10 Ideas for Simplifying Christmas

Jesus is God's Best Gift at Christmas and Ten Ways to Simplify Christmas

We’re now in the countdown days to Christmas and many of you might be in panic mode. I remember those days well. I even remember crying to my husband that I just couldn’t do it as our family continued to grow with our four children’s marriages and grandchildren. I needed his help, but he had a bewildered, “I don’t know what to do?” look in his eyes.

I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I was excited about having a large family and grandchildren. When Dave and I married, I went from having one child to four. That was manageable. When the four got married, we doubled. Still doable. Then the precious grandkids started coming and coming and coming, and I was still trying to do all the things I did when we were a small family!

Added to the mix was leading Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, my career, attending seminary for the first few years of our marriage, and writing deadlines!

I was trying too hard to make everything perfect. I was assuming all the responsibility and thinking I could do everything with a family of 21 that I did with a family of two!

As much as I tried to keep my focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season, I was focusing on:

  • trying to keep the same number of gifts for all the grandkids,
  • getting everyone the perfect gifts,
  • decorating the entire house,
  • sending everyone I knew a Christmas card,
  • making amazing Christmas goodies,
  • hosting Christmas parties,
  • trying new recipes,
  • pulling out all the best dishes . . .

You get the picture because you’ve been there . . . maybe you’re there now.

We also had an annual birthday parties for Jesus, and one year 300 people attended in our 1800 square foot home! I tried parceling out some of the work, but you know how that goes when it’s at your house. I loved it. Everyone loved it and still talks about them. But every year I tried to add a new element to the party and come up with even better party favors and different food than I had the year before.

Looking back, I was competing with myself. Could I top the last party? Could we give the grandkids the best gifts? I worried that we weren’t giving them as many pricey gifts as the other grandparents?!

Then it all came to a screeching halt the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started radiation December 17, 2002, two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Oh yes, did I forget to mention I also planned our wedding on December 19! It seemed like a great idea the first few years, but then adding in an anniversary getaway or celebration in the middle of Christmas preparations added another activity to my already overbooked schedule.

The unexpected breast cancer diagnosis coincided with a kitchen and living room remodel and all the family “coming home for Christmas.” No kitchen counters or sink because they cut the counter tops wrong. The dishwasher was still in its box in the middle of the kitchen! The new hardwood floors were in, but I had no energy to figure out how to protect them with our traditional live Christmas tree. That year changed everything and actually brought sanity to our Christmas.

Here are some changes I made that “radiation Christmas” that might help you too. Don’t think you have to do all of them, but maybe pick a few that give you more time with Jesus and reduces Christmas stress.

  1. We used decorative paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper cups. Everyone loved how easy cleanup was after a meal. (We put a tablecloth over the dishwasher box and the kids joked that I had always wanted an island in the kitchen.)
  2. We set up a small manger scene instead of putting up a Christmas tree. After that year, we switched to a beautiful artificial Christmas tree, but also added a manger scene to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas. The grandkids decorated the tree. To this day, I let the grandkids decorate the Christmas tree. They do a great job!
  3. First grandchildren usually get many presents. You’re so excited to have a grandchild. As more came, we decided on three presents each like the three Wisemen. But as we hit eleven . . . we had to scale down to one nice present each.
  4. Instead of doing the full birthday party for Jesus, which I wrote about last week and in a blog last year, I ordered online children’s costumes for the Christmas story and had the grandchildren play out the manger scene while I read it from a Children’s Bible. Here’s a YOUTube of a live enactment. Then we kept the Birthday Bag for Jesus under the tree and maintained the tradition of having guests fill out a card with a gift they would give Jesus. On Christmas we have a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
  5. 5. Scale down your Christmas card list or send by email. I love getting Christmas cards, but noticed we received so many with just a signature, nice but not personal. So I had been writing a poem every year for our Christmas card, but our list seemed to double every year.

  6. When we have a dinner party, it’s potluck. When we first moved to Idaho, we had a small dinner for our “neighbors” in the mountains. Then as we met more people, we started inviting neighbors and friends. Soon, I was back to having large groups that didn’t fit into our house! It’s hard to curtail a sanguine. So now we’re back to small, intimate groups.
  7. I mentioned in the blog post Love Your Body: How to Survive Holiday Eating, that I curtailed the baking frenzy. I make something when we’re invited to a party, but now that we’re empty nesters, we don’t need all the goodies sitting around to tempt us.
  8. I still love to decorate the house and have lights. But I don’t feel like I have to bring out every box, every Christmas, and have something in every crook and cranny of our house. Even still, I always get the comments that our house looks Christmassy, warm, and cozy.
  9. Since we now live an hour from town and shopping, we order many gifts online. I say “we” because I include hubby in the shopping. We also wrap presents together, after all, they are for “our” family, and he’s actually a better wrapper than I am. We put something on TV and sit in front of the fireplace by the Christmas tree. Two are definitely better than one!
  10. Start everyday reading a part of the Christmas story or a Christmas devotional. It helps you focus all the day’s activities around the ONLY reason we celebrate Christmas. It reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want us stressed or in a frenzy. He came into the world for one reason, to offer those who believe in Him eternal life, not to add a burden to our life but to lighten our load: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’d love to hear how you lighten your burdens and simplify Christmas. Please share with us.

I’ll close with a timeless poem I wrote in 2004. You may have read it in previous years, but sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and read it again.

Time To Sit With You”

CHRISTMAS POEM 2004

Lord, so many things to do,             

No time to sit with you.

There’s presents to buy,

And I must bake a pie!

 

 But isn’t it all about Me?

What’s closed your eyes to see.

The purpose of Christmas day,

Isn’t how much you pay?

 

Lord, each year we hear that said,

Yet, still it comes with dread.

Anticipating all to do,

No time to sit with You!

 

This is MY day.

Don’t I have a say

In how you spend your time?

Remember, you are chosen…Mine!

 

But Lord, relatives will soon be here,

And the lawn Santa still needs reindeer!

There is so much to do,

Still no time to sit with You.

 

Relax and enjoy Me this season,

Let your activities have a reason.

This is My Birthday celebration,

And all I want is your attention.

 

Oh, Lord, we’ll make it all about You.

Do You think we should have fondue?

