Power and Love


Wow. What a life changing week.

My wife and I had the amazing opportunity to attend our first ever School of Power and Love. You can check out the site HERE. This one was held in Wilmington NC, about seven hours from where we live. There were several speakers, but the one we wanted to hear was Todd White. We have been watching Todd and also Dan Mohler on YouTube for quite some time now. They speak straight up truth right from the Bible. It’s awesome. Search for them. You won’t be disappointed.

Todd had four sessions, so we attended each of those. The purpose of these schools is to not only teach about love and spiritual gifts, but after every session, we go out into the community and walk it out. Christianity is a lifestyle, not just a prayer to get us into Heaven.

After the morning session on Thursday, my wife and I went out with a group of people, because it was our first time. It didn’t go as we expected, so there isn’t anything to tell from that one. Once the afternoon session was over, my wife and I decided to just go on our own and see what would happen. We chose to visit Walmart. We walked around for quite awhile, feeling timid and somewhat frightened. It’s hard to just walk up to a total stranger and talk to them about Jesus.

We spotted an employee walking around with a brace on her wrist that covered some of her hand. We dialed in and decided to stalk her around the store. She actually moved pretty quick, so we knew there was nothing wrong with her legs. We were still feeling hesitant until we saw a small group of people from the conference talking and praying with a man in a motorized cart. My wife was like, “Alright. Let’s do this.”

We chased the employee down, her name is Jonnie, and said we noticed she had a brace on her hand. We asked what had happened and why she was wearing it. We told Jonnie that God loved her so much, and then asked if we could pray for her wrist. She was so shocked, but very happy to let us pray. It was awesome. She was having a lot of pain from arthritis in her joints. We prayed healing over her and she hugged us both afterwards. She said there just aren’t any nice people around anymore. We believe in faith that Jonnie’s wrist was healed and she has no more pain.

We attended the morning session on Friday, and then went out on our own once again. We drove about fifteen minutes down to Carolina Beach. The idea was to not only walk for a bit, but minister to anyone we came across. It was an absolute ghost town. We walked for about an hour, then decided to visit the closest mall we could find. We walked around a while as we did in Walmart, then finally spotted a woman sitting alone on a bench. We discussed it for a bit, and then decided to go and talk to her.

My wife sat down beside the woman and just said hi, and that we felt God wanted us to talk to her. She smiled politely, but definitely didn’t look very enthusiastic. My wife then asked if we could pray for her, and that’s when she grabbed her purse and pulled it in tight to her body. She told us that she prayed for herself and she was fine. It was pretty funny. We just told her that God loved her, and we moved on.

I noticed a guy standing by a kiosk and knew instantly I was to talk to him. We walked in a circle around some other stands, and then I just walked up and shook his hand. I told him I felt compelled to approach and let him know how much God loved him. His name was Ray. Turns out, Ray is a Christian and his wife and two kids just moved to Wilmington from Charlotte. We talked for a bit, and then asked if he needed prayer. He asked us to pray that he would have more fire for God’s Word, and also for his job situation. We prayed, hugged it out, then went on our way. It was so cool.

We left the mall and headed down to the historic district in Wilmington. Down by the water front. We parked and walked over to where we could get a picture of the battle ship there. I noticed a homeless man and woman eating some pizza as we crossed the street. We were going to take a selfie, but the woman hurried over to us and asked if we wanted her to take the pic. After she took the picture, she asked if we had any spare change. I said we never carry cash or anything, but then I asked if there was anything going on in her life we could pray for. She was so surprised, but instantly smiled and her face lit up. She said her name was Teresa, and she and her husband have been battling some kind of compensation for one of his injuries. We prayed for her right there, and for the whole situation. She hugged us both, and thanked us.

