Posts Tagged ‘Strategic Leadership’

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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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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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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

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

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

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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: Unwillingness to Change

March 26, 2009

Change.  Such a small word brings such different emotions from different people.  Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I see challenging every Christian, especially Christian Men; that of Unwillingness to change.

change-1For some, the emotion is pure excitement and thrill.  There are those who earnestly live to have the adrenaline rush associated with change.  They seek to change large and small things in life.  Sometimes, they will simply move the phone from one area of the desk to the other, simply to have change.  Their enemy is monotony.

For others, the emotion associated with the word change is pure anxiety.  Losing control is not an option they embrace and any type of change, regardless of the size, will send them into orbit.  They enjoy knowing what will happen, when it will happen, and to what degree it will happen.

Unfortunately, as the aphorism goes, “Change happens.”  It is inevitable.  In fact, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle says, “There will always be an element of uncertainty in the universe.”  So, if something is not certain, wouldn’t that indicate there is change on the horizon?

Change Agents, or people who initiate change,  can be some of the most well-liked or deeply-despised people in any organization, office, church, or even family.  It seems they have a mug shot to live up to with their energy, out of the box thinking, and convictions.  Depending on what they are changing in your life, you either love them or hate them.  If anyone understood the meaning of this, it was Christ.

Being the ultimate Change Agent, Christ knew his ways would be embraced by some and hated by the multitudes.  A common day for Christ was experiencing such a variety of emotions.  He might have begun his morning being embraced by the father whose son was just healed to being taunted by the Pharisees for challenging one of the rituals they had in place to … you get the point.  Christ himself said he came to change the world and redeem it.  After all, it was in his DNA.

If you were to go through the lineage of Christ’s human side, you would find a whole slew of Change Agents.  This cast of characters ranges from Abraham to Moses to David to Solomon to even John the Baptist.  (Ok, John the Baptist was a cousin, but still in the family tree.)  Not only was Jesus fully God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the “Changer”, Jesus was fully human and of a line of men who embraced change.  Even Jesus’ last command, the Great Commission, was a challenge to change the world, so why is it so hard for some of us who believe in Christ to change or become agents for change?

Chances are, if you are reading this book, you are either one who enjoys change or are looking for ways to become a change agent.  I am not invoking an overhaul to Christian Doctrine, but rather, a simple action plan for embracing the teachings of Christ.

The fact remains that every door swings on at least two hinges.  Regardless of the size, make, or design…two hinges is what you are dealing with.  The same goes in life for all of us.  With every opportunity, we have one of two decisions to make, should we embrace the opportunity to spark change, or do we merely settle for the ways of yesterday.  Most of all of the great heroes of the Bible are noted not because they were ordinary, but because they were extraordinary.  In their lives, they made pivotal decisions affecting not only their lives and the people of their time, but the lives of many to come, including you.  Had Abraham not chosen to listen to God’s calling and follow the path God designed for him, he would not have been the one God used to form the nation of Israel.  Had Moses not embraced the call to free the Israelites from the oppression of Pharaoh, he would have missed out on the opportunity to lead the Exodus, part the Red Sea, receive the Commandments, and much more.  Had David not embraced the challenge from Goliath, would he have been so popular of a king in the early years?   Each of these men had one of two decisions to make, they chose to embrace the call from God to become a change agent and most of them at great costs.

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

Coveting

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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We are Salt of the Earth…

March 24, 2009

Salt. Not much to think about. It’s white, tasty, useful, and cheap. Did you know it is a change agent? Did you know that it is one of the most widely used change agents? Did you know that it was Christ’s secret word for us to become change agents? No?

Salt is such a basic that we rarely consider the ramifications it has in the world. It touches so many things. Let’s look at some interesting salt facts:

· Salt is a commonly occurring mineral, the technical name of which is sodium chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is important. The body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly.

· Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels.

· It also plays a central role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves, and helps cells to take up nutrients. Salt plays an important part in the body’s main function in energy conversion-change.

· In various ages throughout history, salt was actually more valuable than gold. In fact, it was trade for gold.

· Slaves were traded for salt, which is where we get the aphorism, “not worth their weight in salt.”

· Salt was used to spice and preserve foods.

