Tuesday, December 23, 2014

And every man did what was right in his own eyes

In Sunday school class we are just finishing up the book of Judges. We are determined to get every ounce of wisdom, information and spiritual knowledge that we possibly can from each Scripture, so we dig a little deeper. In digging in, we discovered that over and over again Israel would fall into apostasy (meaning they turned away from God and did evil). God would then allow other people groups to overcome them in some manner or another. Finally the Israelites would cry out for help, and God would hear their cry. God would then rescue them by raising up a man, a judge or leader who would help them overcome their adversary. But, once that leader died, the Israelites would again fall away from God and start worshipping idols. God would again take away His blessings, and the people would be in subservience all over again. This went on for centuries. But, the book of Judges is just a microcosm of what we, too, have been doing for decades.

Why, did the Israelites start worshipping other idols and doing evil? The main reason is that the parents did not teach the next generation to worship the Lord and obey Him. They did not teach their children that God wanted them to love and glorify Him. Everyone just lived their lives the way they wanted to live them.

How do we know that the apostasy came from the parents’ failure to teach their children about God and how to live for Him? Well, in Judges 2: 7-12 we are told exactly how their apostasy developed. At first the Israelites followed Joshua and then the elders, who taught them to serve the Lord. But verse ten tells us that after Joshua and the elders died things began to change and a shift happened: “… also all that generation [of people and elders who were taught by Joshua] were gathered to their fathers [meaning they had died], and there arose another generation after them who did not know (recognize, understand) the Lord, or even [know about] the work which He had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baals [idols]. And they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers Who brought them out of the land of Egypt. …” – (Judges 2: 10-12. Amplified, but bracketed words are mine).

Every time God gave them a good leader or judge, the Israelites would come back to the Lord. They would live in peace for awhile. But then that generation would fail to teach the next generation about God.  Within a few years that next generation was doing what they wanted to do.  Chapter 17: 6 sums it up very well: “… every man did what was right in his own eyes.” – (Amplified). Do those words sound familiar today? It should, because that is the way we are living today. We have failed to mentor our daughters and other young women in knowing and living for God, so they can in turn mentor their children too.  Active Relational Christian mentoring can give our young women and ladies the foundation they need to serve the Lord and obey Him. We just have to step forward to actively mentor for the Lord.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Standing Up for Christ Through Active Relational Christian Mentoring

Yesterday I talked about mentoring our children and young women on standing up for God and Christ by standing up for their right to say “Merry Christmas”.  Today I would like to continue some of my thoughts on the importance of standing up for Christ. ARCM encourages Christian women to stand up for Christ in many different ways.

When we do not stand up for Christ, we are essentially denying Christ. In fact, Christ said, “If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before My Father in Heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before My Father in Heaven.”  -- (Matthew 10: 33. NLT).  Denying Christ can take many forms. We don’t have to be asked directly if we believe in Christ and then deny Him. We can deny Christ when we acquiesce to the demands to take down the Ten Commandments in our schools and public buildings. We deny Christ when we fail to use Christ’s name when we pray for fear of offending someone else. We deny Christ when we accept the world’s view or the world’s truth instead of God’s Truth and values. We deny Christ when we don’t teach our children who Christ is and how they, too, are to stand up for Him. We deny Christ when we fail to take God-given opportunities to mentor our young ladies in knowing and living for Christ. There are just too many ways that we often deny Christ to list them all here. But, all of us need to take a moment and ask ourselves: when was the last time I personally denied Christ? It might surprise you.
One way we have denied Christ is in our failure to mentor our daughters and other young women in God’s Truth, morals and values. Instead, we have encouraged our young women to live any way that they see fit, while failing to teach them about Christ and God’s Truth, morals and values. Oh we may have taken our daughters to Sunday school or even taught others in Sunday school, but we are simply too tired to have dinner discussions with our daughters on what they learned in school that day. We don’t have godly discussions on values, morals and truth with our daughter’s friends or other young women when they come to visit either. We would rather not possibly offend someone than to stand up for what it right and true. 

Without daily communication and without discussions on right and wrong attitudes and the questionable information that our young women may have been given in school, we are giving the world the opportunity to raise our children the way the world or the government thinks they should be raised. Raising our children does not take a village (which is actually socialism). Instead, raising our children takes a morally upright God-fearing family to raise a morally upright God-fearing individual. It takes Christian women being willing to mentor our young women in God’s Truth.

Throughout their schooling, our daughters, and girls or ladies who are their friends, will be inundated with such worldly ideas as political correctness and intolerance of Christians and their beliefs. They will be taught to deny Christ. Eventually, our young ladies will accept political correctness and other untruths as the truth. Remember, if one tells a lie over and over, people will begin to believe that the lie is true. This is why many of our young women today buy into the belief that “Happy Holidays” is less offensive to the few than it is offensive to the majority. But, in many ways this is our fault too. For, we don’t teach our daughters and other young women to question some of the unproven ideas or lies they are told to accept. We don’t tell our young ladies that we are offended by someone trying to take Christ out of Christmas. We also don’t tell them that it is okay if they are offended too.

There are so many things that we just accept; many of which lead to our denying Christ. There are also many things that we don’t tell our young women today. We don’t tell our young ladies to voice their concerns and to not just accept everything the media and the higher education system tells them. Young women need to question why one person’s rights are more important than the majorities’ rights. We also don’t teach our young ladies to question the media’s agendas. We do not tell them that simply because something is stated in print does not mean it is automatically the truth. Moreover, we do not teach our young women to question their professors’ beliefs or to ask why their professor’s beliefs’ are more important than theirs.

Sadly, even though we are to be the example and role-model for Christ-like living, we often fail to tell our young women to stand up for the Truth, morals and values they learned in Sunday school. Moreover, we do not mentor them when they are confused and could use our help. As Christian women and mothers, we should reinforce the Truths our young ladies have learned in Sunday school by role-modeling Christ-like living and by discussing with them what they have learned. We should give our young ladies opportunities to talk to us while being open to discussing their questions and concerns. Invalidating their concerns and questions stifles the two-way communication and shuts down the mentoring process.

Unfortunately, we often fail to teach our daughters and other young girls and women about the most important person in their life. That person is Jesus Christ. He is the One who can save their souls for all eternity. He is the One who can help them overcome all kinds of trials and tribulations. They need to know that Christ is the One who will bring them inner peace instead of the constant inner turmoil within their lives. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – (Matthew 11: 28-29. NASV.).

ARCM teaches through example and role-modeling as well as through verbal discussions. As Christian women we must mentor our young ladies and young women by using several different types of mentoring, so they will truly understand the importance of knowing Christ and living for Him. Young women also need to understand the importance of standing up for what they believe.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Merry Christmas" mentoring

Merry Christmas! How much longer can we say those words? The politically correct police have forced “Happy Holidays” on us to the point that many people are afraid to say “Merry Christmas”. We are no longer allowed to have Christmas music and Christmas programs in schools. We now call them “Holiday” programs. How can something that isn't even taught in school become taboo?  Well, in many ways Christmas is taught, because it is subtly taught against. God has also been taught against by not allowing Him to be introduced or even talked about in schools or the work place. Officials and leaders have become so afraid of offending just one person that they are willing to offend everyone else. They can get away with this, because the majority of Christian people do not stand up for their rights or the rights on which this country was founded. You know; the right to express your own beliefs without going to prison or being sued for what you believe. Today, though, when we send our young girls to school, they are easily indoctrinated with the belief that they cannot offend someone else by expressing their beliefs. If wearing a cross around her neck offends someone else, then she must take the cross off. If saying “Merry Christmas” offends someone, she must say “Happy Holidays” instead. If someone does not believe in Santa Claus, then there can be no Santa Claus at the Christmas celebration. Woops, I mean at a Holiday celebration. Now, which Holiday are we actually celebrating? Oh, it must be a Winter Holiday break, because we are not allowed to celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas in the public arena.

Our young people are constantly told that the majority has to give up their right to say what they want to say, because some person may not agree or be offended. This is the opposite of why our country was established. Our country was founded on the right to express our faith. But sadly, there have been many news stories recently where a school district has asked a young child not to bring a Bible or Biblically based story to class for reading time, because it could offend some other child. Instead of allowing the offended parent’s child to do something else during reading time, the child that brought her cherished book is told that she has done something wrong by bringing it to school. Pre-school and Kindergarten starts the re-training and political correctness process early in our culture today. This re-training of our young people, though, creates confusion and ultimately subservience. I ran into a college age young woman the other day who actually said that it was against the law to say “Merry Christmas”. She really believed that! Unfortunately, this is what the secular world would like for us to believe, so that we will quit celebrating the birth of Christ. But, at present there is no law against saying “Merry Christmas”!

