Seeking A Season of Spiritual Maturity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Personal Spiritual Maturity Season

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

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

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

It means every believer a mentor!

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

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

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

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

If you’ve been a believer for a while:

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

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

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

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

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

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

When we're in a Season of Growing in Our Spiritual maturity we need a mentor who is further along in her walk with the Lord.

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Mentoring for All Seasons is available for presale and Kindle version is available for purchase NOW! Download today!

This blog is posting on the day of the “Great American Eclipse.” The town I live in will experience the total eclipse at 11:30 am MT. You can read my thoughts in last week’s post Use the Solar Path of Totality to Share the Path to Eternity. I’ll share more next week about what we experienced.

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 September 12 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 pre-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 me ASAP as we’re doing some pre-launch activities.

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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 at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

https://twitter.com/AHWministries

Why Does God Want Women Mentoring Each Other Through Life’s Change?

While chatting with several women at the July 4th church potluck, the conversation turned to menopause. The women were going through it now and struggling with the changes in their bodies. I have to admit, I’m so glad to be on the other side of that season of life, even though I did go through all the symptoms again when I was on Tamoxifen after breast cancer. My friend’s discussion of menopause symptoms brought back memories of never knowing how many nightgowns I was going to go through in a night or wondering if my face and neck would suddenly turn red and blotchy while speaking.

But I also remembered a conversation I had with an elderly woman in our church about menopause when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring twenty years ago. You can be sure in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, there’s a chapter on menopause! Here’s a sneak preview into that chapter:

When I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, an elderly woman said she felt the church let her down when she went through menopause. Someone in “the church” should have prepared her for the body and emotional changes she would experience. Since I was a few years away from menopause, I made a mental note, because if this was so important to her, it must be a season mentoring should address.

Then I went through menopause! I called everyone I knew my age to see if what I was experiencing was “normal.” I finally found a Christian book on menopause, which I later gave to another clueless menopausal friend.

When I told my girlfriends lamenting menopause about this, they eagerly asked if I still had the book?! I said no, but it’s definitely a season covered in Mentoring for All Seasons. Menopause is one of those seasons where one woman can share from her life experience what helped her and be there to pray and encourage a younger woman going through “the change.” You’ll laugh, cry, and truly relate to author, speaker, and a dear friend of mine, Pam Farrel, who shares about her own midlife years and how she became a mentor to many women by starting a “seasoned sisters” group.

Another friend who shares in Mentoring for All Seasons about being mentored during early parenting years is now also in menopause, and she’s started a Facebook group called Menopause Maidens.

We know that life is full of change in every season, but God has given us the tools to help each other through them. We just need to be willing to do what he asked of us in so many places in the Bible: reach out and mentor each other. I was incredibly blessed to have sixty-five women, including some of you, share mentoring stories—both mentees and mentors—in Mentoring for All Seasons. These women had experienced the blessings of mentoring, as mentors and mentees, and wanted to encourage other women that they can do it too, and it’s a fabulous blessing! I also give God’s perspective from Scripture to use in mentoring and tips in how to mentor and be a mentee in all seasons, along with sharing biblical M&M relationships.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecc. 3:1

I could use your help in spreading the word, however you feel led!

  • Pray for God to take Mentoring for All Seasons from coast to coast, from woman to woman, to equip them to do what He has asked of every Christian woman. Not just to be a mentor, but to seek a mentor also. We’re always coming out of a season to mentor from that experience and going into another season where we need a mentor!
  • Share with your friends, church, women’s ministry, social media, blogs, websites. It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon. You can read more about the content of the book there and order a copy for yourself and be the first to receive it on release day, September 12.
  • Tell me what ministries we should share this book with? Do you have a contact or know who we should contact?
  • Do you have a blog where I could be a guest blogger or you would post a review?
  • What other ideas do you have?

If you’ve followed me on this Monday Morning Blog for very long, you know God has given me a passion for evangelism and mentoring. Many women become believers, but they have no idea how to live the life. Or they hit a difficult season and feel alone or distanced from God. You know this was never God’s plan. So won’t you help me turn my small contribution into a revival of women mentoring women!

