Archive for June, 2009

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Little Mermaid’s Ursula Helps Teach us about Sin

June 21, 2009

Teaching the subject of sin to children can be fairly challenging and intimidating.  I know personally, sometimes teaching the subject of sin to adults can be a daunting task as well.  Sin and temptation are common themes throughout all of Scripture.  Using various Bible stories as teaching tools is a great idea.  If you need to take the message a step further and need some help, let me introduce you to a great character to use… Ursula.

I guess I know so much about The Little Mermaid because it is one of my little girl’s favorite movies.  After watching it several times, I became intrigued with the correlation Ursula’s character has to the reality of sin and temptation.

Here are some helpful hints on how to use Ursula’s character to teach your children about sin and temptation:

1.  Ursula plotted to trap Ariel, using her own weakness/passion against her. If you have seen the movie, you will remember how Ursula watches Ariel’s passion for Eric develop and decides to use this as a ploy to trap her.  Unfortunately, our enemy does the same thing with us.  Like Ariel, when our mind becomes focused on something more than pleasing our father, we can easily be beguiled by the slippery words Satan uses.  Unfortunately, many have fallen to this temptation, never seeing or knowing that Satan had been plotting their temptation for some time.   We have to teach our children to be on their guard at all times.  Ephesians 6 tells us,

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

2.  Temptation usually sounds like a deal that can’t go wrong… but it does. A number of us have fallen prey to the temptation of believing a deal that was not true.  Unfortunately, when we become obsessed with something, our rational approach to things and of all things, our spiritual compass, seems to go out the window.  Teach your children about how to guard against such things and be wary of making decisions before praying about them.  Just like Ursula’s deal with Ariel, sin sounds so inviting until we find ourselves caught in its snares.

3.  Sin affects those we love the most, even when we don’t mean for them to. Ariel’s deal with Ursula affected her friends, Eric and her father.  When the contracted was called to be paid, Ariel’s father had to pay with his life to save Ariel’s.  This is a great lesson to teach your children about sin.  As we covered in an earlier post, A Father’s Love, the king’s sacrifice for his daughter’s deal is much like the sacrifice Christ made for our sin.  As it states in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Teach your children that sin affects all of us, but that there is redemptive mercy in Christ’ sacrifice for our “contract”.

4.  The enemy makes the rules, but will cheat to win. I love how Ariel’s plan begins working, but when the scenerio seems to play in her favor, Ursula takes matters into her own hands and competes against Ariel, making it difficult to win.  Many of us think that for some reason, sin will work out in our favor and will not have the same effect other people’s sin has had.  This is simply untrue.  Like Ursual, Satan will not follow any rules that will further our relationship with Christ.  In fact, he lives to destroy it.  We have to teach our children how to know when we are being tempted and how to pray against it.  Additionally, as fathers, we need to actively pray for our children’s decisions, regardless of their ages.

5.  The deal will always take something from you. In this movie, Ariel’s voice is taken from her as part of the deal.  Help your children understand John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Just like Ursula, the devil will steal something from them in every sin transaction.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Ursula’s plot to that of Satan’s.  Have them be on the look out throughout the movie for different instances where the similarities are apparent.  You might be surprised what they come up with.  And better yet, you might just learn something new yourself!

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

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Happy Feet- What Has YOU Choked Up?

June 15, 2009

Happy Feet is just a great movie all the way around.  Having so many dimensions in this movie that could apply to Christian life, I thought it best to start out with one character who was just that… a character!

Robin Williams in just about any role is going to guarantee some over the top acting and incredible one-liners.

The charismatic character Lovelace provides us a great avenue for discipleship with our children.  If you have seen the movie, you will remember that Lovelace is the area’s latest guru or “Wisdom Attraction.”  He claims to have been taken by aliens and bestowed the gift of wisdom from them in the form of a necklace-or as you can see from the picture, more like a coke can ring.

As the main character searches for his own understanding of the world, we learn more about this Lovelace as he serves as guide to the land where the aliens took him and bestowed this knowledge.  As it turns out, Lovelace reveals the truth about his necklace and claims to wisdom.  Rather than the gift being bestowed upon him, it was something that he swam into and developed a story around.  In reality, the one thing that had given him so much fame was now choking the life out of him.

So what lessons could we talk to our children about?

1.  Everyone has something in their life that they develop a “story” to explain. In Matthew 23:28, Jesus tells the Pharisees of the day, “28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  It seems our little friend Lovelace would fall into this category, although he didn’t appear to be all that wicked.  Like many of us, Lovelace developed a grandiose story of how we developed a weakness.  In our day, many people seek out “wisdom” from individuals who have such apparent flaws rather than seeking wisdom that comes from Christ.  Encourage your children to remember that it is through our weakness that we are made strong.  Christ can do amazing things with those things in our lives we see as being failures or obstructions.

2.  Eventually, lies will come to choke you. I was told early in life that when you lie, you must tell five more to cover it up.  Looking back through my years, I can definitely see where this saying is true.  Proverbs 12:19 says it best,

19 Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

You most likely can think of people in your life or in the public eye whose lies eventually caught up with them.  As I think of a couple who have recently been debunked by their own lies, I realize that they too had begun to be choked by the lies they were living.  Use Lovelace to help explain this life lesson about lying and the repercussions this sin sows into our lives.

