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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Discipleship and Spiritual Guidance in Christian Mentoring





The Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone,
But by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
– Matthew 4:4.



It is just amazing to me that Christians can be so excited when another person finally accepts Christ as their personal Savior, but then we leave that person alone to flounder around trying to learn what God wants them to know. Generally speaking, no one comes along side of them to help them in their spiritual growth and maturity. They receive little or no discipleship or spiritual guidance through Christian mentoring. Why is that? Well, as long-time Christians we just assume that everyone who comes to Christ on a Sunday morning in our church has probably had a strong church-oriented background of youth and adult Sunday school, sermons, and growth groups on which to base their understanding of what it means to live their life for Christ. And, even if a person is saved either inside or outside of our church, many Christians often feel that they did their part in sharing the Gospel message and now it is up to the newly Saved to find out on their own how to live for Christ daily, i.e., if they think about it all. Sadly, many new Christians have no one to come along side of them and teach them about the Word of God, which is the bread of life.
How selfish, unloving, and uncaring can we be? Is this how Christ wants us to act? I don’t think so!

Christ, not only expects us to share the Gospel, but He expects us to teach His Word, i.e. the bread of life to new Christians. We know this because before being crucified Jesus Christ prayed to His Father that His disciples would be kept from the evil one as they lived in this world and as they shared with others the Gospel message. Then, Christ prayed saying to His Father: “They are not part of this world any more than I am. Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth. As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.  -- (John 17: 17, 18. NLT). In other words, Christ wanted His disciples to learn God’s words of truth so that they could share those words of truth with new believers too. Later, it is the author of the book of Hebrews, who succinctly explained the importance of studying, learning, and knowing the Word of God. He said, “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” – (Hebrews 4: 12. NLT)

It is at the moment of Salvation, that a new Christian becomes pure and holy through believing in Christ as the living Son of God and by obeying the Word of God. Although a new Christian has already accepted Christ’s forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His subsequent conquering of eternal death, the new Christian needs to apply God’s Word to his/her life daily for continued spiritual growth and maturity. For, it is the Word of God that has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts. But, how will a new Christian learn the basic principles of the Christian life found within the Word of God without having another Christian step forward to explain these principles to them? Of course, someone who really wants to study the Word of God can dig out those principles over time. However, most new Christians don't feel that they have the time to study the Word of God, so they need Christians who have over the years studied the Word of God and are willing to share what they have learned with them.

Christ expects us to be there for the new Christian’s questions, to be there to teach the basic principles of Christian life as established in the Word of God, and to be there to provide encouragement in their new lifestyle of living for Him. Obviously, new Christians will need all the encouragement and knowledge they can get in order to live for Christ. But, in order to encourage or disciple them we have to make a commitment to discipleship and/or Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM), which will provide Christian mentoring and discipleship for the new Christian. However, in order to truly be involved in ARCM Christians will have to give up a little of our personal time to speak into the life of a new believer. All it takes is thirty to forty minutes a week for the first few weeks, and then after that it may only take a telephone call once every two or three weeks to see how the new Christian is doing or to see if they have any questions. However, to help them grow in their faith and understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ’s, it does take a loving commitment to help in the spiritual growth of the life of a new believer. As committed Christians, we can help them grow by sharing the Word of God with them and by spending a little time with them talking about Christ while we are discipling them.

Sharing the Gospel is Just the First Step in The Great Commission

Most of us can recite the Great Commission, but have we ever really thought about the words that Christ used in that Great Commission? First, we should know that there are actually two parts to the Great Commission and each part has two sections. In the first part Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” – (Matthew 28: 19). Within this statement or the first part of the Great Commission, we can all understand that Christ is telling us to share the Gospel message with everyone. We are then told within the second section of this first part that when a person decides to accept Christ as their Savior, they are then to be baptized; signifying to the world that they have been buried in sin but have now arisen to a new life in Christ.

Many of us can also recite the second part of the Great Commission where Jesus continued saying: “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always even to the end of the age.”  -- (Matthew 28: 20). But this second part of the Great Commission is where we generally fall down as fellow Christians. Evidently, we simply forget that we are to do more than just tell a person about the Gospel message. For within this second part, Jesus was also stipulating to the disciples and us that we are not to stop with just sharing the Gospel message, nor are we to think that we have done all that Christ has asked us to do when the person finally decides to receive Salvation and then follows through with baptism.

Yes, Salvation is a wonderful moment and a time for rejoicing, for someone has given their heart to Christ. But now there is even more for fellow Christians to do. For in reading the second part the of the Great Commission a little closer, we find that Jesus was telling the disciples and us that we are to teach. We are to teach the newly saved to observe all that Christ has commanded, i.e. the principles of a Christian life. In other words, Christ was telling His followers that we are to invest in the lives of the newly Saved, by “teaching” them to live by all the commandments and words that Christ had given to His followers. But in order to teach new believers what Christ taught His disciples and us while He was here on earth, we have to know the Word of God and we have to be able to teach others what it means to actually live for Jesus Christ. Sadly, the teaching part of the Great Commission is what most Christians regularly fail to do after someone accepts Christ as their Savior. Yet, Jesus set the example of teaching others while He was here on earth. He discipled and mentored many people during His ministry.

