How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God

Thelma Wells take 2See note at end of blog for Thelma Wells comment about this picture*

You might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea before you start reading because today’s post is a little longer than usual. Once I start talking about mentoring …it’s hard to stop.

Since Adam and Eve, every generation has lived in a fallen world, but I think you would agree that our culture is falling away from God faster than any time in history. What one generation did in moderation, the next generation does in excess.

Just as the apostle Paul saw the need for mentors in his day, as he wrote to the young pastor Titus, we desperately need mentors today. And yet, many who should be stepping up to mentor and teach the next generation are falling away just as quickly as our world is falling away from God. Do you see the same correlation that I do?

If we don't teach our children

Such a sad, but true reality … and because spiritually older men and women are not reaching out teaching and training the next generations, young people are left to figure things out on their own while listening to the liberal barrage of worldly advice derailing them from every direction—media, schools, friends, the community…. They’re not hearing the truths of God; they’re bombarded with the lies of Satan. And yet, God set in place a way to prevent this. Yes, we could have avoided much of the evil happening in the world today if Christians and the church had been willing to invest in mentoring the next generation.

Praise God there are still many Sunday school teachers sharing the Gospel with the precious little ones who manage to find their way to church. And many churches have a youth ministry, but then as young people mature and start making their own decisions, the church often backs away when needed the most.

Instead of helping young people confront the difficult issues they’re dealing with today, the church becomes shy and reserved about discussing real world issues. Instead of ensuring these young people have mature Christians involved in their lives, like Paul was to Titus and Timothy and Elizabeth was to Mary, the church pulls away and so do the young people. Abandoned when they need guidance and counsel the most! Here is just one example of what our young people and parents are dealing with today:

The witness of God on the human heart will be silenced by a culture that approves of what we naturally know is wicked and damaging. To isolate just one issue, as transgender identity spreads and is accepted, little boys and girls who years ago would have received sound counsel to inhabit their God-given bodies will instead be encouraged to undergo drastic surgery. They will experience profound confusion as a result and will be –by some estimates—twenty times more likely to commit suicide than their peers. This is just one illustration of the baleful effects of the forces that now bully our body politic into conformity to anti-wisdom and anti-truth.” Owen Strachan “What the Future Holds” Tabletalk August 2015

What Can We Do?

So how do we everyday ordinary Christian women make a difference in today’s confused and fallen world? We speak, teach, and train the Truth straight from the Bible. In “In Touch” devotional, Dr. Charles Stanley defines wisdom: “Wisdom is the capacity to see things from God’s perspective and to respond to them according to scriptural principles.” We need to help spiritually younger women learn spiritual wisdom from the Bible to help them navigate the moral decline of our country.

For example, there are Christians and even pastors and churches today who say that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality, but no matter how many credentials these pastors and churches have behind their names, they’re only revealing how unwise and unfamiliar they are with the entire Bible. They forget that Jesus and God are One and God clearly delineates throughout the Bible the roles of men and women in marriage and sexual relationships, and that marriage is an earthly replication of Christ with His church. All you have to do is go to a concordance or Biblegateway.com to see verses like:

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

From the beginning to the end of the Bible, you clearly see God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman and the delineation and roles of each gender. The people of Jesus’ day knew the Old Testament teaching about sin, they didn’t need it spelled out for them by Jesus. Jesus didn’t specifically say don’t snort cocaine, don’t engage in sex trafficking, don’t murder unborn babies and sell their body parts either, so does that make them all ok? Of course not! The people of Jesus’ day knew it was a sin to degrade their bodies, engage in sexual immorality, or murder and these are still sins today. So we need to help the next generation understand how to apply the entire Bible to living a moral upright and righteous life instead of trying to use the Bible to justify a sinful immoral unrighteous life.

How Does Titus 2 Apply Today?

