Sunday, March 11, 2018

Accountability Mentoring by Sharing Each Other's Troubles and Problems

"Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think that you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody."
-- Galatians 6: 2-3 NLT

In my book The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring, I discuss the many different mentoring categories as well as the types of mentoring that Christians can engage in to help another Christian to grow stronger and stay on track for the Lord. Remember, Active Relational Christian Mentoring is a just another type of discipleship that all Christians can easily engage in. Moreover, we are commanded to go and make disciples for Christ in Matthew:28: 18-20. To help us make disciples and then disciple current Christians there are several different mentoring categories from which a Christian can choose. All of these mentoring categories can be used to disciple and encourage another Christian; categories such as the simple fellowship mentoring to and including Sponsorship mentoring and several in-between. But the specific mentoring category that I want to discuss today is one called “Accountability Mentoring” which is described within several of the different Scripture verses in the Bible.

The concept of accountability and more specifically the category of accountability mentoring has been used throughout the ages to help, encourage, and empower another person to be even more than they thought they could ever become. But, how is this concept of accountability used within the Christian world? Well, Christian accountability is the relationship that one believer has with another believer for the express purpose of the mentor believer observing, encouraging, teaching, and holding accountable the actions of the other believer, i.e., the mentee.

Although, a Christian is accountable to God first and foremost, a follower of Christ, i.e, a true Christian, is also accountable to other Christians and vice versa for their words, actions and conduct. That is because, we do not walk alone in this world. First, we have Christ and the Holy Spirit walking with us. Secondly, we are to have the support of other Christians who like all true Christians are to represent Christ to the world in everything that we say and do. In other words, every Christian has a responsibility to help, empower, and encourage other Christians as well.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Now therefore, (as Christians) you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  -- (Ephesians 2: 19-22. NKJV).

 This above verse means that Christians are also accountable for their interactions with other Christians and are especially accountable for their brotherly or sisterly purpose in supporting, encouraging, enlightening, helping, sharing, and checking on the needs of another Christian. Moreover, we are responsible for discipling each other. This discipleship and support is just one of the reasons why God’s Word tells us that we are to help keep each other focused on what God wants for our lives. Then as we watch out for and support each other, we are to also let each other know if and when we are doing or saying something that does not represent Christ in the best light to the world. It is in this process of mentoring discipleship that Christians can grow spiritually stronger for the Lord. For example, in Proverbs 27: 17 we are told that as “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

 Within this idea of “iron sharpening iron” rises the concept of accountability mentoring. This means that two Christians who are willing to talk to each other about their ideas, troubles, needs, and insights, and who are willing to do so in the light of Christ can be there for each other through the process of active accountability mentoring. Accountability mentoring is essentially helping one or both of the believers to stay accountable for their personal actions or words. Their communication with each other can not only stimulate both believers’ thought processes and enable them to become stronger for the Lord together, but it can enable them to challenge each other and become sharper in mental clarity, in their righteous actions and words, as well as in their knowledge of the Word of God.

In accountability mentoring, the Christian mentor is there to challenge the mentee’s spiritual growth and to help the mentee see clearly what it is that she needs to overcome in her life and stay focused in doing so. During the accountability mentoring process the Christian mentor will also help the mentee to see clearly that Christ will never let her down no matter what trial she has to overcome. In addition, the Christian friend, i.e., mentor, will not only support her mentee’s personal endeavors to improve, but also be there to hold her accountable for her actions as well.

We are all accountable to God for our actions

The ultimate accountability for all of us comes when we stand before Christ at the Bema Seat or Judgment Seat one day. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” – (II Corinthians 5: 10. NASB)

The Bema seat or judgment seat is a place of accountability for all Christians rather than a place of condemnation. Even though it is not a place of condemnation, “… each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” – (Romans 14: 12. NASB). Moreover, it is at the Bema seat where we will receive our crowns or rewards for what we have accomplished for Christ while here on earth. Among the many rewards we can receive, Christians can receive rewards for the love that they have shown to others while working here on earth. Showing our Christian love includes doing such things as working to share the Gospel message and working to help other Christians grow stronger in their spiritual maturity, as well as working to help a Christian to overcome a stronghold that constantly bedevils her. Who have you helped recently? Have you helped a mentee stay accountable to a decision they have made? Have you spent time with a friend that is suffering from loneliness or loss? There are so many things that we as Christians can do to uplift, encourage, empower, and help another Christian.

