Sunday, May 31, 2015

Freedom Through Obedience to Christ in ARCM

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord,
He has rejected you as king."

(I Samuel 15: 29. NIV)

“Obedience invites Christ to show His 
incomparable strength
in our mortal weakness.”
(Beth Moore)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty;
Only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.

(Galatians 5:13. NIV)

It is getting harder and harder for me to watch the news. I see the terrible atrocities committed by ISIS in the Middle East against the Christians and against those who still have not yet come to know Christ as their Savior. My heart breaks for the Christians and their families who are being slaughtered or persecuted; they did not deserve this kind of death. The only solace is that I know that those Christians who died are in Heaven. They now have complete freedom or liberty. For, when they accepted Christ as their Savior they received freedom from the law of sin and death. “For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.” – (Romans 8:2. Amplified Bible).  With Christ, they were freed from the condemnation of the law of sin, and they no longer walked according to the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit. Now, though, they have not only been freed from the law of sin, but they have now been freed from eternal death as well.

I am sad, though, for the families of those who were killed and for their loved ones left behind who may still have to deal with certain physical death or the loss of loved ones. Moreover, if those left behind, who are still fighting for their lives, do not know Christ personally, they will not have the assurance of seeing their loved ones again someday. For, the Christians who were killed are now completely free and have gone home to be with our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately though, many people have died not knowing Christ and many more will die without knowing Him. My heart breaks for those who have died without knowing Christ personally, because they will now spend eternity in Hell. They will be locked up in misery forever.

… Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.’ … They answered Him, … What do You mean by saying, ‘you will be set free’? Jesus answered them, ‘I assure you. Whoever commits and practices sin is slave of sin. Now a slave does not remain in a household permanently (forever). So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.’” – (John 8: 31-36. Amplified Bible). In other words, those who believe in and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior will be free from the control that sin has on those who don’t know Christ as their Savior.

There is liberty in Salvation. Moreover, our freedom transcends these earthly bounds, and through our Salvation we will have eternal freedom as well. With the liberty of Salvation, our souls experience peace, joy and love in the here and now; however our souls also know about and look forward to the ultimate, peace, joy and love that we will receive in Heaven. For, someday we will spend a joyous, peaceful and loving eternity with Christ. In the meantime, we experience the liberty of an internal peace, joy and love that is hard to explain to those who are not “Saved.” In fact, our eternity started the moment that we were “Saved.” Consequently, I feel so sad for those who will never experience the true freedom that Salvation brings.

Another reason that it has become harder for me to watch the news is the progression of ISIS throughout the Middle East along with the promotion of fanatical Muslim beliefs throughout the world that lead to terroristic atrocities in many cities around the world. We may think that we are safe here in the United States, because there is an ocean between us and them, but all we have to do is remember 9/11. Moreover, ISIS recruits unhappy, lonely, and lost young people from America, the home of the free, into their evil beliefs and ways. This includes the recruitment of our young women as well.

Once our young women are recruited, they are brainwashed through videos and through other young people who attempt to offer them a reason for living. ISIS’ recruitment is easy, because Christians throughout our nation have failed to share Christ and His love with our young people. We have failed to offer our young women a reason for living and a purpose in life. We have failed to share Jesus, and we have failed to reach out to help them or to empower them to live a productive and fulfilling life for the Lord.

Why have Christian women failed to reach out and care about our young women? Well, we have often failed to obey the commands of Jesus and the Word of God. Although we are imbued with the Holy Spirit Who wants to guide us and show us how to be obedient to the Word of God, we often fail to listen to the Holy Spirit. Consequently, we fail in our obedience to living for Christ and fail in sharing the Word of God. Moreover, we have failed to reach out to young people to mentor them and help them find their purpose and reason for living. Instead, we have allowed the world and the evil within the world to shower them with false religions and false hopes. Both our young women and young men are also lost in a technological world that does not meet their spiritual needs. Consequently, they turn to the first thing that seems to make some sense, even if it is a false narrative.

