Archive for November, 2009

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Scars

November 9, 2009

Looking in the mirror, I see a scar on my nose between my eyes.  May not be noticeable to many people, but I see it.  It’s fairly small now, but when I was younger, it took up the bridge between my eyes.  When I notice it, I remember the event that brought the scar as if it were yesterday.

Running around the church building during Vacation Bible School, I blacked out for a moment and woke up to find people standing around me asking if I was ok.  Only five, I didn’t think anything of the pain throbbing between my eyes, however, the blood that I saw did change things.  I can vividly remember who was around me, the weather that day, the feeling at the doctors’ office and the feeling of being strapped to a board as they operated on my wound.  Funny how a little scar can bring back such vivid memories isn’t it?

I found it interesting while reading John 20 how Christ showed himself to the disciples upon His resurrection.

John 20:20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

After reading this verse, I began thinking about the pictures of Christ I have seen growing up.  As I thought about it, I can hardly think of one picture where Christ does not bear the wounds of Calvary.  It was the scars Christ bore on His body that made the disciples recognize him.  The scars showed where the nails and spear pierced His body and proved what God had brought him through.

Outside of the scar on my nose, I hold deeper scars, perhaps barely visible, if at all, to those around me.  These are scars from painful decisions I have made in life or the result of wrongs dealt to me.  Regardless of their origin, I still bear them, as do you.  Maybe you choose not to get too close to people around you as the result of a scar left by someone who violated your trust.  Perhaps you have been emotionally abused and those scars prohibit you from taking an type of criticism without putting up a fight.  Regardless of the scar, we can all admit to how deep they run and the lasting effects they have on our everyday lives.

If you’re like me, Satan uses some of these scars to remind me of past mistakes and to deter me from activities Christ may be urging me to get involved with.  Unfortunately, a number of us fall into this silo and never recover from whatever traumatic experience we have had.  We feel remorse, shame, embarrassment and avoid the topic at all costs.  In fact, when the subject begins to head in that direction, we are usually overtaken with anxiety.

Paul, when writing to the early church, made mention of the scars he had for the Gospel and found peace in them.  We too should follow his lead.  Instead of an addiction reminding us of our bad decisions, perhaps we should use them as a witness to prove what Christ has redeemed us from.  Radical thought isn’t it?

Our enemy would rather we focus more on our shortcomings and see these as barriers to witnessing to those around us.  I’d venture to say many Christians fall into this trap and never see the opportunities to minister to those we come into contact with everyday.  I’d venture to say as men, we struggle with this more than women due to our pride.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  2 Cr 11:30

Christ isn’t looking for perfection, He’s looking for men who will be willing to bear their scars as a testimony to what Christ can do with someone’s life when they submit to Him and His sovereignty.  What scars do you have that you could use to tell the world Jesus is alive?

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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 contributes to KingdomBusiness.com as a writer on Christian Leadership.

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Confessions of a Converted Catholic: Sanctification

November 6, 2009

In this series, Confessions of a Converted Catholic, we are exploring some of the basic precepts of Christianity through the eyes of someone who, for the better part of my life, was raised Catholic.  Our first exploration was on the topic of salvation, this time, I thought we would delve into the process of Sanctification.  Again, I would like to state this is not an attack against the Catholic church or meant to provoke hostility.  My desire is for those who either grew up Catholic and are now lost or those who are still practicing Catholics with questions to have some honest conversations about the basic precepts of Christianity.

Noted Bible scholar Jack Hayford, in his excellent book titled: “ Hayford’s Bible Handbook,” defines Sanctification as follows:

“The work of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. Accomplished by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin. Sanctification is instantaneous before God through Christ and progressive before man through obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word.”

In the most basic definition, Sanctification is the process by which, once saved and committed to Christ, our lives become different, daily in most cases.  In Romans 6, Paul tells the church that we are to be dead to sin, and that we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature, but can receive freedom in Christ.  Sanctification is the process, at times aggressive, that involves the work of the person to obediently conform to the image of Christ by dying daily to their sinful nature and choosing to follow Christ.

Sanctification was taught to me in a way that I could understand it, however, the more I began to study Catholic theology, the more I began to blend my salvation with sanctification.  It was only recently in my faith the understanding of “Sanctification as a result of salvation” really began to sink in.  In most classes I took, sanctification was a process that was labor intensive for me (as it should be), but where I got off track was equating my “denying of self” into “earning my salvation.”  This is completely backwards for many of my Protestant friends to understand as I was growing up.  For me, the way I was taught Sanctification was again, Christ plus the Church or Christ plus the sacraments or Christ plus Fill in the blank.

weight+of+the+worldWhen I think of how long I carried the unneeded weight of this burden, I immediately begin thanking Christ for what He did for me on the cross, and for what He continues to do in my life.  Sanctification is not the process of becoming blameless or perfect, it is dying to self and conforming to the image of Christ.  To think for years I struggled and often gave up on trying to please Christ and earn salvation through what (looking back I can see) was Sanctification.  Again, the foundation of this gross error in interpretation is to think I can do anything to earn the righteousness of God.

So what is the bottom line if you’re reading this?  For me, the biggest lesson I learned early in my freedom was that Christ paid the price of my salvation, He asks for my obedience.  My obedience to Him and the process He uses in my life to conform to His image is the precept known as Sanctification.  So simple, yet I was lost for 28 years in this.  If you’re lost, thinking you have to earn your salvation through anything other than believing in Christ as the Son of God and your Lord and Savior, please email me directly.  I would love to help answer your questions and show you the freedom Christ bestows on us.

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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.