The Story Behind the Story

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Where Does a Story Really Begin?

We are about to celebrate our 38th Christian Challenge Homecoming Jubilee. What a story to be told.

When we Christian believers wish to write about our ventures of faith, how do we even find a beginning place. Our entire life has been one great adventure with the Lord Jesus. After all, the Bible says that God knew us before the foundation of the world. 

Now that I wish to share some things about a ministry known as, ‘Christian Challenge International’, I still wonder where the story of Christian Challenge actually begins. But since we are celebrating our 38th Homecoming Jubilee, perhaps it would be good to find one spot to work from.

And so I begin – Christian Challenge held its first service on March 9, 1976. But for an earlier beginning place let me reach back to 1975. 

 

IT HAPPENED FRIDAY MORNING, JANUARY 17, 1975  –

It was during my morning devotion. As I was playing my guitar and singing the Porter Wagoner song, ‘Peace on Earth Begins Today,’ I heard these words, ‘Go home.’

When God speaks, you listen and obey. Betty and I took our children out of school and headed north. (We were living in Lafayette, LA. North was Central Louisiana.)

All I had was two words. ‘Perhaps the Lord wanted me to go to churches that I had held revivals in, and share BettyMe1978some of my testimony.’ That was not to be the case.

We left our children at my sister’s home. Across the road from her was a church that we have ministered in. But it seemed odd. The lights were on and it wasn’t a service night.

Betty and I quietly sat in the back. What I did not know was that the church had recently lost their pastor. They were in prayer, asking the Lord to send them their new pastor.

Then it happened – The minister who was helping them, recognized me and said, “Brother Martin, would you like to share anything?” (I still did not know what was happening.) I simply said, “Brother, I don’t know why the Lord sent me, but I am here.” (A near quote.)

A holy hush. Then I heard weeping in the congregation. The Lord was bearing witness to their pastor.

In looking back, I was glad the Lord only gave me two words. I had no want to pastor again. Yet little did I realize is that this was a major step to another ministry the Lord would commission me to raise up, a ministry called ‘Christian Challenge International.’

What I have found through time is that every step of faith we make, is largely to prepare us for the next step in our journey of life.

My pastorship of that beautiful country church was only for a year and a half, but that year and a half was crucial for me and my precious wife, Betty. It had to be one of the most loving churches in God’s many flocks. The older folk were like grandfathers and grandmothers to us.

I spend countless hours, pouring myself into God’s Word. The Lord was opening my eyes to so many treasures in His sacred writ. All this had to do with the Lord preparing my heart for another venture of faith. But here I must add another story behind the story.

So, let me reach further back still. It took place several years before this time.

 

I FELL IN LOVE WITH AN OLD BOOK -

When the Lord, brought me into His kingdom, in 1964, He did something that set the musical note for my walk with Him. He gave me an intense love for His Word. (Some people search the Scriptures to confirm what they want to believe. Not so with me. I search to Scriptures to see what the Lord wants me to believe.)

I don’t need to skip around to find something interesting to read. That old book is filled with wonderful secrets. I know exactly what Jeremiah felt when he said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jer15:16)

Actually, Betty finally asked me to stop giving my Bibles away. Because of all the notes that are written in them, she wanted me to save them for our kids. (Sometimes wish I had kept them all – Alas, I felt a need to help someone along the trail of life. Bible and MusicBut I do have several saved.)

So why do I use the term ‘musical note’ in describing my Biblical walk with the Lord? The primary reason is that God has taught me to how to recognize His voice in the Scriptures, and it is like music in my soul. (Yes, the Bible is full of music.)

But there is something else equally important with regard to God’s old Book. (Besides the music.) The Bible is always unfolding its secrets. The unfolding of God’s Word is for all His children. David said, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psa119:130)

Well – If I have peaked your interest just a little, then do this. You can pray this prayer now -

“Lord God, please open my eyes to see wonderful things in Your Book. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son.” (Psa119:18; Mat7:7)

See what I mean. You begin with the now, and you keep reaching back. Where do you even find a stopping place?

Well — If you are truly interested, let me let me share more light on the story behind the story.

 

Things That Add to the Story

Perhaps you would like to know a bit more about the Martin family. This video has to do with my and Betty’s 50th wedding anniversary. It reaches far back in time.

 

Then there is the number one entry on my blog. It has to do with ‘My Story’. I never mean this story to dishonor my church background. All I can say is that every believer’s walk is intensely personal. We each can only walk in what the Lord has called us to walk in.

My Story: http://buddymartin.net/blog/testimony/

 

Then there is this, especially for country music lovers.

When the Lord spoke to me these words, ‘Go home,’ I was singing a song by Porter Wagonor, titled, ‘Peace on Earth Begins Today.’ Perhaps the Lord will speak to your heart.

Here it is:

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See what I mean.

