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Posts Tagged ‘mentor’

This week I will be speaking twice.  In my home town.

I am nervous.  Unable to focus.  Doubtful.   It isn’t that I doubt the mentoring ministry I represent.   Nearly every day I see evidence that our culture has lost its way.  That we’ve forgotten (or never been told) how to live as men and women.   The Word of God compels me more today than it did when I was first nudged from my comfort zone to begin Titus 2 for Life.

But, I’m a person affected by environment.  I’ve been known to take a candle along with me on a trip just in case the hotel room is cold and unwelcoming.  I’m also affected by other people.  It matters to me that relationships are built, not destroyed.   I’m acutely aware of body language.  Once, while speaking about a controversial issue, I heard a scribbling noise.  To my side, a woman was pressing her pencil hard on a page in her study guide.  Head bent down, whole body engaged, she blackened the paper with great sweeping motions.   Was she angry… or hurting?   Whichever, she had my attention: How should I respond?

So, what happens when speaking in my own home town?  To the people with whom I live?  I’m extra sensitive to my closest neighbors and tender relationships.  Differing perspectives.  Maturity and immaturity.  A sense — or lack — of humor.  Personal history.  Agreement.  Disagreement.  Defenses down… or up.  Do I only imagine it, or does the room close in?  Confuse my thoughts?  Leave me a bumbling fool?   What words can I utter that will be right for everyone?  These people with real lives… my closest neighbors?

His Words.  Not mine.  His Truth.  Not my opinion.

Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Do not add to His words . . . (Proverbs 30:5).”

I covet your prayer: His Truth from my mouth.  For the sake of my neighbors.

Maybe I will take a candle.

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Sometimes it’s easy to think that chaos rules.

But, does it?

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,” asks God of Job.  “Tell me if you have such insight.  Who determined its dimensions . . . who stretched a measuring line over it?  On what were its footings sunk?  Who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Who shut the sea behind gates . . . and said, ‘You may come this far but no farther.  Here your proud waves will stop” (Job 38:4-11).

God, the creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who connects the chains of the constellation Pleiades and unties the ropes of Orion (v. 31); the God who sends lightening flashes so that they may go and say to you “Here we are” (v. 35); and the God who put wisdom in the heart and gave understanding to the mind (v. 36) is the God who provides food for the crow when its young ones cry . . . (v. 41).

Does chaos reign?

Too many times, it would appear so.  But, there is plenty of evidence which tells me that God, not chaos, reigns supreme.  Did you know, for example, that the Quran (Koran) can’t be translated into any other language?  That means that most people being converted to Islam have little understanding of what they are taught to recite.  Contrast that with the fact that God’s Word, the Bible, is published in 95% of the languages of the world.

Did you know that in Europe, religious questions are back in the culture, in part, because of the rise of Islam and its repercussions?  And, have you noticed the growing number of bestsellers by atheists during the past several years?  Atheists and die-hard evolutionists are writing on the subject of God being bad or terrible.  Why would they do that if they truly believed they’d already won the argument and that God doesn’t exist?  Ten or 20 years ago it would have seemed odd for atheists like Richard Dawkins to bother writing about a mythical figure.

Does chaos rule?

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed One.  “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”  The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them . . . (Psalm 2:1-4).

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne (Psalm 4:8).

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.  For I am doing a work in  your days that you would not believe if told (Habakkuk 1:5).

It may appear that our culture has lost its moral footing.  Even though we still live at the same address, we may feel as if we’ve been taken captive to Babylon.  We may feel paralyzed and powerless to engage.  But, while God is doing His work, there is something we can do, too.  We can live.  We can live as men and women eager to glorify God.  We glorify God when we mentor with His Word for the sake of others.  God even provides a mentoring model that, when used, transforms the culture one man, woman, child, neighbor, and community at a time.  This model was first given to a young pastor named Titus so that he and his congregation could affect the lives of others seemingly captive to a pagan culture.  Ponder that model in Titus 2:1-8.  It most certainly caught my attention.  (Visit Titus 2 for Life )

Does chaos reign?

It may appear that our world is spinning out of control.  But, we don’t have to be paralyzed.  We can do something.  We can resist “silly myths.”  Just as we can train ourselves to eat healthy food and exercise, we can “train ourselves for godliness.”  We can “toil and strive” because we have a future of hope “set on the living God” (1 Timothy 4:7-10).

In chaos there is darkness.  But, this is the season of Advent.  During Advent, we light candles.  Candles remind us of the Light; the Light that cannot be overwhelmed:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  he was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . .  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-5; 14).

God, the Creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who connects the chains of the constellation Pleiades and unties the ropes of Orion sends darkness to cower in corners.  He is the Word come to earth in the glory of Jesus Christ.

That glorious Word brings order out of chaos.

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Last year, in Arizona, I was asked by a friend from Canada to have lunch with the daughter of her friend.  My Canadian friend knew about my involvement in Lutherans For Life and Word of Hope.  She knew a little bit of why Titus 2 for Life grew out of my experiences with women grieving after an abortion.  She also knew that her friend’s daughter was interested in starting some sort of caring ministry for women in her area who were affected by their abortions.

