Mentoring


Titus (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He calls us to train the young

I was standing in line at the store one day talking on my cell phone to a young mother about her newborn baby and some of the challenges she was facing. I guess when you get a little older, young adults feel you may have experienced enough in life to have some answers to their questions.

When I finished talking, the woman behind me in line said, “You must be a pediatrician.”  That statement brought a hearty laugh out of me, and I replied, “No, I’m just 150 years old with a lot of experience.”  It did cause me to consider that if I had a dollar for every question I’ve answered over the past 50 years, I’d be a very wealthy woman, but then I am wealthy in ways much greater than dollars.  The pure joy I receive from helping out a frustrated wife or mom is beyond value.

Where are all the mentors for our young men and women today?  I question how I would have grown and matured not only in life but also in the Lord without the guidance of my amazing mom and other women in my church? How would I have made it without the encouragement from the pastor’s wives who raised me up in the ministry?  So many young adults have expressed to me their need for some helpful direction in their lives, some mentoring.  Are we just too busy today? 

@ Titus 2
Paul addressed this issue with young Pastor Titus, “Teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” (3-5)

Sometimes we feel that we are dealing with enough issues in our own lives and feel unqualified to train anyone.  Our lives should reflect wholesome teaching that honors God (1,3), but we need to understand where it is that most young adults receive their training today.  Far too many get their answers from their peers, from television and movies and from the internet but rarely from a Biblical viewpoint.  Help!

No, we don’t really need another responsibility or commitment, and sometimes our help is not appreciated when we do offer it, but all of us can train through example by living a Godly life before those who are watching us.  We can pray for God’s guidance to direct our conversations to those who really need some answers.  We can make ourselves available to help a new homemaker, a new mother or father in a time in their lives when they face the most uncertainty.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)  It’s encouraging to me to know that God’s comfort in my difficult moments in life can serve a greater good in helping someone else.  If for no other reason, there is a purpose for some of my life experiences because I am able to help and comfort others who are going through similar circumstances.

At this time each year, Americans remember and honor the lives that were lost on September 11 in the terrorist attack on our country, bringing back difficult memories to be sure.  It just seems that if radical Muslim terrorists can train their young men to fly airplanes into buildings to spread havoc and destruction, we should be motivated to train and mentor our young men and women to spread God’s love and restoration with their lives.  I think we can do that. 

Moving Forward: I open my heart and life today to the young ones who have questions and challenges, praying that He will direct my path to them and guide the words that I say. 

Tomorrow @ Numbers 17-20

2 Timothy 1-2 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He gives us a spirit of power, love and self-discipline to keep our lives burning brightly for Him

For most of us, the idea of “Passing the Torch” immediately brings to mind the Olympics. The torch is lit in Greece, home of the first Olympics, and then is passed from runner to runner until it reaches the Olympic host city where it remains lit throughout the games.   What an exhilarating experience for the last runner who carries the torch to its final destination, the Olympic Stadium.  2 Timothy is all about torch passing, certainly a somber moment for Paul.

The writing of 2 Timothy was Paul’s last words to Timothy and also to us and was written during his final imprisonment in Rome where he sat in a dungeon awaiting execution at Nero’s hand.  Of all the notorious individuals from my Italian background, Nero would be right there at the top as most despicable.  Needing to blame someone for the burning of Rome, he murdered Christians throughout the empire and Paul was one of his casualties.  But first, Paul wrote his final letter, passing the torch of ministry to his young charge now pastoring in Ephesus.

“I am writing to Timothy, my dear son.  May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.  Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience…Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.” (1:2-4)  The God I serve with a clear conscience.  Paul had no regrets in his final days, he was passing on a torch that was lit and shining brightly, and this is the responsibility of the torch bearer – to keep the flame going.

Paul continued his letter with advice for his young son in the faith on how to keep the flame going, burning and moving forward.  “Never be ashamed to tell others about the Lord.  And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him…I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust…” (1:8,12)  Keep the flame going.

“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” (1:13)  Keep the flame going.

“Be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus…Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2:1,3)  Keep the flame going.

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker..who correctly explains the word of truth (2:15)  Keep the flame going. 

“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts…pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace.” (2:22)  Keep the flame going!

