Posts Tagged ‘christian home’

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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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A Portrait of David:What Happens When a Man Doesn’t Go To Battle

February 7, 2012

The account of David’s sin with Bathsheba is often used to teach about temptation, especially sexual temptation.  I will agree this is a great story for us to use, but often, there is a great lesson to be learned in the from the text proceeding the story.

1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 11

Interesting isn’t it?  The author made it a point to state that David “tarried still at Jerusalem.”  Traditionally, in David’s time, kings would go to any battles in the Spring with their armies.  In previous chapters, you will see David leading his army into battle.  Why this time did he stay home?  No one knows the answer to that question, we just know the outcome.   I believe there is a good lesson for men to learn from David’s epic fail, and essentially, the epic fail of most of us who call ourselves Christians.

The very minute we decide to get off the battlefield and tarry around or hang back is the very second we open ourselves up for temptation.  Although we do not do physical battle, we do have battles we fight as outlined in Ephesians 6.  We have continue to immerse ourselves in the Word of God daily and if we don’t, it is the same as us staying off the battlefield.  We open ourselves to potential attacks, the sneakiest of kinds.

As noted by many references, David was simply strolling on the roof, not really looking for trouble.  The fact is, if he had been at battle where he should have been, that glance would not have turned into a question which turned into a meeting which turned into sin and destruction.

Here are some quick items to walk away with:

  • If you’re not in God’s Word daily, change that!
  • If you are not meeting with an accountability partner or group, get into one
  • Get into a church family that will nourish your walk and help keep you focused on Christ
  • Stay in the battle.  If you feel yourself getting off the battlefield, let a fellow Christian know

Hope this helps you in your walk.  In our next post, we will talk about the difference between the predator and the prey.
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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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Christian Dads-What Legacy are you Leaving?

January 22, 2012

Some of the best movies always have some aspect of the plot centered around the father-son/daughter theme.  Think about it, here are some examples: Star Wars, Tron Legacy, Green Lantern, Lion King, and many more.  All of these have a deep rooted character who is seeking either a relationship with their father, trying to find their father, trying to impress their father and the list could go on.  This just highlights one simple, basic principle: a father’s influence over their child is critical, needed, and desired by children, no matter their age.

I believe one of the most important thoughts that should be on the forefront of any father’s mind should be their relationship with Christ, followed quickly by the legacy he will leave with his children.  If you take a minute to think back, chances are, you will find yourself doing things your father did.  I know I will often find myself saying something to one of my kids and thinking inside, “I sound just like my father.”  It’s not always a bad thing, but there are some things, as Christian men, we need to break.

It struck me while listening to a sermon on  Jacob and Isaac that the “sins of the father” has a definite theme based in Genesis.  Many of us will look at the deceiving of Isaac by Jacob with disdain, but where would a child learn something like that?  If you go back to the previous chapters in Genesis, you will see the practice of lying has deeper roots.  His father and grandfather both had lied to Abimelech.  Sure, these were great men of God and even they had their moments of weakness, not trusting God wholly that he would protect their family.  Jacob was simply following in the generational footsteps.  Jacob continued this tradition, leaning more on his own strength and understanding than that of God.  If you continue to read through Jacob’s story, you will find the deceit continuing when his sons sell their brother into slavery.  When will the cycle stop?

Joseph was cut from a different fabric.  Time and time again throughout his life, he was given the opportunity to be deceitful, self-reliant, but he fled from them and clung to God.  In one instance, he fled so quickly he fled naked from a sin he could have easily given in to.  Through his continued focus on God, Joseph was able to be saved from many situations, and was even used to save his family.  This is what God can do with simple obedience, he can break the sinful patterns of our fathers.

What is it in your life that you are passing on to your son or daughter?  This is a critical questions that if you have not already taken some time to think about, you MUST.  Do you have an anger issue?  If so, you can pretty well bet your child will struggle with the same.  Do you often lie to win people’s affection or affirmation?  If so, you will pass this curse on to your children.  This can only be done by submitting to Christ and letting him mold you to the father he needs you to be, no only for your sake, but also for that of generations to follow you.

Joseph’s obedience was used to break the generational cycle and saved a nation.  Take a moment to think about all of the issues we face as fathers and the issues our children will face in their times.  Just think of how willing God is to transform our families and our nation.  You never know what your obedience to him may spark in your family and ultimately, many generations down the road, in our nation.  Pray, focus, and submit.  Your children are dependent upon that!
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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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40 Days in a Desert

July 26, 2010

I oftentimes find myself going through a period of desolation in my daily walk.  Granted, most of the time I arrive at one of these points is due to my sin causing a great abyss between Jesus and me.  There are times, however, that the slightly standoff feeling arises,do you ever experience this? Let me explain.

A young couple after being married for a short time had reached a point in their relationship where the initial feelings of “in love” were no longer there.  For some reason, they could not seem to reinvent the beginning passion they once enjoyed.  After some time, they began to drift further apart, eventually seeking this “in love” euphoria from other aspects of life: parties, other romances, work, you name it.  The overriding reality was that the hunger was there for something fulfilling, it just lacked the effort.

Sometimes we all go through the same sort of problem in our relationship with Christ.   We may come off of a dynamic retreat or some other type of spiritual experience and realize after a few days of the real world, the euphoria has worn off.  It can be a vast expanse of loneliness and frustration, those times when you pray and do not “feel” as if Christ is listening.

The Israelites had the same type of problem as Moses was leading them through the desert.  While in the literal wilderness, they began to fall away from the very one who had delivered them from slavery.  It is not to go unmentioned this nation had witnessed the saving power of God first hand with the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, not to mention the pillar of fire that led them through the first part of the desert.  With all of this first hand, “see it with my own eyes” testimony to the reality of God, they still wondered.  Their wilderness was literal, but the manifestations of what brought them there is the same as the behaviors you and I do on a regular basis.  It can simply be broken down to laziness.

When you are going through a wilderness, there is one vital thing to remember, Christ promised to never leave or forsake us.  Perhaps this season of your life is intentional on the part of God to teach you something, prune something out of your life, or simply allow you to grow.  Imagine going through an actual desert, nothing but sand in sight for miles and miles.  Would you not have a renewed sense of joy and thankfulness when you finally reach a piece of land with water, trees, food…? Sometimes in our daily walk with Christ, we reach a point of complacency.

Another important aspect of the desert is the ability for the experience to prune us, take us deeper.  As a new Christian, I felt at times, as if Christ was right next to me as I prayed, I could “feel” His presence as I entered into worship of him.  Gradually over time, my schedule would get in the way of my daily time with God.  Instead of spending my day praying, or simply talking with Christ, I found myself giving a last ditch “hey there thank you” prayer as I drifted off to sleep.  Hardly what is Christ deserved.  Through my laziness and lack of intimacy, I began to lose that “feeling.”  Over time, this helped me grow.

During my desert times, I remember the Psalm that I love to hate.. (I say that reverently of course.)  This verse was given to me several times throughout my first major lull, so much so, I could never get away from it.  I would open to it randomly in my Bible, see it on bumper stickers, or even admire a painting only to realize in the lower right hand a reference to it.   There was one time when I had enough and literally yelled to God, “What does this stupid verse mean?” (My neighbors thought I was nuts.)

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

I encourage you to read this verse if you are currently experiencing a desert in your walk.  Pray over it and be sure to read the follow up to this blog explaining how this applies to the wildernesses of our lives.

Part II

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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.