Archive for March, 2009

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Enemy Behind the Lines – Regret

March 31, 2009

Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I have had to confront in my own spiritual walk: regret.

How would you define regret?  It can be a somewhat ambiguous word.  Of the various definitions researched, I believe the best found defined regret as a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Are there memories, decisions, or events that once they enter your mind, the immediate effect is regret?  Personally, I equate regret with a deep sense of darkness that overtakes my soul.  Physically, there are times where I feel everything from a headache forming in the base of my head to a burning in my chest.  It amazes me how one emotion can cause such serious physical manifestations.

There are decisions in life I regret, perhaps minor decisions that could have had a tremendous effect on my life and the lives of those around me.  There are events or situations I handled that leave me with a tremendous sense of regret.  The most dangerous of regrets is that over our sin.  This is the enemy that not only sneaks behind the line of defense most Christian Men put up, but it tends to camp out and slowly corrupt the rest of the troops if left undetected. What is the difference between conviction and regret?

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

There is a difference in godly grief versus regret.  For the longest time,  I struggled trying to understand the difference between conviction and regret or guilt.  Honestly, I still struggle with this aspect of my faith and consistently have to remind myself of 2 Corinthians 7:10.  One great way I learned to discern the difference between the two was by simply asking myself, “Is this feeling pushing me toward or away from Christ?”

Godly grief or conviction generally draws us closer to Christ.  Most of the time, when I feel convicted over a particular event or behavior, the Holy Spirit is convicting me on the need for confession and repentance.  Guilt or regret usually has me wanting to hide myself from Christ, embarrassed and unwilling at times to go before the throne.  Regret is the motivator for taking those events, decisions or other items I had previously taken to the cross and left in Christ’s hands back into my own hands to try to “fix.”  It never works, but for some reason, a number of Christians fall prey to this deadly, and at times, elusive enemy.

Last example for you regarding regret.  Have you ever tried driving in rush hour traffic while looking only in your rear  view mirror?  Not very helpful is it?  I cannot think of a better example of regret.  Sometimes, the Enemy will convince us to believe The Lie and we spend more of our time focusing on the sins of the past.  Again, if they are sins needing to be confessed and repented of, they would not qualify as regret, rather, they would qualify as the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The Enemy knows if he can get our focus more on what we didn’t do for Christ in our past, we would miss the potential opportunities for us to work within Christ’s will for our lives in the present.  So many Christian Men remain trapped by regret and do not find the opportunities for ministry in their offices, families, churches or communities.  Regret serves as an anchor holding one in place rather than moving forward toward their Savior.  How do you get this enemy out of your camp?  Prayer is the obvious answer, but I challenge you to embrace the aspect of prayer that will help you most with this particular enemy… Surrender.

Surrender is a subject we will discuss in the next post, it warrants its own post.  Just to give you a mental picture of what surrender looks like, I found a picture of what Christ might be telling you if you are suffering from regret or the “rear view mirror syndrome.”

rearview-mirror1

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Unwillingness to Change

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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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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Enemy Behind the Line: Unwillingness to Change

March 26, 2009

Change.  Such a small word brings such different emotions from different people.  Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I see challenging every Christian, especially Christian Men; that of Unwillingness to change.

change-1For some, the emotion is pure excitement and thrill.  There are those who earnestly live to have the adrenaline rush associated with change.  They seek to change large and small things in life.  Sometimes, they will simply move the phone from one area of the desk to the other, simply to have change.  Their enemy is monotony.

For others, the emotion associated with the word change is pure anxiety.  Losing control is not an option they embrace and any type of change, regardless of the size, will send them into orbit.  They enjoy knowing what will happen, when it will happen, and to what degree it will happen.

Unfortunately, as the aphorism goes, “Change happens.”  It is inevitable.  In fact, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle says, “There will always be an element of uncertainty in the universe.”  So, if something is not certain, wouldn’t that indicate there is change on the horizon?

Change Agents, or people who initiate change,  can be some of the most well-liked or deeply-despised people in any organization, office, church, or even family.  It seems they have a mug shot to live up to with their energy, out of the box thinking, and convictions.  Depending on what they are changing in your life, you either love them or hate them.  If anyone understood the meaning of this, it was Christ.

