The twisted Gospel


I’ve gone about one week without Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and it is amazing. I seriously doubt I will return to any of those apps. I want to keep my blog here, because I am a writer. I like to write. I want to share things that God puts on my heart, whether anyone agrees with them or not. I’m not here to argue or debate over things. The bottom line is this: Jesus paid a high price to reconcile me back to my Father. He said, she said…yeah, but…well, that’s not right… None of that stuff matters. If it’s not aligned with the heart and mind of God, I’m not interested.

The Gospel is good news.

Luke 2:10-11 says (emphasis mine):

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Somehow we have turned this message into a struggle not to sin, barely making it through life, and riding the ups and downs of our experiences. Jesus said “It is finished”, not “To be continued.” Where is the joy? Where is the hope that lost people are so desperately seeking? Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27) There is nothing that shows we are any different from the world, except that we go to church.

Here is what Christianity in this country looks like.

  1. See that you are a sinner
  2. Say this prayer (which didn’t even exist until maybe 500 years ago)
  3. You now have a ticket into Heaven
  4. Go to church

The problem with this is that we walk out of a church service, revival, or crusade and get mad at someone who cuts us off in traffic. We complain about our money, jobs, and circumstances. We argue and fight with our spouse on the way home. We are teaching our children that Christianity is just going to church.

Saying the “sinners prayer” doesn’t make us Christians. It’s a twisted form of the true Gospel.

The Gospel isn’t about being blessed by God and having our names in the book of life.

The Gospel is dying to self, picking up our cross, and following Jesus. During His time on Earth, Christ modeled the Christian life. He was entirely dead to His own flesh, and completely surrendered to love. He was love personified. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Jesus was a human man, filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in love. He said to follow Him. I know it’s possible.

We can live just as Christ did. 

Mark 16:14-18 (better known as the Great Commission) says:

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

It doesn’t say the signs that follow believers are: complaining, division, conditional love, hypocrisy, judgement, condemnation, pride, and selfishness.

Just the very fact that we complain shows we are concerned with our self. Which, if I read my Bible correctly, means we aren’t dead to self, which means we aren’t following Christ. He said to die to self.

It’s impossible to walk in love if we are still holding on to our self. 

Here are the attributes of love from 1 Cor 13. I love the Message Bible version.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

All of these attributes are the complete, polar opposite of self.

Satan believes that we love our selves more than we love God.

Let’s prove him wrong, and drop the twisted Gospel. Let’s die to our self, and walk in love.

The Other Guy


The miracles of Jesus, that were recorded in the four Gospels, are absolutely amazing. Often times, I think about being there with Him, in person, every day, walking side by side with our Savior in the flesh. I can’t even imagine how awesome that would have been. To see those things with our own eyes instead of just reading about them 2,000 years later. Seeing Him walk on water would have blown my mind. I’ve read this story and heard people talk about it a lot over the years. The focus is always on Jesus and the fact that He, well, walked on the water. I want to talk about the other guy.

Jesus wasn’t the only man to feel water beneath His feet that day. One of the disciples, the one that has always intrigued me more than the rest, decided to give it a shot as well. The other disciples were freaking out in the boat thinking a ghost was walking toward them, so Peter speaks up. He says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” I’ve always liked Peter for several reasons. He was impulsive, passionate, and a person we can all connect with. He screwed up as much or more than we all do today. I can picture Jesus shaking His head and smiling at Peter on many occasions. “Oh, Peter. What have you got yourself into this time?”

Jesus calls Peter out and tells him to come on over. Peter steps out of the boat and into the raging sea. The Bible says the boat was “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it”, so it seems pretty clear that they were in the middle of a storm. Not that stepping out of a boat in perfectly calm weather would be any less insane.

I wonder what Peter thought at first when he was walking on the water. I, more than likely, would have soiled myself from the rush of defying the very structure of reality. I mean, come on, walking on water? Had that phrase even crossed anyone’s mind until that very moment? I also wonder why the others didn’t pile out of the boat and give it a try as well. Maybe it all happened too fast, I don’t know. I’m sure the ones still in the boat were nearly drowning from water pouring into their gaping mouths. Maybe by the time they realized the walking on water thing was actually happening, Peter had already reached Jesus.

Imagine standing on the surface of a sea, staring directly into the eyes of Jesus. Peter had just done the impossible. He stood before Jesus having completely trusted his Lord and Savior. And Jesus rewarded that faith by allowing His friend to join Him on the waves.

