Guest Blogger: My Father – David P. Cotner II

My Mother and Father

Today I am beyond excited to present what I hope will be the first of many “Guest Blogger” posts. And today is especially exciting because I get to showcase my father, David P. Cotner II. Yes, we have the same name…I am David the 3rd and my son is David the 4th. I guess my father and I are not the most original when it comes to naming our offspring. But that is neither here nor there 🙂

I asked my father, an ordained minister with years of pastoral and counseling experience, to write a small blog post on the believer’s perspective on the event we call “death”. Indeed, I find this blog post to be most timely as many families in our church body have recently experienced the pain of losing a dear loved one.

What follows are a series of questions and answers. It reads very much like a tutorial (or a “How to Approach Death” manual), but I think you will find this format to be most helpful. But before we get to this helpful tutorial, let me quote from one of my father’s poems that he wrote back in 2007. He entitled it, “You Are Not Alone”, and in it he wrote, “If God knows all and is everywhere; if he loves you and always cares; you are not alone…If a soul lives forever, in a place of no night; if there is a place of gladness and never any fright; you are not alone…And when the journey’s over, and when your faith is sight, remember He was with you, and led you through the night. You are not alone.” Indeed, even in death, you are never alone. Here are my father’s words:

What happens to humans at death?

Paul taught that the material part of people (their bodies) at death ceases to function and is placed in the grave. Believer’s bodies will be resurrected at the return of Christ in the Rapture and reunited with their immaterial part (their souls and spirits) and glorified. At the moment of death, the soul and the spirit are separated from the body and the person is immediately present with the Lord in Heaven.

Does the Christian who dies before the return of Christ receive a glorified body?

The person who dies before the return of Christ in the Rapture will receive a glorified body upon His return. Likewise, living Christians will be instantaneously changed, that is, glorified and caught up (the meaning of the word rapture is “catch up”) in the air to meet the Lord Jesus and ascend to Heaven with Him.

In the intermediate state, that is, from the time of the death of a believer until the resurrection of the body, there will be a temporary body for the believer to inhabit. We cannot describe this intermediate state in any detail because none has been revealed in Scripture. All we are told from Scripture is that there will be a body that believers receive so they will experience no period of nakedness, that is, a disembodied soul and spirit (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

What role does the bodily resurrection of Christ play in the Christian’s hope of participation in the life to come?

Resurrection is a major component of the revelation given to us in God’s Word. (1) The resurrection of Christ is the linchpin of the faith. (2) The resurrection of believers at the return of Christ in the Rapture and subsequent glorification that will make us “like Christ” is the future hope of all believers. (3) The resurrection of the dead in order to stand at the Great White Throne Judgment is a vital evangelistic doctrine.

How could you use these ideas to comfort a family whose loved one (a Christian) has recently passed away?

These biblical truths can be used to comfort a grieving Christian who has experienced the loss of a loved one through death. They may be reminded of the following: (1) Eternal life is a present possession. Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Their loved one is “departed” but not “gone,” not “dead.” (2) Those that die in Christ are not dead; they are alive. Jesus said, “God is the God of the living, not the God of the dead.” (3) They are at home with the Lord. They are at peace and have no more of the pain and sorrow that so closely attends this life. They are happy and joyful and will never again experience death. (4) They occupy an immortal body that will not wear out and decay and they will not experience pain.

How does this idea encourage me to live for Christ?

These truths encourage me to live for Christ: (1) I have eternal life; I will never die. (2) This life of pain and sorrow is temporary. (3) The immortal life to come is everlasting. (4) I do not live for earthly reward, but heavenly. (5) The sorrow and pain of this life is not worthy to be compared to the far greater eternal weight of glory that will be realized in the presence of my Lord.

May God grant you the peace and joy that only comes from Him, so that whether you sorrow or rejoice, you may find your hope and comfort in our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.




What Drives Mission?


