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!