We left downtown, and went in search of an Outback Steakhouse, so we could eat before the main meeting at the school. We got in and seated, already planning on blessing our server in some way or another. They are stuck with us for quite a while, so they would have no choice. Our server was Stacie, and she was very nice. When she came to refill my tea, I simply asked her how her day was going. She didn’t reply at first, and then suddenly she said, “Oh. You’re talking to me?” She told us later that no one ever asks that or even tries to engage in conversation.

She said on her way to work, her husband had called and said he was going to have to get a sonogram on his liver. His foot had been hurting, and when he went to the doctor, it went way differently than anticipated. They said he may have even had a very slight heart attack. They are in their 40’s. She was shaken up by the news and wasn’t doing too well trying to work. She stopped, and then said “I bet you wished you hadn’t asked, huh?” And she laughed. I shook my head (my wife was already crying, and I was tearing up) and said, “No. Quite the opposite. Is it okay if we pray with you?”

She hesitated a couple of seconds, then her bottom lip began to quiver as she started to cry. She said of course, so right there in the booth, we prayed for her. Just that peace would invade their lives and things like that. Prayed blessings over her and her husband. It was awesome. We were all crying. She was blown away that we would care that much to take the time to pray with her. We knew God wasn’t done. He told us to bless her abundantly with the tip. My wife handed Stacie the bill after we had filled in the tip, and told her that God wanted her to know how much He loves her.

We walked outside to our car, and she came running out after us when she realized how much we left for her. She said she felt bad because she told us all that, and we left such a huge tip out of pity. We told her it wasn’t pity, but it was because of God’s amazing love for her. We repeated that God loves her and her husband so much. She hugged us both again, crying, and returned to work.

It was such an amazing week. We have come away from this with a completely changed view on everyone around us. There are hurting, dying people everywhere in search of hope. If we aren’t willing to get over ourselves and walk out the Gospel, who will? This is lifestyle Christianity. You don’t have to wait for God to direct you to someone. Start with the person in front of you.

It’s time to get into the game, Church. Let’s just say “Yes”, and run the race.

A Christian perspective on Halloween


I’ve changed. I see things so differently now. That’s what happens when we become born again and allow ourselves to be pottered by our Father. Our hearts change. Our way of thinking changes. It’s awesome.

We start to see people, not for who they are standing in front of us, but we see them as God does. We see their value, worth, and potential. We see them as being created in God’s very own image. We see a life that has purpose.

Halloween is the one night of the year when hundreds of people you haven’t met come knocking on your door. Yes, most are children in search of candy, but think about it. How often do people walk up onto your front porch and ring your doorbell? I don’t see witches, sorcery, and darkness. I see opportunity.

I used to slam churches for having Trunk or Treat in their parking lots. I would say things like “They are still celebrating Halloween and worshiping the devil” and “They just change the name to make it sound better” or “God is up there shaking His head in dismay.”

Please punch me in the face. I have since repented for being so…well…judgmental.

I personally don’t believe there are different levels of love. Telling someone God loves them and He thinks they are awesome has the same effect as praying for a cripple, and they climb out of a wheelchair. It’s all about motive. To love someone means we show them unconditional love, without expecting any certain thing to happen. We love. The Holy Spirit moves. Maybe in that moment. Maybe later when that person is sitting in their car holding a gun to their head. We may never know how our words and actions impact someone.

How can we be a light to the world if we only interact with those inside a church building?

I’m not saying sacrifice animals and play with Ouija boards. I’m saying don’t turn away Iron Man when he rings your bell and holds out his hands for candy. Tell him how much Jesus loves him while you’re handing him a Snickers bar.

As Christians, we have to get over this mindset that if we accidentally see, hear, or touch evil, we become contaminated. That’s just fear, and fear isn’t of God. Jesus lives inside of us. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. It says that in my Bible. Do you really think He is repulsed by someone who isn’t born again? Do you think that God is up there covering His ears when someone is swearing? Come on, that sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? But yet, that’s what we do.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and pharisees. He laid hands on the lame, blind, and diseased. He showed mercy and forgiveness to prostitutes and murderers. People touched His cloak and became healed. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Dressing up and trekking around the neighborhood in search of candy isn’t going to damn you from ever walking through the pearly gates of Heaven. Our goal isn’t to just say a prayer and get into Heaven anyway. Our purpose on this planet is to manifest the image of God and love others. Unconditionally.

