Posts Tagged ‘Christian Home Leadership’

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Gospel Thoughts from Olympics 2012-Synchronized Diving

August 6, 2012

I thought in the spirit of the Olympics I could do a couple of posts with the Olympic theme.  As most things in creation, there are a number of things we could learn from the games.  In this first post, let’s talk about synchronized diving.

I watched this sport and as with most of them, was completely amazed with the precision of the dives and the amount of time and training it had to have taken to perfect the dives.  Think about it, most of us could barely do the dives alone much less attempt to coordinate every move with a partner.  Each move had to be perfectly timed and coordinated for the dive to work right.  I marveled at the precision of the teams throughout the swim meet.

Again, everything in creation points to the Gospel and synchronized diving is no exception.   There are numerous Scriptures that came to mind while watching the games.  Here are just a few:

  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12.2
  • Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians  15.49
  • He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1.3

If you think about it, the Gospel is centered around the essence of Christ who was the very image of God.  The two were one or for the matters of our discussion, synchronized.  At the river when Christ came out of the water, the Trinity was fully exposed, further showing the synchronization Christ had with the heavenly throne.  The divers could be another (although scaled down) example of the synchronization of Christ with God the Father.

Likewise, we are to be in communion with Christ so much so that we look like the two divers in the picture above.  Each routine had one of the divers as the captain providing direction to ensure the movements were perfectly mimicked.  How emphatic would the Gospel in our life be if we were to truly conform ourselves to the image of Christ?  Each move of ours in step with that of our Captain so that when we dive into the situations of our lives, we are completely in line with and conformed to that of Christ.   The result would be an image of true surrendering one’s life and the beauty that follows.

Finally, these divers did not just begin diving together completely in sync.  It took days and months, if not years of practicing together.  We need to remember that we cannot simply take the dive one day thinking our lives would be completely in line with Christ.  It takes days of consistently being in communion with Christ so that in time, our moves are completely in line with our Savior.

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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. 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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Where the Boat Separates

January 24, 2012

Wood is a pretty interesting material when you stop to think about it.  You can cut it, put it in water, let it sit out, make it curve and for the most part, it lasts.  Again, this is just one of the many awesome creations God made in his infinite creativity.  I guess it should be no surprise Jesus trained under a carpenter prior to launching his ministry of salvation.  I’ve always wondered why.

I am not claiming to know the divine answer to that question, but if I were allowed to be a bit creative and take a stab at it, I would have to say that we are a lot like wood.  Some of us like extremely warm climates, others can bear through the cold, some of us have to be chiseled, while others tend to bend when they need to.  All in all, we are a lot like the wood commonly used to build anything from a house to a boat.  Pretty interesting when you stop to think about it.

One of my fascinations has always been the large wooden colonial ships.  The engineering that went into it and the commerce that was opened as a result of these long distance carriers is amazing.  I often wondered how the wood on the ship lasted as long as it did.  When doing some research on this ADD thought, I discovered that the bottom of the boat that stayed under water was usually in great shape, primarily because it stayed underwater.  The part above the water stayed in pretty good shape because it was, well above the water.  The part of the boat which suffered was the area between.

Think of a ship’s hull and separate it into three parts.  You would have the top part (above the water), the bottom part (below the water), and the middle.  The middle portion would be the part of the boat that would sometimes be under the water and sometimes be above.  This could be the result of waves, tide changes, weight of the ship, etc.  This constant exposure to the two different environments often caused splitting of the wood.   It is thought the phrase “bottom out” came from the deterioration of this section of the boat.  Of course, God began working on my with this concept.

If you stop to think about it, the parable of the seeds talks about the different types of soil of our hearts.  Similarly, we can use the above reference to describe the types of believers there are in the world, using a very broad stroke of the brush.

The Top (Above Water)

These could be characterized as the doers, the ones who are seen throughout the church living on mission.  They enjoy their activities, but truthfully, there is not a lot of depth to them.  They can give you the great Christian cliches like, “God will never bring you to it unless he can bring you through it.” Or, “we are saved by grace.” Or better, “I’m blessed, thanks for asking.”  Now, all of these are true statements, but you know the type I’m talking about.  There’s no depth!  They like their masks and their activities, but at the end of the day, they’re just not getting it.

The Bottom (Below Water)

Have you ever met a believer that was so in tune with God’s word they simply just wowed everyone they spoke with.  I’m not talking about those who can quote the entire book of Romans from memory, but rather, those who seek and find God in every little circumstance in life.  The more you get to know them, the peace and understanding they have is a direct result of the amount of time they spend in the throne room of God, face down.

I once knew a guy like this.  He was younger than me but man he showed me up.  He was forever in the Word or just being still before God.  It was more like a habit for him versus a scheduled appointment.  Anyway, he had some of the most profound one liners that you could tell you had just been smacked by the Holy Spirit.

One example was a time when he and I were running late for a meeting.  We had to go up two flights of stairs and I had decided I was going to take two at a time to his one right after the other approach.  I got to the top before he did and through my panting told him to hurry up.  He told me,

“You know, sometimes God wants us to just take one step at a time and trust him, rather than rushing to get to the top.  If you think about it, we both got to the top, but your short cut would up hurting you in the end.”

