Friday, April 4, 2014

Like a Shepherd Nine: Training Ears and Taming Tongues

Look at these fuzzy pink ears tuned in to your every word. It's not always like this, is it? Good listening and wise use of the gift of speech are commended in scripture. Check out Proverbs 1:5;7:32;8:32 for a few references. Several times this semester we have gone to Deut.6:4 for instruction on teaching our children. Interestingly enough, this verse begins with the word hear, the Shema, the Hebrew word for hear. Hearing, listening, language and speaking are God's appointed means of communicating, both with one another, but especially with Him. He is the Word.
How can we train our children to be good listeners? Beeke says, "Listening involves much more than just hearing. It includes engaging our minds to assess accurately the message given to us and to understand the context in which it is given." Listening requires self control, humility, and diligence in thinking.
1. Self control: How many of us are thinking how we will reply while someone is still speaking? How many of us continue what we're doing instead of stopping to give respectful attention to the person speaking? Junior (and his parents) need to look others in the eye and get down on Junior's level to do so. Gentle but firm hands on Junior's little cheeks can help maintain his concentration and attention.
2. Humility: Phil.2:3,4. Listening is another expression of "my life for yours" Christian living. I care enough about you to enter into your world. Listening is also a matter of humility when correction or criticism is being given.
3. Diligence in thinking: Skilled listening requires understanding of what is being said in the context. Response is secondary to understanding. Think before you speak! We live in a noisy world filled with electronics and gizmos that keep our ears full and our minds rather empty. Bertrand Russell in his essay "Why I am Not a Christian" said, "Most Christians would rather die than think." Ouch. Of ultimate importance in hearing, listening, and thinking is that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We want our children to be well trained in listening in order that they may hear God's words of saving faith and instructions for living, that they will meditate (chew!) on his word, receiving both its comfort and correction.
How can we train our children to listen to God as He speaks, particularly on the Lord's Day?
1. By preparing them to hear it. Pray with your children that we would all come expecting to hear God speak to us, that God would bless his word, his servants who bring it and that our hearts and minds would receive it.  Have that expectation talk with your little ones about still bodies, but active ears and minds. Our Lord's Day bulletin is accessible on Friday on the FPC website. Read the scripture and sing the hymns. Familiarity with both is a confidence builder for young worshippers.
2. By assisting them to receive it: Perhaps sitting closer to the pulpit will help minimize distractions. Young ones who are participating in Lord's Day worship services should be able to tell you at least one thing they heard, be it from the bible reading, prayers, hymn singing, the sermon, or even an announcement. One of my little girls reported she heard the preacher say, "Today's passage is a difficult one". It was. That's a start! Our children, like Jesus, are growing in wisdom, favor and stature with God and man Luke 2:52.
