Posts Tagged ‘leadership tactics’

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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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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Chicken Little And Philippians 4:4-7

May 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Enemy Behind the Lines-Fear Part II

April 6, 2009

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

What are some of the fears most Christians have but may not know about? Here are just a few!

Confession

Ok, I realize they are not major things to others, but to me, the sight of a rooster or a clown begins the slow shutting down of major life systems in my body. My chest gets tight; I can hear my heartbeat in my head, and get physically ill, all within only two or three seconds of the initial sighting. So, regardless of what anyone else sees in these evil winged animals and demonic looking clowns, I am petrified.

I remember the first time I confessed my fear of roosters and clowns to someone close to me. It was a major leap of faith for me to confess such a fear to anyone and actually have to admit I was vulnerable. Before you ask the question, yes, this person laughed when I told them. In that moment, however, I realized the tremendous fear of confession I was harboring. It was almost harder telling someone else I had a flaw than it would be facing a clown holding a rooster.

A fear of confession is real and needs to be dealt with. I would venture to say all of us, on some level, have a fear of confession. It is not easy for us to dismount from our pedestal to mention even so much as one of the flaws we have.

If you don’t think you have this particular fear, let me ask you one question. What is that one sin you try your hardest to ensure no one knows about? Now, think about telling that sin to someone close to you, a way of confessing it and dealing with it. Do you realize now you have this fear?

Humiliation

As mentioned above, sometimes fear and pride go hand in hand, as would be the case with humiliation. We all try our hardest to “save face” in front of our friends, families, and co-workers. It seems there are some things in life that are not much different than grade school. Whether we admit it or not, we are still in the race to be sure we are wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, have the right technology, driving the right car, etc.

A fear of humiliation is a devastating enemy behind the line. This particular fear might keep you from sharing your testimony with one of your co-workers. It could keep you from asking a burning question for fear of not knowing the answer. The fear of humiliation keeps us on the bench, spectators to Christianity. Fear of humiliation would be the equivalent of a soccer player having the fear of running. It’s counter to the Christian DNA.

The fear of humiliation is usually brought about through a past experience. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. In most instances, humiliation may not be known to anyone but you, even if it happens in a room full of people. I have seen some who later tell of events where they were humiliated, yet on the outside, they were laughing at themselves along with everyone else.

Rejection

Rejection and humiliation are different animals, but close in kin. Humiliation is not as personal to me as rejection is. In my humble definition, rejection involves the submission of myself to someone, only to be rejected by them. Humiliation can be done unintentionally, however, rejection, almost by definition, has to be personal. It is a devilish beast to deal with.

If you think about people in your life, most have this fear which may be tied to something that happened in their families, a past relationship or some other type of situation. It is a far reaching, deeply rooted fear that eventually permeates everywhere in their lives.

The fear of rejection works a lot like humiliation when it comes to a Christian’s walk. Rejection often prevents a Christian from being involved in a small group, or an evangelistic group. Of all the fears, however, I believe this has the greatest potential for change. Why? Christ, of all people, knows the feeling of rejection all to well. He was rejected by followers, Peter, teachers, clerics, politicians and numerous others. From the cross he yelled, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone who is dealing with the fear of rejection might want to cry out the same sometimes.

Failure

Atychiphobia-the official name of the fear of failure. I can identify with this one in particular. Most of us have a fear of failure, disappointing those you love or simply just failing. People who fear failure do not take any type of risks, play not to lose-if they even play at all. It can be a crippling and at times, but it is not beyond victory.

If we find ourselves with the fear of failure, we should be greatly comforted by several of the characters of the Bible. Failure seems to be a great theme throughout Scriptures. Of all of the great failures, Peter is my favorite. He seemed to be a complete pro at it. He slipped up while trying to walk on water. He sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. When the time came to step up, he denied knowing Christ three times. Regardless of these, Christ still had an affection for him. Christ saw the reasoning behind his failures… passion. That is something Christ can work with.

As I mentioned before, I have had my own struggles with the fear of failure. I always equated Christian with holiness and holiness with perfection. Warped vision I know. In prayer, I brought my fear of failure to the Cross several times, but always managed to take it back. There was one time, however, Christ did not let me take it back. It was time I learned to get past this fear.

