the realm of the living.

Unseen tears stung both eyes and she blinked them away. Panic fluttered inside her chest, but she refused to surrender. Tuyen wiped a clammy palm across her blue jeans and took deep breaths. She looked at her arm.

A small drop of blood revealed the evidence of her attempt. Invisible to her parents and friends, well hidden scars covered her legs from past moments of weakness. Defenses like a ready smile and forced laughter veiled the pain burning under the surface.

No one possessed the key that unlocked the inner chamber door. Certain the end result would only bring more pain, Tuyen built walls to keep everyone away. She didn’t want the pain. She couldn’t handle it.

Trembling, Tuyen placed the knife on a dust-covered Bible that lay unopened by her bed. A birthday present from someone at church, the book remained untouched. With so much homework and everything else life forced upon her, she had no free time. The weak explanation for not reading reminded her of the very people she almost left behind in the first place. The ones hurting her most created excuses for their actions.

On the rare occasion her father apologized for slapping her, he would argue that blind anger clouded his judgment. When Mom missed a parent-teacher meeting or forgot to help with homework as promised, she would blame a situation that came up at work. They always justified their failure to be the parents she needed them to be.

Abandonment morphed into guilt as Tuyen struggled to understand why nothing was ever good enough for them. She fell short of the unspoken mark apparently set for her. She would strive even harder to meet their expectations if she only knew what those were. Lacking her parents approval and living with the constant rejection in their eyes hurt the most.

After blowing out the candle, Tuyen flipped onto her back and gazed up at the ceiling. When she was younger, her father painted a galaxy mural complete with stars and a handful of planets. Two strategically mounted spotlights illuminated the scene. She longed to fly away, across the jewel-speckled canvas of night into the far reaches of outer space.

The idea of having her own planet thrilled Tuyen. She would abolish hate and declare love the master of everyone. No more pain. No more tears. Untouchable by the hurt she endured her entire life, Tuyen could finally move in a more positive direction. Happiness sounded so foreign to her, she found it hard to comprehend.

People just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. Kind words meant empty promises unless reinforced with actions. She desired true, genuine love, not pity or wasted charity.

Tuyen glanced at the knife. The urge to use it moved on leaving her tired and very confused. She despised the thoughts that constantly jumbled her mind. They prevented her from cultivating meaningful relationships with other people. For anyone to see through her happy exterior and discover the aching, little girl inside frightened Tuyen.

Every day became a battle to survive her existence. She often wondered if staying in Vietnam would have been a better choice. At least there, she could be herself and feel accepted. Some family stayed behind and would have allowed Tuyen to live with them.

As comforting a thought as it was, she knew it would have been a mistake to remain in their country. Too many were being thrown into jail or even worse, murdered for no reason. The Vietnam soldiers hated Montagnard people and would do anything to make life unbearable.

Tuyen wished the answer would appear and she could stop trying so hard to figure everything out. Her life had been a journey through years of searching for acceptance and approval like an ancient quest to locate a brave new world. Just when the promise of discovery loomed on the horizon, darkness swept it away.

Not giving up was about the only thing she was sure of anymore. She would will herself to continue forward. Take each day one step at a time. Start slowly, and build momentum. That was the key. Baby steps. She could do it.

Tuyen wanted people to make an investment into her life and truly get to know her. As frightening as that sounded, she believed it was necessary. Physical and mental abuse took its toll over the years, forging walls around her emotions and feelings.

The day to tear down those walls and become open and transparent approached quickly.

That day would arrive much sooner than she anticipated.

******

While Tuyen is fictional, her story is not. She is a combination of many girls from One7 whom I have talked with. They all face the same struggles, heartaches, rejections, insecurities, and failures as Tuyen. Many have contemplated suicide. Most all have engaged in some form of cutting. They wear long sleeves and a smile to hide the unspeakable horror that lies just below the surface. They wake up each morning thankful to have survived yet another day in a life riddled with despair and often times, hopelessness. Tuyen’s life and story will be the thread that binds the pages of this book together.

One7 is a place for the broken to find healing, the lost to find hope, and the homeless to find shelter. The name comes from a verse in the Bible. Jeremiah 1:7.

