Touching Another Generation (TAG) by Tammy Keene

If you receive my blog by email on Monday mornings, you may have noticed it didn’t come the past three weeks. I did have cataract surgery, but also had some amazing guests each Monday and just discovered there was a glitch in WordPress. Thanks to my amazing web designer Holly Smith at Crown Laid Down Designs, who diagnosed the problem, we’re coming to you this morning with guest Tammy Keene. Here are the blogs you missed:

Hope For All Seasons by Renee Fisher

The Lasting Fruit of Mentoring by Pam Farrel

Could Mentoring Have Protected Young Actresses by me, Janet Thompson

I met Mentoring Ministry leader Tammy Keene when she ordered Woman to Woman Mentoring Resources from our website for the mentoring ministry at her church. We developed a friendship as we began to chat through email. I asked Tammy to share with you today how God led her to start the TAG mentoring ministry at her church, First Baptist Church Riverview in Florida, and why she’s so passionate about mentoring.

Touching Another Generation

By Tammy Keene

“When you’re not the same person you used to be, you have no business going where you used to go.” Priscilla Shirer

I love Facebook memories! I love looking at pictures of when my kids where younger and fun memories with friends, but I especially love seeing memories about Bible studies I’ve completed. It’s great to look back at memories and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, but also the distance I’ve traveled since then.

I resonate with Priscilla’s statement: You’re not the same person….you have no business going where you used to go. This is truth. This is a process that’s easier when you have a trusted Christian woman walking along side you as you travel this journey called life.

Tammy’s Mentoring Story

When I share my mentoring story, I always begin at 2013, but I realize that my mentoring story really began much earlier.

Mentoring relationships at different seasons of my life have blessed and encouraged me. I lived in a Christian home with a godly Mom, who led me to Christ at an early age. As a teenager, a woman of faith at our church came alongside me. She was intentional in our interactions and I always knew I could count on her. As a young adult (and again as a young mom), an Air Force wife spoke into my life! Since moving to Florida in 2004, several women have encouraged me and walked alongside me.

What is the common thread among all of these relationships? Simply, godly women have walked beside me experiencing life together. I’m the woman I am today because of their influence.

I stepped out in faith to launch a mentoring ministry because these women spoke into my life and believed in me!

In a recent sermon, our pastor spoke of the importance of confessing to a trusted friend.

How do you find that trusted someone?

Ask someone to be your mentor. If you’re not sure what that looks like, get Janet Thompson’s new book Mentoring for all Seasons.

This book is a great resource for women. Not only is it the “how to” for finding a mentor or mentee, it’s also a great guide for the different seasons of life. There are testimonies from mentors and mentees who have experienced seasons of life and share how God sustained them through each one.

Saying NO to say YES to God

During Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, “Discerning the Voice of God,” I learned how to listen for God’s voice. During the “Breathe” Bible study, I found the importance of the word “No.” Priscilla Shirer’s dedication to Kay Arthur and Beth Moore in her “Breathe” Bible study still speaks to me about the importance of No:

For teaching me to say “No.” For inspiring me to put first things first. For showing me by your example the importance of margin and Sabbath. For reminding me that doing everything is not the same as doing the best things.  Thank you. You have taught me that life is better when it has room to breathe.

No is a simple word when used appropriately. For such a small word, I really struggled with it. During our church’s new member orientation, I learned that one of my spiritual gifts was “helps.” I thought this meant I should help with every ministry opportunity. This could not be further from the truth.

As I was obedient to say “No” to new opportunities and began stepping away from other ministries, I felt a great peace. The ministries I was involved in weren’t bad, but they were taking me away from home and pulling my attention away from the lesson God was trying to teach me.

God taught me how to hear His Voice – in a song, a post on Facebook, a sermon at church, and most importantly, His voice heard in time spent in God’s Word.

He taught me that sometimes the right answer really is “No.” As I passed on the leadership for the three Bible studies I was leading, God called two leaders for each one. Two is better than one!

Janet Thompson heard the call to “Feed My Sheep,” which prompted her first mentoring opportunity. During a sermon, I could hear the Holy Spirit speak to me about the importance of a mentoring ministry for our church. Even as I heard the message, I began arguing that God could not possibly want me to start a mentoring ministry.

God confirmed this new ministry in many ways. Within a very short time, God orchestrated mentoring training, the support of the church leadership, and a ministry team ready to begin work launching the new ministry. When I was faithful to let others have the blessing of leading ministries I loved, I was able to prepare for this new ministry. 

If I had not been obedient to God’s desire for me to step away, I would not have launched the mentoring ministry, “Touching Another Generation” (TAG). 

Touching Another Generation (TAG) should be the theme of every mentoring ministry

God taught me that His timing is best. Waiting is hard, but being out of the will of God is even harder. He taught me that walking with a Sister-in-Christ is something we all need, even me.

As we were preparing for the launch of TAG 2016, I was also preparing to return to school to complete my bachelor’s degree. Another benefit of saying No was having the time to devote to school. I still cannot explain how there are enough hours in the week for all God allows me to accomplish, so I won’t try. I’ll just give God the glory.

Tammy’s Passion for Mentoring

Why am I so passionate about mentoring? I’ve been richly blessed by amazing women God has placed in my life!

Mentoring brings the generations together.

Tammy (upper left corner) and her mentor Kathy

A mentor can help you discern the importance of a simple No.

Mentors don’t have to be Bible scholars, just possess a willingness to invest time in the life of another woman. It may become a source of your greatest blessings.

Looking back, I see that God taught me some very important lessons He meant for me to share with others.

A mentor can also help you evaluate the events from your past to help you see the lessons God is teaching you now.

God created women with a desire to share life with one another. Life isn’t a solitary expedition.

In some area of your life, you’re a role model – a person of influence—and another woman needs to hear your story.

Finally, I leave you with Touching Another Generation’s (TAG’s) key verse: Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Mentoring for All Seasons is a book that helps women live out mentoring in all seasons and generations.

Tammy has Mentoring for All Seasons and the Woman to Woman Mentoring DVD packet on display as her church prepares for their TAG gathering. Mentoring for All Seasons and The Woman to Woman Mentoring resources are available at our website shop, always signed by me.
Mentoring for All Seasons is available at Amazon, all online and Christian bookstores, and also in Kindle format.

If you received this post by email, please leave a comment here.

The Lasting Fruit of Mentoring

Today’s guest post is written by my good friend and fellow author/speaker Pam Farrel. I can still remember Pam and her husband Bill sitting on our deck as I told her about writing my new book Mentoring for All Seasons and how hard it was to find stories on mentoring during midlife, menopause, and downsizing seasons. Pam readily offered her own stories of those seasons. Now Pam also has a new Bible study Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, one of the most complete and creative studies I have ever read on the book of Psalm. You’ll definitely want to get this study for your personal and group study.