Christians have been told, within the Word of God, to not only welcome the Word of God into our spirit, but let the Word take root in our hearts so that we can use the Word of God to help save the souls of the lost. In fact, James, the brother of Jesus said, “But be doers of the Word [obey the message, and not be merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].  For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.”  -- (James 1:22-24. Amplified Bible).  Sadly, many Christians fail to be doers of the Word. They are only listeners and so fail to take obedient action to live a Christ-like life for others to see and want. They listen to the Word, but instead of obeying it and doing it, they immediately forget what they are supposed to do or what they are supposed to look like as a Christian.

However, if we take the Word of God into our hearts and then obey the commands of God’s Word and the commands of Christ to share the Gospel message with others, we could reach many people for the Lord. We could reach those that are lost and in emotional pain. We could reach those young people who are searching for a reason to exist. We could share Christ with other women and mentor those young women in the Word of God and in other areas of their lives where they may need help. But if we stick close to home, close to our own desires and fail to obey Christ’s commands to reach out to share the Gospel message, or we simply fail to help other women through ARCM, then we are setting ourselves and future generations of young women up for deception from Satan. This deception comes from false teachers, false religions, and simply false beliefs that can lead to the usurpation of our personal freedoms.

In speaking about those who have Christ in their heart, the Apostle Peter said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. … For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed, criticisms of foolish persons. Live as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God.”  -- (I Peter 2: 9, 15-16. Amplified Bible).  Living as free people means that we live in such a way that others can see Christ in us. It means that we live in obedience to the will of God. It is God's will for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Let me ask you a question. If you are truly “Saved” and you truly love your neighbor as yourself, would you be willing to see someone else in pain or someone going to Hell without doing something for them or without telling them about Christ? Platitudes are so easy -- “Of course, I don’t want anyone to go to Hell!” Well, if that is the case, what are you going to do? Are you going to do nothing to reach out to another woman who needs to know about Christ?  Are you going to do nothing when you see a woman in emotional distress or pain?  Yes, it is easy to walk away, because we think that someone else will step in to help. But what if no one else steps in to help?  Does that woman continue to suffer or ultimately go to Hell, because you didn’t take the time to tell her about Christ?

Yes, I know that it is hard to know what to say to another woman. Yes, it is hard to get out of our normal routine to do something unselfishly. But, what has Christ told us to do? Aren’t we to tell everyone of the Good News!  Aren’t we to be doers of the Word?  Aren't we to obey God's commands? The Apostle John states it this way: “Everyone who believes (adheres to trusts, and relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God: and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him (His offspring). By this we come to know (recognize and understand) that we love the children of God; when we love God and obey His commands (orders, charges) – [when we keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and His teaching]. For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teachings]. And these orders of His are not burdensome, oppressive, or grievous.” – (I John 4: 1-3. Amplified Bible).

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is all about reaching out to help other women. It is about obeying the commands of God and keeping His precepts and sharing His teachings. Within ARCM we can easily share the Good News. Within ARCM we can help, support and empower other women to be all they can be for themselves, their family and for the Lord. ARCM promotes the development of relationships for the betterment of the mentee or to help the mentee in some way or another. Moreover, an ARCM relationship of caring could be just the thing that keeps a young woman from making a terrible mistake in her life. It could give her hope, give her a feeling of belonging, give her knowledge, and more importantly give her an opportunity for true freedom and an eternal life that starts in the here and now with a relationship with Christ. What better gift could you give another woman than the knowledge of Who Christ is and how He would love to be her Savior? She can either accept or turn down the offer of eternal life, but she can’t make that choice unless she learns about Christ and His love for her? You can make a difference in the life of another woman by obeying God and sharing your knowledge of the personal freedom of Salvation.