Jesus Christ was the Ultimate Mentor

Jesus not only gave us the Great Commission, but throughout His ministry, Jesus gave both His disciples and us examples for teaching, mentoring, and discipling people. For example, in Matthew 5: 1-3, the Scriptures tell us that “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, … He opened His mouth and began to teach them …” Throughout the Gospels we are also told that Jesus taught the crowds both with direct words and with parables – (See Mark 4: 2). Indeed, Christ was constantly discipling or mentoring those who believed in Him. Both many in the crowds and Christ’s disciples wanted to be taught. In fact, in one example, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray …” – (Luke 11: 1). Obviously, both the disciples and Christ recognized the importance of His teaching the disciples. And, even though Christ is back in Heaven with the Father, as Christians we too know the importance of knowing God’s Holy Word so that we will know how to act and behave in living for Christ. Teaching, through discipling and mentoring, is exactly what Christians must step up to do if we want our newly Saved brethren to know how to live for the Lord. We must inspire others to read the Word of God, we must show them the importance of communicating with the Lord through prayer, and we must teach them how to quietly listen for the words of our Lord.

Being Taught by the Lord

In the Psalms, King David wrote several songs that spoke to his and our need to be taught by the Lord. In one Psalm David wrote, “Make me know your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all day.”  -- (Psalm 25: 4, 5.). But, for the Lord to teach us, we have to be able to communicate with the Lord and be willing to listen for His instructions. However, without guidance and direction from long-time fellow Christians who have studied the Word, new Christians may fail to understand the importance of not only praying but also fail to understand the importance of reading the Word of God wherein God’s Word becomes their bread of life.

The lessons found within the Word of God and learned through our communicative prayer with God, teaches the newly Saved and reminds the long-time Christian how to walk daily for the Lord. It is also in the Psalms that we learn that King David continued to ask for God’s guidance throughout the years. In his Psalms David also shows us that we, too, need to ask for God’s guidance on a daily basis. In fact, in one Psalm David wrote, “Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. … Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” – (Psalm 143: 8, 10.). Notice that besides wanting to learn how to live for God, that David spoke of God’s Spirit whom we know as the Holy Spirit. As we know, all Christians receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon our Salvation, but new Christians often need to be taught what it means to listen to the Holy Spirit as well as how important it is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them. This is something new for them and they need the assurance that what they are hearing is indeed from God.

There are so many things that new Christians need to be taught about God and His Word. That is why new Christians need discipleship and/or the guidance of a mentoring Christian to help them grow spiritually in their new relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Moreover, it is by listening to the Holy Spirit, who guides all believers into paths of righteousness, that new Christians can learn how to live righteously for the Lord. Yes, all Christians have been cleansed of their sins and made righteous before God with their Salvation. But because we live in a fallen world that embraces sin as nothing more than happiness of self and the determination to seek self-happiness at all costs, Christians need the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide them into continued paths of righteousness here on earth. So, as cleansed and saved Christians, Christ has given all of us the Holy Spirit to remind us and guide us in doing what is right and to guide us into making right decisions in our lives. In doing so, the Holy Spirit provides us with godly wisdom and advice, along with the desire to love our fellow man.

Discipleship and Spiritual Guidance Mentors

Although Salvation has cleansed us and given us the desire to be righteous, we often do not yet have a firm foundation for living a righteous life. To get that firm foundation, we need to study the Word of God, then pray, and meditate upon the Scriptures of the Word of God; hiding the Scriptures in our heart. These Scriptures are the bread of life on which we are to live for Christ. We also need to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But in sometimes Christians also need Spiritual guidance mentors to help them grow in knowledge and godly wisdom. In other words, we may need another Christian to come along side of us and help us to understand certain things within the Bible that may be confusing or to help in discerning the meaning of a certain Scripture for our life. Christians may also need help at certain times in staying on the right track. A Spiritual guidance mentor can help both long-time Christians and the newly saved Christian to better understand the Word of God and to stay on the right track.

Spiritual guidance mentors are Christians who study the Word of God, pray, and closely listen to the Holy Spirit. They are able to help people discern or understand certain Scriptures within the Word of God, as they spiritually discern the direction and guidance they receive from the Holy Spirit. But those that have the ability to be spiritual guidance mentors must also have a desire to reach out and help another Christian. They should also be willing to be a sounding board and be willing to help the mentee, i.e., the new Christian, to make good decisions based upon the Word of God.

Throughout the Newer Testament, we often see believers stepping forward to help new Christians and to be that spiritual guidance mentor that the new Christian needs. For example, in the book of Acts, we are told about Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement”. Barnabas came along side of Saul/Paul after his conversion to help him and to later vouch for Paul to the apostles. Later after vouching for Paul, Barnabas went together with Paul on their first missionary journey. (See Acts 4:36; 9: 27- 29; 13:1-2.). Barnabas also taught Paul what He knew about Christ from his close association with the apostles. However, later Paul was able to return the favor, so to speak, by teaching Barnabas things that the Lord and the Holy Spirit were teaching Paul. Notice how that works. We need each other. Moreover, we are all a work in progress for the Lord. That is why we need to not only stay in the Word, listen to the Holy Spirit, pray, and meditate on the Word, but we also need to have spiritual Christian mentors and friends who will help keep us focused on Christ and living for Him.

Discipleship and Christian mentoring (ARCM) is very important for all Christians, but especially the newly Saved. That is because it takes time to spiritually grow and mature in our life with the Lord, and we often need help in growing spiritually. The Apostle Paul admonished the Colossians saying: “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use His words to teach and counsel each other.”  -- (Colossians 3: 16.
NLT).

The Apostle Paul, a spiritual mentor, knew the importance of teaching and counseling new Christians about the Lord. He knew that every new believer needed to have another Christian come along side of them to help in their spiritual growth and maturity. They needed to be discipled and mentored. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote: “So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” – (Colossians 1: 28. NLT). Notice that first Paul warned people that without Christ they were doomed to eternal death and separation from God. But once a person was Saved, Paul continued to “teach” them or mentor them “with all the wisdom God has given us.” We too, can teach the newly Saved, using all the wisdom that God has given us, through our studies, our prayer time, our meditation, and from our time listening to God.

