0

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)

Share
0

Christ-Our Life!

10514645_10153047532657119_6672864205718947858_nBy Ken McNaughton, Fire Chaplain

Colossians 3:3-4 “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

These two scriptures are crucial to understanding the state of the Church today.  The gospel being widely preached today proclaims, ‘Come to Jesus and He will give you a better, more abundant life’.  Many of you right now are agreeing with that statement seeing nothing wrong in its content.  Jesus did NOT come to give us a better life!  Jesus came to BE OUR LIFE!  This may seem like semantics to some of you, but it is in fact a deadly shift that has taken place in the Church.

Being a Christian today is more about embracing a certain kind of lifestyle rather than Christ being our LIFE.  Consider a newborn baby.  It is full of life, hungry, needy and ready to start learning and growing.  However, it has no thoughts of lifestyle patterns to ‘live’ by and keep up appearances.  All it is concerned with is crying out for the nurturing that only the One Who gave it LIFE can offer.  Its dependency upon the parent is ALL it knows and understands.  Listen carefully to these plain and direct words spoken by Jesus:

Matthew 18:2-4  “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Do you see and hear what He is really saying?  He says we have to be just like that little child, completely dependent upon Him for everything!  Today people have made Jesus part of their lifestyles fitting Him in where they have time for Him.  As long as they give Him a portion of their time, talents and treasure they are perceived as godly.  Jesus didn’t die so that we might ‘fit Him into our schedule’ for one or two days a week.  He didn’t shed His precious blood for a few of our dollars to help the Church make it through this difficult time!  He didn’t endure the ridicule of becoming flesh and blood so that we might one day make Him part of our weekly routine and lifestyles!  He came to be our LIFE!  The real gospel calls every man and woman to lay down their lives, crucify their fleshly desires and lifestyles, die to self and through the power of the Holy Spirit be raised to newness of LIFE IN CHRIST!  Anything less than this kind of commitment will fall short of the glory of God.

Are you committed to seeing our nation return to the proclamation of the real gospel one heart at a time, one church at a time, one home at a time, one preacher at a time?  This is not supposed to be a lifestyle change for us, but rather a commitment for LIFE.  Lifestyle changes can change as easily as one changes their diet year after year.  We are called and created to be different!  When a baby is born it is given a name that stays with it their entire life.  We, too, are given a NAME that is written in the Lamb’s book of LIFE when we choose to receive Christ as our LIFE.  As Christians, Christ is not part of our lives, He IS OUR LIFE!

If you find that you have somehow walked away from Christ being your LIFE and have made Him just part of your lifestyle, then call out to Him right now asking Him for mercy and forgiveness.  He is ever ready to live and move and have His being in you, but you must completely surrender ALL, not AL – most.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Remember, God never intended for us to make Christ “part” of our life. He wants us to surrender our life – to Him.

Serving the REAL Chief,

Ken McNaughton, Fire Chaplain, Spokane County Chaplaincy

Share
0

Take Out The Trash

Once a week my husband rolls the garbage can to the end of the driveway to be picked up by the garbage truck. Some weeks we have so much garbage that my husband can be seen climbing up on top of the garbage and jumping to smash it down so we can get one more load of trash into the can.Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 7.49.03 AM

Why is it so easy to let go of that kind of trash and yet the personal trash in our lives we choose to hang on to?  In a sense, we fight to push it down into ourselves like my husband stomps our trash down in the can.  By pushing down our trash (our past sins that we can’t let go of), we can never really be free and clean from our sin.

My pastor talked one night in church about how when we repent from our sins Jesus forgets about them.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12 (ESV)

He puts them in the garbage and puts a lid on it.  So why can’t we do the same?  We often repent and then we take it back.  I know I wouldn’t want to dig through my garbage can to pick some gross garbage out so I can stick it in the back of my closet. And yet it is so easy for us to go and dig our sins back out and hang onto them.

I love knowing that Jesus never holds our trash over our heads. He won’t bring up our sin to cause us shame. Jesus knows how to take out the trash if we would just let Him. If you have been carrying around a sin, let it go. Hang on to Jesus and not the trash that Satan loves to pile on us. There is freedom in Jesus, you just need to get on your knees and give up your sin. He paid the price; we don’t pay anything to dump our trash. Any day can be garbage day, so what is stopping you?

There is no right or wrong prayer in asking God to help you dump your trash, but if you are not sure how to start, let me help you.

Pray this:

Dear Lord, I am tired of dragging around with me the hurt from my past mistakes. I want to live in freedom and I want to know Your forgiveness. Please help me to let go of the trash that is holding me back from really living the life you want for me. Today I give you ______________________ (name it. Whatever it is, you need to give it to God). God, help me overcome the urge to drag that trash back into my life. Quicken my heart any time I try to drag the trash back in with the truth from Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He (You) removed our (my) transgressions from us (me).”   Thank you so much, Lord, for forgiving me. Today I believe with all my heart that what Your word says is true and that I am forgiven. Amen

Share
0

The change of a young man’s heart

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 8.13.31 AM

By Isaac Crandall

A simple story for the men out there; Kim had asked me if I could write a small MAN segment. I am honored to be a part of “Dirt, Trucks, and Faith”-seeing God through the eyes of young men.