Some of the things that true Christians can do for others and that can be of benefit to another Christian in regard to discipleship and accountability mentoring could include such things as the following: simply being there for a friend or acquaintance who needs you to check in on them about their commitment to daily prayer; being there to check on and encourage a Christian in their Bible study; or being there to check on the progress they have made in sharing their faith with non-Christians. Other accountability areas may include such things as: being there for a fellow Christian when they are tempted to succumb to a specific negative area of their personality that they are working on, such as an anger issue. Then taking the time to talk with the mentee about their anger issue, or just being there to help the mentee to work on a particular attitude that they are having trouble overcoming. There are many other areas of accountability needs, too numerous to mention, that can be helped by a Christian accountability mentor.

You are probably saying to yourself, “Why do I have to help someone stay accountable for their actions and words? Can’t they take care of themselves?”  The reality, though, is that every true Christian is accountable to other Christians for their conduct, attitude, and character. But how can that be? Well, the Apostle Peter puts it this way: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”  -- (I peter 3: 8-9. NKJV). Peter is saying that we receive blessings for doing the work of Christ here on earth. One of those works is just being there for fellow Christians when they need us, whether it is a need to learn, a need to grow spiritually, or an emotional need. Furthermore, Christians will be held accountable to God for what we have and haven’t done for the Kingdom of God.

If Christians today are not held accountable for their non-Christian actions and words, we may eventually succumb to our basic human nature, which is the human tendency to falter and to try to fit in with the secular world around us. But authentic Christians, who are aware that they will held accountable for their actions as Children of God, should not want to succumb to their basic human nature, nor should they want to fit in with or accept the common secular worldviews. Neither should true Christians easily succumb to the temptations of the secular world around them. But it isn’t always easy to avoid these temptations, especially if a Christian has developed strongholds over the years that have become hard to overcome. That is why a Christian may need to be held accountable to another Christian.

There are many things that can tempt every person including Christians, and these temptations can keep a Christian from living fully for Christ and on the straight and narrow way. A Christian’s biblical Worldview can become tarnished, because she falls for the things of this secular world instead of standing for the inerrant Word of God, truthfulness, morality, integrity, humility, principles, respecting Word of God, adhering to biblical values, maintaining Christian authenticity, or standing for Christian virtues; to just name a few things that should fit into our biblical worldview. That is why all Christians have to be held accountable for all these godly things and more, because we are the representatives or the ambassadors of Christ. This means that a fellow Christian may need to have an accountability partner who can be there to encourage, help, and empower her to be all that she can be for the Lord. Only other Christians can hold us accountable for our words and actions while we are here on earth.

No Christian has ever been called to go it alone

In today’s world, most people do not want to discuss accountability, let alone have an accountability mentoring partner. That is because people have been taught to be independent, and they want to be independent and self-sufficient even when they need the help of Christ and a Christian friend. Consequently, the idea of being accountable to another person for their words, actions, and conduct is not something that most people want to do. For, even when a person is hurting and suffering from their own actions, many still want to try to go it alone. Then if you add human pride and egotism to their ideas of independence and self-sufficiency, we find that there is a large group of people who will still refuse to be held accountable for their own words and actions no matter what happens. However, there are strong and specific biblical teachings within the Word of God regarding the concept of Christians teaching other Christians and Christians bearing one another’s burdens. Indeed, there are specific Scriptures that demand that each of us are to be held accountable for what we do and say. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  -- (Galatians 6: 2, 10. NKJV).

