When a Soldier Cries (re-post)


I wrote this military tribute last year, and posted it on my blog. If you strip away all the politics, all the speeches, and all the nonsense, what are you left with? Boots on the ground. There will always be men and women fighting wars, spending many nights away from their families. I’m not into politics at all, but anyone who sacrifices what these brave souls do, has my respect. Please share with anyone you know who is serving, or has served in our military. Tell them thank you, even though that isn’t truly enough.

Here are a couple more I’ve written in the past:

The Letter

Thank You Isn’t Enough

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

Wrecked


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

I experienced one such moment about three years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed day

Dear America


This is the hardest letter I’ve ever written. I hate to address this to such a broad audience, but it’s the only way I can possibly get my point across. As we all know, Thanksgiving is coming up, which means Christmas is right around the corner as well. I beg you to appreciate what you have and all the people in your life. Do not take for granted those things that so easily are, and remember the privilege you have of spending quality time with the ones you love.

I haven’t seen my wife in six months, three weeks, two days, fifteen hours, thirty-seven minutes, and let’s see, twenty seconds now. I spend my nights in bed alone, if not in a hole somewhere on the opposite side of the world. Instead of drifting off to sleep to the sound of my wife’s steady breathing, I lie awake as explosions echo all around me. The crack of continuous gunfire haunts my dreams, if I even fall asleep. I’m hungry, thirsty, and exhausted.

I was able to watch my boy take his first steps, but only through Skype. I had to find a towel so I could wipe the tears off of the laptop keyboard. I tried to hide them from my wife, but she noticed. She didn’t say anything. I’ve only spoken with her three times since I have been deployed. Three times. I know she wonders every day if someone will show up at our front door with the horrifying news that I was killed in action. Do you know how that makes me feel knowing she has to endure that? I want to hold her in my arms and tell her that everything will be alright, even though I can’t be certain of that myself.

I want to see my son running toward me with arms outstretched as I walk into the house. I want to hear his joyful cries of “Daddy!”. I want to go outside and kick a soccer ball around. Maybe throw a baseball back and forth. Push him on the swing. Chase him around the playground. I want to be the father that is always there for him. He’s too young to understand why I never come home at night for dinner, or tuck him into bed and read a story.

This year, when you’re sitting around the table, surrounded by family and friends, please don’t forget about the mother and young son who miss their husband and father. Say a prayer for those who are on foreign soil sacrificing their freedom for a greater cause. While you’re eating turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, please remember there are those quietly eating MRE’s with a rifle by their side.

When you’re standing in line for a week, in the freezing cold, rain, and wind to buy toys for Christmas, think about me as I stand guard over my brothers and sisters here on the battlefront. I like when it rains. It hides the tears that run down my face from thinking about the ones I miss so much.

When you’re fighting over the last TV at Best Buy, stop and think about me fighting for your freedom. We are under constant threat from bombs, gunfire, and air attacks. One of our own was killed last week when a young boy walked up to our convoy and opened fire with an assault rifle. Parker had a wife and two kids, both girls. They won’t have their daddy to walk them down the aisle on their special day. We can’t trust anyone over here. They use children to get close thinking we don’t suspect them. We have to treat everyone as the enemy.

It’s not easy here, I won’t even pretend it is. I consider it an honor to fight for the greatest country in the world, but there are times when I feel selfish. There are moments when I miss my family so much, I would do almost anything to see and hold them. Holidays are the absolute hardest days to get through. As I stare at the picture of my wife and son, I touch their faces and pray that they know how much I love them. I look up at the stars and wonder if they are looking at the same ones.

I hope you don’t take this letter the wrong way. It’s not meant to inflict guilt, and it wasn’t written in anger. I just want you to never forget about the men and women who are over here fighting and won’t be able to spend time with their loved ones during the holidays. I’m a Marine, husband, and father with shoulders that are wide and strong. They can handle the blood, the death, and the pain. It’s my honor to fight for each and every one of you. All I ask for in return is that you say a prayer for us tonight. Pray that we make it back to our loved ones. Pray that we don’t lose sight of our mission. Pray that my wife will not live in constant fear. Pray that my son will remember who I am.

Most of all, pray that we will honor the sacrifices made by those who came before us, the ones who shed their blood long ago, so we could carry on the fight.

Semper Fi

Sincerely,

A soldier fighting for you

Chris Martin

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.

 

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

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

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

The American Soldier


Since before and after the birth of our freedom, men and women have given their lives in sacrifice for this country. I won’t lie, our country is in a world of hurt, full of sin and despair. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that there are still brave men and women today who answer the call and put on that uniform. I wrote this for them and their families…for those brave souls presently serving and who have ever served in the military. It’s called The American Soldier.