The verses in Titus 2:1-8 describe God’s plan for mentoring men and women and those verses are just as applicable today as they were when Paul wrote them. I’ve said many times that these verses are the job description for every Christian man and woman. I like the J.B. Phillips translation for this discussion. Let’s look at each verse starting with the men. And by the way, I want you to think of “older” and younger in terms of “spiritually older” and “spiritually younger.” Remember this is the apostle Paul telling young pastor Titus how mentoring works:

Now you must tell them the sort of character which should spring from sound teaching. The old [older] men should be temperate, serious, wise—spiritually healthy through their faith and love and patience.

So Paul tells Titus to provide sound teaching to the spiritually older men so they will be spiritually mature, wise, patient, and full of love as they lead their homes and teach the younger men (verses 6-8). Then likewise, these same things apply to the women along with areas specific to women:

Similarly, the old [older] women should be reverent in their behaviour, should not make unfounded complaints and should not be over-fond of wine.

Synonyms for reverent are worshipful, respectful, and humble. Many translations refer to unfounded complaints as not gossiping and slandering others. And interestingly Paul warns women against drinking and some translations even use the word addicted to wine. I’ve written many times on why drinking is a bad role model and Paul thought so too.

They should be examples of the good life,

This doesn’t mean the good life in terms of material possessions and a pain-free life, but the amazing joy and peace we experience as followers of Jesus and receive God’s goodness.

Those verses describe mentors who are positive godly role models—not telling, but showing mentees how to live as Christian women. I inserted “older” because you don’t have to be old in chronological years to mentor … just spiritually older than the person God asks you to mentor.

so that the younger women may learn to love their husbands and their children, to be sensible and chaste, home-lovers, kind-hearted and willing to adapt themselves to their husbands

The result of spiritual mentoring is mentees learning how to be loving wives and mothers who aren’t persuaded or influenced by the world’s ways. I love the way this translation describes keeping house as home-lovers who have kind and gentle hearts toward their husbands. How many marriages might have been saved if young wives had a mentor!

a good advertisement for the Christian faith.

The NIV reads, “so that no one will malign the world of God.” When we live the way God wants us to live, we’re a walking Christian testimony. But people today are maligning the Word of God and trying to trash the Bible. But we can help women be a shining example of all the Bible stands for by how we live our personal lives, raise our families, and help others find the peace that only God can provide in a world quickly turning its back on God. We can make a difference one woman at a time.

And here are Paul’s final words in this passage to the young men:

The young men, too, you should urge to take life seriously, letting your own life stand as a pattern of good living. In all your teaching show the strictest regard for truth, and show that you appreciate the seriousness of the matters you are dealing with. Your speech should be unaffected and logical, so that your opponent may feel ashamed at finding nothing in which to pick holes.

Does this sound overwhelming to you? It shouldn’t, because this is how God wants every Christian to live for Him, and we’re just sharing that life with another woman: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness—my tagline. Someone helped us learn how to live as mature Christians and now God wants us to pass on what we learned to a confused and vulnerable generation. The God of the Bible is still the God of the 21st Century.

A Survey of Women’s Ministry Directors

Dr. Gail Hayes daughter Gabrielle was 10 yrs old when her mom brought her to an Advanced Writer's and Speakers Conference and other Christian authors mentored her. Today Gabrielle is 17 and just signed a two book contract!

Dr. Gail Hayes’ daughter Gabrielle was 10 yrs old when her mom brought her to an Advanced Writer’s and Speakers Conference and Christian authors mentored her. Today Gabrielle is 17 and just signed a two book contract!

God gave me a call into ministry and a passion for spiritual mentoring. He has imprinted on my heart the urgency of every Christian passing God’s truths on to the next generation so they will embrace His ways for themselves. Not telling them what we believe, but helping spiritually younger men and women have a personal relationship with Jesus. Then we take the next step nurturing them to develop the knowledge, wisdom, and conviction to live for Christ, even in a world quickly turning to the ways of Satan.

This means we need to care about the next generation more than we care about ourselves. Our hearts need to break for confused young women who don’t value their worth and virtue as they look for sexual thrills, escape reality through drugs and alcohol, become dissatisfied with their appearance, or even their gender. We need to reach them quickly with the message that they are daughters of the King before they let the world make them slaves of Satan.