With that he just walked away!  Yeah, I’m sitting there completely floored by such a statement, and he thinks nothing of it.  What was the best part about his statement was that it was an answer to a question I had asked God in prayer the night before.  This guy was so entrenched with the Word and walking so closely with God, he was used daily without even knowing it.  Now that’s a deep hull!

Where it Cracks

The part of the ship where it cracks is a result of going in and out of two different environments is a lot like those of us who tend to bounce between the two worlds.  One minute they’re completely immersed in God’s word, walking closely with him and the next minute they’re just doing church.  There are numerous verses referring to the dangerous effects of swaying back and forth.

Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

If you find yourself in this predicament, be careful of the warnings from Scripture.  Dig deeper into God’s word and surround yourself more with people who are deep versus those who just like to seem like they are.  The truth is, the bible is clear about its sanctifying nature and it will expose the cracks in your life.  It is not to be seen as a negative thing because God tells us He desires us to be in close union with him.

So, chances are if you’re reading this you consider yourself to be a Christian, the question is which part of the boat are you on?

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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. 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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Best New Book for Men

January 12, 2012

I just completed reading this book and have to say it is one of the best books on Christian Men and Men’s Ministry.  I read it in about five hours because I could not put it down!

This book is written by the same author of Man in the Mirror (http://www.maninthemirror.org) and builds upon 7 Primal Principles of the man’s soul.  They are as follows:

1. To believe, really belive, that God knows, loves, and cares about me personally.

2. To believe my life has a divine purpose.

3. To break free from the destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.

4. To satisfy my soul’s thirst for transcendence, awe, and communion with Christ.

5. To love and be loved without reservation.

6. To make a contribution and leave a legacy.

7. To feel and know I am not in this alone.

As one who feels particular called to the discipleship of men, this book was awesome and extremely relevant.  It isn’t one of those self-help books, but more of an eye-opening manual on how to become more “alive” as a Christian Man.  He addresses the tendency of men to lose heart, go silent, and anesthetize their pain through seclusion.  Many of us know how often men make the decision to follow Christ, but are then left to the wolf because no one disciples them.  If you think about it, discipleship was the first thing on the mind of Christ when He rose.  What did he do first?  Go after his disciples and reinforce the Gospel.  We should do the same.

Here are some scary stats on Christian Men shared in the book:

  • 80% are so emotionally impaired they’re unable to express or even identify their feelings
  • 55% of marriages experience financial dishonesty, mostly by the husband
  • 50% of men who attend church still seek out pornography
  • 40% get divorced affecting over 1 million children a year

I was on the floor when I saw these.  No wonder we have such a void in the church today of Christian Men, real Christian Men.  If you’re in ministry or in a men’s group or simply feel called by Christ to start something, I would highly encourage you to read this book!  Great read and very applicable.

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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. 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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Change Agent-From the Inside Out

May 8, 2011

Every change agent in history, whether it be Scriptural or not, have a deep sense of calling.  Moses had a calling from God through a burning bush, Jeremiah was called by God audibly, the Spartans were called by a sense of duty to protect, the founding fathers of the United States were called by the sense of individual liberty, and the list goes on.

In looking at our lives, we must first examine what it is we are called to do.  For some, it might be mission work in a third world country, while for others; it could be a calling to the mission field known as our neighborhood.  Whatever the calling, before you can understand what Christ is calling you to become a change agent for, you must pray for your heart to be opened to the calling.  This is the first and sometimes, the most difficult step.  It starts from the inside out.

While I was working as an executive head hunter, I had the opportunity to speak with one of my candidates who was interviewing for a job here in Birmingham.  This candidate had traveled from California, where at the time, was suffering from a raging blaze that was consuming land and homes alike.  In fact, her flight was almost canceled due to the threat of her home being in the path of the raging fire.

All of that said, we had a unique conversation on the way back from the airport about the fires and how they spread.  She made a comment to the effect of, “it’s tough not being able to run the air conditioner, but it keeps my home safer.”  Of course, this struck me odd so I asked the reasoning for not running the air condition (which is unheard of where I live during the summer).  She began telling me how the fire expanded not by its own efforts, but by the wind.  Naturally, I thought she was alluding to the wind’s ability to push the fire along its path.  In fact, it was the contrary.

What would the wind be able to do outside of pushing the blaze in either direction?  I was astounded to discover the real threat came from the embers the wind would carry.  If one were to have their air condition on, the unit would pull in air from the air outside and push it through the various ducts throughout the house.  All it would take was one or two of these embers being sucked into the air ducts to begin a raging fire.  In my candidate’s words, “The houses burn from the inside out.”

For the rest of the week, my mind continued to chew upon this new bit of information.  I found great correlations between this story and the Holy Spirit’s ability to start with a simple, small word from one believer to a nonbeliever and turn it into a house consumed with fire.  One that started from the inside.