Love the cashier at Walmart who is constantly complaining about his/her life.

Love that person who stands behind you at the bank huffing and puffing because it’s taking too long.

Love the obnoxious customer who says you have no idea what you’re doing.

And love every Hulk, Minion, Zombie, Witch, Captain America, and Vampire that graces your doorstep tomorrow evening.

Instead of locking our doors, turning out the lights, and hiding in a dark corner clutching our Bibles, let’s see them how God does.

Lovable. Reachable. Redeemable.

My love/hate relationship with October


I love Fall. It’s, hands down, my favorite of all the seasons. Football on a lazy Sunday. The crisp air that kisses your face when you step outside. Sweatshirts and jeans. The crunch of colorful leaves underneath your shoes. The steady crackling of a warm fire. S’mores under a darkened sky illuminated with brilliant stars. The intoxicating smell of pumpkin oozing out from every coffee shop within a three mile radius.

It’s the time of year when the windows can remain open almost the entire day. The steady sound of leaf blowers in the distance. The blanket of bright red and dazzling yellow that envelopes the mountains. The plume of breath that escapes your lips on the really cold mornings. Ahhhh…it’s so amazing in the Fall.

October is an incredible month, because I married the love of my life back in 1999. I was the guy who said he would never settle down and get married. Now, nearly 15 years and two kids later, I am blessed more than I could have ever dreamed.

It’s also a month marked by the everlasting stain of loss.

On October 14 2008, I lost my Dad. Hard to believe it’s been that long. I’ve changed allot during those years. I’ve grown spiritually, and many of the views and beliefs I used live by have radically shifted perspectives. For quite a while after Dad’s passing, I questioned God. I blamed God. I wondered how a God who is supposed to be love could rip my father away from us. Now I know the truth.

God didn’t take my Dad.

He received him, yes. But He did not take him.

The Bible is very clear that satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The very same scriptures also point out that all GOOD things come from above. People will always go immediately to Job and quote “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” Job honestly believed God was doing all those things to him, when in fact, He wasn’t at all. I don’t believe God is sitting up there playing games with our faith. It would be very hard to trust someone who says they love you, but at the same time makes you suffer. How could you ever trust someone like that?

One of satan’s biggest accomplishments is causing believers to blame God for everything. He wants us to be in a state of confusion when it comes to trusting God. He hopes we step into our secret place not with boldness, but with a divided heart. Part of it loving God, and the other part wondering why God is causing bad things to happen to us. Think about all the horrible things that have happened in your life. The stuff you blamed God for, or at the very least figured God was allowing to happen to teach you something. Wouldn’t your relationship with Him be even more incredible if you just let it go and realized there is an enemy roaming this earth trying to destroy you?

I expect many of you will not agree with my last two paragraphs, and that’s okay. I’m not here to debate and argue about these things. What you believe is entirely between you and God. As Christians, it’s our job to love people, pray for people, and speak truth when we can. We aren’t here to beat people in the head with a Bible and accuse them of having false beliefs. We weren’t created by God to fight with people. Jesus paid much too high a price for that. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction and repentance. We sow seeds. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to water those seeds. But we may never see them bloom into fruition.

I had the great blessing and opportunity of having an amazing earthly father. He was never shown love from his own father, but that didn’t carry over to me at all. I knew without a doubt that Dad loved me. He was my friend, my golf partner, and the man I went to for advice and guidance when I was growing up. There are memories, good memories, locked away in the vault of my mind that only myself and family will ever know about. Moments that were never documented on Facebook or Twitter. Images that will never see the scrolling pages of Instagram.

Sometimes we just need to create a memory for ourselves, and not ruin it with likes, shares, and hashtags.