Being the ultimate Change Agent, Christ knew his ways would be embraced by some and hated by the multitudes.  A common day for Christ was experiencing such a variety of emotions.  He might have begun his morning being embraced by the father whose son was just healed to being taunted by the Pharisees for challenging one of the rituals they had in place to … you get the point.  Christ himself said he came to change the world and redeem it.  After all, it was in his DNA.

If you were to go through the lineage of Christ’s human side, you would find a whole slew of Change Agents.  This cast of characters ranges from Abraham to Moses to David to Solomon to even John the Baptist.  (Ok, John the Baptist was a cousin, but still in the family tree.)  Not only was Jesus fully God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the “Changer”, Jesus was fully human and of a line of men who embraced change.  Even Jesus’ last command, the Great Commission, was a challenge to change the world, so why is it so hard for some of us who believe in Christ to change or become agents for change?

Chances are, if you are reading this book, you are either one who enjoys change or are looking for ways to become a change agent.  I am not invoking an overhaul to Christian Doctrine, but rather, a simple action plan for embracing the teachings of Christ.

The fact remains that every door swings on at least two hinges.  Regardless of the size, make, or design…two hinges is what you are dealing with.  The same goes in life for all of us.  With every opportunity, we have one of two decisions to make, should we embrace the opportunity to spark change, or do we merely settle for the ways of yesterday.  Most of all of the great heroes of the Bible are noted not because they were ordinary, but because they were extraordinary.  In their lives, they made pivotal decisions affecting not only their lives and the people of their time, but the lives of many to come, including you.  Had Abraham not chosen to listen to God’s calling and follow the path God designed for him, he would not have been the one God used to form the nation of Israel.  Had Moses not embraced the call to free the Israelites from the oppression of Pharaoh, he would have missed out on the opportunity to lead the Exodus, part the Red Sea, receive the Commandments, and much more.  Had David not embraced the challenge from Goliath, would he have been so popular of a king in the early years?   Each of these men had one of two decisions to make, they chose to embrace the call from God to become a change agent and most of them at great costs.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Coveting

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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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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We are Salt of the Earth…

March 24, 2009

Salt. Not much to think about. It’s white, tasty, useful, and cheap. Did you know it is a change agent? Did you know that it is one of the most widely used change agents? Did you know that it was Christ’s secret word for us to become change agents? No?

Salt is such a basic that we rarely consider the ramifications it has in the world. It touches so many things. Let’s look at some interesting salt facts:

· Salt is a commonly occurring mineral, the technical name of which is sodium chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is important. The body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly.

· Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels.

· It also plays a central role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves, and helps cells to take up nutrients. Salt plays an important part in the body’s main function in energy conversion-change.

· In various ages throughout history, salt was actually more valuable than gold. In fact, it was trade for gold.

· Slaves were traded for salt, which is where we get the aphorism, “not worth their weight in salt.”

· Salt was used to spice and preserve foods.

Not bad for a chemical compound you most likely thought very little of. Jesus, however, made it a point to mention in his Sermon on the Mount accounted for in Luke and John. The exact meaning of the expression salt of the earth is disputed, in part because salt had a wide number of uses in the ancient world. There are several different possibilities for the originally intended meaning of the salt metaphor:

  • Exodus, Ezekiel, and Kings present salt as a purifying agent
  • Leviticus, Numbers, and Chronicles present it as a sign of God’s covenant.
  • The most important use of salt was as a preservative and hence the most common interpretation of the metaphor is as asserting the duty to preserve the purity of the world.
  • In the Rabbinic literature of the period salt was a metaphor for wisdom.
  • Salt was a minor but essential ingredient in fertilizer and so a few scholars such as Gundry believe that earth should be translated as soil (i.e. salt of the soil), and hence the metaphor asserts that the audience should help the world grow and prosper.
  • One interpretation of salt of the earth is that it orders the audience to take part in the world rather than withdraw from it
  • Among the ancient Hebrews salt was used as a preservative, in seasoning food, and in all animal sacrifices. Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24; Mark 9:49-50. So essential was it to the sacrificial ordinance that it was the symbol of the covenant made between God and His people in connection with that sacred performance. Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5. [1]

Am I the only one amazed at the number of uses and Scriptural references to Salt? So why bring this up in a topic labeled “Change Agent?” The answer is quite simple and can be explained using an equation like this:

If Salt = Change Agent

Then we could substitute the variable in the verse to reflect the following:

BEFORE:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its ability, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

AFTER:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the change agent of the earth; but if the change has lost its ability, how shall its ability be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ was very intentional in most everything he said. He knew the meaning behind his statements and what is so funny to me is there are numerous songs, poems, books, and dissertations debating the meaning behind the use of the phrase, “salt of the earth.”