3. By training them to apply it: James tells us to be not only hearers, but doers of the word (1:22). The scriptures are worth talking, thinking and praying about and then certainly worth applying. This of course requires diligence, time and effort on the part of parents, but doing so is faithfulness to Deut.6. Remember that God's primary school of evangelism is the Christian home.
Christians are not exempt from the battle against the tongue. The book of James is the go-to lesson. Go! God is a speaking God and our speech is a gift from Him to be rightly used to praise Him and to speak wisdom, another concern of parents for children Ps 34:11-14.
James points out the danger of poorly used language. Here are some rather frightening word pictures he uses. The tongue is:
* Destructive...a fire 3:6 A few unguarded words have the power to destroy relationships.
*Defiled and defiling v6. What we say has the power to tempt others to misuse speech.
*Devilish v6. Satan love to discourage, wound and attempt to destroy God's people by the misuse of the very means of communication God has given us.
*Defiant v 7,8. James says it is a restless evil like a tiger pacing in his cage waiting to break through the bars to attack.
*Deadly v8. The tongue is full of deadly poison, able to pierce hearts and minds like a snake bite.
Beeke gives us four kinds of words to restrain ourselves from using:
1. Judgmental or critical words. While God calls us to be discerning, He has not called us to be the critical judge of men. There is an appropriate time and place for redemptive criticism, but habitual tearing down is neither helpful, nor biblical.
2. Profanity, obscenity and vulgarity. No examples given or needed. Our speech should be reflective of the purity and holiness of God. Culturally acceptable language may change, but God's standard for purity, wholesomeness, and holiness is a constant.
3. Outbursts of anger. Anger, while at times most appropriate and righteous, is different from lashing out with words that harm and abuse. Be careful what you say to your children. They remember.
4. Nagging, murmuring and complaining. The Israelites (and we) were highly skilled in using these kinds of words about their lot in life. This kind of language goes back to the garden and a heart that doubts God's goodness and greatness.
What's the antidote? When prone to judgment or criticism, remember the mercy of God. When criticism is needed, it is redemptive and is kindly given in the context of loving parenting. The ultimate goal is to continue to point our children to Jesus. Our words are to be spoken as if they were the very words of God 1 Pet.4:11. Are they truthful? Helpful? Appropriate? Anger needs to be communicated respectfully. If Junior hasn't gotten angry with you yet, he will. Be ready. Help him learn to express his feelings in the safe, secure, and just environment of your home. Rehearsal required! And finally, cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. Do everything without complaining and grumbling because we belong to and are the beneficiaries of a giving, loving, merciful Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Like a Shepherd Seven: Preventive and Corrective Discipline

