A teacher asked a classroom filled to capacity: “If you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior come forward right now.” Not a soul moved. She asked again and the room was silent. It seemed slow motion, hearts raced, palms sweated and eyes darted to see if anyone else would move. What seemed like eternity but really just a matter of moments (not minutes) someone stood up, walked forward and decided to follow Jesus. Immediately, three other children followed and were whisked into another room and bowed their heads and followed the teacher’s lead and on the spot repented of sin confessing Christ as Lord and Savior.
The year was 1979, and that young man was me at age seven exactly 31 years ago this week at a Vacation Bible School in Brandywine, MD whom was the first to step up and out. I recall as if it were yesterday the small chair I was sitting in had a triangle shaped hole in it and as I heard the Gospel story again I just knew I was a sinner in need of the Savior. After hearing what Jesus did for mankind and me in my head I recall thinking when that teacher asked if I wanted to come forward I knew that I couldn’t sit life out. Worse, sit down when Jesus stood up. Many thoughts race through a kid’s head and I thought the same things you may have pondered: “If I follow Jesus I will be perceived odd, what if I am the only one or worse – made fun of but I knew in my non-seminary, elementary school mind that if Jesus died for me than He was worth living for Him.”
Three decades later, by God’s grace I’m still following Jesus. It was grace then and grace today. It has been said “GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” That sums it up. We get to Heaven “by faith” in Jesus, accepting His sacrifice for our sins, we enter Heaven because of His mercy not our merits and apart from Christ we are nothing and can do nothing to ensure our salvation.
“Rocky Balboa” was a contender and we are all pretenders without Christ as the Captain of our soul. Jesus is the Champion of the World. Even “Iron Mike” Tyson recently said he was half the man he boasted to be as a boxer. We are lost without the Lord. A country classic dominated the charts in the early 80’s (just a year or two after I became a Christian). It was sung by Barbara Mandrell and George Jones and hit number one. The song was “I was Country when Country wasn’t Cool.” Before ten years of age, for some strange reason I omited “country” and submitted “Christian.” Without question, I knew the day I gave my life to Jesus it could be an up hill climb. For starters, most children (if not all) want acceptance. No one wants to be picked last on a team at recess. No one wants to sit alone at lunch, or be the punchline of a joke.
My mission was to love Jesus and love others. Even today, not bad theology. My prayer was never to be “holier than thou” and certainly not religious. Honestly, both not only disgust me today but have harmed many over the years. My prayer was to walk the hallways as Jesus having a real life relationship with the Redeemer. Not thinking I am “good” much less God but wanted others to know where I stood and that I was unashamedly linked with God and now His Property. Yes, at times looking back I felt lonely, left out and laughed at but because of society not my Savior. I learned early on better to be a minority with the Lord than majority with the world. Yes, those moments were painful but pale in comparison to not only the rewards but the realization that God loves us!
God showed me that persecution will come but I have also witnessed that when we promote the Lord – He has a way of promoting us. If not on Earth, most certainly in Heaven. We may lose periodically but it is always temporaily but never for eternity. From elementary school to junior high to Thomas Stone High School, community college, university, Capitol Hill to ministry; God has clearly been present each step of the way. Today, in Christian circles we are torn between two camps. Ministers and Christians’ either get too much credit or too little. Some are either jet-setting or barely making it. That is another post but part of me as a Christian early on wanted to prove to the world that you don’t have to be “boring” as a Christian. Actually, you can still reach the top without “bottoming out.”
In elementary school, I never asked to speak at my own graduation at Malcolm Elementary School in fifth grade to over 500 peers, parents and principal in 1983. God opened that door. Speaking to a crowd as a kid can be overwhelming. In junior high, I never asked to become President of the Student Government and then asked to speak at my eighth grade graduation to over 1,200 family and friends (at age 13) nor ask for a standing ovation at my high school graduation to nearly 1,750 my senior year and crowned “Prom King” in 1990. Friends, this isn’t “prosperity” but reality. I didn’t name it or claim it but was willing to lose if it meant gaining Christ. When I walked forward 31 years ago this week (July 1979), it was knowing I must die to self, lose some friends, perhaps become the biggest “nerd” this side of the Mississippi and yet I found an AMAZING truth. DRUM ROLL……….get ready – God’s Word is True and He makes much of those who make much of Him. Brother Ralph Sexton preached a sermon 20 years ago called: “MAKING MUCH OF JESUS!” Even better, God went after, loved on and died for those who to this day could care less about His only Son (Jesus) and many will die never trusting Christ. Love is willing to lose in the process. Loyalty could be said the same.