These two concepts of teaching others and then individually being held accountable for our words and conduct comes directly from the Bible. Indeed, Jesus said: “And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.”  -- (Matthew 12: 36, 37. NIV). Then after Christ returned to Heaven, the Apostle Peter said; “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior: because it is written, ‘You shall be Holy, for I am Holy. If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay here on earth.  -- (I Peter 1: 14-17. NASB). Obviously, true Christians have a changed or re-born heart and will thus be held accountable for their words and actions, i.e., accountable for all their behaviors.

But humans have always been held accountable for their words and actions in one manner or another here on earth. If we start reading at the beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis, we discover that not only were Adam and Eve held accountable for their sinful and rebellious actions against God, but their son Cain was also held accountable for his rebellious action against God as well as for his murderous action against his brother, Abel. But, what would have happened if Adam had spent more time teaching and mentoring Eve so that she didn’t succumb to the lies of the devil? Or what would have happened if Adam and Eve and had spent more time teaching their children to love each other and to be accountable to each other rather than to be jealous? We will never know, because Adam and Eve had no prior experience at being loving parents who hold their children accountable for their actions. But, throughout the years, God has taught us through His Word, what accountability means. Moreover, God set up a system for mankind (I refuse to be politically correct with the word mankind) of mentoring/teaching, so that people are held accountable to each other. This system of mentoring and teaching assured that mankind survived. That system was the system of mentoring and teaching that was based upon relationships.

The System of Relationships

The Triune God is in a relationship with His three personas; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because of that deep holy relationship, God knew that human relationships would be needed in order to help people to grow stronger emotionally stronger mentally, and stronger spiritually. That is because what one person didn’t know at a particular time another person might suddenly discover and then both would benefit from the sharing of their knowledge while growing stronger spiritually. This sharing and kindness that came about within the mentoring and teaching process also set up a way for God’s Word to be shared throughout the world. Each person could grow closer to God while at the same time helping others to grow closer as well. All this growth was to be accomplished through the development of mentoring and accountability relationships.

Within the concept of relationships, mankind soon discovered that there are not only many kinds of relationships, but that there are also varying degrees of depth to every relationship, and that within each relationship is a built-in accountability factor. Some of the different relationships we can engage in like that of teacher and student easily show us the importance of the accountability factor within the relationship. But it isn’t just the obvious parental or teacher/ student accountability relationship that becomes important within our lives. Indeed, there are many other types of relationships for each of us, and all of them have some type of accountability factor. Therefore, it is important to recognize the accountability factor in each relationship and the accountability that is innate within relationships that we have with others. We need to understand our accountability in order to maintain that relationship. For example, husbands and wives are to be accountable to each other, friends are to be accountable to their friends, and Christians are to be accountable to other Christians as well. Indeed, we would be hard pressed to name any type of human relationship that did not have some type of accountability factor built within the relationship. But how many people accept the accountability that they are to have within their relationships?

The Accountability Factor

The whole idea of accountability brings us right back to the Bible. In fact, the Bible teaches us that there is a strong accountability factor built into all our lives, and we can see it demonstrated throughout both the Older and the Newer Testaments. Everywhere we read in the Bible, we discover that accountability is an important biblical teaching that is not only crucial to our moral and spiritual growth, but that it is also crucial to our relationship and fellowship with God and His Son. For, how can we ask forgiveness of our sins, if we do not feel accountable for participating in these sins and then want forgiveness for having committed those sins? Or how can we grow and mature spiritually if we do not heed the accountability that the Holy Spirit (the Encourager) brings to our lives when He quickens our hearts and conscience after we have done something or even before we have done something that we should not do.