Then it happened. Peter had an “Oh crap” moment. He looked around at the wind and the waves and realized what he was actually doing. He began to reason in his head that he shouldn’t be able to walk on water. He became afraid. The moment of uncompromising faith, that had led him out of the boat, crumbled into doubt, and he began to sink. I almost drowned once when I was little, but I don’t remember it. I’ve heard people talk about nearly drowning, and it’s not something I would ever want to experience, and remember.

I can’t imagine how terrified Peter must have been when he started to sink. He was a fisherman who spent the majority of his time on the water. I’m sure he heard stories all the time about people drowning. He may have even witnessed some of them. He knew the dangers of life on the water, and the consequences of being out of the boat. He cries out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus does.

One of the things that strikes me about this story is what Jesus said to Peter. “You of little faith” being part of it. So Peter, a mortal human, who was prone to constantly making mistakes and running off half-cocked, just defied the very laws of gravity by walking on top of the water, and Jesus says he has “little faith”. I’ve often looked at that to be discouraging, but not anymore.

Here’s why. How many times do we feel like we just don’t have enough faith? We feel as if we’re doing something wrong because we can’t see Jesus doing amazing things around us. We beat ourselves up because of it, but we need to stop doing that. Yes, there are people who have more faith than others, but that doesn’t mean we’re a lost cause. We should look at this as encouragement to keep on trusting God and exercising our faith muscle. Continue putting our faith, no matter how small at first, in God.

Peter walked on water, and Jesus said his faith was small. There are times when we’re going to be out of the boat in the middle of a storm, but Jesus is right there. Don’t focus on everything around trying to take you under. Keep your eyes on Jesus and take His hand.

If the other guy can walk on water, what can we accomplish with our faith?

Jesus Wants the Rose


There isn’t much I can really add to this post. The message from Matt Chandler is very powerful. Jesus wants us in our current condition. He doesn’t expect us to clean up our act, and then offer ourselves to His service. Dirty, filthy rags don’t scare Him one bit.

We should also look at others the same way. Accept people for exactly who they are. Don’t put conditions on our love. Don’t judge others thinking we are any better. The Bible says Jesus died for us while we were all sinners.

Jesus wants the rose.

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

The But Stops Here


There is a huge problem with Christianity today. It feels to me as if we have built walls around our beliefs when we should be completely open and accessible. We immediately get mad, irritated, or defensive if a person shares something that contradicts what we believe. We start shouting Bible scriptures and flog them with our judgmental whips. The sad part is, we do all of this while keeping the skeletons in our own closet locked away under a veil of darkness, where no one can ever see them. What bothers me the most is the “but” mentality.

We have become a generation of Christians who can’t love others unless there are conditions. 

Love the sinner, BUT hate the sin. Of course we hate sin, but why do we feel the need to state that every time we see someone doing wrong? (I am guilty of this, by the way.) Why can’t we simply say love the sinner? See? No condition there. When we add a “but” condition to our love, I believe it weakens the act. It takes our focus off of the hurt and broken individual, and places it all on what they are doing. Are they gay? Who cares. Do they worship the devil? Doesn’t matter. Did that girl have an abortion? She needs our love, not self-righteous judgement. One of my favorite lines from a song comes from Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns. “What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines, and love like You did”. That’s powerful.

Don’t miss an opportunity to love someone because you’re too hung up on what they are doing. 

I can help you, BUT what’s in it for me? Seriously? So many today have the mentality that in order to help someone, we need something in return. Why is that? What happened to helping someone who can never pay us back? If we always expect a payoff on our love investment, we will never be able to help the poor, homeless, hungry, or naked. We might as well rip out all the pages in the Bible that talk about Jesus, and burn them. He was the ultimate example of helping those who could never return the favor. And He was completely satisfied with that. He didn’t care. He didn’t need them to do anything but accept His love, help, and healing.

I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time, BUT I’ll be praying for you. You might as well slap someone in the face. While prayer is very powerful, and an essential weapon in our arsenal, it’s not always the solution. If a family has no food in their apartment, you don’t just pray that God will provide. You drive to the freaking store and buy some food. If you don’t have the funds to buy food, ask your friends to help. Take food out of your own cupboard and give it. There is always a way. When we need something, sure we pray, but I believe we also have to be active, and not just sit back, waiting for God to do His thing.

These are just a few examples of the “but” mentality. Our love should be unconditional. No strings. No expectations. No requirements. No repayment plan. Jesus enjoyed the benefits of spending His time with God the Father in Heaven, but He lowered Himself to our standards and became human. He lived life on Earth. He allowed Himself to be hung on a tree. He took on all of our pain, fear, sin, brokenness, despair, and shame. And He did it all with no expectations for us to reciprocate.