Why do our young women buy into these false beliefs? Unfortunately, as Christian women, we often do nothing when we or our children are forbidden to express their belief in God and Christ. Why do we not stand up together for the right of our children to bring a Biblically based book to school? Why have we accepted the views of the administration that our Christian beliefs are taboo or wrong? As our young girls see us doing nothing, they will also emulate us and not doing anything when they get older. They will grow up with no desire to do anything about standing up for their godly beliefs. Romans 12: 2 (NKJV) says, “… do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” 

When young girls and young women see Christian women succumbing to the push back of the minority, they simply think that Christian women don’t really have strong beliefs to begin with. They see us as accepting and conforming to the world. Remember, if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. Our children and our young women will do the same, as they, too, are brainwashed into accepting the minorities’ right as having more worth than the majorities’. Because we have not set a godly example or mentored our young ladies in God’s Truth, then they, too, will not stand up for what is right and true and will fall for anything. We have to teach our young ladies and women not to allow the world’s scare tactics to stop them from worshiping God and His Son. Start this Christmas by mentoring young people in the true meaning of Christmas and by teaching them to stand up for the right to say “Merry Christmas”.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mentoring Young Women, Part II

Today, Christian women should have a heart for mentoring young women. Sadly, many of our young women have become confused about life, as they have focused on worldly things and simply surviving. I’ll never forget what my teenage son said to me back in the nineteen ninety’s on a day when he was not looking forward to going to school. I asked him why he did not want to go to school. He said that every day in high school every student had to make what could be life-changing decisions. Decisions had to be made on the spur of the moment on such things as: Was that drug pusher going to retaliate because the student did not buy his drugs? Were the guys who ran with a particular crowd going to expect the student to engage in some nefarious activity? Was this person really a friend or just using you to get what he or she wants? Then there were the fairly ordinary classroom discussions that could get you a bad grade if you disagreed with the teacher. A bad grade could ruin your GPA for getting into college. All those decisions and so many more seemingly innocuous decisions could affect a student’s life for years to come.

I had never thought of high school as being such a mine-field of daily decisions. But, it is even worse today. Now, students have to also worry about getting shot or stabbed by some disgruntled student. Girls are constantly pressured to give up their virginity. Sometimes, in order to be in the “in crowd” girls have to compromise their values (if they have any). By the time our high school women get into college they are confused and uncertain about what is important in life. Just this last week on the news it was reported that some of our college age men and women had to set through a civics class where the professor expected his students to recite a totally different and derogatory pledge of allegiance to the United States. This pledge is based on his ideas and beliefs. This is brainwashing and propaganda at its worst, because the students’ grades depend on their acceptance of the professor’s beliefs. But do our young women recognize it as propaganda or do they just accept what the professor says as Truth?

The news this last week also focused on the many rapes that occur often on college campuses today. So, how do our young women get through college without getting raped or without being expected to give up their beliefs in order to get a grade? Sadly, many of our young people come out of college spouting what they have been indoctrinated with from the classes they were required to take. Many students did not have any values to begin with; while others let someone else set their values for them. Then we have those students who arrive at college without any type of Christian foundation. Many are gullible while others become totally confused when taking classes that don’t teach the truth, as some professors use propaganda to indoctrinate the students into believing what they want them to believe. The Bible tells you that “… there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach their destructive heresies about God and even turn against their Master who bought them. … Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and His true way will be slandered. “ -- (I Peter 2: 1-2. NLT).  

But, professors do not just stop with telling students that God does not exist or in slandering Christ. Our young women are told untruths and so much more. Truth comes from knowing God and His morals and His values on which we should live. But, without a strong Christian foundation, some students will succumb to the professors’ hype, because they are expected to believe what their professors say. Many young women and men will also come away from college sure that there is no God. Consequently, they will believe that the only reason for living is to have as much fun as they can before they die. So, what can we do?

Ladies, we have got to do better than we are doing for the young women we encounter. I know we are scared to speak up, but we have to remember that if we don’t speak up and help those who are confused, unhappy, or in need, they will continue to be lost. As ARCM women we have to reach out to all women and through many different areas in life mentor those who need our help. The Apostle Paul told us that “… God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him. … We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak… .” (11 Corinthians 5: 18, 20.). Can you speak for the Lord and help others come to know Him and to know that He is there for them?

We have to let go of some of our personal busyness to help those that God puts in our path. We also have to quit avoiding the younger women, simply because we think we have nothing in common. When you are introduced to a friend’s college age daughter, don’t just say nice to meet you and leave it at that. Start a conversation. Befriend her. Offer to have coffee with her sometime. You can be the person that she can come to when she doesn't feel that she can go to her mother. You could also volunteer to teach a Sunday school class for college age students. Or you could volunteer to chaperone a church planned activity for high school students. If we don’t get involved with today’s young women then we are failing them and our Father in Heaven. For, we are God’s hands, feet and voice while we are here on earth. We are His ambassadors for the Gospel message and for Christ-like living. We are to be examples of God’s Truth. If we don’t make the effort to find a mentee, our mentoring will be over before it has begun and our young women will remain lost on a sea of ever increasing waves of turmoil and immorality.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mentoring Young Women, Part I

Active relational Christian mentoring should be a normal part of every true Christian woman’s life. Whether we are intentionally mentoring our children in knowing God or we are mentoring another woman or young lady at church, Christian women should be focused on mentoring other women. Sadly, so many Christian women live for themselves and their family to the exclusion of helping other women in need. This may not be out of unkindness, but from simply thinking that we are just too busy to get involved. Moreover, we often think of someone in need as being an individual who doesn't have food or housing. Certainly, that can be the case, for there are times when mentoring addresses an immediate need. However, ARCM more often starts our slowly with the mentor listening and fellowshipping with the potential mentee until she finds out what is really bothering her. Then the woman can decide if she is qualified to mentor her or if a more specific type of mentoring is needed such as; Counseling, Guidance, Coaching, Teaching or Sponsoring types of mentoring.

Unfortunately, many women don’t even think about mentoring another woman. Others may think that day to day mentoring is trivial and not worth the effort, because they don’t see the importance of small things in theirs or the lives of other women. However, it is the small things that can become huge and derail our lives before we know it. It doesn't take a very large rock to derail a train, and it certainly doesn't take much to derail our lives if we are not focused on Christ and living for Him. So, it is important to listen to other women and empathize, which is the first step in helping them to crush that huge rock in their lives into pebbles that are manageable. The Bible says that, “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” – (Proverbs 27: 9. NLT).

Young women today are inundated with millions of small things in their lives that can when piled together cause stress, spiritual dryness, mental sickness, and many other maladies. In looking for solutions or for self-help, many women will turn to things that will not help them like drugs and alcohol. Some will even add more and more things on their daily calendar just to keep busy, so they do not think about the problem. In such situations, the woman needs another woman to talk to and to comfort her or support her. Indeed, everyone needs someone they can talk to or someone who will be there for them when a crisis occurs or when life seems overwhelming. For, “as iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” – (Proverbs 27: 17. NLT).

Unfortunately, many women today don’t even know they need someone to lean on or someone to give them support. But without support from a fellow Christian woman, some women will fail to turn to the One who has all the answers, which is God. Many women need another Christian woman to remind them about or to point them toward trust in God. Christian women can give another woman support and help diminish spiritual dryness. But to do so, we have to step away from our own busyness and self-centeredness to do something for someone else. Most of the time, befriending someone starts with just showing that we are interested in them or that we care. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mother Mentoring Part II

A very unhappy young lady tried to justify why she didn't believe in God. Along with other reasons, she said that her parents believed in Christ and Heaven only because their lives were inadequate and unhappy here on earth. In her eyes, her parents looked forward to a Heavenly future, because they had nothing else to look toward. Like many other young people today, this lady has been inundated with the secular view on life. Like this young lady, many young people don’t believe in God. But if they don’t believe that they were created, then they are just a fluke of nature (evolution and all that). What purpose is there in being a fluke of nature? What reason do they have to exist?

Christians have a purpose for our existence. We have been created to glorify God and to be the recipients of His love. God’s love is for all who will believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. Moreover, even though we live in a fallen world, with many trials and hardships, God is always there for us. His love and the shed blood of Christ give those who believe on Christ a peace that passes all understanding. So, no matter how bad life can get, if we have Christ in our heart, we can get through the day.

Before our children are out on their own, mother mentors must teach their children that no matter how lonely they are, how anxious, or how sad or depressed they are, that they, too, can have Christ and His love. But, the only way to fill the emptiness in their soul is by surrendering to the love of Christ. No amount of self-gratification, indulgences, or busyness in life can fill the empty spot in a person’s soul. With Christ, love, generosity and gratitude replace selfishness and emptiness. Our children can have the same kind of Christ-centered love that emanates from those who have a relationship with Christ.