Instead of allowing the nightly news to bring us to the point of despair, we have to step up in obedience and become active relational Christian mentors who reach out to women who don’t know Christ or who need our Christian love to grow ever more positive and beautiful. By obeying the commands of Christ and His Father, we can give another woman the chance at personal freedom. For with personal freedom comes the desire for national freedom and the desire to promote freedom for other peoples as well. Christ gives us personal freedom or liberty. We should want to promote our national freedom while longing for freedom for people everywhere. ISIS wants to control and take away everyone’s’ freedoms. But, ISIS can never take away the freedom we have received in knowing Christ as our Savior.  “… for the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – (II Corinthians 3: 17. NKJV).

If every Christian woman would be obedient to Christ and step up to share her Christ-light with our young ladies and the young women in our neighborhoods, we could make a huge difference in the attitudes and beliefs of our nation. We could give our young women the chance to have liberty. If they have the liberty of Christ, they will also want to protect the liberty that God has given them to live in a free country. They will want that same liberty for people everywhere as well. But, if we fail to teach and mentor the next generation and the younger generations, who can make a difference, we are letting the evil influences of the world control their futures and our future as well. If we don’t obey the Word of God and share the Gospel as well as live it day in and day out, many people will not only be lost, but they will give up liberty for an eternity in Hell. If we don’t do something soon, it will be too late for many. You can do it!  You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor who leads other women to freedom through your obedience to Christ.

“Satan doesn’t need for us to fall into gross sin
 in order to defeat us;
a large dose of laziness will do the trick just as well.

Put Christ first in your life, and then commit
every hour of the day to Him.”

(Billy Graham in Quotes)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We were Created for Christian Mentoring Relationships: Part II

“We witness in two ways: by life and by word … God’s purpose … after we have been converted is that we be witnesses to His Saving grace and power.

We are to be commandoes for Christ.
We are to be minute-men for Him.”

– (p. 138 Billy Graham In Quotes)

From God's Word:

“And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care in

 watching over one another,

studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) 

to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together

 [as believers], as is the habit of some people, 

but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging)

one another,

all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.”

 – Hebrews 10: 24-25. (Amplified Bible).

One of the first things my husband and I noticed about our church before we joined was the friendliness and sincerity of kindness toward each other and with the visitors. It didn’t take long for us to feel comfortable and cared about by the congregation. In our church, people get to know each other fairly quickly, because every Sunday our church has a “greet and meet” time before the Pastor’s sermon. It is at this time that everyone stands up and moves around the sanctuary to say hello and to shake hands with each other. It also gives us a chance to meet the visitors and tell them that we are glad they are there. More importantly, it keeps our Christian family close, because in those few moments we can see church members and visitors face-to-face, fellowship with them for a few seconds and notice if someone seems down or unhappy. 

The "greet and meet" is a great way to develop an acquaintance relationship, so that when we are asked to pray for a particular person we have a picture of that person in our minds. We will have also made a personal connection, even if that connection was just to shake the person’s hand in church. But, this is the first step in beginning to develop an acquaintance relationship or in the development of an even stronger relationship with someone. Often with these initial acquaintance relationships we can also discover a mentoring need. But mentoring first requires the development of a relationship.

Even with our “greet and meet” time, though, Christians often fail to make a connection with the other person. There are those Christians who shake the other person’s hand without even looking the person in the eye or acknowledging that they exist. They could just as easily be shaking hands with a mannequin for all they know. If they think that no one notices their lack of interest and concern they are very mistaken. Other Christians, though, are so focused on their own lives and problems that they cannot even take a few moments to focus on someone else. They just give a cursory “hi” without any sincerity behind the words. Then, there are those who just want to get the “greet and meet” time over, so they refuse to get up to even go through the motions of shaking another’s hand or looking like they care.

Although, most of our members would truly miss the “greet and meet” if it was taken away, there are some individuals that would not care. That is truly sad! For as Christians we are supposed to love our Christian brothers and sisters in a brotherly and sisterly way. This means that we are to care about those in the Christian faith. But, many Christians are so involved in their own lives that they cannot think about being concerned or involved in another Christian’s life. However, we fail to obey Christ’s commandments when we ignore other Christians.