We’ll read the Christmas Story,

And give You all the glory.

 

Sit down and read My Word.

Your craziness is absurd.

Come spend some time with me,

Forget the Christmas tree.

 

Oh, Lord the cookies are all baked,

I have such a headache.

I know I need to pray,

But I’ve had such a day!

 

Lives are waiting to be saved.

Did you hear Me when you prayed?

It is certainly no wonder

Your world is all asunder.

 

No, God, I didn’t hear a word,

I was busy stuffing the bird.

I want to just slow down,

But I feel I’m losing ground.

 

You’ve made it all about you,

And all your parties too.

My message to the lost,

Overshadowed by homemade cranberry sauce.

 

Lord, that’s not true,

You know I do love You.

It’s just I feel a call,

To make this the best Christmas of all!

 

You’re wasting your time.

Do you think you could top Mine?

I had a virgin birth,

As my entrance to earth.

 

Oh, Lord, I’m beginning to see,

How You want to use me.

Telling Your story to all who will listen,

Is the true Christmas mission.

 

Spending time with Me,

Is the only way to flee

The world’s strangling control

On your time and very soul.

 

Oh, Lord, Your music softly plays,

As the candle glow displays,

The beauty of time spent

With our Gift heaven sent.

 

You’ll go against the flow

Taking time to help a lost soul.

But when the day has come to end,

You’ll have the joy of a new friend.

 

Oh, Lord, forgive me please.

Help me put down my car keys.

It really is so true,

There’s ALWAYS time to sit with You.

Our prayer for our friends and family is that you focus your life on only those things that will have Kingdom value. It’s the only legacy worth leaving. Merry Christmas, Janet & Dave

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Why is “Merry Christmas” Controversial?

God's gift at Christmas is Jesus Christ so why is it so controversial to say "Merry Christmas"?

Most of us grew up in a culture that embraced Christmas. We said “Merry Christmas” as a joyful greeting, decorated Christmas trees, made Christmas cookies, sent out Christmas cards, gave Christmas presents, watched Christmas specials, participated in Christmas programs, and sang Christmas carols, not just at church but at school too!

Then subtly and slyly, the way Satan works, the concept of Christmas became culturally and socially controversial, even taboo. Stores and advertisers started removing the word “Christmas,” replacing it with “Holidays.” Sales personnel instructed to say “Happy Holidays,” if anything at all. School Christmas programs called “winter programs.” People sued for publically displaying nativity scenes. And on and on . . . .

What’s wrong with saying “Happy Holidays”? Well nothing, except what are the “Holidays?” On New Year’s, do you say “Happy Holidays” or do you say “Happy New Year.” To our Jewish friends, do we say “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Hanukah”?

Do we send out holiday cards or Christmas cards? Do we buy holiday presents or Christmas presents? Do we put up a holiday tree or a Christmas tree? Does our pastor preach a holiday message or a Christmas message?

A progressive liberal culture has attempted to remove Christ from Christmas and replace it with a generic “holiday”. But that’s impossible! Yes, many nonbelievers celebrate Christmas for secular reasons, which is fine as long as they don’t try to mess with the origin of Christmas.

Christmas is a Christian celebration. Without the birth of Christ, there would be no Christmas.

So what’s the controversy about saying “Merry Christmas”? I believe it’s because the secular world doesn’t want to admit they’re participating in a Christian celebration, so they try to neutralize Christmas to accommodate their nonbelief. Retailers commercialize Christmas to make money and don’t want to “offend” customers, even though those that eliminate Christmas in their advertising, offend every Christian, or at least it should.

The War on Christmas

Many are trying to find fault with President Trump bringing back “Merry Christmas” into the public square. They claim there’s never been a “war on Christmas.” False! There is a war on Christmas, and you’d have to be naïve, manipulative, or deceitful not to acknowledge it.

That’s why many of us started wearing buttons several years ago, “It’s Ok to say Merry Christmas.”

It's OK to say Merry Christmas so say it loud and clear!

The war on Christmas is why the Wash. D.C. transit system banned the Catholic Church’s Christmas Ad even though: “while the Archdiocese of Washington may not be welcome to advertise on public buses, the transit authority is more than happy to promote other enterprises – like gay hookup websites.”

The transit executives stated their reasons: “issue-oriented advertising could provoke community discord, create concern about discriminatory statements, and generate potential threats to safety and security from those who seek to oppose the advertising messages.” Seriously?! The message of Christmas is a threat to security?! (Quotes from Todd Stearns article “DC Transit Ban Catholic Church Christian Ad”)

When Martha MacCallum reported on her Fox News show, “The Story,” about this discrimination of the Catholic Church’s ad, she commented on the double-standard of DC billboards sponsored by atheists that say, “Christmas is a hoax.”

There’s a war against Christmas. There’s a war against the Christian faith.

That’s why when we hear President Trump wishing the nation and the world a Merry Christmas at this year’s national Christmas tree lighting ceremony, noting that the birth of Jesus Christ “forever changed the course of human history,” we should thank God we have a president who isn’t afraid to acknowledge Jesus as the Reason for the season. He went on to say, “There is hardly an aspect of our lives today that his [Jesus’] life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world.”

President Trump also recalled the 1870 legislation signed by President Ulysses S. Grant making Christmas a federal holiday. He added, “And I sort of feel we’re doing that again. That’s what’s happening.”

 Listen to President Trump live at the  Christmas Tree Lighting.

I posted this Tree Lighting message on Facebook and was amazed at how controversial it became. Some saying this was a political stunt. Really? Christians don’t make up the majority of the electorate. In today’s secular culture there were probably more offended than thanked God for his message. President Trump boldly stated the truth, refreshing in DC.

Those worrying about “political correctness” and inclusiveness on a clearly Christian “holiday” are the ones pulling the political stunts. And sadly, it’s worked. That’s why Christians find themselves today fighting not only to keep Christ in Christmas, but also to hold on to our religious freedoms.

What’s Our Role as Christians at Christmas?

Last Christmas, after President Trump’s election, I saw a dramatic change during the Christmas season. Clerks were saying Merry Christmas again. They didn’t look shocked when I told them Merry Christmas, or whisper it back fearfully looking over their shoulder. Christians need to use this time of Christian favor in the Trump administration to win back the ground we’ve lost.