Mentoring our children, though, does not stop when they reach a certain age. If we have a good relationship with our children, they will often call us and ask our advice. Even if the relationship is not great, our children are always watching us and learning from us as we role-model our beliefs and Christ-like living, whether we realize it or not. Consequently, mothers can and will continue to mentor their children through at least passive mentoring. Fortunate is the mother, though, who has a relationship that allows her to actively mentor her daughters throughout the years when needed. Being able to call your mother to clarify something or to ask for advice is very special indeed. For, it is through the recognition of their mother’s gained wisdom and knowledge that they can also gain her wisdom and knowledge for their own benefit. This is because; the gaining of wisdom comes gradually and over time. It takes time to learn all the things that we need to get by in life. However, it takes even more time to learn how to live a life of love, which is based on God’s complete love for us. Mother mentors can role-model God’s love in their actions and words.

Christian women gain wisdom by continually working to gain spiritual maturity. To work at growing spiritually, Christian women must continue to read the Bible, meditate on God’s Word, pray and seek God’s guidance in everything we do. Along with gaining knowledge and giving our devotion to the Lord, the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers will give us insight, discernment and guidance in the mentoring of our children and other women. When our children, from an early age, see their mothers reading the Bible and praying, they are being given some of the best passive and active mentoring.

Christian mother mentoring really never stops, even when our children become adults. For, even if we are no longer actively mentoring them, we are passively setting examples and standards on which they can base their lives. Mother mentors have a very great responsibility indeed!  Please start early in the mentoring of your children for the Lord.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mother Mentoring Part I

Women have a responsibility to not only teach our children, but to mentor them throughout the different stages in their lives. However, if you are a Christian mother, you also have a great responsibility to make sure that your children know God and Christ. Too many Christian women think that Sunday school and even the public school will impart what their child needs to know in order to get through life. However, there is so much more to mother mentoring than just teaching your child that she should brush her teeth and take a bath every day. God said that we are to teach our children about Him and His commandments. “… faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul… Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,…” (Deuteronomy 11: 13, 18-20).

As Christian mothers we are to impart God’s laws and the Gospel message to our children. This should occur every day in some manner or another, including different types of mentoring. While mothers are most often a teacher type mentor, at other times we may become a counselor type mentor or a spiritual guide to our children. Sometimes, we may need to be a coach type mentor; coaching our child or young lady through a difficult situation or goal to be reached. At other times mothers need to be an accountability mentor as she holds the young lady accountable for her actions and inactions when necessary. A mother mentor wears many different mentoring hats as she raises her children. But it doesn't stop with just teaching right and wrong, God’s commandments and laws, or how to live in this world.

We are to teach our children gratitude and generosity through role-modeling, examples, and other experiential actions wherein our children can actually see the joy that those things can bring to a person. We have to teach them and show them that there is more to life than “self” indulgence and self-gratification. We wonder today why so many of our young adults are so wrapped up in themselves or why they are so internally unhappy. Well, they are constantly looking for the next cup of gratification to give them a momentary jolt of happiness. What they really need, though, is a personal relationship with God and Christ. As mother mentors, we have to share the Gospel message so that our children can make their own decision. A relationship with Christ can give them a special type of peace and happiness that only comes from knowing Christ and their purpose in life. Those who know Christ as their Savior also understand where their life on this earth fits in with God’s plans and where they will be in the future.

Every child and adult has free will, though, which means that even with all the mentoring that a Christian parent does, it is still up to the child or young lady to determine whether or not to follow God and Christ. Most parental or mother mentoring has positive outcomes, and the young person will on her own choose to believe in God and love Him. However there are those children who refuse to believe in God and Christ. But a mother should not blame herself for the choices her child makes, if she has mentored her child in knowing God and Christ. Instead, the mother mentor must remain true to her life in Christ and pray for her child to come to Christ. Even though it can be hard to do, Christians are to praise the Lord throughout all the trials that we face even when the thought of our child not choosing Christ is overwhelming.

To be continued ...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mentoring on the World's Stage

Unless we are totally alone in our homes, our lives are being watched and viewed by family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers most days. In fact, whenever we are out and about or around other people, we are constantly on stage. We are being watched and heard by those around us. Many times in our journey through life, we are so into doing what needs to be done in our daily life that we fail to realize that other people are watching us and are making assumptions about us based on our words and deeds. For, the world only sees or hears what we present to them as we walk across its stage. People see our actions or inactions as well as our speech and body language, and then they make judgments and assumptions based upon what they see and hear.

Yesterday, I heard a news reporter speak about a person who was claiming to be Christ. This false christ person was acquiring lots of followers. But as the report continued, the person claiming to be Christ was actually doing everything against Christ and His teachings. However, the news reporter did not understand the difference, and even called this man’s followers Christians. How sad that people no longer understand what true Christianity is or why Christ’s true followers are called Christians. The reason for the world’s confusion today is that many Christians no longer represent Christ in their life-style or in what they say and do. Even worse, is that many of the people claiming to be Christians have no idea what true Christianity is. Christianity has become a broad term for people who go to church or not and who say they try to do what is right or not. It has become a designation that in many cases means nothing to the average person except perhaps the designation of one having conservative political views, or not. Are you getting the picture?  In many ways Christians have become unrecognizable.

True Christians are “re-born” into a new life.They want to follow Christ and live for Him in everything they do.This does not mean that we suddenly become perfect or that we always do what is right. But it does mean that true Christians desire to do what is right and true in the eyes of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. However, we are human and we live in a fallen world with all its enticements, negative behaviors, and evil doings.Therefore, we must constantly be on our guard against things and behaviors that would not reflect well on Christ or Christianity. This is why it is so important to remember that we are on the world’s stage and everything we say and do, even when we are having a bad day, reflects on Christ. Moreover, everything we say and do is interpreted in either a positive or negative manner by those who see and hear us. People’s perception of how we behave and live will have an effect on their life, and this perception may affect how they treat us and other Christians. If a woman hears you saying un-Christian things or acting in an un-Christian way, she may think that you are a hypocrite. But she may also think that if a so-called Christian can act that way, then there is nothing wrong with her acting that way too. Certainly, mentoring her about Christ and Christ-like living would not be something she would be interested in pursuing. In such a situation, the potential mentee has a negative perception of all Christians based on what one or two Christians have said or done.

Even though we may have always tried to act, behave and talk in a Christian manner, there will be some people who will just have a negative perception of Christians. We may not be able to change their perspective or perception of us, which is based on their own frame of reference. But we can live as truthfully and godly as we can, so that some day they may see us in the light of Christ. We can live a godly life so that people will, because of our words and actions, want to have Christ in their heart too. This is why it is so important that everything a Christian mentor does or says must be above board and for the Lord. For the Biblical Scriptures tell us Now that you are obedient children of God do not live as you did in the past. You did not understand, so you did the evil things you wanted.  But be holy in all you do, just as God, the One who called you, is holy.  -- (I Peter 1: 14-15.  The New Century Version, 1991).  Once we are truly “Saved” we have an innate desire to live for Christ and do that which is right and true. In attempting to be holy, as God has called Christians to be, it is important that Christians and Christian mentors base their life on the truth of the Word of God and not on the perceptions of others or what the world thinks. We are to be the example of true Christianity so other women will see God’s Truth lived through us. We must role-model Christ-like living whether we are actively or passively mentoring other women.

Our actions and behaviors influence others.  Whether we are officially mentoring another woman or not, as Christians, who love each other, we should always attempt to live as a positive influence for other Christians and non-believers alike. Of course our actions and behaviors can affect others' lives either positively or negatively. But, as Christians who love each other, we should always provide positive influences for other women and avoid negative influences whenever we can. When we finally realize the mercy which God has shown to us, we surely will want to become more like the Son, Jesus Christ. ARCM focuses on the mentor living more like Jesus Christ and on being that Christian example for her mentees. For it is in Jesus Christ that mentors and mentees can find all the positive attributes of Christ that are needed for a godly life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christian Mentoring Requires Generosity of Heart

Today I want to talk about generosity. Most people think of generosity as giving someone money or gifts, but there is much more to generosity than monetary giving. Generosity comes from the heart. Generosity is an action word, for whether we give another woman our time, knowledge, concern, care, or our emotional support through active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM), we are being generous. In turn, we receive blessings for our generosity. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will measured to you.” – (Luke 6: 38. NIV). Jesus wasn't just talking about money, though. He was also talking about all the things that we can do for others out of the generosity of our heart. 

Obviously, we don’t want to do things for others just so that we will be blessed. Yes, Christians will receive blessings for helping others, but blessings are not the reason that we should want to help others. Instead we should want to help or share out of the goodness of our heart, i.e. from a heart that has been changed for the better. How can our hearts be changed? Well, with Salvation our hearts begin to desire to acquire the virtues and attributes of Christ. Acquiring these virtues and attributes then creates a new or changed heart. This new heart loves other people, and wants to help others.With a new heart a believer desires to serve the Kingdom of God.

