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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

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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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