Sources used in today's MOMs meeting were Parenting by God's Promises by Joel Beeke, Ginger Plowman's Don't Make Me Count to Three, and Everyday Talk by John Younts, all of which can be found in the FPC Learning Resource Center or at the normal locations. I recommend Ginger Plowman's book for elementary age children and older. All are very practical and biblically foundational, a combination often difficult to find in books on parenting. I also like Teach Them Diligently by Louis Priolo. Each of these authors goes to Eph.6:4 as their home base for preventive and corrective discipline. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Biblical discipline is directed at a teachable mind and spirit in order to make a follower or disciple of both Jesus and parent, involving Christ-like parental love, the mind and heart of parent and child, based on the Word of God.
We read in Hebrews For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, then you are illegitimate children, not sons 12:8. Discipline is a mark of godly love of a parent for a child. By nature we prefer convenience and comfort, and loathe the conflict and diligent effort that consistent godly discipline requires. In the weary days of  parenting young children it's easy to think, "I'll deal with that next time." Trouble is, Junior's discipline problems left untended grow in direct proportion to the size of his clothing. As one of my favorite counselors says, "Deal with it now, or deal with it later, but you WILL deal with it." Knowing how to discipline our children doesn't necessarily come easily, quickly, or naturally, and what we find works for Junior makes for a major mom-fail with Sister. In either case, we are wise to remember that all of our actions, parent and child alike, result from what lies in the heart. Proverbs 4:23; 22:15. The state of Junior's heart is serious business for the Christian parent. Jesus lived and died to pay for and to cleanse Junior from sin. God takes sin seriously, and so should we. Our hearts as parents must be steadfastly set on loving Jesus and following Him as an example to our children.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:7). Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). The heart and mind are connected and the God-inspired scriptures are profitable for teaching and reproof...preventive and corrective discipline! Sister grabs Junior's Legos and he takes her down. 1 Cor.13:4,5 tells us that love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Because Junior is enjoying his Legos, taking them would make him sad and would be rude as well. Love is not rude. It is also patient and kind. Sister, you may play with the Legos when Junior is finished with them. And Junior doesn't get off the hook here. (For the more complete discussion of this scenario you'll have to get the recording of today's message.)
If you ask Junior why he hit his sister, you're likely to get an, "I don't know." Most tiny-tots are unable to discern matters of their heart and to explain in reality why they do what they do. But hitting is neither patient nor kind. The great news is that God's word provides instruction on the "next time" event in 1 Cor.10:13. ..when you are tempted He will provide for you a way out. God provides a better way for us. Help Junior see that.
As parents we want to draw from our young'uns an assessment of what they are thinking, how they express themselves (that's not too hard to see), how their thoughts, words, and actions compare to God's word, and how they can think, speak and act in a way that shows God's point of view.
Just remember:
*Husbands and wives need to present a united front to their children. This necessitates discussion, praying and planning how you as a couple will discipline your children.
*Children need to learn early on that Momma and Daddy are the ones who "get to say."
*Children need to be instructed and told what is expected of them, even when they don't understand exactly why. Have the expectation conversation with them. "When we get to the Smiths' house there will be no running inside, no throwing yourself on the furniture, say yes ma'am and no sir, and do not ask for food. Got it?" No lecturing or brow beating. They'll just turn off their ears and minds.
*Parents need to take into account (with great wisdom) the personalities, maturity, and mental capacity of their children as well as their own strengths and weaknesses as they discipline their children. One child can be turned with a frown while the next may have ears, a mind, and heart of concrete.
What about corrective discipline? My favorite definition is "applying the rod of correction to the seat of understanding." :) Corrective discipline is a consequential action in response to willful disobedience, moral failure, or disregard for danger. It can range from time out, loss of privileges, manual labor, to spanking. Here is a recommended process:
1. Punishment is administered from love for the child, not anger. Take time to cool off when Junior makes you mad as a hornet. Pray Lord, quench my anger, fill me with love for my child, and let me punish him with compassion and a desire to do him good all the says of his life. Keep me from being like Eli who failed to discipline, but also keep me from being a Saul. 1Sam.3:13;14:43,44.
2. Punishment is administered in plan with prayer. Mom and Dad need to be a united team who has prayed for the wisdom God promises to give liberally (James 1:5). Pray with your children that God would work in their hearts to make them more and more like His own Son Jesus, whose joy it was to do the will of His Father.
3. Administer punishment with faith that God will use His appointed means to bring all of His children to repentance, a saving knowledge of Him, and a desire to live for Him. Do you presume  on the riches of God's kindness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Rom.2:4.
4. Punishment is administered appropriately
*Not in anger
*With confession (which will serve them well throughout life)
*With a preordained number of swats that will sting, but NEVER injure
*Hold him (even if he's angry) There is safety, security and restoration.
*Pray with him Father, I pray that you would show us how we may live to honor you and your word, Guide us in the paths of righteousness, show us when we wander from the path. Forgive us when we sin against you and each other and restore us to you and our family.
*Guide your child to restoration and restitution where needed.
Once again, this is a summary and listening to the recording will fill in gaps and provide a more detailed explanation on this difficult subject. Thanks again for the effort you all make to be there and to participate with your discussion and questions. Two more weeks left!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