Serving in the Kingdom of God is often called “having a ministry”. Derived from both Greek and Hebrew, the word “ministry” simply means service. Each Christian woman has a particular ministry she can perform whether it is the ministry of hospitality, of music, of teaching, etc., or the ministry of active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM). When Christian women engage in their personal ministries, they are amazed at the blessings they receive. But the Scriptures also tell all Christians that we are to remember that “… Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whosoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ... Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, …” – (II Corinthians 9: 6,7, 10, 11. NIV).

These Scriptures are not just talking about giving money. Rather this giving includes many areas of our lives, starting with the giving of our time, effort, and kindness to help another or to share the Gospel. The author of the book of Hebrews said, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” – (Hebrews 13: 16. NIV). Actually, when we sacrifice time to do good for others, i.e. time taken from the time we have been given in life, we receive the miracle of multiplication. What is this miracle of multiplication? Well, when we do good, share with or comfort others we don’t seem to lose the time we have given away; instead our time is better used and more fulfilling. We do not miss or feel the loss of this time. With every sacrifice of mentoring time in ARCM, blessings also multiply in ways we cannot even imagine.

The miracle of multiplication applies to our acts of generosity too, for with every act of generosity our heart of generosity increases. In other words, we can develop a generous heart by doing for and helping others. ARCM gives us the opportunity to generously share our gifts, talents and resources; multiplying our generosity of heart.The miracle of multiplication also applies to our ability to love others, for every act of unselfish love creates even more unselfish love, which we can then give away. A generous heart is filled with love, which leads us into using that love to minister to others. Love is an action word, for it takes a heart of love to reach out and help another woman or to be generous.

Generosity can be found in all elements of ARCM. For example, ARCM requires listening to mentees. Listening is an action word. It is also a giving word. When we become generous in our listening we can transform our relationships and especially our ARCM. Generous listeners may gain far more than they give from just listening to another woman. This is because; generous listeners can gain patience, gain insight, gain discernment, gain self-control, gain wisdom and can gain many other Christ-like attributes. To gain those attributes and to receive other blessings and rewards, Christian women engaging in ARCM must learn to intentionally listen to their mentee, so they will know what the other woman thinks and needs. Mentors can share stories and ideas, but they should be directly related to the needs of the mentee. Remember, generosity does not focus on ourselves, but rather focuses on the needs of the other woman as insight and help is given from listening with loving hearts.

Generosity requires sincerity too. In the book of Romans we are told that “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  -- (Romans 12: 9-12. NIV). It is with a sincere heart that we can share our hospitality, gifts, knowledge, wisdom, etc. with another woman. Women, especially, recognize quickly when another woman is being insincere. Most Christian women and many non-Christian women have internal radar that gives us that ping when we know another person is being insincere. If we really want to share the wonder of our Salvation with another, or if we really want to help another Christian woman grow, we have to be sincere in our generosity and love.

The Apostle Paul said that we must let “the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, … And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – (Colossians 3: 15-17. NIV). Active relational Christian mentoring focuses on the generosity within our hearts, which comes from the thankfulness and gratitude we have in our Salvation. So whether in word or deed Christian women are to share with or help another woman who needs our particular talent, knowledge or ability, as we listen, empathize, coach, counsel, or teach her through ARCM. ARCM also focuses on sharing Christ with others who may not know Him. Through love, gratitude, sincerity, listening, and giving we can with generous hearts make a difference in the life of another woman. We can empower another woman to live for Christ, to use all the talents and gifts given to her for the Lord, and to be the best mother, wife, friend, and woman that she can be. Are you willing to mentor another woman out of the generosity of your heart?

Monday, November 3, 2014

The World Needs Active Relational Christian Mentors More than Ever

Last night my husband and I sat around the radio to hear a live broadcast from Houston, Texas. Several celebrity and well-know Christian leaders were in Houston,Texas to stand up for the Houston Five. If you haven't heard, Houston's mayor and city council pushed through a city ordinance in addition to the one that was already on the books regarding sexual discrimination. Because of the extreme and far-reaching implications of this ordinance, the people of Houston wanted this ordinance to be voted on by all the people. So they collected many more than just the required signatures needed to put it on the ballot. However, the mayor wouldn't put it on the ballot. She threw out names that did not appear as exactly stated on birth certificates (shortened names and middle names were questioned).The mayor used any exclusionary means possible to keep the new ordinance off the ballot. So, five Houston pastors filed a law-suit to get the ordinance put on the ballot. In retaliation the mayor and city attorney subpoenaed all the sermons and sermon notes of these five Houston pastors.

Many people all over Houston and around the United States suddenly were awakened from their slumber. How could any mayor have the right to subpoena pastors' sermons and notes. What was going on? Christians everywhere were suddenly awakened to the negative possibilities that could arise with this kind of power being used against the churches of our nation. So, hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians got together to voice concerns about our religious freedoms being taken away. The rally in Houston, Texas was broadcast Sunday night, November 2nd. It was a rally presented in love but in concern for our Christian apathy.

Across the country, our religious freedoms are being taken away in one city at a time, and Christians aren't doing anything about it.We set back and talk about how things are awful, but we are not standing up for Christ and for our freedom to worship Him.The Christian leaders at this rally, including Mike Huckabee and many others, were there to tell all Christians that we need to get on our knees and pray for our country! We have to vote! We have to do our part as Christians and stand up for the Truth and for our freedoms. We also have to live a Christ-like life! This means that we have to be gracious, kind, caring, and loving. But we also cannot be apathetic! In fact, Christ was not apathetic! He constantly infuriated the Pharisees and Sadducees, because He told the truth even when they did not want to hear it. Jesus even went so far as to directly address the Pharisees. In one instance, Jesus pronounced "Woes" upon the religious leaders. Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men's faces, You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to do so. ... You hypocrites! ... You have neglected the more important matters of the law -- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23: 13, 23,24 NIV). This was just three of the several woes that are mentioned in this chapter of Matthew. There were also many other times when Christ spoke directly to the Pharisees even as they continued to plot His death. Christ stood up for the Truth, and He expects us to stand up for the Truth too.

For Christian women, standing up for the Truth means that we live the Truth of the Bible. We are to live out our acquired attributes of Christ everyday. In standing up for the Truth, we are to serve the Lord in any way that we can. One of the most important ways that we can serve is to be active relational Christian mentors in our home, for our family and for our friends. But we have to go further as well. We need to seek out mentees so we can share the Word of God with them, so we can help them understand that Christ is there for them through every circumstance, and to let them know that we will be there for them in whatever way we can. We have to make sure that our Christ-Light can be seen by everyone we encounter! Christ said, "Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed to shut out the light? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine." (Mark 4: 21 NLT).

Not mentoring another woman when the opportunity presents itself is hiding our light under a basket.True Christians have been given the "light of the world" to share with other women. How then can we take that light and hide it? Sadly, there are many ways we hide our light under a basket. From being complacent about our Salvation, to believing that because we are Saved we don't have to do anything else, we have all found ways to hide our Christ-light from others.

One of the worst ways we can hide our Christ-light is through our failure to stand up for the issues of our day that directly relate to Christ's values and attributes -- His Light! We have become apathetic about other people's morals, about the loss of values in our schools, about our freedoms being taken away one at a time and about the lies that the world tells us. Perhaps it is our acceptance of the lies that is the very worst. By accepting lies and not standing up for the truth we are indeed hiding our Christ-light under a basket.

Most of us don't call people on their lies. Consequently, we have especially become numb to the lies in the political arena and in our government.We accept politicians' lies as part of their political position.We don't expect politicians to be honest or to do what they say they will do. Instead, we turn a blind eye when a politician, i.e. someone who represents us or our country, does something that is immoral, amoral, unethical, and valueless.We accept their lying! We must stop, though, and look at the individuals we are voting into office. Do they follow the teachings of Christ? We can no longer be apathetic and say that their personal beliefs don't matter, because those beliefs will be brought to the office they win.Then their values and beliefs will be imposed upon our lives.I don't know about you, but I don't want someone telling me that I don't have the right to worship Christ wherever and whenever I want. I don't want someone instituting laws that will take away any of my constitutional freedoms in the name of political correctness. I don't want someone in a political office who will impose their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, on me. I will not impose my beliefs on them either. But, I will tell everyone I can and who will listen that Jesus Christ is the way. Are you willing to speak up for the Truth?