For our discussion it is quite simple. Salt is fairly basic, but is used in a variety of ways as a change agent. It is used in our bodies to change or help convert various elements of our body into energy. Salt is used the change various things in the earth but the ironic fact is that salt doesn’t change. Once formed, it holds its taste and its abilities. Even though it can be dissolved in water, salt does not change its chemical makeup. It is still salt. That is the beauty of this change agent.

One of the most trying situations for most novices in the area of becoming a change agent is that of solvency. Rather than serving as a real change agent, most of the time, through various trials, tribulations and influences, we become stagnant, ineffective, or just plain… bland. I have seen so many people who were fired up for a mission or directive provided to them by Christ. They would leave their mountaintop visit with a vision and soon lose it to the circle of buzzards, also known as committees. (That was not a stab, a group of buzzards are called committees… ironic, but true)

As a change agent, we are to be the salt of the earth, or better put, change for the earth. Salt is composed of sodium chloride and is extremely stable, thus, unable to lose its flavor. So salt that has lost its flavor cannot ever literally refer to actual salt. The most common explanation for this is that salt in the era was quite impure, not only due to extraction methods, but also due to unscrupulous merchants mixing it with other substances. So what was Christ implying? If salt cannot lose its flavor…

The words translated lost its flavor actually translate from the Greek as became foolish, but the Aramaic for both phrases is the same, and English language translators universally accept that the verse is talking about flavor rather than intelligence. Some scholars do however feel that this may be wordplay related to the Rabbinic use of salt as a metaphor for intelligence.

The other aspect to consider is there are two chemicals in salt: Sodium and Chloride. The chemicals are dynamic together. In order for salt to lose its flavor, something would have to be mixed in with it, in effect, slightly contaminating it or quite simply, making it impure. The same can happen in our lives when we get out of balance. Allowing various sins and distractions into our lives can essentially introduce various “impurities” to create some instability in our spiritual formula. In a sense, it dampens our ability to become true, stable, change agents (with taste).

Part of the manifesto for this book is to help all of us called to be change agents to focus on the qualities, characteristics, abilities, practices, and beliefs of the various change agents throughout the Scriptures. They changed their surroundings by answering the call. Some lost their flavor by introducing some impurities in their lives, but we will study the ways Christ calls us back to him.

If you go through Scripture like most do, you almost live for those characters who add a little spice to your reading don’t you? I wonder if they would be so “spicy” if they were unwilling to be change agents for God.

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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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Enemy Behind the Line-Unforgiveness

March 20, 2009


Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one I have struggled with and continue to struggle with: unforgiveness.  Read this Scripture Passage from Luke 15:

“The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’

While pondering today’s Scripture Reading, I noticed one line of this story I had never really taken into account.  Of course, we all know the story of the two sons, one son who works the fields while the other one spends his inheritance on matters of the world and after finding himself with the pigs, decides to go back to his father for forgiveness.  You know this story as do I and most us focus on the wonderful correlation to how the father welcomed his son home regardless of his faults and how Christ does that to all of us when we turn back to him.

When reading this passage this morning, I was struck by one line, look below:    

The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him.

Notice the part I underlined.  These four words brought a totally new perspective for me to this story.  I felt the Holy Spirit inspire me to ask myself the question, “How did the father see his son from afar if he wasn’t already looking for him?”  Of course with my mind, I began racing to the mental theater in my mind now seeing a piece of the play I had not paid any attention to before.  Rather than the father simply seeing his son by happen-chance, I now see the father pacing on the hill, constantly looking for his lost son to return home and when seeing him, being filled with joy and then running to embrace him.

This has helped me better understand something about Christ that I have always been told and an attribute that Scripture supports.  We all use the passage in Revelation about Christ knocking on the door and “letting him in to dine with us,” but isn’t it a comforting revelation for all of us who strive toward a more Christ-like life to know in our heart of hearts that when we have strayed from the right path, Christ, like the father in the parable, is pacing on a hill looking for us to return?  And it’s not like He waits for us to run to Him and throw ourselves before his feet and beg for forgiveness, the simple act of turning to Him and taking the first step almost forces the heart of Christ to run to us where we are.  Now that is a Saviour!  Unlike those we live with day in and day out who wait for us to approach them wtih an apology, and at times revel in our graveling for their forgiveness, Christ waits to run to us.