Someday the responsibility to carry the torch will be on those who follow us.  Paul’s challenge to Timothy was to “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (1:6)  Fanning those flames will keep it going!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (4:7)  Paul’s faithfulness to God to the very end credentialed him to pass the torch, the torch that was aflame.  As we live and work, in whatever we do, will those who come behind us find that we were faithful to God?  Will the torch that we pass on to the next runners be burning brightly? And will we say, “I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience.”

Moving Forward:  Planning to keep my flame burning today!  “May all who come behind me find me faithful.  May the fire of my devotion light your way.” (J. Mohr) 

Tomorrow @ Numbers 9-12

Proverbs 13 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: His wisdom helps us raise Godly children

To spank or not to spank – now that’s a debate for today.  Gaining momentum is the idea that spanking promotes anger and hostile behavior in children.  Many others take a more traditional position and believe that spanking when done without anger is an acceptable means of correcting disobedient children.  Having followed the conventional view, it was somewhat disconcerting for me to learn recently from my grown son that the spankings I gave him when he was young never really hurt him.  When I reminded him that he always cried, he gave me a sheepish smile and informed that he did that to make me feel better about it all.  I honestly gave it my best shot.  In spite of this, he’s grown to be a godly father and husband today, for which I am eternally thankful.

There was no debate in Solomon’s mind regarding corporal punishment – he was all for it!   He began the chapter with, “A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction,” (1) and added in verse 24 a stronger statement, “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” “Discipline your children while there is hope.  Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” (19:18) “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.” (22:15)  “Don’t fail to discipline your children.  They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.” (23:13-14)  Well, I think we know where Solomon stood on the subject.

The most abusive discipline by parents that I have observed came from words spoken rather than spanking. However, spanking need not be our first course of action in disciplining our children, and so very often other methods will take care of the situation we are facing.  When I resorted to this form of discipline, I followed the advice of so many others and never disciplined in anger but did so when emotions were calm and thinking was clear.  Any form of discipline administered without instruction, in my mind, is useless.  The purpose of discipline is to bring correction, to bring about a change in behavior.  How can these dear ones learn how to change without our instruction and help?  Following discipline, I often asked my children to tell me what the correct behavior would have been.  There was a lasting reinforcement in the matter when the answer came from their mouths instead of mine.

There were a few months in my daughter’s early teen years where there was a battle for supremacy between us.  Because of my determination to win, I was considered by her at times to be one of the “meanest mothers in the world.”  I must admit that I wore that label with some pride.  Then one day everything changed when my daughter told me about an exchange she had with a close friend.  She was complaining to her friend about how strict I was, never allowing her to do what she wanted to do.  Her friend tearfully responded, “Well, at least she cares about you.  At least she cares about what you are doing and where you are going.  I wish my mom did.”

I believe we both won that battle.  My decisions and instructions were now received without question.  My daughter finished her teen years without regrets and is today a beautiful woman of God and a wonderful mother.  No matter what form we use, disciplining children takes time, tenacity and a willingness to be disliked from time to time, but if we really love our children and care about their future, we will do it.  “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them… Physical discipline may well save them from death,” said the wisest man who ever lived. 

Moving Forward: I move forward today with a grateful heart.  Grateful for the wisdom from His Word that produced the remarkable children I enjoy today. 

Tomorrow @ Ezekiel 37-42

I Thessalonians 1-3 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He calls us to nurture and care for His young ones

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:2-3)  Paul loved his children. Well, at least we know he loved his spiritual children.  Almost two years earlier Paul had started a church in Thessalonica but had to leave the city abruptly because of hostility from the Jewish leaders (Acts 17).  He sent Timothy back to the city to check up on this new congregation because he was anxious to hear how they were standing up under the Jewish opposition. After receiving Timothy’s report, Paul immediately responded with a letter of encouragement and counsel to his dear ones in the church in Thessalonica.

@ I Thessalonians 2
Paul’s demonstration of his love and commitment to this new church reminds me of my feelings after the birth of my newborn baby girl.  I found myself constantly checking up on her, feeling for the rise and fall of her little chest, inspecting those diapers, just wanting to be sure she was okay.  You see, I just loved her so much, and I needed to know that all was well with her.  With similar feelings, Paul wrote, “We were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” (7-8)  He loved these new ones in the faith and wanted to encourage them and help them grow in the Lord

This causes me to think about the new Christians I encounter in my walk each day, whether at church, in the neighborhood or on the job, and I think about how much God loves them and wants to see that all is well with them.  Many are filled with questions about their new faith, and some even face persecution for their decision just as the Thessalonians did. They really need our encouragement and help.

