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Posts Tagged ‘mentor’

Before the election, I suggested that we “Vote: Then Stay Calm and Carry On.”

Well, the people have voted.  We cannot blame the president for what will or will not happen.  His ideology and hope for America were made clear through his unapologetic support of abortion, partnership with Planned Parenthood, promotion of sodomy, new definition of marriage, and health care mandate that forces Christians to choose God or Caesar.   The people, whether church-goers or not, determined the kind of leadership this country will have for another four years.

For the believer, nothing has really changed.  The day before the election is the same as the day after.  In all circumstances, we are to stay calm and carry on.

But, how can we do this?  How can we carry on the work of Christ in a nation that puts its trust not in God but in government?  In a culture that lifts the “right” to uninhibited sexuality and abortion above the right of conscience and faith?  In congregations that compromise God’s Word for the sake of church growth?

We stay calm and carry on.

There is a passage from Scripture that many of us like to offer as encouragement to friends or family.  It reads: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Left to itself, this passage assures us that all will be well.  All will turn out for good.  But, Steve Elliott of Grassfire.com and my own Pastor Beisel remind me how crucial it is to read all of God’s Word in the context of when and why it was written.

The “future and a hope” passage is from a letter that Jeremiah wrote to the surviving elders, priests, prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.  Please take note that the Lord God “sent” His people into exile.  It didn’t happen by accident.  It wasn’t because Nebuchadnezzar outwitted God or was more progressive.

What were exiled and captive people of God to do?  They were to be faithful.  They were to “build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:5-7).

They were also to heed God’s warning.  “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in My name;  I did not send them, declares the Lord” (vv. 8-9).

Then the Lord continued, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (vv. 10-11).

It is for this reason that I started Titus 2 for Life years ago.  After hearing the cries of so many Christian women deceived by the world’s focus on sexuality and “my right;” after hearing their cries after choices of promiscuity and abortion, I was motivated to encourage believers using God’s Word of Genesis together with the mentoring model of Titus 2.  Young pastor Titus was concerned for his congregation.  They were pressed on all sides by a culture that craved new ways and personal fulfillment.  What could Titus do for the few believers so that they would be equipped to raise up Christian families and, at the same time, push back against evil?  St. Paul offered Titus a model for mentoring that has always proved effective for any generation – in or out of exile.

So, on a quiet evening, please read Jeremiah 27-33.  Read the whole story.  Then, read Titus 2:2-15.

But, don’t stop there.  It has become very important for me to remember what happened when God’s people came out of exile.  In the Book of Ezra, we learn that only a few of the Jewish exiles wanted to return to Jerusalem and their homeland.  Most were unwilling to give up their Babylonian property or lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.  They didn’t want to return to “old ways.”  So, with only a few faithful ones returning to rebuild Jerusalem, the work was hard.  Some people in the area offered their help.  Those people didn’t worship Yahweh but held to a blend of mixed religious beliefs.  Suffice it to say that they had their own motives for wanting to help.  God told His people to refuse the help of unbelieving neighbors in the land.  Why?  Because accepting help from non-believers would obligate God’s people to pagan ways.  The potential for corruption in worship was too great if God’s people became aligned with non-believers (Ezra 4:3).

I pray for courage and opportunity to use the model given me for mentoring.  Even if it means being strange or unpopular, I pray for help in persevering for God’s glory rather than my own.  At Titus 2 Retreats, I often tell women that I feel exiled in my own country even though never forced from my home.  Perhaps, that’s how it will be for the rest of my life on this earth.  After all, I am but a stranger here on a journey to my heavenly home.  I’m not sure I ever felt “different” in my youth, but I do now.

Identity is everything.  God doesn’t call me to fit in with the world or grow comfortable with my desires.  He calls me to be holy as He is holy.  And when I am not, He reminds me of all He did for me in Christ Jesus.  In exile or not, I am His.  Redeemed to holiness, I can fear less.  Serve more.

In exile or not, I can trust my identity.  Resist deception.  Mentor away from evil.  Seek what is good.  Plant the seed and till the soil.  Raise the standard.  Be fed with Word and Sacrament.  Not be ashamed.  Run my race.  Encourage family.  Stay calm.  Carry on.