In honor of Math Girl's 40th birthday she and I set out for Replacements Ltd. in McLeansville, NC, near Greensboro. I'm not sure what I thought we were going to find, but 500,000 square feet of over 400,000 patterns of china, crystal, silver, and collectibles was far more than I expected. The owner Bob Page began visiting estate sales and in 1981 quit his regular job to begin selling from his vast collections.  This is the Great Wall of China featuring their 500 most popular patterns of china. Don't worry, if you don't see yours through the glass windows, chances are they have your pattern, your mother's pattern, your everyone's pattern tucked away somewhere. Their online site has a form to fill out that will send their detectives in search of your family's treasures and collectibles.

One of my first thoughts was who gets to dust all of these glass shelves and thousands of goblets?
I really know how to take the fun out of everything.

 Math Girl and I anticipated sorting through sky high stacks of plates, cups, saucers and bowls. That's not how it works. The showroom doubles as a museum and most of what is seen is happily ensconced in gigantic, gorgeous antique display cases from jewelry stores and the grand old department stores.

 These treasures all enjoy silent repose on a piece from J.P. Morgan's estate. Remember, during WWII many of America's art masterpieces were placed there for safe keeping as he had one of the few climate controlled mansions accessible by rail. Lots going on at J.P.'s house.
 Case after case of sterling silver hollowware. If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. I remember as a child seeing a photograph of Queen Elizabeth's sterling dresser set. That was the first I'd heard of a dresser set, which solidified in my thinking the fact that I'd never be Queen of England. 

 Two of my little granddaughters reminded me as well of my queenly deficiencies. I don't live in England and I don't have royal blood. That settles it. Maybe I'll just have to buy the plate.

Or the figurines from the case of all things royal.
That will keep me humble.
Humbles. That's what my girls used to call these figurines.
This one was gigantic.
Nearly life size.
Do you like Wedgewood?
Mountains of it in baskets.
Or to wear just in time for spring.
Nothing says springtime like a spread of blue and white.
I'll have one of each, please.
We saw a table or two set with seasonal goodies.
And ladies in their spring finery.
Notice the eyelashes.
She could land a job on FOXnews.
Walk this way, please.
This way to the land of overstocks.
Now you're talking.
Just what I was looking for.
A little blue and white and a little red and white.
Every thirty minutes a guided tour of Chinatown is offered.
Have you ever seen a plate depicting the Exodus?
Never before, and surely not anywhere else.
The 500 most popular patterns are up front neatly stacked.
Then you enter the warehouses of china immemorial.
Row after row after stack after stack.
All in boxes. All meticulously labeled on each row, each shelf, each box.
If you are one of their thousands of online customers your pretty plates are lovingly packaged here for shipping. Replacements also devotes an entire department to research.
That sounds like a great job to me.
Also available are china, silver and crystal repair services. They'll even pierce a spoon or serving piece to order. Damaged in a fire or Katrina? No problem.
Replacements repairs or like the name implies.
That's their business.
Is your pattern Flora Danica circa 1761 from Royal Copenhagen?
$1400 for a cup and saucer and a tad less for a dinner plate.
That would make you as Mary Engelbreit says,
"The Queen of Quite a Lot"
If you're ever in the North Carolina Triad try to make the stop at
Replacements Ltd.
I didn't even mention the Christmas room.
Or Bob's Bargain Corner.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Like a Shepherd Six: Benevolent Ruler: Parenting as King