The Lasting Fruit of Mentoring

By Pam Farrel

Last year, my friend Janet Thompson invited me to share a story of how mentoring had transformed my life for her book Mentoring For All Seasons. And concurrently , this fall, my 45th book released: Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. To me, these books form parallel tracks, that have moved my life forward—and my prayer is they will also move millions of women’s life forward.

Discovering Hope in the Psalms is a study by Pam Farrel

When you release a new book, one of the tasks your publisher wants you to do is send a sample, or complimentary copy of the book to gatekeepers, or women of influence who believe in God, believe in you, and believe in the ministry God has given to you. This always takes me on a mental trip down memory lane. I look back on the series of amazing mentors God has given me in my life. These women have poured wisdom, truth, strength, and common sense into me. They have built and blessed me.

I would not be who I am except for God escorting each of them across my path at just the right moment. All I had to do was keep a hungry heart to want to know and grow more.

A few of the Psalms in my Hope Bible study captures the kind of heart God is looking for—the kind of heart receptive to learning what those older and wiser have to share:

God is looking for thirsty hearts.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her/ his dying thirst. To me it is much like the kind of person Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the mount that God wants to bless: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)

God is looking for contrite hearts.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

Broken in this verse means to “shatter into tiny pieces”. And contrite is to “crush to bits” I like to picture this as the tiny pieces of stained glass that in the hands of an artist becomes a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and valuable after it has been broken. In my life, many of my mentors have served as the artisans that God has used to put my life back together.

God is looking for grateful hearts

Enter his gates with thanksgiving   and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:4- 5)

People with grateful hearts, seek out spending time with others who want to thank and praise the goodness of God. All the many mentors of my life have taught me to be grateful, thankful, appreciative of every moment someone has shared with me, sacrificed for me, so I could learn to know God better.

This fall, I looked for ways to go, in person, and thank many of my mentors:

I spoke at Tina’s church. Tina was the Campus Crusade staffer, just a few years older than me, who taught me some of the basics of the Christian walk: How to have a quiet time, how to walk by faith, how to walk in the power of the Holy spirit, how to share my faith, and how to make much better relationship decisions.

God also allowed me to say thanks to Nora, who mentored me in my role as a mother. Bev who mentored me in my role as a Pastor’s wife. Pat my mentor in my role as a Women’s Director, and Jill, my mentor as Christian speaker. There are many more, and in the coming months, I will look for ways to go, in person, give each a copy of Discovering Hope in the Psalms Bible study, thank them, and assure them that I value each minute they sacrificed to pour wisdom into me.

The seeds each planted have blossomed into lasting fruit around the world–and one day in eternity, each of these mentors will meet women who began a relationship with the Creator God, and grew into reproducing leaders who mentor others also—all because they cared and shared as mentors.

As each of us, who care about mentoring others, looks and prays about who God might want us to mentor, there will be women with thirsty, contrite, grateful, ready hearts we can pour into.

Who might God want you to mentor?

Who could be a mentor to you?

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker,  Co-Director, with her husband, Bill Farrel of  Love-Wise, and the author of 45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and her newest, co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher’’, Discovering Hope in the Psalms.

Read more of Pam Farrel’s story as mentor and mentee in chapters 14 and 15 of  Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, and signed by Janet at her website store

Rest On Labor Day and Pray for Those Who Can’t Take the Day Off

With Mentoring for All Seasons releasing in a week, I’ve been writing guest blogs that will run daily in September and into October. An author’s work is never done. But our son is arriving today for the weekend, and I’m taking the weekend off for a much needed break so I thought it was a good time to rerun this blog post. I hope you’re taking a break this weekend too. We all need it and it’s biblical.

I’ve always looked at Memorial Day and Labor Day as the bookends of summer. Both are now three day weekend holidays that also commemorate the end of one school year and the beginning of the next—although today’s schools don’t stick as closely to that schedule anymore.

You probably have memories of Labor Day picnics, family reunions, and barbecues commemorating the official end of summer; but beyond that, few stop to think about why we even have the day off. What is Labor Day anyway?

History of Labor Day

In 1894, Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday after a failed attempt to break up a railroad strike. Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.

Traditionally, all stores closed on Labor Day so workers could celebrate the holiday. Today, most stores are having Labor Day sales and their workforce is hard at work on a day dedicated to resting from work. Many people work on Labor Day without realizing: Hey, I’m a worker that has contributed to my company and I should have a day of rest!

It's Labor Day take the day offPray for Those Who Can’t Take the Day Off

Not every worker can take the day off and rest today. Those employed in the service industries often find holidays their busiest time: firemen, hospital employees, policemen, restaurant workers, gas stations, and now we can’t seem to go a day without a grocery store open. Seems like we could stock up on Saturday.

My father was a California Highway Patrolman and he took his turn at working every holiday. Labor Day is notoriously a heavy traffic day as travelers return from the three-day weekend. If you’re on the road today, drive carefully, courteously, and obey the speed limits. Pray for every policeman you see on the road. They have a family keeping a plate of ribs or a hamburger warm for the end of their shift.

Work or Rest?

The Crosswalk.com article, Labor Day: Your Need for Both Work and Rest by Nick Batzig, caught my attention. It started out …

“As we come to celebrate another Labor Day, it may be beneficial for us to step back for a moment and consider what Scripture has to say about the rhythm of work and rest—i.e. the cyclical configuration by which all the events of our lives occur.”

The article discussed God’s original plan for work and how that all changed when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and why God wants us to have times of rest and refreshment. Batzig listed several changes over the years that have resulted in work being motivated by prestige, self-esteem, peer pressure, fear, anxiety, and lack of purpose outside of work, rather than providing for our family. The following point resonated with what I see happening in families today:

“Whereas traditional societies said that you got your meaning in life through your family, and through basically fulfilling a fairly prescribed social role—either as a mother or father, or a brother or sister, or husband or wife, or a son or a daughter…You just needed to find a way to make a living because family was what everything was about. But we’re the first culture in history that says, ‘You define yourself by defining what you want to be and by attaining it—and then you have significance.’ There’s never been more psychological and social and emotional pressure on work to be either fulfilling or at least lucrative. There’s never been a culture like that.”

How Can We Change Culture?

I’ll admit that I’m a recovering workaholic. The only way I’m able to balance work and rest is to prioritize the things that are the most important to me—serving God and my family. My ministry is About His Work Ministries, so I’m fortunate to serve God through my work of writing and speaking. I also make sure to schedule times of rest with my hubby, and we often plan those times into speaking event travels and trips to see our grandkids. We also serve in ministry together as Dave assists me with About His Work Ministries, travels with me when I speak, and we co-lead a couples Bible study. But when I’m spending time with my family—my husband, children, and grandchildren—I set aside “work,” even ministry work, and focus on family.

