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Branded in Christ

Originally posted for Living Better 50 Magazine.

While driving home the other day, I saw a man walking toward his house with a pile of mail tucked under his arm. In his hands was an envelope he had hastily torn open to see what movie Netflix sent him.

At 60 mph I knew he was opening a Netflix envelope because Netflix has done such a good job in branding their product. That red envelope with its white border is all I needed to see to know what it was.

Branding is such a huge part of any marketing plan. To brand something in the business sense means, “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal .” –(businessdictionary.com)

12087060_904002133010441_1719917624654712051_oSeeing that man on my drive home got me to thinking, how am I “branding” myself as a believer in Christ? I have been covered, branded, and marked by the forgiveness, mercy and grace of Christ but is that what people see when they look at me? For that matter, is it what they see when they look at you?

My stomach is sick and there is a pain in my heart as I type this because I am saddened by the stigma the word “Christian” has in our society. Let’s say God was a businessman. His children, the “Christians” as we like to call ourselves, are the product he is trying to market and brand. How well do you think we have hit the mark in creating a unique name and image for Christ? What image is being left in the minds and hearts of those who do not know God? If “branding” is a means to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers I think we have missed the mark. Christ is love. He is mercy and He is grace. That is the brand or the image we should be projecting yet many who call themselves “Christians” project hatred in their judgmental ways. Great branding attracts and retains loyal customers. I think we are falling short in that area. In many ways I think we are driving people from our churches rather than into them.

The term “Christian” has such a negative image these days. It is not the kind of branding I want to represent me. I want the mark of His love, His grace, and His mercy to be what people see. At 60 mph, I knew that man was opening a Netflix envelope and from a distance, I want people to see His joy in me. I want to be so well branded in the love of Christ that people will want to know more about what is inside of me. My prayer is that you will want the same thing. Companies spend big bucks getting the perfect branding to represent who they are and what they have to offer. Christ gave his life for us. It cost him everything and he has marked us with His love and forgiveness. We have been branded, because we are sealed in the forgiveness of His blood. That is what we need to be sharing with the world.

Before you slide into your name brand jeans, lace up your Nike shoes, grab your iPhone and your Starbucks coffee, clothe yourself in Christ because it’s the most important brand name you will ever wear.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

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Lead By Example

This was originally written and posted on the Whatever Girls Ministry as “lead your daughter by example”

Whatever-Girls-ButtonAh, a free moment. As a mom, that is a rare thing. Sitting on the patio at the cabin I noticed a mother duck and her ducklings. She swam towards the beach with her babies in tow. I was fascinated. The babies watched everything she did. She turned, they turned. If she put her head under the water, they put their heads under the water. As the babies went under the water they occasionally got turned around. I watched them look for their mother when their heads came out of the water and they would swim as fast as they could to get close to her. Watching them made me smile.

As I sat there, it made me think about how much our children watch us. Our children learn by our example just as those ducklings were learning from their mother. If anger is what we model to our children, it is what they will believe is acceptable. If we show kindness and respect towards others, our children will learn to treat people the same way. Racism is a learned behavior as is taking responsibility or not taking responsibility for one’s actions.

One of the most convicting things to me was hearing my son at a very young age use a four letter word that started with an “S” and ended with a “T”. My husband asked him where he learned a word like that. “From mom,” he replied. The word that upset my husband and me when it came out of our little boy’s mouth was the word that seemed to be flowing from my mouth. That got my attention and I knew I needed to make some changes.

Just as our kids pick up on the bad moments we are having, they also pick up on the good things we model to them. Making Christ a priority in your own life teaches your children the importance of having a relationship with Him. Our kids are a lot like those ducklings I watched imitating their mom. If we imitate Christ in our actions, we are teaching them to do the same.

As I watched the mother duck and her ducklings, God put it on my heart that no matter how old our children are, they continue to watch us. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t think that because your children reach their teens they no longer need to learn from you. They will need you in a whole new way than when they were little. They need to see you setting an example of what self-respect looks like.   Modeling self-respect to your teens can keep them from making choices they’ll regret. If your teens see you stand up for what is right and against what is wrong, you are teaching them to do the same. You just might find you have a teen that stands up to bullying because of what you have modeled to them about how others should be treated.

My children are in their very early twenties and I continue to live my life in a way that models Jesus to them. I continue to live in a way that shows them the value of self-respect and kindness towards others. When I make a mistake, I take responsibility for it because I know my kids are still watching me. My kids may be grown but they are still my ducklings and your kids will always be your ducklings.   Don’t forget – they are watching you.

 

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