I did a survey recently on Facebook asking how many in Women’s Ministry would invite, welcome, or allow young women starting around age 15 to their events. Here’s a sampling of replies. I would encourage you to prayerfully read them all and see what God says to you about your personal role in mentoring and what your church is doing to mentor the next generation:

  • Yes, it is a way to mentor them. I think it’s fine if they’re come with their mother, aunt or someone else who is older.
  • No better place for her to be than with godly role models and those with a genuine walk with Christ.
  • We are their example!
  • I think it depends on subject matter. We’ve put age limits on women’s retreats because we’re trying to make a safe place for women to share personally about difficulties that may be too intimate to come out in casual conversation at coffee after a Sunday service. These deeply private issues are not likely to be shared within a group that has younger girls in attendance. (And probably shouldn’t be)
  • It would depend on the occasion. Special events, yes! An overnight retreat where confidentialities are shared…not.
  • Specific events, yes, but not across the board. I do think that we (the organized church) have placed too much emphasis on “youth group” being kids. They really are young adults and if we trained up our children biblically, there doesn’t seem to be a time for running around with peers and treating college life as if it’s a kids club, i.e., “college kids.” I’m more open to bringing those young women along right from their pre-adulthood … more so than I used to be.
  • I agree. There was a time that 14/15 was seen as grown and people of that age were treated as such.
  • If the topic/focus is intimacy in marriage, I think 15 and up is the perfect age for girls to acclimate into women’s events. They are being inundated and influenced by the most godless culture like no other time in history. There’s something powerful about women of like faith gathering together to worship and bask in His presence. Our girls need to be in that environment as much as possible. Feeling free and safe to share and be vulnerable are best and most appropriate in smaller group settings.
  • For retreat … 14 and up with a pre-interview required with each girl 18 and under. In other words, I would suggest that the mother or adult woman could not simply register them. This approach works well at our Christian school, placing responsibility for success on the student, rather than the student being enrolled by their parent(s). What is the purpose of the retreat? Will the young teens hinder the purpose? OR … make sure that your adult women attendees understand that when they register, they are agreeing to be part of the mentoring team at the retreat … training for both young and old. This means 24/7… when they lie down, when they wake up, and when they walk by the way….
  • I agree that the youth groups can cause what I can only describe as a ‘segregated’ body. One way to get the younger women 13-16 involved is in areas of service, such as a funeral dinners, VBS, nursery helpers etc. this way they will make a connection with the women who are involved in serving in women’s ministry and true relationships are formed then they have women to look at as examples. They then have an adult they can trust and to go to when they need advice or help.
  • I spoke at a retreat where teens 15 and older were invited. It changed the way the women 20 and older interacted with each other – everyone was more careful. Moms with daughters present didn’t open up. I know the difference because I’d spoken at this retreat previously. Laughter, tears, and authentic sharing were subdued. However, when I spoke at a daylong conference and 15 year olds were included, it was great.
  • I think every woman should be a woman’s minister and 14 and 15 year olds should be invited. Our girls are so vulnerable these days that we should be training them as their maturity allows.
  • Great question! I love taking my daughter to the retreats I help with (she 1st attended at age 7)…sometimes if I know the speakers story is a bit too much for her, she just comes to help set up, but she’s still involved. This year (she’s now 10) she is the co-decorator for ReNEWed Life Women’s Event! I would love to see teens attend our events as well…simply living out Titus 2!!