The New Living Translation Study Bible gives a footnote on the word “perfect” used within the above verse. The NLT Bible’s explanation is that the word “perfect” means “mature or complete,” not “flawless. So, that means that Paul was stating within this verse that he wanted to see each believer mature spiritually so that they could be presented to God mature or complete in their relationship with Christ. Teaching new believers and helping them to mature spiritually is part of the responsibility of long-time Christians (that is those Christians that have worked at spiritually growing and maturing, whether it has been five or fifty years of living for Christ). It is also the responsibility of the spiritual guidance mentor.

As we pursue intimacy and spiritual maturity with Christ, Christians need to also come along side of new Christians to speak God’s truth in love and to encourage them to grow in the knowledge of God and His Son. Sharing our knowledge and speaking words of truth in love encourages each of us to become “… more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church. Under His direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”  -- (Ephesians 4: 15, 16. NLT).

Discipleship and the spiritual guidance of a new Christian through Active Relational Christian Mentoring (i.e. the coming along side of a person to teach and share from the Word of God and to share what Christ has asked us to share) is necessary for the growth and maturity of new Christians. Certainly, speaking words of truth from God’s Holy Word can guide all of us toward maturity in Christ. Isn’t that what we are supposed to want for all Christians – maturity in Christ? Let’s all reach out to new Christians in Christian love to teach them what it means to be a disciple or follower of Christ. Reaching out in discipleship and Christian mentoring can make all the difference in the world to a new Christian. It will not only teach and show them the importance of learning about God and His Word, but it will encourage them at a future date to reach out and disciple or mentor another newly saved person.

You can do it! You can reach out to disciple or to spiritually guide another Christian through ARCM. You just need to listen to the Holy Spirit, keep your eyes open for a new Christian that you can help either within your church or workplace. Offer to befriend them and then offer to share what you know about the Bible. Most new Christians are hungering for the Word of God. They want to know how to live this new life that they have been given. In fact, this is a golden opportunity for Christians to reach out and disciple or mentor a new Christian.

If you want to learn more about Christian mentoring, read my book: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring. You can get the book through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Christian Faith Publishing Company, iTunes and Google play.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Compassion and Lovingkindness






What is it that makes you feel better when you suffering, lonely, down, or hurting in some way or another? It probably isn’t a pill, although there is no doubt that sometimes a doctor’s intervention and his medicine may be needed at certain times in a person’s life. But what really does an even better job of brightening our day is to have someone come along side of us with compassion and kindness. Someone who cares enough to check upon us, talk with us, or go out for a cup of coffee; someone just to talk to or someone who wants to be there for us. Where are those Christians when we need them?

Unfortunately, we live in a world that no longer has time for true compassion or kindness. Oh yes, we throw money at situations like giving to missions or the needy in order to show that we are compassionate and kind, but most people, including Christians, often don’t reach out to give of their time and energy to show that they care. However, as a Christian, who is to represent Christ and His love to the rest of the world and as a Christian who is to love others as we love ourselves, we fail in so many ways to show true compassion and kindness to others.

Proverbs 10: 11,13 tells us that “The words of the godly lead to life; …” and “wise words come from the lips of people with understanding, …” For Christian women, this means that we are to speak into the lives of other women who may need the godly or wise words we have been given through God’s Holy Word and the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who will remind us of what we learned and of the specific words that we can use to help another woman, if we are just willing to reach out in compassion and lovingkindness to come along side of her.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) is the very necessary aspect of compassion and lovingkindness, for without those two caring words becoming a part of our reason for mentoring, true Christian mentoring cannot take place. Authentic Christians are, moreover, supposed to live out our Christian life in a way that glorifies the Lord through our words and actions and in a way that shows others that we are truly living for the Lord. But often Christians become so wrapped up in themselves and the fast paceness of our society that many people rarely find the time to show true compassion and lovingkindness.

God’s Compassion and Lovingkindness

Believers should know the importance of compassion and lovingkindness, because God has given us examples of the importance of compassion and lovingkindness throughout His Word. In fact, from the Older Testament and throughout the Newer Testament God has given us story after story about compassion and lovingkindness to show us how we are to live and just how important those two words are to God. For, our God is a loving and compassionate God showing compassion and lovingkindness to those who are obedient and love Him. In fact, it is the Psalmists who constantly speak of God’s compassion and lovingkindness throughout the book of Psalms.

David often wrote of God’s compassion and lovingkindness, and in one of his Psalms he wrote, “For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” … But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” – (Psalm 86: 5, 15. NASB).

Again, David wrote, “He has made His wonders to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate.” -- (Psalm 111:4. NASB).

In addition David said, “He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.”  -- (Psalm 112: 4. NASB).

We also have other examples of God’s standard of compassion and lovingkindness written about throughout the Older Testament. These examples tell us that God sat out to teach us how we are to act and care about others. For, it is through the stories that God had recorded in His Word that we learn how we are to treat others with compassion and kindness. One such example was the story of baby Moses who was found floating in the bulrushes of the Nile by one of the Pharaoh’s daughters. We are told that “… When the princess saw the little basket among the reeds she told one of her servant girls to get it for her. As the princess opened it, she found the baby boy. His helpless cries touched her heart. …). – (Exodus 2: 5, 6. NASB). However, she also knew that he was probably one of the Israelite’s babies who was being hidden from soldiers who were enforcing the decree given to them by her father, the Pharaoh, to kill all the Israelites’ baby boys. Yet she had compassion upon the baby and took him into the palace and raised him as her own. Through her compassion and lovingkindness, Moses was saved and grew in knowledge and wisdom. Some of that wisdom would be acquired the hard way, but God knew that Moses would be the leader that He needed for the Israelites. So later, Moses, with God’s help, would save all the Israelites, as he led them to safety from the Pharaoh.