Of course, just as Satan hindered Paul’s attempt to visit this church (18), the enemy will discourage us from helping new Christians. He would love for us to feel inadequate or too time-pressed to be of any help to them.  Just as my baby daughter did not need constant professional tending, these young ones in the Lord do not need a theologian.  They just need someone to check up on them and guide them along as they grow in Him.

Well, my newborn baby girl is now grown and a mother herself.  The joy she brings me as I watch her faithfully serve the Lord and raise her own family is indescribable.  I am blessed beyond measure.  And Paul, too, understood this blessing, “After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown, as we stand before our Lord Jesus when He returns?  It is you!  Yes, you are our pride and joy.” (19-20) Indescribable joy! 

Moving Forward:  I’ll keep my eyes and heart open today for the young, the newbies in the Lord, encouraging them, helping them and making sure that all is well with them. 

Tomorrow @ Leviticus 19-21

Genesis 48-50 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He speaks blessing and promise over our lives

“Get over here! You never do anything right! You’re just good for nothing! You’re never gonna amount to anything, boy.” I cringed as I heard a man scolding his young son in public. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the boy who had just been humiliated by a man I assumed to be his dad. This young one had probably been disobedient and had somehow gotten on his dad’s last nerve, but I was embarrassed for him. Even more devastating to me was hearing the man speak curse after curse over his son. I wonder if he knew the weight a father’s words can carry in the life of a son.

It made me think of the words I often heard my dad speak to me, “Honey, you can do anything in life that you want to do.” Or, “You can be anything you want to be. The sky’s the limit.” He called me beautiful, pretty or cute almost every day. I don’t know if he really believed it, but because he said it, I did. Although dad didn’t know the Lord when I was young, he knew enough to speak blessings and promise over my life, for which I am eternally grateful. I wonder if he knew the weight a father’s words can carry in the life of a daughter.

@ Genesis 48
At the close of the book of Genesis, we find Jacob on his deathbed calling for Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, desiring to speak a blessing over them. “May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac, walked—the God who has been my shepherd all my life, to this very day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—may he bless these boys. May they preserve my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac. And may their descendants multiply greatly throughout the earth.” (15-16)  After stealing his brother’s blessing at one time, Jacob must certainly have understood the weight a father’s words could carry in the life of a son or grandson.

Throughout the book of Genesis, we read about the blessings from God to Abraham, from Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob and now from Jacob to Joseph and his sons. Not all of Jacob’s pronouncement over his other sons were the blessings they had hoped to receive, nor was Noah’s curse on his son Canaan. But all of these curses, pale in comparison to the curse of sin found in Genesis 3 through the fall of Adam and Eve that brought us separation from God. However, our loving Heavenly Father would never leave us cursed – by anyone!

God gave this little message to the serpent that fateful day in the Garden, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike your head, and you will strike His heel.” (3:15) This was God’s prophetic message of One who would come to die on the cross, His heel would be bruised, but He would crush the head of the serpent, who has spent his days on his belly ever since. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1)

No condemnation, no curses! We belong to Him! The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the power of sin, the power of curses and of those things that anyone may speak over us. Although man’s words may be hurtful at times, we do not need to walk under the weight of man’s confession over us. We walk with the Father’s blessings of abundant life through His son, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, NKJV)

Children need our disciplines at times, but they never deserve cursing and humiliation. When we speak words of blessing and promise to our children, we are partnering with the heart of God who has promised blessing and abundant life to His children as they follow Him. Partnering with God – isn’t that something we would want to do?

Moving Forward: I am forever challenged to speak blessing and promise to my children, and actually, all of God’s children. Oh, how He loves them.

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 11-15

Deuteronomy 16-19 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He expects us to guide and protect our children

Over the years I’ve spent time in large European cities where I have observed very young children on city streets, subways and tourist areas begging for money as the parent or guardian stands by to watch.  These children are mostly treated with disdain by those who pass by them, and it’s a heart-wrenching scene to watch.  It’s difficult to understand the willingness of parents to sacrifice their children in this cruel process, but then we have our own issues on this side of the big pond. One thing I know for certain is that God expects us to protect our children not exploit them. 

