My name is _____, and if there was one picture that describes my former life, it would be a boat going down a river with a big hole in the bottom of the boat. I was slowly sinking in my sin and my addiction. Someone asked me what was really in the bottle of booze that I put to my mouth every day. I could only answer pain, misery, jail time, beatings and the loss of everything that was important to me.
I didn’t grow up planning to be a drunk. It was a gradual process. And the more I drank, the greater my troubles. My troubles even had troubles as I’d increase my drinking to cover up my shame and my guilt. I was broken into a hundred pieces just like Humpty Dumpty. It was only the mercy of a loving God and Mel Trotter Missions that could put me together again.
Today I can say with assurance that I’m moving in a new direction as a man with a changed spirit and a desire to follow Christ. I can do nothing without my Savior. Today I look at people with a loving heart. I am willing to take up my cross to do whatever God asks me to do. I no longer lean on my own understanding. I hope that I have learned my lesson once and for all.
I’m amazed at how quickly God can turn a man’s life around. The seed of His love can sprout immediately. Now it’s my responsibility to water that seed with God’s Word, prayer and the fellowship of other believers.
THANK GOD FOR INNER CITY MISSIONS
“Some want to live within the sound
Of church and chapel bell.
I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of Hell.”
What most of us see and deal with around us, and what the inner-city missions of the world see and deal with around them every day and night might appear to be two different worlds. In a way they are. The difference being that there in the asphalt jungles of urban spiritual warfare, there is no veneer and there are no masks for sin, as in the masked suburbias of America. Rather downtown it all hangs out for everyone to see in all of its brokenness and hopelessness. Where most of us live, sin is covered over and even polished with high standards of living that have all the appearance of success and dignity. Of course, we know better!
But “Downtown America” can be most intimidating and despairing to the inner city missionary. Only men and women of faith are faithful men and women of God. Faith is opposed to sight, and transcends sight. We read in II Corinthians 5:8,
“We walk by faith and not by sight.”
True faith warriors in Christ are often considered dreamers and fanatics by people of the world and even by church people. But only those who walk by faith in God can rise above the sneers and discouragements from the doubters. For you see, sight is filled with hows, as in “How can anything or anyone reach these people?” Faith is empty of hows, but is filled with one WHO – GOD of whom it is said in Luke 18:27,
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
The following little poem puts it so well:
“Doubt sees the obstacles,
Faith sees the way!
Doubt sees the darkest night,
Faith sees the day!
Doubt dreads to take a step,
Faith soars on high!
Doubt questions, ‘Who believes?’
Faith answers, ‘I.’”
IT AIN’T OVER TILL ITS OVER
How many people do we know, how many people do we meet whose lives have been broken into smashed little pieces by their deep fall into sin, and they feel like no one could ever put Humpty Dumpty together again? Perhaps that was once you and me. There was nothing left of our lives, and all we could do was give to Jesus the utter brokenness of all that we were and the complete emptiness of all that we were not. Praised God for promise of Ezekiel 34:16,
“…and I will bind up that which was broken….”
Don’t ask me how Jesus does it, but He does. He collects and specializes in broken lives and makes them brand new creations. Yes, I know, so many years wasted and smashed to smithereens. There are those who have not only botched and busted the first quarter of their lives, and the first half of their lives, but have destroyed the first three quarters of their lives. It would seem that there is nothing left, and that it is too late to put ole Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Thank God that because of Jesus Christ, as Yogi Berra observed about baseball, “It ain’t over till its over.” What can we do with all of those wasted years and dirtied years? NOTHING! Except give them to Jesus Christ, who will by His shed blood wash them all away and totally forgive them. Once we ask Christ to do that, He then deals in our brand new FUTURE and not in our past. God deals in futures, not in pasts. The only reason He deals with the past is to forgive it and never bring it up again.
Then Jesus comes into our hearts with all that He is and all that He has done for us in His death and resurrection, and gives us a glorious new start, heart and eternal future in Himself. Then we can boldly and joyfully walk into that future loved by Him and holding His hand. From that point on, it is going to be about all that Christ does in me, and no more about my thrown-away life. Then we can say with the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:57,
“…but thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
But certainly we must now do or part. Yes, I was very struck by the new man in Christ at Mel Trotter who said, “I am willing to take up my cross to do whatever God asks me to do.” Of course, he was referencing the words of Christ in Mark 8:34,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross and follow me.”
When it came to picking up and carrying my cross, in my young and very naïve years, I used to think that meant enduring handicaps – like someone who is badly crippled or badly diseased. God be gracious to them, but I don’t think that this is what Jesus was referring to.
I believe what Jesus meant about taking up our cross is to identify with Jesus so intimately that whatever humiliation Jesus bore, whatever shame and rejection He experienced, whatever persecution He endured, we will count it a privilege to suffer the same for Him. We will pick up our cross for Him, remembering that He picked up His for us, and if needs be, we will die for Him. That is the key to persevering in the Christian life, simply because:
“THOSE WHO CONSIDER THEIR LIVES EXPENDABLE FOR CHRIST
IN DEATH WILL ALONE BE THE ONES WHO ARE
DEPENDABLE FOR CHRIST IN LIFE.”
You say, boy that is tough! Yes it is! It brings to mind what Winston Churchill promised the British people. Remember what he offered them:
“BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS.”
Garibaldi in 1849 when Rome was under siege, said to his soldiers,
“I CAN ONLY OFFER YOU HUNGER AND THIRST AND DEATH.”
His soldiers followed Him. So many religious people separate all of this cross-bearing from Churchill’s and Garibaldi’s harsh prose and treat Jesus words as the poetry of romance. No it is not romance poetry, and God knows I love poetry. It means putting our very prose-lives on the line for Christ, and paying for our devotion to Him with our blood if needs be.
I believe that the new man in Christ from Mel Trotter Ministries is declaring that righteous suffering for Heaven’s Christ would be now be his highest joy and privilege compared to the unrighteous suffering he once did for Hell’s Satan. What he is saying is what Christ’s faithful have sung over the years to this very day:
“Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee,
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be,
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, or hoped or known,
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heaven are still my own.”
Praise be to God that Christ has another soldier in His army of the faithful, who has counted the cost and pledge his all to the Master:
“I have decided to follow Jesus,
Though no one joins me, still I will follow,
The world behind me, the Cross before me,
No turning back, no turning back.”
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Mel Trotter Ministries