That doesn’t leave much time in my schedule for “extra” activities, and so I’ve had to learn to say no to some good things. Before I say “yes,” and find myself with no time to rest and refresh, I’m trying to remember to do two things:

1. Pray and ask God if it’s something He wants me to do. Does it have Kingdom value?

2. Assess if I have the time and energy to add this activity to my calendar, and if so, what should it replace?

If I sense God telling me to go for it, I know I must remove something from my calendar or I’ll become unbalanced trying to get all the work done and rest will suffer. If you want to study more about what the Bible has to say about living a balanced life, you might enjoy my Bible study, Face to Face With Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry.

What do you do to find times of rest and refreshment in a world that values work over rest?

 “Come to Me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 (NLV)

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Love Your Body—For Longer Than Thirty Days

Love Your Body Longer Than 30 Days talks about the challenges of keeping weight off beyond the 30 days. Is it a way of eating you could do for life? If not it will be a disappointment.

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

I know I’m going to take some heat for this blog post, so let me start off by reminding everyone that the only reason I write this series on the last Monday of the month is because I care about your health. My first degree in college was a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, and I spent a year internship to become a Registered Dietitian, R.D. While I don’t currently practice that profession, I always say, “Once a dietitian, always a dietitian.” When you’ve learned the principles of how to eat the way God made our bodies, why would you ever want to do anything differently?!

But I didn’t stay in that profession for one reason; most people want a quick fix and not a lifetime of eating healthy. It was a thankless career. I began as a clinical R.D. in hospitals and thought I could be the Florence Nightingale of dietetics and help everyone on the path to wellness. I quickly learned that an R.D. was the meanie. You would think we were taking away their whole reason for living, instead of helping them to live longer! Even though in so many illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and weight-related, diet plays such a key role, people are often in denial. They want to take a pill or find an easy solution so they can keep eating the way they love, often more than they love their own bodies and loved ones.

Today the world of nutrition has garnered more respect, but many still ignore advice and wise counsel. Every few months, there’s a new diet touted as easy, fast weight loss, which by the way is not possible. Just look at the most well-known yo-yo celebrity dieter, Oprah. She’s probably tried them all, but the weight always returns.

Or Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli, who lost weight as spokeswomen for Jenny Craig, but both started gaining it back when the contract ended. Why? No one is going to eat Jenny Craig food for the rest of her life.

Nothing changed about why these women overeat. They didn’t modify their eating habits for life, just the duration of the program. Or the diet got boring and gradually the old eating habits returned. Maybe you’ve been there too.

I have many friends lose weight with Weight Watchers, but when they stopped going to meetings and measuring food, the weight started creeping back on, because again they aren’t going to attend Weight Watchers for life.

Everyone wants to find a way to eat more calories than God made their bodies to need or use, and in some cases will do harm, and still lose weight. It isn’t going to happen unless you adopt eating habits good for your body for life.

My Thoughts on the 30-Day Diet

When I started seeing people on Facebook talking about the latest diet rage, the 30-day diet, my heart sank. I went online and saw that people like Dr. Oz were approving it; but seriously how many other diets has he already approved? I can answer that: whatever is the latest quick fix. For once, it isn’t a bad diet with drinks or shakes you have to purchase or major foods groups to eliminate (except maybe sources of calcium). But almost everyone who is overweight is going to lose weight and detox with only eating 1200 calories, no processed foods, not eating for 12 hours after dinner—everyone should do that—and drinking lots of water—again we all should—and eating kale chips and roasted chickpeas for snacks. Hmm could you live with that as your only snack for longer than 30 days? And exercise is good, but jumping rope I’m not sure many could do as one website suggested.

And of course, there’s always a book for sale.

Again, I ask: Is this a way of eating someone would do for life? It wouldn’t be a bad way to eat, but I appreciated this disclaimer at the end of one the descriptions of the diet: Also, like any weight-loss plan, you might regain any weight you lost once you go back to your usual eating habits. To minimize regain, incorporate some of things you learned over the 30-day diet, such as mindful eating and focusing your meals on whole, fresh food.

If you want to do the 30-day diet, I don’t see anything that would hurt you. But as the disclaimer said, don’t start it unless you’re ready to change your eating patterns for life, or it will just be another failed disappointing diet.

What did people learn over the 30 days? Did they learn “mindful eating”?

Why they overeat and food has such a stronghold?

When they overeat?

How to avoid overeating?

What they’re overeating?

Why isn’t reaching their goal and looking amazing in their clothes enough incentive for not gaining back the weight?

Let God Help

The only way to stop overeating for life is not a quick-fix diet; it’s to find the answers to the above questions and I believe God can help you answer them. I had the privilege of writing a Bible study God’s Best for Your Life for First Place 4 Health, a ministry program I highly endorse. It’s not just a diet program focused on a quick weight loss, but a plan for a healthy lifestyle and eating habits for life. Helping those who are in a struggle with weight and food look at the whole body physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally from God’s perspective, often in a group setting, but you can also do it on your own with one of their Bible studies.

A Mentor Offers Accountability

The benefit of being in a group setting is accountability, but a mentoring relationship can provide the same accountability. In Mentoring for All Seasons, I discuss how to have a quality accountability relationship. Interestingly the Stages of Mentoring chapter shares a story of a mentor and mentee who met in a First Place 4 Health group at their church. The mentee Tara was leading the group, but she was seeking spiritual wisdom from an older woman, which she found in Jerre. Remember Mentoring for All Seasons releases in only two weeks on September 12 and is available NOW for pre-order. Or you can download the Kindle version NOW!

Many have told me they’ve lost and kept off weight just from the mentoring tips I’ve given in this Love Your Body series. That blesses me beyond words! I’ve seen so much pain and illness from something God made to nourish and sustain us be abused and misused by the evil one causing obsession, and yes, addiction to unhealthy eating patterns.

Love Your Body for More Than 30 Days discusses how an accountabiilty partner helping you stay on a healthy diet is more successful than going on a quick fix diet like the 30 Day diet where even they admit the weight will return if you go back to old eating habits.

Here are some previous Love Your Body articles you might enjoy on the topic of developing healthy eating habits to lose and maintain weight loss:

Written by my daughter Love Your Body—Use Technology to Lose Weight

Love Your Body—Break the Food Strongholds, Debbie Dittrich shared her story

Love Your Body—Weight Loss is Not the Goal, Debbie Dittrich shares more of her story

If you received this blog by email, please leave a comment here. Tell us how you’re keeping your weight under control or if you’ve tried the 30-Day Diet.