So, under a canopy of blue sky, two older and two younger women gathered around an informal table.  We were there to imagine:  What could be done to welcome, encourage, and heal with the amazing love of Jesus?  It was easy to see the passion in Tessie, the woman who desired to begin a post abortion group.  She wore a genuine heart on her sleeve.  But, more than the passion and heart was her conviction and the courage to speak the Truth  For, you see, without the truth, the passion and heart would not bring hope.

I offered my assistance and prayers to Tessie.  We parted ways, but promised to stay in touch by e-mail.  We have.  Tessie is accountable with her “reports” to me and a few trusted others.

In the spring, Tessie started her first group for post abortive women.    By the end of September, she had led three groups.  All of this was done by word of mouth and little posters in area churches.

I asked Tessie about the diversity of the women.  She replied,

“There have been 18 women from the three groups that I’ve led.  They range in ages from 28 to 60+.  The women are mostly Caucasian, with one Hispanic and two African Americans.  Seven are single.  Three are divorced.  Eight are married.  All of the women claim to be Christians.  Three of the women married the father of their aborted child, but one [of those] divorced years later.  Five have had multiple abortions.  Two were late term.”

The eighteen women that Tessie has encircled remind me of the women God has placed in my life.

At last count, 24 of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances have shared their abortion experience with me.  Many of these are women who came up to me after I had finished speaking about Biblical manhood and womanhood.  One woman admitted that was the only reason she could attend the event.  She said, “If you had come to speak about abortion, I wouldn’t have showed up.  But, I was curious about living as a Biblical woman.”  She went on to explain, “When you shared the story of your friend who had an abortion, how did you know?  You were speaking to me.  That was my story.”

Of the 24 women in my “circle” who have suffered an abortion, 18 are Lutheran.  Two are the wives of Lutheran pastors.  At least three have had more than one abortion.

One of the women is someone I’ve known a long time.  We’ve traveled different paths and, because of that, our experiences have resulted in very different consequences.  One day, quite unexpected, she shared a receipt from Planned Parenthood that she keeps in her billfold.  She also shared a cut-out picture of a little girl that, she explained, may have looked like her daughter.  God has done a healing work on this woman.  She will live with the regret the rest of her life but, every morning, she looks in the mirror to see the Robe of Jesus’ Righteousness wrapped securely around her.

Another woman and I nearly lost our friendship after her abortion.  I think it was the first time I realized how divisive the double-edged Sword of God’s Word really is.  She knew she was living on the wrong side of the Sword, but had to defend herself.  In time, that Sword pierced through the denial to change the heart and mind of a beautiful and forgiven woman.  This friend has motivated me to make myself available to women everywhere — through speaking, writing, and the Titus 2 for Life ministry.

To all of these women, God has Words of promise:

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes.

(Psalm30:5b; 32:3-5; Isaiah 61:1-3)

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The doubts begin about a week or so before each retreat.  There is a hissing sound.  “Who do you think you are?”  Taking another look through the Study Guide brings mixed emotions: The Word is exciting, but will my manner of presentation be helpful or harmful?

On August 8-9, my living room was filled with nine women.  My prayer was, “Please, dear God, don’t let me get in the way of Your Spirit.”  There were Lutherans and non-Lutherans.  Older and younger.  Married and unmarried.  Friday evening began, as always, with a meal.  It’s a way to practice hospitality, not showing off, but showing respect.  The women settled in for a night of contrasting the world with God’s Word before recognizing what Titus, chapter two, has to say to each of us in our vocation of mentoring.  On Saturday, we continued with breakfast, two sessions (one being my favorite on “Identity”), lunch, and two more sessions.

This note arrived about a week later: “Thanks so much for welcoming us into your home for the Titus 2 Retreat . . . The material is excellent, well thought-out and organized.  But, you present it with humility blended with confidence and commitment to the message.  At our church, we are seeking transformation, not just information.  And the Titus 2 for Life message is life-changing.”

Another note read, “It’s so wonderful to listen to someone who is so articulate, doesn’t compromise one bit of God’s Word — and gets it.  I could have listened forever.”  Another read: “Prior to this, I hadn’t considered the Genesis connection to Biblical womanhood.”

On September 17-18, a Titus 2 Retreat was hosted in Norfolk, NE.  Eighteen women fit comfortably in Kathy’s peaceful and welcoming home.  She did not “show off,” but showed respect for each guest by way of her caring and servant-style manner.  Lutherans For Life members who assisted Kathy by helping with food explained their conviction and desire to help mentor away from trendy thinking to the foundational Word of God.  By 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, all the women were tired.  But, many lingered as if they didn’t want to hurry from a place of warmth and safety.

Titus 2 Retreats are not easy.  Topics covered are counter-cultural and using the “double-edged Sword of Truth” is divisive.   After a retreat, I am drained.  I know each woman has a story.  But, not knowing the stories, I pray for tender words of hope and encouragement.  I am challenged to stay on track, yet allow discussion; speak what honors God, yet be alert to a variety of emotions.