The Apostle Peter, in speaking to the Christians of his day, said: “Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.”  -- (I Peter 1: 22. Amplified). Then later he said, “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]. Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him).  – (I Peter 4: 8-9. Amplified). Do we always represent Christ in our behaviors and attitudes?

Peter’s words are just as true and important today as they were when the Apostle Peter wrote them nearly two thousand years ago. Christ wants us to love and care about each other. However, we cannot begin to form a caring relationship with another person without first trying to develop some type of initial relationship, even if it is just an acquaintance relationship. Furthermore, we cannot develop a mentoring relationship without getting to know the other person and fellowshipping with them to determine what kind of mentoring they may need or want. But if Christians will not even look another Christian in the eye or even get up to shake someone’s hand, how can they develop any type of relationship? How can they be obedient to God’s Word? How can they ever mentor another Christian?

The first step in developing a relationship is to learn the other person’s name. Look that person in the eye and tell them that you are glad to meet them. If you have already met them, renew the acquaintance by saying that you are glad to see them again. Then ask how they have been. Obviously, this is just the beginning or embryonic stage of developing a relationship, for to develop a true relationship we need to get to know the other person. We can only get to know another person, though, through deliberate communication and interactions.

It is through communication and interactions that we can find the commonality that can help develop a relationship and then ultimately hold the relationship together. Perhaps both women love being mothers or grandmothers. Maybe they both went to the same college or pursued the same type of career. Maybe it is just being willing to show another woman that you care about her and her life that can bring the two of you together for a Christian mentoring relationship. For Christians, though, our commonality with another Christian woman should be first and foremost based on our love of Christ and our desire to live for Him and obey His commandments.

The Apostle Peter wrote: “[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires that governed you in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.” – (I Peter 1: 14-15. Amplified.)  In other words, once we are “Saved” we have a responsibility to live the requirements of the Gospel. We cannot act like we live for ourselves, because we are responsible for living for Christ and the Kingdom of God, which is the body of believers. Yes, we are to share the Gospel message with the lost, but we are also to try to live a purified and righteous life. This means that we turn away from the world’s way of living and live for God. It also means that we are to care about each other and help those within the body of Christ. Peter then goes on to say, “Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.”  -- (I Peter 1: 22. Amplified).

Sometimes it is hard to love someone fervently, but with Christ all things are possible. Of course, we are to also live honorably and properly at all times, and this includes showing honor and love when we are in the house of the Lord. As Christians, we are to set the standards for obedience to God for others and the standards for Truthful and caring behaviors in church and throughout life. For when we do those right and good things others can see Christ in our lives. Sitting in church and ignoring other Christians does not fall under either of the categories of right and good things.

The Apostle Peter wrote that we are to “… [live at all times] as servants of God.” – (I Peter 2: 16. Amplified.). Moreover, God has told us more than once that we are to love others as we love ourselves. To be a servant of God, we must show that we care about others in the body of Christ and show that we live in obedience to God’s Word. One of the ways that we can be obedient to God is to show that we care about others by reaching out to form relationships with other Christian women. But in order to form a relationship we have to communicate and interact with the other woman in a humble and loving spirit. 

It is easier to form a relationship if we can find a common ground, and then pursue that commonality in order to mentor or just be there for the other woman if there is a need. When we befriend another Christian woman we are usually able to develop a godly Christian relationship, which is what God wants for us. What may have started as just an acquaintance or introductory relationship can become one based on active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM).

Active relational Christian mentoring is all about the development of relationships for the purpose of helping another Christian spiritually grow stronger and more mature in living for Christ. ARCM is about supporting and helping the body of Christ in whatever way we can. But, ARCM is also about sharing the Gospel with other women who do not yet know Christ. However, whether we are helping a fellow Christian or a non-Christian, we have to first develop a relationship in order to be able to share. For those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior, Christian mentors can share skills, knowledge, resources and the Gospel message as she uses her gifts and talents to support, help and encourage another woman.