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

Why religion doesn’t work


I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this post. Some thoughts have been swirling around inside my head all weekend, so this is an attempt to write them out.

My heart is burdened for the lost. Earlier this year, I wrote a post entitled The But Stops Here. You can read it if you like, but the main point is that we put too many conditions on our love for others. “I love you, but…”

We, as Christians, should be known for our love. Unfortunately, we are known more for what we stand against than Who we stand for. We are quick to point out the faults of others before we even show them love. We expect people to change before we are willing to love them. We love others when they are doing good, but when they do something to “hurt” us, we retract that love.

We can attend church every Sunday. We can start up home groups targeted to specific individuals. We can pray. We can read the Bible. We can quote all the required scriptures. We can feed the hungry. We can shelter the homeless. We can lift our hands in worship.

We can do all these things, but without love, it’s all a big fat zero. (1Cor 13)

Religion can do all the activities I just mentioned just to look good, check items off a list, or complete an outreach quota for the month. It’s just going through the motions of dead works.

The most sincere form of ministry and outreach will never be seen on the pages of Facebook. 

You can serve thousands of hours in the community, give millions to local ministries, and even hand out hundreds of hot meals. You can do these and saturate social media with your proof, but I don’t believe it has the same Kingdom implication as helping the homeless man on the corner by taking him to McDonald’s for a meal. And no one knows about it except him and God.

Why do we strive so hard for the approval of man? A ministry leader? A pastor? You will only receive their approval if you’re doing things to make them happy. I have experienced this first hand. That’s why I’m done trying to please man. I won’t be standing in front of any one man on judgement day. God created me in His image. Man didn’t. God sent Jesus to die on a Cross for me. Man didn’t. I will love others, but not try and please them.

Pastors and leaders are very important, but they are mere men. We can’t forget that. Jesus is our ultimate authority.

Our approval was determined long ago when God created us. Our value was sealed when the blood of Jesus ran down the old rugged cross to reconcile us once again to a Father who longed to have His children back.

We can’t avoid showing love to someone because they swear.

We can’t avoid showing love to someone because they use drugs.

We can’t avoid showing love to someone because they are gay.

We can’t avoid showing love to someone because they refuse to attend church.

We can’t avoid showing love to someone because they had an abortion.

Why doesn’t religion work? Because it is completely void of love.

Jesus first. Everything else second


Recently, a youth on my Facebook friends list posted a picture of himself holding a gun with some swearing in his status. He just happened to be wearing a shirt from the ministry we used to be a part of in Charlotte. Several people immediately started jumping on his case about the shirt, and how bad it looked for him to take that picture, post those words, and wear a ministry shirt.

Let me backtrack a little. This kid is no longer a part of the ministry. He was in Charlotte for quite some time, but is now living once again in Chicago. Like many of the youth we used to work with, he struggles with the usual issues of life. Peer pressure. Drugs. Alcohol. Girls. He was doing good while living in Charlotte, but once he moved back home, things went back to how they used to be.

I commented on the picture by just asking how he was doing. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. I didn’t mention the swearing, the gun, or anything about the shirt. None of that mattered to me. It broke my heart that no one even cared enough to realize he desperately needs the love of Christ. Even now more than ever.

He sent me a private message, and we talked for nearly 30 minutes. It was awesome. He said no one ever just reaches out to him anymore. He’s tried talking to people, but they don’t respond. He said he even thought about trying to reach out to me a while back, but was afraid I would just ignore him. Just like everyone else. I spent that entire conversation just pouring into him with the love of Christ. I told him how much God loves him, and that he was created in God’s very own image. I let him know that it’s never too late. No one can ever go so far that they are outside of God’s reach. When we were done, he told me I had put a smile on his face, and that hadn’t happened in a long time.