Christians are not only accountable to the Lord, but we are also to be accountable to other Christians. Indeed, our lives are changed once we ask Christ into our heart. We have suddenly been reborn into a new person who is held to higher moral and emotional standard than a non-Christian. We are held to these higher standards through accountability, because our Salvation has not only cleansed us of our past sins, but a Christian has been given a reborn heart that no longer wants to sin. We certainly understand that we are accountable for living a life that reflects Christ to the rest of the world and that reflects His righteousness, goodness, and love. But, because we live in this fallen world of temptations, deceit, and evil, Christians still have to focus on discipling each other and on growing in the Word of God and on spiritually maturing and doing what is right in the eyes of God. This means Christians grow through listening to the Holy Spirit within, through studying the Word of God, and through constantly staying in contact with God through prayer. In doing so, Christians must realize that they have a responsibility to God and their Savior, Jesus Christ, not only for their words, but also for their actions. However, what many Christians fail to realize is that they also have a responsibility for their fellow Christians as well. For, it is through their Salvation that the Lord has given them a loving heart for other people as well as the standards of accountability that provide them with a wise and loving set of checks and balances that will help them and other Christians to live righteously for God.

Where did these checks and balances come from? Well, previously the checks and balances came in the form of the Ten Commandments for which humans were to be held accountable, but God knew that humans would not live up to those standards, so all along God planned for and then sent us a Deliverer or Savior in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Christ we can be forgiven of our sins and made righteous before God. Now, it is through our Salvation with Christ who lives in our hearts along with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of us that we instinctively know how to live up to God’s checks and balances as recorded in the Word of God. But, all humans are stubborn and selfish, basically wanting to do what they see others doing so that they, too, can fit into this secular world without making a fuss. This is why many people fall for the secular world’s lies and ways; they want to fit in with those around them.

Upon Salvation and baptism, the Lord, Jesus Christ, gave us the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers, and it is He who talks to us and guides us in living up to God’s standards. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, study the Word of God, and pray to God through His Son, we can stay on the straightway and not succumb to the enticements of the secular world.  However, Christians have to work at following God’s standards. Moreover, Christians still have to work daily at being accountable for their words and actions. For, even though Christ forgave us our sins through His sacrifice on the Cross, we are still responsible to shine the light of Christ and His Truth out upon the world through our words and actions. The example that we are to live by is the example that Christ set in His own words and actions. And just as Christ encouraged and discipled the twelve apostles, we too are to through our encouragement and discipleship of other Christians to do the same. This means that Christians are accountable for living up to God’s checks and balances.

Sometimes, though, Christians do not behave the way that the Holy Spirit encourages them to behave. That is because they are tempted by the world’s views on life, and sometimes they succumb to the negatives within this world. New Christians especially need to have an accountability partner mentor to help them learn and see the difference between their past life and their new life in Christ; teaching them to work at living outwardly for Christ. That is why fellow Christians are to reach out and help other struggling Christians navigate the same set of checks and balances given to all of us by Christ. In other words, true Christians are accountable to help other Christians live righteously for the Lord as well. We are to disciple each other along the way.

The Word of God says to “… 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.”  -- (Hebrews 3: 13. NASB). This verse and others within the Newer Testament reminds us that Christians do not have to go it alone in their walk with the Lord. First, we have the Lord and His Holy Spirit guiding us. But when temptation knocks at our door, we should have other Christians that we can turn to who will help support us and help keep us accountable, so that the devil and his temptations will not find a place in our lives. In other words, we have to not only turn to God for the Truth, but also turn to other Christians when we feel distraught, frustrated, depressed, and overcome with temptations, so that the devil does not get a stronghold within our hearts. It is only through Christian love and the healthy interactions between true Christians that those who are struggling can stay true to Christ and overcome some of their worldly conflicts.

Indeed, it is through the accountability of relationships provided by Christian mentors that their mentees can be reminded of God’s unfailing and constant love for them. In fact, none of us can easily progress in our relationship with Christ without the help of fellow believers, which usually can be found within the church body that Christ has provided for those who are Saved. For we are told: “… let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting (encouraging) one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  -- (Hebrews 10: 24, 25. NKJV). But it is up to each person to participate within a church body, and it is up to each Christian to reach out to other Christians to form relationships, especially those relationships that can mentor, encourage and hold accountable another Christian.

The category of accountability mentoring within Active Relational Christian Mentoring can be used in many different relational areas of our lives. Most people at one time or another have been either admonished or praised for their words or actions by a supervisor or someone to whom they have been held accountable at work. Some people have even been given a supervising accountability partner to help them reach goals within their company or work environment. In fact, some people even need an accountability mentor/friend to tell them when they have crossed the line, or to encourage them when they are on the right track.