There is no stopping place. The more I reach back in my life, the more I see the hand of the Lord.

Just one more tidbit – This happened before I entered into a knowing relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I left my last ship in the Navy, I said this to my fellow crewmen: ‘I am sick and tired of this life. I am going to find me a good woman, and settle down.’ 

Was God in that? No one can convince me otherwise. In looking back it was as though the Lord gave me words to speak over myself. Did it happen?

There would have been no Christian Challenge International, had not the Lord given me my wife of His own choosing. My wife is the most loving and caring person I have ever known. And I’m so glad that our three children have so much of Betty in them. 

How easily I could have shared the bigger story of my ‘God-ordained’ marriage to a beautiful Christian girl, and how this was also arranged in time. But, you have your own story.

So – Has not your walk with the Lord been truly an amazing venture of faith.

In Christ Jesus always,

Buddy

 

A Standard For the Nations

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“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa 52:7)

 

Journal,

For the last couple of days I been thinking about something the prophet Isaiah said about how the enemy works, and how that God works. I especially love where the King James Bible sets this forth in Isaiah 59:19.

Listen  -

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isa 59:19)

Two things stand out in this one verse. First, the name of the Lord and His glory is to go forth to cover the earth from the very rising of the sun. Many do not realize how this very thing is taking place today. The gospel is penetrating the darkest corners of planet earth. (Of course the news media isn’t about to share this bit of news.)

One of the best examples of the spreading gospel, has to do with the multiplied thousands of Muslims who are coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.

The Jews are not far behind. Hear what this anti-Christ, Jewish rabbi has this to say -

‘Why have more Jews converted to Christianity in the last 19 years than in the last 1900 years.’ (This actually appeared in an ad in the Jerusalem Post.) 

Then we have the second part of Isaiah 59:19, that has rested on my heart of late. It is where God says, ‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’

Well, the enemy is going forth about the earth in his attempt to deceive the nations. He continues to make inroads into our western societies. What a moral breakdown we are seeing. 

Yet I keep hearing in the deep of my heart, ‘The Lord shall lift up a standard against him!’ 

 

Standards Are Being Lifted

From a personal testimony point of view, when the Lord gave me a stewardship to raise up a ministry in Central Louisiana, to be named, ‘Christian Challenge International’, my instructions were to set up the ministry on the order of the Old Testament school of the prophets. This meant that the ministry would be a mentoring society. The older disciples would teach the younger disciples.

I also believe the Lord gave me accilogo2 logo that we could use. Briefly, the mountains represents the nations and kingdoms of the world, the circle speaks to the rising and the setting of the sun, and the dove and Bible is the gospel message being proclaimed among the nations.

But the Lord also gave me a theme song for our ministry. It is titled, ‘How Beautiful Upon the Mountains.’

The reason I share this is not to honor myself or Christian Challenge. I merely wish to speak to the standards being lifted today. Christian Challenge is only a very small part in the untold number of standards being lifted up.

The standards are being lifted up by myriads of ministries, both in missionary efforts and by radio and television, and by the multitude of testimonies of salvation that are be proclaimed to all the nations. 

For the sake of time, I want to share one special testimony that is becoming a drawing card for the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, today. It has to do with Mel Gibson’s movie, ‘The Passion of Christ.’

It is the testimony of …

 

The Man Who Portrayed Christ

Did you know the man who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel, is a truly born-again believer with an amazing story of His own passion for the Lord Jesus?

Here is the one interview that every Christian, and prayerfully, that many thousands of people around the world should take time for. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. It has its special place in reaching the hearts of thousands, including those in the movie industry.

Take time for it. This man can speak for himself.

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In Christ always,

Buddy

Where Did All the Time Go – A Story Yet to Be

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Passing Time“Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.

“Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.

“But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.

“The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” (Psa 102:25-28)

 

Journal,

Here we are once again, the first day of a brand new year. What will 2014 hold for us? Perhaps better still, what will 2014 hold for the world?

In my understanding of prophetic history, 2014 could well be the beginning of a turning point in the progressing of redemption. But I’ll leave that unsaid for now.

And then I can’t help but wonder, ‘Where did all the time go?’ 

But I can truly say that two thousand thirteen was a wonderful year for us. The Lord has been so good to our family and to the ministry of Christian Challenge. In looking back, I recall there were struggles but there were also so many wonderful moments.

 

Moments to Remember

One of our great moments in 2013, happened quite recently. I’m speaking of Nathan’s and Lori’s adoption of two beautiful children from Colombia.

They are so precious. This now gives us twelve grandchildren. The number twelve is quite significant in the Bible.Karen and Anderson

Hmmmm – Kinda of makes you wonder. 

Of course the story of our two new grandchildren will continue to unfold over time.

Another great memory in 2013, had to do with our 50th Wedding Anniversary. The celebration at Christian Challenge was wonderful beyond words.

