Friday, March 27, 2015

The End Times and Active Relational Christian Mentoring

I try to keep up with the world news, but if I watch too much I get depressed over the status of people throughout the world. So many people are lost! To make matters worse, time is running out for this earth. But, I keep watching the news to stay informed and to find the bits of truth within the news.

My Bible study group has been studying Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. It seems that everything that the prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the end times is on a path toward fulfillment. Contrast Ezekiel’s prophecy with what Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 about His return and the end times and we see that the world is rapidly heading toward its end. How do we know time is running out? Well, the Scriptures tell us that in the last days there will not only be signs but … that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” – (II Timothy 3: 1-4. NLT). Does any of this ring a bell?

Although, none of us know when Christ will return, we can recognize some of the end time signs listed in the Bible as already occurring. But even up to the very end, whenever that may be, Christ has told us that we are to go out and constantly witness to others about the Good News. We also need to focus on mentoring others for the Lord, as we role-model living for Christ. We are to become a living testament and witness to the life a person can have, if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Unfortunately, we in America have a false sense of security. We believe that because we have always been safe in our country that nothing can happen to us. Actually, we are being destroyed from within, and this internal destruction is paving the way for our enemies to easily overcome us. How are we being destroyed from within?  Well, Christians are no longer mentoring and teaching others about God and His morals, values and ethics. Although it is not surprising that the non-believing and morally corrupt live for themselves, it is sad to see Christians living for themselves; forgetting about all those who are lost or who need guidance.

As I listen to the news programs, it is easy to see that our young people are relationally poor. They have been taught independence, but yet they need to belong and be interdependent. Young or old people feel the need for both belonging and spiritual growth. But in their search they can turn to other things to attempt to fill the God-shaped space in their souls. Some eventually turn to cults to fill this void; the greatest of which today is the cult of ISIS. ISIS understands this and deliberately recruits our young people to their cult of hate. 

Obviously, we have failed to teach the younger generations to be dependent upon God. We have also failed to teach our Christian young people to be interdependent with each other; gaining spiritual strength and greater faith from the lives of their fellow Christians. Instead, they often feel alone in their struggles. Christians have also failed to tell them that when troubles come, they should rely on God and His guidance. For God says, … humble yourselves [demote yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”  -- (I Peter 5: 6-7. Amplified Bible).

Christian women must step up and mentor all women, young and old. We have to start making a difference in the lives of those around us or many will never see eternity. Moreover, if we don’t stop languishing in our apathy toward Christianity and others, we will not be living in a country that allows us the freedom to worship God. For, if we do not stand for the Truth, we will fall for anything. So, we need to stop living moment by moment and for ourselves and start living for the future and for God.

ARCM is an easy and wonderful way to help many women either get to know Christ or to start living their Christianity in a way that affects not only their family’s life, but the lives of others. Please start paying attention to what is going on around you. Start praying for the people in our country, for those in the Middle East, and for those in other countries who do not know Christ as their Savior. Then, step forward and mentor someone for the Lord. You can do it!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Using Wisdom and Understanding to Mentor

Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding.
For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding.
If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
– Proverbs 2: 2-6 NASB

One of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to ARCM is the stubbornness of the human heart. Obviously, we each have our own opinions and beliefs. We have acquired them through experience, which can be either negative or positive, or through our studies. Sometimes, though, our beliefs and opinions are actually the beliefs and opinions of our parents, friends or professors; having glibly accepted them without searching for the ultimate Truth. But wherever we get our beliefs and opinions, we each have a tendency to cling to them. ARCM, however, has only one fundamental belief against which all other beliefs must be gauged. That is the belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our resurrected Lord and Savior. God provides the basis for all Truth. God has also given us His only Son to save us from eternal damnation; that those who would believe on Christ might have eternal life. Acquiring and accepting this Truth also gives those who repent and believe Wisdom and eternal love.

Many of those we mentor will already be Christians. But for those who are still unbelievers, we are to share the Good News with kindness and humility. However, whether we are sharing the Gospel or are sharing other information or skills, we have to do so with respect and with knowledge. Christian mentoring is not about forcing our personal beliefs and opinions down someone else’s throat, rather it is about first looking at our own life and examining it in the light of Christ. Then we must listen to the other person and help her by expressing God’s Truth without being prideful or authoritarian? For, neither of those words have any place in ARCM.

Obviously, both the mentor and mentee will have personal opinions. But, both women should be respectful of each other’s ideas. We cannot belittle someone's beliefs and ideas and expect them to automatically accept ours. We have to have the Truth to back up what we say. The mentor must be able to stand on the Word of God and God’s Truth in all conversations. Seeking and having godly wisdom is the key to good conversations. She must also mentor in kindness and respectfulness.