I think we all to often forget that forgiveness is part of the requirement of us.  It is very easy for me to sit and brew over something.  Although I say I have forgiven that person, in actuality, I have not.  Unfortunately, I believe this is a battle many of us have to fight.  One simple foothold Satan can use in our lives is that of unforgiveness.  It is the seed of so many thorns in our lives that will choke the Word being scattered in our lives by Christ.  It starts as a simple vine, then eventually, it will take over.  It is one of the enemies behind the line.  As a Christian man or Christian Leader, you have to uproot this weed before it is too late.

One final thought for you to ponder: Do you think it is ironic that the father in this story was pacing on a hill looking for his lost son?  I can’t see anything Christ doing as being simply ironic, but rather, divinely inspired, only because He still paces on a hill waiting for us.  The hill is called Calvary!

So if you are a father or in a leadership position, let’s try to remember to be actively looking for opportunities to forgive and embrace those who change their hearts…

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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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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The Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Reliance

March 4, 2009

This series began with the first blog article entitled; “The Enemy Behind the Lines-The Lie” which focused on the lies Satan has convinced many of the men of today in believing. As a man, I believe one of the “enemies behind the lines” I have had to face is that of self-reliance. Unfortunately, it has been a lesson that has been excruciating at times, but one needing serious attention.

My grandfather always had a garden, and I have the greatest memories of being out there with him, working on the various crops. At the time, I only saw it as a way to get away from my normal, everyday routine during the summer. As I look back on it, I know now it was Christ’s way of training me for the life ahead with the mini life lessons my grandfather taught me in that garden in south Alabama. One of those lessons applies to the subject of self-reliance is Paw Paw’s simple saying regarding weeds. “It only takes one, then they take over.” Self-reliance works in much the same manner.

Self-reliance is just that, relying on one’s own abilities to accomplish one’s ambitions. How is this one of the lies or enemies behind the line? If you are truly attempting to be a Christian man, one following the path to the cross, Self-reliance is one of the first weeds you need to pluck or prune. My grandfather explained to me that one weed, although it did not seem like a major problem, would eventually germinate quicker than the real vegetation in the garden and eventually choke the life out of the plants you were actually trying to harvest. Self-reliance works in much the same manner, slowly taking over your spiritual garden and choking the life out of the vines that produce the fruits of the Spirit.

Self-reliance calls for accountability only to oneself, not to God. It submits only to the authority of self-ambition and rebukes any correction offered by Christ. Self-reliance slowly takes the divinity of Christ off of the thrown in our own Holy of Holies and replaces it with our own image. Rather than worshiping the one true God, we begin worshiping our own creations and furthermore, we begin to expect others to do the same. If one who is Self-reliant ever finds their circle of friends, their family, or their co-workers are not praising their endeavors, it becomes a major bone of contention and could even result in a major stumbling block in any of those relationships. Christ, in numerous parables, relates the Kingdom of God to that of a field and often speaks of the vegetation versus the weeds war. James 3:16 puts it another way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition [Self-reliance ] exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As James says, “every vile practice” is the eventual result of selfish ambition or self-reliance.

Personally, I never had any idea just how deeply rooted this issue of self-reliance was for me. In 2007, I rededicated my life to Christ and said a prayer that changed my life’s course. In the silence of the night, I prayed, “Christ, break me and mold me.” What I really meant was, “Christ, break me and mold me, but only the way I want you to.” Fortunately, Christ doesn’t work that way. Once the prayer left my lips, the work Christ had begun in me was kicked into high gear. The heat, used to mold me to conform to the image of Christ, was turned up about 250 degrees and my little castle of cards began to fall, one story at a time.

At the time, I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a major bank in the Southeast. In my late twenties, a lot of “power” and “influence” was not the best thing for me. Submitting to Christ meant I had to begin “unsubmitting” to myself. Although I had the same sense of false humility that most Christians seemed to have, Christ was calling me to something deeper. Within only a couple of weeks, I was released from my position at the bank and so began a 90 day journey jobless. For such a long time, I introduced myself as Trent Cotton, Vice President of HR for *** Bank. So much of my identity was wrapped in the person I had made myself to be, not in whom Christ had made and called me to be.