In my Prayer Place, I was shown a cup and a nail. Every time I thought of a failure, the nail would put a hole in the cup. Eventually, there were several holes in the cup. Christ asked me, “What do you see?” Of course, my answer was, “the holes.” Christ pointed out that His Grace was like water being poured into the cup. As the water poured out through holes, it was clear to me that my faults, weaknesses, my holes was what allowed his grace to pour through my life… minister to others if you will.

Although I thought it was over, Christ turned the cup open face down and placed a candle under it. As you would guess, the light from the candle shown through the holes. It was quite apparent the message given to me… embrace my failures, they are what Christ uses to glorify himself.

Overcoming our Fear

I love the story of Paul and Silas and I believe it has a lot to tell us about fear. In a way, all of us become imprisoned by our various fears. My fear keeps me from farms and circuses. For some, it keeps them from flying, others might not ever take a risk and share the Gospel with someone out of fear of rejection or humiliation. Fear can be a powerful enemy.

Let’s look at Paul and Silas and how they dealt with fear. As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

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

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Fear

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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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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Enemy Behind the Lines: Fear

April 3, 2009

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

Here is an interesting list for you to consider:

  1. The number 13
  2. Air
  3. Body Odors
  4. Dentists
  5. Dust

So what do all of these have in common?  They are all listed as diagnosed phobias.  The list of diagnosed phobias was pretty exhaustive and surprising.

Alektorophobia.  That is the phobia I have.  Pretty terrifying and to save you some time researching, let me define it for you.  I have a gripping fear of chickens, well, roosters primarily.  Oh, and I have another one, Coulrophobia.  Again, another serious phobia I have of clowns.  I know you are laughing to yourself, but you have them too.  Those silent, hidden fears that keep you caged in yourself.

I found it interesting that when trying to determine the total number of phobias, the answer was quite simple, “there are as many phobias as there are things and situation.”  When I reread over Genesis, I read about the numerous items God created, but found it interesting that fear was not one of them.  So when did fear become so common and accepted as something just to name and accept.  Who comes up with all of these names for the million phobias listed? I would daresay Adam had the easier job naming all of the animals.

Why is fear considered an enemy behind the line?  Interestingly enough, even when you would describe yourself as fearless, you truly are not.  I found this to be true personally.  Granted, I have a distorted fear of clowns and roosters, I thought when it came to faith, I could be considered as fearless.   After comparing myself to some of the people in Scripture, I am not that fearless.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  – Acts 16:25

After reading about Paul and Silas singing in the midst of facing almost certain execution… painful execution, I can’t really say I am all that fearless.  Of all of the emotions and all of the possible behaviors to display in a time like that, I can’t say that I I would have necessarily chosen to sing hymns to God first.  That, in my humble opinion, is pretty fearless. In today’s environment, we need more of that type of fearlessness.

Most of us, however, would recognize our other fears or phobias.  Those who are afraid of heights stay away from high places.  Others who are afraid of flying don’t even go to http://www.travelosity.com to price flights, it’s just not an option to consider.  And those of us who are afraid of clowns, we steer clear of circuses.  We are able to embrace the fears we know about, but not the fears that are “behind the line.”

If I asked you to speak to a group of people regarding your testimony or to simply share the Gospel with them, unless you were agorophobic, you would not have a tremendous problem with it right?  Chances are, the group I assembled would be somewhat believers ready to receive or at least listen to what you had to say right?  Let’s change the situation.  What if I were to ask you to stand up in a crowded movie theater before a movie started share the Gospel?  Ok, that feeling you just felt in the pit of your stomach, that is the enemy behind the lines… fear.

We all have it, fear of failure, embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection.  This fear is the fear crippling many Christians, especially Christian Men in today’s society.  As a man, it is easy to be the bold one in business, the “take no prisoners” type.  Personally, at one time in my life, I felt great pride in taking down an opponent whether it be a competitor in business or simply someone who, in my opinion, needed to be put in their place.  It was almost second nature.  The tide has shifted though for those of us who have submitted ourselves to Christ.