False Compassion and Kindness

God also gives us examples of false compassion and lovingkindness as He contrasts it in His Word with true lovingkindness and compassion. I am sure you all remember King Saul and his obsession with getting rid of David, because he knew that David had been anointed to become the next King of Israel. Not only was King Saul jealous, but in his paranoia, he believed that David was out to get him, which was something that he had allowed his sick mind to imagine and believe. Some of his men also lied to him and encouraged him in his belief that David was out to get him. Consequently, Saul spent years searching for David and trying to kill him.

At one point in time, David and his men hid in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. Then the Ziphites went to Saul and told him that David was hiding in the strongholds of Horesh. They urged Saul to come to Horesh and they would surrender David to him. That is when King Saul said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.” – (I Samuel 23: 21. NASB).

Obviously, anyone can use religious verbiage in order to appear deeply spiritual or close to God, But God is not impressed with our duplicitous words or actions. Furthermore, Saul did not care whether the Ziphites were blessed or not. All he wanted was to get and kill David.  On the other hand, the Ziphites were not showing Saul compassion, but instead wanted to get David and his men out of their territory. So, they were offering to surrender David to Saul. Their offer was not out of compassion or kindness for King Saul. Eventually they would have expected something in return from King Saul, if not at that time or at a later time, whether it was money or a favor in the future. Fortunately, they were not able to give David to King Saul.

God gave us this specific example of duplicitous actions to show us that our compassion and lovingkindness for others has to be genuine. Moreover, we should not expect anything in return for our words or actions. Instead, we should be focused on doing for others in kindness and compassion what God has given us the opportunity to do. We are to love others as we love ourselves.

True Compassion and Kindness

There are many other examples of  God's true compassion and lovingkindness throughout the Older Testament, as God shows compassion on people through the mentors and through His prophets who were sent to tell people what God expected them to do. God also used several appearances of the "Angel of the Lord", who many believe was a special appearance of pre-incarnate Jesus Christ who spoke to and showed compassion on several people in the Older Testament. (See Genesis 16: 7; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; Judges 2: 1; 13:2; and Zechariah 3: 1-6.)

There were also other ordinary humans within the Older Testament who spoke into the lives of other people while showing compassion and lovingkindness for them. One such example was Ruth, who showed compassion and lovingkindness for Naomi by not leaving her alone and by going with her back to Israel after Naomi’s husband and sons died. Through Ruth’s compassion and lovingkindness, we can see how we were created to love others as we love ourselves. 

It was God who not only spoke directly through His prophets to tell the Israelites of His love and compassion, but He also showed compassion and lovingkindness in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus to earth to show God’s love for us, and then through that compassion and lovingkindness He offered us Salvation. So now let’s turn to God’s Son in the Newer Testament to see how Jesus showed compassion and lovingkindness to the people He encountered. At what point did Christ’s acts of compassion turn into mentoring words of compassion and lovingkindness?

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and His Compassion and Lovingkindness

There are so many stories in the Newer Testament about Christ’s compassion and love, but I do not have time to write about them all. So, I will just pick out a few of the lovingkindness and compassionate ones that will emphasize the example that Christ was setting for us. For, Christ wanted us to understand that we are to do more than just live our own lives and leave others on their own. He wanted us to understand that we are to be involved in the lives of others and that we are to be there for those who are: hurting, struggling, down and out, or in need, etc. No, it isn’t about giving out money so that we can get off the hook and make ourselves feel better by simply throwing money at a problem or situation. Yes, giving money is great when it is needed. However, we are to do more by giving of ourselves and by showing compassion and lovingkindness with our words and actions. True compassion and lovingkindness is about speaking into the lives of others when they are desperate for a friend or need emotional support. It’s about being there for someone who is hurting or in need of a shoulder to cry on. It is also about sharing the Good News to those who are lost.

As Jesus was going through the cities and villages healing every kind of sickness, removing demons from the possessed, teaching, and proclaiming the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, He one day stopped and looked at all the people surrounding Him. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.  -- (Matthew 9: 36-38. NASB.).

Christ Jesus loved all the people he encountered, and He loves all of us today. The harvest was great back then and it is also still great, which means that we need to share the Gospel message with those who have as yet been able to find Christ as their Savior. We can also become involved in the harvest when we tell another person of the Good News of Christ and when that person comes to know Christ as their Savior. The sharing of the Good News isn’t hard with the help of the Holy Spirit, and in many cases all it takes is befriending someone who needs a friend or needs someone to talk to. No, we are not like Jesus in the sense that we can take away their pain and problems. But we can pray for them, we can talk with them, and we can sit with them when they are sick. We can teach them what we know from what we have learned in life. But, we first have to build a mentoring relationship based upon compassion, lovingkindness, caring, and truth.

