Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mentoring the Truth and Voting our Faith

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is about loving others as we love ourselves and then being willing to reach out to actively mentor another in whatever area that they may need our help. As Christians, we have been taught to love our neighbor as ourselves. This love is then expressed in our doing things to help other people. In fact, Christians have, over the years, started charities and businesses, many of which are not for profit, in order to help those that are in need. In fact, Christians are the ones who started the hospital system here in the United States as well as many of the charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army. Additionally, Christians are the ones who often step up to the plate to help those who are in need because of some unexpected devastation such as a fire, flood, or earthquake, or because we see people in poverty or in some emotional or physical hurt. Indeed, Christians know that we are to “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”  -- (Galatians 6: 2. NLT).

Our Christian hearts reach out to help with our money and our time. But, we do not stop at just helping only those who are here in the United States or those who are our neighbors, because we help those in other countries as well by sending food, water, and medical supplies to countries around the world when people are in need. We even send missionaries to share the Gospel message and to mentor people in learning how to do things that will help them be able to provide for themselves or their families. But what is the difference between stepping up to help someone who has an unexpected problem and needs our immediate help or in helping someone who can actually help themselves, but just expects a handout because it is so much easier not to work? Are Christians supposed to help those who can actually help themselves, even when we see extreme poverty and what appears to be need? What does God say about people helping other people in this situation? We can learn a great deal about this topic and many others by studying the Bible, God’s Word.

One of the things that the Bible tells us is that God created humans to have relationships with each other and to mentor others who need help, knowledge, support, or information. As Christians we learn that we are to be there for those who can use a friend or who need a fellow Christian to help them through a trying time. Obviously, there are many different types of Active Relational Christian Mentoring that can help other people, from the teaching types of mentoring to sponsorship, fellowship, coaching, and even accountability mentoring. Within the teaching and the coaching mentoring and among the many things that we can mentor, we can also help individuals learn how to work, learn a different type of work, or teach them how to acquire a skill that will help them get a job that will help them out of their present negative situation. There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish, and he will be able to feed himself and his family for a lifetime.” Fishing can be fun, but it also takes some knowledge of the different types of fish within the waterway and what kind of bait and poles work best to catch a particular kind of fish. Fishing also takes time and patience, and in some cases it can even be considered to be work. But, humans were created to work, and part of our Christian responsibility is to make sure that we are not only working for ourselves and our family, but that we are working for the Lord. Working for the Lord can also include teaching others how to work and live for themselves. We can also teach others about their civic responsibilities and their freedom to choose the leaders of our country by mentoring them on the importance of getting out to vote.

(This blog is divided into sections for your convenience. You can read one section a day or read the whole blog at once. It all depends on the amount of time that you have to devote to reading each day. But, no matter how you choose to spend your reading time, I hope you enjoy learning about the importance of working and voting as stipulated in God’s Word.)

Humans were Created to Work

God created humans to work. In fact, the first job given on this earth was given to Adam, the first human. God gave Adam the job of taking care of the Garden of Eden. In the garden, Adam was given the responsibility of taking care of all the plants and animals. We know this, because the scriptures tell us that “The LORD God placed man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.-- (Genesis 2: 15. NLT). Moreover, right after God created humans in His own image, “God blessed them and told them “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and the birds and all the animals.’ And God said, ‘Look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.’”
– (Genesis 1: 28, 29. NLT).

Notice in the above biblical verses, that God expected mankind to work. For, He told Adam and Eve that they were to “tend and care” for the garden. Furthermore, they were to overcome the wildness of the earth, by “subduing” the earth and by being “masters over the fish and the birds and all the animals”. But in order to subdue the earth and to have the food from the seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, they would have to work at harvesting the food and picking the fruit from the fruit trees. In other words, they could not just sit by idly and expect to be fed when they did not work to get the food, because that was not going to happen.

God never intended mankind to be idle and do nothing. Indeed, many bad things occur from idleness. Besides not being able to provide for ourselves and our family when we are idle, doing nothing or idleness gives the devil the chance to get in the middle of our lives and create havoc and sinfulness from every direction. God knew that idleness was the playground of the devil and his minions. God knew that one of the ways for humans to avoid that sinful playground and not succumb to the evil temptations within the devil’s idle playground, is for men and women to work. So for women, whether it is caring for our children, keeping the house looking nice, preparing dinners and doing laundry or going out into the work force to make money, we are to keep busy and not become idle or lazy. Men are not to be idle or lazy either. They are to work for a living according to their abilities and skills, or contribute in some manner or another to their family’s well-being. If men and women truly care about each other, they should want to be a part of the family’s work force in some manner or another, if it is physically and mentally possible for them to do so.