There is a fear infested in us that lies dormant, it seems, until we commit ourselves to Christ and take up His armor and mission rather than our own?  Suddenly, your ability to “take down enemies” seems to be nonexistent when it comes to defending your faith.  What am I speaking of?  Let’s say someone in your office speaks about women in a lewd and disgraceful manner.  Will you stand up and tell them that it is no longer acceptable to speak in those ways about women?  Ok, if you answered yes, let’s take it one step further.  If you were asked why the sudden change, would your answer be, “Because I have committed myself to Christ and we are to love and honor our wives as Christ loves the church, not speak about them so harshly.”  Yeah, not as easy.

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

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

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

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.

urch Development as a Church Consultant.

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Enemy Behind the Lines – Regret

March 31, 2009

Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I have had to confront in my own spiritual walk: regret.

How would you define regret?  It can be a somewhat ambiguous word.  Of the various definitions researched, I believe the best found defined regret as a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Are there memories, decisions, or events that once they enter your mind, the immediate effect is regret?  Personally, I equate regret with a deep sense of darkness that overtakes my soul.  Physically, there are times where I feel everything from a headache forming in the base of my head to a burning in my chest.  It amazes me how one emotion can cause such serious physical manifestations.

There are decisions in life I regret, perhaps minor decisions that could have had a tremendous effect on my life and the lives of those around me.  There are events or situations I handled that leave me with a tremendous sense of regret.  The most dangerous of regrets is that over our sin.  This is the enemy that not only sneaks behind the line of defense most Christian Men put up, but it tends to camp out and slowly corrupt the rest of the troops if left undetected. What is the difference between conviction and regret?

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

There is a difference in godly grief versus regret.  For the longest time,  I struggled trying to understand the difference between conviction and regret or guilt.  Honestly, I still struggle with this aspect of my faith and consistently have to remind myself of 2 Corinthians 7:10.  One great way I learned to discern the difference between the two was by simply asking myself, “Is this feeling pushing me toward or away from Christ?”

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.  Regret is the motivator for taking those events, decisions or other items I had previously taken to the cross and left in Christ’s hands back into my own hands to try to “fix.”  It never works, but for some reason, a number of Christians fall prey to this deadly, and at times, elusive enemy.

Last example for you regarding regret.  Have you ever tried driving in rush hour traffic while looking only in your rear  view mirror?  Not very helpful is it?  I cannot think of a better example of regret.  Sometimes, the Enemy will convince us to believe The Lie and we spend more of our time focusing on the sins of the past.  Again, if they are sins needing to be confessed and repented of, they would not qualify as regret, rather, they would qualify as the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The Enemy knows if he can get our focus more on what we didn’t do for Christ in our past, we would miss the potential opportunities for us to work within Christ’s will for our lives in the present.  So many Christian Men remain trapped by regret and do not find the opportunities for ministry in their offices, families, churches or communities.  Regret serves as an anchor holding one in place rather than moving forward toward their Savior.  How do you get this enemy out of your camp?  Prayer is the obvious answer, but I challenge you to embrace the aspect of prayer that will help you most with this particular enemy… Surrender.

Surrender is a subject we will discuss in the next post, it warrants its own post.  Just to give you a mental picture of what surrender looks like, I found a picture of what Christ might be telling you if you are suffering from regret or the “rear view mirror syndrome.”

rearview-mirror1

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

Unforgiveness

Unwillingness to Change

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

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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Enemy Behind the Line-Unforgiveness

March 20, 2009


Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one I have struggled with and continue to struggle with: unforgiveness.  Read this Scripture Passage from Luke 15:

“The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’

While pondering today’s Scripture Reading, I noticed one line of this story I had never really taken into account.  Of course, we all know the story of the two sons, one son who works the fields while the other one spends his inheritance on matters of the world and after finding himself with the pigs, decides to go back to his father for forgiveness.  You know this story as do I and most us focus on the wonderful correlation to how the father welcomed his son home regardless of his faults and how Christ does that to all of us when we turn back to him.

When reading this passage this morning, I was struck by one line, look below:    

The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him.

Notice the part I underlined.  These four words brought a totally new perspective for me to this story.  I felt the Holy Spirit inspire me to ask myself the question, “How did the father see his son from afar if he wasn’t already looking for him?”  Of course with my mind, I began racing to the mental theater in my mind now seeing a piece of the play I had not paid any attention to before.  Rather than the father simply seeing his son by happen-chance, I now see the father pacing on the hill, constantly looking for his lost son to return home and when seeing him, being filled with joy and then running to embrace him.