I want to be more like Jesus. I want to love others unconditionally. For me, the but stops here.

 

Chris Martin

Nothing Left


The steady fall of rain is so peaceful. Sometimes I like to walk outside and stand there, face turned up, arms outstretched. People point and look at me strangely, but I don’t care. The drops of water falling from the sky hide the tears that are continuously running down my face. I don’t have as many friends now as I used to. They are too uncomfortable whenever they are around me. I try, but at times, it’s too hard to contain my emotions. They all must think I’m crazy and have completely lost my mind.

My husband passed away less than a year ago. We were married for a long time, and the pain of that loss has nearly ended me. My heart is a mess of broken and shattered pieces. I feel as if I’m standing in the middle of an empty room. There are no doors, no windows to allow light in. It’s a darkened world of hopelessness and fear, one that I can never escape. I can hear people outside banging on the walls trying to get in, but no one can save me. I know they mean well, but I have come to a point in my life where I don’t even want them to try and help me any longer.

The only thing left to live for is my son, and he will not live to see tomorrow. Last night, I started preparing some flowers for his grave. I couldn’t finish. The thought of losing the one piece of my heart that remains intact, reduced me to a heap of uncontrollable sobs. He is such a sweet boy. A teenager in the process of becoming a man. He doesn’t deserve to die. As a parent, there is no more of a helpless feeling than being unable to take care of our children. I nursed him, I clothed him, I held him when he was hurt. Now, I will have to bury him.

No parent should ever have to outlive their own child. It just isn’t fair. He already suffered through the loss of a father who loved him almost more than life itself. He was stepping into the role of being the man of the house. From the death bed, his father made him promise to remain strong and take care of me. Now my son is on his own death bed, but he has no one to leave me with. There is nothing left for me here. I just don’t think I can take this life anymore. In a darkened sky, my son is the bright star I can always see. He has helped me through the pain and despair more than he will ever know. The moment he takes his last breath, I will be completely and utterly alone in this world.

I whisper final goodbyes as he peacefully slips away. A crowd has gathered to pay last respects. Some of the men have volunteered to carry his body outside the city gates. I want my son to be buried beside my husband. They were separated in this life. Maybe they will reunite in the next. We walk outside. The rain has stopped, and the sun shines brightly down from a crystal clear sky. As we slowly make our way through the crowd, I barely recognize the people from my home town. I feel like a complete stranger. I’m thankful so many have come to bury my son, but I wonder if they are truly here because they care, or if it’s their duty to help lay to rest one of their own.

Outside the city gates, we are greeted by a different crowd of people. They must have realized what was going on, because they all stop and allow us to pass by. Through my tears, I watch as one of the men starts to walk toward us. Those carrying my son stop as he approaches. My eyes stare at the ground. I don’t want to share my loss with complete strangers. I hear quiet conversation, and then feel the presence of someone standing directly in front of me. Reluctantly, I raise my head.

He doesn’t appear to be much older than my son, but there is a deep maturity stirring inside those eyes. He raises his hand and gently touches my cheek. I nearly collapse to my knees as sobs begin to shudder throughout my body. People from both crowds move closer to see what’s going on. I hear myself speaking. “My son. He’s all I have left. My husband is dead. I have no one.”

He lifts my face and looks directly into my eyes. It’s the first time in my life I can ever remember feeling such love and compassion coming from another human being. He smiles, and I feel as if I am the most special person in the entire world. “Don’t cry,” he whispers.

He walks over and places his hand on the wooden board where my son lies. An expectant hush falls over the crowd. My heart beats faster as each second passes by. I have no idea what is about to happen, but there is an energy in the air that sends chills down my back. The bearers slowly lower the bier to the ground. The man kneels and gently touches my son’s forehead. “Young man. I say to you, get up!”

I hold my breath. Who is this man?

A gasp ripples across the crowd as my son slowly raises his head. The tears of suffering and loss that have streamed down my cheeks now turn into tears of unimaginable joy. The man helps my son to his feet, and I rush to over to hold him. I nearly trip in my haste, but I regain my balance. I cry out my son’s name over and over.

Confusion covers my son’s face, but when he sees me running over, he smiles. “Mother?”

I nearly tackle him as I wrap him up in my arms. The crowd erupts into cheers as everyone shouts out the man’s name. “Jesus! Jesus!”