@ Deuteronomy 18
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there.  For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering.” (9-10)  Who would do such a despicable thing?  Well, mostly no one today, at least with an intention to do so.  We may not offer them as a burnt offering, but are we sacrificing them through our ignorance of the detestable customs and practices surrounding us?

 I’m always amazed by the television programming, movies and music that youth, Christian and secular alike, digest each day.  Parents have complained through the years about their troubled teens that don’t follow the lifestyle they have lived out in front of them, but there are other influences that are much more attractive and enticing than the day to day routines that parents are exhibiting.  To be sure, our godly modeling to our children is valuable, but we need to be attentive to what is captivating their attention through their media as well.

When we discover something in our child’s environment that appears to be questionable or something we just don’t know anything about, our best course of action is to check it out for ourselves and to be knowledgeable about it.  If we find something objectionable, a dialogue is much more effective than a declaration as a starting point and it keeps the doors of communication open for the future.  If our impressionable youth still does not accept our viewpoint, we may be tempted to let it go because it’s just easier to do so or because we’re afraid of their response; but sacrificing them to the customs of this world just isn’t an option.

When we stick to our convictions, we can offer this resolve to our children:  In scripture, we understand that God expects children to obey their parents, and He really doesn’t offer a way around that.  If they disobey, God will deal with them.  However, if we as parents make an unreasonable demand or an inaccurate assessment that is not righteous, God will deal with us. As the child or youth waits for lighting to strike the parent for grave errors in judgment and the heat of the moment is gone, they often move on to yet another thing or are distracted by something else and the disagreement becomes a mute point.  In the process, offering a godly alternative is helpful although not always immediately appreciated.  Youth need our guidance whether they like it or not.  We do our part, but they are responsible for the decisions they make.

As parents, smothering is not our goal, but guidance and discipline are the responsibility God has given us according to a myriad of scriptures including, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)   There’s more than one way to sacrifice our children, and we don’t want to participate in any of them and end up with a millstone around our necks (Matthew 18).  Fortunately, we are not alone in raising our children if we submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day and make certain that He is our first reaction to the challenges we face.

Moving Forward: I’m praying for parents who need God’s help today, believing that God will give them the resolve to follow through with their convictions with all the grace and wisdom He has to offer them. 

Tomorrow @ Ezra 6-10

Deuteronomy 10-12 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He doesn’t force us to follow Him, but desires that we choose to follow

I love telling my children about growing up in the dark ages – no Starbucks, no cell phones, no cable television.  Yes, I did walk a mile to school every day, uphill both ways, carrying my saxophone and schoolbooks, slipping and sliding on the icy Minneapolis sidewalks.  The only way a television channel got changed was if I got off the couch and changed it.  The first computer I saw was the size of a small room and just wouldn’t fit on a lap. I tell them these things hoping to receive praise for surviving such deprivation, but the response is usually one of disbelief.  I guess you just had to have been there.

And I love telling them about the day I asked Jesus into my heart.  The concept of Jesus in my heart was a little difficult for our daughter to understand at the age of three.  I was in the ninth month of pregnancy with our son when she stared at me one day with a quizzical look to the point where I finally asked, “Mandy, what is it?”  With all the innocence of three-year-old, she said, “Mommy, with Jesus in your heart and that baby in your tummy, it sure must be crowded in there!”  Well, at least she knew about Jesus. 

@ Deuteronomy 11
“You must love the Lord your God and obey all his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands.  Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm…your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here… But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!  (1-2,5,7)  How will our children ever know what God has done in our lives unless we tell them.

I love telling my children about the price that was paid by my mom to pave the way for our salvation, and I love telling the beautiful testimony of commitment to the ministry of their dad’s parents.  How will they ever know if we fail to tell them?

“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today.  But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.” (26-28)  The day came when my children, too, stood at the threshold of blessing and cursing.

Through our testimony, our children had a history to draw from, a precedent to help them examine and understand the faithfulness of God to their parents and ancestors.  I think it was helpful to them. Now they are grown and have chosen the blessing of God for their lives by obeying His commands.  The power of our testimony is far greater than we can imagine, but no one will know it unless we share it.

Moving Forward:  “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1) 

Tomorrow @ 2 Chronicles 33-36

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