So many friends filled the banquet tables. The laughter, the entertainment, the testimonies continue to be relived in my heart time and time again.

I don’t know how often I’ve watched the Martin family video. It brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.

With respect to our 50th celebration, I wrote a song especially for my bride of fifty years. The song is entitled, ‘You Are More Beautiful than Ever.’ It includes the statement, ‘Where did all the years of time go? It seems a bit like yesterday.’ 

OK, I’ll take a chance. You may have to increase sound to hear the guitar. Don’t expect anything professional but here it is -

YouTube Preview Image

 

But there is more. 

 

It is About God’s Work

When I pondered what to write in this first journal entry for 2014, a Scripture came to my mind. It was part of the prayer Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father.

Listen –  

“[Father] This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

“I glorified You on the earth…

“… having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (Joh 17:3-4)

The work of redemption is now being worked out in history. And the heart of redemption is that humanity would come to know the only true God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Then last evening at the stroke of midnight, the ball dropped at Times Square. Untold numbers of people celebrated and rejoiced. And all over this planet nations were celebrating the incoming 2014.

I thought, ‘Whether they realize it or not, this is all about Jesus.’ 

Think about it. What does the date, 2014 actually mean?  A.D. is an abbreviation for ‘anno Domini’, which is Latin for, ‘in the year of our Lord.’ The birth of Jesus Christ is the counting point of time as we know it today. It means that all time is recorded around Jesus Christ.

Wow – This recalls to mind what the prophet said -

“For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14)

But what about …

 

The Works We Are Given to do

Can it be that our heavenly Father also gives works for all His children to do, works that have to do with the redemption that came through His Son? I certainly believe so. Paul addresses this -

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand SO THAT WE WOULD WALK IN THEM.” (Eph 2:10)

Of course none of us can say like Jesus did, that we’ve accomplished the work that the Father has given us to do. The future belongs to God alone. We are simply to walk in the works of grace that He gives us to walk in. 

Naturally this brings my thoughts to Christian Challenge. As I reflect on the years 1976 to 2014, I think about how it began. It all began in a storefront building in Boyce, Louisiana.

So much has happened through the years. We’ve trained hundreds of believers for the work of the Lord. 

Actually the first missionary we sent out was our son, Nathan. He helped to raise twelve churches in Mexico. But the Lord had him eventually return home to help further the work at Christian Challenge.

The point is that Christian Challenge has never been my work.

Yes, the stewardship was given to me of the Lord, but the work is His work. The body of Christ belongs to him. We each just have our assignments. Christian Challenge would never have been had not the Lord added believers according to His purpose.

There will always be an ebb and flow in the body of Christ. This is because believers are alive in Christ and He directs our goings and our comings. 

Christian Challenge_1

 

But we can’t live in the past. What about …

 

The Christian Challenge of 2014Christian Challenge_1-001

This picture is a sampling of our earlier years. We know where we have been. Now it is time to seek the Lord for where we are going.

It is not that we can know everything about the future. That isn’t how faith works.

Jesus Himself says that all the workings of time belongs to the Father.

Listen -

“So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses …

” … after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Act 1:6-9)

Many miss on what the Lord is saying. Two things especially stand out.

First, the nation of Israel will once again be received into the kingdom of God. They will turn to Jesus, in their time.

Secondly, the power of heaven will be given to believers so they can carry out the works that God gives them to do.

We are given the power to accomplish those things that God gives us to do. 

So, what does 2014 hold for Christian Challenge?

We will see. Yes, we can thank the Lord the days gone by, but the work must continue.

What is the work?

Listen once again to how Jesus prayed -

“[Father] This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Our work is to proclaim God’s work of the cross and point all men to the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Paul said it this way -

“For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things.” (1Ti 4:10-11)

To all believers –

May the Lord richly reward the work of your hands, and may He increase your part in the harvest.

In Christ always,

Buddy

Why CCI? (The DNA of Christian Challenge)

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“Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’

“Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion.

“Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.

“The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.” (Isa 52:6-10)

 

Journal,

I believe that every congregation of Christian believers is unique in their own right. But I can only speak for the ministry that my wife and I founded in 1976. Many people don’t realize just how special and unique Christian Challenge International really is.

This past Sunday we celebrated our 37th Christian Challenge Homecoming Jubilee. There are never enough words to express the wonderful time we had. It really was past wonderful!

The day was filled with awesome worship, with special singing, with the Biblical dance, and dramas, and dinner-on-the-grounds. We had old-timers and new-timers there. What a joyful time. Guess what I love most of all is seeing how Christian Challenged has developed into a strong spiritual family through these many years.

As part of the celebration, Nathan asked Betty and me to share our testimonies. Afterwards he spoke about the DNA of Christian Challenge. I thought perhaps my readers would like to see that part of the celebration.