Christian women can no longer be apathetic! We have got to make sure that we are mentoring the next generation on correct and important behaviors and attitudes. As women we have great influence on our children and family members. Home and family is where our mentoring should start for the Lord.Then we can mentor other women; making a difference in the world one woman at a time. Active relational Christian mentoring takes time, though. We cannot start a mentoring relationship by telling someone they are wrong or that our knowledge is more important than theirs. Instead, through fellowship, caring, graciousness, kindness and gratitude, we can share our gifts, knowledge, resources, talents, and loving hearts with others. Then, our mentees may come to understand why we believe the way we do and why we live for Christ. You can do it! You can be an ambassador for Christ through ARCM. You can mentor another woman for the Lord as you stand for the Truth!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Representing Christ to the World and to our Mentees

Whether we become active relational mentors or not, as Christian women we represent Christ to the world. People are watching our behaviors, our attitudes, and everything we say and do. This is especially true of our mentees who are looking to us for the answers in certain situations.They are also determining if we are really living for Christ. So,we are to role-model Christ-like attributes for our mentees. But in order to do so, we must know what they are.Then we must work at acquiring these Christ-like attributes and values for ourselves.

Most things in life aren't just handed to us on a platter and neither are the attributes of Christ-likeness. After our Salvation, we have to “seek” or try to acquire Christ-like attributes and values in our pursuit of Christ-likeness.These attributes and virtues do not happen automatically, although the Holy Spirit does give us the desire for them and the desire to live and love as Christ would want us to live and love. However, most of us start out our new life in Christ as if we are in the first grade. This means we have to start at the beginning to learn how we are to live and represent Christ; doing this by studying the Word of God, by attending church, and by developing our relationship with Christ through prayer and communication.We also need to work at listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is through dedicated study and our desire to become more Christ-like that we can actually start to learn how to live our lives for Christ.

Christian mentors can be of great help for a newly “Saved” person, because they can help the new believer study and learn about Christ and the Holy Spirit at the mentee's own pace and in a one-on-one teaching atmosphere. Christian mentors can also help their mentees learn about Christ-like values and attributes by teaching and role-modeling them. How do mentors acquire or cultivate Christ’s attributes and values? First we have to recognize what those attributes and values are that Christ expressed and role-modeled for His disciples and the world. It is by reading the Bible that we can discover Christ's attributes and values.We can acquire godly virtues and values by studying the Word of God and then applying the Word to our lives. By taking heed of the help and guidance offered to us by the Holy Spirit along with help offered by other Christian mentors, we can develop those Christian attributes and values that we need. God has given all of us the ability to acquire those same virtues expressed by Christ when we asked Christ to come into our lives and cleanse our hearts from all our sins. We are now able to recognize all the vile evil and ugliness that is in the world.

Christians should allow Christ to control our lives for the good, which in turn means we cannot let Satan and the world's influence back into our lives. Because we live in a fallen world we are constantly inundated with worldly ideas and things that try to pull us away from living for Christ. So, we must continually work at living for Christ and doing that which is right and true with a loving and gracious heart. Our walk with Christ is a journey. True "born-again" Christians never stop learning and should never stop working at becoming even more Christ-like. (Did you know that the word "Christian" means "little Christs"?). We all need strengthening. Even long-time believers may need mentoring to be strengthened in their walk for Christ just as new believers are strengthened through mentoring. ARCM is for every woman whether you are the mentor or the mentee.

We Must Allow Christ to Control Both our Inner and Outer Lives. In order to completely relinquish all the old fleshly and worldly ways, we must allow Christ to control not only our inner thoughts and desires, but control any outer actions that might represent those inner thoughts and desires.  That sounds complicated, but it really isn't. With our Salvation, comes a desire to live for Christ and a desire to obey Christ. In fact, Christ said, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying My teachings. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”  -- (John 8: 32). [i]

We are all searching for the Truth of God whether we realize it or not. When we accept Christ into our hearts, we have a change of heart for the better.We no longer have to be controlled by evil thoughts and worldly ways, because we have the Holy Spirit who will help us get rid of evil and negative thoughts and ways, if we listen and obey. However, we still have to deal with the world we live in, and no matter how hard we try we are inundated with things that can cause us to backslide or be negative. However, if we continually allow the Holy Spirit to direct both our inner thoughts and our outer actions we can live a Christ-like life for all to see. It is with our outward actions and attitudes, that people can really tell whether or not we have truly accepted Christ as our Savior. It is with our outward actions and attitudes that mentees will or will not decide to allow us to mentor them.

It is our outward actions, though, that gets most people, both Christian and non-Christians, in trouble. That is because; it is often our outward actions that tell the world more about us than we think. For example, let’s say that a woman named Victoria has accepted Christ as her Savior. She now has a love for not only God and Christ in her heart, but also believes she has love for her neighbors or fellowman as well. Then one day a friend tells her she is going through a rough time. Victoria verbally sympathizes and tells her she will pray for her, but does nothing more. She even forgets to pray. A month later a co-worker tells Victoria that she is very sick and won’t be able to take her daughter to the dress rehearsal for her play. Victoria again sympathizes but does nothing. Oh, Victoria has a twinge of guilt, and the Holy Spirit puts her friend on her heart every few hours or so, but Victoria ignores His still small voice. She knows that she could offer to take the daughter to the dress rehearsal, but she has other things she wants to do. You see, Victoria is not allowing Christ to control her outer life and actions. Moreover, her inner thoughts of selfishness have shown us outwardly what she is really feeling or thinking by her refusal to step up and help someone in need. She may think that her Salvation is all she needs, and that now that she is “Saved,” she doesn't have to do anything more. However, Christ wants us to care about each other; showing Christ-like love for all. Indeed, it is by our outward actions that our care for others and Christian love is shown. Christian women need to show other women, even if they aren't our mentees, that we care. We need to remember that it is what we say and do outwardly that shows the intent and the desires of the heart. Even our words, which are extremely powerful in witnessing to others about the Gospel message, can be used to hurt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally.As Christian women we have a responsibility to use our words carefully and be guided by love, graciousness and Christ-likeness.

We not only need to listen to Christ’s Words, but we should obey Him. Jesus is the Truth that sets us free! (See John 8: 32). When we truly allow Christ to control our inner thoughts and desires, which are represented by our outer actions, we are putting our complete trust in the Lord. Christ is able to use our outer actions and reactions as well as our loving attitudes to witness for Him and to serve Him in the most efficient and advantageous ways. Then, we do not have to wonder what we should be doing for the Lord or how we can be of greater service. Instead, we know we are allowing Christ’s love, values, and attributes to guide us into caring for and witnessing to those who have not been introduced to the Good News of Christ. In fact, each believer needs to live a life of service to the Lord that expresses the Truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Light.  “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” – (John 3: 21) NASB. Therefore, if we allow the Lord to direct our learning of the Truth and we practice the Truth, we can then follow His Light. The Lord can use our lives to witness for and to serve Him. We can serve the Lord through ARCM. We can become an outward expression of the Truth!

The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that we are to Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.”  -- (Ephesians 5: 15). [i]  It is that sense of responsibility that is given expression through our actions and outer lives lived for Christ. It is one thing to think good clean thoughts in your mind, but it is something much better when you take those wonderful thoughts and use them for the glory of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul goes on to say, Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.  … Instead let the Holy spirit fill and control you.”  -- (Ephesians 5: 16-18). [ii]

One of the ways that we can “make the most of every opportunity for doing good,” is to be there for others when they are struggling or wanting to learn a new skill, develop a resource, or gain knowledge. We can step up to the plate and mentor another woman for the Lord. Those who have been given the ability to listen or teach or to do both and those who have the wisdom to understand the Word of God should use every opportunity to help someone else when they are in need. If you have the ability to help another for the Lord, then through love try to understand what the Lord would have you do and let the Holy Spirit direct and control your life. Of course you have free will in what you do with your life. But in listening to the Holy Spirit and by working at obtaining Christ-like attributes and values as you live outwardly for the Lord, you may find that you can also be a great Christian mentor for the Lord!

[i] -- Ephesians 5: 15.  New Testament in Modern English. Macmillian Company, c. 1958.
[ii] -- Ephesians 5: 16-18.  The Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation. Tyndale House. c. 1996.

[i] -- John 8: 32.  The Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation. Tyndale House, c. 1996.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Finding a mentee

You have recognized that you have a desire to serve the Lord and others, so what is next? Although there are many ways to serve the Lord and others, Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) is a ministry that suits women, because it can easily fit in with all the other hats of responsibility that women wear. As Christian women, we know, too, that God has given each of us specific gifts that we can use in our Christian life. God has also given each of us various skills, resources, knowledge, or talents that we can share with another woman to help her grow in her own spiritual maturity or to help her lead a more productive life. Whether you are a good hostess, a parent, a career woman, a stay-at home mom, an organizer or leader, you have something that could benefit the life of another woman. Certainly, too, you have the Gospel to share with another woman who may not yet know Christ personally.Whatever you have to share, rest assured that God will help you in the sharing if you truly want to become an Active relational Christian mentor to another woman. What then is the next step in your becoming an active Christian mentor?

