Posts Tagged ‘Leadership Masterpiece’

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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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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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Enemy Behind the Lines- Guilt

July 4, 2009

it-is-finished-closebible.gif

Last words.  These are most likely two of the most chilling words for most of us.  In that one moment, we have the choice of a lifetime to make.  What would you say?  Who would you say it to?  What would you leave behind for those whom you love?

I would like for us to explore one last word in particular: Telos.

So what does Telos mean? “It is finished.” It is a translation of the Greek word tetelestai, the perfect indicative passive tense of the word telos.  The most interesting fact is that telos means to end; to bring to completion; to bring to a conclusion; to complete; to accomplish; to fulfill or to finish.

28 After this Jesus, knowing that all things are now finished, that the scripture might be accomplished, saith, I thirst.29 There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth.30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. John 19: 28-30

In our series on the Enemy Behind the Lines, we have explored a number of enemies to our personal walk with Christ.  These enemies behind the line refer to those sometimes silent, stealthy that can undermine the efforts made in our daily walk with Christ.  One such enemy is that of guilt.  It would be fair to say every human being suffers from some aspect of guilt.

Guilt is the emotion of remorse that we use to judge and berate ourselves when we perceive ourselves of doing something wrong.  It takes various forms and can affect everything from our sleep, appetite, work, and relationships.  Guilt is personally something I have struggled with in my faith walk for as long as I can remember.

There is a difference in conviction from Christ and guilt.  Godly grief or conviction generally draws us closer to Christ.  Most of the time, when I feel convicted over a particular event or behavior, the Holy Spirit is convicting me on the need for confession and repentance.  Guilt or regret usually has me wanting to hide myself from Christ, embarrassed and unwilling at times to go before the throne.

Guilt is a great weapon for Satan to use and it remains “hidden” due to its wide acceptance by the world as an acceptable feeling for those sins we have committed in our lives.  In its basic sense, guilt is merely a misappropriation of the origin of grace.

Telos describes the true nature of Christ’s sacrifice. The grace every true Christian enjoys flows from the sacrifice of Christ and not by any actions of our own.  Guilt can be the result of not fully understanding grace and the redemption provided under the blood of the new covenant.

Personally, I have struggled with guilt that has functioned much like an anchor to my daily faith walk.  Rather than approaching the throne of God, I have often allowed guilt to keep me from looking into the eyes of my savior.  I had a misguided understanding of the difference between guilt and conviction, so being unable to distinguish between the two, I would often pray for forgiveness that had already been given, just not received.  In recent months, I have been able to fully understand one key verse:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The most interesting fact is that telos means to end; to bring to completion; to bring to a conclusion; to complete; to accomplish; to fulfill or to finish.  Other translations include definitions referring to a debt being paid. What was brought to completion on the cross?  What debt was paid?

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Conviction brings to your conscience those sins you need to confess to Christ and repent of.  Guilt reminds you of sins Christ has already forgiven.  Conviction allows you to reach for the wounded hand of Christ and his redemptive love, whereas guilt prevents you from looking into the eyes of the one who saved you.

If you find yourself fighting a battle with guilt, just know you are not alone.  Most Christians, if they were to be honest, struggle with guilt.  It is one of the enemies we rarely realize we are fighting.  It is one serving more like a double-agent than an all out enemy.  Yet all in all, it is one of the deadliest.  Join us as we continue to discuss possible meanings of Christ’s last words on the cross.  What does Telos mean for you?

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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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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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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Hello-I Am a Slave

June 11, 2009

In my day to day job, I live for the introduction.  There is much in an introduction.  Think about it for a minute.  In someone’s introduction, you could easily determine the following (even if it were over the phone):

  • Age – help you make inferences about how they are interpreting what you are saying.
  • Nationality – easily determined by accent or dialect
  • Job Title – may help you understand what motivates this person like ego, thrill of the kill, or the numbers
  • Last Name – again, a little about the heritage and perhaps, depending on the town, you could tell some about their “rank” in society

As you can see, there is a lot you can discover about a person in their introduction.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to prepare for teaching the book of Romans.  It has been a while since I have actually taken some time to study the book, and I believe now is the providential time for me to do so.