Most of Scripture’s greatest people had this small, all most inconspicuous ember be delivered to their hearts.  Over time, we start to see how that small ember slowly consumes everything and it becomes a raging fire in their lives.  These agents find themselves open to Christ moving in their lives and transforming them, conforming them to His image.

One of my favorite songs currently remains one written by Hillsong called “Inside Out.”  After writing this article, I could not help but to turn this song on and let it become my prayer again.  I hope you enjoy it and may it help you recognize that small ember waiting to burn inside of you.

Join us as we continue to discuss how today’s Christian Men can step up and become the Christian Warrior their family, friends, work, and community need them to be.

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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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Circumcision Part II

September 3, 2009

We are continuing our conversation on men’s favorite subject: Circumcision.  (Please understand the sarcasm there!)  Paul, in Romans 2:25-29, deals a lot with circumcision.   Let’s look at Paul’s take on this subject.

25 Circumcision does indeed profit if you keep the Law; but if you habitually transgress the Law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision.  26 So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be credited to him as [equivalent to] circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the Law will condemn you who, although you have the code in writing and have circumcision, break the Law.  29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and [true] circumcision is of the heart, a spiritual and not a literal [matter]. His praise is not from men but from God.

98844[1]The Jews boasted in this sign of their covenant with God.  They acknowledge God’s covenant with them, but did not honor it with their actions.   Interestingly, uncircumcision is defined as the equivalent of being a Gentile (which greatly offended most Jews most likely).  Uncircumcision is also described as a condition in which the corrupt desires rooted in the flesh were not yet extinct.  Paul is addressing those who “appear” to be Christians, yet their lives still show a lot of “fleshy” desires.

Matthew Henry puts it this way: “And restest in the law; that is, they took a pride in this, that they had the law among them, had it in their books, read it in their synagogues. They were mightily puffed up with this privilege, and thought this enough to bring them to heaven, though they did not live, up to the law. To rest in the law, with a rest of complacency and acquiescence, is good; but to rest in it with a rest of pride, and slothfulness, and carnal security, is the ruin of souls.”

Here he describes what true circumcision is, it is not only an outward sign, but an inward transformation.  You can be baptized, but if your life does not show the redemption and transformation, it is as useful as being a circumcised Jew who lives the most evil of lives.  Again, a favorite quote of mine is from DC Talk in their song What if I Stumble!

The leading cause of atheism today  is Christians who acknowledge Christ with their lips, but deny Him with their actions.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with “Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment” that are worth noting:

  1. God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)
  2. God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)
  3. God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)
  4. God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)
  5. God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)
  6. God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)
  7. God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

In the next post, we will bring this topic home, not literally of course.  I hope you’ll join me in the next post: Circumcising the Heart.

If you liked this post, please read the previous post and the sequel to this one!

A Difficult Study for Men: Circumcision

Circumcising the Heart!

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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

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A Difficult Study for Men: Circumcision

August 29, 2009

scaredmanLet’s face it, if you are a part of a men’s Bible Study, the last subject you would expect to have would be one on circumcision.  Unfortunately, when covering a book in the Bible in sequential order, you have to discuss some topics you would normally just skip over.  If you cover any of the epistles, chances are, you will come across the great debate of the time, “circumcision vs. no circumcision.”

Just some information on circumcision for you to consider before we get started.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that Abraham sat at the entrance of Hell and made certain that none of his circumcised descendants went there. Some Rabbis also taught “God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another” and “All Israelites will have part in the world to come.”  I recently read that circumcision and baptism do about the same thing that a label on a can does. If the outer label doesn’t match with what is on the inside, something is wrong! If there are carrots inside the can, you can put a label says “Peas” but it doesn’t change what is inside the can. Being born again changes what is inside the can, and then you can put the appropriate label on the outside.

So where is the beginning of Circumcision?  Let’s start in Genesis 17:10-14.

10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.11 And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you.12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether born in [your] house or bought with [your] money from any foreigner not of your offspring.13 He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.14 And the male who is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.

This particular passage marks a change and the fathering of the Jewish nation.  God sets apart his people with this covenant through Abraham.

Notice that it is a token or a sign of the covenant, much like a wedding ring or fraternity tattoo.  It marks we are.  The covenant is in the flesh, an everlasting covenant.  God made it known that now part of our bodies is outside of this covenant.   It is no irony that the covenant was made with this particular part of the male body symbolizing a new birth or the birth of a new nation.  Most covenants have something you have to give, it may hurt, this definitely meets the bill on this.

In the English and Romance languages the derivation of the word ‘male’ and ‘masculine’ is derived from the Latin ‘mas’, a root meaning heavy or the strong one, whereas the Hebrew word for male is zachar, which has the same root letters as ‘to remember’.  We are to “remember” our covenant with Christ.

As men, especially today, I think there are a lot of things we need to “remember.”   We will continue this discussion by picking up Paul’s take on the whole subject.  Romans 2:25-29 deals a lot with circumcision.   We will discuss this in the next post : Circumcision Part II.  Hope you will join us for that discussion.

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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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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.