Caring about Each Other

Most people have a caring heart. Christians especially have been given the desire to love others as they love themselves and to heed the words of Christ expressed in the parable of the Good Samaritan where the Samaritan helps the person who was beat up by robbers when no one else would stop to help him. (See Luke 10: 30-37). We, too, cannot sit idly by and do nothing when others are suffering from lack of food, clothing, health provision, etc. In fact, Christians are to take to heart the words of Jesus Christ about the coming Judgment Day. For Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. … The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
– (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40. NASB).

Even before God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us salvation and to teach us how to trust in and live for Him, God established the desire within His people to care about each other. But just in case some of the people did not heed their innate desire to help and care about others or became selfish, God gave His people specific commandments that would guide them into doing that which is right and true for everyone. He even gave them commandments on how to provide for those less fortunate than they were. Such was the commandment that established the law of “gleaning”. This gleaning commandment that God gave to the Jewish people can be found in the book of Leviticus 19: 9-10. There God said, “when you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop – do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I the Lord, am your God.

Notice that in this command, was also an implied command for those who were poor to work. Even though God told the owners of the fields not to strip their fields of all the crops so that the poor would be able to eat and provide for their families, God did not expect the Israelite farmers to do the harvesting for the poor or to just give them what they needed. Instead, God wanted the poor to work for their food just as the rest of the people did. Yes, they may not own the field that had the specific food they needed, but they would have to work that field the same as the harvesters worked it in order to get the food and wine that they needed to be able to survive. But, their work did not stop with just collecting the food, for once the grain was collected, both the harvesters and the poor people who gleaned would still have to grind the grain and cook it for themselves in order to be able to be nourished. Or once the grapes were collected both the owner of the field and the poor person who gleaned the grapes would be responsible for making their own wine to drink or their own raisins to eat. In other words, everyone had to work to get what they needed, including the poor.

Notice that God’s plan for gleaning was not to establish a welfare program, but rather to establish a program that required the poor person to work for their food. God knew that even a poor person needed to work and achieve something and that every individual needed to be able to feel self-esteem for having done something for themselves. Certainly, there is a certain amount of pride or self-esteem in being able to do something for yourself, such as the pride or self-esteem created when a person is able to provide for their family by actually going out and working to get the food. Do we have that same type of work program today; a program that creates human self-esteem? Or do we have a program that creates a feeling of worthlessness?

Do we help people find work so that they are able to show their accomplishments and feel good about their efforts? Or does our government welfare program just hand out the money to the poor person to do with as they wish? What happens when the hand-out or money is gone or is used for nefarious purposes by the recipient? Furthermore, many people on welfare have no self-esteem, but just sit around and wait for the next hand-out rather than getting out and attempting to find work. Thus there is never any self-esteem created. Moreover, this lack of self-esteem, in turn, creates self-complacency and a feeling of worthlessness that has to be overcome in other ways. To overcome this feeling of worthlessness many people create a belief in entitlement. They rationalize their entitlement in many different ways, but it all comes down to “I deserve the money and the government owes me the money for …” whatever reason they have come up with in their minds. Thus our country’s welfare program becomes a vicious cycle of dependence upon the government and of people never getting out of the cycle of idleness and self-defeating ruts that they are in.

Unfortunately, trying to overcome this feeling of worthlessness often leads these poor people into the devil’s playground, which can get them into greater trouble. For, it is there in the devil’s playground that one can find drugs to dim their minds and create another realm worse than the one they are in. Then there are the gangs within the devil’s playground that can lead a person into even more illegal activities. For women there is also prostitution and unwanted pregnancies that often occur within the devil’s playground. Worse still, those that receive hand-outs without any requirement to work in order to receive needed money end up hating those that give them the hand-out. It is really a love/ hate relationship. They love to get the checks and then they expect to get the checks forever, yet they hate the fact that they are in this dependent situation as well as the continuing dependence that the welfare checks create. Eventually, though, the recipients of the welfare checks begin to think of the hand-outs as their due. They begin to feel that the government owes them something for having to be in the situation that they are in. Eventually, the frustration created by their unproductive lifestyle is then projected onto people that don’t need hand-outs, as the jealousy mounts against those who are actually working. Ultimately, this welfare system creates the have’s and the have not’s, which builds a hate wall between the two groups of people. We have this situation today in the inner cities where people have lost their self-esteem and dignity because they cannot find work.