The story starts with God telling a teenager that He knew him, and loved him, before he was ever conceived. Can you imagine how special we are to God that we would be on his mind before we are created? God then tells him that he was created for something important. Not to just settle for an average life, but to seek this awesome adventure that was waiting for him. We believe that all youth are called by God before they are born to do incredible things for the Kingdom. We also know that once a young person understands that God is calling them at a young age to make a difference in their world, there will be two major fears. The same two that Jeremiah faced. The fear that they don’t know what to say, and that no one would listen because they are too young. It is our job as leaders to equip youth to embrace and understand what God’s Word says to young people. Jeremiah, and many others, were young when God called them to make a stand for the Lord.

God is still calling our youth today, if they will accept His call and step out in faith, He will give them strength to embrace their destiny.

 

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I Was There


You don’t know me, and my name is not important. I was never mentioned in the story that millions, if not billions have most likely read by now. I didn’t play a major role, nor was I involved directly with the events that transpired that day. All I know is that I have been trying to erase the memories, with no success. The things I witnessed, relentlessly haunt my dreams every night. I haven’t slept in what feels like years, although the truth is that it’s only been a few months. Forgive me if there are parts of this story that are confusing. I know I will never understand what I saw, but nevertheless, I will attempt to describe everything I can to the best of my ability.

It was early one morning, and I realized something significant was happening as the crowd began to grow larger and larger. People were running past my house yelling for us all to follow them. There had been reports that a celebrity was in town and something major was going to happen. It wasn’t very often famous people passed through, so I assumed all the commotion must be related to that. At the time, I wasn’t working on anything very important, so I decided to go have a look for myself. I told both my girls to say inside and wait for their mother to return.

I started off after the crowd not really knowing what to expect. Before I even reached the palace courtyard, I was stopped by the throng of spectators. I pushed and squeezed my way forward, trying desperately to reach the front where something was going on. As I moved closer, I could hear voices arguing. I stopped once my eyes fell upon the scene in front of me. The temple priests were arguing with someone I recognized immediately. Pontius Pilate. Beside him stood another man whom I had never seen before. His hands were bound and there was blood dripping from a cut underneath his eye, as if someone had punched him. His demeanor struck me as very odd.

He wasn’t fighting against the restraints. He wasn’t screaming defiantly at the crowd. He merely stood there silently, even as the priests shook their fists and yelled at him. Pilate spoke to the man briefly, but I wasn’t able to hear their conversation. Pilate looked perplexed as he turned back to address the crowd. He asked what we wanted to do with the man who called himself King of the Jews. I started to ask the woman standing beside me who that was when the crowd erupted into cries of “Crucify him!” She began to scream so loudly that spittle flew out of her mouth. She had the look of a wild animal on her face as she joined the crowd in chanting those two words over and over. “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

The crowd began to press in even more, and I decided I needed to get out. I fought against the surge until I was once again toward the back of the mob. The chaos went on for several minutes and then word made it to the back that they had released Barabbas because of the festival, and they were going to crucify the man known as Jesus. I knew of Barabbas. He was a convicted murderer. I had not heard anything about the other one except for the rumors that he had healed the lame and made blind people see. I couldn’t imagine that would be cause to crucify someone. Maybe there was more to the story than what I had heard. At first glance, the man didn’t appear threatening, or in any way, evil.

The soldiers took Jesus over to the area in the courtyard that would make even the most hardened criminal’s flesh crawl. The scourging post was known to all, and it was a very clear reminder that crime was not tolerated. I had never witnessed anyone being whipped, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hang around for this one. At first, I thought maybe this was just a way for Pilate to have the man punished, and the crowd would be satisfied. Maybe just a few lashes, and everyone would go home happy. As they stripped the clothes away from his body, the soldiers sneered and hurled insults and curses at Jesus. It was soon apparent that this was not going to be a normal beating. They chained him to the post, and the horror began.