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, before you know it, he brings us alongside others who also go through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4, The Message

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. Titus 2:3-5

In reflecting on the many women in my life who have helped me through all kinds of seasons . . . I’ve been blessed to have many women speak into my life and influence me in different ways. From the way I entertain using their examples of hospitality to my deeply, personal involvement in my friends’ lives, I have had beautiful, courageous women of faith who were there to teach me and train me. They helped me with my floundering anxieties as a young mother, supported me as friends during my children’s busy school years, and many are faithful friends who have stood by my side in ministry for decades now. Where would I be without these generous hearted friends? I’m grateful I’ll never have to know. Joneal Kirby, founder of Heartfelt Ministry, endorser and shares a story in Mentoring for All Seasons.

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Available for Order and on Kindle

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 at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

https://twitter.com/AHWministries

Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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10 Ways to Change Our Culture

When it comes to making a change in our world, we often feel . . .

  • Who am I to make a difference? I’m only one person.
  • What does it matter what I say? Who listens to me anyway?
  • I don’t have a platform. How would I get my voice heard if I did try to make a change?

Have you had similar thoughts? I did. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t thinking about making a difference in the world’s culture—just in my world. Then during the journey of starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and watching lives changing—one woman at a time—I realized I was making a difference. These mentors and mentees were making a difference. One woman mentoring another woman was having a ripple effect out into the culture.

You too can make a significant change in our culture today. God never forces us to do anything, but He created us with gifts and a purpose, and when we use our God-given talents for His glory, things change—for the good—in our circle of influence, our platform.

In the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16), Jesus tells us to shout the Good News to everyone who will listen. That means in our jobs, activities, sports, shopping, playing, parenting . . . whatever we do, wherever we do it . . . joyfully let others know that God is at the center of our lives. Someone is noticing. Someone sees a difference in how we live our lives, and that changes things.

Celebrities, Sports Stars, and Politicians

Movies stars and entertainers have changed the culture mostly in a negative way by making it fashionable to have babies with whomever they’re dating, normalizing living together without getting married, wearing revealing clothes, swearing and using vulgar language—both men and women—doing things in movies we would never let them do in our living rooms. They have influenced our culture by lowering the moral and sexual standards for society. And in today’s volatile political culture, the majority of them are liberal progressives, and those who aren’t are blackballed.

Gospel-sharing movies are beginning to get some traction at theaters, many started by grassroots Christians who want to make a difference in today’s culture. We need to support them. It’s upsetting to hear Christians armchair criticize other Christians who are stepping out to make a difference for God, especially when the critics aren’t trying to make a difference themselves!

Sports figures and teams have become idols. We recently watched one football player dishonor our National Anthem and young high school football players followed suit. Time Magazine included him in the most influential people of the year! 2016 Olympic swimmers lied and falsified an assault story in Brazil, and yet one of them ended up on Dancing with the Stars! Instead of being good role models, again we see the culture influenced in worldly, ungodly ways, while sports figures honoring God are ridiculed. Still it was refreshing to hear many Olympians praising God.

People don’t trust politicians. Many will change the culture for good, but others make changes that starkly contradict our Christian beliefs and values. The media blasts and tries to silence politicians who agree with a conservative agenda because the vast majority of culture today is liberal.

We’ve seen the liberal agenda invade the Federal and local government, and we feel helpless watching the sanctity of life and marriage destroyed by laws legalizing sin. We cry out to God and to each other at the atrocities; but we hang our heads thinking we can’t do anything. But that’s when the real work begins. There’s more to changing culture than just voting in our candidates! We still have control of where we spend our money, our time, and how we use our voice and influence.

You Can Change Culture

It’s time for Christians to step up, speak out, and seize opportunities to defend God and change our culture back to one that respects and honors virtue and morals. We need a revival, which doesn’t start in government, it starts in the church with the people sitting in the chairs and pews. That’s you and me!

Christianity has come under attack by the media, the government, and the entertainment world for several generations, so today’s generation has formed prejudices and perceptions based more on the worldly lies of Satan than on the truths of God. We need to proclaim the Good News of Christ because many have only heard the distorted lies of Satan.

10 Ways You Can Help Change Our Culture

  1. Speak Up

Today, society marginalizes, neutralizes, and denies God—forgotten by a culture forsaking him. Wherever and whenever you hear someone speaking disrespectfully of God, kindly let him or her know you’re a believer and explain why and what you believe, and would they please speak respectfully of the most important person in your life.

  1. Mentor—

I receive so many stories from women of all ages desperate for someone spiritually older to share their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. They’re begging for mentors as Titus 2:1-8 instructs spiritually older Christians to help spiritually younger men and women learn how to navigate life and make choices that honor God. If more Christians became mentors, we would see less violence, rage, poverty, divorce, single-parent families, abuse, abortion . . . the list goes on. Titus 2:5 says we mentor so “no one will malign the word of God.”