  • General events, like women’s Bible classes, conferences etc. are an awesome way to start the process of developing interest and thus passion for God’s Word and ministry for teen girls. I’m not certain however it’s best to include them in small group mentoring with adult women. Many women have expressed their discomfort with being authentic and sharing adult issues and needs with children in the group. Retreats can be a good place for teens if there are appropriately centered issues for their age group. I believe however this needs to be an individual decision by the retreat leaders for an event because there are some adults who would consider a teen, a child, and be uncomfortable to share her space, time and personal story with one or more there.
  • I would let them at twelve years old.
  • I’ve done retreats where there were girls in jr high through 80. I loved it! I lead the small group discussions for the tweens and teens. In the general session talks, the girls mostly sit together. At times, I speak directly to the women and then to the teens. Lots of giggles and learning.
  • Tried to offer both wide range of 14-90 age, and also stage/ age specific events.
  • ..NO QUESTION! With young women (this means girls) facing more “in your face” issues than ever before, I would definitely open it up to them. I work in schools and girls are HUNGRY and looking for reasons to remain pure. They are searching for boundaries and hoping that women will lead them. Handle your business and God’s business Girl!
  • It is what the Bible teaches us to do….”older women teach the younger women.” Sadly, in many cases that is not what is happening to our world today…. Young women are not being taught the values of godly living but instead Silly Women are leading them right on into worldly thinking while promoting things that will cause them much sorrows and unhappiness.
  • Without a doubt. Even if you are addressing issues that married women face. The girls today are savvy and if not, this bold world warrants that they be aware. Women’s events are fine for the Titus 2 connection of older teaching younger women, but the more intimate setting of home and hospitality really shouts interest, trust, and caring. We can all take part in mentoring someone to love Jesus more and more, and then they will quite naturally love and befriend the least to the greatest as opportunities arise because Jesus-living becomes their nature, not their second nature.
  • If breakout sessions are part of the event, you want the discussions to be age appropriate. Depending upon the intimacy of breakout topics, separate groups for the teens might be appropriate. Women who need help with abuse or other issues might be reluctant to speak if young women were present. An event encourages and promotes safety and privacy that difficult revealing and conversations will go no further than the event.
  • Yes, I highly recommend that ladies bring their daughters, granddaughters, and neighbors ages 12-13 and up to our monthly Sister 2 Sister events. We offer worship, meal, speaker who covers everyday issues backed by biblical truth, and we have table talk time. I encourage ladies to bring their daughters to our overnight retreats. We still have some moms who use the retreats as respite from daily life and they choose not to bring their girls. Others do bring girls, mostly 15 years and up.
  • Yes!! We are commanded in Scripture to teach!
  • Our experience…The best thing… at age 15 she can see into her future by listening to choices and consequences of others. Everyone else at the event loved the youth factor …for their wisdom and fresh perspective. It is breathtaking to watch God work through all of the women of age. My heart too, feels that God is creating a movement to LIFT women to flow THROUGH the generations, and as a result? We will IMPACT our families, businesses, and entire cultures- straight from the HEART of the home. (aka: a woman’s heart).
  • I would like to add, in our case, we had a very deep filled, release of fear in our class- and subjects of abuse, murder etc. All of the women were set free- including the younger generation … no one felt like they needed to hold back. However, MAYBE it depends on the type of group you have.
  • You could add to that: “How many of you are careful to invite OLD women who feel very left out?
  • We need every generation in our groups. Only then do we have the body life Paul speaks of in Corinthians. We need their wisdom!