PS I told you I would update you on our experience with the total eclipse in our town. Turns out the sun was high enough in the sky above the trees that we watched the entire eclipse from the swing on our front deck. We didn’t go downtown, but did hear the crowds were much lighter than expected but the main roads were quite busy. It was spectacular, especially the two minutes of total darkness and just as the moon covered the sun and then moved off. I didn’t take any pictures though afraid of hurting my camera. Then we went inside and back to work for a normal Monday. How about you, did you see it?

Seeking A Season of Spiritual Maturity

I recently learned that pilot whales are very social and their offspring stay in their mother’s pod for life. The young swim alongside old, knowledgeable whales and learn from them how to feed, mate, and migrate in open waters.

The species is so good at following that occasionally they follow a bad decision by one of the lead whales, and they’re all in for trouble. This is rare. Overall, the younger whales learn from the wisdom and experience of the older whales.

While it might be hard to relate to whales, how about Jesus leading His disciples. In The Team That Jesus Built, I describe how Jesus took fishermen, a tax collector, and eventually arrived at twelve ragtag men and told them to “Follow me.” They followed Jesus around, watched, asked questions, listened, and gleaned from Him, and slowly they matured in their faith and understanding of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

When Paul was growing the New Testament churches, he challenged believers in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow me as I follow the example of Christ.” Like the disciples, Paul hadn’t lived an exemplary life, but he had turned his life around and had one incredible testimony! Still he never felt he had arrived. He was always fighting the good fight, running the race, and willing to share with others everything he learned in his seasons of spiritual growth. He begged people to follow his example, not because he was so great, but because he humbly was following and learning from Christ.

What Can We Learn From Whales, Paul, and the Disciples?

As Christians, we’re continually growing and maturing in our faith, or at least we should be . . . right? No one ever “achieves” or arrives at total spiritual maturity. We never know enough or all there is to learn about the Christian life. But do we sometimes live as if we do? Do we spend more time focusing on the world’s teachings than Jesus’s teaching? Like the 650 whales beached on New Zealand’s shoreline when they followed the wrong leader whale, our spiritual life can be beached too when we follow the wrong leader.

But we can get off the “spiritual beach” by seeking spiritual guidance. Maybe at a Bible study or retreat or deciding to have a consistent daily quiet time, we experience a newfound hunger to grow deeper in our walk with the Lord, but we’re not sure how. There are so many unanswered questions and portions of the Bible still confusing. We live in fear with the circumstances of the world, and yet we know our faith should sustain us, but it doesn’t seem enough right now.

Paul had the answer when he said in Titus 2:3-5 to have the women in a spiritually mature season teach and train the less spiritually mature. Some try to interpret those verses as strictly chronological age, but in mentoring we want to learn from someone spiritually older, not necessarily older in years. A great truth the Lord revealed when I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

Many mentoring ministries fail because they simply match older women with younger women without looking at their seasons of spiritual maturity. A woman might become a Christian at sixty-five and have worldly wisdom but not spiritual wisdom. Her mentor might be fifty but has walked with the Lord for many years.

We don’t know the ages of the disciples, but since Jesus was only thirty when He started His ministry, there’s a good chance they were older than Him. But they had so much to learn and only three years to spiritually mature. You and I are Christians today because Jesus mentored them to go into the world and teach what He had taught them.

Your Personal Spiritual Maturity Season

Sometimes I hear Christians say they feel spiritually dry. That saddens me because Jesus is ready and willing to give us living water from a well that never runs dry. If we drink from His well, we’ll keep growing in spiritual maturity (John 4:10-15). Many of you know this already and someone in your life needs to hear how you continue maturing in your relationship with the Lord.

I’m afraid there’s a growing epidemic among Christian women today to worry more about their own spiritual maturity than sharing what they know about Christ with a newer believer. I’m not referring to Bible study leaders, but the women sitting under their teaching in every church or Bible study group. Are they sharing what they’re learning with the many women around them who need help with their spiritual maturity?

It goes beyond just inviting them to the Bible study for the leader or facilitator to teach them; it means helping them live a godly mature life outside the groups in daily life. It means more than inviting them to church on Sunday; it means praying and studying with them during the week.

It means every believer a mentor!

In Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, I share stories of mentors who have met spiritually younger women at Bible studies and church and offered to mentor them. I encourage spiritually mature women to think about the role models in their life who helped them come to faith and spiritual maturity. We all have them. Women we admire who took the time to disciple us and share some of their life with us. Hebrews 13:7 tell us to: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

“Imitate their faith.” Exactly what Paul told the church and Jesus told His disciples.

Mentoring is that simple. How someone reached you with her faith is probably the way you will be the most effective in pouring into someone else who is younger in her faith.

In Mentoring for All Seasons, there are points to consider of how God could use you as a mentor and how to select a mentor. Here are just a couple.

If you’ve been a believer for a while:

  • Who challenged you and helped you grow in your faith?
  • How did she model Jesus to you?
  • Who needs you to do that for them? Consider also someone who might be a long-time believer but is going through a season of doubt.
  • Who do you need to invite to follow you and help her mature in her faith?
  • How could God enhance your spiritual maturity by mentoring and pouring into someone else?

If you’re a newer believer and eager to learn and grow in your faith, or going through a spiritually dry time, God tells us two are better than one (Ecc. 4:9-10).

  • Who do you admire for her faith and the way she lives it out in daily life?
  • What about her faith would you like to emulate in your own life?
  • What’s stopping you from asking her to mentor you?

Often, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:2

Paul the great mentor of the New Testament reminds us that mentoring is always a two-way relationship and reward.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” [a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:14-17

Mentoring for All Seasons is available for order now on Amazon or Kindle version or Signed by the Author

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Why Do We Care What Everyone Thinks?

Everyone thinks this about you.”

They’re all talking about you.”

“You make everyone feel” __________________.

“Everyone thinks you should”_____________.

These types of phrases can be negative or positive.

We love it when the context is everyone thinks you’re wonderful! They’re all talking about how you make everyone feel so good and everyone thinks you should do more to let people know about the great things you’re doing!

But what about a negative context when everyone thinks you’re not wonderful. They’re all talking about you because you make everyone so uncomfortable and everyone thinks you should change your ways and keep to yourself!

When I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and then when other churches wanted to know how to start one and God chained me to the computer to write the Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, I heard both negative and positive comments. That was twenty years ago. If I had listened to the negative, there would be no Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry today; but likewise if I had let the positive puff me up instead of just encourage and motivate me, I don’t believe God would have blessed this ministry. Yet even as I sit here writing to you, I see a confirming email come in from a church telling me they started the ministry last year and they’re so thankful for the resources. To God be the glory. Only God starts an international life-changing ministry and keeps it going! We can’t do anything without Him, but with Him all things are possible.

Positive or negative comments; let’s look objectively.

Receiving Negative Comments

 

No one can speak for everyone. More than likely there’s a group with a perception about you, which could actually only be two or three people.