So when my job was eliminated, I initially thought, “Not a big deal, I am marketable, everyone will want me.” After about 90 days, I soon realized I was not all I cracked up to be. I prayed for days to understand what was happening, why was I not getting anything. While searching for answers, I heard a lesson based on this verse:

37 And He will say, Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your protection! 39 See now that I, I am He, and there is no god beside Me… Deuteronomy 32: 37-39

This particular verse shows the warnings against a Self-reliant spirit. What are the consequences? For me, Christ watched as the perfect storm in my life soon consumed me and chipped away at the self-reliance I had acquired over the years. When I cried out to Christ for help in my plight, I could almost hear, “And where is your god? Aren’t you the all-powerful god that can do anything? See now that I, I am He and there is NO god beside Me …”

As I looked back, I could see where my self-reliant defiance against the authority of Christ in my life had ruined so many aspects of my life. I saw the character others saw in me and was pretty displeased, borderline embarrassed by what I saw. While I was preaching to be a great Christian man, I did not have enough confidence in the one who saved me to guide me, mold me, and yes, save me. In my mind, all of those tasks fell under my authority and jurisdiction. Essentially, I wanted to be saved by Christ, but wanted him to be this little figure in the corner of my life that I could bring out every Sunday and talk about as if I truly knew of his grace and divinity, but then place him back in the closet of reason and doubt during the week. Fortunately, his grace saved me from living a life believing that lie.

So, how do you tell if you are Self-reliant ? Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself:

  • When I am not noticed for the work I do, is it hard for me not to throw an internal fit?
  • When I have a major project, do I rely totally on my own abilities rather than praying for specific guidance?
  • Am I hard to teach?
  • Am I unwilling to listen to correction from someone, even if it is on how to become closer to Christ?
  • Do I shrink away from accountability?
  • Do I only go to Christ when all chaos has broken loose?

If you answered yes to any of these, chances are, you have a weed of Self-reliance in your spirit. Just like my grandfather said, only one can be enough to start a complete takeover of your spiritual gifts. Self-Reliance prohibits self-control, joy without limits, patience in others… and the list goes on. Self-Reliance takes Christ out of the situation and focuses more on us being the God of our universe. It can lead to false hope, false beliefs and most importantly, false relationships.

As a Christian man, we are to be Christ-Like. I cannot think of one passage in Scripture where Christ was Self-reliant. In fact, he openly prayed for guidance and gave thanks openly for the miracles God had proven through him. In the garden, Christ went to God the Father for guidance and support before walking to the cross. Of all things, Christ was not self-reliant and neither should we be. If you find yourself battling a spirit of self-reliance, here are a couple of suggestions on how to combat it:

  • Constant, intentional, daily prayer
  • Ask for an accountability partner and be humble and willing enough to listen-you might want to consider asking a fellow Christian Warrior
  • Pray for humility and to be broken
  • Try to listen more than you speak. If you truly have a problem with self-reliance (like I did) this will be torture at times, but will help keep things in check
  • Daily assess how you did and look for ways Christ could have been exalted rather than you exalting yourself.

Gentlemen, Self-reliance can destroy all types of relationships, even marriages if you don’t pluck that weed to its root and quickly. Remember, it only takes one weed of self-reliance to take over. Be the warrior and eliminate the enemy’s chance to destroy from behind the line.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

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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The Enemy behind the Lines-The Lie

March 2, 2009

While watching the trilogy of Lord of the Rings this weekend, I was struck by several allusions to Scripture.  Sure, I am always looking for how God speaks, even in movies.  Every once in a while, there are times I feel Christ throws me a “slow pitch” and this was one of them.

In the second movie in the trilogy, The Two Towers, the story speaks of the Riders of Rohan who were known for their cavalry and once great king.  There should be an emphasis on the word “once.”  King Théoden, king of the riders, had taken counsel from one known as Wormtongue.  Under this demonic counsel, the king had become old and a shadow of man he was, depending on counsel of Wormtongue for everything.  As Wormtongue’s grip on the king grew, the king began to lose life, growing old and weary.  With every word out of the deceitful one’s mouth, the king’s once valiant kingdom becomes more prone and vulnerable to the attack of impending enemy.  Many of the king’s once loyal riders had decided to go on their own, no longer able to follow their king.