Most of us need someone to hold us accountable and someone to be there for us when we have to face different things in life. We even enjoy the relationships developed within the body of Christ, i.e., the church, and enjoy the relationship that we may have with a specific friend when we want to share with someone the blessings that we have received from God. As Christians, we understand that the Lord provides other true Christians and uses our relationship with them to not only enable them to see the blessings we have received from the Lord, but to also be able to see our areas of weakness and then to confront us or help us with these areas of weakness. Facing up to our personal failures, needs, and weaknesses with a godly Christian friend who is not afraid to tell us what we need to hear can be very healing as long as it is done in love. This accountability factor can also provide individuals the strength to overcome negatives or trials when that godly Christian friend not only helps them face up to what has been going on in their life but supports and encourages them to change for the better.

Whether the accountability partner mentor helps a Christian overcome an anger issue, stop smoking, or keeps a person on track for overcoming some personal issue, the accountability mentor should be there for the other Christian. Most importantly, the accountability partner should keep their fellow Christian from feeling like just because they are Saved, that they have a license to sin against the Lord. Sometimes this is emotionally difficult, but the accountability partner mentor should not shrink back from telling their Christian mentee what needs to be said.

If we can submit to God’s authority over our lives, we can become beacon of light for the Gospel lived out daily for others to see. By submitting to God’s authority in our lives, we can show others that they, too, are to be accountable to God’s authority and they, too, will be held accountable within their personal relationships with others as well. It is this accountability factor that shines the light of Christ upon the world.

The Light of Christ Upon You!

Humans usually do not want to be held accountable to anyone, and they especially do not want to be held accountable to God. But, God made each one of us. He knows each person intimately, even if they do not know themselves. God also made a space within the heart and soul of each person which is in the shape of God, and only He can fit into that space. No false god, no idol, no belief, or anything other than God can fit into that godly spot within each person’s soul. Oh, many people try to find something to fill that hollow God shaped spot in their soul. Moreover, most people know early on that something is missing in their soul. So, sometimes they try drugs, devilish ideas, false religions, and other things that can lead them to succumb to many vile temptations in order to try and fill that empty spot in their souls without admitting that they really need God. But there is only one person who can fill that emptiness and that person is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Do you know Christ?

If you are hurting, at your wits end, or just searching for peace, Christ is there for you. All you have to do is reach out to Him. Tell Christ that you really believe that He is the Son of God. Tell Christ that you believe that God the Father sent Him to Save you and that you believe that Christ rose from the grave after having been crucified for your sins and conquering eternal death. Then ask Christ to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart. It is really so simple, if you truly mean it.

Although repenting of your sins and asking Christ to come into your heart is simple, many people refuse to acknowledge the Triune God. They refuse to accept that their lives can change for the better just by believing on the living Son of God, Jesus Christ. Instead, they accept the lies that Satan has told to this world. They have fallen for false worldviews that keep them unhappy and deceived. But if you are tired of living those lies, if you want a peace in your heart that passes all understanding and that encompasses your whole being, then turn to Christ.

Obtaining Eternal Peace and Life is Explained in the Word of God

First you must realize that: “all (this means everyone) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  -- (Romans 3: 23).

Then you must understand that there is an ultimate cost to your sin, and we know this because the Word of God tells us that “the wages of sin is (eternal) death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – (Romans 6: 23).

God knew that we would all face eternal death for our sins, unless He showed us grace and mercy, so God gave each of us a way to have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  -- (John 3: 16, 17).

Then, … at the right time Christ (God’s Son) died for the ungodly.”  -- (Romans 5:6).

In fact, it is recorded in the Bible that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – (Romans 5: 8).

and He (Christ) died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” – (II Corinthians 5: 15).

For, …God raised Him to life three days later.”  -- (Acts 10: 40).