With Jesus as our model we as parents rule as benevolent and merciful kings. The task of a benevolent king is fourfold: to establish the kingdom, to protect and provide for his subjects, to lead his subjects in battle and to order everything for the good of the kingdom and his glory.
1. Establish the kingdom where we rule and reign
The family, the little kingdom was established in Genesis where the Lord planted a garden where He put the man He had formed (2:8) and declared that a man should leave his mother and father, be joined to his wife and become one flesh. The little kingdom and the authority, headship, and unity of the family is established. Psalm 45, the marriage psalm tells us that the king is fair, full of grace, truthful, humble, and righteous, hating evil. With its fulfillment in Christ, the bridegroom brings everything under His headship. As parent representative kings, we are to graciously speak the truth in humility, love holiness and despise evil. We teach our children that daddy and mama are their God-given authority.
2. Protect and provide for the subjects in the kingdom. Psalm45:3. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O Mighty One, with your glory and majesty. The king is thoroughly armed and equipped for battle. Our children are to be protected by their parents.
*protected from themselves as the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Jer17:9. The first and greatest danger to our children and ourselves is the sin nature with which we are born. As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
*protected from outside forces and influences that are harmful, sinful, or inappropriate for our children's level of maturity. Our children are the targets of an avalanche of commercial goods, pressure to be highly skilled in athletics and academics, and the objects of a sex-obsessed culture. Childhood is vital to the maturing process of life where they discover their creativity in the image of God, learn to follow spoken and unspoken rules, negotiate friendships, develop self-control, etc.
*provide for the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being of our children. A stable home where daddy and mama love one another and Jesus Christ is the greatest stability and security children can be given. We need to consider if this
activity, friend, hobby, book, movie, video game, etc. will contribute positively to the well-being of my child's physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. And later, don't forget to consider if what they are doing is legal. Seriously :(
3. Lead our subjects into battle. Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies and its peoples fall under you. v5. Benevolent parent-kings are proactive in the battle against the enemies of the family, beginning with sin in the hearts of family members. Every person's battle is for who is seated on the throne of the heart. Daddy, you go first. God is deadly serious about sin because it ultimately leads to spiritual death. How do we lead our children into battle?
*By covering them daily in prayer
*By teaching God's word straight from the Book
*By modeling for them godly living
*By consistently holding them accountable for their own sin and allowing them to bear its consequences
*By providing a safe kingdom where they may safely fail and receive correction and encouragement
*By encouraging them when there is evidence of God's work in their hearts. Praise God, encourage Junior.
4. Order everything for God's glory and the good of the kingdom
Psalm 45:10-17 Jesus reigns for the good of the kingdom to God's glory. In this kingdom:
*the people live and love to serve their king vs.10,11 He is such a good and gracious king that his people willingly forsake others to come to him. Our desire is that our children will learn to love and submit to parents they can see in order to love and submit to a God they cannot see.
*the people of the kingdom are made beautiful by the benevolence of the king v10
Jesus' death on the cross bought for us his righteous clothing. We are clothed in the garments of the king and made beautiful because of Him. Hearing and heeding God's word is a crown of victory for  their head and a pendant of priceless wisdom for their neck. That which brings glory to God is good for the well-being of the kingdom.
*the people of the kingdom know great joy v18
Because of the benevolence of the king, his protection and provision, life with Him is a life of joy. Our children need to see that their parents willing live in joyful service to this great King and that their heart's desire is to see their children walking in the truth.
*the kingdom is an everlasting kingdom vs16,17
The royal line of David is fulfilled Jesus Christ, an everlasting covenant from one generation to the next. The words of our mouths will be in the mouths of our children until that day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory and praise of the King.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Like a Shepherd 4: Bringing the Word: Parenting as Prophet