  1. Use Social Media

As an author and speaker, I have a large social media presence, and I boldly comment from a Christian perspective. A young mom approached me at church and thanked me for my Facebook posts. She said I always wrote something on my timeline just when she needed it or when she needed perspective on a current topic.

Then I received an email from a mom saying she found my tweets, Facebook messages, and blog posts helpful in her life. The list goes on. I have no idea how many lives I may be touching and changing through social media, but I try to always include something about God in today’s culture, and hope it sounds doable to my readers to duplicate.

Pick one form of social media, establish a following, and get a dialogue going for cultural change.

  1. Blogging—

I also write a weekly Monday Morning Blog. Not everyone likes to write, but a blog reaches multitudes. Whatever your passion is—sports, gardening, building, cooking, parenting—write about it and add something in your post to help the reader make positive cultural changes in his/her life or environment.

  1. Parenting

Your children are the future of our country and will define the culture for decades. They look to you for guidance and direction to set their moral compass. Talk about the difficult issues they face. Know what the culture is saying and doing and teach them how to identify twisted doctrine and counter it with the truth. Give them the tools they need to be change agents in the culture. Help them be leaders, not followers.

  1. Teach Sunday School or Help in Youth Ministry

One of the most important roles in the church is teaching and training the next generations. These children and youth are the future who will determine if the church remains true to God’s Word, the Bible, or casts it aside to accommodate the falsehoods of the culture. They must go into the world not only knowing about Jesus, but also knowing Him in a personal relationship they wouldn’t give up or give away for anything.

  1. Support Business that Champions Christian Values—

Businesses are succumbing to the liberal cultural pressure to market and financially support the LGBTQ agenda. We have a choice where we spend our money and our time. If you know a business supports something you don’t agree with, don’t spend money there. It’s that simple. There are plenty of other places to eat and shop—especially those owned by Christians.

If a movie is full of violence, sex, and vulgar language . . . don’t see it. Go to opening weekend of a Christian movie. Businesses, television, the movie and sports industry . . . notice when revenue declines.

  1. Run for a Local Office

We need more Christians and conservatives in government! If you feel called, run for office and be the voice in the wilderness in your community that fights for the sanctity of life, morals, freedom of speech for all, and laws that honor God and the Constitution.

  1. Remember God’s Goodness

When we remember how good God has been in the past, we share it with others. Today’s millennials, and those younger, don’t know a world where you can openly pray, talk about Jesus, and take your Bible to school. When “gay” meant joyful, and the rainbow only stood for God’s blessings. Where marriage was only between a man and a woman, and kids didn’t have two dads or two moms. It’s our job to tell them that the culture we’re living in today is not God’s way, but we can find our way back to His ways.

  1. Prayer—

God hears the prayers of His people: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Jesus changed the culture, and He was only one man, whose fame came after his death, but he left a band of followers to keep up His work of changing the worldly culture.

“As Christians, God calls us to live holy lives: separated to God, separated from the world, and separated for God. Our responsibility is to help a generation that thrives on conforming, want to conform to God’s standards! Don’t think you can’t make a difference. You can. Sure, you can’t transform the whole world, but you can make a difference in your world.”*

*Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten

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8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections

christmas-accident

Happy New Year! I know I promised I would be back with my Monday Morning Blog this morning, but you know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. Well I’m not sure He directed my steps on Christmas Day around 4:00 PM when I stood up to go charge my cell phone and play a game with the grandkids, and the next think I remember was the sound of my head hitting the edge of a wooden chest across the room. To hear the story from my shocked hubby and daughter, I stumbled and literally flew across the room and my head took the full brunt of the fall.

Well with a nice gash in my head, off to ER we went and came home with 5 staples in my head. I’m smiling in the picture above because they put about 10 shots of Novocaine in my head, which always effects my whole bod,y so I was literally feeling no pain until the middle of the night, as my daughter and hubby had to wake me up all night.

Anyway, it seems now I have a concussion and constant high pitched ringing in my ears, so later today I’m having a brain MRI just to be sure I didn’t do any major damage. I could use your prayers for that. But God is so good that I had in my files this wonderful guest blog from Shirley Brosius, who just happens to be talking about the Joy of Connecting and even mentions mentoring as a  New Year’s goal. Shirley and her mentees Kim and Janine tell their story in my book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, releasing with Leafwood Press later this year. So enjoy this wonderful post from Shirley and I hope to be back with you next Monday.