Here are some ways:

Remind the world that every time they write 2017, or soon 2018, they acknowledge the birth of Jesus.

When someone tells you “Happy Holidays,” kindly and lovingly respond with “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Have a Birthday Party for Jesus and invite your neighbors and friends, especially nonbelievers. (I wrote a blog on how to do this Celebrate CHRISTmas with a Birthday Party for Jesus)

Put a birthday bag under your Christmas tree and when someone asks whose birthday, proudly say, “It’s Jesus’ birthday.”

Put a Birthday bag for Jesus under your Christmas tree.

Greet everyone you meet, and in all your correspondence, with “Merry Christmas.”

Use every opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas and the story of Jesus’ birth.

Speak up when schools and communities try to remove the word Christmas and Christmas celebrations. We must not be silent. Voice your opinion. Be willing to take a bold stand for Jesus. Don’t let apathy or fear snuff out the light of Jesus.

When I asked my husband why Merry Christmas has become so controversial, he said, “Because the other side speaks louder than we do!” Sadly, that’s true.

Jesus was controversial when He walked the earth. They crucified Him for daring to say He was the Son of God who came to earth to save mankind from their sins. He told us that we too would not have it easy sharing our faith and the Gospel, but He also said whoever denies Him on earth, He will deny in Heaven.

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:32-34 NLT)

One year, as a single working mom before I rededicated my life to the Lord, I was hurriedly trying to get out my Christmas Cards. I signed all the cards “Merry Xmas.” Only one friend boldly admonished me in her Christmas card that I had left “Christ” out of Christmas. I still remember that.

Will you join me and other Christians in making sure the world remembers that Christmas has only One reason: celebrating and giving thanks for Jesus Christ, coming down to earth as a lowly baby born in a manger to die on a cross at Easter and rise again three days later to offer eternal salvation to those who believe in Him.

Merry CHRISTmas

You’ll find more ideas in how to be bold about your faith at Christmas, and every day, in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness would make a great Christmas present to help mentor each other in how to be a Christian in today’s culture. It’s also a perfect time to take advantage of the publishers offer of 50% off on orders of five or more. This offer is only good until December 31. Contact me for the coupon.

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My Thanksgiving Prayer from Philippians

Count your blessings this Thanksgiving and Pray like Paul did in Philippians 1

Many of you read my blog regularly, though we’ve never met, and others I know quite well or we’ve had the opportunity to meet and fellowship together. But I want you to know that when I write this Monday Morning Blog,  my monthly newsletter, or any of my books, you are on my mind. I’m wondering what you’re thinking about world events and how I can encourage you with the Word of God.

Often you tell me that a particular blog or book was just what you needed at the time, and we both know that it was God using me as His messenger. To God be the glory!

As I read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I noticed that Chapter 1:3-11, 27-28 in the NIV translation has the heading: Thanksgiving and Prayer. I thought how appropriate to personalize this passage as my Thanksgiving prayer for all of you.

Adapted from Paul’s letter to the Philippians Chapter 1

Thanksgiving Prayer (Adapted from Philippians 1:3-11)

I thank my God every time I remember my family, friends, peeps, church family, readers, blog/newsletter followers, brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow authors and speakers . . . . In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy for those who partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in and through you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart whether I am chained to the computer writing the next book, blog, or newsletter . . .  or defending and confirming the gospel and mentoring . . . all of you share in God’s grace and ministry with me spiritually, and sometimes physically, through prayer, communication, and social networking. God can testify how I think of all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best for you and those you love and cherish, and you will remain pure and blameless for the day of Christ. That you will lead, guide, encourage, parent, serve, and mentor others and be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel (Adapted from Philippians 1:27-28)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I know you, or never meet you but only hear about your great work, I will know that we stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose us. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that we will be saved—and that by God.

From Janet

This Thanksgiving, and every day, go and represent Christ to a depraved and fallen world, so that because of your witness and sharing the Good News of Jesus, more will be saved than lost (“destroyed”) when Christ returns.

I thank God in remembrance of each of you.

About His Work with you,

Janet

You can sign up for my monthly online newsletter or weekly blog on my website.

For more on what I’m grateful for this year read the November 2017 issue of About His Work Ministries Newsletter

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*Picture from clipart.org.

Stop the Politicization of Prayer!

 

Stop the politization of prayer, couples who pray together stay together.

I’m back from cataract surgery. Well partially back, so this will be short but wanted to let you know that I’m seeing so much better. Still working on close up vision, but it will come. Every day is an improvement. Thank you whoever prayed for these two surgeries. I felt those prayers! Speaking of prayers . . . .

The Attack on Prayer

The attack on prayer is what God told me to discuss today. Yes, God talks to me, and if you’re a believer He talks to you too, just like you talk to Him . . . in prayer. As I prayed about the topic for my first blog back, I woke up this morning with a definite word from the Lord: Write about the return to politicization of prayer. “Return” because it was politics that removed prayer from schools. Politics removed mentioning God and Jesus in schools. Politics has removed God from the public square and replaced the ways of God with the ways of Satan.

That’s right, it’s not God’s culture today, it’s Satan’s culture. Jesus talked a great deal about the ways of the “world” and reminded his disciples and followers that Christians—us— are not of this world, we’re only in the world. We aren’t to conform to the world, but change the world.

I [Jesus] am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:13-121

Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children and Grandchildren

Right now, a federal appeals court has banned prayer at the opening of town council meetings. Because the commissioners said Christian prayers, which they have done for years, the angry atheists and the ACLU filed a lawsuit to ban the prayers, but the ACLJ is fighting back at the Supreme Court. Pray for the SCOTUS to uphold the right to pray before these meetings.

Our President and Vice President called for prayer after the horrific massacre in the small First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX. As prayer vigils were held in that tiny town, the media, entertainers (I use that term loosely), and liberal politicians began criticizing prayer.

Which brings me to the world’s view of prayer:

They don’t understand prayer . . . because they don’t understand God.

They don’t believe in prayer . . . so they don’t believe in God.

They don’t think prayer is “enough” . . . they think action is enough.

They don’t want God’s laws . . . they want culture’s laws.

