Archive for January, 2009

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Leading Against the Current

January 26, 2009

Against the current…

Alewife and Blueback herring, Ticonic FallsWhen you first read the subtitle, what did you visualize? If your first visualization was of a river, you are in good company. Many of those I introduced the subtitle to thought of the same thing. I must confess that I too though of a river the first time I discerned this was to be the title. Over time, however, I began to see what Christ was truly meaning by this theme. Against the current… you fill in the gap.

Perhaps “the current” for you is a particularly hard financial circumstance that seems to crush your will to lead. Maybe your “current” is a troubled relationship whether it be with a spouse, friend, co-worker, or family member. Maybe your “current” is an internal battle with a beginning reaching back early into your childhood that still affects every day of your life. Whatever your “current” is, we are calling for a Rebellion.

One of the “current” situations I would like readers to walk away with is that of spiritual warfare. Sometimes, just saying these words will elicit a strong and often nonchalant response out of today’s Christians. It seems as if we have forgotten that we are not to be of this world, merely in it. With all of the references to spiritual warfare and the war craft of our adversary in Scripture, it seems today’s Christian goes to the battlefield not only unknowingly, but unprepared. So what is the “current” that I am alluding to?

Using our example of the Spartan army, one could definitely say they went against the current of their day. When their neighbors were engrossed in theology and the arts, the Spartans held true to their traditions of daily training and the development of a regimented society centered around the call to be a warrior. Even during times of peace, the Spartan nation trained for war. Unlike their neighbors, they were aware of the propensity for nations to sit quietly and then suddenly erupt in war. So against the “current” of their day, Spartans were aware that ware was not a matter of an “if” as much as it was “when.” Regardless of the “when”, the Spartan nation would be ready. In fact, when Persia mounted her army to invade the Greek nations, it was not long before Athens and the other Greek states eagerly sought out Sparta to lead the charge to defend their nations.

Currently, most Christians do not actively believe there is a battlefield out there. Some preachers in the mainstream media have shied away from this controversial topic. As a church, we have become so active in evangelizing; we have forgotten the importance of equipping our new Christians for the battle they will encounter. As with the Spartans, we are to know it is not a matter of “if” as much as it is a matter of “when.”

For some Christians who are struggling with the battle of mounting debt and financial troubles, they are not aware there is a demon actively working to use financial disparity to separate them not only from God, but also from their spouse, family, or friends. For the Christian fighting a past of abuse, whether it be when they were a child or when they were older, they are fighting a demon whose intent is to devalue them in their own minds enough to not even have the reality of God’s perfect love register with them or seem attainable. Regardless of your “current” status, there is an adversary actively working on your circumstances to separate you from Christ. For Judas, he used greed for money and power to lure him away from Christ. For Peter, he used that of fear. For Samson, he used pride. Even today, we have unfortunately seen the fall of many Christians who were lured away by the “current” battle of their day.

Part of Satan’s victory begins with us not acknowledging he exists. Read that sentence again. If you are going to fight against the “current” in your life, you must admit there is someone working against you. Look at your “current”, what in life causes you to challenge Christ? Do you feel that Christ could not possibly forgive you because you are such a sinner? If you believe that, then you need also believe the enemy is active in your “current” battle. Satan wants you to feel that Christ’s love is unattainable and that you are just not worth it. Do you feel like simply giving up with your “current” battles of life? Then you’d best believe that Satan is actively seeking to destroy you. He knows that your strength is in your thoughts of yourself and by defeating that, he can defeat you. The enemy is “current” in the world.

Our call in Scripture is the rebel. We are to rebel against the fleshly desires we have and to want that pleasing to God. Scripture calls us to rebel against the notion that we can simply do good works only and get to heaven that way. Scripture calls us to rebel against legalism of faith and seek intimacy over routine. Scripture not only calls for us to rebel against our “current”, it provides us the ability to do it.

In the following chapters, we will discuss the weapons Christ not only used, but passed down to us. He’s provided the training, but it is up to us to wield them effectively against the enemy. The enemy of your “current”.