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The mother of one of my dear friends is in a nursing home.  She is a widow of so many years I’ve lost count.  In the past year, she survived near death experience but, at 95, her body is weakened.  Her daughter is faithful.  She travels four hours one way to spend two or three days with her mother.  The daughter encourages the mother and, at the same time, I believe the mother remains the mentor.  Even in poor health and weakened condition, the mother is an instrument for good in the hands of the Mighty God.

I can do little.  But, today, I wrote my friend’s mother this note:

Dear One,

I had these note cards printed with the single word “Amen.”  Why?  Because this word means “so be it.”  It can be our voice, responding to God, saying, “I agree with You, Father!  You said it!  Yes, indeed!”

So many days of our life are spent wondering and questioning: Why, Lord?  Why am I in this place?  Why is this happening?  Where are You?

Without a doubt, you are asking these questions.  But, you know what?  You have the answer.  You are in the hands of the Mighty God.  He said it is so.  God has called you by name, you are His.  He said it is so.  God knows every hair on your head.  He said it is so.  Because of what Jesus has done for you, you are a treasure of great price.  He said it is so.

Do battle with the doubts and fears, my friend.  They are deceptions of Satan, your enemy and mine.  Hold fast to the Promise of Jesus who died for you and me.  Tell Satan to take a hike… be gone… diminish into the nothing that he is.

You remain — forever and in all circumstances — the daughter of the King.  You are loved no matter what.”

It is my hope and prayer that, someday, someone writes me an “Amen.”  “So be it!”  “You said it, Father, it is so!”  May someone else remind me to trust The Promise.  God, who calls us by name, is faithful to work a good work in us and through us — until the day He calls us home.

In Jesus,

Amen.

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Some people I know are saying, “I don’t like either Obama or Romney, so I’m not going to vote.”  Others are saying, “I can’t vote for a Mormon, so I guess I’ll vote for the one who says he is a Christian.”

This year’s presidential election is not about electing a Christian.  It is about electing an American.

To those of you who follow this blog, I ask one thing: Please inform yourselves about both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  Get to know their mentors.  Learn who influenced them through life and shaped their worldview.  Then ask yourself: Which man more closely shares your vision of the United States of America?

I do not believe that Mormons are Christians.  However, I would rather be ruled by a loyal defender of this American republic than by a man who wants to remake America in another image.

Dr. Paul Kengor is the author of The Communist, subtitled “Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.”  The media doesn’t seem interested in Kengor’s book, although it is “meticulously documented and fair,” observes Sheila Liaugminas (Sheila Reports, MercatorNet).  Kengor writes, “It is scandalous that so little attention has been paid to Frank Marshall Davis and his influence on our president . . . Frank Marshall Davis’s political antics were so radical that the FBI placed him on the federal government’s Security Index, which meant that he could be immediately detained or arrested in the event of a national emergency, such as a war breaking out between the United States and the USSR.

“Obama’s memoirs feature twenty-two direct references to “Frank” by name, and far more via pronouns and other forms of reference.  Frank is a consistent theme throughout [Obama’s book] . . . He is part of Obama’s life and mind, by Obama’s own extended recounting, from Hawaii – the site of visits and late evenings together – to Los Angeles to Chicago to Germany to Africa, from adolescence to college to community organizing.  Frank is always one of the few (and first) names mentioned by Obama in each mile marker upon his historic path from Hawaii to Washington.”

Kengor writes that Davis worked diligently to “trash the Democratic Party.”  Then, “like many American communists,” [Davis] decided to join the Democrats” because he had “nowhere else to go.”  Communists, like Davis, patiently sought “alliances with Democrats much closer to their collectivist thinking.”  Kengor’s detailed documentation reveals that Davis has a 600-page FBI file.  In that file is an April 1950 report stating that “members of the subversive element in Honolulu were concentrating their efforts on infiltration of the Democratic Party through control of Precinct Clubs and organizations.”  These communist subversives, said the report, were pushing “their candidates in these Precinct Club elections.”  Kengor explains that it was a “long march to transform the Democratic Party from the party of Truman and JFK to the party of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.”  He continues, saying, “[I]n a quite fascinating twist of history, Frank Marshall Davis, as a ‘Democrat,’ would go on to influence today’s Democratic Party standard-bearer: Barack Obama.”

I wonder.  Did the Democratic National Convention meeting in Charlotte appear to conclude that it is government – not God – who takes care of the people?