Last time, we talked about the importance of prayer in determining whether or not you should become an active mentor. We also talked about how prayer is needed in developing your ability to listen, as listening is a very important part of ARCM. If you are still reading this blog you probably have prayed for God to show you what specific ministry will fit into your daily life and how you can be a blessing for others. If Active relational Christian mentoring keeps coming to the forefront of your mind and if you love to fellowship with other women, then you are probably getting confirmation from the Holy Spirit that this is a service ministry for you. I hope that after reading the last blog that you have also been praying to become a good listener. For you want to be able to be discern and recognize the needs that are spoken as well as the ones that are not spoken by your mentee.

You should also be practicing listening more carefully to the conversations of others without doing all the talking. For sometimes it takes a woman several sentences or conversations to finally express what is of concern to her. Even if you have a hard time at first not doing all the talking, don't become frustrated when listening to the other woman. You will have your chance to talk at the right time. Becoming a good listener may not happen overnight. but if you are truly interested in Active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM) as a service area for you, you will soon discover how easy it is to listen to what other women are saying.

Now it is time to pray for God to direct you to the right woman to mentor. Mentees are all around us. You just may not have looked at the other woman as a potential mentee. However, through your prayers and the Holy Spirit's guidance you will be directed to a woman that could use your expertise in a particular area or to a woman that seems to need someone to talk to or someone to support her in her time of need. We all have been blessed with gifts, talents, knowledge, resources, etc. either through God's specific gifting to us or through God giving us the ability to acquire knowledge, wisdom, information, etc. Sometimes, though, we don't recognize our own abilities, but God always does. So it should not be a surprise that God often introduces us to a particular mentee when we least expect it.

There are three basic ways we can acquire a mentee. The first way is when someone at our church or someone we know tells us that there is a woman in need that we could potentially help. If you have a background in a specific area or on a specific topic, this is not an uncommon way to receive a mentee. For example, if you have dealt with a strong-willed child of your own, or if you have a degree in child psychology, your pastor could ask you to mentor a frustrated mother who is dealing with a strong-willed child. Or if you play the guitar and a woman in your Bible study would like to learn how to play the guitar, you might offer to mentor her. You could also be at work or on the job and your employer asks you to mentor another woman about the job.This occurs often in middle management positions, and although not specifically a Christian mentoring situation, it gives the Christian mentor the opportunity to share the Gospel through her life lived for the Lord.

The second way we can  receive a mentee is through our awareness of a need. In listening to those around you, you may discover that a woman could use instruction, counseling, coaching or support in a particular area whether it is in the emotional, spiritual or natural realm.You know that you could help this woman, and so you start by befriending her. In order to mentor another person, though, a relationship of some kind needs to be developed. Then once a relationship is established, even if it is only an acquaintance type of relationship, you can either offer to mentor her or the mentoring comes naturally as you engage in communication and fellowship with this woman.

The third basic way to acquire a mentee is by listening to the Holy Spirit and then acting upon the direction of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will direct you to a person that you have never met before, or to a woman that you vaguely know. You are then suddenly prompted to go and speak to her, or the Holy Spirit puts you in close proximity so that you can hear what she is saying to someone else. Either way, the Holy Spirit leads you to the place that you need to be in order to develop a relationship and mentor her.

Obviously, these are not the only ways that a mentoring relationship can be formed, but these are the three basic ways with many different situational variances. Personally, I have been led to a mentee in many different and in sometimes seemingly strange ways: while walking in a swimming pool for therapy; when I had an Insurance company's secretary call me up to ask me a question regarding our insurance, which led to a mentoring relationship with her and ultimately to her Salvation; and when a friend's daughter came to me and asked to be mentored on the Bible after she asked Christ to come into her life. I have also mentored a lady from our small group at church, and even though she has moved away I continue to mentor her as needed. I have mentored other women who I never expected to mentor until a crisis suddenly occurred in their lives. Most recently, I met a lady at the checkout counter in a clothing store who had recently been widowed. We were just talking and suddenly, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask her if she would like to go to lunch sometime, so we exchanged telephone numbers. I don't yet know if it will be a mentoring relationship or just the befriending of a lady in need. But, I know that I need to pray about the possibility of her becoming a mentee.

Again, prayer is the key to developing a mentoring relationship and the key to all we do in life. God always has the best in mind for us. We just have to be willing to pray, listen, and obey. Now, it is your turn. Look around you and see if there is anyone that God puts in your path. Pray about what you see and ask for God's help.You Can Do It! You can serve the Lord and others through Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Listening is an Important Part of Mentoring

Today I want to talk about prayer and finding a mentee. Two of the things that women frequently ask is how can I become a mentor and how do I find a mentee. The first thing that you need to do to become a mentor, if you are really interested in Active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM) as a service ministry for the Lord and to help others, is to pray. This is the time to be very specific in your prayers. We often pray in generalities, such as asking God to bless us. However, along with praying for your heart's desire to serve the Lord and others you should pray specifically asking God to give you the ability to listen to other women and for God to open doors for perspective mentees to enter in. Why those two specific requests?  Well, today let's start with your first request from God, which is to teach you how to listen to others.

Most women love to talk and talk. We are very good at talking and often use our large vocabularies while we fellowship with other women. However, to be good mentors we have to first become good listeners. It is only through our listening that we can become skilled at discerning the mentee's needs, emotions, and desires. By listening, the mentor can pick up on the nuances of what she is or is not saying and gain insightful information about the needs of the woman mentee. If the mentor, though, does all the talking, the mentor is just taking up time telling about her life or talking about what she thinks the mentee should want to know. That is not mentoring. That is just a one-sided conversation. The other woman, the mentee, doesn't receive any thing from your one-sided conversations unless God chooses to use something you have said to speak to the woman. For example, if I want advice and understanding about a particular situation in my life, but my mentor starts the conversation talking about her terrible week and all the things that she has had to accomplish in a short period of time, I will politely listen. However, if the mentor continues talking about herself and her thoughts or wants, I may be sitting there and listening politely, but all the time I'm really thinking, "this person seems to be focused only on herself".  "I really wanted to talk about a need I have and what the Bible says about addressing that need, but I am just wasting my time sitting here listening to her." It is at this point that I, as the mentee, may decide not to pursue the development of a mentoring relationship with this mentor. All could have been saved, and perhaps we could have become the best of friends, if only the mentor had been willing to listen and only ask questions when there was a break in the conversation or to ask a question to have me clarify or explain something that I said. Throughout the conversation, i.e. the back and forth interchange between the mentee and mentor, the mentor will only gain insight about the situation or have a better understanding of what she should be saying to the mentee, if she listens to what her mentee is actually saying.

All women can learn to listen. It is just a matter of whether or not we want to give up some of our talking in order to help another woman. If you pray for the ability to listen and then actually work at listening to what those around you are saying without always filling in the dead spaces, you will find that you can learn a great deal about the woman and her needs. Start by practicing listening to your family and friends. For example, in listening to your daughter's conversation with the family, you may find out that your daughter is dating one guy, but actually wants to date another guy, because every time she says the other guys name her voice changes, or there is a smile on her face, etc. Listening can often provide great information and insight. Actually, it is the combination of listening to and watching the other person that becomes a powerful tool to learn details of another's life without even talking. Of course, there is also a time for talking and talking is needed. The Christian mentor has to talk, too, to develop the mentoring relationship and in order to proceed with actual mentoring. For, if a mentor never talked, the mentee would not receive the information, resources, skills, etc. that she was hoping to gain from the mentoring relationship. So, it is important to use our listening and watching tools along with our talking and conversing  skills to have productive and fruitful ARCM.

God hears all our prayers and He knows our heart's desire, so if you truly want to become a Christian mentor, He will hear you. God will help you develop your listening skills, but you have to do your part as well. You have to put in the effort to listen to other women; to truly listen and hear what they are saying so you will be able to discern what they need and what you should say. You should also be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit, for He will also give you insight into the woman's needs, as well as guidance for what you should say. Listening, then, is a very important part of Active relational Christian mentoring whether you are listening to the mentee or listening to the Holy Spirit.

As you work on your listening skills, you can start praying for God to put a potential mentee in your path. Next time I will talk more about how to go about obtaining a mentee. In the meantime, study the Word of God; get to know the Bible well enough that you can easily turn to the different books of the Bible. Find the Bible verses that you can use to share the Gospel message with another person.  Don't forget to pray. Pray for you to be used by God to help others, and if the ministry of mentoring is what God wants you to pursue, specifically pray that you become a good listener!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayer is Part of Active Relational Christian Mentoring

I have been told that I need to write shorter blogs, and I really intend to do so.  However, today, I had something on my heart that just couldn't be captured in a few words. I do hope though, that you will not be discouraged, and you will take the time to read all the way through today's blog.  I need to start back at the beginning in order to tell the full story about prayer. I hope you enjoy today's blog and that you will receive from it some information that you may not have previously known. Moreover, I hope you will be blessed!

