26 minutes | Jul 6, 2020
Episode 33 – What is Reconciliation? // The Requirements for Individual and Racial Reconciliation
Reconciliation is something most people want, but do not know how to get it. It’s about more than a cease-fire. It’s about a future relationship that continues in wholeness. This requires 3 basic elements to work: Repentance, Justice, and Forgiveness. All 3 are difficult, but necessary. The post Episode 33 – What is Reconciliation? // The Requirements for Individual and Racial Reconciliation appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
14 minutes | Jun 24, 2020
Episode 32 – Am I A Pharisee? // Mistaking Important Things for Weighty Things
The current rhetoric of conservative Christian voices carries a concerning tone that we need to address. Matthew 23:23-24 helps us along the way. The post Episode 32 – Am I A Pharisee? // Mistaking Important Things for Weighty Things appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
25 minutes | Jun 13, 2020
Episode 31 – Am I a Racist? // Culpability vs Responsibility
I’m hoping to contribute to the national conversation happening right now regarding racism and collective guilt by pointing at two words we seem to have forgotten: culpability and responsibility. And, once again, Jesus leads us through. The post Episode 31 – Am I a Racist? // Culpability vs Responsibility appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
20 minutes | Jun 1, 2020
Episode 30 – Responding to George Floyd: “I Believe You”
I don’t know what to say, but this might be a start. The post Episode 30 – Responding to George Floyd: “I Believe You” appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
11 minutes | Oct 3, 2018
Episode 29 – On Not Putting Your Child to Death
We are doing a sermon series on parenting right now at the Church. I found this great verse that I’m going to use regarding disciplining your kids. It’s both hilarious, and helpful all at the same time. Here it is: Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” Let’s all confess together by a show of hands. Wherever you are right now just raise your hand if your child has ever made you feel murderous rage because they just wouldn’t stop saying your name with that whiney tone to their voice. We’ve all been there. Every parent has felt trapped and over-run by a 3 year old child that was your precious progeny one minute, but has now transformed into a living, breathing, monster. And I love that the Bible acknowledges this! We need to be better at admitting that being a parent is not easy, and sometimes we don’t like being around our kids. We still love them, but sometimes they are not easy to like. The writer of proverbs wants to help us with that. We stop disciplining when we lose hope – we decide that it isn’t going to work, the child isn’t going to respond, or that you are so bad at parenting that it’s no use. That’s a terrible place to be. What you need to realize is that you aren’t sovereign over your child, but God is. God can change their heart, and He has chosen to do that primarily through your discipline. So discipline is a sign of hope, for you and also your child. But you know what else discipline does? It keeps you from wanting to kill the kid! But seriously, it allows you to have a relationship with that child. It ends the contention between you, softens their heart (and yours), and restores relationship. Just like when God disciplines you. The post Episode 29 – On Not Putting Your Child to Death appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
18 minutes | Sep 11, 2018
Episode 28 – Where are the Fathers?
Intro Over the past couple months, we have had several guest speakers come to the church. All of them are fathers in the faith. 1 of them was my actual father, and the other was my father in law. All of them, in their own way, reminded me of the importance of fathers in the Church. When I say “fathers” I mean it in a broader sense than simple someone who has children. I mean it in a way that describes a man that is older, wiser, and has walked with God for a long time. Many Fathers, But Not Many Fathering I think there are many fathers in the Body of Christ, but not many of them are fathering. Not many of them are engaged, plugged in, and active in the nurturing of those that are younger in age and in their stage in life and in their walk with Jesus. As we have had these men come minister at our church over the last couple months, the impact has been tangible. I think that’s because there is a weight and an impact that comes when someone who has lived life, with all it’s ups and downs, tells you that it’s going to be ok. You’ re going to make it. Don’t give up. Press into God. Follow Jesus. He will never leave you or forsake you. Hang in there. That means more coming from someone who has been down the road a while. Divided by Generations It seems to me that the Body of Christ is pretty divided along generational lines. That comes for a variety of factors. One is that when you’ve live a long time, you get set in what you like and don’t like. Your opinions about things get solidified over time. If you aren’t careful, this can make you unwilling to embrace new ideas and new directions and new expressions of old ideas. But the Holy Spirit is always doing new things. He’s always pushing the Church forward into new territory. So, it doesn’t have to be that the older generations have to be behind the curve. They have to be willing to stay in step with what the Spirit is doing right now, not what He was doing yesterday. On the other side, youth tends to bring with it a disdain for how things were done yesterday. Young people tend to think that the reinvented wheel is better than the wheel we already have. They think new is better, old is stale. It’s an equal, but opposite error from what the older generations tends to do. Now put those two groups of people in one church and it’s no wonder they don’t ever mix! What has to happen is the young bucks need to learn humility and an