Dear Spirit, You know my opinions count for nothing.  They are not helpful.  They are shifting grains of sand.  Keep this little ministry rooted in Truth — God’s unchanging Word of Truth.  On October 8-9 in the home of Sherry and with women from the Cedar Falls area,

Let my speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how I ought to answer each person.

And, help me be a worker who

. . . has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth.

(Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:15)

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When did God say, “Educate children in sex”?  I challenge you to find this passage in Scripture.  While you’re looking, you will find an opposing thought.  Parents are to train their children in purity.  The theme of purity is woven throughout Old Testament and New.

When our sons were in elementary school, I purchased a series of “sex education” books from a Christian publisher.  Something about them troubled me, so I put them on the shelf.  I found a better substitute — chivalry and more about biology than “sexuality”.  Of course, there was no substitute for the Bible.  I was amazed to see how much God had to say about training in purity.  I began to contrast God’s Word with “sex ed” textbooks and resources.  The teachings were world’s apart.

The question for me was this: Which worldview was best for children?  Some years later, speaking nationwide to teens and their parents, I realized why I had been uncomfortable with Christian-wrapped “sex ed” material.   Jesus does not wrap Himself around worldly ideas.

“Sex education” is not a Biblical teaching.  It is the idea of Alfred Kinsey who coined the phrase “children are sexual from birth.”  Too late, his criminal and fradulous research was exposed.  Opinions had been shaped — in education, media, and even courts of law.  If we define ourselves as “sexual” (with “needs” to be met), or “sexy” (“it’s our right”), then that’s how we’ll live.  Our Creator God defines us differently (Genesis 1:27):

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The first man and woman were made in God’s perfect image.  God defines Himself as “Holy.”  Therefore, God called the bearers of His image not to a “sexy” life, but to a holy life.  We all fell from perfection when sin corrupted God’s perfect image-bearers, but His original design for male and female did not change.  We are called and equipped by God to be holy (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).  Unlike animals, we are not captive to our sexual desires.  Our bodies (knitted together by God) and our lives (held in His arms) are not our own.  They were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  That price is the blood of Jesus Christ.  In Jesus, we are forgiven and set free to pursue what is good, right, and holy.

God created male and female, not to bring glory to themselves, but to Him.  We do this best when we realize that God does not define us as “sexy” or instruct us to call attention to ourselves; rather, He defines us as “holy” people who help our neighbors see God.

God’s Word says,

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.  To this end we toil and strive . . .

This passage from 1 Timothy 4: 7-10a tells me that Jesus can’t be wrapped around unholy and “silly myths.”  It is impossible for Truth to wrap Himself around foolish and destructive philosophy and practice.  Certainly, as the passage above notes, we have to “toil and strive” because disconnecting ourselves from worldly influence is extremely difficult.  It threatens to sap the energy right out of the most persistent Christian.  Still, every father, mother, grandparent, pastor, teacher, and mentor is obligated by God’s Word to train children in purity.  To do otherwise is to remove the protective boundaries of modesty and send vulnerable children to wolves — big and bold or dressed in sheep’s clothing.

Jesus doesn’t wrap around modern sex education.  He can’t.  He is the Word of purity, modesty and humility.  For this reason, His Word tells elder brothers that they have the responsibility to guard the purity of their younger sisters (Song of Solomon 8:8-9).  If the little sister is a wall (virtuous), they are to help protect her chastity.  If she has fallen into sin and is like a door (swaying open to promiscuity and harmful choices), then they are to do what they can to rescue her, call her to repentance, and put a stop to her sinful behavior.

Jesus contrasts the world.  He is Light; the world is dark.  He is Truth; the world is myth and changing opinion.  Jesus, the Word, tells us: Do “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Solomon 3:5b).  We must not disregard the order that pleases God.  It is His design — for the good of all — that love be stirred, awakened, and fulfilled only in marriage between one man and one woman.

So, I challenge you to answer one question: Which practice is compatible with Jesus?

  1. Boys and girls brought together in a classroom, not to study anatomy, but to “ease inhibitions” and “comfortably” discuss all manner of “sexuality” (with timid caution to wait until marriage… following graduation, college, and establishment of career); or,
  2. Boys and girls taught separately to honor God’s created order and equal, but different sexes (two genders); mentored in Biblical manhood and womanhood; equipped for the battle with temptation; and age-appropriately helped to understand God’s design for procreation between one man and one woman in marriage.

Jesus is Truth.  Truth cannot wrap Himself around unholy and “silly myths.”  To protect children from wolves (big and bold or dressed as sheep), Jesus guards walls of virtue.  He rescues the hurt and repentant after doors have swung open.  He tells me to do the same.

This is the love of Him who holds young ones in such high esteem.

(Looking for a resource?  You may order “The Failure of Sex Education,” a little book I wrote for Christian parents, from www.lutheransforlife.org )

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