Archive for March, 2010

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Enemy Behind the Line: Coveting

March 11, 2010

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 coveting.

The other day, I was driving to an appointment and found myself mesmerized by a car in the other lane.  I know this sounds pretty crazy, but I went so far as to pick the color I would want this vehicle in, how it would ride, what others would think… before too long, I realized I had spent about five minutes in a dream about this vehicle.  Ok, so that part was lusting for the car of my dreams, but coveting sure jumped on board quick.  How so?  The car of my dreams was being driven by a kid who could not have been more than 18 years old.  THIS WAS A $52,000 vehicle?  (Can you sense the rage?)

So what is coveting?  Coveting something is to feel immoderate desire for that which is another’s.  Of course we all know it is one of the Ten Commandments referenced in Exodus 20, but why is it so dangerous?  Why is it considered one of the enemies behind the line? (If you have followed any of the posts in the “cartoon section” of my blog, you would most likely bet I am about to use one of the cartoon or Pixar movies as a metaphor.  If you guessed this, you’re right!)

I love the movie Nemo for so many reasons.  It shows so many sides of the human character, all while making you laugh at how truly “sheep-like” we all tend to be.  One of the characters, or group of characters, I love to watch own the screen with just one word: “MINE!”

If you think about their behavior, you will remember how consumed they become with getting whatever it is they have their eyes fixed on.  When they are trying to get Nemo and Dory, some of them fly right into the sail of a ship, but never stop saying “Mine?”

Coveting is very much like this.  It is an elusive, addiction-forming drug that starts with only a drip into our spiritual blood stream.  Before long, it is all we can think about or every time we see this fixation, we are consumed with envy and conspire ways we can get “it.”  It could be something as simple as an outfit, or something as complex as a house in “that neighborhood.”  Before too long, our flesh begins to pine for it and our mind is obsessed with “it” and will not rest until we have “it.”

We are called to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  If you strip this verse down, it is simply the first commandment.  So why does coveting cause such strife not only in our minds, but our lives?  This intoxicating sin replaces God from the throne of our lives and replaces Him with an “it.”  In no short order, we begin to worship an idol.  Not the little wooden ones, but the ones of this world, made by us: money, position, house, spouse, fame, prestige, honor, attention, and the list could go on.

Unfortunately, most of us do not realize we are coveting when we do it.  We may simply wisk it to “wishful thinking.”  Despite our attempts to dress it up, we have to call it what it is and pray through it.  One verse I try to focus on in an attempt to keep this behavior in check is the verse from Luke 10:27, “love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.”

Think about the things in life you want most.  If Christ and His will are not at the top, you are most likely looking into the eyes of one of the enemies behind the line.

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

Unforgiveness

Regret

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.

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True Understanding of Salvation from a Converted Catholic- Part II

March 9, 2010

In the previous post, I began talking about my view of salvation as a converted Catholic.  Continuing on, I thought I would first share my personal testimony~

As you can see, my journey to understanding salvation was a long and twisted one.  I think I share a struggle many of us, especially men, have.  I believe most men have the idea we can do all things that we set our minds to.  Unfortunately, we apply this to our faith life and seek to “do good things” and bear the weight of salvation upon our own shoulders rather than remembering it has already been cast upon his.

I had always been taught about the works of mercies and other doctrines and thought these were things I had to do to receive salvation.  Although there may be no actual doctrine stating this as a precept of the Catholic Church, my personal experience was more of a belief in personal work to attain salvation.  In reading Scripture, there is no basis for this.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will notice I enjoy using analogies or metaphors to help explain weighty doctrinal subjects.  When I try to think of a way to explain how I used to view salvation and how I view it now, I often use an example of debt.

Think of every sin you have ever committed and assign a $10 fee to that sin.  Now, if you were brought up Catholic or are currently Catholic, there is a doctrine teaching the differing degrees of sin.  For those sins considered to be mortal sins, assign a $50 fee to those.  Now, once you have a total number, consider this your debt to Christ.  How will you ever pay it back?