ARCM also focuses on making true and committed disciples of those who have chosen to follow Christ. The relational mentoring also helps new believers grow, mature and use all their talents and gifts that God has bestowed upon them. Whether ARCM takes the form of teaching, coaching, counseling or the fellowship type of mentoring that befriends and gives support, all active relational Christian mentoring starts first with the development of a relationship. We were created to be in godly relationships!

There are many types of relationships that we will encounter in life, starting with the parental or providential relationships that God gave us when we were born. As we progress through life, we develop close relationship with other extended family and even distant family members. We may also develop friendship relationships, sibling relationships, boyfriend and girlfriend relationships and eventually some will develop husband and wife relationships. As we mature, we also develop work-related relationships and even club and organizational relationships as well as our own church family relationships. Obviously, our goal, as Christian women, is to develop Christ-centered relationships no matter what type of relationship that we are engaged in. This is our mission in life: to witness to the world (even our small part of the world) for Christ and the Gospel and to live for Christ and to mentor others in the living for Christ, as we encourage, support, help, love and care for others in this world. We can do all this and more through Active relational Christian mentoring relationships.

As Christians, we could stand on a soapbox and shout to the rest of the world that Christ is the path to Salvation and eternal life, but not many people would take us seriously. It is only through the development of some kind of communicating relationship with another person that we can respectfully tell others about Christ. It is only through this type of Christ-centered relationship that we can be there to support and teach another; whatever it is that needs to be taught or mentored.

No matter how the relationship starts, people grow closer to other people through conversation and by doing things together that they have in common. If a relationship also has at its core the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both the individuals will be focused on the words of Christ and His actions, which they can then reflect back into the world through their words and behaviors. Occasionally, though, the other person in the relationship may not know Christ the way we do. This is where living our lives for Christ and sharing the Word will give the other person the knowledge that she needs to see that Christ really exists.

Christ does not only exist in our heart, but He also exists in our actions, which also allows others to see Christ in us, too. Once our relationship with the other person grows and develops, the other person will begin to see what Christ means to us. They will be able to see or view our lives lived out for Christ. ARCM is about showing others the joy and beauty in living for Christ. I know that you can develop a relationship to mentor another woman. But, in order to do so, you must obey the commands of Christ and show others that you are indeed living for Christ.

The Apostle Peter said, “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these, He has bestowed on us His Precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.” – (II Peter 1: 3-4. Amplified). Then Peter went on to explain that for that very reason, we are to add diligence to the divine promises. By exercising our faith we can develop virtue which is excellence, resolution and Christian energy. We are to then add knowledge, self-control, patience, steadfastness, and godliness. For it is through godliness that we can “… [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.”  -- (II Peter 1: 5-7. Amplified).

All of these attributes are to be acquired by Christians. Some are easy to acquire, while we have to work harder at acquiring others. But, whether we are in church, at work, or out and about with other people, we have to show the world that we care and that we truly live differently than the rest of the world. We have to express our Christian attributes in a humble and loving way. How do we do that? We do that by reading the Word daily. We do that by taking to heart the commandments of God. We do that by exercising our faith, our patience, our steadfastness, and our brotherly love, etc. We do that by refusing to be enticed into the ungodly actions and dress of the rest of the world. We do that by showing that we love others just as Christ showed that He loved us. We have to show that we care. If you really want to live to glorify God and live for Christ as you fulfill your individual purpose in God’s Kingdom, you need to become aware of your words and actions. You also need to pray, listen and actively seek the development of a godly relationship with another woman so that you can accomplish your Christian mission in life. You can serve in the Kingdom of God through ARCM. You can do it!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We Were Created for Christian Mentoring Relationship: Part I

“And Day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and implicitly and generous hearts. Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people…”
 – (Acts 2: 46-47).