I didn’t edit these, and as you can see the majority of these women’s ministry leaders championed including the younger generation. These young women today face worldly choices and temptations at very young ages, and we need to reach them BEFORE they make unhealthy choices that they will live with for the rest of their lives. And for those women who have already made some regrettable choices, we need to introduce them to our gracious, loving, and forgiving heavenly Father.

Mary (mother of Jesus) was probably only 15ish when the angel Gabrielle told her to go to her relative Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) who was in her 80’s, and what a beautiful mentoring story. I wrote about that mentoring relationship in Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary. Surely, this is still God’s will for one generation to teach and train the next!

My 9 yr-old granddaughter and I are studying together Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha

My 9 yr-old granddaughter and I are studying together Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha

Special Offer

If you’re starting a fall women’s Bible study, I’m offering a face-to-face chat on Google Hangout with every group that orders their Face-to-Face Bible studies from our website for the remainder of August and September. Order your studies, and I’ll contact you about when we can chat.

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*Thelma Wells Facebook Note about Opening Picture

The God of the Universe has called me to speak to the nations about His mercy, grace, love and glory and has freed my daughter Vikki and her daughter Marsaille to travel with me to the Women of Faith Conferences throughout America to spread His good news. I give thanks to God in the name of Jesus for this blessing. Marsaille is 10 years old and God has called her to proclaim His name in song, poetry, dance, acting and worship. She is mentored by the best, her mother and other family members, The Women of Faith speakers and performers and gets to learn from Sadie of Duck Dynasty and entertainers like Building 429, and watch the dynamic Sandi Patty. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Dedicate your children to God, lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because you do not know what doors will be opened for them by God!
A grateful Grandmother, Thelma Wells, Core Speaker for Women of Faith

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Expecting the Unexpected at Christmas

 

Our guest post is from author/speaker Julie Sanders. Julie and I are Mentor Moms on The MOM Initiative team, and today Julie talks about the unexpected happenings that each Christmas brings to all of us, starting with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In my Bible study Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary, I talk about how Elizabeth, who was expectant with John the Baptist, mentored Mary through those first three months after her visit from the angel Gabriel telling her she would be the mother of Jesus.

I also know how difficult this season can be for women with an expectation of being mothers this Christmas season. In Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, my daughter Kim describes the worse Christmas of her life when all three of her siblings had children and she was still struggling with infertility. She had plans and expectations of being a mother that Christmas, but her arms were empty. Little did she know that the New Year would bring her two babies within nine months!

If you’re going to be around friends or family who are struggling with infertility and worried you might say the wrong thing or don’t know what to say, the blog post I wrote during National Infertility week will help you: “Hug an Infertile Couple This Week.”

If you’re the infertile couple, dreading the holidays, the post 10 Ways to Survive the Holidays When You’re Infertile is for you.

“Mary” by Julie Sanders

Every heart is Expectant 400-1

Her betrothal was still fresh when her expectations dissolved in the light of the angel’s arrival. To be old enough to be promised was to be mature enough to bear a child. Before Mary even had time to adjust to changes in her own body or warm up to the name “Joseph,” everything she anticipated fell away. There would be no joyous gathering of girlhood friends, envious of her new status. None of the other girls wanted to swell with a child before uniting with a husband.

When what we expect falls apart, it’s easy to feel paralyzed. At the first sign of a change, Mary was troubled and frightened. She had questions. Before she had time to learn the physical ways of womanhood or enjoy intimacy with a man, her body would be taken over for purposes bigger than she could conceive.

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. ‘”(Luke 1:30)

No experience has the power to stir a woman’s hopes like that of becoming a mother. Whether she enters in through adoption, infertility, or traditional pregnancy, a mother learns to sacrifice her expectations for the gift of raising a child. Instead of being paralyzed by the sudden uncertainty motherhood brings, confidence can be found in knowing, “There will never be a time when our children are out of God’s sight or apart from His presence,” (from EXPECTANT, Calling the Shots). Every journey is unique, but every heart is expectant.

Most of us have plans for this Christmas season. No one anticipates interruptions like job loss or a life lost. Such unexpected events never appear on our wish list. We rarely address the severity of suffering in our Advent readings. But in the erasing of our expectations and the dissolving of our decisions comes God’s opportunities to display His grand plan. He takes our hand, leading us to unwelcoming inns, simple stable accommodations, and to exile in Egypt. Our Father lets us glimpse the greater glory found when life encircles the Prince of Peace.

Motherhood has a way of causing our expectations to fall away. From the moment young Mary received her angelic message, nothing unfolded as she imagined, but she found the greater glory in God’s greater plan. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Let’s agree that this Christmas will probably not be according to our plans–hold loosely to your expectations. Let’s look for God’s greater glory with hearts that are expectant.

Father God,

I want to treasure Your actions in my life. I want to glimpse the glory of being part of Your story. Help me to hold to my expectations loosely and to welcome your plans for me.

 Cropped Courtyard

 

Julie lives where tea is sweet and grits are cheesy. She and her husband of 25 years have two nearly grown kids. EXPECTANT: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms was born when God brought a group of young couples into their lives, just as they began to long to grow their families. Julie loves to teach God’s word to women in her hometown and across the globe; she is passionate about fighting human trafficking and helping women of all tribes and tongues find God’s peace for life. Check out Julie’s blog home Come Have a Peace  (www.juliesanders.org) and Marriage Mondays to find reasons for peace and information about her ministry.