Our Wednesday MOMs bible study continues to work through Joel Beeke's excellent book on parenting and we find ourselves this week looking at how we parent as prophets, bringing God's word of both blessing and solemn warnings to the minds and hearts of our children. Prophets speak the Word of God to God's people and in doing so, we teach our children what they are to believe concerning God and what God requires of them. The word is applied through instruction, correction, comfort, and the modeling of the Christian life by their parents.
Far from mere intellectual ascent, like the prophets, proclaiming the Word of God to our children should be an irresistible calling lit by the fire of faith and love. Jeremiah's love for the Word was "in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones. I was weary of holding it back and could not." Jer.20:9.
The words of Deut.6:4-9 are so rich in teaching. Here are but a few take-aways plus some additional helps:
1. Our parenting as prophet finds its authority in the God of the covenant. The Lord our God is one. God is identified here as Israel's Supreme Commander. This authority is not cultural or situational and is applicable forever.
2. Our parenting as prophet is motivated by love for God. How we parent is an indication of our love for God and His Word. If you love me, keep my commandments. All that we do should be an overflow of our love for God. His commandments are pressed, or embossed on the hearts of His people.
3. Our parenting is to be done as we live. While we as Christian parents should desire and carry out times of formal bible reading, praying and family worship, we are to teach our children as we live, or as Lou Priolo  author of Teach Them Diligently calls it, teaching in the milieu. Any place, any time, at home, wherever life takes us. His commandments should govern what we do, what we say, and what we think.
4.We as parents are ultimately responsible for our children's spiritual education. Home is the little kingdom, the nursery of heaven, a greenhouse for God where
seeds are planted the minds and hearts of our babies, where they are watered in love, pruned with discipline and correction, and protected from outside elements that would be harmful.
5. The voice of his mother is the sweetest sound in a baby's world. Our role as prophet begins at the moment of conception and we know that baby hears every word his momma speaks. We would do well to begin reading, praying and singing the words of scripture to baby from the moment his presence is known.
6. Use events throughout the day to apply the truth of scripture to Junior's life. Do everything without complaining or grumbling. Phil.2:4. God tells us:
Do. Do what? Everything. God is interested in all of life. Do how? Without complaining or grumbling. Junior, you may not argue or complain when:
*you don't like your breakfast
*you must stop playing
*you are told it's bedtime
*you are told to finish your school work
*what you want to do is forbidden by God or your parents
This verse reminds us that it is difficult, even impossible to do all that God commands us, and that is why we need Jesus.
7. Pray the scriptures with your children with their names in the verses. Romans 12:9,10: Help Junior to be honest. Help Junior to hate what is evil. Give Junior goodness to cling to. Teach Junior to be kind and affectionate with brotherly love, teaching him to let others go first.
8. Sing with them. As we heard this last Lord's Day, worship is the result of missions. Singing is the sound of heaven. Sounding like Pavarotti is not the goal. Filling the hearts and minds of our children through the singing the psalms, hymns, and songs of the faith is the goal. Our children will be filled with something and while they are young you still get to choose. Choose well.
9. Model godliness as you live. Luke tells us blessed are those who hear the word of God and do it. 11:28. Children (and their parents :) learn more easily, eagerly and quickly when we are living for the purpose of doing. This is how Jesus taught. He used every event to talk to His disciples and followers about God. He used fig trees, sparrows, parties, wheat, foxes, wine, camels, gates and doors, sheep and lambs, pearls, mustard seed, weather, money, dirt, and the hair on their heads truth that was useful for living that would bring glory to God. As parents we are to model godliness. Our children should see that their parents labor daily, shoulder to shoulder with a firm commitment to Jesus Christ. They need to know that their parents love one another and hate sin, that Jesus is their only hope, that forgiveness is offered and accepted, that life in Christ is the source of true joy, that children are a cherished gift from God.
10. Being a parent is not the primary goal in having children. They are to be reared for God's glory to fulfill His purposes for their lives in His kingdom.  We are rearing them to grow in wisdom, favor and stature with God and man and to leave home for the purposes to which God has called them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mentoring in a Nutshell

Here's a repost on mentoring  especially for the ladies from the Women in the Church leadership training this past weekend.
"Most Christians would rather die than think-- in fact, they do," said Bertrand Russell, mathematician, philosopher, social critic and all-around fun guy. That statement clearly indicates he never met the women of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS. Actually, we should probably take a break every now and then. My friend the CE Director and I have a standing dialogue. When she answers the phone I say, "I've been thinking." Then she shrieks, "Oh no!"
Romans 12:2 reads "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Being conformed to the image of Christ is a process of the heart and mind that is transformed by the Word of God. In response to that Christian "mindset" our Women in the Church ministry and the Christian Education ministry provide numerous opportunities for us to rub shoulders and lives with other women in order to serve as iron sharpening iron. It's called mentoring.

While many are trying to forget high school English in these days near graduation you may still remember Telemachus, son of Odysseus, who was left in the hands of Mentor while his father marched off to the Trojan War. The very word "mentor" means to cause another to think. Just what are we encouraging one another to think about? The Gospel.

The apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2 writes, "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness--God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our lives because you had become very dear to us." Mentoring is stewardship of the Gospel. How?
1. A mentor is approved by God. God confirms or commends His people as stewards of His word in order to protect it as Paul later writes in Titus 2. "...that the Word of God may not be blasphemed." In the faithful day to day living of our lives the truth and fruitfulness of the Word should be evident.
2. A mentor is entrusted with the Gospel. To put into trust is to invest and the stewardship of the Gospel is performed with full confidence that what will result is the multiplication and maturation of believers.
3.A mentor speaks not for the pleasing or praise of men, but to please God who tests our hearts. The primary goal of mentoring is God's, not our own. The fact that God tests our hearts is a conviction, a guard against self aggrandizement and a comfort in that He knows the motives of our heart at all times.
4. A mentor ministers with sincerity. Flattery is sinful insincerity used to manipulate the heart and affections of the hearer toward the flatterer or toward the hearer. Its aim is to make one or both think more highly of herself than she should, but especially to the benefit of the flatterer. Mentoring is not about increasing self-esteem. It is about filling another with the truth and practicality of the scriptures.
5. A mentor seeks to promote the spiritual well-being of the other but is not a demanding superior. The apostles fought this battle all the time as they shooed away from Jesus those whom they determined to be pesky interlopers. Mentors always have the glory of God and the good of His people foremost in their ministry.
6. A mentor is gentle as a nursing mother cherishes her children. Not how I tend to think of Paul. We love because God first loved us. The sin-cracked love of man is nothing to be compared with the enduring, complete, nourishing love displayed on the cross of Christ.
7. A mentor shares the Gospel. Every woman's greatest need is the Gospel of Christ. My Sunday School teacher's lessons this semester have been how the answers to life's greatest questions are generally found in our theology. A mentor knows and gives the life-giving Word of God. Anything else is merely advice.
8. A mentor lives life with the other. "...we shared not only the Gospel, but our lives..." Being a mentor is not just giving someone a book. It is living the Book with them. It is "follow me as I follow Christ." The Gospel in the Word and the Gospel in a life are a powerful force that changes the lives of men and women, boys and girls, now and forever. Mentoring is a partner in the process of sanctification.

How can this happen? How can I be a mentor or how can I be mentored? While we don't want to try to engineer relationships, we can nevertheless provide platforms where the opportunity for rubbing shoulders and lives is made possible. Bible studies, discipleship groups, community groups, book clubs, prayer groups, crafts for missions or shut-ins, etc. all provide a platform for women to get to know one another beyond the "Hi, I'm fine how are you."  If you'd like to mentor someone, pray that the Lord would send you one. If you don't want to mentor, you'd better not pray for this to happen! God sends his sheep. And don't forget living in the niche. We sit in the same pew each Sunday, visit afterward with our personal friends, hope the sermon speaks to our needs, and lunch with those who make little or no demands. It's called comfort zone. My challenge is that instead of looking for your niche be the niche for someone else.

And one more something to toss in. Remember Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18? Paul came and stayed "some time" with them as they together made tents and headed for Paul's evening preaching at the synagogue. Later they came upon Apollos who was a fine preacher of one sermon. Aquila and Priscilla taught him a better way, a more complete Gospel. Their mentoring ministry was a family way of life. And how about Elizabeth as she mentors Mary the mother of the yet to be born Jesus. Talk about ministry in a time of crisis. Elizabeth served as counselor to the mother of the Wonderful Counselor who intercedes for us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. All of our mentoring and counsel must, like Christ's, be awash in prayer and partnered with the Holy Spirit.

This is probably enough thinking for one day on this subject, so I leave you a few bullets:
*Be obedient to answer the command to mentor in Titus 2.
*Be available. You can't be everything to everyone but you can be something to someone.
*Be purposeful while not excluding the work of Providence.
*Be biblical in what you say and live.
*Be real. There's more than enough phony baloney out there as it is.
*Be yourself. God has given each of us a unique ministry.
*Be a good listener.
*Be aware of your every day need for the Gospel.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Benj's Valentine Blog

Hey Grammy. This will make a good blog.
Why don't you make a blog.
We're covering strawberries with chocolate.
 Hey.I want to put eyes on this one.
And a nose and a white beard. 
 Hey. Let's put a beard on an Oreo.
Hey. Look at this one, Grammy.
He has six eyes.
 Then we all went out to play basketball.
We played G-R-A-M-M-Y.
Whoever loses has to hug Grammy.
Feeling the love this Valentine's Day.