This has helped me better understand something about Christ that I have always been told and an attribute that Scripture supports.  We all use the passage in Revelation about Christ knocking on the door and “letting him in to dine with us,” but isn’t it a comforting revelation for all of us who strive toward a more Christ-like life to know in our heart of hearts that when we have strayed from the right path, Christ, like the father in the parable, is pacing on a hill looking for us to return?  And it’s not like He waits for us to run to Him and throw ourselves before his feet and beg for forgiveness, the simple act of turning to Him and taking the first step almost forces the heart of Christ to run to us where we are.  Now that is a Saviour!  Unlike those we live with day in and day out who wait for us to approach them wtih an apology, and at times revel in our graveling for their forgiveness, Christ waits to run to us.

I think we all to often forget that forgiveness is part of the requirement of us.  It is very easy for me to sit and brew over something.  Although I say I have forgiven that person, in actuality, I have not.  Unfortunately, I believe this is a battle many of us have to fight.  One simple foothold Satan can use in our lives is that of unforgiveness.  It is the seed of so many thorns in our lives that will choke the Word being scattered in our lives by Christ.  It starts as a simple vine, then eventually, it will take over.  It is one of the enemies behind the line.  As a Christian man or Christian Leader, you have to uproot this weed before it is too late.

One final thought for you to ponder: Do you think it is ironic that the father in this story was pacing on a hill looking for his lost son?  I can’t see anything Christ doing as being simply ironic, but rather, divinely inspired, only because He still paces on a hill waiting for us.  The hill is called Calvary!

So if you are a father or in a leadership position, let’s try to remember to be actively looking for opportunities to forgive and embrace those who change their hearts…

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

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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The Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Reliance

March 4, 2009

This series began with the first blog article entitled; “The Enemy Behind the Lines-The Lie” which focused on the lies Satan has convinced many of the men of today in believing. As a man, I believe one of the “enemies behind the lines” I have had to face is that of self-reliance. Unfortunately, it has been a lesson that has been excruciating at times, but one needing serious attention.

My grandfather always had a garden, and I have the greatest memories of being out there with him, working on the various crops. At the time, I only saw it as a way to get away from my normal, everyday routine during the summer. As I look back on it, I know now it was Christ’s way of training me for the life ahead with the mini life lessons my grandfather taught me in that garden in south Alabama. One of those lessons applies to the subject of self-reliance is Paw Paw’s simple saying regarding weeds. “It only takes one, then they take over.” Self-reliance works in much the same manner.

Self-reliance is just that, relying on one’s own abilities to accomplish one’s ambitions. How is this one of the lies or enemies behind the line? If you are truly attempting to be a Christian man, one following the path to the cross, Self-reliance is one of the first weeds you need to pluck or prune. My grandfather explained to me that one weed, although it did not seem like a major problem, would eventually germinate quicker than the real vegetation in the garden and eventually choke the life out of the plants you were actually trying to harvest. Self-reliance works in much the same manner, slowly taking over your spiritual garden and choking the life out of the vines that produce the fruits of the Spirit.

Self-reliance calls for accountability only to oneself, not to God. It submits only to the authority of self-ambition and rebukes any correction offered by Christ. Self-reliance slowly takes the divinity of Christ off of the thrown in our own Holy of Holies and replaces it with our own image. Rather than worshiping the one true God, we begin worshiping our own creations and furthermore, we begin to expect others to do the same. If one who is Self-reliant ever finds their circle of friends, their family, or their co-workers are not praising their endeavors, it becomes a major bone of contention and could even result in a major stumbling block in any of those relationships. Christ, in numerous parables, relates the Kingdom of God to that of a field and often speaks of the vegetation versus the weeds war. James 3:16 puts it another way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition [Self-reliance ] exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As James says, “every vile practice” is the eventual result of selfish ambition or self-reliance.

