Archive for the ‘Using Movies to Witness’ Category

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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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Using Chicken Little to Teach Kids about Mistakes

July 28, 2009

Unfortunately, I am not one of those “perfect Christians” who has never made a major mistake in their lives.  Although I do take great relief in the grace Christ has shown me through his sacrifice for my mistakes, sins, bad decisions, etc, I still find myself struggling with the reminders of my mistakes.  I struggle with how they not only affect me, but how they affect my relationships and my witness.  When I look at my children, I see the same anxiety and pain in their eyes which scares me.

So how do you talk to your children about redemptive grace?  How do you help a child understand that Christ chooses to forgive your sins and not hold them against you?  Who could you give as an example of victory for a child to understand?  Enter in: Chicken Little.

If you have followed any of the posts in the series, “How to teach your kids about Christ, using movies“, you most likely know I really enjoy watching children movies.  Last night, I was watching Chicken Little with my little girl.  (It was Daddy Date Night!)  Though its exact origins are unknown, chances are you have heard the story of Chicken Little, a diminutive fowl who is struck by an acorn and misinterprets the event as indicating that the sky is falling. That fable provides a starting point of sorts for this vastly expanded and reconfigured take. Chicken Little here is an undersized middle school boy (voiced by Zach Braff) who has a large, unflattering reputation to live down following his (widely-believed) misguided panic.

chickenlittledadIn one of the scenes, the father is driving Chicken Little home and the discussion evolves to what the dad calls Chicken Little’s “Big Mistake.”  It seems as if poor Chicken Little just cannot shake this awful event in his life.  Even if he could forget it, those in his life would not allow him.  Does this sound familiar?

As I mentioned before, I have made numerous mistakes in life and unfortunately, the casualties have not all been mine.  I am often reminded of them while I am in prayer, leading a small group, or doing anything for the Kingdom.  Although this sort of attack should not surprise me, it does still shake me and cause doubt. I was once told by an older lady in the church that when the devil started to remind you of your past, remind him of his future and he’ll quickly shut up.  That does work sometimes, but what about the times it doesn’t?

“But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 1:9

I cling to this verse in times of trial over my past.  I have to remind myself of it constantly and repeat it so that I do not do what the enemy wants me to do and simply lay down.  Chicken Little is a great example of how this could work.  Although he too struggled with the mistake he made, he did not let it dictate his current situations.  His mission was to do something great and essentially redeem that event in the minds of others.  There was no doubt in his mind he could do it.  It was simply a matter of when.

So what are the lessons we could use from Chicken Little’s Big Mistake to teach our children?

1.  2 Corinthians 1:9 ~ Another way to teach this verse to children is convey to them that we all need Jesus because of our weaknesses. The old “Yes Jesus Loves Me” song talks of how we are weak be He is strong.  Help your child to understand that Christ does not expect perfection, but obedience and repentance.

2.  Our Past DOES NOT Define Us~ So many times we fall into the trap of who we were and not who we are in Christ.  I wish someone would have taught me that lesson early in my childhood.  Just like Chicken Little, we should not let our “Big Mistake” define our current situations.  If we have sinned, we need to confess and repent, but we should not dwell.  It is Christ’s mercy that defines who we are, not our weaknesses.

3. You should talk about your worries. There is a double lesson here: one for the child and one for the parent.  After watching the movie, I asked myself “How many times do I actually stop to listen to my children’s fears or their thoughts?”  I think all parents are guilty of merely discounting our children’s worries as trivial and moving on with our day.  I am not one who advocates dwelling upon the subject, but I do need to at least address it and discuss it with my children.  If they do not learn about Christ’s mercy from me through my example, where will they learn it?

All in all, we all have mistakes we would like to simply go away.  I am sure Paul would have liked that whole “terrorist” section of his life to go away, but it did not.  I wonder how many times he felt ashamed to be called by the one he persecuted to serve those he once persecuted?  After pondering this thought, it’s no wonder he wrote so much about the redemptive power of Christ’s mercy and grace.  We often write what we have the most experience with.

In our service on Sunday, we had the cardboard testimonies of those who have had major issues in their lives redeemed by Christ.  I thought I would share the message with you.  Watch it by clicking here.

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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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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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.

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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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Chicken Little And Philippians 4:4-7

May 26, 2009

chicken-little-sky-fallingBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV

Is it just me or should someone have shared this verse with Chicken Little?  Poor guy!  He was simply trying to warn everyone of an impending doom right?  He should have to suffer from all of the ridicule and pain shouldn’t he?