3.  The Truth changes lives. One of the more poignant developments in this movie is the race to save Lovelace from the death grip of his “necklace.”  In one of the scenes, the coke ring is snapped and a revived Lovelace takes the stage yet again.  He becomes free of his captor as well as free from his lie.  Isn’t the same true in our own lives when we embrace the truth that is Christ and confess the lies that are choking our lives?  Our children must understand that although we will be offered fame and attention by lying about various aspects of our lives, eventually, like Lovelace, we will no longer receive life from those ways.  It is only through the honest confession of those sins/lies in our lives and the embracing of Christ’ truth that we can be free.

As a dad, I love using everything I can to help teach solid Christian values to my children.  One of the things I have quickly learned as a father is the world uses television to “proselytize”  to our children right under our noses.  The movie Happy Feet presents fathers a great opportunity to teach about several Christian values in a way that will hopefully speak to your child on their level.

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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About the Writer:

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Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Hello-I Am a Slave

June 11, 2009

In my day to day job, I live for the introduction.  There is much in an introduction.  Think about it for a minute.  In someone’s introduction, you could easily determine the following (even if it were over the phone):

  • Age – help you make inferences about how they are interpreting what you are saying.
  • Nationality – easily determined by accent or dialect
  • Job Title – may help you understand what motivates this person like ego, thrill of the kill, or the numbers
  • Last Name – again, a little about the heritage and perhaps, depending on the town, you could tell some about their “rank” in society

As you can see, there is a lot you can discover about a person in their introduction.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to prepare for teaching the book of Romans.  It has been a while since I have actually taken some time to study the book, and I believe now is the providential time for me to do so.

In preparing for the first lesson, I could not move past the first verse for a while.  Read Romans 1:1 -

1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…

slave

Now in thinking about how I introduce myself, I usually mention that I am a husband, a father, and where I work and attend church.  Paul truly taught me how flawed my introduction was in Romans 1:1.   Let’s look at this a bit deeper.

1.  Paul introduces himself as a slave to Christ.  In his day, slaves were not even human, more like property, owned by someone else.  Their will and very existence depended upon their master.  In this short phrase, Paul is identifying himself as one who is not in control.  He names his master later in the passage as being Jesus.  Think for a second.  If you were to add this to your introduction, would it be true?  Could people honestly look at how you live your life and see that Christ was the “master” of your life and that your will was not your own?

2.  Slaves were bought by someone else.  Again, in this phrase, Paul is ultimately setting up his case for Christ.  By identifying himself as a slave of Christ, he is also implying that Christ paid for him.  In2 Corinthians 5:21 is states:

21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Wow, how humbling is it to know that the sinless son of God took on our sin as ransom for us?  He purchased us out of the slavery of the world to become slaves for Him.  Paul knew that better than most and it should not surprise us that he first identified himself as being “owned” or paid for by Christ.

3.  In saying all of this, Paul was identifying himself in Christ.  In Romans 6, Paul delves deeper into his identity in Christ.  Do you identify yourself in Christ?  I know there are times I do not and then again, the times I do, I am quite sure I should not.  Paul’s identity was not even his own.  He identified his master.

So the next time you go to introduce yourself, I hope you think of Romans 1:1 and give yourself a little “self-check”.  Those are always good to have, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.  Helps set the bar for how others may interpret you, and who knows, it may even introduce them to your master.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Everyone Worships God Right?

June 1, 2009

Would you like to know a powerful piece of understanding to have in your arsenal for evangelism?  Is there some piece of knowledge you would like to have to use as a way to increase your stance in your apologetic message to others?  Of course, your strength, fortitude, resilience, peace, and understanding of your faith should all come from and be rooted in your relationship with Christ and his grace.  I would daresay, if we were all honest with ourselves, we would still want more right?  Just that edge that for some reason, we just don’t feel we have.

As I was driving into work this morning, I began thinking about a couple of people in my life that I could reach out to them and tell them about Christ’s redemptive love and grace.  Some of these are pretty intelligent people who may or may not intimidate me.  Some are people who love life and really don’t want to be “tied down” by any legalistic religions.  Others are “church” people who need to get real with their faith and stop trying to serve two masters in life.  So how do I get them to see that worship God is the “thing to do.”

I began sifting through all of my “theological” mind files and began formulating different ways to present the information, but for some reason, I just could not get over that hill.  What about the people who really don’t believe in God?  That’s when it hit me… EVERYONE WORSHIPS GOD!

I am quite sure a couple of people who read that statement might already begin to get themselves in an uproar like I did when it first crossed my mind.  However, if you think about it, the statement is true.  The only difference is whether they are worshiping God or god.  In Scripture, the little “g” gods have a more glamorous name:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3  There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that statement.  I believe all of us struggle with this on some level if we were to be honest with ourselves.  For some of us who are Christians and do honor Christ with our life, we still struggle with balancing work, family, church, little league, girl scouts… get the point?  So often, we get caught up in little idols making our schedule and not starting our day with the true and living God. Deuteronomy 32:37 is one of my favorites regarding the subject:  “And he will say, Where are their gods, The rock in which they took refuge…”  I know personally, I have had a time of reckoning when God showed me just how many idols I had in my own life.

The issue in evangelising those who are on my heart is not convincing them that they are not worship a god, but convincing them they are worshiping the wrong god.

  • And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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