Expectant_FlatforeBooks-1

EXPECTANT is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Follow Julie at:

Facebook: with One Minute4MOM

Twitter: @JulieSanders_

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Generation Gaps Not in God’s Plan

Kim and me Mother's Day Tea

Sharing the podium with my daughter Kim as “Two About His Work”

Do you remember when you were the next generation full of hope and ideas and ready to leave your mark on the world? I do. I also remember feeling misunderstood and unappreciated when sharing thoughts and ideas with older adults. Yet 36 times in the New Living Translation of the Bible, the Lord uses the term “generation to generation.” Many more verses instruct us to pour into those who are coming up behind us in the church and in our homes. It was God’s plan for the continuation of His church throughout the generations.

A Privilege Not a Burden

Sharing with the next generation some of what God and life has taught us is truly an honor and a privilege. The blessings multiply when the next generation is teachable and eager to learn.

Throughout the Bible, God instructs one generation of believers to teach and train the next generation [see verses at the end of this blog]. Praise God, over the centuries believers have followed this mandate. Think of it: if they hadn’t, you and I would not be Christians today! We are benefactors of the sacrifices of believers who have gone before us. Over the years, followers of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, have felt compelled to assure that the next generation:

  • has access to the Bible and understands its contents
  • knows how to communicate with God through the Holy Spirit and prayer
  • receives guidance in leading a godly life

What Is Our Generation Doing?

The question our generation must ask is: What is God calling believers—you and me—to do today? How can we invest our lives in the next generation, as Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) did with Mary (mother of Jesus)? Each of us must answer that question in a very personal and real way. If you are:

  • A mother, you are influencing the next generation through your children.
  • A Grandmother, your grandchildren.
  • An employer, your employees.
  • A ministry worker, the benefactors of your ministry.
  • A pastor, your congregation.
  • A school teacher, your students.
  • A Sunday school teacher, the children in your classrooms every Sunday.
  • A mentor, your mentee.

Why Do We Have Generation Gaps?

There should never be a generation gap in the church—that was not God’s plan. God commanded that one generation was to pass down His truths to the next generation. In churches today, the gap between generations is often so wide that the only thing passed between the two is mistrust and misunderstanding—all in the name of Jesus.

I believe it’s often the older generation who perpetuate the gap by wanting everything to stay the same—same music, same way of doing things, same church service, same church activities . . . . Many churches relegate the young people to their own groups, and their input—whether in music or talents or ideas—is not welcome in the main sanctuary. Then they wonder why the youth are leaving the church in droves.

Church Is Not About Us

Our job as Christians is not to insist that everything goes our way. The purpose of church is not simply to spiritually feed the congregation; we’re to pass on what we learn to others. The Great Commission tells us to go out and tell the world about Jesus, and that includes the next generation.

If we want to stay relevant in the lives of the next generation, we need to learn how to embrace their style of worship . . . their way of communicating . . . their world. If we want to have an impact in their lives—to help guide them in the ways of righteousness—we need to speak their language, care about the things they care about, and reach out to them in love with a desire to understand what’s important to them.

My Call to “Feed My Sheep”

When I rededicated my life to the Lord in the summer of 1992, it marked a turning point in my life. I moved from thinking of how I could further myself in this world, to how could I further God’s kingdom. When I asked myself the question of what God was calling me to do, He clearly answered. I was to take a huge risk of leaving a well-paying career to go into full-time ministry. Not just any ministry—but a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry that would teach and train the next generations of believers. The rest is history, as my grandmother used to say.

What Are You Doing to Bridge the Generation Gap?

Many churches today are mentoring, embracing, and equipping the next generation—the future of the church. If you attend or serve in one of those churches, I’d love for you to share specifics of how you are fulfilling Psalm 145:4 NLT

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”

Here are some verses that reveal the significance of one generation passing down God’s truths to the next generation:

Elizabeth and Mary coverElizabeth and Mary coverSome excerpts of this article are from Face to Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation.