The conversation made me stop and look back. We were involved with that ministry for nearly four years. We began to lose sight of whom we were living for. We began to follow man, and Jesus got moved down a few notches on the priority list. Don’t get me wrong, we were doing great things. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Caring for the widows and orphans. But, we weren’t truly doing it in love. And 1 Cor 13 talks about that.

Everything we did was ministry-focused and not Christ-focused.

That created a huge problem. A problem that exists within our culture of Christianity in general. Too often, we try and get people into our church or ministry, when we should be inviting them to Jesus.

Before you start yelling at me, I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with doing church and ministry. However, it has to be done from a motivation of love. Not to try and get more members or volunteers. Not to brag about how many service hours we’ve completed or the amount of money we’ve given to the community. Jesus said to give in secret. To not let anyone know about it. Then our Father will reward us.

When ministries and churches give, and shout it out to the world, they have already received their reward. (This isn’t my philosophy. It’s straight from the Bible. From the mouth of Jesus.) It doesn’t matter if everyone knows what we’re doing or giving. God knows. That’s all that matters.

I urge you to take a look at where you are right now. Dig deep and uncover your true motivation. Jesus did everything in and from a motivation of love. Never self. Never to raise money. Never to become popular or trendy. Never with anything in mind but the needs of a lost individual standing directly in front of Him.

Let’s make Jesus first, and everything else second.

Full Circle


Nearly fifteen years ago, I stood with trembling knees inside a church nestled among the flowing mountains of Franklin, North Carolina. I looked into the soft brown eyes of a girl who wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. When she spoke the words “I will”, my heart skipped several beats. It was the beginning of a journey that had been predestined before the very foundations of the earth were ever set into place.

A journey stocked full of ups and more than its share of downs, but one that has plodded steadily along. We’ve endured some immensely difficult times, as well as shared in some of the most joyous moments. Marriage isn’t a destination to seek after. It’s a lifetime of growing.

Recently, we experienced a life change like no other. For almost four years, we had immersed ourselves in a youth ministry based out of Charlotte, NC. It was a 24/7, 365, full throttle, non-stop, warp speed kind of lifestyle. We formed incredible relationships with both the youth and some amazing volunteers who were involved. As awesome as it was being a part of ministry in the depths of inner city Charlotte, our hearts began to feel troubled. While 100% of our time was focused on the youth and families of the ministry, what was happening with our own children? Our marriage. Our relationship with God. We didn’t feel God would bless us with a spouse and children, only to neglect them. A fifteen minute devotion at the end of each night was just not cutting it.

You can feed the poor, shelter the homeless, and take care of orphans and widows, but still not have an intimate relationship with Father God. 

All of those are vital, much needed, and part of the Gospel, but if they are merely performed through works, and not by a leading of Holy Spirit from a love motivation, then it’s all worthless. I Corinthians 13 paints a clear picture of what true love is.

There seems to be a push in this generation for everyone to quit their jobs, sell all of their possessions, and move to some long forgotten country or into the hard-pressed areas of inner city USA. God is indeed calling people to do that. There is no question. He’s just not calling everyone.

We don’t need to join a church, ministry, or any religious organization in order to live out the Gospel. Our lives, each and every day, are a ministry to those around us. As long as we are truly born again and become love. We need to seek God first and foremost above everything else.

If our relationship with Him is not on point and rooted in complete denial of self and love for our Father, how can we possibly offer anything to a lost and dying world?

We can’t blindly follow leaders, preachers, and well-known men/women of God. We are commanded in the Bible to test everything. A couple examples are 1 John 4:1 and I Thessalonians 5:21. I feel that too often we get so wrapped up in the aura of our leaders, we forget they are not our ultimate authority. God has placed them in our lives for a reason, maybe even for a period of time, but He is our Father. He loves us like no one on this earth ever could. He doesn’t demand our loyalty in exchange for love. He is the One who breathed life into our dust-derived bodies. He already decided our value and worth when He sent Jesus to hang on a cross.