Here it is …

Hope you enjoyed the video.

Your brother and friend in Christ always,

Buddy

Announcing the 49th School for Christian Workers

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“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out WORKERS into His harvest.’” (Mat 9:36-38)

 

Journal,

Where Jesus told the disciples to beseech the Lord of the harvest to sent out workers into His harvest, the Biblical term for ‘worker’ (ergatés) speaks of a trained laborer. It is also used figuratively for a teacher.

Paul uses this term for the young minister, Timothy -

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman  (ergatés) who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2Ti 2:15)

The sole purpose of the CCI School for Christian Workers (ergatés) is to provide an atmosphere of training where believers can learn the walk of a Biblical disciple. Hundreds of believers have been trained under the auspices of the school. A number have entered the ministry as pastors or missionaries, or are involved in other aspects of the gospel ministry.

Here is the class schedule and other information for our next school. Prayerfully consider if this is where the Lord would have you attend. This may be exactly what you are looking for.

49th School for Christian Workers
Classes begin the weekend of September 9, 2012

Enrich your spiritual walk and become a better prepared disciple for the Lord through the 14-week training programs offered by the Christian Challenge International School for Christian Workers. The School is non-denominational and non-sectarian.

Email SCW@ChristianChallenge.Org for more details! Or register online today!

 

Course Descriptions

The Disciple’s Heart Training Program©

The Disciple’s Heart Training Program is the graduate course of the CCI School for Christian Workers. The purpose of this course is to open up the world of the disciple for believers.

If you wish a study program that is evangelism oriented and deeply spiritual, The Disciple’s Heart Training Program is the class to enroll in. Some students have taken this class several times just for the spiritual benefit. (Required for anyone wishing to serve in a ministry role at Christian Challenge. It has to be taken prior to the Disciple’s Heart II, or, The Shepherd’s Heart.)

Instructor: Lane Fletcher

 

The Disciple’s Heart II Training Program©

This course takes the believer into the next step of the world of the disciple. The class concentrates on a more personal level of discipleship by taking the believer into the very heart of our walk with the Lord. The student will learn much about himself and his own personal calling in life.

Instructor: Rich Carlisle

 

The Old Testament Bible Survey

The Old Testament Bible Survey provides the student with a better understanding of the Scriptures by bringing history, places, people, and festivals in the Old Testament together in a way that the students can see God’s plan of redemption working through the ages.

Instructor: Jason McManus

The Shepherd’s Heart Minister’s Training Program©

The emphasis of this training program is upon preaching and teaching, although it will prove beneficial to any believer who desires training in Biblical study skills and in Bible interpretation.

The Shepherd’s Heart covers the gospel ministry from sermon preparation to Bible interpretation. It includes lessons such as Pulpit Wisdom, Lessons in Life and Holiness. The student learns forms of speaking including extemporaneous. 

Instructor: Lawrence “Buddy” Martin

Vision For The Nations

Vision for the Nations is an analysis of the World Christian Movement based on the Perspectives study program produced by the US Center for World Missions. The course focus is on Biblical and historical foundations for missions. It deals with cross-cultural considerations in communicating the gospel today.

This course has proven to be an eye-opener to all who have taken it. Training includes video presentations by leading missiologists and missionaries from around the world. Billy Graham said, “There is no volume of which I know that will inform, inspire and motivate Christians for world evangelism like the Perspectives course.”

Instructor: Nathan Martin

Conversational Spanish

The focus of the Conversational Spanish class is to give the student a working knowledge of spoken Spanish. This class is a perfect introduction to the world of Spanish and is great for those planning short-term missions’ trips. Emphasis is placed on phrases dealing with day-to-day issues and building a vocabulary of useable words. Opportunities are also given for the student to have a testimony translated for use on a missions’ trip. 

Instructors: Jonathan Martinez, Nathan Martin

 


Financial Peace University

In 13 action-packed lessons, you’ll learn how to beat debt, build wealth, find bargains, invest for the future, give like never, and much more! This information will change your life.

Instructors: Gary & Nora Fisher

Tuition:

Tuition is $35.00 per course (some courses require additional textbooks, i.e., Spanish and Financial Peace University – Financial Peace University is $100).

The School runs 13 weeks and concludes with a graduation banquet. Each class meets once a week.  

It is recommended that students use the New American Standard Bible since most Scripture references are taken from this translation. A completed registration form (with tuition) must be turned in before School begins.

 

A Note From the Founder

My wife and I founded Christian Challenge in 1976, as a School for Christian Workers. The Lord had placed on our hearts to offer a training program in Central Louisiana, that would function on the basis of the Old Testament School of the Prophets.

The School of the Prophets was actually a mentoring society where the older servants of God could teach the younger servants. This is what our School for Christian Workers is all about. And though classes meet only once each week, the training involved affects the disciple’s every day walk.