The steady fall of rain is so peaceful. Sometimes I like to walk outside and stand there, face turned up, arms outstretched. People point and look at me strangely, but I don’t care. I am praising my Lord and Savior, and thanking Him for saving my life.

This story is based on Luke 7:11-17.

Chris Martin

Why I shouldn’t go to church


Before we even get into the heart of this blog entry, I want to throw out a disclaimer. This post is not intended to turn people away from going to church. The views I am expressing are entirely my own. I’m not trying to make some kind of anti-religious statement or declare the churches of today to be evil. I feel I’ve always been transparent with previous posts, and I don’t want to ever stop doing that. I started this blog to write. The best way I can express my thoughts is by writing them out. Not everyone is going to like my words, and that’s okay. If we all agreed on everything, how boring of a planet would this be?

I also want to say, as I have in the past, I don’t know everything. I’m no theologian with seven different Biblical degrees. I didn’t even go to college. My first job was pumping gas for people to pay for my Christian school tuition. After graduating, I just kept working. I had no desire to continue in school. Having said that, I just want to point out that you shouldn’t read my posts and immediately rearrange your whole life. If you’re a Christian reading this, you should always lean on the discernment of the Holy Spirit to determine if there is truth in my writing. Anyway, that turned into a much longer disclaimer than I had intended. Let’s move forward, shall we?

When I attend church, I get bored. My mind wanders, and to be honest, I get a lot of great blog material while sitting there. I would be a complete idiot if I believed there wasn’t anything good inside the four walls of a church. I have always said God can do anything, anywhere. He cannot be confined to a box that works the way we want. Whether we agree with everything in today’s churches or not, God can do work in them. And if He does work, it’s going to be awesome. One of my life’s most amazing moments came while my wife and I were huddled together weeping at church. It was an intimate moment that changed our lives. It wasn’t the music. It wasn’t the pastor. It wasn’t the sermon. It was God. He showed up and brought a butt load of forgiveness with Him.

But I do get bored. Everything feels like an act to me. Like we’re all at one huge pep rally, and it’s an hour and a half time slot we can utilize to escape from all of our problems and worries, and feel good. We see images on the screens, we clap and worship our Savior, we shake hands with the ones around us, once we’re instructed to do so. Sitting there among thousands of people is comfortable. It’s safe. When was the last time cops or soldiers burst in during worship and started arresting everyone? When has your pastor stood up there and said that following Jesus might actually suck? It might cost you everything and it’s not very fun? Or have you always heard that following Christ will bring you an abundant life? It will bring prosperity? It will bring you peace?

It’s a routine, just like anything else. We have been programmed to stand up, sit down, sing some songs, listen to a sermon, give money, exit in a controlled manner, then go out for lunch. There is nothing robotic or routine about the Holy Spirit. I feel like that powerful Spirit has been muffled, almost snuffed out of today’s churches, because He doesn’t fit into the structure we are so used to. How can we work Him in when we have a certain number of songs to sing or an outlined sermon that takes exactly 45 minutes to deliver? And why isn’t there more prayer inside a church?

And I’m not talking about the ones inserted at particular time slots on the bulletin. I mean honest, gut-wrenching prayer. I honestly feel that if I stood up in the middle of a sermon and started to pray for someone, I would get kicked out. Inside the four walls of a church has become more about fear, intimidation, and following rules than a spontaneous move of the Holy Spirit. We’re terrified to even go to the bathroom, because the ushers won’t allow us to return to our seat, and we’ll get banned to the overflow room. (I’m sure that’s not in every church, but it made me laugh, so I left it in here.)

In my personal experience, I’ve had more true encounters with our living God surrounded by people from different countries who have a hard time speaking English. I’ve seen Jesus show up when I’ve been with those who are homeless, smelly, dirty, uncouth, awkward, and broken. I’ve been the hands and feet of Jesus by feeding the hungry and clothing the poor. And this is all right here in my own backyard, not in some foreign country a thousand miles across the map. (There is nothing wrong with going overseas either. Jesus did say go into ALL the world.) Giving someone a hug. Telling someone you love them. Those reach people more than the bright lights and booming sound systems in our churches.

I’ve seen a lot of good come out of churches as well. Without a doubt, most put quite a bit of money into missions and outreach. There are some smaller organizations out there that might not survive without a church supporting them. God can use a church to further His kingdom, I’m not trying to dispute that. I just strongly believe that God doesn’t want to use only our money. He wants us. He wants His people to get out there and show His love to the lost.

How can the lost, lonely, broken, hurting, hopeless, hungry, naked, dirty, and searching see our light, when we’re inside a sanctuary with no windows?

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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