Today a friend, whom I mentor occasionally, called me and requested prayer for a sick family member.As we were talking, I discovered that another family member of hers had said that she would like people to keep the sick family member in their "thoughts". The word or concept of "prayer" was never used. Sadly, we are running across this secular use of the word "thought's" more and more often today, even from Christians who should know the difference between thoughts and prayers. What is happening to the world today when prayer cannot be used in public meetings or even talked about? I understand that there are many people who don't believe in God, so they won't use the word "prayer". Still, there are others who out of political correctness and fear of offending someone refuse to use the words "prayer" and "praying". But, even some churches today are becoming so secular and politically correct that they, too, no longer use the word "prayer". Instead, they politely tell people they will keep them in their "thoughts". Many people, though, simply don't know anything about prayer or even who they are to pray to, while others pray to false gods. No wonder our nation and the world is in such trouble today! So, let's talk about prayer.

To talk about prayer, we have to start from the beginning. Where did prayer originate, whom are we to pray to and why would we want to pray? Well, we are to pray to God, for God gave us the ability to communicate with Him through prayer. There is only One God. He is the great "I AM". God created this world and it was originally perfect. There were no storms, disasters, hate, or evil. Everything was beautiful. God created animals, fish and plants.Then God created two people to give Him glory, as they lived in this beautiful world. (See Isaiah 43: 7) God also wanted to be able to communicate and have a relationship with these two humans. So God created them with minds, hearts, souls, mouths, etc. to be able to communicate with Him and each other. Everyday God walked and talked with these two people, as He also bestowed His love and blessings upon them.

To have the kind of relationship that God wanted with these beings meant that God would need to do something spectacular and exciting when creating them.You see, God had already created angels, and they loved and worshiped God daily.But God did not have beings with whom he could form a close personal relationship and with whom He could talk and discuss.Yes, God had relationships with the two other essences of His Being: The Holy Spirit and His Son. But now God wanted to create beings that were separate from the Trinity of His being and different from anything He had previously created. He wanted to create beings who had different personalities and different ways of seeing the things around them. Their brains would be spectacular, insightful and discerning, and they would be able to develop wisdom as they learned from and communicated with God.

Each person's brain would have the capability to grow in knowledge and understanding. But in order for these beings to truly be different and to see the world through each individual's own perspective, the individual beings would have to have "free will". "Free will" meant that these beings could choose their own path and way of looking at the world around them. They could think their own thoughts. This meant they could live in their own way or style. They could explore, inquire, and develop different things from what God had provided; all the while reproducing more and more people with whom God could form a relationship and on whom God could bestow His love.

God knew, though, that "free will" meant that someday these created beings could decide not to love Him, not to honor Him or not to want anything to do with Him. That was okay, because God did not want forced love and allegiance. God wanted a close personal relationship with beings who wanted to communicate with and love Him. God wanted a relationship with beings that could see how much He loved them and who would honor and glorify Him. Just as God created beings who want to love and be loved, God also wanted their love.

Everything was going well. God actively mentored Adam and Eve, as He walked and talked with them in the Garden, teaching them all kinds of things. God and the two beings, named Adam and Eve, had a close relationship. As these beings communicated with God they talked of things that we cannot even begin to imagine. Adam and Eve had perfect brains that worked at a very high capacity; not like our brains that now work at a much smaller capacity.They also had perfect pure DNA, giving them a much greater advantage than we humans have today. They were, indeed, very beautiful and brilliant human beings. Then a visitor came to the Garden. Lucifer, in the guise of a snake, came for a visit.

God had created Lucifer too. In fact, Lucifer was an angel type of being who was very beautiful. In Heaven, Lucifer had been musical and could lead the choirs in Heaven, providing glorious music for God. Lucifer, though, became prideful. (See Isaiah 14:12-15). In fact, he became so prideful that He wanted the throne of God. In his pridefulness, Lucifer thought that He could do a better job of ruling all of God's dominions than God could. So, Lucifer started a war in Heaven. He got one-third of the angels to follow him, and they rebelled against God. The other two-thirds of God's angels warred against Lucifer, and then God threw Lucifer and all the traitorous angels out of Heaven. At some point Lucifer ended up on earth. He and the fallen angels were also no longer beautiful. Lucifer was so mad at God that all He could think of was to ruin God's great relationship with the humans God had created and to keep future humans from giving God any glory or love. Lucifer's plan was to take over this world and ruin God's plan for humankind. He wouldn't succeed, but Lucifer certainly has tried.

It is in the third chapter of the book of Genesis that Lucifer puts his plan into action. Lucifer disguised himself as a talking snake. Then Lucifer convinced Eve and Adam to do the one thing that God had told them not to do, or they would die. God had told Adam and Eve that they were not to eat from a certain tree in the Garden. But, Lucifer said that if they ate from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that they would not die; implying that God had lied to them. Lucifer was very convincing, and he appealed to their own pride and their free will to do as they wished. So they ate.

Although it was not an immediate death, Adam and Eve would no longer live forever. Instead of living eternally with God, they would grow old and die. Actually, from the moment they ate of the tree their bodies began to slowly die. Moreover, they would now live in a very different world, because God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden. They would now live in a world that seemed to be angry and constantly writhing in turmoil, just as it was also full of evil desires and pridefulness. It certainly was not the world God had wanted for them, but rather it was a world that fell (metaphorically speaking) when Adam and Eve fell from the Garden. It was now a world that had storms, hurricanes, disasters, fires, and floods. Even the animals were no longer tame, but instead were wild and could kill each other and humans. The insects fought against each other and the animals fought against each other for survival even as God used them to benefit mankind. God knew that humans would now need to kill animals to survive, as they would need shelter and clothing from the animal skins, and food from the the animal meat.

God knew, too, that Lucifer, whose name was changed  to Satan after Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, would continue to try to keep humans from having anything to do with God. But the worst part was that Adam and Eve were separated from God. They no longer had a relationship with the great "I Am". They no longer could talk to God and expect an answer. Yes they could think about Him and send thoughts to Him, but God was not going to respond, because thoughts are not prayers. Moreover, prayers and their answers come from being in a relationship with God, and Adam and Eve were no longer in a relationship with God.

God still loved Adam and Eve. In fact, God never left them completely alone or quit loving them. He was still there for them, but now they would have to seek Him. However, they would also have to ask forgiveness for their sins if they wanted a relationship with God. Unfortunately, sin would become a daily issue for Adam and Eve and all future humans. For no matter how hard Adam and Eve and their offspring worked or tried to do good, they could not keep from sinning. Still, God wanted a relationship with Adam and Eve. God wanted the humans to communicate with Him, so that He could help them in their needs. In the meantime, God continued to show His love for them by providing for and maintaining the world. The humans, though, would have to form a relationship with God in order to communicate with God. But first humans would have to recognize God exists.

Humans would have to acknowledge God and reach out to God. They would have to develop a different type of communicating relationship with God through something called prayer. To have this new relationship the humans would also have to acknowledge God as the One and Only God and only pray to Him. They would also need to glorify God in their daily life. But God would not force them to do so. Remember, God created all of us with "free will".

So, God gave Adam and Eve a way to still have a relationship with Him by coming to Him through their prayers and sacrifices. God even told Adam and Eve that their sins would be forgiven with each honoring sacrifice they made to God. These sacrifices were to show their love and devotion to God as well as to cover their sins. There would have to be an effort made to honor and glorify God, as they sacrificed to Him.

As parents, Adam and Eve were to also mentor their children in honoring God and in knowing what God expected in the way of sacrifices for their sins. Future generations could then continue to have some type of relationship with God and have their sins covered. They, too, would need to teach their children how to "pray" to God, for it is through our prayers that God hears our heart's desire. It is through our prayers that we praise and honor God. It is through our prayers that we thank God for each blessing we receive. It is through our prayers that we recognize that God is the only One who can comfort, protect, provide, and bless us. Moreover, it is through our personal prayer for forgiveness and Salvation through Christ that the One and only God will cleanse us of our sins forever.  Only through this intimate prayer for Salvation will the blood of Jesus cover our sins.

Some parents mentored their children in knowing and in loving only God. Other parents mentored their children in knowing and loving God, but some of their children like Adam and Eve's son, Cain, failed to understand God's love, or they simply became prideful and chose not to honor God or follow God's directions. Still other parents failed to mentor their children in loving God and in godly behavior. Some parents did not even tell their children that God exists. Consequently, it did not take long for the world to become a very dark and ungodly place.

As time went on, God would speak directly to certain humans, such as Enoch and Noah, who reached out to Him and who showed their love and devotion to God. God spoke to these individuals to tell them what the people could do to make their lives better and to show them how to honor Him in the process. But no matter how much God did for people, throughout the centuries they were basically ungrateful and continual sinners without remorse for the hurt they caused others or for their sinful actions. Their emphasis on self and self gratification, in large measure, came about because parents did not teach or mentor their children in godly moral behaviors, in selflessness, and in loving and praying to the One and Only God, the Great I AM.