You will rarely find training programs of the nature that we offer. Our school is unique. It is nondenominational and nonsectarian. Our sole interest is in opening the world of the Biblical disciple to our students.

We’ve had students come through our Disciple’s Heart Training Program, to tell us that they learned more of a spiritual nature in that one class than they did in Bible college. From the first class you will begin to realize that the world of the disciple is like nothing you’ve been exposed to.

If you would like a bit of extra insight into our School, go to following page. Be sure to click on the video at the bottom of the page. It tells the story of Christian Challenge in part –

http://buddymartin.net/blog/about/

May the Lord richly reward you for you devotion to His kingdom.

In Christ always,

Buddy

The Lord of Divine Moments

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The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.
(Pro 10:7)

The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O LORD, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.” (Isa 26:7-8)


Journal,

I can certainly attest to the fact that strange things do happen to God’s people. I use the word ‘strange’ in the sense of special God moments that come to us unexpected.

Everyone knows that I love music and that I am sort of a Psalmist with my music. (Every song I’ve written has been birthed from the Scriptures.) Not long back I had a dream in which I was singing one of the old-time gospel hymns. What made it strange is that while I was singing in my dream, it seemed that a renewing and a cleansing grace was taking place in my heart. 

Then when I woke up this morning, I began singing a song that reaches far back in my memories. Some of you old timers may remember it. It was titled ‘A Song in the Night.’ This was a song that two of my cousins and I use to sing at church in 1965. (The year our oldest son Nathan was born.)

Yes, I believe the Lord often visits with us in our dreams.

Would you like to hear it? Perhaps the Lord has a message for your heart. Listen to the lyrics as it is sung by Eva Mae Lefevre …


Does the Lord actually give songs to His children in the night…

Yes, the Lord does give us songs in the night.  David tells us about them.

“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”(Psa 32:7-8)

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.”
(Psa 28:7)

“The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.” (Psa 42:8)

“I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, and my spirit ponders.” (Psa 77:6)

 

Samples of songs given in the night (or in the day as you will)…

Perhaps you would like to hear some of the songs that the Lord has given to me through the years. A few of them were recorded on a Jubilee CD in 2001. (Ten+ years ago.) You can listen to them here:

http://www.christianchallenge.org/JubileeCD.html

Here are samples of songs that hopefully you will enjoy.

The first song is entitled ‘the Song of a Disciple.’ (It is on my Jubilee CD.) 

The second song was written by Kathy Guidry. Kathy’s husband, Gary, went to be with the Lord recently. He was one of the early disciples of Christian Challenge. The song comes from her album, ‘Holy Love.’ It is titled, ‘By the Mark.’

The third song is by my first cousin, Alwyn Willis. It is from his album, ‘Turn Around’. It is titled, ‘Beyond the Crystal Sea.’

Enjoy:

 

Another year marks the course

This March, 2012, will be another hallmark in the history of Christian Challenge. We are celebrating our 36th year as a ministry.

What memories. We began laying the foundation for the ministry in 1976. I was 35, Betty, 32, Nathan 9, Andre 6, and Shana 2 years old.

Oh yes, here I go again. I’ve been thinking about all the friendships I’ve made through the years. My mind wants to reach back to my younger days as a minister. How I have loved each of the pastors that I’ve served under, and of the many precious people who have come and gone through my life. I have so much to thank the Lord for.

Actually I began preaching at age 24. I’ll be 72 this August. That makes nearly 47 years of service in God’s kingdom. 

I realize this is redundant for some of you. You’ve walked down memory lane with me probably much more than you’ve desired. But for the sake of those who may not be familiar with the Martin family and with Christian Challenge, here is a clip that tells much of the early story. It is titled ‘Through the Years with Christian Challenge.’

 

Has this stirred your heart…

Yes indeed. Strange and wonderful things do happen to God’s children. I would love to hear about some of your ‘God moments.’ Please take time to share something of your divine moments on my blog.

Remember – There is much love to be found in Jesus.

Blessings,

Buddy

I Must Be About My Father’s Business

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“Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’

 

“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’

 

“So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’

 

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’

 

“’Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.’” (Joh 4:31-35)

 

 

Journal,

As I was meditating on my morning devotion, this thought began stirring in my heart, ‘I must be about my Father’s business.’ My mind was drawn to what Jesus said to His first disciples concerning the harvest field. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” 

The work that Jesus was to accomplish was the work of the cross. Listen carefully to the prayer of our Great High Priest -

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

“‘I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.’” (Joh 17:1-4)

The work of the cross would be God’s finished work of salvation in Jesus Christ. From the moment of Christ’s ascension into heaven the eternal gospel was to be sent into all the world. The message could encapsulate in this one statement,

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Cf. Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13)

In the meantime we have this instruction from the Lord -

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luk 10:2)

 

Much Work to Do

In 1976, the Lord gave me a work to accomplish. It began in an old store-front building. On the right side of the entrance a simple sign read, ‘School for Christian Workers.’

