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From Rags to Riches

Annie is a Broadway musical based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip, “Little Orphan Annie”. It is the story of a little orphan girl who is desperately looking for her parents. After running away to find them, she is brought back to the orphanage. Luckily for Annie, she finds herself in the right place at the right time and ends up in the home of billionaire, “Daddy” Warbucks, for Christmas. As the story unfolds, you see a bond forming between them. The little girl who sings, “It’s a hard knock life” captures the heart of “Daddy” Warbucks and he opens his home and his heart to her. The story of Annie is a rags-to-riches story but there isScreen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.23.42 AM another rags-to-riches story that I want to consider today. It is not fiction; this is a real life rags-to-riches story.

It is a story that many of us can understand. Often we see ourselves only worthy of rags when God wants to pour His riches upon us. When I say riches, I don’t mean monetarily. I mean the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. God through His forgiveness wants to remove the rags of our past and clothe us in something new. When we repent of our sins and believe in our heart that Christ died for our sins, we are made new. Our rags are gone.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17(NIV) 

Seems simple, right? Confess, believe, throw out our rags, and move on to a life of riches in Christ. For many that is exactly what happens but some of us find ourselves putting our rags back on again, doubting that we are really forgiven. We believe there is no way God can actually forgive us. Some of us have heard countless times we are “useless” and “unworthy” and we think that’s what God sees when He looks at us.

God doesn’t dangle forgiveness in front of us like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. It is not something He puts just out of our reach and only offers to a few. It is freely given to all of us. When we don’t believe that we are truly forgiven, we continue to wear the rags of our past. It is like saying, “God, I don’t believe You are big enough.”

FullSizeRenderIn Christ, you can move from rags to riches, if you simply accept the forgiveness that He freely offers.

Isaiah 61:10 tells us, I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NASB)

Read that again. He has clothed you in garments of salvation. He wrapped you in a robe of righteousness. You are compared to a bridegroom and a bride. What bridegroom is not looking his best on his wedding day and what bride is not glowing and radiant?

I heard an amazing woman of God, Jan Stahl, speak at our women’s retreat. She said, “Stop wearing the rags of this world when you are clothed in righteousness.” I love that. Jan was saying that we have been forgiven, redeemed, and made righteous in the eyes of God. We are new and yet we continue to pick up the hurt, sin, and shame of our old life and put it back on.

If you had your choice between crisp, clean, white socks and smelly, dirty socks that have walked through all manner of dirt, mud, and filth, you would choose the clean ones, right?  It is an easy choice when it’s about socks. But for some reason when it comes to receiving all that God has for us, we find ourselves reaching for the past, no matter how dirty it is.

Is it because our past is familiar to us and the world tells us it is what we deserve? God sees beyond our mistakes. He wants to pour out His riches upon us. He wants to clothe you in righteousness. God has given you a new wardrobe, so what are you waiting for? Throw out the rags and clothe yourself in the riches of His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Father, I pray that whoever reads this will understand that they are deeply loved by You and that Your forgiveness knows no bounds. I pray they will leave their rags behind forever and stop trying to put them back on because You want so much more for them. Lord, I pray that they will receive the new wardrobe of Your love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. May they believe with their whole heart that Your son, Jesus, is the only way to move from rags to riches. Amen.

Originally Posted on Living Better 50 Magazine. LB50ContributorSQ

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The change of a young man’s heart

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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.

 

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God is like an all you can eat buffet

Every once in a while, my dad likes to take us all to the local buffet for an all you can eat dinner.  He loves it because the grandkids can get what ever they want. It is also fast and everyone leaves full.

The hot out of the oven rolls are my favorite along with a little mashed potatoes and gravy and I have
blown my calorie intake for the whole week.   We laugh about wearing our buffet pants so we can get our moneys worth.  For those of you that don’t know what buffet pants are…. they are sweats or loose-fitting pants.  They help you avoid having to undo your pants on the ride home after you have over eaten at the buffet.  Those buffet pants come in handy when you find your way to the tasty desserts.  I often think I’ll need to run a half marathon to burn those extra calories off but it is always a fun family time so it is worth it.

Sitting in church I got the picture of God being much like a buffet.  Just like we step up to the lay out of all kinds of food with an empty plate, we can step up to God and fill our souls with exactly what we need.

The best thing about His buffet is that it is free!!  One day we may need a serving of grace, with a double helping of forgiveness.  The next time we might need strength, peace, and comfort.

Just think of all the wonderful things that we can help ourselves to when we step up to the buffet of the Lord?   Joy, wisdom, understanding, compassion, kindness, love, forgiveness, comfort, strength, peace, gentleness, patience, clarity, rest, grace, and healing are a few of the wonderful things He offers.

There is no limit on the serving sizes you can take.  You can come as often as you need!  There is no guilt when you serve up at His buffet. There is no shame and you always feel satisfied.

Psalm 34:8 says, 
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Don’t you think it is time to step to the buffet and start loading up your plate with what you need?  There is never a line and it is always open.

What are you waiting for?  Go and get your fill!!

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