It is important for us to also befriend, console, help, or emotionally support another Christian woman through ARCM. Just because someone may be a Christian, does not mean that she doesn’t need a fellow Christian to come along side of her to actively mentor her with caring and compassionate words. In fact, most Christians have been in a valley at some time or another where they have had to struggle to get out and live their life for the Lord, as the devil does everything in his power to bring them down. This is where the mentoring discipleship of a fellow Christian becomes so important. But so many Christians just live and let live. They do nothing to reach out and be there for their fellow Christians. Because of this, I believe that God is very disappointed in people's lack of compassion and the false kindness or un-Christian behaviors they produce for Him. For, many fail to show acts of compassion and lovingkindness toward even their fellow Christians, let alone to those that are lost and need the Lord.

Do you remember the story in the Gospel of Matthew about Christ feeding the four thousand on the side of a mountain? Large crowds had followed Him upon a mountain and they were quite some ways from any town. Jesus taught and healed for a few days. Finally, “Jesus called to His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint.’” – (Matthew 15: 32. NASB). The disciples were astonished for there was no where to get any food. So, they searched for food among the crowd, but were only able to come up with seven loafs of bread and a few small fishes, which certainly was not enough to feed that large of a crowd. But it was enough for Jesus to create a miracle. Jesus blessed the bread and fish and suddenly there was enough for everyone. All of the people were fed and there were even seven large baskets containing pieces of food left over.

Christ felt for these people and their earthly need of hunger, just as He had compassion for their heavenly spiritual need for God and eternal life. However, it was with the miracle of food, that Christ was able to not only meet their earthly need but was also at the same time able to show them that they needed a spiritual life with God. It was also through this miracle that Jesus was able to show them that he had the authority to teach them about eternal life as well as the authority to teach them of their need for the daily compassionate and living for God. Jesus Christ did this by solidifying in the peoples’ minds, through their experience as seen through their eyes and the filling of their stomachs, that Christ’s relationship with God as the Son of God made Him able to perform the miracle of food for everyone. Christ’s compassion for the peoples’ physical need is why He created the miracle of feeding four thousand, and it was His compassion for their spiritual need and His teachings and healings that showed at least some of the people that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah.

Thank goodness that we are not responsible for producing large miracles like those Jesus created. Furthermore, like those people of long ago, we know that only God can produce those kinds of miracles. However, it was Christ’s miracles that provided the backdrop for His teaching and showed everyone that Jesus Christ was indeed the incarnate Son of God who had come to cleanse them of their sins and to offer them Salvation. Now, as Christ’s ambassadors, we have been given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will help or guide us into sharing the Gospel message with others; leading to the miracle of Salvation if the person so chooses to invite Christ into their heart. But in order to engage another person in conversation about Christ, we must be willing to be compassionate and show lovingkindness before we can share the Gospel miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ who will take away our sins. Being compassionate and showing lovingkindness can then produce small miracles like those of bringing a smile to someone’s face when they had previously felt so alone, or of being able to teach someone how to do something that they previously could not do. In fact, there are many more small miracles that can occur every day when we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, speak into the lives of other women.

True believers are to mentor other Christians in their spiritual growth just by being there with them and talking to them about the Lord. True believers also need to be there to help their fellow Christians when they need help. I don’t know about you, but when I am with fellow Christians, the conversation invariably turns to the Lord. It is during those times that the wisdom and knowledge of one person can be shared with the other. Sharing what we know about the Lord is very important. We also know that Jesus shared His personal spiritual insight and knowledge with a crowd of four thousand on the side of a mountain, but all we have to do is to share with one or two of our friends, or friends to be, what the Lord has lain upon our heart to tell them. For, sharing what we know from the Lord is just another way of showing compassion and lovingkindness to another person. This sharing can often be accomplished through ARCM.

Throughout the Gospels we are told over and over again, and we have been given many examples of Jesus having compassion on the people. (See Matthew 9: 36; 15: 32; Mark 1: 41; Mark 5: 10; Mark 6:34; Mark 8:2; Mark 9:32; Luke 7: 13; Luke 10: 33, Luke 15: 20; John 10: 11; John 11: 33-36; John 17: 11-17 as just a few of the examples of Christ’s compassion for humans). These examples of compassion and lovingkindness have been recorded in God’s Word for us to learn from and to show us what God expects of those that love Him.

Throughout His healing, miracles, and teaching, Jesus gave people the Good News of Salvation and eternal life. Indeed, both Christ, the Son, and the Father want none to perish, but want everyone to come to the Saving Grace of Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone will come to know Christ as their Savior. Still it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ as we are His working ambassadors to the world. If we do not reach out to comfort, support, share, coach, counsel, and empower other women to be all that they can be for God, themselves, their family and their friends, then we are not doing what Christ has asked us to do. We are just living in a type of limbo that will one day have to be explained to God at the Bema Judgment Seat. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to explain to God why I did not help, or why I did not care about, teach, mentor, counsel, or disciple another Christian.

It takes so little time to reach out and help another person even when you least expect to find yourself in a position to help. You just have to have your eyes open and wear your compassionate and lovingkindness as a Christian on your shoulder so that you can use them when the opportunity is presented to you. 

I will end with a story by Anne Cetas who wrote this devotional for the March 17, 2018 Our Daily Bread. It is entitled “Whispering Words.”

The young man fidgeted as he sat down for his flight. His eyes darted back and forth to the aircraft windows. Then he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to calm himself – but it didn’t work. As the plane took off he slowly rocked back and forth. An older woman across the aisle from him put her hand on his arm and gently engaged him in conversation to divert his attention from his stress. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Where are you from?’ ‘You’re doing well’ were a few of the things she whispered. She could have been irritated with him or ignored him. But she chose a touch and a few words. Little things. When they landed three hours later, he said, ‘Thank you so much for helping me.”
Such beautiful pictures of tenderheartedness can be hard to find. Kindness does not come naturally to many of us; our primary concern is often ourselves. But when the apostle Paul urged, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another' (Ephesians 4: 32.) he was not saying it all depends on us. After we’ve been given a new life by our faith in Jesus, the Spirit begins a transformation. Kindness is the ongoing work of the Spirit renewing our thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4: 23).
The God of compassion is at work in our hearts, allowing us in turn to touch others’ lives by reaching out and whispering words of encouragement.