When I realized what kind of whip they were going to use, my heart sank. I heard stories of criminals being subjected to a flogging of this nature, and not surviving due to the extreme loss of blood. I should have walked away after the first lash, but I didn’t. Something compelled me to stay. At first, the crowd cheered with every swing. The soldiers took turns, each time laughing as flesh was ripped away from the body of Jesus. It was like they were competing to see who could inflict the most damage. After twenty lashes, the crowd began to look away from the horrific scene. I saw people crying. Some were pleading for the soldiers to stop. Only a handful of the mob were still cheering them on. I fought back the urge to vomit and continued to watch.

When it was over, the man that had earlier stood before Pilate had been reduced to what I can only describe as a pile of meat. Blood poured out of every part of his body. He was unrecognizable. I’ve been told no one has ever been beaten that severely since. I was hoping the torture was over, but I was sadly mistaken. The soldiers unchained him and shoved a crown made from thorns into his skull. They wrapped a purple robe around his body and continued to mock him. Even though Jesus could barely stand on his feet, the soldiers punched and kicked him unrelentingly. We followed them as they once again stood before Pilate. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but again the crowd cried out for the man to be crucified. I was shocked. They had just witnessed the most violent beating in history, and yet they wanted more.

Several men appeared carrying a cross, and I knew the day was going to get a lot worse before it got better. The soldiers picked Jesus up from the ground where he had just fallen, tore off the robe, and placed the cross on his back. I’m not sure how, but he remained on his feet even after they let go and the entire weight was upon him. His legs trembled, but he didn’t fall. It was difficult to see his face because of all the blood, but from the looks of his expression, the pain must have been beyond intense. I felt a drop of water on my hand and looked up, expecting to see rain falling. It wasn’t rain. I was crying, and I had no idea why. As the soldiers began to prod Jesus forward, I wiped the tears from my face and followed the crowd.

I could tell, with every step, it was becoming more difficult for Jesus to carry the cross. He would stumble, but stay on his feet. Solders punched him and struck his body with wooden poles the entire time. People from the crowd were cursing him and throwing rocks. Children, following the example of their parents, hurled insults and threw whatever items they could find lying along the street. At one point, Jesus fell with the cross slamming him to the ground. I could still see blood pouring from his wounds. I had no idea how the man was still alive. The soldiers grabbed someone from the crowd, and forced him to help carry the cross. I noticed two women following close behind the soldiers. They were very distraught and kept reaching out as if they could help Jesus in some way. I wasn’t sure who they were.

The closer we came to the place of the skull, the darker the skies became. I can’t explain the different emotions that surged inside my heart. I still wasn’t convinced that this man had done anything wrong. Some we’re saying he claimed to be a king, above Caesar, and that alone was enough for the death penalty. Others said he went all over performing witchcraft, and he needed to be killed. If he was such a bad person, why was he not yelling and screaming for mercy? No human being could go through such excruciating pain and abuse without at least begging for their life. Jesus said nothing. By that time, I was weeping uncontrollably, and I couldn’t figure out a way to stop. It didn’t make any sense. I was crying over a stranger, someone I had never met. I felt as if I was on the verge of experiencing something that would change my life forever. I couldn’t explain it.

We reached our destination, and the soldiers placed the cross on the ground. They threw Jesus down and stretched out his arms. Smiling, the soldier drove long spikes through each wrist. With every pound of the hammer, my body cringed. The two women I noticed earlier were nearby, on their knees, screaming for them to stop. Two other soldiers stood in front of them so they wouldn’t interfere. A man stood beside me, watching everything quietly. I asked him who the women were and he said one was the mother of Jesus. I immediately thought of my daughters and couldn’t begin to imagine seeing one of my children endure such agony. After they were finished with the wrists, they drove a much longer spike through both feet. They lifted the cross and dropped into the hole.

Two other men were crucified on either side of Jesus that day, but I didn’t know their names. I wanted nothing more than to run home, hug my wife and children, and try to forget everything I had just witnessed. An irresistible urge pulled me forward, and I walked slowly toward the cross. As the wind began to stir with increased fervor, and the sky transformed into a blackness I had never seen before, I looked up at the man they called Jesus. He hung there with his head down, his breathing labored. Blood poured from the crown in his skull and the uncountable wounds that covered his entire body. I wanted to say something, but the words kept getting lodged inside the back of my throat. What words could I possibly speak that would mean anything to this man who had been beaten so badly that he didn’t even appear human anymore.