Of course, there is only one way to be saved and enter into the Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus, Himself, in speaking to a man who had asked him about eternal life and the Kingdom of God, said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” – (John 3: 3).

So, how can a person be born again? Well, being born again occurs when a person in believing on Christ and His resurrection then repents of their sins and personally asks Christ into their heart. For, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit) he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.– (John 3: 5). 

Later Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  -- (John 14: 6).

Coming to Christ and being forgiven of your sins is so very simple, for the Scriptures tell us, “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be Saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in Salvation.”  -- (Romans 10: 9, 10).

But every person has to decide on their own whether or not they truly believe and if then they will ask Christ to come into their heart. In fact, Jesus personally asks each person if they want Christ to come into their heart, so that none are left out. For Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  -- (Revelation 3: 20). 

For, whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be Saved.” – (Romans 10: 13).

See You Too Can be Saved!

If you want a peace and love that passes all understanding, if you want to be forgiven of all your sins and made righteous before the Lord, and if you want eternal life instead of eternal death, call upon Christ at this very moment in time. He will save you! Then once you have given your life to Christ in belief and in repentance of your sins, tell someone what you have done and that Christ is in your heart. Congratulations! You are Saved! God Bless you!            

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dealing with Storms in Our Lives

We all have lived through what seems like personal storms in our lives. Some of these storms can be small adversities or trials, while other storms may feel like we are living through personal tornadoes. Fortunately, whether humans encounter many small storms in life or a large tornadic storm of some magnitude, most people have the memories of better times in the past and the hope of better times to come that they cling to. In fact, many people know that these storms, or the ups and downs of life, will pass and that how the storms affect them is really about how they deal with them. Others, though, are constantly devastated by one personal storm after another. It seems that their lives are constantly being bombarded by trials, tribulations, and adversities. They always seem to be hurting in one way or another.

Christians, though, have been blessed with the hope of a glorious future, which helps them get through the storms and bad times within this earthly life. For Christians, the hope of a glorious future is more than just hope, it is faith in the reality of the knowledge or the assurance of a future in which they will someday live in eternity with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians have not only hope for a future without storms, but they have peace in the knowledge that this future is true.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christians’ hope, peace, and faith in the assurance of eternity with God when he wrote: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  -- (Romans 5: 1, 2. NASB).

All of our lives have been made up of moments of extreme joy, moments of peace and quiet along with days filled with happiness. The hope of these pleasant or joyful times make our earthly lives worth living. However, most humans also encounter moments of sheer terror, trouble, and pain. These are the earthly physical and emotional storms of adversity that enter our lives, sometimes through no fault of our own. We simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time; we haven’t fully anticipated the consequences of our actions; or someone else has caused us worry, fear, or harm. There are also many other reasons for which we encounter personal storms in life. One of those reasons is simply that we live in a “fallen” world with many of its traps and temptations; ever ready to ensnare us when we or someone we know makes a bad decision. (Remember, paradise was lost when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Satan, the prince of this earth, now holds sway over the earth.). So, if a person does not have the Holy Spirit living in them as a result of their Salvation, that person has a much harder time avoiding and handling the personal storms of this life. But, if a person is “Saved” and listens to the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they will be given insight and guidance throughout the storms of life that may come their way. For, it is the Holy Spirit who helps and guides Christians in making better decisions, in coping with problems, and in trusting in God, if they are willing to listen to Him. Indeed, Christ told us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – (John 14: 26. NASB).

Dealing with Stormy Weather

Humans must deal with all kind of personal stormy weather, which usually comes about unexpectedly and disrupts their lives. But, when these terrible storms of life come, most people have within their hearts a hope that things will get better, which comes from their happy memories and past experiences that include past moments of joy, peace, and happiness on which to base that hope. Indeed, it is the memories of those joyous, peaceful, and happy times that get most people through a sudden storm in their life. In addition, they also have the hope of a better future. Based upon their past experiences these individuals know that this particular stormy situation will also pass, and they truly believe that things will get better. That is because most people are optimistic; believing that when these storms come that better times will also come again. However, there are other people who sometimes cannot seem to find an answer to their problems let alone find a way of keeping their heads above the terrible waves of a sudden storm. Unfortunately, the winds and the waves of a sudden storm can blow these individuals completely off course, causing their life to go from bad to worse. But, those who have Christ as their anchor know that He will keep them from being blown off course.