Lord, use me today to bring someone hope, a lighter burden, encouragement.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others and reaching out.” – Anne Cetas

I will add one thing more to what Ms. Cetas said. Compassion is also understanding the troubles of others, and then understanding when we have been given the opportunity to help, so that we can reach out to mentor them with Christian lovingkindness in whatever area that God may have given us the expertise to help them. If, on the other hand, we don’t have the specific expertise they need, we can actively look for another Christian who can help them. Indeed, all of us can reach out in compassion and lovingkindness, like the woman on the plane did, to help someone in need. We just have to be actively involved in being ambassadors for Christ. What do Christian ambassadors do? They represent Christ in everything they do. They look for opportunities to come along side of another person to help or mentor in some fashion or another. Are you representing Christ to others in all that you do? Are you looking for opportunities to actively mentor or help another woman?

May God bless you in all your mentoring endeavors!  

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Making a Difference by Influencing Lives for Christ




"If [Christian leaders] do not teach Christian
principles to all followers of Christ,
we are not equipping them with God's truth that will
overcome worldly influence."  
-- ( p. 53 Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011).



I have a passion for Christian mentoring, which is why I wrote the book: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring. I know that fellow Christians understand that we are to share our faith with non-believers, but we also have been given the responsibility of speaking into the lives of both believers and non-believers to help them live more productive lives for the Lord. We are not supposed to be in this life journey alone but are to be there to help each other. One of the ways that we can help other women is to speak into the lives of these other women through Active Relational Christian Mentoring. Mentoring may sound scary or sound like it will take too much of our time, but if we are willing to step forward and do God’s will in showing our love toward others, mentoring will not be scary and somehow through God’s grace and provision we will be able to find the time that is needed to invest in the life of another woman. In fact, all it takes is 20 to 30 minutes a week to speak into the life of another woman, i.e., to mentor her.

So, what is a mentor? Well, a mentor is an individual who comes along side of another person to support, encourage, help, teach, coach, or counsel that person who is also known as the mentee. Indeed, there are mentors in all areas of life. Businessmen have mentors, students have mentors, and most any work-related area of our lives has the possibility of mentors.

A woman Christian mentor, though, is an individual who has truly accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and who then develops a godly relationship with either another Christian woman or a non-Christian woman for the purpose of encouraging, supporting, counseling, etc. She is investing in the life of the other woman so that the love of God can be understood and seen by her. The ultimate purpose of the Christian woman mentor is to empower the other woman, i.e., the mentee, to be all that she can be for God, for herself, for her family, for her friends, and to be all that she can be even for those acquaintances that she encounters. Of course, for those that have as yet to ask Christ into their heart, the Christian mentor has an even greater purpose, which is to share the Gospel message within the mentoring process. It is then through the mentoring process that the Christian mentor will guide her mentee into knowing more about the Lord and how He expects all of us to live. Through her witnessing as well as through prayer and study of the Word of God, the mentor plants the seeds of Salvation for the non-Christian mentee. God then does the rest.

Most mentoring relationships start out on common ground or with a need that needs to be met for the mentee or with a topic or subject that needs to be covered in order to make the woman’s life easier or more productive. But no matter the initial reason for the mentoring relationship, a non-Christian woman mentee should then acquire greater knowledge about God and Christ’s gift of Salvation through the Christian mentoring process and through the time spent together in fellowship with her mentor. Along with the goal of helping the non-Christian woman in whatever area she needs help, there is the ultimate goal of helping her to find Christ as her Savior. But in order to help the woman find Christ, the Christian mentor must first develop a mentoring relationship based upon love and caring.

A Closer Walk with the Lord

The outcome or fruit generated from an Active Relational Christian Mentoring relationship should be the mentee's closer walk with the Lord. The fruit is also the empowerment of another Christian woman who is willing to walk daily for the Lord, and who is willing to share her knowledge of Christ and Salvation will other women she encounters. A friend of mine, Donna McCoy Harms, said this about Christian mentoring: “When we fellowship with another woman, we will discover that a kinship develops in the learning, laughing, and sometimes crying that takes place as both the mentor and the mentee grow closer to the Lord.” All this and more occurs within the Christ developed relationship between mentor and mentee that can not only impact the lives of both women, but that can impact the lives of other women they encounter.

Christian mentoring of another believer is part of our responsibility as born-again followers of Christ to encourage each other to walk for the Lord and to always keep Christ first and foremost within our hearts. This is why, the author of Hebrews wrote to his fellow Christians: “Take care brethren that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called ‘Today’, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.  -- (Hebrews 3: 12-14. NASB).