My goal in life, was never to be “seen” but that His message would be heard. HISTORY is really His Story. As an evangelist, I have prayed, fasted and daydreamed for revival for over a quarter of a Century. I long for revival to break out and if not in my lifetime perhaps at my funeral. Sometimes, right or wrong one has to die before some realize what made another tick in life. I have had some enormous highs and some pretty dark lows and like Vestal Goodman’s song: “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.” Like that hymn: “Through it all – I have learned to trust in Jesus.”
My friend, Michael English sings “In Christ Alone” and I love his new song: “The only Good in Me is Jesus.” If any “success” is in my life it is by God’s grace. Even my parents’ love is attributed to grace. Today, I am quite surprised I am still here. Honestly, I never dreamt I would still be alive at age 38. Since childhood, I thought I would either live a short life or the Lord is on His way. The Bible says to “redeem the time” and that is one thing I can say by God’s grace haven’t wasted much of. Just the past three years, I have been blessed to preach over 600 times in 20 states living “by faith.” Some may see what God continues to do now but they forget the price it took long ago.
THE IRONY IS I am not talking about my commitment to Christ but His commitment to me. Folks see me board a plane but forget the pain. They see the stage but not the scars or the folks I have been blessed to “roll” with but don’t recall the ridicule. Not so much me sticking up for God but Christ being rejected that I could be accepted. His grief became my grace, He was isolated by man that I could be included with God. PICTURE THIS – Jesus suspended between Heaven and Earth, crucified between two criminals and was beaten and bloodied more than any human in the history of humanity. “Jesus paid it all – all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain and He washed it white as snow.” Jesus was faithful when I was faithless. He is the hero and deserves any and all credit. Today, as Christians we find both persecution and promotion. In these last days, it is only going to get worse before the Lord comes back and takes those to Heaven who trusted in Him. God died for mankind and me and I want to spend the rest of my days living for Him. I have read the back of the Bible and we not only win but become “winners” the moment we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Without Jesus, I knew that I would be empty, void and done (damned) without Christ. In school, politics and ministry, I never got in it for the prestige, perks or power but because He is the reason for my existence, He is the Answer to life’s questions, “Author and Finisher of my faith” and as Son of God, Jesus alone is worthy of my all. Obedience is better than sacrifice and I was janitor at First Baptist Church of Waldorf, MD before any other ministerial position. Titles are important to man but my testimony is important to God. Intentionally, I have spelled my name in small letters and the lower I get in private the higher God has taken me publicly. Looking back, all ministry is BIG when we walk with the Lord.
The hymn is true: “Trust and Obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”
Some see my schedule today and view Los Angeles or London but I see a small town not far from La Plata, MD just north of Waldorf called Brandywine in a small country church. In 1979, a Vacation Bible School teacher shared God’s Word, radiated His love and asked a classroom of students do you want to follow Christ? By God’s grace, I said “yes” and today, doing my best to follow Him more than ever. The goal was never to be “famous” but found faithful. The biggest city of all is not Columbus, Calgary or Cairo but that Celestial City when I reach Heaven. Not the Gates of Pearl but the Prince of Peace, not street of gold but God, Himself. The jackpot is Jesus and the Lord is worth laboring, loving and living for! God is the Answer to all our problems.
Today, I want to love God and love on others. Someone sugggested: “A thousand mile journey begins with one small step.” Like that country song, I don’t know if I will die “cool” but praise God I am with Christ in this life and the one to come. I am Heaven bound, I am a kid of the King and a loser lost in the love of my Lord. Friend, I don’t believe in reincarnation but the Bible boasts about a RESURRECTION! THAT WILL PREACH!! Yes, 31 years ago this week; I stepped out for God (because He first reached out to me) and I prayerfully ask you to Stand Up, Stretch Out and Step IN to the Family of God now. Tomorrow is not certain and those that typically wait until the 11th hour to make things right with God usually die at 10:45 PM. If you have trusted Christ I would love to hear your testimony and profession of faith. If you haven’t and you’re not dead than God is not done with you! I have GOOD NEWS – visit this link now by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association how you can trust Christ as Savior http://www.billygraham.org/specialsections/steps-to-peace/steps-to-peace.asp If you have any questions regarding a relationship with Jesus please email me at Frankmotiv8s@aol.com or if you prayed to trust Christ as Savior please let me or anyone know so we can rejoice in your decision.
Jesus loves you and so do I. Together, by “God’s grace” may we all go with God.