Personally, I never had any idea just how deeply rooted this issue of self-reliance was for me. In 2007, I rededicated my life to Christ and said a prayer that changed my life’s course. In the silence of the night, I prayed, “Christ, break me and mold me.” What I really meant was, “Christ, break me and mold me, but only the way I want you to.” Fortunately, Christ doesn’t work that way. Once the prayer left my lips, the work Christ had begun in me was kicked into high gear. The heat, used to mold me to conform to the image of Christ, was turned up about 250 degrees and my little castle of cards began to fall, one story at a time.

At the time, I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a major bank in the Southeast. In my late twenties, a lot of “power” and “influence” was not the best thing for me. Submitting to Christ meant I had to begin “unsubmitting” to myself. Although I had the same sense of false humility that most Christians seemed to have, Christ was calling me to something deeper. Within only a couple of weeks, I was released from my position at the bank and so began a 90 day journey jobless. For such a long time, I introduced myself as Trent Cotton, Vice President of HR for *** Bank. So much of my identity was wrapped in the person I had made myself to be, not in whom Christ had made and called me to be.

So when my job was eliminated, I initially thought, “Not a big deal, I am marketable, everyone will want me.” After about 90 days, I soon realized I was not all I cracked up to be. I prayed for days to understand what was happening, why was I not getting anything. While searching for answers, I heard a lesson based on this verse:

37 And He will say, Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your protection! 39 See now that I, I am He, and there is no god beside Me… Deuteronomy 32: 37-39

This particular verse shows the warnings against a Self-reliant spirit. What are the consequences? For me, Christ watched as the perfect storm in my life soon consumed me and chipped away at the self-reliance I had acquired over the years. When I cried out to Christ for help in my plight, I could almost hear, “And where is your god? Aren’t you the all-powerful god that can do anything? See now that I, I am He and there is NO god beside Me …”

As I looked back, I could see where my self-reliant defiance against the authority of Christ in my life had ruined so many aspects of my life. I saw the character others saw in me and was pretty displeased, borderline embarrassed by what I saw. While I was preaching to be a great Christian man, I did not have enough confidence in the one who saved me to guide me, mold me, and yes, save me. In my mind, all of those tasks fell under my authority and jurisdiction. Essentially, I wanted to be saved by Christ, but wanted him to be this little figure in the corner of my life that I could bring out every Sunday and talk about as if I truly knew of his grace and divinity, but then place him back in the closet of reason and doubt during the week. Fortunately, his grace saved me from living a life believing that lie.

So, how do you tell if you are Self-reliant ? Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself:

  • When I am not noticed for the work I do, is it hard for me not to throw an internal fit?
  • When I have a major project, do I rely totally on my own abilities rather than praying for specific guidance?
  • Am I hard to teach?
  • Am I unwilling to listen to correction from someone, even if it is on how to become closer to Christ?
  • Do I shrink away from accountability?
  • Do I only go to Christ when all chaos has broken loose?

If you answered yes to any of these, chances are, you have a weed of Self-reliance in your spirit. Just like my grandfather said, only one can be enough to start a complete takeover of your spiritual gifts. Self-Reliance prohibits self-control, joy without limits, patience in others… and the list goes on. Self-Reliance takes Christ out of the situation and focuses more on us being the God of our universe. It can lead to false hope, false beliefs and most importantly, false relationships.

As a Christian man, we are to be Christ-Like. I cannot think of one passage in Scripture where Christ was Self-reliant. In fact, he openly prayed for guidance and gave thanks openly for the miracles God had proven through him. In the garden, Christ went to God the Father for guidance and support before walking to the cross. Of all things, Christ was not self-reliant and neither should we be. If you find yourself battling a spirit of self-reliance, here are a couple of suggestions on how to combat it:

  • Constant, intentional, daily prayer
  • Ask for an accountability partner and be humble and willing enough to listen-you might want to consider asking a fellow Christian Warrior
  • Pray for humility and to be broken
  • Try to listen more than you speak. If you truly have a problem with self-reliance (like I did) this will be torture at times, but will help keep things in check
  • Daily assess how you did and look for ways Christ could have been exalted rather than you exalting yourself.

Gentlemen, Self-reliance can destroy all types of relationships, even marriages if you don’t pluck that weed to its root and quickly. Remember, it only takes one weed of self-reliance to take over. Be the warrior and eliminate the enemy’s chance to destroy from behind the line.

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

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

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.