Our Government Contributes to the Policy of Poverty

As we have seen with the biblical scriptures, God expects people to work for a living and to not take daily or monthly handouts when a person can physically and mentally work. From studying the biblical scriptures, we now know that God created mankind to work. Unfortunately, there are people who do not see anything wrong with taking handouts and not working even when they are capable of working. They have not been taught about the benefits of working, such as the development of personal self-esteem. While others have not been given the education or the skills needed to find productive work. Both groups of people are in a negative situation that could be remedied with education and mentoring. Unfortunately, instead of contributing to their education and developing mentoring programs that could get the poor back into the work force, our government has reinforced the hand-outs or welfare policy in such a way that welfare now keeps people in perpetual poverty.

Not only do we have welfare system that doesn’t work, but our government keeps people in perpetual poverty, because it has actually made rules that makes it harder for individuals to get off the welfare dole. In fact, people can often make more money with the government handouts than they can working for themselves or someone else. Moreover, the government has further kept people in a vicious cycle of dependence by penalizing people who receive government help when and if they attempt to work to supplement what has been given to them by the government. This penalty occurs when they are not allowed to make over a certain amount of money even though they are still way below the poverty line. If they make more than what the government sets as a limit for them to make, they know that their government assistance will be taken from them, so why work and take that chance.

We now have people who not only live off the welfare system, but who refuse to work, because they know that they can make more money on welfare than they can if they attempt to work, as they do not have the skills or the education to get higher paying jobs. With the way that the welfare program is set up, even the menial jobs that the poor would have to take, could mean that they would make just enough money to lose their welfare checks. But, instead of the government training people and giving them the skills needed to work and get a good paying job, those who have no skills have to take the lowest paying jobs that bring in less money than they could get if they stayed on welfare. So, why should they go to work?

Even the Apostle Paul, who spread the Gospel message throughout the middle east during the first century, saw the problems that would arise when providing people with everything they needed and not requiring them to work. To make his point, Paul told the new Christian Thessalonians: “We were never lazy when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so that we would not be a burden to any of you. It wasn’t that we didn’t have the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you this example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘Whoever does not work should not eat.– (II Thessalonians 3: 10. NLT).

Paul was not trying to be cruel, but he knew that an idle person will find something to do and often that something is usually not productive or good. Moreover, those that don’t work are either looking for a handout, or looking for ways to scam another to make money or to try to cause problems. Today unemployed young men join gangs and get into other things that are illegal. (Remember that even though Paul was talking to the Thessalonian Christians, there were those among these Christians who professed to be Christians but were really not saved, just as there are people within our churches today that are not truly saved. Furthermore, there were also lazy people among the Thessalonians, just as there are lazy people today in our society. Indeed, lazy people can be found in every part of society.). So, Paul told the church to stop supporting those that were capable of working, but who just chose not to work.

As I mentioned, Christians have a big heart for helping others, but there is a difference between helping someone who can help themselves, and helping someone who can’t help themselves. Now, if a person is an invalid, or is someone that cannot understand how to do things in life, like a person with a very low I.Q., then that is another thing altogether. But, if a person is healthy, or even mildly challenged, there is always something they can do to provide for themselves with a little direction or mentoring from others. They may just need a Christian mentor to help them find work or help them learn a new skill. In making the above statement about “Whoever does not work should not eat”, Paul was not advocating cruelty, but rather responsibility and the kind of tough love that will benefit the person in the long run. Are you willing to help someone through Active Relational Christian Mentoring to develop a skill that can help them work and create self-esteem? Are you willing to advocate a skill development and educational program in all areas of our society so that everyone has a chance to get a good education?

Discovering and Voting the Truth Behind the  Candidates and Both Political Parties

Today our politicians, many whom have found a semi-permanent home in congress, have encouraged or promoted a welfare system that keeps the poor, poor. Those who advocate giving welfare handouts without expecting anything in return from the recipients, are merely keeping the poor in an ever vicious cycle of dependence with no hope for the future, which ultimately causes strife and discontent. Even worse, is that fact that the poor live in areas where the government or politicians have failed to establish good schools, skills programs, and infra-structures conducive to helping people live above the poverty line. Instead, many of the politicians have lined their own pockets and have left those in poverty with no hope for the future. To appease the poor and to make themselves look caring they just continue a welfare program that keeps the poor in perpetual poverty.