Then his eyes opened.

A chill rippled the flesh down my spine, and my heart skipped a beat. For several seconds, I couldn’t breathe. I expected him to look at me with accusation, as if I had been the one to nail him onto the cross. I expected him to curse me for being there, for watching as he was beaten and tortured, and I did nothing to help him. I expected him to look at me with burning hatred. What happened was something I could never have expected.

I recognized love inside those eyes. Love that I had never experienced before in my life, and haven’t since. How was it possible? I dropped to my knees, weeping. Even though I didn’t have any part in his execution, I heard myself repeating “I’m so sorry” over and over. Through my tears, I saw compassion and mercy coming from the eyes of one who had every right to curse me. I see that same look every night in my dreams. I wonder what could possibly possess someone to endure everything that he did, and still give love.

You don’t know me, and my name is not important. Since that day, I haven’t been the same.

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Reflections From a Broken Mirror


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.

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Have a blessed day,

Our God is Greater (From One7 Blog)


Here is a post I published on the One7 Blog today. We found out this morning that the father of two boys who live with staff at the One7 apartments, was killed in Mexico. David, the founder of One7, had to break the news to them this morning. They are really having a hard time as you can imagine. It seems like One7 is really under attack right now. Spiritually, financially, and physically. We would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Our God is Greater.

Pain. It’s an ever present part of life for some people, maybe even for most. Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain. There are all types and versions, and none of us are immune to its presence.

At One7, we see and experience pain on a regular, almost daily, basis. We work with youth from multiple origins, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and home situations. We are all broken, but understand that God loves us relentlessly, and His love doesn’t depend upon our condition. He often displays His unparalleled power through cracked and nearly shattered vessels. Sometimes the very definition of pain doesn’t entirely reveal itself until you’ve been at the lowest possible moment in your life. In that dark place where there is only one direction to go, and that direction is up.

Most of the people we interact with at One7 have, at one time or another, been in that place. Some have overcome great adversity to be in this country. They have been forced to sacrifice everything, except the clothes on their backs, to escape persecution and flee their homes and everything familiar. They have left behind brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, and grandparents. They have gone days, even weeks with no food. They have survived some of the worst refugee camps this world has to offer.

After enduring all of that, they are then thrust into a strange land where the food, culture, and language are nothing like they are accustomed to. Kids struggle in school. Parents struggle to find work. There are moments when they wonder if leaving their homeland was, in fact, the right decision. It’s a constant battle against racism, rejection, homelessness, and peer pressure. They search for hope in a place where it’s sometimes very difficult to find. They end up at our doorstep, and that gives us the opportunity to show and teach them that there is only one person Who can change their lives.

And He is God.

God is greater than the fear of walking into the unknown.

God is greater than the empty food cupboard in the kitchen.

God is greater than language barriers.

God is greater than intense pain of losing a parent.

God is greater than all of that, because God. Is. Love. His unconditional love pierces through the darkest pain you could ever suffer, and fills your soul with His light. His love can break through the walls surrounding the street-hardened boy who has no father. His love can melt the jaded heart of a teenage girl who had to drop out of school to raise her baby. His love can heal the scars of past rejections and abuse.

At One7, we are dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus to everyone we meet. We believe that as the body of Christ, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love others unconditionally. Is it easy? Not even close. Is it worth it? You better believe it.

Please pray as we continue forward with this ministry despite the constant attacks from satan. He never stops trying to destroy what God is doing here in Charlotte, but we are confident that our God is greater.

 

 

Prayer is HUGE for us, but if you felt led to donate monetarily, you can click Here. This will take you to the One7 main website (which is under construction at the moment) and you can use the Donate button. Thank you so much.

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

Where is God?


My wife and I watched an incredible film last night entitled, Father of Lights. (Website HERE) We had an awesome discussion afterwards, and even though it was almost 12:30, I had a hard time falling asleep. A couple weeks ago, I started reading back through the book of Acts, and what we watched last night completely goes along with what I’ve been reading. 