The Word of God tells us that, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” – (Hebrews 6: 19, 20. NASB).
but Jesus, … because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – (Hebrews 7: 24, 25. NASB).

Jesus Christ is not only the Christian’s Savior and anchor, but when we pray through Christ, He makes intercession for us before the Father. Individuals who have Christ at the center of their lives and those whose foundation is firmly planted on the truth of the Jesus Christ know that they have a Savior who not only intercedes for them, but that He will guide them through whatever storms come their way. They also know that the One who previously went through many terrible things for them, including, beatings and death, can overcome anything. For, it is Christ who overcame the natural earthly storms He encountered when He was here on earth (See Matthew 8: 24-27), and it was Christ who overcame physical eternal death through His resurrection from the grave. (See John 20: 1-18). Now, Christ is also able to give all those who will believe on Him eternal life.

 Indeed, it is through believing on Christ as the living Son of God and our Savior that each person can be Saved and pulled through many of the winds and waves of this world’s life storms to become overcomers. Moreover, it is Jesus Christ who gives each of us the hope, grace, faith, and love, to weather all the storms of life that do come our way. For, Christ is there for any person who will believe on Him as the resurrected and living Son of God. Christ will help that person handle the storms of this fallen world. In fact, it is through the process of handling the storms of life in a Christ-like manner that we become more like Christ each and every day.

Obviously, everyone who lives on this planet will eventually face at least occasional days of frustration stemming perhaps from such things as: having to deal with a traffic jam; misplacing an important paper; having to deal with a child who has come down with some sickness and then suddenly has to stay home from school while their parents scramble to find a baby sitter; or having to deal with a person who daily seems to do everything in their power to cause them problems in their workplace. Even though these problems may not be great storms in life, such as a life altering disability or the loss of a loved one, it is during these frustrating adversities in life as well as during the life altering true storms of trials and tribulations that we all must to look upward. In other words, we need to take a deep breath, catch ourselves from lashing out, and then through prayer lift our thoughts and requests for help upward to the Lord.

One particular man in the Bible faced seemingly endless days of storms as he ran for his life from King Saul. That man was David, a man after God’s own heart. Yet, even when he finally became King, David continued to face storms from his enemies as well as storms that billowed up from his own human failures and faults. Even so, David wrote, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  -- (Psalm 55: 22. NASB). The righteous are those that have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Although we live in a sinful fallen world and are constantly bombarded by the devil’s temptations, we must understand that we can have a Savior Who will keep us safe within the arms of God. Christ is there to intercede for us. That is why, even though we have to struggle on this earth, we should remember to rise above the daily distractions and frustrations that we encounter by thinking about what Christ would want us to do. Furthermore, we never have to face these distractions, frustrations, problems, struggles, or storms alone. For, God is there for us every moment of the day or night. (See Hebrews 13: 5b). Moreover, God has infinite patience even with our own fluctuating trust and faith, and He will reach out with His love, if we will just reach out to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Again, David wrote: “For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me. He reproaches him who tramples upon me. He will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.”  -- (Psalm 57: 1-3. NASB).

Rejoicing in our Sufferings

God is our unending source of strength! Believe it or not, we are to rejoice in our sufferings! The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and we exult in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5: 3-5 NASB).

Why do we have to face the sufferings that come about from the storms of life and the tribulations that we encounter? Well, besides the fact that we live in a fallen world where Satan and his demons continually attempt to disrupt our lives through temptations, problems, and evil people, we or other people around us simply make mistakes or do things that cause harm or hurt to them or us. Christians, though, who focus on living for Christ and His Father will find that they can draw strength to handle each and every situation with grace, hope, and love. For every Christian is to focus on becoming more Christ-like each and every day. But, in order to become more Christ-like we must work at developing Christ-like character. That is why we must listen to the Holy Spirit whose job it is to produce Christ’s likeness in us. That likeness of Christ is represented by the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.– (Galatians 5: 22, 23. NASB).