We hear sweeping comments in the news today, and it’s easy to transfer similar all-inclusive conversation to our private lives. Especially, when someone wants to convey something negative. Everyone sounds more impressive, meaningful, and authoritative.

Words are easy to release, but impossible to retrieve!

Hurtful words and connotations are like an arrow to the heart. They penetrate our identity, our purpose, our character. As our curiosity fuels thoughts of who is “everyone,”  our anger and defenses go into high gear. We want to know why people are thinking or saying these things about us. We’re hurt. People are gossiping about us, which never comes to any good!

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Prov. 16:28

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Prov. 20:19

Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Prov. 26:22

Remember Paul is talking to the church at Corinth here:

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Cor. 12:20

It takes two to gossip—the gossiper and the listener—so beware of becoming an accomplice to sin by listening to gossip. Our role as Titus 2 women is “to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good train the younger women.” (Titus 2:3)

So consider the following when you hear an “everybody” negative comment about you. Believe me when I say, I haven’t always done this on the spot, and sometimes need to give myself time to pray and put everything into perspective.

  1. Rather than trying to defend yourself or lashing outSay a quick mind prayer, stay calm, and ask God for wisdom. Ask yourself before responding: Why do I care what these people think?
  2. Question: “Really, everyone thinks this?”
  3. Ask: Why are they telling you this? Steer the conversation away from everyone to one-on-one.

My point:

We worry too much about what other people think about us and not enough about what God thinks about us. He’s the only One we’re concerned about. Consider if there’s something you should search your heart about and act on and if not, let this go. If there is something, then take it to the Lord. And be watchful of not doing an “everyone” comment yourself.

Don’t replay the encounter or comments over in your head, so Satan gets a foothold in your mind. It’s best to forgive, pray, and carry on. Easier said than done? I offer many helps and tips in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community.

Receiving Positive Comments

But what if all those “everyone” statements are positive building us up and making us feel good about ourselves? Well there’s certainly nothing wrong with encouragement, but again, we have to remember a couple of truths:

No one knows what everyone is speaking and they can’t speak for them. Hopefully, there are many who agree with them, but “everyone” is still an encompassing sweeping generalization.

If we think that we’re just fine because everyone likes us, then we might miss some areas we do need to change and improve, because after all . . . everyone thinks we’re great.

And we know what that leads to—pride—taking credit ourselves, instead of praising God giving Him the glory and honor He deserves. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)

There will always be areas in our life we need to improve, change, sanctify, ask God for wisdom. We can be grateful for approval of how we’re living and serving the Lord, but I guarantee that if you’re living out loud for God, everyone is not going to like you. If everyone does, do an internal check and see if there are areas in your life you’ve compromised to be liked by everyone.

When Paul was accused by the Jewish high priest Ananias, some of the elders, and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against him before the governor, Felix for doing nothing more than sharing the Gospel, Paul told them in his defense: “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). That should be the goal of every Christian, don’t you agree?

Sadie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty Family, who I’ve written about before, recently gave an amazing “sermon” to a college group and challenged those millennials who might be leaving their values and faith behind because they want to fit in: “Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with people you don’t even know.” Here’s the link and I recommend you listen to it with your kids or college age youth groups. It’s excellent!

So I close with a modification of Sadie’s advice:
Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with everyone!

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 2 Peter 2:12

If you received this post by email, please leave a comment here.

If you would like to know more about the Prayer and Launch Team for Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing September 12, please contact me soon.

5 Ways to Have a God-Glorifying Small Group

Last week as I was shutting down my computer, I noticed a Facebook tag from my dear friend and fellow author/speaker, Pam Farrel. Pam leads a group called Seasoned Sisters, and you’ll be able to read all about how she started this mentoring group for women going through midlife in my new book Mentoring For All Seasons when it releases in September this year! Pam shares in it several stories about being mentored and being a mentor during transition seasons of her life.

Several months ago, Pam told me her Seasoned Sisters group wanted to read and discuss my latest book that Pam endorsed, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. They purchased the books, and then I got a message from her that more women wanted to join the group as the word got out how much they were enjoying my book. You know how this encouraged me and warmed my heart since my vision for Forsaken God? was for Christians to make a change for God in our culture by simply remembering how good God has been to them in their own lives. There are discussion questions after each chapter for group study, and the book isn’t just for women: it’s for all Christians!

So back to last week’s Facebook tag. Pam was meeting with her Seasons Sisters and they sent me a live video to say “Hi” and tell me what Forsaken God? has meant to them. Several comments: “Very timely! I don’t want to watch the news; I just want to read this book.” “Forsaken God? will put the headlines in perspective and give you God’s view.” Here’s the short video for you to watch yourself.

One woman said she had given the book to a waitress. I was blessed and encouraged. If you read last week’s blog post 10 Ways to Change Our Culture, you know my heart for motivating Christians to take a stand for God in their sphere of influence. I’m praying some of you thought there was at least one way you would apply to your life.

The Value of Small Groups / Bible Study Groups / Life Groups

Small groups or Bible study groups or life groups, whatever your church calls them, are the perfect place to mature in your faith and encourage each other to take your faith public, as we’re told to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

My husband and I met in a small group at Saddleback Church. He was the co-leader of a business group that included men, women, couples, and singles. It was my first experience in a small group, but Dave and I have been leading small groups and support groups (such as Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter) ever since. Sometimes we lead together, other times he might lead a men’s group and I’ll lead a women’s group. We’ve led groups at a mega church like Saddleback, and at the small church in the mountain community where we now live. Our favorite groups are couples groups.

Like every small group, some of our groups ran smoothly with everyone committed, and others had problems that we had to address for the good of the group. Here are five key areas where God taught us through trial and error how to have a small group that glorifies Him and enriches the spiritual life of all the group members.

  1. Create a safe place with confidentiality – Do members of your group feel like the group is a safe place where they can share openly without condemnation, criticism, or worrying that what they say will leave the group?

Prayer time can unintentionally become a gossip session. Members should feel confident that prayer requests or comments made during the meetings are not discussed outside of the group, without permission from all individuals involved.

Spouses should not share stories about each other without receiving permission, whether or not their spouse is present. To keep the group accountable in this area, when a spouse starts to talk about his or her spouse, the leader can say something like, “That sounds like a hubby [or wife] story. Hubby [or wife], do you want us to hear this?” And if he or she says no, then nix the story.

  1. Don’t Try to Fix Each Other – Are members trying to solve each other’s problems or give unsolicited advice?

Members shouldn’t try to speak into each other’s life unless asked to do so. Often a member just wants to share a difficult situation and is solely looking for compassion, understanding, and prayer. The group should listen respectfully, and possibly offer constructive and empathetic comments from their own experience, as long as those thoughts are biblically sound, and above all, encouraging. No quick fixes or “you shoulds.”