All of this has forced one, burning question to the forefront of my mind: Where is God?

I almost surrendered to the desire to write this post in the throes of insomnia, but I decided against it. My initial thoughts about American Christianity, in reaction to the film, would have spilled onto the pages of this blog as judgmental and quite the opposite of Christ’s love. I hope and pray that after waiting until the early morning hours to gather my thoughts, it won’t come across in that way.

The book of Acts documents the very first Christian martyr in history, Stephen. He stood up to the religious leaders of that time and accused them of murdering the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Needless to say, they didn’t take that very well and had him stoned for it. Even while being pummeled with rocks that were slowly ending his life, Stephen cried out “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” That reminds me of another story about a certain Nazarene being nailed to a tree.

Saul, before his conversion to Christ and becoming the Apostle Paul, zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus and violently attempted to destroy the newly forming Christian church. People were dying for their faith and for making the choice to step off the wide, pleasurable highway and onto the narrow path leading to eternal life.

There are stories that echo throughout history of men and women losing their lives because they were not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even now, in other parts of the world, it’s happening.

I guess my question has changed somewhat. I need to add something more to it. The further I study the Bible and seek God’s face, my question becomes this: Where is God in our American version of Christianity?

Does that seem somewhat harsh? Maybe. Does it make people uncomfortable to question what everyone accepts as true Christianity? Most definitely. Before you label me as someone who hates church, let me say this. I, without a doubt, believe that God can do anything anywhere He chooses. For me to say that God is not in today’s churches would be like trying to place Him inside a box and actually, laughably, attempting to limit His power. God is bigger than a building. He is bigger than religion. His awesome reach isn’t limited by, well, anything.

My concern is this: when I look at the early church in Acts, read the stories of sacrifice and death in the name of Jesus, and then look around at today’s version, I see two radically different pictures. Some would say that we have freedom of religion in our country that allows us to worship God whenever, and wherever we so desire. That may be true, but there’s still something missing.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Satan is the ruler of this planet we call Earth. Sin and darkness encompass the entire world. We, as Christians, should be so different, so set apart from everything, that the world looks at us and has one of two reactions. They either see something they have been missing in their life, and they won’t stop until they find out what it is, or they want to punch us in the face.

Some would argue that we need to do things that cater to the unsaved, the lost and worldly, so that we can get them into our church. Then, they at least get the chance to learn about God and might even get saved. Where in the Bible did Jesus ever say “Let’s look like the world so we can get them to come to us”? He didn’t. He said GO. Go into all the world. Be in the world, but not of it. You see where I’m going with this.

When is the last time you saw someone lay hands on a blind man, and his sight was restored? Recall a time when you raised someone from the dead. Have you instantly healed a sick person? A cripple? These events were running rampant throughout the early church in Acts. Why aren’t we seeing the very same things today? In American Christianity? Sure, this stuff happens in other countries, but why not here? Jesus said we could perform the same miracles He did, and then some. (John 14)

Have you ever stopped to truly digest that? Why aren’t we living like we have that power?

If we strip away all the noise, the smoke machines, the big crowds, the bright lights, the technology, the videos, the hype, are we left with Jesus, or emptiness? We must have our own faith to stand upon when the storms come, and they will come. We can’t cling to the coattails of those whom we believe possess all the knowledge and power of God. If we truly believe that Jesus is the only way to God, we too have that very same power.

Truth isn’t a belief, religion, degree, or creed. Truth is a person, a being, and that is Jesus. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life.

I believe that in order to come face to face with the God of this universe, we need to step out of everything we feel is comfortable or accepted as the norm. We need to love those who have no one. We need to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Don’t look at someone as being different because their skin color isn’t the same as ours. Don’t judge the teenage girl with a baby. Don’t ignore the homeless or the ones who have nothing to eat.

God isn’t some mean person holding a magnifying glass over an ant hill. He is open and available for us to cultivate a magnificent relationship with, and He desires that with each and every one of us. My prayer is that we have the courage and faith to follow Jesus no matter what the cost and regardless of what we have to sacrifice in order to accomplish that goal. Let’s stop being a spectator to what is happening all over the world, and let’s jump headlong into the battle.