Last week my family and I had the privilege of being back on campus of my alma mater – Faith Baptist Bible College! It was nice to reconnect with my professors, former classmates, and meet some new friends who are serving the Lord in a variety of different ministries all across the country. To be sure, I was blessed and refreshed as a result of my time back on campus.

The reason for our visit to Faith was to participate in the college’s first ever Pastors and Wives Conference. The theme of the conference was essentially “be not weary in the work of the ministry.” In other words, “its ok to be tired in ministry, but not tired of ministry.” The theme verse of the conference was taken from Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” It was so encouraging to hear different seasoned ministry veterans explain the Scriptures to us and motivate us to continue doing the work God has called us to do.

In the first plenary session, Dr. Les Ollila (affectionately known as “Dr. O”) presented a sermon entitled, “Laboring and Loving TOGETHER”. It was a good sermon with many fine points, but one sidebar comment really grabbed my attention. He asked, “You know what drives mission? Not a mission statement. Mission happens through relationships.” Wow. What a gut punch! And he was absolutely right. Mission doesn’t happen because of fancy words and sentences in a mission statement (as important as one is), mission (true mission) happens by means of relationships.

We here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church have such a fine and noble mission statement summarized in one sentence: “We desire to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” This is our mission. This is what we’re all about as the church out here on the prairie. We want to be a “strong church…for the glory of God” (Side Note: This would essentially be our vision as a church) by means of effectively accomplishing our primary mission to “make disciples”. All of this motivated by the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.

But how do we accomplish such a high and noble mission? How do we successfully drive mission? Well, once again, as Dr. O explained, we focus on relationships. That’s how we successfully drive mission. Dr. O went on to explain that relationships are built and cultivated by means of three main ingredients: love, trust, and respect.

Prairie Flower, if we are going to successfully accomplish our God-given mission to “make disciples” and thus become a “strong church…for the glory of God” we must be a loving church. That is, we must be willing to place other’s needs over our own needs. We must be willing to sacrifice again and again without expecting anything in return. And remember, love is not a feeling that comes and goes. Love is a conscious choice to stay and serve no matter the outcome or how deserving (or non-deserving) the person(s) is or is not. So how do we love each other? Answer: We look to Jesus Christ as our ultimate example and we love as He loved. Want Scripture to back all of this up? Sure. Check out John 13:34-35 for starters and then read all of 1 John 🙂

We also need to be a congregation that trusts each other if we are to successfully drive mission. And keep in mind…love breeds trust. We cannot trust each other if we do not love each other (cf. 1 John 4:18). So how do we begin to trust each other? Answer: We love each other. We spend time with each other. And we remain faithful to each other. One pastor-friend of mine phrases it like this, “Time + Faithfulness = Trust”.

And finally, we have to be a church that respects each other. This is very similar to the concept of love, but it’s distinct from love in that respect entails admiration and thinking well of someone. Truth of the matter is, we can love people and not really admire or think well of them. However, this is the essence of what it means to respect someone. How are you doing in this area? No doubt…this is a tough area to grow in. But if we are going to be a people “on mission” we must genuinely respect each other.

Well, there you have it! What drives mission? Stellar, visionary leadership? A great strategic plan? A people excited for the future and willing to work hard? Well, all of these things surely help. But mission is primarily driven through relationships…relationships built on love, trust, and respect.

What else drives mission? Tell me and be sure to hashtag it with #Mission #PFBC.



Full and Fed: Conference Reflections

john piper

Last week I had the magnificent privilege of attending the 2016 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors + Church Leaders. This conference took place in Minneapolis, MN and was my first legit conference away from Iowa. The theme of this conference centered around the topic of Christian suffering and persecution and was simply entitled, “Joy Set Before Us”. In a nutshell, we were admonished by a fellow pastor’s words from almost 2,000 years ago: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice…” (1 Peter 4:12-13a). Indeed, opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is growing in our culture, but we can stand firm in the grace of God, knowing (as Dr. John Piper phrased it): “Life is hard. God is good. [But] glory is coming.”