They mock prayer as weak . . . while they remain arrogant, prideful, and ignorant.

They don’t recognize the power of prayer . . . only the power of man.

They are lost souls without prayer!

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18

Listen to Pastor Paul Buford, who pastors River Oaks Church two miles from Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, when A MSNBC Anchor Asks Texas Pastor if Prayers Are ‘Enough’ After Church Shooting — His Answer Is On-Point

Thoughts and Prayers

Here’s my opinion on the phrase “thoughts and prayers.” Unbelievers say, “My thoughts are with you.” I even heard a member of a media talk panel clarify that he only supported “thoughts, not prayers!”

But Christians often say, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.”  What good are thoughts? Thoughts are how the situation makes us feel and may cause us to do something kind for the person suffering . . . but thoughts aren’t transmitted tangibly, mentally, or spiritually to the sufferer.

“Thoughts” however can prompt us to pray for the person or situation. Every time we “think” about them, the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray. I think a better witness to the unbelieving world criticizing “thoughts and prayers” . . . and a more sincere comfort to those suffering . . . would be, “Every time the Holy Spirit brings you to mind, I pray for you!”

I see social media full of “praying” and prayer emoji’s comments, but we must not write that unless we’re actually praying. It’s often a sentimental response, but we’re lying if we don’t follow through and actually pray for that person or situation. They’re counting on those prayers.

Forsaken God?

If you haven’t read my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I encourage you to read it now! Here is a comment from an Amazon reader who said the book reminded her of the importance of every believer keeping God in the forefront of his or her life, and how we can impact our failing culture.

This is a very thoughtful and timely book. We watch even now, as our society pushes God out of the picture and yet Janet reminds us through scripture as well as personal stories of how much God wants to be in our lives and His goodness toward us. When we remove Him from our lives and our culture, we are the ones who pay the price as we forsake Him. I love the practical application steps at the end of the chapters. They are easy to do and follow and a reminder of the blessings that are available to us when we simply recognize and walk in the goodness of God.

Read Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten today!

I also want to encourage you to watch a new Fox News program, The Ingraham Angle, 10 ET weeknights. We DVR it. Some jealous media critics have labeled Laura Ingraham “The church lady” because she always wears a cross necklace, is bold about her faith on the program, and confronts assaults on religion. I’m impressed with her reporting style and conservative platform. Here is her coverage of “Are Thoughts and Prayers Now Political?”

My Surgery Prayer Witness

I guess I just can’t write a short blog. I’ve missed all of you, so I’ll close with a “prayer story” from my second eye surgery. When everyone left the room after the pre-surgery prep, like the first time, my husband took my hands, we closed our eyes, bowed our heads, and Dave prayed for my surgery. When we lifted our heads and opened our eyes, surgery nurse Martha was waiting with the wheelchair to wheel me into the surgery suite. The room was just as cold as before, and as they positioned me on the table, I began to tremble . . . like the last time. Maybe nerves, maybe the freezing temperature!

Nurse Martha calmly said, “You have nothing to worry about, you’re all prayed up!” I knew then she had seen us praying and waited quietly at the door until we finished.

She was right. I then told her how Jesus had reminded me that morning that He would be watching over the surgery. Then I added, “Of course Jesus is always with me. And so many people are praying for me, they’re praying for the doctor, and for all of you too.”

Don’t let prayer become political. Don’t let prayer become controversial. Never be ashamed of a conversation with your precious Lord and Savior. Stand firm in the power of prayer.

Pray continually! 1 Thessalonians 5:17

See also my blog The Miracle of Steve Scalise: A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, is available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, Kindle, and signed by Janet at her website store

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, Kindle and signed by Janet at her website store.

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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.

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Could Mentoring Have Protected Young Actresses?

How Could Mentoring Have Helped Hollywood actresses speak out sooner if the older actresses had taken the time and effort to mentor them?

“Let’s forget about ourselves and worship Christ the Lord!”

Singing this stanza in church yesterday, reminded me of mentoring: a mentor selflessly thinks more about helping her mentee learn to worship Christ than she thinks about herself and the time and effort it might require.

Last week, we learned the awful truth that many in Hollywood—older, seasoned actresses and actors—as well as politicians, knew or had an idea of what a wealthy influential producer was doing sexually to young actresses. But everyone kept quiet until a reporter’s well-researched story finally went public. The perpetrator’s pride, wealth, and influence led him to believe he was indestructible and could bribe or ruin careers of anyone who threatened to expose him, and it seems it worked for years.

Many young actresses defiled and intimidated into believing that giving into his sexual demands and overtures was the only way to advance in the industry. Most became successful by Hollywood’s standards—wealth, Oscars, awards, movie contracts, fame—but at the cost of their own dignity and self-worth. The irony, and yes hypocrisy, is that most of Hollywood lectures and ridicules conservatives, while fostering this travesty in their own camp. Ignoring despicable and decrepit sexual abuse.

Why didn’t these young women speak out sooner? Probably their naivety, intimidation, and desperate desire for a career in Hollywood.

Why didn’t older actresses mentor them with encouragement that they were better than succumbing to this man’s overtures? So many professing “feminist” actresses and female politicians demanding higher pay and better roles for women, didn’t stop this man preying on these young actresses.

Others in Hollywood joked at Oscar presentations, in private, at Hollywood parties where many liberals attended regularly, about what many admit, “Everyone knew or surmised what was happening.”

Some victims tried to speak out but were hushed. No one wanted to hear their story or take them seriously, and the more they protested the fewer parts they received.

Now women are feeling empowered to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and even rape; but it took a male reporter to bring down a sexual predator while the women who knew kept silent.

Reading the Book of Psalms, I see so many Scriptures documenting what’s happening right now: the foundation of deceit, sin, pride, and worldly ways crumbling . . . it always does . . . eventually.

 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
Psalm 36:1-4

What if someone had mentored these young actresses from God’s Word?

Spread Your faithful love over those who know You,
and Your righteousness over the upright in heart.
11 Do not let the foot of the arrogant man come near me
or the hand of the wicked one drive me away.
12 There the evildoers fall;
they have been thrown down and cannot rise.
Psalm 36:10-12 (HCSB)

Do not be agitated by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.
For they wither quickly like grass
and wilt like tender green plants.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday.