Where is God? I will let you decide that for yourself. If God is present, we will see His amazing power. If He’s not, then we are no different from the rest of the world.

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

It’s Going To Cost Something


Short and sweet today. Since last week, I started reading back through the book of Acts. Some awesome stuff in there. Here are my thoughts from the reading today.

For awhile in Acts, the new movement that seemed to be taking Jerusalem by storm was very popular. Then something changed. Stephen challenged the religious leaders of that time, told them they were responsible for killing Jesus, and they stoned him to death. Stephen became the first Christian martyr in history. Phillip went and preached in Samaria. Jews hated the Samaritans. He was also instrumental in converting an Ethiopian official. The Christian movement, the early church, began to break down religious and racial barriers and people started to understand that it would involve a risk, it would cost them something, to follow Jesus. Many didn’t want anything to do with it. When it was hip and cool, everyone wanted a piece of the action.

It’s when things get real, and we understand that following Jesus is going to cost us something…that’s when we have to make a choice.

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

If These Walls Could Speak


I was talking with a One7 girl the other day and she was telling me more things about her life and the stuff she goes through. Her room is where she goes when nothing makes sense. It’s where she cries, laughs, prays, and tries to find hope. Everything she told me inspired these lyrics. It’s called If These Walls Could Speak.

If These Walls Could Speak
© 2013 Chris Martin

(verse one)

Another night of sadness, I whisper a silent prayer
I close the door, turn out the light, and hope You’re still there
Tired of feeling alone and unable to find a reason to live
Have I gone so far even You can’t forgive

In the darkness of my solitude, I trade the knife for a pen
With shaking hands, words on paper soothe my soul again

(chorus)

If these walls could speak, they would share a million stories
They’ve seen me try without fail, to exchange my pain for glory
If these walls could speak, they would paint quite the picture
Of a girl who can’t get it right, inspiration mixed with failure

They’ve watched me cry every night for a family I can’t save
Names etched with pencil, where paint has begun to fade
They’ve witness the hurt, the reason behind my scars
They listen as I cry out to God, with questions from a broken heart

If these walls could speak

(verse two)

The emptiness I feel is nothing compared to what You lost
When you gave us love, Your only son to die on the cross
As my tears start to fall, outside the sun begins to rise
A weary heart is thankful just to make it through the night

I take a deep breath, pray for courage to face the day
I look to You for hope, I look to You to guide my way

(repeat chorus)

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

Have a blessed day,

Chris

Welcome to My Story


Last night, I dreamed about one of our One7 girls facing persecution and physical abuse at home. Sadly, this is not only a dream for most, but a vivid reality each and every day. I woke up at 4:30 with these lyrics swirling around my head and knew I had to write them down. This is called My Story.

My Story
© 2013 Chris Martin

(verse one)

Sitting here alone, the silence and the shadows speak to me and are my only friends
Between the lines, no one reads the words I write about my life and stories with no end
Tearstains on my pillow, a constant reminder of the night before
Bruises and scars, I don’t think I can take this anymore

(chorus)

Welcome to my story, a world that lingers just behind my smile
I don’t know if you want to, but I was hoping we could talk for a little while
There’s so much that I want to say, but the words get lost, please help me understand
They keep telling me God is in control, but I just can’t see His plan

My life doesn’t matter to anyone, I’ve known nothing but pain
For once I want to dance in the sun, but my world is darkened with rain
Don’t I deserve something different, I want the chance to have a better life
The knife on the floor, blade by the sink, they call my name tonight

Welcome to my story

(verse two)

In the silence, I cry out for help, but no one hears my voice
In the mirror, a stranger looks back and tells me I have no choice
No friends at school, nothing but endless rejection at home
In this world so full of people, why do I always feel alone

(repeat chorus)

(bridge)

I dig deep inside and find the strength to stand
Open the blinds, let the sun pour in, wipe the tears with my hand

(final chorus)

Welcome to my story, a world that lingers just behind my smile
I’m not sure if I can, but I need to talk to God for a little while
I’m so far from perfect, I know I am going to fall
Thankful for the grace and mercy of a savior, His blood covers it all

Welcome to my story