Sometimes members with difficult issues can dominate the entire meeting and that might be appropriate if someone is in an immediate crisis. But if this becomes a pattern, the leader/facilitator gently suggests that the member might benefit from speaking with pastors at the church or offer to talk privately and pray with him or her after the group.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Request Commitment – Is everyone committed and giving priority to meetings and communicating in advance when they aren’t going to attend? Do all members have clear expectations of what they’re going to receive from the study, and are they in concert with the group?

Will it be a social fellowship group vs. a Bible study group, or a combination of the two?

Commitment and making meetings a high priority is imperative. Members shouldn’t have an “I’ll-be-there-if-I-can” attitude. Your goal is to become a spiritual family growing and doing life together, respectful of each other’s time and efforts.

There’s nothing more discouraging as a leader than to prepare for the group and then start receiving the phone calls and emails, often at the last minute, that members aren’t coming. One way to share the commitment and ownership of the group is to pass the facilitating of the group among the members. So it’s not always a leader/members group, but a group with everyone having a part in facilitating the meetings.

Make sure you have a group covenant that clearly states the purpose of the group and allow everyone an opportunity to express his or her expectations. This is also a good place to reemphasize confidentiality and commitment expectations.

  1. Maintain Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit—Do you spend enough time in the Word and let the Holy Spirit lead or are you rushing through studies to reach a goal?

Regardless of the focus or purpose of the group, everyone must be reading from the Bible every meeting. Members need to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer during the meetings and during the week for spiritual growth to occur.

It’s important to end at the agreed expected time so people can plan, but don’t be overly concerned how much material is covered each meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and expose just the right discussion for growth in everyone’s life.

  1. Encourage Active Group Participation – Is everyone doing his or her outside study material between meetings and participating in the discussion? Do some people never talk and others do all the talking?

It’s important for the health and growth of the group that everyone comes prepared if there is homework or reading between meetings, and that each member has an opportunity to participate in discussion.

A good way to engage people who tend to be quiet is to ask them to read a Scripture, and if it applies to a study question, that’s an open door to read their answer. Or to prevent them from feeling pressured to respond first, after some initial group discussion on the question, the leader/facilitator can invite their input. These suggestions also are effective in preventing the group from relying on the same group members for answers and discussion.

Small groups are vital to the spiritual growth and maturity of a church congregation, whether the church is large or small. It’s easy to get lost in a large church and not feel accountable, but a small group makes a big church small. In a small church, like where we are right now, small groups expand the ministry and teaching during the week and can make a small church seem like a large extended family.

What other things have you found to be a problem and/or helpful in keeping your small group effective and maturing together in Christ?

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All my books have discussion questions for groups. I’ve also written a Face to Face Bible Study Series for women. There are seven in the series and each one is a perfect length for summer study. Or there’s a First Place 4 Heath Bible study God’s Best for Your Life.

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Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

My goal for 2017 is staying aware of God’s presence and listening to His warnings. The word the Lord gave me: “Revival.” Today is Love Your Body Monday, and I want to talk about reviving sexual purity.

  1. Last Friday was the March for Life— the rights of the unborn. For the first time in history, a Vice President addressed the crowd and talked about “Life is winning again in America! Society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled, the unborn. Science is illuminating when life begins!”
  2. Six days prior was the “Women’s March”—the right to kill the unborn by abortion. Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty described that march: “I was blown away by the vulgarity and the young children there!” I discussed that march in last week’s blog, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t: Some Women Are Still Like Eve: Believing the Serpent.

Two marches embodying two opposing concepts:

  • good vs evil
  • life vs death
  • peaceful vs angry
  • a body as God’s creation capable of creating and sustaining life, vs self-rights to use “my” body to create and kill life

In last week’s post, Eve and Adam ate from the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world. They immediately knew they were naked. (Genesis 3:2-3) Let’s continue:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

Satan was watching and saw God say:

  • Eve would become the mother of mankind
  • Nakedness should be covered
  • Man would always know good from evil

Satan already knew he could easily deceive man. The stage was set for Satan to do his work as ruler of this world in each of the above areas:

  1. Destroy humankind by having them kill each other in wars, murders, riots, terrorists, and abortion–sanitizing it with a name like “Planned Parenthood.” Slow propagation through infertility, normalizing LGBT lifestyle, redefining marriage, and creating gender confusion.
  2. Exploit and pervert sex, promote promiscuity, adultery, pornography, provocative seductive clothing, immorality, and lust, using media, marketing, entertainment, and Hollywood as the vehicle to idolize, romanticize, and normalize sin to each generation.
  3. Start a political liberal progressive atheistic movement that demonizes purity, virginity, celibacy, monogamy, Christianity, and the sanctity of life—remove God and the Bible from the public squre.

Time has proven that what one generation does in moderation, the next generation does in excess because Satan goes after the children!

Satan’s tactics have worked. Christians talking about abstinence or purity  . . . are laughed at . . . called prudes, dreamers, delusional, judgmental, preachers, and worse. Many give up even trying. Pastors don’t talk about the hazards of sex outside of marriage . . . the moral, sinful, and physical consequences on our bodies . . . God’s precious holy temples.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh. 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:15:20

Why aren’t pastors telling young people and congregations that when you have sex with another person you become one with them? Hook ups, one-night stands, date sex,  living together, casual sex . . . every person you EVER had sex with . . . your souls united because that’s how God made us “the two become one flesh (Gen. 2:24) in sex.  God meant for it to be in marriage. Satan the great Deceiver would say, God didn’t really mean that. Yes he did.

Let’s Start a Pure Body Revival

One woman wrote to me: My mother gave me birth control pills at 13 so I wouldn’t get pregnant with all the low life boys I would have sex with in my passage into womanhood.

That broke my heart. We need a sexual revival in our country. Let’s start educating our young men and women. Parents, churches, mentors teachers taking the time to teach kids what really happens spiritually when you have sex, not just the physical mechanics, but share verses like those above and ones on purity and holiness, do Bible studies together, and talk about why God wants His people to only have sex in marriage. Explain that sex is not a natural or expected part of a relationship unless you’re married, regardless of how the movies or TV depict it, or what your friends are doing.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word. Psalm 111:9

In Forsaken God? I wrote, “Young people need to hear how to use the Bible as a benchmark to distinguish truth from lies. They don’t need condoms and birth control pills and talks on safe sex; they need to know how to make choices based on eternity, not just avoiding maternity.”