Eventually, God became very angry with their behaviors and attitudes. God chose to flood the world and start over with Noah and his family. After the flood, Noah again sacrificed to the Lord and taught his children about God and living for God.  He taught his children how to pray to God and reminded them that it was God who had brought them through the flood.  But as time went on more and more children were born. Each generation grew further and further from God ,as they too neglected to teach their children about God. Eventually all the different kinds of people spread throughout the world,

Those individuals who did honor God and did mentor and teach their children to honor God and obey God's laws and commandments were blessed. They communicated with God through prayer and the sacrifices they gave in worship and love. It was through their prayers, though, that they continued to show their adoration and worship of God even when they were not presenting sacrifices to God. Their prayers acknowledged that God is, indeed, the One and Only God of the Universe.

There is no other God! There is only "I AM". Yes, there are a great number of false gods; gods that man has thought up in his mind or has made into a particular shape or image he created from his thoughts. But that is all they are: images created from stone or wood with no life whatsoever. Sadly, people often latch onto misguided perceptions about these images, idols, or false gods. Especially if something good happened while the people were worshiping a false god, the people would then believe the false god had done it for them. Satan often confirms in the minds of people who worship idols and false gods that indeed their idol or false god was behind the goodness they received. That is just not true. For these so called "prayers" to false gods and our humans' "thoughts" cannot do anything. They have no power whatsoever. Only when we decide to do something either good or bad can our thoughts then morph into something other than a "thought". Certainly, we can make a decision to act upon our thoughts, if we have the ability to do so.  For example, I can pick up a pencil and draw a picture from a thought I had, if I have the ability to draw.  But, thinking that drawing into reality will not occur, if I do not have the ability to draw the picture.

Thoughts or even prayers to these false gods will not produce anything for the one praying to a false god or for the one thinking "good thoughts". There is no response from a false god except that which the person imagines in their mind. Oh, the person may feel like they have done something special when praying to a false god, and they may feel that they are on the right track, but there is no accompanying peace, no result from their thoughts or prayers to a false god. Just like the lie Lucifer told Adam and Eve, he daily tells lies to those who fall for praying to a false god or fall for sending out "good thoughts". Only by developing a relationship with the One and Only God, the great "I AM", and then through praying to Him will we receive answers, insight, discernment, wisdom, and help from God.

God sent His Son to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Humans no longer have to sacrifice an animal to God to get our sins cleansed. For, God has given us grace and mercy! Anyone who wants to recognize the fact that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for our sins and then asks for forgiveness from their sins and actually repents of their sins can be forgiven.  I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Our Salvation confession is either a verbal or a silent prayer to God and Christ.

All those who truly believe, confess, and repent of their sins will receive Salvation. We will not necessarily have perfect lives here on earth afterward, but we will have an internal peace, joy, and happiness that the rest of the world cannot know. Furthermore, through our prayers, we are given great access to God through Jesus Christ who is our intercessor before God. Praying to God through Christ ensures that God will hear our prayers. Moreover, it is only through Jesus Christ, the Son, that a close relationship with Christ and the Father can be developed and maintained.

God loves each and everyone one of us. His heart breaks for anyone's refusal to respond to His free gift of mercy and grace, which only requires belief in the risen Christ while recognizing our sinfulness and repenting of our sins, as we ask Jesus Christ to come into our heart. This simple prayer will allow us to spend eternity with God and Christ someday in Heaven where there is no pain, suffering or hurt. But first, each person has to take that step to believe, confess and repent of their sins. No one else can do it for you!

This is where our "free will" comes into play. God gave us "free will" when we were created. Even though God might wish that each of us would turn to Him and truly see Him for Who He really is, God will not take away our ability to choose for ourselves whether or not we will repent and turn to Christ. This is our individual choice. We have the "free will" to choose or not, and God will not take that from us. Certainly, God wants each of us to quit listening to Satan and quit listening to all the things that Satan comes up with to keep us from Christ and eternity. Indeed, God wants us to come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, but He won't force us.

I have had a close relationship with Christ and His Father since I was nine years old.  I can truly say that once an individual believes and receives Salvation through Christ, that the person can have a most glorious relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, and the Son. There is such peace, comfort, hope, and yes faith that emanates from our hearts once we turn our lives over to Christ. There is no false god that can do that. Moreover, we can receive direction, guidance, comfort and help through our prayers of communication with God and Christ.

Christ carries our prayers to the Father and intercedes on our behalf. If we ask anything in the will of God through Jesus Christ, the Son, the Father in Heaven will hear and do for us. (See John 14: 13). So, if we are in a mentoring situation in which we need extra insight and discernment, we should pray to God through Christ, and the Holy Spirit will give us the direction, guidance or insight into what we are requesting. Is the answer what we always want and expect? No, for God knows everything in this life that can effect us, and He sees the shenanigans of the devil as well as the evil around us even before we see them. But God has told us that if we stay in prayer and fellowship with Him, if we read and obey God's Word, and if we have received Salvation, that just like one who wears the armor of a  mighty warrior, we will have what it takes to overcome Satan and his minions. We are to constantly wear the Armor of God and pray.  Moreover, we can pray anytime and be heard by God.

Even when a loved one is going through surgery we can pray to God for His will to be done. God's will is for the perfect good for the person for whom we are praying. We must remember, though, that God's perfect will is not necessarily what we hope for or wish. But, we can know this: God knows the end from the beginning. We must trust in His perfect will even as we pray for healing.

We also have to remember that Satan is standing by sticking his fingers into every situation and constantly wanting us to lose faith. Satan wants to hurt people by taking away our close relationship with God. For example, Satan  may tempt or encourage a surgeon to stay up late the night before a surgery so that he is not fresh when he does a surgery. The surgeon may make a mistake and the person on the table then dies. Perhaps God was ready to take that person home. On the other hand, the prayers of that person's family for the surgery to go well and for healing, may be answered by God in some manner we can't even imagine, so what the Devil intended for harm, God intended and used for good.  Prayers are powerful!

Whatever the situation, with each prayer and each step toward greater faith, we become stronger Christians and more impervious to future arrows from the devil. We are to pray for the individual who is going into surgery or the one who is sick, while believing that God has everything under His control and that God's perfect will will be done. Maybe it is time for that sick person to go and be with the Lord, or maybe God needs that person to heal and be a great father or mother to a new addition coming to their family. This we know: God is with his "Saved" children each and everyday and receives our prayers. God answers our prayers, and our prayers can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others around us, and we can make a difference in the world by trusting in and following our Savior, Jesus Christ. Just remember, God hears and answers prayers and not "thoughts".  Only when our thoughts are in the form of a prayer, will God hear them as prayers.

Please remember, that our thoughts, are just that, "simply thoughts". Thoughts about a sick person are no different than the thoughts I might have about baking a pie or going to the mall. They are just thoughts. Simply saying that "I will be thinking about your loved one as they go into surgery" is no different than me telling you that "I will be thinking of our next trip to Colorado or Kansas". It is just a thought and there is nothing in the world that will make that thought into a relationship with the Creator who has the power to create miracles, heal someone, or end the world. God, is the only one to whom we are to petition for our needs, our sickness, our desires, our strength, and our comfort. He is the only one Who could send His Son to die on a cruel cross for your sins. Christ is the Son of God who conquered eternal death for all who would believe upon Him and repent. He is now in Heaven sitting at the right hand of God and interceding on our behalf as we pray to God.

James the brother of Christ, said in the book of James,"Are there any among you suffering?  They should keep on praying about it.  And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord.... The prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and he Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results."--(James 5: 13-16).

Prayer is very important in active relational Christian mentoring. When we are mentoring another woman, we should always go to God in prayer first, asking for insight and discernment. What should we speak and how do we best address the other woman's needs? These two questions should be part of our prayers to God about our mentee. There will be some situations in mentoring where only prayer can give us the needed understanding, insight, or answer in our mentoring of another. You may use your brain and your thinking to come up with ideas on how to help someone, but if you haven't run your ideas by God through prayer, you may find that your ideas are just that -- ideas that don's go anywhere. Once we have a well-established relationship with the mentee, it is also important to incorporate prayer into your mentoring sessions. Starting out in prayer, or ending the session or your time together with prayer lets the mentee know that God is the most important part of any Christian mentoring relationship.

God has all the answers. We just need to acknowledge that He is the sole source of all our strength, our insight, our wisdom, our discernment, our provision, our faith and our comfort. I cannot imagine what life would be like if we did not have the power of prayer that God has given to all who would believe on His Son. For those who have yet to acknowledge Christ as their Savior, there is only one prayer that God will always answer yes. It is the prayer for eternal Salvation through Jesus Christ. Once you pray for Salvation and forgiveness, Christ will take all your petitions of prayers to God. Without prayer, we cannot be effective Christians or godly mentors. Lift your heart and voice to the Lord in daily prayer!