You know, I think part of a child’s DNA is composed of anxiety.  Granted, all of them show it differently, but they all have it.  Whether they are anxious about their grades, friends, audition, or in our household, the daily schedule, anxiety commands a lot of our children’s thought processes.  I do not believe I would be going too far on a limb to say that most of us never grow out of it.

So how do you use the movie Chicken Little to discuss Phil 4 and anxiety?  There are a couple of key lessons to highlight with your child as you watch the movie:

1.  Anxiety is like a cold, it spreads quickly. Notice how the entire town goes absolutely crazy when Chicken Little’s first episode occurs.  It becomes a pandemic very quickly.  A recent example of anxiety spreading over something that may or may not have been something terribly concerning would be that of the swine flu.  It seemed like in only a few short hours, the world was going to be taken to its knees by this new virus.  Only three weeks later, I see very little about this all-powerful flu… so would that be 2009’s “The Sky is Falling!”  Anxiety spreads and makes things worse, Phil 4 tells us not to be anxious!

2. The Bible teaches us to hold fast to Christ, He gives us the ability to be anxious for nothing, for He is our Shepherd. Spend some time explaining to your child the role and characteristics of a plain ole shepherd and then help them understand how Christ is the Good Shepherd.  He said, “my sheep know my voice.”

3.  Our anxieties are funny to God. One of the things I love about this movie is how it accurately portrays false anxiety.  We can usually run around like a chicken with our head cut off when really, we should spend time resting in the promise that Christ will never forsake us.  Help your children understand that to Christ, our anxieties are sometimes if not most of the time crippling to our faith.  Faith is the ability to let go of our anxieties and cling more to the hope and promise we have in Christ’s sovereignty.

Sure, we all have anxieties and some would say they are inevitable and inescapable, but Christ told us to “cast our cares upon him.”   Part of being a dad, uncle, older brother or whatever type of leader you are, is having the ability to teach children to trust in Christ alone.  If you’re like me, maybe if you say it enough to them, you will start to remind yourself of this solid, yet simple truth.

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

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
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.

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A Father’s Love- King Triton

April 21, 2009

The Little Mermaid is one of my daughter’s favorite movies.  From the crazy one-liners to the fantastic musical scores, this particular movie ranks #1 with many little girls.  I particularly like the wonderful correlation of this movie to Scripture.  We are going to explore several of the themes present in this film, but today, we will start with a father’s love using King Triton.

The parallels between King Triton’s love and devotion to his children and that of Christ’ love and devotion to us is almost too overwhelming.  Granted, King Triton is one of the Greek Gods, just indulge me as we go over possible lessons for you to teach your children about our father’s love.

1.  King Triton’s overprotective nature. One of the first attributes one picks up from King Triton is his apparent phobia of Ariel going to the surface.  We can see his true motive is love for his daughter and concern for her safety, but just like all of us, Ariel seems to think there is more to it.

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem  and protect it like a bird protecting its nest.He will defend and save the city;  he will pass over it and rescue it.”  – Isaiah 31:5

We often forget how our God urges us to stay away from those environments potentially harmful to us.  In the verse above, God’s protection is compared to a bird protecting its nest, ready to defend and save the occupants.  Unfortunately, like Ariel, many of us do not heed the protective words of our Savior, choosing rather to chase our own inhibitions.  We soon find out that our bad decisions still affect our father.

2.  When we go missing, the Father calls an all out search. I love the quote from the movie where King Triton tells one of those searching for his missing daughter, “Leave no stone unturned, no one rests until my little girl is found.”  Wow, what a statement about a father’s love.  When we “go missing” from our Father’s will, there is a similar search for us.  In fact, Christ mentions how God will search out for the 1 lost lamb, bringing it home gently on his shoulders.

As a child, I often heard of God’s wrath or his disdain for my sins, but rarely did I hear of how he would “leave no stone unturned” when I would go missing from his will.  We need to convey this aspect of Christ’ love for us to our children.  Daily, they experience the sometimes fickle nature of human love, but we fail them in teaching them how Christ’ love truly surpasses our understanding.  Jesus came and turned over the one stone that kept us from him… in fact, he it was rolled away Easter morning!

3.  When our sins seemed to bind us to the Enemy, our Father gave himself as a ransom. Perhaps the most compelling scene of the movie was when King Triton, against the wishes of his pleading daughter, signs the contract with Ursela in her stead.  After all, this is what the great enemy wanted after all.  The evil sea witch was no more interested in Ariel, but rather, sought to bring down Triton the entire time.