Sexual revival applies to all ages and it won’t be popular, but we can pray for God to empower us and give us the opportunity to spread revival in our sphere of influence. Our culture ridicules men and women who vow celibacy until their wedding night. Rampant casual sex—hook ups, dating sex, friends with benefits, living together—reduces sex to lust, not love. The world, deceived by Satan asks, “What’s love got to do with sex?” Even many Christians choose to be a part of this world rather than set apart and pure for God who tells us “So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” –Lev. 20:7 (NLT)

Single moms and single women this means you too. You must set the example and role model for these young women and girls and for your daughters and sons. I was a single mom and I’ve been on both sides of this discussion. Yes, I was a virgin when I married my daughter’s father. We didn’t have birth control pills when I was a teenager. My mother wasn’t a religious person, but she told me emphatically that sex was for marriage. Sex can make babies. White wedding dresses are for virgins, and no boy or man is worth forfeiting that one-time sacred privilege. I believed her, and I waited, and I’m glad I did. She set a moral compass for me and I stuck to it.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how my moral compass shifted in my divorced, single years and I did not set a good role model for my daughter. I’m here to tell you that Satan is a liar. God made our bodies to glorify and honor Him, and praise God He is the God of many chances. For those who feel it’s too late, they aren’t a virgin or are too sexually impure so what difference does it make, God is the God of renewal. We can come before Him and ask for forgiveness for our past, repent, rededicate our life and go and sin no more just like the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well.

Satan makes the sinful life look exciting and enticing, but anyone who has come out of the dark into the light will tell you loving your body the way God loves your body is the only way to a joyful, peaceful life.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

Many will think I’m idealistic and sexual revival is impossible. I’m not naïve enough to think women and men are going to stop having sex outside of marriage, but maybe some will. The theme of this year’s Walk for Life was the Power of One. They stressed the importance of reaching the next generation, which is my passion too.

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

I want to share two books: both from the Robertson family of the Ducky Dynasty TV Series. The Robertson’s are vocal about their faith and belief in Jesus Christ and family.

Sadie Robertson was seventeen when she wrote Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to her Values and I included this quote in my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten

When you put your relationship with God first and you also have a great relationship with your family, you can risk having people get upset with you for standing up for your beliefs. You can risk being rejected because of your values, and you can even risk losing a boyfriend if the relationship is not going in a godly direction. You can risk looking or acting different from other people. You can do these things because you know you will be okay without them. You know God is with you and for you, and I hope you can also know your family is standing beside you, but even without your family’s support, you can know that God is there.

Jase Robertson wrote in Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl about his decision as a teenager to remain sexually pure until marriage:

One day after hearing my buddies talking about sexually transmitted diseases and asking my dad about it. I don’t remember the specifics of his speech, but I would never forget the last thing he said. “Son you keep that thing in your pocket until you get married and you’ll never have to worry about it.” He told me. The timing of our conversation was perfect when it came to my staying sexually pure.

I eventually came up with a plan of action. On the first date, I would share my faith with the girl and declare my intention to wait until marriage before having sex. In a way this held me accountable, and it also got rid of any girls who had a quick roll in the hay in mind. I also decided to stay away from the “second look”—noticing a good-looking woman, then dwelling on her for a second, more lustful look. I tried to notice the beauty and feel the attraction to a woman but ultimately pursue their spiritual makeup. . . . God changes us from the inside out, and that helps us look at other people the same way.

Jase did stay sexually pure. He and his wife Missy were both virgins on their wedding night. With God all things are possible!

We need to build a new culture of purity, a new culture of life. A new normal.

Let’s make purity popular again!

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

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An article I wrote for Crosswalk that might be helpful Have You Forgiven Each Other for Premarital Sex?

If you’ve had an abortion, I recommend Pat Layton’s book Surrendering the Secret.

For more thoughts on Revival of Titus 2 Women see this month’s About His Work Newsletter.

A Bible study I wrote for First Place 4 Health goes into depth about keeping our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits pure and holy: God’s Best For Your Life. Study on your own or as a group.

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Love Your Body—Give Yourself the Gift of Health

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Monday comes this year right after Thanksgiving weekend when you’ve probably just finished off the pumpkin pie with whipped cream—maybe for breakfast—and you’re wondering if you can lose that extra five pounds before the Christmas parties start next week. My first party is actually this Friday, December 2, and then away we go for the next month!

Don’t become discouraged and beat yourself up. After all, you only get Mom’s dressing and Grandma’s apple pie once a year, but you can’t continue that trend all month—especially if you’re on a medical diet and you’ve been making great progress or you just started reaching a goal. Don’t throw caution to the wind just because it’s the holidays and you’ll start over again in the New Year . . . chances are you won’t.

Give Your Body the Gift of Health

When I was a Registered Dietitian working in hospitals, they didn’t close during the holidays because people still got sick, they still had heart attacks, or insulin reactions, or any number of illnesses. I remember having to work one year on Christmas Day. So it doesn’t make sense to think I’ll just take a break from what I know I should do for this month or this party or this big dinner…because your body doesn’t care that it’s Christmas or Christmas Eve or the office party. Your body is going to react just like it would in the middle of January or June! So think and eat like this:

I must treat my body right every day, and when I overindulge, I must get right back to my normal regime the next meal.

You have to have a plan. Pray about how to deal with the tempting food you’ll soon be encountering before you encounter it. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment on what to eat, how much to eat, what to cook, how to cook it, and what to indulge in and what to avoid.

Sometimes I take a bite of something and it wasn’t as tasty as it looked, so I stop eating it. Or if it was good, I let that bite satisfy me. I peruse the selections and pick a couple that look the best . . . not one of everything!

Sometimes we plan to pace ourselves, then toss out the plan, and berate ourselves the next day when we get on the scales, or blood sugar or blood pressure is up—remember salty foods raise blood pressure.

Love Your Body—Beat of Treat High Blood Pressure

Love Your Body—Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Helpful tips and please share in the comments any you use:

  • Get on the scales daily so you know if your weight is fluctuating. If you wait until you notice weight gain in your clothes, you’ll have a tough time losing, and may just buy bigger clothes. If you’ve gained, avoid desserts, eat smaller portions, and eliminate bread, butter, and what I call “empty calories”—sugar, honey, jelly/jam, chips, junk food, soft drinks, alcohol.
  • Maintain your exercise regime. If you don’t have one, start! Even though the holidays can be crazy, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Exercise helps with stress, gets the endorphins pumping, helps your heart, and burns calories. In bad weather, join a gym, walk laps around a mall, or invest in exercise equipment (hint: ask for Christmas).
  • Take a green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing to a potluck so you always have something healthy to eat. On buffet/potluck lines, take a small spoonful of foods you really like with one caution: Jell-O salads are high in sugar and fat. Don’t go back for seconds.
  • Have a small piece of the one dessert you like the most. Or take tiny bites of several. If one isn’t as good as it looks, don’t eat it!
  • Let your stomach guide you. When your belt or waistband tightens, STOP eating.
  • If you love bread, have a small piece, no butter. Skip store bought dinner rolls.
  • Eating out, draw a visual line down the middle of your plate. Eat half and ask for a to-go box for a tasty lunch tomorrow.
  • Drink water! Avoid punches, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol.
  • Enjoy stuffing or mashed potatoes without gravy. Avoid “sauces.”
  • Don’t add extra salt or butter.
  • Plan to start the New Year with a group of friends studying God’s plan for how to live a healthy life. I’ve written a study for First Place 4 Health that would make a great Christmas gift to get you started: God’s Best For Your Life. Gods Best for Your Life Cover