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him;
do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way,
by the man who carries out evil plans.

Refrain from anger and give up your rage;
do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.
For evildoers will be destroyed,
but those who put their hope in the Lord
will inherit the land.

The wicked person schemes against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him.
13 The Lord laughs at him
because He sees that his day is coming
.

The little that the righteous man has is better
than the abundance of many wicked people
.
Psalm 37:1-9, 12-13, 16 (HCSB)

What if someone cared enough to get involved in the actresses lives, lead them to the Book with all the answers for every situation, and assure them the wicked don’t prosper in God’s economy? Helped them see the choices they make to advance their career stays with them forever—but maintaining their dignity and pride also stays with them forever.

What Can the Church Learn From Hollywood?

This Hollywood “scandal” has uncovered a topic to discuss right now with the young women in our churches. Instead of focusing on the evils of Hollywood and politicians enabling this horrific discovery, let’s use it to talk to young women about protecting their own purity. How often do you hear sexual purity talked about from the pulpit!? The definition of sin . . .any kind of sin!?

How many boyfriends pressure women and young girls to have sex and they succumb fearing he will dump them or ridicule them to peers? How many abortions result because no one stepped into these young women’s lives with God’s truth, assurance of options, and how to live virtuous pure lives? How many, even in the church, have given up on the concept of purity with the attitude: everyone is having sex, there’s nothing we can do, and it’s inevitable? How many Christians have accepted the ways of the world instead of the ways of Jesus?

How is this any different in our churches from the powerful producer seducer and the seasoned actresses staying silent because they didn’t want to get involved, felt it wasn’t their place, or didn’t want to jeopardize their own careers?

I wrote a blog post about this very topic in January 2017: Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity.

Jesus wrote to believers about the ways of the world. Isn’t it our job as Christian men and women to help protect the next generation from the evil one? John 17:15 is our assignment from the Lord.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

In Mentoring for All Seasons, I have tips to help mentors deal with sensitive issues to protect children and women mentees by not ignoring sin in their lives. I also quote Dr. Owen Strachan from his article “What the Future Holds,” in Tabletalk Magazine, August 2015, 22. Dr. Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, warns what will happen if we don’t:

we will minister to a people who are suffering the effects of rampant sin. There will be profound moral and spiritual consequences of the new sexual secularism. America is in the midst of a spiritual un-awakening. In everyday terms, this means that human suffering in America will increase. Children will be less protected. Families will feel pressure to pull apart. Marriages will prove harder to sustain. Lostness, the chief form of suffering in this world, will spread.

What lesson can the church take and apply from Dr. Owen’s prediction?

How could mentoring prevent his predictions?

What could you and I do?

PS: I’m having cataract surgery October 17 and 31. I appreciate your prayers for a smooth recovery, but while I’m healing, I’ve invited wonderful guest bloggers to share their thoughts and stories with you, until I can return to writing. I hope to be back with you soon.

Excerpts from Mentoring for All Seasons used with approval from Leafwood Publishers.

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Older women should teach and train the younger women.

 

 

Mentoring in a World Forsaking God

Mentoring in a World Forsaking God discusses the need for bringing God's laws back into our world not gun laws!

We all woke up a week ago to the tragic news of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas. Those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior began to pray. We prayed for the families who had lost loved ones senselessly and for those who watched their friend or family member die in their arms. We prayed for those fighting for their lives in hospitals and the doctors and nurses going without sleep and rest to save as many as possible.

We heard the heroic actions of so many and the amazing, fearless first responders who walked into danger, not knowing if they would walk out, and we praised God for them. The very courageous police force, the subject of recent unjustified ridicule and disrespect, were the very men and women everyone relied on to stop the carnage. Because that’s what they do . . . regardless of skin color, gender, religious beliefs or political views—their goal and mission is to save lives, even at their own peril.

It didn’t take long however for the liberal media, Democrats, and Hollywood to politicize this tragedy. Pointing fingers, nasty words, criticism, turning their platforms into a political agenda even as many lay dead and hundreds wounded.

As our president called for prayer and unity, many chose harsh words of disunity. They turned a tragedy into an opportunity to create more strife and grief in our country. Not one of the opportunists praised our president for calling for prayer and putting flags at half-mast—the very flag that has been the subject of protest and unpatriotic shameful rejection.

But the comment I can’t shake from my mind, I heard on a news clip “We don’t need more prayer, we need more laws.” God and the value of prayer discounted and replaced by opinions and verbal attacks. The name of God used only in exclamation not reverence.

Last week, I wrote about Steve Scalise’s shooting. He gave all the glory to God and prayer for the miracle of his survival and recovery. When asked in an interview if he had changed his mind about the 2nd Amendment, he said, absolutely not. Had he not had armed security with him on that baseball field, all might have died.

I’m not going to argue the 2nd Amendment, but the blatant hypocrisy of liberals arguing that more gun laws are the answer to violence and evil is misguided and misinformed.

  1. Hollywood glamorizes violence, bloody shootings, death, and random killing—the more gruesome the better—to depict graphic and horrific ways to take lives for the shock value and “thrill” for box office dollars. Stars live in alarm-protected homes with bodyguards and heavy protection.
  2. Then you have those people glamorizing the assassination of our president and supporting riots and protests, not condemning Antifa but encouraging them. People like Nancy Sinatra tweeting “murderous members of the NRA should be executed by a firing squad.” A former CBS lawyer saying she “was not even sympathetic” for those killed in Las Vegas because “country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” Right out of the terrorists’ and shooters’ playbook: kill those who don’t agree with you.
  3. Late-night so-called “comedians” becoming liberal politicians attacking the administration and the country.
  4. These same people want to remove every mention of God and the “original law”—the 10 Commandments—from public places, schools, courts, the public square, and yet, think more manufactured laws will trump “thou shalt not kill.” “Thou shalt not lie.”
  5. There’s no agreement on additional laws needed, ignoring the fact that criminals and evil people don’t follow laws.
  6. Football players politically and publically disrespecting our flag, the National Anthem, the police force, and our President.

To have their liberal voices heard in protest, they divide the country even more by blaming everything on our President, gender, race, political party, denouncing our history . . . everything and anything except what would really make a difference—turning our country back to God.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” Luke 11:17

And that’s what our enemies see right now, a divided country ready for a fall.