So here we are, once again nestled deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. This is where it all began for us. Where we met, got married, and had our first child. We are completely at peace knowing we are following the lead of our Heavenly Father, no matter what people may say or think about us. We look forward to the circumstances, encounters, and relationships that God will bring across our path. We will spend every moment in sync with the One who created us to live out the Gospel.

Even though we know our journey is far from over, we rest securely in the arms of Papa. We seek His face and desire to know more of His word. We drop to our knees in the secret place and join with Him in communion.

We follow Him one moment at a time.

He has brought us Full Circle.

 

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

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

First Five Things


An awesome friend of mine had a great idea on his blog. He started a page entitled First Five Things and invited readers to submit the first five things they would tell a new believer.

Excerpt from his page – “I wondered one day. What would be the first five things I would tell to a new believer?  Then it hit me.  Everyone would have a different answer to this question.  So I started collecting them.  What would be your five?  And who else do you think I should ask?”

You can visit his blog HERE.

I encourage you to click on the above link and explore his blog. He has some amazing articles.

Here are my First Five Things:

1) Truly following Christ isn’t the pretty, safe, cushy, organized, perfectly packaged life that so many churches in America today are saying  it’s like. Following Christ is hard. Jesus said we are to die to ourselves daily and follow Him. That is the complete opposite of our human nature. We are born into this world with our own needs foremost in our minds. His wants and desires for our life need to come before our own. We need to be willing to give up our hopes and dreams if He tells us to. Doesn’t mean He will. We just have to be willing. Am I saying churches are bad? Of course not. We just have to be careful not to worship a pastor instead of our true Daddy.

2) Just because we accept Christ as our personal savior, it doesn’t mean our poo stopped stinking. We are, and never will be, better than anyone else. We are human, and we are going to fail miserably over and over. And guess what? That’s okay. Jesus allowed Himself to be barbarically murdered on that Cross, so we wouldn’t have to try and live a perfect life. He knew it was impossible for us to accomplish. He desires to have a relationship with us, dirty laundry and all. Besides, it’s in our moments of uncertainty and weakness where God reveals His amazing power and strength. Satan will constantly try and use the guilt over your sin to drag you down. You have to stand strong and keep punching him in the face.

3) Get out of your comfort zone. When we push ourselves to do things we wouldn’t normally want to do, God shows up. Big time. Don’t like to speak in front of people, and just don’t know what to say? Start talking, God will provide the words. Feel a nudging to give money to someone in need, but you’re afraid you can’t pay the bills? Give the money, God will provide for the bills. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is impossible for our God.

4) Don’t turn your Christian walk into a methodical, robotic set of rituals. Throw away the checklist that says you have to go to church, read your Bible, or pray a certain amount of times each day and during the week. All of those things are awesome, but not when it comes to a point where we feel guilty for not doing one of them. When we start trying to contain the Holy Spirit in a rigid set of habits, we are no better off than the Pharisees. Our relationship should not be with a book, a building, or a mantra we have to repeat on a consistent basis. Our relationship is with the Creator of the universe. Yes, of course read your Bible. But don’t let that knowledge become a replacement for the Holy Spirit. If you can’t memorize a billion verses, it’s all good. You now have the Living Word inside of you. Yes, go to church and fellowship with other believers. Just don’t forget that Jesus came for the sick, poor, lost, broken, dying, lame, prostitutes, drug dealers, murderers, pedophiles, and the homeless. Ones who would never set foot inside the four walls of a church. Get out there and be a light.

5) Finally, be Christ to others. He came to serve, not to be served. He loved the ones in society whom everyone else avoided. We are all learning as we go. No one has all the answers. If we could understand God, that would make Him no bigger than us. Why would we want to serve, and live for someone that small and puny? If someone tells you they have it all figured out, run the opposite direction. Don’t ever put all of your hope in a human. They will always let you down. Put all of your hope, trust, and faith in Christ. And don’t ever forget that you’ll never walk alone. He is always there.

Chris Martin