Cooking Healthy for the Holidays

I used to spend a day or two in the kitchen making cookies and candy. Then I realized I was the one eating most of it! Now, I pick a favorite one or two and make recipes healthier:

  1. No shortening! Substitute coconut oil or butter.
  2. No “vegetable” oil, use coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or applesauce.
  3. Half the amount of sugar. You can substitute Stevia for the other half or use all Stevia.
  4. Use 2% milk, almond or coconut milk.
  5. Substitute whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour.
  6. I don’t use white flour, but use NAMASTE gluten-free Organic Perfect Flour Blend that I get at COSTCO, which can be used cup for cup for white flour with no other changes required.
  7. Put one stick unsalted butter and 1/2 cup olive oil in a blender or Cuisinart and use lightly as a spread on toast, rolls, veggies, potatoes as a soft “butter” spread.
  8. When making cookies with the grandkids, send the goodies home!

Keep the True Focus of Christmas

Remember Christmas parties aren’t about food! They’re about fellowship as you thank God for all His blessings and the greatest gift of all: His Son Jesus Christ.

I appreciate your desire to live the best life you can for the Lord and to love His gifts to you of Jesus Christ and your precious body.

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT

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Love Your Body—Why Are We So Angry?

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

As if we didn’t have enough diseases to try to avoid, the current election has created a new one—Political Anxiety Disorder or Election Stress Disorder—hospitalizing many people across the nation. They’re so upset about the outcome of the election affecting their lives, that they’re having panic attacks and all the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Pounding heart, sweating.
  • Headaches, stomach upset, or dizziness.
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Muscle tension, tremors, and twitches.
  • Fatigue or insomnia.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart.” —Proverbs 12:25a

“So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body.”—Ecclesiastes 11:10a

Anxiety Can Lead to Anger

If you receive my monthly About His Work Ministries email newsletter,* the opening article this month was “When Things Are Out of Control.” I received more comments on that article then I have from any article I’ve written all year. When things happen that we don’t like or don’t want to experience, but can’t change, it makes us anxious and we can become angry. Anger is a legitimate feeling and reaction, but what we do with that anger can damage our health, our body, and our relationships.

Unbridled anger results in bitterness, hardening of the heart, and often an offensive attitude that expresses itself in vile words and/or aggressive behavior. While there may be a quick release of angry emotion, if the root cause of the anger continues it eats away at mind, body, and soul, and others become victims of the residual fallout.

As the election progresses, I’ve had the most angry, vulgar, mean, vicious lashing out comments I’ve ever experienced on my blog posts and Facebook posts. It’s alarming that people live with such angry, bitter thoughts in their minds and hearts and use hurtful, X-rated words in their daily lives. I’m sure when the election is over, they’ll find something else to be angry about and their health, both physical and mental, will suffer.

Today it’s almost impossible to have a debate without it turning into a disagreement.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”–Psalm 37:8

Where is the Anger Originating?

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.”—Ephesians 4:26 NLT

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”—Proverbs 14:29 NLT

Do you know the media outlets design the news to raise your blood pressure, anxiety level, and anger meter? They purposely create headlines to generate a negative response. The media wants you to engage angrily with either the person or situation their reporting on—they want you mad. Occasionally, they’ll throw in a feel good story, but usually it’s SENSATIONAL “BREAKING NEWS” not substantiated or factual . . . just hearsay, opinions, or “maybes” . . . and you walk away worried . . . angry.

As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”—Proverbs 25:23 NLT

I write articles for an online Christian magazine, and they’ve discovered that the more negative the title, the more people read the article. Christians are being conditioned right along with everyone else.

Physical Signs of Anger

What does anger do to you physically? Some symptoms are . . .

  • clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth.
  • headache/migraines.
  • stomach ache.
  • increased and rapid heart rate.
  • sweating, especially your palms.
  • feeling hot in the neck/face.
  • shaking or trembling.
  • dizziness.
  • stress which can cause anxiety.
  • increased blood pressure leading to heart disease.
  • eating disorders.

You could pick from the above list, or add to it how you feel when you’re angry or someone around you is angry. Next time, take note of how your body reacts. Or better yet, learn to control your anger and remove yourself from an angry environment or situation.

What Can We Do About Anger to Help Our Bodies?

  1. Our anger may stem from feeling out of control. We don’t think we can make a difference or change our circumstances, but we can. When you’re doing something about a situation and you feel a sense of hope and purpose . . . your anger subsides. I’m going to refer you to a post I wrote for Crosswalk for how to make a difference one person at a time: You Don’t Have to Get Elected or Make Movies to Change Culture.
  2. In my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss the damage anger can do to our bodies if we don’t learn how to deal with it:EuodiaSyntycheCover72dpi1-200x300

Anger is an emotion felt in the moment that requires quick resolution. Many horrific acts occur and hateful words hurl in a “fit of anger.” You cannot retrieve actions or words.

            Uncontrolled raging anger makes us, and everyone around us, miserable. Pastor Doug Fields, likes to describe anger in terms of “outies” and “inies.” An “outie” is someone who spews out anger and doesn’t hold anything back. You know exactly how mad outies are and they want you to know. Often outies are over their anger once they have their “verbal vomit,” as Pastor Doug calls it, and they’re ready to move on. The problem with outies is the potential for people to be hurt, and even maimed, during the verbal, and maybe even, physical outburst.

            Inies on the other hand are the ones that profess they aren’t mad. “Everything’s fine.” they say, maintaining a thin smile while stewing and brewing inside. They may stuff down their anger for a long time while it burns, churns, and turns to bitterness. Inies find quiet, sly, unexpected ways to express their anger, or some never let go—the anger eats away at them physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the rest of their lives. Other inies only can hold their anger inside so long until the pressure builds into a sudden and violent explosion—the fallout being lethal to themselves and anyone in the vicinity.

            So how do you have healthy anger? Here’s the “ABCD” steps to take:

Acknowledge—that you’re angry.

Breathe—take a time out and step away from the source of anger.

Call on God—He knows what you should do regarding the source of your anger—ask Him.

Defuse—release your anger to God.*

*Excerpt from Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7

stay-calm

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