Well, according to teachings of Catholic Doctrine, it is taught we can attain grace not just by believing in Christ, but also in believing in His Holy Catholic Church, communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, and sacramental grace.  It is taught your sins are forgiven, but not totally forgotten.  In essence, the pay back of this loan of sin you owe is merely postponed.  You can draw the balance down by making payments on it through acts of mercy, sacramental participation, or something else you do.  So, for the sake of conversation, let’s assign a $1 credit to your balance for each one of those things you do to “attain grace.”

I am quite sure I am not the only one to know I will never pay that balance off before dying.  Even in the doctrine of purgatory, there is still too much of a balance I would owe Christ and would utterly remain in the purging process for half of eternity, which in essence, is not heaven and one step above hell.  This is the burden those of us taught this fallacy have carried.

Truly, the debt has been paid and as described in my last post on Catholic view of justification, God does all of the work, all of the payments, and all of the erasing of debt.  There is nothing we could do to earn the righteousness of God.  It is a free gift, given by Christ the Savior.  No more, no less.

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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.Technorati tags: , .

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Confessions of a Converted Catholic: Justification

March 5, 2010

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 justification.  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.

Trying to explain the doctrine of justification can be, in itself, a weighty subject and often confusing.  If you are anything like me, I often do better with analogies or metaphors.  With this in mind, let me use an analogy I think best describes the basic, rudimentary differences in the understanding of justification.  To do this, I would like to define insurance and assurance.  I believe examining the difference in these two terms will help in this discussion.

Insurance -promise of reimbursement in the case of loss; paid to people or companies so concerned about hazards that they have made prepayments.

Assurance – : the state of being assured: as a : security b : a being certain in the mind c : confidence of mind or manner : easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty.

In being in the insurance business, I often distinguish the two by thinking of insurance as something you pay into.  It is protection against a what-if.  Also, it is something that is owed to the insured, by the insurer.  This is a key difference: it is owed to the insured because of payments they have made into the policy. For the purposes of financial provisions, a life insurance policy provides cover for a set period of time. If the worst were to happen during that time (and there are no complications), then the insurance company will be required to pay out the agreed sum to the beneficiary. The only time the policy has any real monetary value is if there is a claim made for payment as a result of an event triggering that claim, such as the death of the person covered. If the person outlives the term of the policy, then the insurance policy will cease and no payment will be made.  In this case, there are a number of provisions or what-ifs involved in the payment of the insurance policy.

Life assurance is different from insurance, and will always result in a payment. This is achieved by combining an investment element along with and an insured sum.   Very similar to the Biblical view of salvation, those who believe Christ to be Lord and Savior, have the security, peace of mind, guarantee, etc of salvation.

So, what is the Catholic view of justification?  Well, Justification and Sanctification are seen as one.  Justification is seen as being “infused” into us.  Example: pumping gas.  By the merits of Christ and grace obtained by obedience and adherence to the sacraments, by one’s own efforts, they can attain grace to “fill up their tank”.  This is the idea that we have to do things to earn grace and then still be imperfect.  True Catholics cannot believe or rest in the grace freely bought and given by Christ for those who believe. This is the most significant difference and in this case, it is very much like insurance.  You have to pay into it in order to “hopefully” have enough paid in to avoid eternal disaster.  In fact, this is one of the biggest aspects of Martin Luther’s challenging of the Catholic church.  In reading Scripture, he, along with most, read faith alone, nothing more, nothing less.  I too, struggled with the weight of this and wrote about it in my post on Salvation.

Justification is clearly defined as an instantaneous, legal act of God where he thinks our sins as forgiven, and Christ’s righteousness is bestowed on us and God counts us as righteous because of Christ.  If you read this definition closely, you will see the benefactors’ actions have nothing to do with this transaction.  It is clearly God’s grace and mercy at work.  Other than believing in the saving power of Christ’ death and resurrection, there are no other “requirements” or “payments” we have to make to justify ourselves before God.  For me, as a cradle Catholic, this was a complete and utterly transforming mind-bend.

If you have questions about this difference, I would challenge you to explore the following verses and pray for Christ to open your eyes to His definition.  And you have not already, I would urge you to submit to Him and declare Him as Lord and Savior.  Here are your verses:

  • Luke 7:29
  • Romans 4:5
  • Romans 8: 33-34
  • Proverbs 17:15
  • Romans 8:1 No condemnation
  • Romans 4:6-8 -Lawless deeds are forgiven and God doesn’t count the sin.

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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.