My Background:

Growing up in a stricter Christian home I had always gone to church in my little suit and tie. When I got older I got more freedom from my parents to make the decision to go to church or not go. As a young boy I chose not to go to church.  I would rather have fun riding my dirt bike, watching movies, playing games and, etc. Sounds pretty normal so far right?

I kept my personal relationship with God although it was distant and I only kept him there when I needed something or if something bad was happening. I had never experienced God before. I had never really felt Him or seen Him.  Lastly, I had a small obsession with cars which leads into this story.

My story:

It started when I was kind of a careless, absentminded, 16 /17-year-old boy. I had just gotten my license and I was on my way back from Schweitzer 6630_490588280991527_77155941_nMountain Ski Resort. It had been an awesome day of skiing. I was amped up! I had landed a few 540’s and that was a big deal to me.  Being so amped up I figured what better thing to do than see how fast I could get home in my Honda Prelude that I had just finished rebuilding. I was on my way through Coeur d’Alene Idaho passing a few cars, driving a bit aggressive at 85 mph or so.  When I got to the straighter part of the freeway I decided to crack open the throttle a bit more. I passed under an overpass and all the sudden lights flipped on in the distance behind me. My mind was contemplating between running to the exit or pulling over and being responsible. The Lord led me to pull the car over.

As the officer came up to the window, I was shaking and almost crying. He said,  “Son do you know how fast you were going?”  “Umm, no I don’t?” I said.   He told me,  “I clocked you at around 106 mph”.  I was thinking I was lucky he didn’t catch me doing the actual speed I was doing. “Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” he said.  In a quivering voice I answered “no”.

I gave him my license and registration and he said, “I will be back”.  Meanwhile, tears are coming down my face as I am thinking of how mad my parents were going to be.  Two more police cars show up so I have a three state troopers on my case.  At that point, I thought for sure I was going to jail for reckless driving.  I started praying and praying hard. I asked God to get me out of this predicament. The officer finally came back and said, “Do you know how many families and people’s lives you took in your hands tonight driving like a fool?  These roads are slick, it is dark out and, you are not an experienced driver.”

I had never thought of it in that prospective before……

The officer then said, “I get a vibe from you that your Dad is going to kick your butt when you get home because you are an honest kid and you will tell them what happened tonight.”  I said “yes sir you are correct”.  “It’s lucky you are still in Idaho” he told me. “Here is your speeding ticket now DRIVE UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT ALL THE WAY HOME TONIGHT”.  I said “yes sir” as I slowly started my way home.  I knew I was going to get a not so nice talk from my parents, be disciplined and, have my car taken away.

After the talk it was late. I snuck out to our field by our house, knelt down and starting praying to God as if He was a great friend I had let down. Before that night I had been driving a dangerous road very aggressively. I now see that night as God’s way of communicating to me that I needed to slow down and take a step back. I needed to look at my life and ask myself, “Am I driving too aggressive? 553483_4069941953155_1067940942_nWas I driving as the world would want me to drive?”  In my personal life I found the answer to those questions a few months later. I found that I need to be driving strong and steady for Him and for the benefit of others.  By this I mean do not  just sit at an idle……God wants us to put on some low profile “Y” rated tires and really grip His highway.

I asked for forgiveness that night and asked if He would start guiding my life in the direction He intends me to go.  I prayed for myself to take more time and initiative to consider other people’s lives instead of my own.  I had been being selfish. I prayed that He would help me grow into a man of God. A man He would be proud to call His son. I asked Him to help me understand that He is real and that He is all-powerful.

Keep in mind it was a cold night and I was freezing. After I sat in silence for a few minutes a warm comforting wind seemed to come around me and almost hug me. It was like a warm blanket filled with mercy and grace, letting me know that He is was there and He forgave me.  I can’t explain the feeling even to this day.  I broke down and started crying.  From my perspective, it was as if God was showing me that He still loved me after years of turning my back to Him.  I had chosen my highway rather than His and yet He still loved me.  The same is true for you. God1613857_10203743427092415_6056444948780037742_n loves you even if you have chosen your own highway for a time.  He loved me when I fell away and He loves you too. That experience has never left me till this day; God reaches us all at different times and in different ways. I think it is amazing the way he can take an experience that pertains to you as a specific person and make you realize certain things. He can help you on your specific path.

I love the way He loves me. I have to say, “Lord I am amazed by you”.

 

You can follow me on Facebook at Heartfelt ramblings of a midlife domestic goddess and on Twitter at @Mom4Godalways.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 7.01.52 PMI have some other great guys lined up to be guest writers in this series so I hope you check back.

 

Share