One of the candidates for President of the United States, not only advocates this type of dependent welfare system, but also panders to those that are down and out by promising a forever welfare system on which they can depend. Even the political party of this candidate has kept the blacks, and other ethnic groups that are poor in a perpetual state of dependence upon the government, i.e., they will never to be able to rise above their poverty for lack of training and for fear of not receiving their welfare check. This political party does not advocate educating the poor or advocate getting them ready for the workforce. For, they know that if they can promise the poor a welfare check forever, then they will get their vote.

 Unfortunately, as mentioned before, dependence upon a government check often creates low self-esteem, which can create discontent with a person’s role in life. This discontent then becomes a powder keg that is always ready to blow. We have already seen riots and unrest among the blacks and the blaming of their problems on the police. But are the police really the problem? Could it be the idleness and low self-esteem from not working and from not being able to support their families? Certainly, there are many reasons for the unrest, but it isn’t just the policing problems that are causing this unrest. Is this unrest what you want to continue in the United States? If not, then you need to vote for someone else who has a vision for helping the poor rise above their economic status to become productive members of society. One of the candidates believes that their needs to be a change that will help all people find jobs and build their self-esteem.

Understanding the Political Parties and Their True Beliefs

As responsible Christians, we need to research what each political party and their candidate actually believes and then try to match their beliefs up with God’s truth that is found in the Bible. Which candidate wants to create jobs for the people of this country? Which candidate is against abortion? Christians should not stand behind a party or candidate that advocates abortion or that creates or perpetuates a means of keeping the poor forever poor. God does not want us to murder unborn babies nor to keep other people down and out. Christians also should no longer accept the status quo. We have the right to question, vote our faith, and have our voices heard. Neither should we keep our Christian thoughts to ourselves. We not only need to vote our faith, but we also need to mentor future generations on what God expects of His children and what He expects of the leaders and the government that is in power.

If the government we have elected is not leading by God’s standards, then we need to vote them out and put in people who are willing to work toward promoting God’s standards for society. Moreover, Christians have a moral and spiritual responsibility to actively mentor others in the truth of the God’s Word and in the truth about not only the deficiencies of our government, but our educational system as well. Furthermore, we should not promote liars to be leaders of America. God despises liars, therefore we are not to accept a liar either just for expediency’s sake or because we don’t like the personality of another candidate. In fact, Jesus said: “But cowards who turn away from Me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars – their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.
 -- (Revelation 21: 8. NLT).

Liars will be punished on Judgment Day. But, until then, they should not be rewarded by giving them the Presidency. As Christians, we have a responsibility to always look for the truth and then to reward those who speak the truth. Just because the media’s talking heads and other liberal politicians and pundits ignore the truth and accept the lies told by one candidate, does not mean that Christians are to accept the lies told. In fact, Christians not only have a responsibility to share the truth with others, but we are to mentor the truth whenever we can, including the truth of the Gospel message.

What Should We Know Before We Vote for a Candidate for President?

The President of the United States is supposed to work for the American people. He/she must be someone who has the American people and our country at the forefront of his/her mind and is willing to give all his/her energy in keeping the American people safe and our country growing stronger each day. But, some presidents have not always given their all, nor have they had the best interest of all the American people at heart. Sadly, one such president has looked upon the Presidency as an opportunity to tear down America and through lack of work has even given the impression that he is more interested in golfing than in working for the people.

We can take a lesson from the Apostle Paul who gave the Ephesian Christians some specific advice about the need to truly work for ourselves and for others. Paul spoke not only about our employer/employee relationships as Christians within the work force, but he also emphasized the need for responsibility and integrity on the job. Furthermore, this responsibility and integrity is just as important for the employer as it is for the employee. Christians, especially, are to have responsibility and integrity, because we are constantly being watched by those that are non-Christians to see if we live up to the words of Christ and adhere to God’s laws. So, our words and deeds should match completely, as we live for God and do the work that He created us to do.

 Indeed, both the Christian employer and the Christian employee should be held to a high level of trust and truth. This includes holding the President of the United States to his word. He claimed to be a Christian during his campaign. Unfortunately, we have discovered that integrity and trust are not part of our current president’s moral make-up. Many bought into the words spoken by the current president when he was running for office. However, those words were also lies and thus we have reaped what was sown. But, we have a chance to vote someone with integrity and trust into the office of president. In fact, anyone who does not have integrity and trust should not receive our vote. We cannot afford to be snowed by another candidate who is known for telling lies just because we don’t like the other candidate personally. Let’s vote for truth and integrity this time. Let's vote our faith!

Although we do not have slaves and their masters today in America, we still have people in the government who are supposed to be working for the American people. One such person is the President of the United States. Anyone who works for someone else is the employee and the President of the United States is working for the people of the United States, so he is an employee. In turn, we the people, have to obey the rules and the laws imposed upon us by the people we have elected to lead and guide us. So, in some respects, it is an employer and employee situation that has been created by our democratic republic.