This March 9, 2012, will be 36 years since the CCI School for Christian Workers has come into being. Since that time we have trained hundreds of workers for the harvest fields of the Lord.

The motto of  Christian Challenge International is, ‘How Beautiful Upon the Mountians’. The motto for the School for Christian Workers is, ‘Preparing Servants for the Nations.’

Has the work that God gave me to do been accomplished? Not yet. There is much work to be done. And if the Lord tarries, it will continue after my departure. (This applies to the whole body of Christ.)

Where are we now? It is now time for out 48th School for Christian Workers.

Is the Lord stirring your heart for service in His kingdom? Perhaps our 48th School is where you need to be.

The CCI School for Christian Workers is quite unique. Our entire emphasis is on true Biblical discipleship. For your consideration here is our class schedule for the school.

 

Class Schedule for the CCI 48th School for Christian Workers

The School begins January 22nd and 23rd, 2012, and runs 13 weeks. Tuition is $35 per course. Disciples Heart I is $25 for CCI members only.

The Disciple’s Heart Training Program – Sundays  5:00 PM [Required training for anyone serving with CCI] 

The Disciples Heart II Training Program – Sundays 5:00 PM

Shepherd’s Heart Mentoring Program – Every Other Wednesday 6:30 PM

Old Testament Bible Survey – Mondays 6:30 PM

Conversational Spanish – Mondays 6:30 PM

Financial Peace University ($100) – Mondays 7:00 PM

God’s Creation – Mondays 6:30 PM

Registration is required. For additional information call the Christian Challenge office at (318) 640-4300.

For your listening here is the theme song of Christian Challenge – How Beautiful Upon the Mountains.

http://www.christianchallenge.org/audio/music/14_How%20Beautiful%20Upon%20The%20Mountains.mp3

In Christ Always,

Buddy

 

Time for a Journal Update

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“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:14)

 

Journal,

I am very pleased with the direction my blog is taking. Since I began my blog in 2010, I’ve had 73,263 page views. This year alone my blog is projected to reach almost 100,000 views. How can that be? How can an old-timey preacher man reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ and do it all from an office in his home. It simply astounds me. (Just think – My blog is only one of thousands of blogs and web sites that are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the whole world.)

My blog has received viewers from every state in the Union. Internationally I’ve reached 107 different nations. The top fifteen countries that my viewers come from are:

(1) United Kingdom. (2) Canada. (3) Philippines. (4) Australia. (5) India. (6) Nigeria. (7) Netherlands. (8) Indonesia. (9) South Africa. (10) Italy. (11) Brazil. (12) France. (13) Pakistan. (14) Singapore. (15) Malaysia. (Plus 92 other nations.)

My most popular journal entry by far has to do with salvation.

http://buddymartin.net/blog/salvation/

 

Other Notable Entries About Salvation

In addition to the above salvation entry, here are some recent entries that I recommend. Each of them explains something about salvation and the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

Lord Jesus, remember me http://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/06/lord-jesus-remember-me/

A Case for the Christianhttp://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/06/a-case-for-the-christian/

To Die Without Christhttp://buddymartin.net/blog/2011/06/to-die-without-christ/

 

I’ve made two additions  to my blog…

 

Forum Dialog

Notice at the top menu section of my blog there are several buttons. The ‘Forum‘ button is new. This is where ‘registered’ members can take part in dialog exchanges. So far I have three categories that will be opened for dialog: ‘Biblical dialog’, ‘The First Christians’, and ‘Current events.’

The only dialog in place for now is under ‘The First Christians.’ The subject is: ‘What did early Christianity look like.’

Here is my introduction to this dialog:

Acts 1:6“Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

This one small Scripture speaks to the history of the Church age. The new covenant begins with Israel, it then reaches into all the world, and in the final states of church history, it returns to Israel. The first Christians were Hebrew men and women. Their whole world centralized on Moses and the prophets. Their New Testament was the Old Testament. Their hearts and minds had been opened to the glory of Christ in all the former writings.

My prayer today is, ‘Lord, help us to keep a heart on fire for Jesus like the first Christians, in that we wonderfully find Jesus from Genesis 1:1 to Malachi 4:6.”

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Categories and subject will likely change over time. Please feel free to register. I would love to see lively dialog taking place with the varied subjects.

Another addition to my journal has to do with …

 

Donations – For the Kingdom

On the right side of my blog near the bottom is a new feature called, ‘For the Kingdom’. It has to do with making donations.

Christian Challenge is a faith-based ministry. We do not go into debt and we do not badger people for money. In fact, in our church services, we don’t even pass an offering plate. We learned a long time ago that God has to be our source.