appreciation for what has already been established in the Church. And the older bucks need to embrace a continual desire for adventure and staying in step with what the Spirit is doing NOW. Out to Pasture? The voice of the older generation of Christians is absolutely vital in the Church at large, but more often than not these older people in the faith are getting the message that they are obsolete. They feel as if the new models have come along, and the old ones are being discarded. Those of us who are younger need to own that somewhat. Too often in our youthful zeal, we ignore the wealth of wisdom and strength that is right in front of us. We don’t realize that we aren’t really doing anything that new and different. This road has already been travelled, and we ignore those that have travelled ahead at our own peril. At the same time, I also believe that the Fathers need to father even when they aren’t exactly invited. I’m not saying force your way into someone’s life where you aren’t wanted. What I mean is, make them outright say no to you. When you see a young man, or a couple, or whatever, that you know you could help – then go do it. Offer it. Don’t assume that because they aren’t asking, they don’t want it. I had one of these fathers recently tell me, “You should ask me what I think about this. Go ahead. Ask.” So I asked. He told me. We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know to ask sometimes. So tell us to ask. Part of being a Father is teaching the sons how to be sons, and the daughters how to be daughters. We Need You So I just want to say to everyone that is at all older than me, or farther along the road than me, we need you. We need your life, we need your voice, we need you. Please don’t give up on us, please don’t stop butting in, please don’t ever retire from your post in the Body of Christ. The post Episode 28 – Where are the Fathers? appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
15 minutes | Jul 17, 2018
Episode 27 – How To Love Those You Hate
I preached the book of Jonah on Sunday. The big idea of Jonah’s story is that Jonah couldn’t manage to love his enemies. He wanted to receive the mercy of God, but he was not willing for his enemies receive mercy. He would rather die than see his enemies forgiven. Of course, Jesus did exactly the opposite. Jesus died for his enemies. And we were his enemies, and He made us His friends. And so, likewise, we are then called to follow Jesus into this same calling. To preach repentance to the world, so that they might also be reconciled to God. And we are called to do this, perhaps especially, to our enemies. This is what it means to love our enemies. What I didn’t get to talk about Sunday is how to do this. It isn’t easy. Loving someone you hate is an enormous feat. Love Your Enemies Maybe you don’t think you hate anybody, which is fine. I won’t quibble that point. But I’m sure there are people you have a serious dislike for. They may be very dislikeable. The Assyrians in Nineveh were certainly unlikeable. God didn’t like them much either. That’s why He was going to destroy them. This is my first point. 1- Loving someone doesn’t require them to earn it. If they could earn your favor by being great people, you would need to learn to love them. You have to let go of your need to have other people earn your love towards them. It isn’t how Jesus loves, and it’s not how we are called to love. Earned, easy love is an inferior kind of love. It’s cheap. We are called to something more costly. 2- Loving your enemy is not the same as excusing your enemy. We are called to forgive. The need to forgive implies that an injustice has been done. Otherwise why do you need to forgive? Forgiveness is about releasing your right to justice to God. It means letting go. It does not mean diminishing the injustice in any way. Jesus loved us, despite our sin against Him. We love others despite their sin against us. We love through that pain, despite the pain, because we ourselves have been loved the same way. 3- It is pride that tells you that you would never do that to someone. Often we hold judgements against people by saying something like, “Well, I would never do such a terrible thing to someone.” Oh, but you would. Given the right circumstances, you might. We are all sinners with proclivities towards wicked things. It is the grace of God that keeps us from burning our lives down, not some special inner quality that others don’t have. Not thinking yourself more highly than you ought is essential to learning to love your enemies. 4- Loving your enemy doesn’t mean welcoming toxicity into your life. Some people are toxic to us and should not be welcomed into our lives. A drug dealer to a drug addict. An abusive husband to his wife. A sexual predator. A gossip. Etc, etc. Perhaps these sorts of people need to be confronted, but not necessarily befriended by you. Paul advocated disfellowshipping such people for the purpose of bringing them to repentance. That can also be the most loving thing to do. 5- If you have Christ in common, that’s enough. Don’t buy into the worldly idea that you need to have a lot in common with people in order to be close to them. It isn’t true. Again, that’s a cheap kind of love. The truth is, that if you have Christ in common you can have an eternally fruitful relationship with that person. If you’ve never had the experience of becoming dear friends with someone that you initially didn’t like, then you probably haven’t really gotten this truth yet. Conclusion I hope you are willing today to begin moving towards people that you know you are called to love, but have a hard time feeling it. I’m convinced that if you will just take some steps towards them, open your arms to them, God will take the rest. You may find that God has supplied more community and ministry for you than you first thought. It just might come from your enemies. The post Episode 27 – How To Love Those You Hate appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