It has been said: We become like the company we keep.  The mentors in our life matter.  The people we let influence us matter.  I want to know what makes the next leader of the free world tick.  I want to know who has influenced the next Commander in Chief.  I want to know what has shaped the man who will sit in the People’s House.  Don’t you?  So, it’s a fair question: If you seek to open the life story of each candidate, what will you find?  What is their worldview… and why?

Please.  Take note of how Obama and Romney each see the proper size and role of government.  Take note of how Obama and Romney listen — or do not listen — to Catholics, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists and other believers on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Take note of where they stand on the sanctity of life, marriage, and personal/religious freedom.  Take note of how they view Shariah Law vs. U.S. Constitutional Law.

Take note… then vote as if the lives of your children and grandchildren depend on it.

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My friend and mentor, Joanie, knew she was engaged in daily spiritual battle.  Her soul and the souls of those around her were targets for the enemy of our lives.  It was for this reason that Joanie tightly grasped the Sword of Truth.  “God’s Word is all I need.”

Once, while walking through a deep valley in her life, Joanie asked me to write out the words of Lamentations 3:21-23 (KJV):  “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”  I wrote out a second copy for myself.

One of Joanie’s favorite authors was Oswald Chambers.  His book, My Utmost for His Highest, is in our home library.  At a time when I was feeling insignificant and unappreciated, my husband asked me to read a page he had marked in the book.  There, Chambers quoted Philippians 2:17 (NIV):  “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”  Chambers’ commentary reads:

“Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer — to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others?  Or do you say, ‘I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him.  I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice.  And I want to have certain people watching me saying, ‘Well done.’ ”

Chambers had my attention.  I was compelled to read on.

“It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a ‘doormat’ under other people’s feet.  God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, ‘I know how to be abased . . .’ (Philippians 4:12).  Are you ready to be sacrificed like that?  Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket — to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served?  Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted — not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister?”

I am thankful that my husband was drawn to this particular commentary from Chambers’ book.  I reflect on it whenever I’m tempted by my human nature:  Does anyone notice my hard work?  Does anyone see how “poured out” I am?  Will I be credited for my help?  Then I think about Joanie.  She was always pouring herself out for others.  She was my hero, but the life marked out for her required becoming a doormat.

Joanie was willing to be insignificant — to give and minister to others — all the while calling attention to the Savior Jesus Christ.  In turn, something amazing happened.  Joanie was never poured out to empty.  God’s Spirit filled her with enough for each day.  His compassions never failed.  They were new every morning.

Poured out?  Unappreciated?  Used up?  God sent me Joanie whose life assured me: “Great is Thy faithfulness.”  As I pour out to His glory, He is faithful to fill up.

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Joanie was scheduled for surgery.  “I’m getting my affairs in order,” she told me.

Joanie had come into my life as an older, wiser friend not long after my mom died.  She became my mentor.  A reminder that God’s Word is all that matters.  A reminder that Jesus is that Word for my life.

“My surgery is to repair an aneurysm,” Joanie explained.  “It’s a routine procedure.  But, whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

A few days before the surgery, Joanie’s two daughters flew in to be with her.  Joanie called to tell me she had a grand idea.  “We’re going to have a joyful night on the town.”  Later, I learned that night was special indeed.  Over a leisurely dinner, Joanie and her daughters shared many memories.  They laughed, then cried, then laughed some more as they lingered over a single glass of white Zinfandel.  Later, they returned home to curl up in the living room where they continued their story-telling late into the night.  Somehow, I had no difficulty hearing Joanie tell her daughters, “I gotta tell you girls.  Whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

When Joanie’s son called to say he would drive down to be with her, she assured him there was no need.  “You stay with your family right now.  I’ll see you soon.”  Then she penned him a loving letter with words that can only flow from a mother’s heart.  The note ended, “Whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

On the morning of the surgery, Joanie woke early.  She slipped out the back door to say good-bye to her two dogs, the faithful companions who greeted her this morning as they did every morning.  Coming back inside, she slowly walked through the rooms of the house, touching her lips and planting a “kiss” on the photo faces of her husband, children, and grandchildren.  She sighed, then picked up the bag she had carefully packed the night before.  With one quick glance over her shoulder back at the house, she walked to the car.  No one but her Father heard her say, “Whatever you’ve got going here, Lord, is fine with me.”