But we have also learned that God’s people needed to be given an opportunity to give.

And so my admonition is always the same - Do whatever the Lord puts on your heart to do.

If you have been blessed by the ministries of Christian Challenge and would like to take part in helping us to minister to others, you can send contributions by way of PalPal.

Here is a song that will minister to your heart – ‘Father of Creation.’

 

 

Your Servant in Christ,

Buddy

 

A Case for the Christian

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“If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. (1Pe 4:14-16)

 

Journal,

Christianity of itself is not essentially a religion. It is a kingdom. In order to have a kingdom you must have a king. Take note of this description of Jesus Christ about His second coming and His titles:

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:13-16)

Then there is this issue. There are no naturalized citizens in the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. The only way to enter the kingdom of God’s Son is to be born into it. When a person is born from heaven, this is also a citizenship birth. With each kingdom birth there is a register. Listen to Paul:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Php 3:20-21)

So, where does religion enter the picture? Good question. Religion is what we manage to do. A kingdom birth is what God does.

 

Born from Above

Let’s begin with the thinker – What is it that makes an Irishman an Irishman, or a Cajun a Cajun? (Pass the crawfish please.) The simple answer is that the Irishman and the Cajun are born to a particular cultural grouping. Each group has its own natural proclivities.

What then is it that makes a human a human? The answer is that all humans share a nature that belongs exclusively to humankind in general. Neither angels nor animals have a human nature. They have a nature that is exclusively theirs. So there is an angelic nature, an animal nature, and there is a human nature.

And here is the problem. The human nature is in disrepair. Our souls were damaged in the fall of Adam. Thus our physical life and our spiritual life have need for repair. While the holy angels of God continue with their original nature intact, the deepest part of our humanity, that is, our spiritual identity with God has been displaced.

Whether we understand it or not, Adam and Eve had in their original nature that which is only found in God Himself. They carried in them a certain spiritual likeness of God. The image and likeness had to do with their basic nature. It is that part of man’s inward nature that is in need of repair.

Satan took advantage of Adam’s fallen state and built his earthly kingdom around the aspect of disrepair. Satan is called the god of this world, the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, and the authority of ‘the domain of darkness.’ Thus Adam found himself in a twisted world filled with wrath and discord. Everything was out of balance.

 

Repaired Through the Cross

In essence what makes a Christian a Christian is that our spiritual identity with God has restored through a heavenly birth. This was the purpose of the cross.

Jesus said

“The thief [Satan's environs and activities] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn10:10)

Listen to these Scriptures that describe the two kinds of humans on planet earth today:

Paul: “[We] formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were BY NATURE CHILDREN OF WRATH, even as the rest.” (Eph2:2,3)

Peter: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2Pet1:4)

When a person is born from above their severance from God is remedied. The born again person is now a very child of the living God and a citizen of heaven. This means that on planet Earth there are two kinds of humans, those who have been spiritually repaired and restored to God, and those who are still in disrepair. Is it any wonder that the strongest impulse of Christians is to get the message of the gospel out to our fallen kin.

 

 

The Wonder of a New Creation

Here we need to understand the critical element of what makes a Christian a Christian. The disrepair of our humanity can only be corrected one way. It has to be God’s way. God’s way is found in the working of the cross. No person is ever born again because they shook a preachers hand or that they prayed through to some esoteric experience.

The only way for a person to be born from above is that they must consciously recognize Jesus Christ as Lord, and receive Him personally as their own Lord and Savior. This accepting Jesus Christ as Lord is the heart and soul of the new creation.

And so, it is to Jesus alone that we bring our broken humanity. It is to Him that we make our appeal to His Lordship and to His saving grace. This is why the true apostolic message never changes, which says, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” To call upon the name of the Lord means to recognize His Lordship and to appeal to Him as our own Lord.

This is why salvation can never be based on an emotional experience where we have set aside our minds and now depend on certain euphoric feelings. Drugs can induce euphoric feelings. A person can even become euphoric on their own emotions. There is such a thing as an emotional drunkenness.

The point is that our salvation is be based upon the fact alone. We are to become convinced of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification of Jesus Christ, and that He is now both Lord and Christ, and that there is no other way to be saved other than to call upon Him, and to acknowledge and confess His Lordship. Aside from this act of believing and confessing, there is no salvation.

Believing in Jesus Christ is an act of our will. The faith to be born again is a gift from God.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10)

Every time a person is born from above, there is an act of creation. In this new creation a new humanity comes into place. We are a people born-from-above, that is, a heavenly people. We now share a heart like God’s heart.