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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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300 Men can make a difference Part II

January 14, 2009

300 Men can make a difference Part II

Believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities of the Spartan soldiers in the movie 300 and the plight of today’s Christian Leaders.  After watching the movie, I spent the next couple of days reading and researching more on these 300 men who willingly took the “Road Less Traveled.”  What was their motivation?  Why did that seem like the only option?  Why does their story remind me so much of the Christian journey?

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One of the most notable aspects of the Spartans was their fighting style. Since birth, the Spartan culture raised its young men to be warriors. In fact, beginning at age 7, they entered their training, a training curriculum that would make today’s Navy Seals or other elite military training programs pale in comparison. Day and night, they were taught to survive, fight, and win. With no more than a mere cloth around their waist, they were to endure the heat of the day and the cold of the night.

In their training, Spartans were taught to fight on their own, but the true strength of this army was in their ability to fight as a group. Shoulder to shoulder, the Spartans would use their shields collectively to form a fierce outer shell and would push forward, using their shields for protection and then their spears or swords to execute the decisive blows that crushed enemies. It is said that Xerses could not understand just how this group of Spartans was able to obliterate a major portion of their elite fighting force. It seemed like every force that was thrown against this group of 300 men were slaughtered against all reasoning.

Another interesting note about the fighting style and training of your average Spartan soldier was their emphasis on team fighting. From some historical accounts, you hear of the Spartans fighting shoulder to shoulder and back to back. One defended the other as well as themselves, it was a team effort to fight and defend. What could we as Christians learn from this?

As Christians, we should surround each other and, as the Spartan soldiers, fight and defend each other. One of the key strengths the Spartan armies had was their unity and we have to be able to find that in our daily walk. We have come under the enemy in thinking that our faith is something “private” to us and not worthy or interest of others. In other cases, we know if we share our faith with others, we will be held to more accountability. Regardless of the reason, part of the “rebellion” plan needs to be to partner with other Christians in the battle against “the current”.

One great way to do this is by joining a small group within your church or forming one yourself. If you are a father, join a group with other Christian dads who are in the same battle as you. This is one battlefield that needs more soldiers who are willing to dig their heels in and fight against the enemy. Personally, I have two or three Christian dads that I group with who are able to understand the trials and battles I endure daily not only as someone in the business world, but as a Christian father. When the enemy begins to attack, I know that they will cover me with prayer and support me in any other way I may need it. They also hold me accountable in daily things, especially my “training” routine.

Have you been offering time for daily devotion? Have you spent quality time with your wife? Have you spent quality time with your children? Is work becoming your idol? These are all questions that one of these men will ask me and I will ask of them. It’s strengthening my resolve as a rebel against the “current” of today’s fatherhood.

So what is it about today’s “current” view of fatherhood that needs so much resistance and rebellion? If you were to watch any prime time TV show, you’d see a major difference in how the men of the family are portrayed versus what Scripture has outlined our behaviors to be. According to Ephesians 5, we are to do the following for our wives:

Ø Love our wives as Christ loves the church” –

o That means we are not to lust silently or with our eyes for any other woman. We are to uphold them in the home, love them and respect them. Just as Christ would protect the church, we are to protect our wives not only physically, but spiritually. All too often, as Christian men, we do not claim victory in our homes against the enemy forces. We have to bond our efforts with Christ as our general and join the other Christian fathers in our community and rise up against the enemy. We are to present her clean and without blemish to Christ and to do so through the Word. Rebels, our greatest weapon often sits on our nightstand or end table with dust on it. The Word is our sword, it’s time we all pick it up and begin using it.

So what is the “rebellion” against? What is the “current” we are fighting as Christian men in today’s battle? We are to be Christian men and warriors, not cowards. Our society, through so many channels of the media as well as so many poor decisions made by men in our generation, has cast the father out as unimportant. We have let society warp our role and diminish our authority in the home. This is where our “rebellion” is to take place.

As a partner to other Christian men, I am strengthened by the resolve of my vocation as a Christian father as well as the men I stand shoulder to shoulder with. When I need prayer for help or wisdom in the battlefield I am in, my Christian partners help by raising their shield in my defense and fighting on my behalf while I strengthen through prayer and devotion. The same is true for when one of my Christian partners is in need. My call is to defend them in prayer and supplication, protect them with the shield until they are strengthened enough to fight their battle.