To discover more about the responsibilities of the employer/ employee relationship, we can turn to the Apostle Paul who addressed the issue of employer and employees in his writing about the responsibility of slaves and masters in his day. Even though we in the United States do not have a slave and master relationship to contend with today, we can still use Paul’s words as a foundation for all our work relationships including the working relationship that we have with the President of the United States and our Congress. The Apostle Paul said, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect … , Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and He has no favorites.
– (Ephesians 6: 6-8. NLT).

As we look at this statement from the Apostle Paul, are we able to see those in government positions who should be adhering to this type of Christian example? But, how many politicians or government leaders actually work for the people, let alone for God? Perhaps we should be looking at those men and women that we put in congress and those individuals in the highest positions of the United States in light of this admonition from the Apostle Paul. In other words, we need to look closely at each candidate running for the presidency to determine how they plan to work for us? Can the person that is running for the highest office in the land be trusted to do their very best? Can that person be trusted to treat others as he/she would want others to treat him/her? Does that candidate have the best interest of all Americans at heart, or does that presidential candidate just have his/her own interest at heart and the interest of their cronies at heart?

Have either of the presidential candidates indicated that they are enthusiastic about working for the American people? What is the responsibility of the President of the United States in regard to working for the American people?  Obviously, we cannot know the heart of each candidate, but the past experience, actions and habits of the candidates can tell us something about them. Which one continues to lie to the American people about intentions and past actions. Can you plan on trusting that individual to lead the United States and have our best interest at heart?

Knowing the Candidates for President

We should be looking at whether the candidate for President of the United States wants to strengthen the United States, or if the candidate simply wants to change this country into a socialistic country to fit some ideological idea that they have bought into. We need also to ask ourselves if a particular candidate panders to the poor with promises of taking from the rich in order to give to the poor? If so, is that the type of democratic or freedom seeking country that was established by our forefathers? Did God ask us to take from one section or group of people so that all people could be in the same economic strata? Personally, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where God says that everyone should be the same or have the same pay. In fact, Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, …).  – (Matthew 26: 11. NLT). Yes, we are to help the poor, by giving them the education and the skills needed to help themselves. We are also to be there to mentor them in any area that they may need our help.

We need to be very careful when we listen to what the candidates are saying and rather than just hearing what we want to hear and hearing what sounds good, we need to think about the implications of the words that they are speaking. We need to ask ourselves what is the result of what that particular candidate wants to do or to change about our country. Are we willing to give up our democracy for someone’s ideological view of what they believe society and our country should be? If you don’t know the answer to those questions or need help understanding what the candidate is saying, don’t listen to the “talking media heads”, but rather go to the Word of God and pray about what you have heard. Ask other Christians what they have heard and then try to figure out what their answers mean. Find a Christian mentor who can help you understand the difference between the truth of the Bible and the words given by someone who might say anything just because they want to be in the highest office of the land.

As Christians it is our responsibility to seek out the truth. We are to look for answers and make sure that we are voting our faith. We need to vote the way that God would have us vote. And, yes, God wants us to vote. He wants us to stand up for our Christianity and to be an example for others as we go to the polls to vote. So, talk to your Christian friends about voting. Make sure that they are willing to go to the polls to place a vote for the candidate that they believe will tell the truth and lead this country back into a country that is based upon God and upon doing that which is right in God’s eyes. Don’t stay at home and not vote. For in not voting you are giving the person that you dislike the most the opportunity to get the Presidency. God gave you the freedom to vote. Exercise that freedom because not every person in this world has the opportunity to vote. Many have no freedom at all, such as those living in North Korea. So, don’t take a chance that your freedom could be taken from you too. Get out and vote!

Obviously, no candidate is perfect. You may even feel that your choice is between two very imperfect people, yet you must vote for the least imperfect and God will do the rest. Remember, God has a plan. For God says, “‘I know the plans I have for you’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me in earnest, you will find Me when you seek Me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord.’”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 11-13. NLT).

Please trust in the Lord and do your part in this election. Become knowledgeable and then get out and vote. Also consider becoming an Active Relational Christian Mentor and help others who need your knowledge or expertise. God gifted you with your particular talents and gifts. Use them wisely and for the kingdom of God. You can do it! You can mentor others and share the Gospel message. You can make a difference in our nation by getting out to vote and by helping others through your mentoring. Remember to get out and vote your faith.

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