Sometimes, though, the mentor or mentee may not realize that they have become aggressive in how they are presenting their beliefs and opinions. When this happens, the Christian mentor has to stop and be the one to initiate praying to God for direction and insight. Then the Holy Spirit will be the One who will give them direction in how to proceed, and if the mentor is truly speaking God’s Truth, the Holy Spirit will speak into the heart of a Christian mentee. 

The success of our mentoring, though, can come down to the way that we present God’s Truth as to whether or not the mentee will listen. The Bible tells us, “Do not let kindness or truth leave you; Bind them on the tablet of your heart. … Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” – (Proverbs 3: 3, 5-6. NASB). If we present knowledge, information or resources as well as our counseling and coaching with kindness and truth, our mentees will be more receptive to our mentoring.

We also have to use prudence when mentoring. This means that we must exercise sound judgment, and we must be cautious and careful in our conduct and with the words we use. Mentors should also be circumspect and not rash in word or behavior. In fact, the Bible tells us that “I wisdom, dwell with prudence. And I find knowledge and discretion.” – (Proverbs 8: 12. NASB).  There are two other verses, though, that are very important in mentoring as well. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Obviously, there is no place for anger in ARCM. Using Christ’s examples’ we are to have gentle answers to those who disagree with us, which includes our mentees. To help us avoid confrontations or anger, another Bible verse tells us: “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable but the mouth of fools spouts folly.” – (Proverbs 15: 1-2. NASB).

Folly comes from a lack of understanding, and when we don’t communicate well we can have misunderstandings. My mother used to call discordant communication “quarreling”. Although it was rare, my sister and I would occasionally quarrel. Quarreling was rare, because we truly cared about each other and wanted to know what the other thought. ARCM should not have discordant communication either. Both the mentor and mentee should care about each other and care about what the other person is thinking, so they can have clarification on what needs to be addressed or understood.

ARCM is about empowering the mentee to be all that she can be in Christ. But without the mentor’s desire to communicate wisely and without godly insight and discernment, the mentee may not be empowered. Every true Christian woman should be focused on living for Christ and on sharing the Gospel with other women. We can do this through ARCM and by “… being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” – (I Peter 3: 15. NASB).  You can do it! You can wisely mentor for Christ!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sharing Christ with your Children and Grandchildren Through ARCM

We have had our grandson, Julian, all week for Spring break. He is twelve years old and inquisitive about God, politics, and the human brain or why people act the way they do. He also loves to fish, but unfortunately the fish were not biting. The refusal of the fish to become our dinner, gave us lots of time to talk and play board games. We could have spent all the time at area amusements, or I could have spent a great deal of money on him as we shopped at the mall just to fill time. But, if all we did was spend money on entertainment or on shopping to buy things for him, we would not have been contributing to our grandson’s mental, emotional or spiritual heath.

Don’t get me wrong; we buy things for our grandchildren on their birthdays, at Christmas, or when they really need something. We have also taken them to the area amusements. But, we just don’t just drop a lot of money on them, because they are bored or because they desire something new. We also do not want to give our grandchildren the impression that they deserve gifts or the money spent on them just because they are so great. Yes, they are loved and are great. But, we want to spend time with them talking to them about the important things in life; things that can make a difference in their lives now, in the future and in eternity. So, what did we talk about during Julian’s Spring break?

Every day, we started the day by having a short Bible study. I explained the Scriptures and Jesus’ parables, and answered Julian’s questions. Then we prayed. During the day, as we fished or rode in the car, we talked about our nation, why people do things that are not right, and we even talked politics. I also took the time to explain the concept of Salvation and “re-birth” to Julian. Each day as the Holy Spirit nudged me, I gave Julian additional information that could help him make a decision for the Lord. But, I did not push Salvation down Julian’s throat, so to speak. Rather, I listened for opportunities to answer any questions he might have. Sometimes I made the opportunities as well.

I explained to Julian why every person will need to make a decision at some point in their life either to believe on Christ or not. We then talked about God giving us “free will” and that although God has offered this beautiful gift of Salvation to everyone, that not everyone will accept the gift. For, each person must believe on the gift, i.e. that Christ is the resurrected Son of God, then accept the gift by repenting of their sins and finally open the gift of Salvation by asking Christ to come into their heart.

I don’t know whether Julian will choose to ask Christ into his heart this year or at some future date. But, I do know that he has been given the right information to make a decision. My husband has also talked to him. He told Julian what a difference Christ has made in his own life. We will both continue to pray for Julian to ask Christ into his heart. In the meantime, we did not just assume that somewhere through Sunday school or through osmosis from being around Christians that Julian will hear the Gospel message. Instead, we actively and relationally mentored Julian in proper actions, behaviors, trust, truth, and ethics along with how to know Christ as His personal Savior.

I cannot stress enough that whether it is your grandchildren or your own children that you should take the time to daily speak into their lives about God’s Truth and the Gospel message. God gave us the responsibility to teach our children about God and His Son. We also have the responsibility to share the Good News with other women no matter their age. It is just a matter of becoming actively and relationally involved in mentoring them for Christ.