Back from such a trip, I am indeed full and fed. In fact, I have come back to my pastorate here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church with a greater zeal for pastoral ministry, a greater love for my people, and a firmer commitment to the location that God has placed me in. This short conference (I am sure) will continue to resonate through the months and years to come. I learned so much from my time in Minneapolis. Below are some of the nuggets I gleaned.

From the Director of Sovereign Grace Music, Bob Kauflin:

  1. When it comes to music in the church…we rush toward methodology, but what we need is more and better theology.
  2. Leading congregational worship is at first a pastoral function before it is a musician’s function.
  3. Crowds do not equal disciples.
  4. In a worship service: The normal things are the main things.
  5. Prepare for more than a song service. Pray that God works in people’s lives.

From the Preaching Pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church, Juan Sanchez:

  1. The Church is to display the Wisdom of God and proclaim the Gospel of God.
  2. The path to glory is always suffering.
  3. A pastor/elder is to preach the Word, encourage church membership, develop a culture of discipleship & evangelism, and develop a culture of biblical manhood and womanhood.
  4. Articles of Faith = What We Believe. Biblical Principles of Church Membership = What We Expect.
  5. Be like the Chief Shepherd. That is, be humble.

From Scholar/Theologian, D.A. Carson:

  1. The fundamental cause and effect answer in this world is God and Satan.
  2. The historical and current persecution of the Church is rooted in Satanic rage under the sovereignty of God.
  3. “It’s not the intensity of our faith, but the object of our faith that saves.”
  4. Bold declaration of truth, mingled with courtesy, is needed as we approach and interact with our godless culture.
  5. “Don’t flinch on the absolutes of Scripture.”

From Dr. John Piper:

  1. As a local church pastor: Be all in. Be all in with your will, emotions, and body. This is the kind of pastor that can truly help a church through suffering.
  2. A pastor’s eternal perspective: Life is short. Crown is BIG.
  3. The aim of all pastoral ministry: Helping your people be so satisfied in God, that when suffering takes away everything, they have all they need.
  4. True love is being so enthralled by the Supreme Treasure of the Universe that you want others to have it with you.
  5. The cultural cost of Christianity is about to outweigh its cultural benefit…brace yourself for opposition.

From the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Jason Meyer:

  1. The point of suffering is the glory of Christ.
  2. In suffering, God’s greatest story (i.e. the death and resurrection of Jesus) is played out in our lives.
  3. Why be surprised by suffering? Do you really think you’ll be treated better than Jesus?!
  4. A church that would rather die than disown Christ is indestructible.
  5. Ultimate Proof of Faith: Not turning from Christ even when everyone turns from us.

From the Pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Leonce Crump:

  1. Fearless proclamation of the Gospel is the direct result of having been with a faithful God (Acts 4:13).
  2. By what means do we maintain our fearlessness and faithfulness?
    1. Cosmic Vision – It’s all about bold proclamation of the Gospel…
    2. Holy Conviction – Not man-made confidence, but Holy Spirit conviction…
    3. Humble Heart – The opposite of a prideful heart…
  3. His One Side Note: Lusts/Idols in ministry include…nickels, noses, and expansion. Guard your heart!

And, yes, this is but a sampling of all the great nuggets I gleaned from the conference. But a few distinct thoughts before I end this blog post:

  1. Most of the quotes above are summarized and in my own words.
  2. The primary Scripture texts used in the preaching and teaching sessions were taken from 1 Peter 1-5, Revelation 12, Philippines 1, and Acts 4. Great resources for further study.
  3. For better and further Bible reading and study be sure to download the free app entitled, “Blue Letter Bible”. It’s online, in-depth, and totally free! It actually has a decent amount of commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and even a Hebrew/Greek interlinear. Check it out!