Not bad for a chemical compound you most likely thought very little of. Jesus, however, made it a point to mention in his Sermon on the Mount accounted for in Luke and John. The exact meaning of the expression salt of the earth is disputed, in part because salt had a wide number of uses in the ancient world. There are several different possibilities for the originally intended meaning of the salt metaphor:

  • Exodus, Ezekiel, and Kings present salt as a purifying agent
  • Leviticus, Numbers, and Chronicles present it as a sign of God’s covenant.
  • The most important use of salt was as a preservative and hence the most common interpretation of the metaphor is as asserting the duty to preserve the purity of the world.
  • In the Rabbinic literature of the period salt was a metaphor for wisdom.
  • Salt was a minor but essential ingredient in fertilizer and so a few scholars such as Gundry believe that earth should be translated as soil (i.e. salt of the soil), and hence the metaphor asserts that the audience should help the world grow and prosper.
  • One interpretation of salt of the earth is that it orders the audience to take part in the world rather than withdraw from it
  • Among the ancient Hebrews salt was used as a preservative, in seasoning food, and in all animal sacrifices. Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24; Mark 9:49-50. So essential was it to the sacrificial ordinance that it was the symbol of the covenant made between God and His people in connection with that sacred performance. Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5. [1]

Am I the only one amazed at the number of uses and Scriptural references to Salt? So why bring this up in a topic labeled “Change Agent?” The answer is quite simple and can be explained using an equation like this:

If Salt = Change Agent

Then we could substitute the variable in the verse to reflect the following:

BEFORE:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its ability, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

AFTER:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the change agent of the earth; but if the change has lost its ability, how shall its ability be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ was very intentional in most everything he said. He knew the meaning behind his statements and what is so funny to me is there are numerous songs, poems, books, and dissertations debating the meaning behind the use of the phrase, “salt of the earth.”

For our discussion it is quite simple. Salt is fairly basic, but is used in a variety of ways as a change agent. It is used in our bodies to change or help convert various elements of our body into energy. Salt is used the change various things in the earth but the ironic fact is that salt doesn’t change. Once formed, it holds its taste and its abilities. Even though it can be dissolved in water, salt does not change its chemical makeup. It is still salt. That is the beauty of this change agent.

One of the most trying situations for most novices in the area of becoming a change agent is that of solvency. Rather than serving as a real change agent, most of the time, through various trials, tribulations and influences, we become stagnant, ineffective, or just plain… bland. I have seen so many people who were fired up for a mission or directive provided to them by Christ. They would leave their mountaintop visit with a vision and soon lose it to the circle of buzzards, also known as committees. (That was not a stab, a group of buzzards are called committees… ironic, but true)

As a change agent, we are to be the salt of the earth, or better put, change for the earth. Salt is composed of sodium chloride and is extremely stable, thus, unable to lose its flavor. So salt that has lost its flavor cannot ever literally refer to actual salt. The most common explanation for this is that salt in the era was quite impure, not only due to extraction methods, but also due to unscrupulous merchants mixing it with other substances. So what was Christ implying? If salt cannot lose its flavor…

The words translated lost its flavor actually translate from the Greek as became foolish, but the Aramaic for both phrases is the same, and English language translators universally accept that the verse is talking about flavor rather than intelligence. Some scholars do however feel that this may be wordplay related to the Rabbinic use of salt as a metaphor for intelligence.

The other aspect to consider is there are two chemicals in salt: Sodium and Chloride. The chemicals are dynamic together. In order for salt to lose its flavor, something would have to be mixed in with it, in effect, slightly contaminating it or quite simply, making it impure. The same can happen in our lives when we get out of balance. Allowing various sins and distractions into our lives can essentially introduce various “impurities” to create some instability in our spiritual formula. In a sense, it dampens our ability to become true, stable, change agents (with taste).

Part of the manifesto for this book is to help all of us called to be change agents to focus on the qualities, characteristics, abilities, practices, and beliefs of the various change agents throughout the Scriptures. They changed their surroundings by answering the call. Some lost their flavor by introducing some impurities in their lives, but we will study the ways Christ calls us back to him.

If you go through Scripture like most do, you almost live for those characters who add a little spice to your reading don’t you? I wonder if they would be so “spicy” if they were unwilling to be change agents for God.

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

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

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.