So what relation does this have to Christian Men and Christian Warriors? Unfortunately, it has a lot to do with the plight of many men, even Christian men today.  As years have passed, we have begun believing the lies told to us by the “Wormtongue” in our lives.  What are some of the lies we have begun believing?

  • We cannot protect our families from the evil one, instead, we must settle for merely running for cover.
    • This is one of the worst lies to believe. “So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7 We are to stand firm against the devil and watch him flee, flee from our homes, flee from our wives, children… We are to take ownership of our homes and pray against the enemy.
  • Our success is to be judged by the number of possessions we have and the number of hours we spend at work, not the number of hours we spend with our families.
    • “Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.” – Ephesians 5:28 I am not seeing anything about working numerous hours to achieve success. In fact, Scripture defines success as those victories in Christ. Rather than spending countless hours at the office or out relaxing from the troubles of the day, men, Christian men, should be with their families. I would dare say, if many of the men of our nation would invest in their families as much as they invest in their jobs, financial endeavors, and other distractions, we would not have nearly the number of divorces, teen pregnancies, young men looking for a home in gangs, and other prolific “social issues” of today. In fact, if many more Christian men focused more on the investments with their families rather than the investments on Wall Street, there would hardly be such a “panic” today for the loss of the treasures that can fade away.
  • It is in man’s nature to be promiscuous; monogamy is only something created by civilization.
    • Again, Ephesians 5:28 tells us to love our wives as we love ourselves. Earlier verses also tell husbands to love and protect their wives as Christ loves and protects the church. Christ’s love binds him to the church and we too should be bound by our love for our wives. We should honor and respect them by holding to our commitment to them. I like the quote from Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle with reference to a man’s “affair” on his wife. Unfortunately, the truthful word, adultery, has been replaced by a grandiose word undermining the detriment such an action has on those involved.
  • Men are not to be the heads of the household and women are not to submit to a man’s authority in the home.
    • Despite the negative connotation placed on this verse of Scripture by many feminists groups, this is still a truthful statement to be not only believed, but put into practice. My wife was one of the first to explain this verse to me in a way I could grasp it. If I, as a Christian man and head of the household, submit to Christ in prayer and trust him with my household and decisions, then essentially, my wife is submitting to Christ and not just me. I could understand where many of those who do not have Christ as the center of their marriage could get confused by this verse. Without Christ in the marriage, this verse becomes a battle line for a war centered around power and selfish desires.

Take a good look at the picture with King Théoden and Wormtongue. This is the picture of the “manhood” of the nation. Although looking at some of the men in the marketplace who are at the “top of their game,” you would not necessarily see them as being so old and decrepit. If you were to take one of their cars, houses, or investment balances away from these men at the “top of their game,” you would see them simply wither away like a plant away from the vine. Many of them have Wormtongue, or Satan, whispering in their ear various lies of today. “Step on whomever to get to the top.” “You don’t need to be at home with your family, you have to be at work to take care of your family.” “No one will ever know…” “Church is for weak men who need an excuse.” Need we go on?

In the movie, the wizard releases the king from the grip of Wormtongue. Of course, one could see the correlation between this and Christ releasing us from our Wormtongue. Once Christ has reached down to change the heart of a man, you find how this new man no longer values the things of old. Rather than spending all of his time investing in his occupation, he invests his time in his destination… the Kingdom. It is not the easiest of experiences for some of us, however, the freedom is more than worth it.

The final part of this scene that I want to share is what happens once the king has been released from the grip of Wormtongue. Although his strength has come back and his face resembles more that of the king than the old shell of a man, he does not truly regain his identity until he has grasped his sword. There’s something about when his fingers touch the sword that reminds him of who he was… a warrior. He was not a man to be manipulated by a pitiful creature like Wormtongue, just as we are not to be men manipulated by Satan. We are warriors and we too need to take our sword, also referred to as the Word of God, and grasp a hold of it. Just as we talked about in the Post, Christian Sword-The Handle, we must spend time in the Word daily, regain our strength and remember our true identity. Once we have our strength from it, we are to wield our weapon decisively at our enemy.

One word of caution is to be careful of your company and counsel. If you find yourself feeling more like the king in the picture above, chances are, you might have a “Wormtongue” feeding you lies. Whether it be Satan using your own voice, or the voice of your chosen circle, remember to grasp your sword and remember who you truly are in Christ. A warrior…

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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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.