Today, I want to start talking about relationships, because relationships are the key to active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM). Without forming a relationship, even just an acquaintance relationship, we cannot begin to actively mentor another person. So what is a relationship? A relationship is a continued communication association with another person. Initially a relationship is based upon a specific connection made between two individuals. In other words, each person within a relationship has formed a connection with the other person by getting to know them through interactions and communications within a particular environment or setting. We can have connections by blood, such as the relationship that we have with our parents, or we can have a connection or relationship with another through marriage or through our work environment. But, whether it is a friendship, a relative or a career-oriented relationship, individually we decide whether or not we will maintain or continue the relationship. All relationships between Christians and non-Christians, though, are formed in the same way: through communication and interaction.

The first relationship on this earth was between God and Adam. After God created Adam, He mentored Adam in what He expected from Adam. Every day God walked and talked with Adam. Then when God created Eve, Adam had a relationship with God and a relationship with Eve. Each of those relationships was different, but they both added to the life that Adam was living. Adam was to not only have a spousal relationship with Eve, but he was to have a mentoring relationship with her too. For, Adam was to teach Eve everything that he had learned from and about God.

But something happened along the way. Eve was enticed by Satan to believe that God had lied to them. She fell for Satan’s lie and ate of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even giving some fruit to Adam to eat. Sadly, their sinfulness ruined the perfect relationship that they had with God and each other. Now, they would live in a fallen world with all the trials and tribulations to follow.

God had wanted to develop a spiritual mentoring relationship with Adam and Eve based upon Truth and upon their love and reverence of Him. God also wanted a relationship with beings who would bring God all the glory He so richly deserved. How do we know this? Well, it is through God’s own Story or in His Biblical Scriptures, i.e. the Bible that we come to know that God created us to bring Him glory. For God told His prophet Isaiah that “They are my own people and I created them to bring Me glory.” – (Isaiah 43: 7. Good News Bible in Today’ English Version).

Although the devil tried to destroy the perfect relationship between Adam and Eve and God, He failed. Adam and Eve were given the promise of a Deliverer. Even though they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were still in a relationship with each other and that relationship would sustain them through even more harrowing times. Moreover, God did not abandon them, for they could still have a relationship with Him. It just wasn't that perfect relationship that they once had. Now, their relationship with God would have to be based on forgiveness of their sins through their sacrifices and offerings to God.

As children came along, Adam and Eve also had relationships with them. Eventually, as the population grew, they had relationships with extended family members and later with distant relatives. Each relationship was based upon getting to know the other person and filling a need or teaching someone something that they did not know. From women teaching other women how to cook, or from men teaching their sons how to hunt and gather food for the family, both the mothers and fathers mentored their children on what they needed to know to survive. Later, the mentoring would include, comforting, encouraging, and motivating another person when they needed help.

There are many different types of relationships and most contribute to our enjoyment of life. Our relationships can give us delight and add spice to our lives. Unfortunately some relationships can cause us grief and despair as well. Nonetheless, it is the many and varied relationships in our lives, including those relationships that we may not choose, that can help us to grow and mature in life. Some good relationships will groom us for a future of beauty, joy, and peace. Certainly, the relationship with Christ our Savior can be not only joyful and peaceful on this earth, but our relationship with Christ will also give us untold joy and peace in Heaven someday with Christ and His Father. In fact, the greatest relationship we can have is the relationship that we have with Christ. “Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not even now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the Salvation of your souls.”  -- (I Peter 1: 8-9. Amplified).

The relationship that we have with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us the strength that we need to get through this life. At the same time, this godly relationship provides love and support as well as comfort and encouragement as we face the travails of life. This Heavenly relationship ensures us that we will never have to face life alone. For, those who are “Saved” have our Heavenly Father and our Savior guarding our backs from the arrows of the devil and his minions. Moreover, we can always talk to God and receive answers to our prayers. He is always there to hear us and to provide comfort and peace. “And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him; [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.” – (I John 5: 14-15. Amplified).