17 minutes | Jul 3, 2018
Episode 26 – Love Your Immigrant Neighbor
Today I’m thinking about the immigration issue that’s so hot on the news right now. Specifically this tragedy that has been happening now for a long time, with the kids in cages down near the border. I’m not going to talk about the politics of that, so you can relax. I have almost no confidence in political solutions at this point. Instead, I want to talk about the reactions that I’m seeing and how we can be more Christlike. Regardless of your politics, I think this will help you. Jesus and Rome I find it very telling that Jesus addressed Rome almost none at all. Neither do the 12 apostles. Not even Paul. Rome had taken over Israel by force. They would eventually slaughter thousands, destroy the temple, and violently persecute Christians. Rome’s very existence at this time was itself a humanitarian crisis on a scale we can’t imagine. Yet, Jesus made no speeches or Facebook posts about it. Neither did his disciples, who at first seemed to be confused by his silence on the issue as well. They were expecting a political messiah. A messiah that would expunge Rome and bring Israel back to the prosperity of David and Solomon. We have to ask why. A Different Kingdom Jesus was building a different kingdom. A kingdom that would swallow up all other earthly kingdoms. He wasn’t going to improve man’s kingdoms. He was going to overtake them. He built, and is building, His kingdom with a simple prescription: Love God with all you are, and love your neighbor as yourself. And He defined “neighbor” as the person in need right in front of you. Specifically, it was a foreigner in need right in front of you. Jesus doesn’t look to the government of Israel, or Rome, to do that. He tells US to do that. I don’t have the same responsibilities as my government. The government has responsibilities to secure our countries and make hard decision about immigration, and border security, and all the rest. Unless I’m a government official, that isn’t my job. My job is to love my immigrant neighbor, wherever I may find them. Who Do You Love? My observation has been that many people are more passionate about what the government should, or should not, be doing than they are about loving their immigrant neighbor. But it should be the other way around, if we are going to try to act like Jesus. We should be far, far, more passionate, zealous, opinionated, and outspoken, about loving our immigrant neighbor than we are about what the rulers of our earthly kingdom should be doing about it. Your passions, not your opinions, tell you where your heart really is. If you are more passionate about border walls than you are about loving people then something has gone wrong in your heart. I’m not arguing for ignorance on public policy. We need to be informed voters. I’m arguing for a sense of proportion that matches the way Jesus lived. When you see pictures of little immigrant children locked in cages, your heart should break long before you feel the need to defend it. Likewise, your broken heart should prevent you from using those same children as cannon fodder in your attacks against a president you don’t like. Information Age Ruins our Sense of Proportion One of the side effects of living in the Information Age where we are constantly bombarded with facts, is that we lose our sense of proportion. Outrage takes over. I don’t think we should call this the Information Age. I think we should call this the Age of Outrage. Our proportions are off so badly, that we get more outraged about politics than we do about children locked in cages. I want to challenge you all today to look to Jesus to re-calibrate your sense of proportion. Look at what outraged Him. Look at who He chose to love and serve. Look at what He spent His time talking about. Look at what He did NOT talk about. Calibrate your outrage to that, not to the polarized world around you. The post Episode 26 – Love Your Immigrant Neighbor appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
13 minutes | Jun 26, 2018
Episode 25 – Grace Doesn’t Need Your Balance
There is a Christian “code of conduct”. There is a way that all followers of Christ should act, across all of time. This does not negate the gift of grace. This doesn’t compete with grace. This doesn’t balance grace, as if God’s grace needs to be balanced. This is a RESULT of grace. Acting like a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian. But those who are Christians, will act like it. Don’t think of grace and works as two things on opposite ends of a spectrum. Don’t think of them as two different items on a scale. They are the same thing. Jesus paid it all, so that we would not jus avoid hell but that we would be conformed to His image. Good works is ALSO what He paid for! This false dichotomy between grace and works is dangerous. It makes people choose between them – either a legalistic pharisee, or a licentious libertine that brings the cross into disrepute. The post Episode 25 – Grace Doesn’t Need Your Balance appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.
12 minutes | Jun 19, 2018
Episode 24 – Kinship in a Time of Exile
When in exile, kinship matters more. Or maybe we just take it for granted. DEFINE: kinship – 1. the state or fact of being of kin; family relationship 2. relationship by nature, qualities, etc.; affinity SYNONYMS: affinity, sympathy, rapport, harmony, understanding, empathy, closeness, fellow feeling, bond, compatibility James 5:19-20 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Speech, selfish ambition, envy, double-mindedness, preferential treatment to those with wealth and influence, humility, prayer, confession of sin to one another… they are all the enemies of kinship among the community of Christ. All of these things have intense consequences on our relationships, which seems to be why James assembles these grievances to address in his letter. The post Episode 24 – Kinship in a Time of Exile appeared first on The Ben Cotten Podcast.