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Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation

older and younger women together You’ve probably read the story many times of Mary’s visit from the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-45. It’s an amazing revelation to a young teenage girl that she is to become the mother of the Messiah. But there is another parallel story told in these verses—the story of the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist who would be the forerunner of Jesus. The passage in Luke actually sets the scene by pointing out that Elizabeth was six month’s pregnant. Two women with miracle pregnancies–one very old and one very young.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.—Luke 1:26-34

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”—Luke 1:39-45

Elizabeth Makes Time for Mary

Gabriel gave Mary a shocking message from the Lord, However, Mary also received the second part of the message that her elderly relative Elizabeth was in a similar circumstance, and that Mary would find comfort and reassurance in spending time with her. Gabriel’s mention of Elizabeth compelled Mary to go to her immediately, no matter what the inconvenience, time, energy, or sacrifice. Mary did not stop to count the cost, consider the hardships of the travel, analyze if that was really what the Lord meant, or worry about how it would affect her schedule, or wonder if Elizabeth was too old to relate to her. Mary also didn’t send a message to Elizabeth that Elizabeth should come visit her—after all, she was carrying the Messiah. No, Luke 1:39 says, “Mary got ready and hurried” to Elizabeth’s house. Young Mary seemed to know that she needed Elizabeth, and Elizabeth might need her. From Elizabeth’s response at Mary’s arrival, it doesn’t seem like Elizabeth worried or fretted that the house was a mess, or she was out of coffee and cookies, or that she looked a sight and her husband, Zechariah, really wasn’t himself these days since he could not speak after doubting God. She didn’t tell Mary that there were a million things to do to get ready for her own new baby, so this probably wasn’t a good time for Mary’s visit. She wasn’t repulsed that her unwed, pregnant, teenage relative was on her doorstep. Instead, she joyfully welcomed Mary and they had a blessed reunion!

How Does the Story of Mary and Elizabeth Apply to Us?

Today, our lives are so busy we sometimes feel we don’t have time to invest in true friendships and relationships. We fill our days with work, soccer games, church activities, house cleaning, shopping, errands—you know the routine. All good, necessary things. Yet how much of our day do we also fill with TV viewing, Internet browsing, and shopping for things we really don’t need that cause us to work more to acquire and maintain? Mentors and mentees often complain that the hardest part of their relationship is finding time in their busy lives to meet, even though they know it would benefit them both. Others report that when they surrender their schedule to the Lord, He seems to give them more time and energy in their day to accomplish all the things he knows are important. Just like Elizabeth and Mary, God will work miracles in our relationship, if we just give Him the time. I would love to hear about your “Elizabeth and Mary” experiences. Please share in the comments so others can be blessed.

Spend time with someone 20 years older and you’ll leave wiser

Spend time with someone 20 years younger and you’ll leave energized!

Sections of this post were excerpts from Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation. This study has questions to do on your own, with someone else, or as a group. It would make a great gift to give to yourself and a friend to do together and learn more about this beautiful relationship.

Elizabeth and Mary cover

 

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New Face-to-Face Release February 1

I am excited to announce the release of the next two Face-to-Face Bible studies available at bookstores and online starting today. They are Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community and Face to Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation.
Who are Euodia and Syntyche?
Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of these two women. I’ve had radio interviewers and mature Christians question me as to where these women are mentioned in the Bible. You’ll find them in Philippians 4:2-3. I have wanted to do a study on Euodia and Syntyche for years because we can learn so much about how to resolve conflict biblically from the way Paul handled the disagreement between these two ministry workers. You may have thought of the Book of Philippians as the “joy” book, but you’ll have a new appreciation of why Paul wrote this letter as you study the real purpose behind it. Notoriously women do not know how to deal with conflict. Learn new biblical conflict resolution skills in Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche.

The focus of Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary is spiritual mothering. It’s the study of the beautiful relationship of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her older cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

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