God has provided us with the opportunity to have the best relationship we could ever have. It is the relationship we can have with Him and Jesus Christ. But God also provides earthly relationships to help us grow and learn what we need in order to survive here on this earth and to enjoy our lives. Actually the first thing that everyone has to understand before they can come to some kind of meaningful understanding of relationships is that God, the Trinity, created everything in the universe and this world including the concept of relationships. Yes, God created us! We did not spontaneously mutate from some primordial mud. Rather we have a Creator, God, Who created each one of us individually and Who continues to care for us and maintain the world we live in. Without God’s continued maintenance and care of this world, we could not and would not exist. (See Colossians 1: 16-17 and Hebrews 1: 1-3.).
Not only did God create us, but God loves us. God didn’t want robots, so He gave us free will to make decisions and to be able to live our lives the way that we wish. The Bible tells us that “Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.” – (Ephesians 1: 4. NLT). Even knowing that we would disappoint Him in so many ways, God still wanted to create us and have a relationship with each one of us.

God knew how important personal relationships would be to His Creation, because God was in a relationship with Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Trinity of God is made up of the relationship between these three essences of God. The Apostle John wrote: “So there are three witnesses in Heaven: the Father, the Word (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One.” – (I John 5: 7. Amplified). However, God, the Trinity, also wanted a relationship with the people He had created. God wanted us to know the depth of His love for us. Only when we read the Bible from start to end, can we begin to discover how much God truly loves each of us individually.

God loves us so much that He wants each of us to be “Saved” and to come live with Him someday. But, God will not force any person to make the decision to trust in and believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. However, it is only by turning to Christ and trusting in Him for our Salvation that we can begin to know the depth of love that God has for us. It is only in developing a relationship with Christ and His Father that we can begin to realize what God had envisioned for us when He created us. It is only in living for Christ and serving others that we can begin to grow and mature in understanding and knowledge of our role in God’s Kingdom. This growth and maturity develops slowly which is why the Apostle Paul prayed, May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.” – (Ephesians 3: 17-18. NLT).

Even from the beginning, though, God knew that the people that He was creating would betray Him and His relationship with them by succumbing to the lies of the devil and turning against Him. However, God would not let us and our relationship with Him be destroyed by Satan and his lies. Since God is all-knowing, He knew that Adam and Eve would succumb to the devil’s lies, so from the beginning God planned to send a redemptive Savior, i.e. a Deliverer, to the world. Thankfully, our lack of love for God and our betrayal of His offered relationship did not stop God from loving us. Instead, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and to conquer eternal death. What the devil planned for evil by lying to people to keep them bound in Hell for all eternity was destroyed through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His subsequent conquering of eternal death for those who will believe on Christ. For, Christ is alive and residing at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. Now, no one has to spend eternity in Hell if they confess their sins and ask Christ to forgive them. Everyone can have a relationship with Christ if they so choose.

Next week, I will talk more about the mentoring responsibility and the relationships that all Christian women should share. For, “… if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].” – (I John 1: 7). Through active Christian fellowship with one another, we can emit Christian light to the world. Indeed, it is through our service to others and through loving others as we love ourselves, as we live for Christ that we can not only share the Gospel message, but keep ourselves focused on living for Christ. Sin creeps in when we neglect our relationship with Christ and fellowship with other Christians.

Next week, we will continue our discussion on Christian mentoring relationships. Until then, pray about who you could help through ARCM. Ask God to open the doors of your heart and to help you find the courage to help another woman through Christian mentoring.  You can do it!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fulfilling our Christian Responsibilities through ARCM

So many times as Christians we just meander through life without focus and purpose. But, Christ has given us directions and goals to be reached. He has told us that we are all members of the Kingdom of God and that as such we are to help each other and are to share the Gospel with those who are still lost. Through hearing the Gospel message and then repenting of their sins, Christ will give eternal life to those who turn to and believe on Him. What is eternal life? In His High Priestly prayer in John 17: 3 Christ said, “And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand) You (God), the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent.” – (Amplified Bible). Anyone who believes on Christ and repents of their sins can have eternal life.