In preparing for the first lesson, I could not move past the first verse for a while.  Read Romans 1:1

1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…

slave

Now in thinking about how I introduce myself, I usually mention that I am a husband, a father, and where I work and attend church.  Paul truly taught me how flawed my introduction was in Romans 1:1.   Let’s look at this a bit deeper.

1.  Paul introduces himself as a slave to Christ.  In his day, slaves were not even human, more like property, owned by someone else.  Their will and very existence depended upon their master.  In this short phrase, Paul is identifying himself as one who is not in control.  He names his master later in the passage as being Jesus.  Think for a second.  If you were to add this to your introduction, would it be true?  Could people honestly look at how you live your life and see that Christ was the “master” of your life and that your will was not your own?

2.  Slaves were bought by someone else.  Again, in this phrase, Paul is ultimately setting up his case for Christ.  By identifying himself as a slave of Christ, he is also implying that Christ paid for him.  In2 Corinthians 5:21 is states:

21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Wow, how humbling is it to know that the sinless son of God took on our sin as ransom for us?  He purchased us out of the slavery of the world to become slaves for Him.  Paul knew that better than most and it should not surprise us that he first identified himself as being “owned” or paid for by Christ.

3.  In saying all of this, Paul was identifying himself in Christ.  In Romans 6, Paul delves deeper into his identity in Christ.  Do you identify yourself in Christ?  I know there are times I do not and then again, the times I do, I am quite sure I should not.  Paul’s identity was not even his own.  He identified his master.

So the next time you go to introduce yourself, I hope you think of Romans 1:1 and give yourself a little “self-check”.  Those are always good to have, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.  Helps set the bar for how others may interpret you, and who knows, it may even introduce them to your master.

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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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Everyone Worships God Right?

June 1, 2009

Would you like to know a powerful piece of understanding to have in your arsenal for evangelism?  Is there some piece of knowledge you would like to have to use as a way to increase your stance in your apologetic message to others?  Of course, your strength, fortitude, resilience, peace, and understanding of your faith should all come from and be rooted in your relationship with Christ and his grace.  I would daresay, if we were all honest with ourselves, we would still want more right?  Just that edge that for some reason, we just don’t feel we have.

As I was driving into work this morning, I began thinking about a couple of people in my life that I could reach out to them and tell them about Christ’s redemptive love and grace.  Some of these are pretty intelligent people who may or may not intimidate me.  Some are people who love life and really don’t want to be “tied down” by any legalistic religions.  Others are “church” people who need to get real with their faith and stop trying to serve two masters in life.  So how do I get them to see that worship God is the “thing to do.”

I began sifting through all of my “theological” mind files and began formulating different ways to present the information, but for some reason, I just could not get over that hill.  What about the people who really don’t believe in God?  That’s when it hit me… EVERYONE WORSHIPS GOD!

I am quite sure a couple of people who read that statement might already begin to get themselves in an uproar like I did when it first crossed my mind.  However, if you think about it, the statement is true.  The only difference is whether they are worshiping God or god.  In Scripture, the little “g” gods have a more glamorous name:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3  There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that statement.  I believe all of us struggle with this on some level if we were to be honest with ourselves.  For some of us who are Christians and do honor Christ with our life, we still struggle with balancing work, family, church, little league, girl scouts… get the point?  So often, we get caught up in little idols making our schedule and not starting our day with the true and living God. Deuteronomy 32:37 is one of my favorites regarding the subject:  “And he will say, Where are their gods, The rock in which they took refuge…”  I know personally, I have had a time of reckoning when God showed me just how many idols I had in my own life.

The issue in evangelising those who are on my heart is not convincing them that they are not worship a god, but convincing them they are worshiping the wrong god.

  • And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment.

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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.