The surgery did not go as expected.  There were too many complications.  My friend’s body grew weak and could no longer fight the battle of life over death.  In the distance, she could hear the great choir of heavenly angels praising God.  “Whatever you’ve got going here, Lord, is fine with me.”  Then, a brief hesitation.  Did Joanie hear one of her daughters say, “We must let her go.”  Did she hear the other cry, “No!”  Joanie waited as if she were giving her daughter time to adjust her thinking and receive the same peace that was now flowing through the mother.  It was not easy, but both daughters agreed, “Mom is ready.”  And they entrusted her to God.

Days later, Joanie’s daughters opened the bag which their mom had packed for her hospital stay.  In it were all the things that a woman would take for recovery from surgery — a few toiletries, nightgown, photo or two of her family, books for passing the time, and well-worn Bible.  Looking through the items in the bag, they paused to remember the behavior of their mom the morning she left home for the hospital.  They heard her sigh and saw her lingering glance at the house.  They knew she had written a “good-bye” letter of encouragement to her son.  But, at the same time, here was a bag filled with the items one would need for life.

Joanie truly believed, “Whatever you’ve got going, Lord, is fine with me.”  She lived each day ready to do those things God had already prepared for her to do, yet she kept her eyes focused on the Savior who would one day carry her home.  In the time that I had know her, Joanie spoke with excitement about her eternal home with Jesus.  Yet, never had I met anyone more content to be in the present — loving souls and sharing the Word of life.

Joanie departed my life much too soon.  Plans had been made for her to spend a week in my home.  I anticipated that visit.  I needed more time learning at the feet of my mentor.  Learning how to adjust my attitude.  Learning to focus less on self and more on Christ.  That visit did not happen, but others will.  With all confidence, I anticipate daily visits with Joanie in our Father’s house.

With eagerness, Joanie expected Jesus to come for her.  She only hoped she would not stand before Him ashamed.  Therefore, whether she lived or died, it would be to the glory of her Heavenly Father (Philippians 1:20-21).

“Whatever You’ve got going here Lord is fine with me.”

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Where are the mentors?  They are us!

They are older women — in age, experience, or spiritual maturity.  Unfortunately, too many of us seem to fear the concept of mentoring.

Yes, we may mentor a child at school.  Yes, we may mentor through a “Big Sister” program.  But, mentoring Biblical womanhood is counter-cultural.  There is strong resistance.  Obstacles stand in the way.  There are two: the younger women and the older woman.

The younger woman is, quite honestly, the least problematic.  Why?  Because younger women naturally resist mentoring.  The younger generation always considers itself more enlightened.  It’s typical for a young woman to consider herself more progressive than her mother or grandmother and, therefore, want to leave “old ways” behind.  Even when a younger woman is willing to learn some things from an older woman, she may still believe (as I’ve been told): “The culture is different than it was when you were my age.”  Well, the culture is always different with every new generation.  But, Truth never changes.

The greater obstacle to mentoring Biblical womanhood is the older woman.  It is the older woman who resists the opportunity to mentor.  Why?  Maybe because we are afraid.  Perhaps we’re afraid to mentor because it means we have to act our age.  Perhaps we’re afraid to mentor because it means re-visiting our past mistakes and becoming vulnerable all over again.  Perhaps we’re afraid to mentor because we fear rejection by younger women.

Some of us might be afraid because we are untrained.  Perhaps no one mentored us with God’s Word.  Perhaps we were led off the good path of life on painful and dangerous detours by older men and women we trusted more than God.  Perhaps a parent, professor, friend or even a pastor that we trusted had been deceived by “silly myths” and passed them on to us.  Out of respect for them, we may feel defensive about what they taught us.  The ideas to which we cling.  But, letting the light of God’s Word illuminate the dark corners of our minds, may we move out of a defensive posture.  Lift up in prayer the person who passed wrong ideas on to us.  Let go of “silly myths” and deception.

I’m a baby-boomer.  Talk about a generation influenced by “silly myths!”  My generation was raised with no boundaries; told to obsess on our bodies; dared to compete with men; and sent to the university where marriage, family, and the church were mocked and boldly dismantled.