The enemy has brought the war to our camp and enslaved many of our men today. It is time we take the “rebellion” to his camp. How? We are to infiltrate our offices, our little league teams, our homes, and anywhere else we find ourselves spending time. We are to stand for Christian values and intimately discern what we are to do in all situations. When the enemy begins pushing against our families with his various weapons, we are to dust off that sword that is the Word and wage war back against him, defending our wives and our children against the lies and treachery the enemy brings.

It is time for us to take back the ground that we have lost over the last century. It is time for us to start acting like a Christian warrior who has undergone spiritual training comparable to the training received by the Spartan warriors. It’s time for a rebellion.

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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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A Leadership Gift

January 9, 2009

Hope you all had a great 1st week in 2009!  I thought I would share a little “pump you up” video.  Enjoy!

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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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Christian Leadership-Rebellion

January 8, 2009

Rebellion, it is a strong word in these modern times. I find it ironic, however, to know that most of the historical events that have received recognition have been the result of a rebellion. Some, like the American Revolution, were violent against a government or tyranny. Others were merely against an institution like that of Martin Luther. Rebellion, whether it is violent or nonviolent, evokes a strong conviction within most people today.

So what is “rebellion”? If you were to accurately define the word by looking online or in a dictionary, you would find multiple definitions. I came across two of them that I really liked:

Ø To resist or defy an authority or a generally accepted convention.

Ø To feel or express strong unwillingness or revulsion.

Although these are great definitions, my absolute favorite definition was actually the inspiration for the logo for this book. It is from the Chinese language and consists of two characters and these are the characters we will refer to when discussing the Christian Leadership Rebellion.

策 反= to incite defection; to instigate rebellion within the enemy camp

If any Christian were to truly look at Scriptures, they would find Christianity itself was considered a rebellion. In fact, many of the Christian disciples and early believers were labeled as rebels. They were rebels to Rome for not bending their knee to Caesar as Lord. They were rebels to the Jewish authority, claiming that Christ was the Messiah. In fact, Celsus, a Greek Philosopher and known opponent of Christianity, labeled the early Christians as a rebel faction among the Jews-who once rebelled against their enslavers Egypt.

So why in this day in age is the word “rebellion” avoided in today’s Christian discussion circuit? Why does the word “rebellion” or “rebel” no longer associate itself with Christians today? If there were a time for Christians to be considered “rebels”, it would be now. The degree of spiritual warfare always seems strongest by the era it is attacking. I would have to say, however, as a Christian leader in the workplace, in my home, and in my church, I must say the enemy has recently upped his game with new tools. He is on the prowl using technology to help sink his claws into his prey. He has become a master at making Americans just too “busy” to successfully make time for their relationship with Christ. We have some of the core Christian values being attacked in our courtrooms with little or no resistance. As a father, I find myself defending our faith to our children against the things they see on channels like Nickelodeon (even when we monitor the shows they watch).

I love this quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.” Today, we are fighting the same enemy of old. He uses the same lie he used in Genesis. As a Christian leader, whether it be in your office, in your community or in your home, you are in a battle. It is time for a rebellion! True Christian leadership in this modern era will be considered a rebellion. The tyranny we face is not from government, but from our enemy and his vices. During the course of this journey, we will discuss this definition of rebellion: rebellion within the enemy camp. This type of rebellion is the most applicable for our current state.

One of the most notable rebellions recently highlighted in 2006. Director Zack Synder made a movie that rocked the box office depicting some of the accounts of the Battle of Thermopyhlae in the hit movie 300. In case you do not know the story of this battle, I would urge you to do some research on it since we will be referencing this battle and the Spartan warriors throughout the book. The first section of this book will focus on the line in the sand the Spartans drew and how this decision changed history. We will focus on some of the characteristics, behaviors, and training that made them different from their enemy and discuss how we, as Christian leaders, can implement some tactics to use in our enemy’s camp.

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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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.