THE ONLY GUN LAW WE’LL EVER NEED:

Thou shalt not kill (Deut. 5:17 KJV)

Christians Can Make a Difference

“One day Jesus told his disciples a parable to show that they should always pray and never give up.” Luke 18:1

I would encourage you to read the story Jesus shared with his disciples of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8.

In Mentoring for All Seasons, I have a chapter on Mentoring in a World Forsaking God, and you may remember that I wrote a book last year Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. The world needs to remember God and we can make this happen.

We live in tumultuous times in both the church and the world. Confusion and fear reigns among newer believers who don’t have a solid foundation in the truth to help them discern evil from good, lies from truths, abnormal from normal. If more women would reach out to each other with understanding, prayer, and biblical truths, there would be far less fear, backsliding, and sin in women’s lives.

Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, every generation has lived in a fallen evil world. One of their sons killed the other one and since then, what one generation does in moderation, the next generation does in excess. Just as the apostle Paul saw the need for mentors in his day, we desperately need mentors today. Yet, many who should be stepping up to mentor and teach the next generation are falling away from Titus 2, just as quickly as our world is falling away from God.

What Can We Do?

So how do we ordinary Christian women make a difference in today’s confused and fallen world? As mentors, we speak, teach, and train the truth to our mentees, straight from the Bible. We must daily read our Bibles and let God’s Word speak, teach, and train the truth to us so we can respond to life’s issues from God’s perspective. Together M&M’s learn spiritual wisdom and scriptural principles to help navigate the moral decline of our culture, and in some cases, the foundation of the Christian faith.

We can’t lose hope.

We can’t ignore what’s happening around us.

We can’t live fearfully.

We can pray for revival.

We can pray for everyone blinded by lack of faith in God . . . yes, all of them!

We can pray for the victims of evil.

We can ask God what He wants, us, His people, to do. What action does He want us to take?

We can share Jesus because we live in a time of uncertainty.

We can reassure our children and grandchildren that they can make a difference in this world too.

We can live by the 10 Commandments in our personal lives, and know that it’s not by law we’re saved, but by the grace of Jesus. We don’t follow God’s laws because we have to, we follow them because we have Jesus in our heart.

We live as godly role models in a world that has forsaken God.

Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. Galatians 3:23-24 NLT

 

Excerpts from Mentoring for All Seasons used with approval from Leafwood Publishers

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 our website store.

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten also available at Christian bookstores, online bookstores, Amazon, and signed at our website.

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The Miracle of Steve Scalise: A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

Steve Scalise gives God the glory for the miracle of his recovery and tells how he prayed sepcifically and put everything into God's hands.

You probably remember three months ago when Republican House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, was shot down by a deranged man trying to kill Republicans. Scalise was practicing on a ballfield with other Republicans preparing for an upcoming congressional charity baseball game. Several others were also shot on that June 14 morning, but Scalise’s wound was almost fatal had it not been for the quick actions of fellow players.

Scalise sustained a single rifle wound, entering his left hip and passing through his right hip, also known as a trans-pelvic gunshot wound. The round did substantial damage to bones, internal organs, and blood vessels. After extensive medial inpatient rehab, he returned September 29, 2017 to the floor of the House of Representatives, still on crutches. He will continue rehab now as an outpatient, so he’s still on the road to recovery. But following is how Scalise started his speech:

When I was laying out on that ballfield, the first thing I did once I was down and couldn’t move anymore, is I just started to pray and I’ll tell you it gave me an unbelievable since of calm knowing at that point it was in God’s hands. And I prayed for very specific things, and I’ll tell you pretty much every one of those prayers were answered and there were some pretty challenging prayers I was putting in God’s hands. But He really did deliver for me and my family, and it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate. [Applause] So I’m definitely a living example that miracles really do happen.” Listen to this live Steve Scalise on his return to the House of Representatives 9/28/17

What a testimony to the power of prayer as Mr. Scalise publically gives God all the glory for seeing him through this horrific ordeal, right from the moment it happened. He understands that his life was touch-and-go from the ballfield to the hospital, and if there had not been someone who knew how to give aid before the medics arrived, he probably would have died on the grass that day. But he didn’t die, and he knows it’s a miracle! Even more impressive, he’s telling the world that God still performs miracles!

Have you thought of that recently? Have you remembered all the miracles God has done in your life? He performs them every day. Have you told others about them? In Forsaken God: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I have a chapter “Honoring His Wonders and Miracles,” and in the Introduction, I write:

Memory builds faith.

Memories preserve the mighty works of God, but how many godly men and women failed to write down, or tell of, the miracles they saw God perform? How many works, deeds, and miracles has God done in your life … in my life … in the lives of our families … that we took for granted and never shared or acknowledged? Miraculous acts of faith lost to the next generation and lost to us when we need most to remember God’s goodness to help us through a trial or tribulation.

The power of prayer in mentoring relationships is remember how good God has been to us in the past.

Prayer & Praise Is An Integral Part of Mentoring

My tagline for mentoring is Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, the subtitle for Mentoring for All Seasons. Have you seen God at work in your life? Has He performed a miracle? Then just like Steve Scalise, share your story! Someone else may need encouragement in a particular season of life and walk with the Lord, or maybe needs to know that God is real.

A mentor, sharing her testimony and the power of prayer helps another woman discover the answers to her life issues are through prayer and the Bible. Mentoring is always a two-way relationship as they search the Bible together, pray for God’s guidance and wisdom, and wait for answers. Proverbs 3:5-7 (NLT) clearly tells us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.

As a mentee learns to depend on God and His Word in her life seasons, through the guidance, prayers, and support of her mentor, she can then help another woman going through similar seasons. Thus, the cycle of life and mentoring carries down through the generations: God’s plan for the propagation of Christianity and the church.

Prayer and Praise Journal Helps Record Prayers and Miracles

I suggest that mentors and mentees (M&M’s) always pray at the beginning, during, and end of their time together. The Bible and prayer is the foundation of spiritual mentoring. In the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, prayer covers every aspect of the ministry and M&M’s are matched through intercessory prayer.