This brings us to…

 

The Reborn Heart

In the Bible the term heart speaks of the very center of our being. It is where our spirit life evolves. This is why the Scriptures make a distinction between man’s soul and man’s spirit. The soul is generally thought to be our mind, our will, and our emotions, that is, what identifies us as an individual. But our spirit is that part that relates closest to God. In is in our spirit where we have our God-awareness, our conscious spiritual life, our intuition, our fellowship and communion. This is why it is our spirit that is born again and not our soul. Our soul undergoes transformations over time.

The prophet described our new life this way:

“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” (Eze 11:19-20)

It all begins with the Lord getting our attention. The word repentance in the Greek speaks to a moral conquest of the mind. It begins as an intellectual process. We are made aware of and become convinced of the message of the cross. We realize our lostness. We change our minds about the path we’ve lived. And we turn to Jesus as our own Lord and Savior. Every bit of this involves our thinking. The mind is the way to the heart. Salvation involves both the mind and the heart.

It is under this strong convicting work of the Holy Spirit that our heart is brought to the place of being born again. The power that makes a Christian a Christian is not our power. It is the power of heaven.

Paul explains where the power of life comes from. Listen carefully:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom1:16)

The power of new life is found in the message of the cross itself.

Listen again to Paul:

“For this reason we also constantly thank God, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1Th2:13)

The point is that the beginning place of salvation has to include our mind. The very word repentance speaks to the mind. Salvation is made upon a decision for Christ. This is why the Billy Graham crusades have such a tremendous effect on the crowds. He preaches the simple message of the cross. The respondents are openly declaring their faith in Jesus Christ.

 

A Seal that Cannot be Broken

When the Holy Spirit enters the heart of the believing one, that person becomes sealed for eternity. The Spirit will be there tomorrow, and the next tomorrow, and the next tomorrow. This is called the testimony of the Spirit. The apostle calls this the seal of redemption. This new believer has become a child of the living God. He can never be separated from the loving Father.

This does not mean that the newly born-again person is incapable of sin. Yes, the child of God can sin and will have failures in his life. However, sin will always be contrary to the child of God’s nature. He will sin by temptation. Yet the Spirit of Christ within him will now allow him to stay in a condition of sin. Sin hurts too much.

Think about these things. Feel free to offer your comments. I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime here is a song that will speak to your heart.

The King is Coming by the Bill Gaither Trio

 

 

Yours in Christ,

Buddy

 

 

The Year of the Jubilee

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“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD …

“ … and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ” (Isa 61:1-3)

 

Journal,

Some are not aware that there are two days of the Lord. The first day has come. It is the day of grace, or as Isaiah has it, ‘the favorable year of the Lord’. The term ‘favorable’ in Hebrew [rasôn] speaks of the divine favor that is extended to humanity. The time of favor came with Jesus Christ. It was placed in force at the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. We are now in that phase of God’s kingdom called, ‘the kingdom of His beloved Son.’ (Col1:13)

David speaks of two phases of the kingdom of the Son in Psalm 2:

Place your cursor over any Scripture reference and it will appear.

“But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. … [This relates to the day of Pentecost when Jesus received His kingdom in its present form; the covenant of grace. This is the gospel age where the cross is to be preached in all the world. Cf. Mat28:18,19; Acts1:9-11; Dan7:13,14; Acts2:32-36; 2Co5:18--21]

“… You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ … [Speaks to the second phase of the kingdom of the Son where He comes in judgment. Cf. Acts17:30-32; Zech12:9,10; Rev19:11-16]

“… Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psa 2:6-12) [The warning is to the world not to ignore or disregard the gospel of the cross and of God's grace. This is the time of our refuge in Christ. Cf. John14:1-3; 1Th5:9-11; Col3:1-4]

When Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61, He quotes that part that speaks of God’s Jubilee. The Jubilee had to do with freedom. But He stopped His quote with this statement, ‘the favorable year of the Lord.’ Why did Jesus not quote the fuller passage? It is because there is a second day that Isaiah speaks of that has yet to come. It is not the day of Jubilee. It is, ‘the day of vengeance of our God’.

 

We are still in the day of Jubilee

The time that precedes the second coming of Jesus is a time of great struggle and a day of mixture. While the nations are perplexed, at the same time there are multiplied millions of the Muslim faith coming to Jesus. Not only are Muslims coming to the Lord, but Jewish responses are astonishing.

The following video is a bit lengthy but well worth viewing. It is about Muslims and Jews coming to the Lord.

 

Just a reminder …

 

35th Homecoming Jubilee

Be sure to mark your calendar. March 26th and 27th is our Christian Challenge International 35th Homecoming Jubilee. Our theme is, ‘The Anchor Holds’. (There are motels close at hand.)

Saturday evening is ‘Talent Share Night.’ (Not a talent context.) It will be a great time of sharing our love for the Lord through our gifts. Jubilee itself is Sunday, March 27th. Come expect the unexpected. (There will be a special DU meeting Sunday afternoon.)

 

 

 

In Christ always,

Buddy