The American Soldier
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

In the fading sun, you can see them standing tall
The fearless men and women, unafraid to risk it all
So far away, they fight even when it doesn't make sense
While we sleep inside the safety of our white picket fence

A father sits in silence, a wrinkled picture in his hand
With each tear that slowly falls, he prays they understand
They are his world, but sometimes life keeps them apart
He gently touches each face, as the pain consumes his heart

A mother holds her breath, smoke and chaos all around
When the bomb exploded, it knocked them all to the ground
An innocent boy, caught in the middle, lying broken and all alone
She picks up her rifle and thinks about her son back home

Each day goes by, one more closer to the end
Sometimes they aren't even sure, if they will make it home again
They cast aside the fear and doubt, there's no time to be afraid
If duty calls for sacrifice, they will wear honor all the way to the grave

A son trembles as the darkened sky flashes under the attack
He knows they're counting on him, to always have their back
With determination that stems from the very soul of a warrior
He continues forward, step by step behind his brothers

A daughter holds a young girl's hand, tries to gently calm her fears
So many children wander with nowhere to go, dirty faces washed with tears
She holds her close and whispers that everything will be alright
Nothing will stop her from keeping the little one safe tonight

Without hesitation, they leave everything behind for the cause
They rush headlong into the battle, when most might stop and pause
They give up the comforts of an ordinary life
And lay it all down, in service, to protect our rights

From wars that have come and gone, the crimson stains run deep
Memories of the ones we lost, now resting in eternal sleep
Their legacy lives inside the very backbone of the red, white, and blue
Raise Old Glory high, everything they sacrificed was for me and you

Through the history of time, men and women have always answered the call
Promised to never give up, even when some of them fall
They took an oath to defend the constitution against enemies of any kind
But no matter what the cost, they will never leave another soldier behind

When you kneel at your bed and say those prayers tonight
Remember the ones, a world away, who continue to fight
Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters join together as one
They carry the cry of freedom into the shadows of a fading sun

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

Daily Thought (May 30, 2013)


Today is Thursday, May 30 2013.

Haven’t posted this in a while, and since Monday was Memorial Day, I figured it was a good time. This is something I wrote several years ago in honor of the men and women who are serving and have served our country. It’s called Thank You Isn’t Enough.

Thank You Isn’t Enough.

It’s a typical morning. My dreams dissolve into the sound of two little girls running up and down the hallway. Birds chirp outside the window as golden sunlight trickles in through the half-opened blinds. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I greet my wife with a kiss and stumble into the kitchen. With the press of a button, frothy hot liquid pours into my mug. The aroma brings a smile to my face.

Thousands of miles away, a young man sits on the damp earth, trembling. Bombing continued throughout the night, shaking the very ground beneath him. His eyes burn from lack of sleep. He grips the M16 rifle across his lap with both hands as his thoughts drift away to a normal life he can barely remember. Tears dampen his face as he recalls the last words his mother spoke to him right before he left.

After hugging the wife and kids, I walk downstairs to my office, carefully sipping my coffee. I sit in a very comfortable chair waiting for my computer to boot up so I can begin my work day. I look outside and watch in wonder as the day comes alive. Reaching beyond the trees, a hawk soars across the crisp blue sky that seems to go on forever. He dips toward the horizon where sky reaches down and kisses the earth.

A husband and father of two glances up, wishing the sun would break through the smoke and haze that surrounds him every moment. He ties the laces on his boots as he prepares for another day of work. He has been selected to go on patrol. They will search the face of everyone they meet, looking for signs of friend or foe. Two weeks ago, one of their own was killed when a thirteen year old boy tossed a grenade across their path. He pulls out a picture of his wife and two little girls and imagines what it would be like to hug and kiss them.

I answer the phone with a smile. It’s the tenth call of the day. I talk jovially about the weather and the customer’s favorite football team. After twenty minutes of troubleshooting, the problem is solved and we end the call. I document everything in my ticket and decide it’s time to take a break.

A mother of four speaks softly, but with authority as she directs several families to leave the building. Within minutes there will be nothing left but a pile of rubble and ash. It’s a suspected safe house for anti-American extremists and it’s targeted for destruction. The innocent women and children are being ushered out before the order is given to launch the attack. She urges them forward; the gun in her hand speaks louder than her words. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve put in my eight hours and now it’s time to go upstairs and create everlasting memories with my family. There is a choice to be made. Chicken or hamburger for supper. We decide on chicken and I fire up the grill. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table eating and talking about our plans for the weekend.

A young girl, just three years out of high school stares at the scene before her. Her training never prepared her for this moment. On one side of the road, a small child screams in terror as wild dogs attack. On the other side of the road, rebel forces hold a pregnant woman at gunpoint. There is a choice to be made. Try to save the child, ignoring the fact he might be wired with explosives or go for the woman which would undoubtedly draw an onslaught of gunfire.

I lay on my bed, warm and safe, thinking about what tomorrow might bring. The children have fallen asleep after watching TV in their room. The neighborhood is quiet with only a gentle echo of crickets in the distance. In another country, far from safe or warm, men and women are giving their lives to protect the very things I take for granted on a daily basis.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Saving Private Ryan. With his dying breath, Tom Hanks pulls Matt Damon close and whispers, “Earn this.” He had just given his life so that Private Ryan could leave the war and go home to his grieving mother who had just lost three other sons.

Whether we agree with the politicians in Washington or not, we need to earn each and every second we are given by the brave men and women sacrificing their freedom so we can enjoy ours. They are the ones who allow us to sleep in peace at night. They are the ones who allow us to get up every day and earn a living. They are the ones who answer the call and drop everything to serve their country with dedication and pride.

Thank you isn’t enough.

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