We could never develop Christ-like character if we never had any problems, because we would never have the opportunity to grow and mature in our faith, trust, love, and hope. Moreover, we could never rejoice in our problems if we didn’t have any problems, which means that we would not rejoice in the help and the growth that we received from God through our trust and faith in Him.

Storms of life can also be created by our own sinfulness. Besides living in a fallen world, humans have to deal with our sin nature, but when pressures arise it is hard to suppress our sinfulness of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or immorality. Add these sins to the other storms that come our way and we can become the catalysts for disaster. But, if we trust in Christ, He can completely replace our old sinful nature with His holiness. How does Christ do that? Well, within our Salvation, or re-birth, Christ defeats these wicked and sinful urges with His own godly characteristics that we are to continually work on refining in us, which are given to us with the fruit of the Spirit.  As true born-again Christians, we are to allow Christ to dictate the course of our lives. That is why, when the storms of life come, we should rejoice that we are being refined and strengthened by the problems that we encounter.

Problems, trials and tribulations, whether small storms or large ones, help us develop Christ-like character. In fact, adversities, difficulties, and trials in life are often used by God to help us develop Christ-like character. This does not mean that God sends those storms and trials into our lives, but rather that God can use what occurs here on earth in the way of trials, temptations, adversities, and tribulations and even our own sinfulness within our lives to help us develop Christ-like character. Christ-like character comes about by relying on the strength, love, grace, and hope in Jesus Christ to get us through each situation. Christ-like character also comes by developing the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Each problematic situation we encounter within our lives can help us to learn to persevere, if we are only willing to cling to God just as Job did thousands of years ago. (See Job 1: 13-22). Today, it is only through persevering and leaning on Christ that we can develop Christ’s character, which results in hope; the hope of eternal life where there is no pain and suffering. In fact, it is through the hardships of life that we will be able to experience God’s eternal and abundant life to its fullest. Consequently, even the trials, or storms that we go through are actually the outpouring of God’s grace.

So, rather than doubting God’s grace and love when the storms of life come, rejoice in them. The Apostle Peter put it this way: “Do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  -- (I Peter 4: 12, 13. NASB).

I know that it is hard to rejoice when we are suffering. I can personally attest to that after my last bout of severe pain in which I momentarily thought that I could not handle it. However, through the grace of God, I was able to handle the pain. Although, I may not have been rejoicing at that moment in time, I did rejoice when the situation got better. Not only did I rejoice, but I found that I had relied upon Christ, throughout the entire episode. I relied upon Him, because He had personally told me that I would never have more than I could bear. His words kept me sane throughout the ordeal. You too, can rely on Christ and God, the Father, for all the storms that come into your life. Trust God, persevere, pray to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior, and meditate upon the Word of God.

Helping Others Through their Storms

Helping another person through a particular storm in their life, whether it is emotional or physical is what Christians are to do. We are to help those that are down and out. We are to share our knowledge, talents, information, and gifts in order to empower them. We are to show our love of others by actually doing something. So many Christians throw money at a situation and think that is all they needed to do. And, in certain cases money is appropriate. Others ignore people that they could reach out and help. However, most hurting and suffering people need to see the love of a Christian within their outstretched hand of help. The Christian hand that reaches out saying to the person in need: “May I help you? I would love to listen to you, and learn more about you. Maybe we can figure out together how you can get through this situation”, is showing the love of God through their willingness to listen and help. Whether it is bringing food to a shut-in, or just listening to or counseling another woman through a particular rough time, Christian women need to reach out to help and empower other women. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many ways that Christian women can serve other women and also serve the Lord. I know you can step up to the plate and reach out in love to help another. You can help another woman deal with the storm in her life. You can do it!

To learn more about Christian Mentoring read The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring by Vicky Lynn Thomas