Part of living for Christ is to share the Good News. But if we do not do so, we are not just hurting ourselves. Our hurt comes when we miss many of the blessings from God simply because we failed to tell others of Christ. But, we also hurt those who need to hear the Good News. How will you feel when you get to Heaven if God says you missed an opportunity to share Christ with someone, because you were too into yourself to share the Gospel with them or because the example you set was not that of a Christian? God may have sent others, and one of them then helped that woman come to Christ. Or worse, you were the only person she would have listened to, but you failed to tell her. For, being a Christian, means that we are to actively and relationally reach out to others to share with them the knowledge and wisdom that God has given us to share. So, whether it is our grandchildren, our children, or a woman we just met, we have to take the opportunity to share Christ when it is presented to us. ARCM is a wonderful way to share Christ, as we share our gifts, knowledge, skills, etc. You can do it!

But whenever a person turns [in repentance]
to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom.
And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we]
continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror
the glory of the Lord, are constantly being
transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing
splendor and from one degree of glory to another,
[for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

-- II Corinthians 3: 16- 18. Amplified Bible

Saturday, March 7, 2015

ARCM is Mentoring in Action and Not in Secret

Life should not be lived in secret. If we are followers of Christ, we should exemplify Christ-like actions. In other words, what a mentee sees in our life and actions should be truly who we are in Christ. We should not be acting one way in private and another way in church or in front of our children and family. Christians are to set Christ-like examples in every aspect of our lives. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God’s garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are God’s building]. According to the grace of God bestowed upon me, like a skillful architect and master builder, I laid the foundation and now another [man] is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no other Foundation can anyone lay than that which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, … The work of each one will become known (shown for what it is); for the day of Christ will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done.” – (I Corinthians 3: 9-13. Amplified).

Although we may think that we can hide things from other people, God sees everything we do and hears everything we say. It saddens God that we do things against His commandments and His Words. For God’s Words were written to not take things away from us, but to help us. Moreover, the characteristics of Christ are expressed throughout the Newer Covenant/ Testament. We are to strive to attain these Christ-like characteristics. So, it has to break God’s heart when “born-again” Christians ignore the Truth of God’s Word to live as they wish. No, we will never become perfect, for only Christ is perfect. However, we can strive to be that role-model and example of true followers of Christ who want to be the best they can be for Christ.

If we choose ARCM as our service, we should attempt to daily live for Christ. Christ is watching how we treat our neighbors, strangers, family and friends. In fact, Christians are known by both our actions and inactions, which are representative of what we believe and think about the rest of the world and God. That is why we cannot tell the world that we are a Christian mentor and then live as if we love all the things of this world. We cannot say we are one thing and then do something that shows we are totally something else. We have to be authentic and real in our Christianity and in serving others. We cannot express un-Christ-like behaviors and actions and then expect others to respect us or believe what we have to say.

Some actions and words can ruin a mentoring relationship. However, inaction as well as implied words or beliefs can ruin a relationship just as easily. For, inaction in not doing the things that we either should or should not do actually becomes a type of action. For, by not doing anything about something that we know is wrong means we are actually engaging in an inaction that could be negative or hurtful. This often happens when Christians allow the world we live in to invade their lives in such a manner that they can no longer recognize some things as sinful or harmful.

Just like the rest of the world, Christians can become desensitized to things that are wrong or that can spiritually harm us or our families. Although there are many ways that we can become desensitized, one of the easiest ways to become desensitized is through our televisions. The television is controlled by secularism and liberalism; regularly bringing un-godly ideas into our homes. Both passive and active mentoring occurs through our televisions. But, most Christians do not think about the damage that the television and its programming can do to our faith and our family. Instead, the television is used as a babysitter and as entertainment to unwind after a long day.

We have a myriad of un-godly ideas coming into our homes through the television screen. We allow many of the these ideas along with the sins of the world to come into our homes and to creep into our brains and the brains of our children. Thus we become part of the cultural world, as we try to incorporate the fashions and ideas of the world into our lives. Christians and Christian mentors, however, should focus on living for Christ and not on the cultural world. “For this world’s wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their own craftiness; and again, the Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the [humanly] wise and recognizes how futile they are.”  -- (I Corinthians 3: 19-20. Amplified).

The actions and inactions of Christian mentors need to reflect their godly wisdom and not worldly wisdom. Their actions and inactions also must set a Christ-like example for their mentees as well as their families and friends. This means that not only should mentors be authentic and real, but they should not say one thing to their mentee and then do something totally different in private or when away from the mentee. Our mentees will not believe or respect us, if in our ARCM we turn out to be frauds. Christian mentors must attempt to live for Christ in all aspects of our lives. Yes, we will stumble at times, but we cannot deliberately do things that are un-godly or that set bad examples for our mentees. Remember, you are Christ’s ambassador and what you do in secret will eventually be seen in the light. Live for Christ and mentor others for Him. You can do it!