Our Enemy works in much the same way.  Explain to your children how God sent his son to sign our contract.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 6:23

What a great verse to use when explaining this particular concept, using this particular scene.  Christ paid the ultimate costs of our bad decisions.  Like the character of Triton, our Heavenly Father made this decision without a second thought.  He signed for our transgressions so that we might live.  What a mighty lesson to instill in our children.

Of course, King Triton is not in any league with our God, but it does provide us a great platform to open dialogue with our children about the depths of our Father’s love for us.  There are so many more similarities in the movie that I have not covered in this post.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Triton’s love to our Heavenly Father’s love.  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.

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
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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Selfish Desires – Seagulls

April 15, 2009

If anyone has seen the movie, Finding Nemo, everyone remembers the seagulls.  Their famous, repetitive phrase, “MINE!” reverberates in my ears every time I hear a seagull overhead. (If you click on the image, it will take you to a rough clip of the scene we will be discussing.) I have three children and much like the seagulls, I hear “MINE!” more times than I care to think.  It seems like one of the first of original sins is that of selfishness.

Although this is a funny scene, this depiction might allow you an opportunity to talk some about selfishness with your children.  Many of us would jump at the opportunity to take this subject head on, especially emphasizing the problems caused by sibling selfishness.  I would like to challenge you to take the message deeper and help your children understand what the Bible teaches us about selfish desires, and potential “end scenes” if this problem goes undiagnosed.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

– Matthew 16:24

Christ talks specifically about selfishness in many of his parables, but in this verse, he takes it head on.  I love how he states, “If you want to be my follower…” Deep down, I believe we all struggle with selfishness from time to time and to go even further, selfishness will often prohibit us from truly following Christ and going “All in,” if you will.  How many times do you think we sound like the seagulls in this scene to Christ?  Whether it be with our finances and the issue of tithing or simply, giving more of our time to the Kingdom by getting up earlier in the morning, we all usually tell Christ “MINE!”

So what are some of the lessons you could teach your children using the Seagulls in Finding Nemo?

1.  Selfishness will ultimately blind and bind you! One of my favorite parts of the clip is how the pelican is able to get away from the nagging seagulls in hot pursuit of what they claim as theirs.  In my humble opinion, it is a great example of how we could also use another great passage from Matthew:

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
– Matthew 7:14

Just like the pelican, one who is unselfish is able to narrowly pass through openings most will not see, nor be able to pass through.  The seagulls, so blinded by their selfishness, were unable to see the narrow opening in the sail and soon found themselves bound in the sail itself.

2.  Selfishness is annoying not only to parents, but also to God. Although this particular clip is funny the first time, if you were to consistently here, “MINE!” all day, it would become rather annoying.  I would have to imagine this clip is a small commercial of what Christ often hears from those who love him.  MINE!  In one of the earlier scenes, the pelican is actually agitated by the constant gawking of gulls and tells them loudly to hush up. (he uses different words though)  The sound of selfishness to Christ has to be just as annoying and disheartening.  Christ left us constant reminders to be unselfish in our giving, just as he was.  Take some time to explain to your children how selfishness can lead to various other sins of the flesh.  It starts out annoying, but if left unchecked, it could become deadly.

3. It’s hard to stop. I laugh to myself when I think of how many times I am much like those gulls who are stuck in the the sail yet still manage to say, “MINE!”  Selfishness can become deeply rooted and this is a great reason to urge you to help teach your children about selfishness now!  Don’t you wish someone would have helped you earlier in life with this issue?  I know if the issue of “MINE!” would have been dealt with earlier in my life, perhaps I would not be wishing I had not spent so much time, money, sleepless nights, and other investments in chasing what I thought I was entitled to.

Before preaching to your children about selfishness,  I would strongly urge you to sift through the topic in your own walk.  Personally, I struggle with my selfish desires for something as simple as sleep.  I like sleep, but don’t see much of it.  I believe the last time I slept all night may have been prior to children.   I go through great lengths to defend my naptime on Saturdays and Sundays.  My schedule revolves around them and I wake up thinking about the next time I will be able to lay down.  Where most have something called sleep apnea, I have “lack of sleepaphobia.”

Sure, it’s funny, but I wonder if there are other things in my life that when Christ calls me to a deeper union with him, all I can respond with is “MINE!”

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.

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.