The fact is, we can’t mentor if we’re afraid to act our age.  If we don’t want to accept where we’re at in life.  If we’re afraid to re-visit our past and acknowledge our failures.  If we’re afraid of rejection.  In other words, we can’t mentor if it’s all about me.

I can’t mentor if it’s all about me.  My fears.  My inabilities.  My past.  I can’t make a positive difference in my world if it’s all about me.  I can, however, make a life-changing difference if I’m all about God.  God’s Word.  God’s Word in Jesus Christ.  It is God’s Word that tells me who I am and why I exist.  Trusting the Word, I don’t need to fear myself or the world.

As an older woman, I think God wants me to accept my age.  My experiences.  My failures.  My disappointments.  Then, making use of all of these, He wants me to warn.  Train.  Equip the younger women He places in my life.  There is only one thing necessary for me to mentor: His Word.  Trusting God’s Word and using it makes me wise.  Willing.  Confident.  Less focused on self and more focused on others.

The world is not my friend.  Recognizing this, I (and all older women) mentor with the Word of God.  Away from “silly myths.”  Toward hope.

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Titus was a young pastor who served his people on the island of Crete.  Young Titus and his congregation found themselves in the midst of a pagan culture.  “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).

How could Titus and the men and women of his congregation not only remain faithful to God in the midst of evil, but affect the culture?  Shine light?  Share hope?  Titus was in need of a model, something that his people could use in the midst of selfishness, unhealthy lifestyles, and false teachers.

St. Paul warned Titus away from the worldly influence, but also was inspired to give him a model for mentoring generations of hope.  That model is found in Titus 2:1-8.  That model — indeed, the wholeness of the Gospel — brings salvation and leads to self-controlled living.

Titus 2, however, is one of the least popular chapters of Scripture.  It is not particularly favored by Christian women.  There are at least three reasons.  Most obvious is the fact that Titus 2 speaks to men and women separately… because we were created equal, but not the same.   Painfully obvious is the part about women “submitting” to their husbands.  (Ouch.)  But, a third reason that Titus 2 may be dismissed or ignored is that older women are instructed by God to mentor younger women.  Oh my!  How is an older woman — who has not made right choices; who has had an abortion or lived with a man not her husband; who has been abused, or become addicted, or suffers depression — going to mentor a younger woman?

This weekend, at a Titus 2 Retreat, we’ll be talking about why an older woman (in age, experience, or spiritual maturity) might feel too intimidated to mentor.

I’ve heard older women say, “I can’t mentor!”  But, every one of us mentors… at any given moment… whether we realize it or not.  We are mentoring some kind of faith, lifestyle, or way of thinking.  We are being an example… of something.

There is a reason God calls an older woman to mentor the younger.

Let’s push aside all of her past circumstances, sins, fears, and failures.  If she is a new person in Christ, she is forgiven and set free to live in a way that glorifies God.  In 1 Timothy 5:9-14, we read that the Church was to distinguish older widows from younger widows.  The older woman is distinguished by her “faithfulness” and “reputation for good works.”  She is distinguished if she has “been the wife of one husband, brought up her children, shown hospitality, washed the feet (served) the saints, cared for the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work.”

The younger widow, however, is different.  She is more easily drawn away from Christ by her romantic passions (v. 11).  She may be more easily tempted away from the “faith” (Greek: “oath” or “solemn promise”) if she had promised not to remarry, or to abide by the Christian faith and teaching.  The young widow (v. 13) without a father, husband, children, or a job might be prone to social problems such as being idle, falling to gossip and the behavior of a busybody, or losing control of her tongue.  The Church was to encourage young widows to “marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary (Satan) no occasion for slander” (v. 14).

In what way would the young widow, perhaps more easily influenced by the world, be helped?  By the mentoring of an older, experienced, spiritually mature woman.  A woman who had also been wrongly influenced, but was brought out of darkness into light.   Who was rescued from the mess of life and covered by Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  The older woman is not distinguished because she is sinless, but because she has learned to trust God.  Not be deceived by silly myths.  Have faith in God’s created order.  And keep her eyes on the Cross of Jesus Christ.

An older woman does not need to fear being a mentor.  Her very experience — from floundering and failing to recognition of her identity as a treasure of Christ — makes her an instrument in God’s hand.  Using God’s Word, she becomes an example of humility.  Service.  Patience.  Self-control.  Hope.

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