Sometimes a mentee might feel uncomfortable praying if praying a loud is new to her. That’s fine, the mentor can pray for both of them, until the mentee feels comfortable. All my books have a Prayer & Praise Journal. In Mentoring for All Seasons, you’ll find it at the back of the book to record prayers, as well as God’s answers. And that’s where you begin to see the power of prayer. So often, we forget what we prayed for when God answers or we forget to go back and thank God. Recording prayer requests helps us remember God’s goodness.

Another way to use the Prayer & Praise journal is to help the mentee start praying. She can just read the prayer requests and praises aloud.

The beauty of Steve Scalise’s testimony reminds us we all have an open door to God’s ear and He is the God of miracles. We don’t need a pastor or someone else praying for or over us. God hears the petitions of His people, on our own, or when two or three are gathered together in His name. When He answers, be sure you give Him all the glory.

Have you got your copy yet of Mentoring for All Seasons? It’s available now at all Christian bookstores, online bookstores, Amazon, and signed by me on our website shop. I’d love to hear how God is using it in your life and the life of your church to bring about a revival of mentoring and Titus 2.

Thank you to everyone who left comments and emailed me with answers to my questions about the Ketogenic Diet in last weeks post. I’m still stumbling through starting and am not in ketosis yet. It’s a huge learning cover for me, so if you have any more tips please share!

Happy Birthday Mentoring for All Seasons!

Happy Birthday is celebrating the release of a new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God's Faithfulness

Last week was a super exciting week here at About His Work Ministries! We had a Big Birthday and Release Day celebration for the birth of my “baby” Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. In honor of this long awaited day, my hubby grilled salmon: my favorite food!!

Many have followed me on this year-long journey from writing the book last year in a very short four months, then the physical setbacks I had earlier this year with a concussion and then kidney surgery during the final edits. Praise God, nothing could stop His plans for Mentoring for All Season’s release day September 12!

Happy Book Borthday to Mentoring for All Seasons that released Sept. 12!

It’s been an amazing week of sharing this release on social media and guest posting every day, sometimes twice a day, on friends’ blog posts. This book is the culmination of what God has taught me over the past twenty years, when He took a woman who had no experience in women’s ministry or had never written a book or done any public speaking to start a ministry that has now blessed innumerable women and churches!

I was just an ordinary woman who said “Yes” to the Lord, and as they say, the rest has been HIStory. Some have heard or read my testimony, others may wonder how did Woman to Woman Mentoring come about? Who am I to write a book to help women mentoring each other in all seasons of life? Honestly, I’m surprised too: that God would choose me for such an honor to serve Him in this way.

So I thought today, I would share with you a little of the origins of my story.

I never planned to become a writer, speaker, or for sure not go into ministry! But isn’t that just like the Lord to direct us onto the paths He wants us to go, and we have a choice whether to follow Him or go our own direction. In my thirties, I chose my own path, but the Lord guided me back. I rededicated my life and His prodigal daughter returned with all my heart. Little did I know the plans He had for me.

Soon I was attending Fuller Theological Seminary getting a Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership, while managing an insurance agency and being a new bride with a blended family. I prayerfully attended a Women in Ministry Leadership Conference, hoping the Lord would reveal where He wanted to use me when I completed seminary, as long as it wasn’t in women’s ministry. Since I also had an MBA, surely it would be in business. Trying to create my own path again.

The Lord did speak to me, but not how I expected. I was enjoying a cup of coffee, waiting for the evening’s worship and teaching to begin with Jill Briscoe, when I heard a voice . . . “Go, and feed My sheep.” I looked around, but no one was speaking to me. I thought, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, “Feed My sheep.” I muttered, “OK,” and spent the rest of the evening wondering what I had just agreed to do. Feed my sheep is my testimony in my new book Mntoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God's Faithfulness

I couldn’t wait to call my husband and excitedly share what I heard from the Lord. My godly husband suggested we pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of “Feed My sheep.”

The next morning, the workshop instructor taught from John 21:15-17 where Jesus tells Peter, feed My sheep. Her topic was “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” The Holy Spirit was answering our prayer. But women Lord?!

Returning home, I asked everyone to pray for me to find my sheep and for direction as to what to feed them when I found them. The first sheep bleat came from a business associate asking me to mentor her. I didn’t have a clue what “mentoring” meant, so I read the late Lucibel Van Atta’s Women Encouraging Women [out of print] and learned it was simply sharing my life experiences—the good and the bad—and God’s faithfulness through it all. I wondered if perhaps feed My sheep might mean mentoring women?

Soon I was also mentoring a young woman from my stepdaughter’s small group, where I had become a mentor to the group. Seemed like enough “sheep.” But then a life-altering encounter. The Lord divinely placed the Pastor to Young Adults at our church, Saddleback, and me simultaneously at the gym. I worked out daily, but this was the only time I ever saw Pastor Brad there. As we chatted, he mentioned that many women in his young adults group were asking where they could find a mentor.

As if God was sitting on my shoulder, I suddenly poured out my “feed My sheep” story. Pastor Brad said he thought I should start a mentoring ministry at Saddleback Church, not just mentor two mentees. What!? I wasn’t equipped to start a mentoring ministry. I had to read a book to figure out how to mentor. I did meet with the Pastor to New Ministries, who agreed with Pastor Brad and he handed me a “12-Step Planning Guide to Developing a Ministry at Saddleback.” With both pastors’ encouragement, I began going through the process of starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

The Lord blessed our mentoring ministry and other churches started calling asking how they could start one. I couldn’t tell them everything over the phone, so I resigned from my insurance career, and wrote a Kit for churches to start a mentoring ministry. Today, God has taken the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry into churches around the world through the DVD Leader’s Kit, Woman to Woman Mentoring How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry. I continue to have the opportunity to share Woman to Woman Mentoring through my speaking and writing ministry, About His Work Ministries. I had no idea “feeding sheep” would go beyond Saddleback Church—even to international sheep.

Woman to Woman Mentoring is the Lord’s ministry following His mandate in Titus 2:1-8: one generation of Christian men and women must teach and train the next generations. When I let God guide, He allowed me to participate in something much bigger than I ever imagined. He changed my heart. He gave me a passion for the issues women deal with and wisdom in helping them turn to the Lord and to each other to navigate life’s seasons. Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, is a book for both mentors and mentees in every season of life from tweens to twilight years.