The Need for Encouragement and Love

It is very hard to live in this secular world without the support of fellow Christians. Moreover, it can be difficult to grow in spiritual maturity, grow closer to the Lord, or stay true to Him without the help and encouragement of fellow believers, i.e. the church body. For, it is our fellow Christians who can encourage us, help us, and keep us accountable, so that we do not inadvertently let the devil and his espoused sin get a foothold within our heart. It is only through our healthy relationships with fellow Christian women that express caring, kindness, support, and concern for these other women that we can see or are reminded of God’s eternal love for us. That is why it is so important for women to invest in the lives of other women through the process of Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

As Christians, we cannot live in isolation from the secular world. Indeed, both Christian men and women live surrounded by evil, trials, and tribulations, as well as by just the daily grind of living in a sinful world. To avoid all the pitfalls of living within this fallen world, all Christians need the encouragement of other Christians. In fact, the importance of this needed encouragement by our fellow Christians is expressed in the Apostle’s writings throughout the Newer Testament. For, it was the Apostle Paul, who when writing to the Thessalonians, went so far as to admonish the new Christians to encourage one another. Paul said, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”  -- (I Thessalonians 5: 11. NASB)

We all need to be reminded of our responsibility as believers to encourage and help our fellow Christians. But we also need to be reminded of the effect that we are having on those around us as they see and listen to what we have to say. That is why it is so important for Christian women to step forward to specifically invest in the lives of other women through Christian mentoring.

Most of us understand the word encouragement, but how do we build up one another. Well, we build up others by not only our words, but by our actions too. We can build up our fellow Christians with our words and by being there for another woman during times of crisis, loneliness, pain, and sorrow. Taking the time out of our personal allotted time, shows the other woman that we care and that we are willing to be there for her. It is in being there for her that we can build her up through our mentoring of the Scriptures, as well as through our mentoring of Christian actions, love, and concern. Moreover, being willing to help gives the other woman a feeling of worthiness while giving her a friend who is willing to stand by her in her time of need.

The Apostle Paul again teaches us about the importance of encouragement and true love through the letter he wrote to the Philippian Christians. Paul wrote, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves: do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others.  -- (Philippians 2: 1-4. NASB).

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is a selfless loving service to the Lord and to other women which allows us to express the love of Christ in both our words and our actions. Through the simple act of the mentoring fellowship, we can help, support, comfort, inform, and share our knowledge, skills, talents, and wisdom with another woman. Active Christian mentoring also helps us to look out for the interest of a fellow Christian woman as we help empower her to be all that she was created to be. And for the woman who does not yet know Christ as her Savior, your Christian mentoring fellowship, support, caring, and kindness can be seen as the light of Christ shining out from your re-born life. Moreover, the joyful unity of believers serving the Lord and others is not only welcoming, but it is a powerful way to express the Gospel of Christ and His love to a woman who needs Him desperately. Furthermore, women were created to help, support, and share not only what they know but especially the Gospel message with other women.

The Reason God Created Women.

We have all read the creation story in Genesis, and we have all been told why God created humans. Why were we created? Well, in Isaiah 43: 7 we are told that God created us for His glory! However, our purpose here on earth doesn’t end with just giving God the glory He so richly deserves. We were also created to love God and to love others. In fact, besides giving us the ability to glorify God and praise Him, God has also given each of us a specific purpose in life that has to do with love. It is this purpose that will benefit the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of God? Well, it is a spiritual kingdom made up of believers in Christ who have been commissioned to tell all the world about Christ and the gift of Salvation offered to all. As believers we are expected to benefit the Kingdom of God, but we must be willing to care about the members of God’s Kingdom, and we must be willing to tell non-Christians about the Kingdom of God in order to do so. As caring Christians, we are ones who can help the Kingdom of God grow exponentially by our witnessing for Christ.

Humans were created to not only glorify and praise the Lord, but to serve the Kingdom of God and through our service produce fruit for the Kingdom of God in our own specifically created way. Yes, every person who has been re-born has been created to do specific work and witnessing for the Kingdom of God. Both men and women have their own special characteristics and abilities that can not only contribute to the continuity of the human race, but that also enables them to serve the Lord in their own special way.

We all know that God created man first. But shortly thereafter, God decided that He needed to create a companion for man. In Genesis 2: 18 we read: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper, comparable to him.” But it is in Genesis 2: 21-23 that we actually discover how God created woman: “So, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took on of his ribs and closed up the flesh at the place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from man and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.’” – (NASB).

The Hebrew word for woman is “isha”. The Hebrew word for man is “ish”. The evangelist David Jeremiah said that God took a rib from man or “ish” so that woman or “isha” would be a part of “ish”. In other words, Adam would be incomplete until they were brought together as “ish” and “isha”. This was because Adam, who was missing a rib, now needed to be near to “isha”. In other words, in order to be complete, Adam needed “isha” at his side.

But it was more than Adam just needing to be near his missing rib that brought them together, because God had created “isha” to be there to support, encourage, love, and help Adam. Moreover, because of the way that God had made woman, God knew that she would be able to use the special characteristics of love, as well as the ability to encourage, comfort, show kindness, and have empathy, and the ability to help and support others in their needs. In other words, she was to be a helpmate to not only her husband but to her family and friends. Furthermore, God knew ahead of time that the special and unique characteristics that He had given to both man and woman would be very valuable in making and maintaining relationships. Moreover, these abilities would also be important to witnessing and mentoring others for the benefit of Kingdom of God once God sent His Son into the world to save us from our sins. Sure enough, each gender, i.e., man and woman, were to use their special characteristics, gifts, and abilities to be ambassadors for Christ and for the Kingdom of God once they accepted the free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

Besides the purpose of glorifying God, we each have been given individual purposes in life. To further accomplish our individual purposes in life within our ambassadorship for Christ, God has also given each Christian certain talents, skills, knowledge, and wisdom unique to them to use for themselves and for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. With these talents, skills, knowledge, wisdom, etc., God has also given both man and woman the ability to influence others for the glory of God. But, God has further given women in particular some unique abilities that can enable them to be great at Christian mentoring and influencing others for Christ.

The Influence of Women as Christian Mentors.