Someday we all will face our maker and give an accounting of our life here on earth. “… Each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God.” – (Romans 14: 12. Amplified).  Our responsibilities to Christ, though, do not stop with our acceptance of Christ as the Son of God and our Savior. Yes, we are Saved for all eternity! But, we still have a purpose in this life on earth. We are to live our life in such a way that we daily give God glory and honor. But, we are to also help those who are in need: have concerns, need emotional support, need a friend, need career help or who just need help in learning something that can bless their lives, just to name a few of the things that Christian mentors can do to help another person.

The Apostle Paul explained our responsibilities as children of God in the book of Romans. He said, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”  -- (Romans 12: 1. Amplified). In other words, as Christians, we are to dedicate our lives as a living sacrifice to God through our service to Him and others and through our spiritual worship of God. So, how do we go about being a living sacrifice to God?

First, we have to understand that many people see us every day. Everything we do and say, or that we don’t do or don’t say is a reflection of who we are. If we want to be that living sacrifice to God, we must focus our lives with purpose to live for God and to do whatever we can to shine Christ’s light upon the rest of the world. God doesn't ask us to do anything that He has not prepared us to do. This includes Active Relational Christian Mentoring. For example, if women are to be a good Christian mothers, we should know that God has given us the capability of being that good Christian mother. We just have to decide whether or not we want to act upon our capabilities. Each Christian has been given the capability of sharing the Gospel with others. But, will we? Women have also been given the capability of helping another woman through Christian mentoring. We just have to decide whether or not we want to act upon our capability.

Yes, one woman may have the ability to mentor another woman on a career path. While another woman may be able to mentor a woman on new skill she would like to acquire. Still other women can empathize and provide emotional support to women who are in emotional pain. Whatever the situation, though, God provides women with the capability to help, if they are just willing to step forward and mentor another.

The Apostle Paul easily explained about our responsibility and capability. Paul said, “For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts of one another [mutually dependent on one another].”  Paul then goes on to say that we each have been given specific and sometimes different gifts just as the body has different functions. He says, “Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them … according to the proportion of his faith; [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching; He who exhorts (encourages) to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.” – (Romans 12: 4-8. Amplified).

We can all talk about love and doing for others at certain times, but we are to be more consistent in our love and in our helping of others. Moreover, even those of us who feel that we are very busy, can still prioritize our lives for Christ, so that we can find a way to actively mentor another woman. Loving others is more than just saying that we love others. It is action! The Apostle Paul said, “[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); … Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. … Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints; pursue the practice of hospitality. … Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].” – (Romans 12: 9-11, 13, 15. Amplified).

By being there for other Christians and by setting an example of Christian love for those who have yet to come to know Christ, we are living our lives with purpose and with responsibility to our Lord and Savior.  Furthermore, we are to “… endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or hindrance in the way of a brother.” – (Romans 14: 13. Amplified). But, it isn't just our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are not to hinder. We also do not want to put any obstacle in front of a non-Christian that could keep them from turning to Christ. This means that we have to shine our Christ-light on all. We have to be true Christians who daily serve God; living with purpose and responsibility as we glorify and worship the Lord.

As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].”  – (I Peter 4: 10. Amplified). These gifts and abilities have been given to each Christian so that we can do the work that God has for us to do. As Christians, we cannot shirk our responsibility toward God and His Kingdom. For, we all will be held accountable for our actions or lack thereof. Most Christians will find that they will have opportunities to actively mentor either another Christian sister or a woman who needs to hear about Christ. We cannot let opportunities pass us by. Although we may quickly forget the shirking of our responsibility, the Lord will not. I don’t know about you, but I want to someday hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” To hear those words, I must take every opportunity that God gives me to help other women through ARCM and to shine the light of Christ out upon the world. Remember, God is with us and we are never alone in our endeavors to speak up for the Kingdom of God. You can do it! You can actively mentor another woman for the Lord.