It’s been twenty-two years since I heard “Feed My sheep,” and I’m still feeding and mentoring them as the Lord leads.

Thank you for all your support and prayer, and for those who shared your stories, both as mentors and mentees, in this book. For those who have participated in church mentoring ministries or enjoyed mentoring in your personal lives, bless you for living out God’s direction for women in Titus 2:3-5.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Since the book released, there are so many stories already of women knowing other women who share their story in the book, and I encountered many while writing it. For example, I mentioned Lucibell Van Atta’s book was influential in helping me learn about mentoring only to discover that she was my friend Poppy Smith’s mentor! Poppy shares their story in the book along with 65 other mentors and mentees.

So it’s time to ask . . .

Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you through a new life season?

PS: If you lead a women’s ministry, mentoring ministry, and/or would like to share with your church, a special discount offer for Mentoring for All Seasons from the publisher, please contact me.

*Some parts of Feed My Sheep are excerpts from Mentoring for All Seasons, shared with permission of Leafwood Publishers. Pages 22-29 has more of that story and the birthing of the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is now available at all online bookstores, Amazon, Christian bookstores, and signed by me at my website store.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. She is also the author of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; 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!; 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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Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children

Last week, my eleven-year-old granddaughter and her friend were here to participate in a kids’ Drama Camp at our local outdoor theater. Both girls are baptized Christian tweens, at a perfect age for mentoring as they enter into middle school this year. We’ve been doing my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ together via SKYPE, or in person, for quite a while. We’ve had lots of discussions where I help them use Scripture from their Bibles to apply to their young lives. They have so many questions and are at a crossroads between not little girls, but not grown ups either. As tweens, they’re soon going to have more freedoms to make decisions—but not the wisdom that comes with maturity.

Every parent has heard the excuse, “But everyone else is doing it.” I remember my parents saying something like, “If everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?” Sadly, today many kids and adults are jumping off the moral and spiritual cliff to fit in with the culture, or they’re afraid to express beliefs that differ from the worldview.

Even children are bullied for supporting America’s president when their accosters usually don’t even understand why they’re reacting so violently. Where do these young bullies learn this reaction? Television, the internet . . . perhaps parents, grandparents, or even teachers?

I watched an interview of high school kids encouraged by their teachers to ditch school and participate in a protest march. Those kids had no clue why they were marching or what they were protesting?! They weren’t trying to change the world; they were being changed by a worldview they didn’t really understand.

We may want to pull the covers over our head and ignore the unrest in the world. But the parting words Jesus gave to His disciples regarding Christians’ place in the world, the Great Commission, reminds us there’s work to do, starting with our children.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

However, the last page in the Bible also foretells that the world will always have good and evil.

Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” Revelations 22:11

We all want our children and grandchildren knowing and doing what is right and holy, even when their peers encourage them to do wrong and vile acts! Parents and grandparents are the ones responsible for teaching and instilling these virtues. We cannot rely on the schools, and sometimes not even our churches.

The important thing is to help them not grow weary or discouraged doing good. Some things have helped me be a world change agent, while not letting the world change me. Maybe these will help you too in guiding and mentoring your children or young mentees.

Use the Word of God and Help Your Children Learn Scripture from Their Own Bible

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Teach them to paraphrase if they need to, but God’s Word applies to every area of life in every century (Heb. 13:8). Jesus used Scripture when tempted by Satan in the desert and taught the disciples to pray “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Help them memorize Scriptures to resist temptation. My granddaughter’s friend said her Dad is teaching her Psalm 23 for when she’s afraid.

Stay Civil and Polite But Stay Firm in Your Convictions

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Satan is the ruler of this world, so those caught up in the world’s cults, atheism, alternate belief systems or lifestyles, feel compelled to challenge us for our faith in Christ, and they have devised a myriad of unkind words to call us. The hurt runs deep when it’s aimed at our Lord and Savior. So our first impulse is to engage in a debate. If you’ve ever tried arguing or reasoning with someone blinded by the world’s belief system, you know it’s usually futile. I mentor my granddaughter that her best answer is “This is what I believe because the Bible (or God or Jesus) tells me so.”

Other times, believers fall into the same trap the serpent used with Eve when someone asks them, “Did God really say…?” Simply say, “Yes He did, and I’ll find the Scripture for you.” Jesus didn’t come to sanctify the world’s ways, He came to save the world from its ways.

The World is In Darkness So Let Your Light Shine

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:18-20

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The world loves darkness. Yet into this dark world came Jesus, the Light of the world, and He has hidden His light in each believer’s heart. Our light must shine brightly, no flickering. When we enter a room, a social media conversation, a family or friendly gathering, work, play, school, as parents, grandparents, employers, employees, kids . . . wherever life takes us . . . our light shines, even if we’re the only light for Jesus. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

We are living in a lost world that is loudly anti-God and anti-Christian and influencing the next generation. We can’t be quiet. Our job as Christians is to be world-changers for Christ. We must worry more about what God thinks about us than what the world thinks. Our job is to put God back in the public square and reach the world with the love of Christ. It may be hard for kids to get this point, but they do need to know that there will be people who won’t like you for not agreeing to do the wrong thing. They may try to bully, dare, entice, make you feel bad, but that’s just because you doing the right thing convicts them for doing the wrong thing.

Don’t Give Up!

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17:15-21

We’ll never have a perfect world until Jesus returns, but as long as we have breath, we’re saved to make a difference in the world. Start your children young believing this means them too! Maybe it’s their friends, sports coaches, unsaved relatives…teach them to pray. Here’s a prayer to start with:

Dear Lord, though the world does not know you, I___________ know you, and I pray that you will let the world know that you have sent me as your servant. Help me make you known to a lost world and I will continue to make you known where you put me so that the love you have for me may be in them also. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to live in my heart. Amen. John 17:25-26 personalized and paraphrased as a prayer.

Just a reminder that my new release Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness has helps, tips, encouragement from Scripture for mentors and mentees from tweens to twilight seasons. It’s available for sale now. If you would like to participate in the Prayer and Launch Team to help spread the message of this book from coast to coast, woman to woman, contact Janet ASAP.

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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. (September 12, 2017)

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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