God has given every woman a great area of influence within her life. In fact, women can influence their families, their spouses, and their children on a daily basis. In actuality, though, they have been given, through their influence, the ability to mentor those around them on a daily basis whether they realize it or not. In addition to influencing those closest to them, women influence other women in their workplace, at church, and during ordinary life encounters. They can even influence the children that their children play with. Women also influence the women that they meet in stores, in beauty salons, and in workout centers, etc. In fact, the list of those women who are daily influenced within the category of just passive mentoring could go on and on. However, when we add to this list, the category of active influence such as women's engagement in conversation, or women's involvement in active mentoring, then women's' areas of influence grow greatly. Indeed, every person that a woman encounters is being brought into her circle of influence, even if it is just momentarily. That is why it is so important for Christian women to think about their potential words and their actions first; always asking ourselves if we are glorifying the Lord with our words and actions.

One of the most wonderful things that Christian women can do is to become an active relational Christian mentor. For, it is through the use of both our words and actions as mentors that we can influence and actually enhance the lives of other women, i.e., our mentees, in an active way rather than just a passive way. In fact, the biblical scriptures tell us that Christian women are to not only mentor their spouses, children, and friends, but that we are to mentor other Christian women in our walk with the Lord. Although the word “mentor” is not specifically used, the apostle Paul wrote to Titus and in his letter set out the duties of both older and younger Christian women and their mentoring responsibilities within the Kingdom of God. He said: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they many encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God will not be dishonored.”  -- (Titus 2: 3-5. NASB).

Women have Special Abilities for Christian Mentoring.

All of the things that the Apostle Paul mentioned are important to the Christian walk and to the influence that women have upon other women. But along with those duties, Christian women have also been given talents, skills, and abilities to support, help, enlighten, and empower another woman to be all that she can be for God, herself, her family, and her friends. Along with the wisdom and biblical knowledge that women have received from studying the Bible, the Holy Spirit has also bestowed upon Christian women individual talents that can be used in their mentoring of another woman. But besides these spiritual gifts, skills, and talents, women have been given other special abilities that can help in the mentoring process.

These special abilities actually empower Christian women to develop active mentoring relationships with other women. Here are just a few of those abilities that women can use in mentoring. You can probably think of others.

1.     Women are generally great at communicating. In fact, women speak more words in a single day than men speak in a day.
2.     Women in general are capable of thinking about several things at once and discerning the most important.
3.     Women are usually capable of juggling and using time wisely, allowing them to get many things done in a single day.
4.     Women are generally able to share or teach others skills, and share their knowledge, and information. (For example: even without being a career teacher, most women are capable of teaching their children what they need to know in order to get along in the world.).
5.     Women are able to use their instincts to help themselves and others even when a situation does not seem concerning in the natural world.
6.     Women usually have developed greater discernment.
7.     Women usually have good insight if they are leaning on the Lord.
8.     Women in general have an instinctual nurturing nature.
9.     Women are usually capable of loving many people at once.
10. Women are usually capable of showing empathy to others.

There are probably many more abilities that you can list that help women in their mentoring or influence of other women. But there is one more ability that women mentors need to have or can acquire. That is the ability to listen to the other woman. Many women are already good listeners, but if you aren’t you can acquire the ability to listen; you just have to desire to listen. It is just a matter of choosing to listen closely to the other woman. Also, we must understand, too, that listening encompasses not only the ability to hear what the other woman is saying, but it also includes the ability to see or observe the facial expressions and body language of the other woman. If you can learn to do all three, you can become a great listener. However, if you are then able to add the ability to discern what the other woman is not saying, sometimes called reading between the lines, then you can become an excellent listener.

It is those women who work at listening to what the other woman is actually saying who are able to become great mentors. That is because they are able to both hear and see the need or concern that should be addressed for the mentee. Then the Christian mentor can pray for her mentee with the assurance that she praying for the right things or needs of the mentee. This is important, because prayer is a powerful resource to be used in helping our mentees. For, without God’s guidance, direction, and support, we are just floundering around in our human perceptions and actions, with hit or miss results. But, to really be good or great Active Relational Christian Mentors, we must rely on God through our prayer and our study of His Word.

The bottom line is that God has given each woman what she needs to accomplish the method of servanthood that He has asked her to perform. God has also given us the resources and innate abilities as well as the special talents to be used in our service to Him and to other women for the Kingdom of God. All we have to do is look at ourselves closely and evaluate our skills, talents, gifts, knowledge, and abilities, and then pray about how we are to use all of them within our Christian lives of service. Moreover, Active Relational Christian Mentoring is a wonderful service that every woman can perform for the Kingdom of God whether you are dedicating your godly service to Christian Mentoring or you are just occasionally mentoring a friend or neighbor. You Can Do It! You can mentor for the Lord!

Salvation for All

“Salvation is always ‘good news.’
It is news of God’s love and forgiveness – adoption into His family –
Fellowship with His people – freedom from the penalty of sin –
Liberation from the power of sin.”

[God] holds in His omnipotent hand the priceless,
precious, eternal gift of salvation,
and He bids you to take it without money and without price.”
-- Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011. p. 111, 113.

If you are not a born-again Christian, which means that you haven’t asked for Christ’s forgiveness and haven’t believed upon Him as the Living Son of God, you can easily do so. All you have to do is come to Christ with a truly repentant heart for the sins in your life and then ask Him to forgive your sins, while believing that Christ, who was born of a virgin, died for you on the cross, and was raised from the dead conquering eternal death for you and everyone who will believe on Him. For the Word of God says:

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’” 
-- (Romans 10: 9-11. NKJ).