The Joy of Connecting

By

By Shirley Brosius

Women who say they don’t need to connect with other Christian women don’t realize what they’re missing. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

I currently enjoy two mentoring relationships. I meet weekly to discuss Christian books with Kim and Janine, two women young enough to be my daughters.

2016-shirley-with-kim-and-janine

I chat weekly about writing and spirituality with Michelle, a young mother who lives a few hours from my home.

shirley-with-michelle

Here is how these women and I sharpen each other.

  1. We inspire one another. For instance, Kim set a New Year’s goal to control her thought life, and that inspired me to set a goal to not say anything this year that puts someone else in a bad light. Lofty goals, we know, but at least we’re trying.
  1. We pray for one another. If I’ve asked for prayer for something coming up during the week, I’m sure to get a text from Janine at that specific time, telling me she’s praying. I value her prayers.
  1. We accomplish more together than we could individually. When we decided we wanted not just to study together but to serve together, Kim, Janine and I dubbed ourselves Friends of the Heart and developed a website. We have now spoken to more than 10,000 women over the last ten years. Neither one of us could have developed such a ministry on her own.
  1. We know we’re not alone on the journey. We relate to each others challenges and walk each other through tough times holding hands.
  1. We rejoice with each other. I might feel like I’m bragging if I tell a friend that an article was accepted for publication, but Michelle and I know the struggles of writing, so we can genuinely rejoice together when one of our articles finds a home.
  1. We hold each other accountable. At times we set weekly goals and check on each other the following week: Did you make that call? Did you read your Bible today?
  1. We enjoy each other. With Kim and Janine, it’s fun to meet over a cup of tea or coffee, and in between meetings, we keep in touch by phone, e-mail or Facebook. Not a week goes by that we don’t laugh about something—often funny stories about Kim’s classroom antics or a corny joke that Janine can hardly share for laughing. I visited Michelle this past summer, and we plan to get together again this fall. She has become a special friend.
  1. We alert each other to life. I’m way ahead of them journeying down that road, and they watch me relate to adult children and keep in touch with grandchildren. Not that I’m a perfect model; sometimes I serve as a model of what not to do. And I learn about today’s world through their eyes.

Now I realize mentoring relationships may not appeal to everyone. But everyone can plug into some sort of group. I attend a Bible study at my church, and I’ve watched our group knit and share more deeply as the years go by. I also appreciate discussing spiritual direction in Sunday school classes.

If there’s no group that appeals to you, start one—a book discussion group, a young moms group, a teen moms group. You might ask someone to partner with you to pray. It’s always a blessing to hear someone else pray for your needs. Or like the women I’ve mentioned, ask an older woman to mentor you; if you’re an older woman, offer to support a young woman who might benefit from your expertise.

So get connected. You’ll be challenged and blessed. Don’t be afraid of deepening relationships within the body of Christ. After all, God made ministry a group project.

Read more about Friends of the Heart in Janet’s new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing later this year.

Please comment to let us know other ways you’ve made valuable connections with other Christian women.

If you received this blog by email, please comment here.

www.friendsoftheheart.us

Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

My new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, releases February 9. I have a section on Generation to Generation where I discuss the tragedy of losing the next generation for God, especially college age kids, and what we can do to keep them sold out for Jesus. I also share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter how I ignored the warning signs when my daughter was taught about Darwinism and evolution in High School.

Then right before Christmas, I received this email from Sheryl Young asking if I would consider mentioning her ministry Ratio Christi. Sheryl didn’t know about my new book and I didn’t know about RC, but after I read her note, I knew why God had put us together. Sheryl wrote:

Ratio Christi has 150 chapters on college campuses teaching Christian apologetics – the history, philosophy and science which supports the Bible and the life, death & resurrection of Christ. This strengthens the students’ faith, helps to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church due to the secularization of our colleges, and makes our young people stronger witnesses. We have also now started doing high school apologetics and have a goal of being on all college campuses.

I knew I needed to hear more and I asked Sheryl to write a post for us to discuss. Sadly, what Sheryl talks about here doesn’t just happen in high school and on college campuses. My granddaughter was only in third grade when she was disciplined by a teacher for defending her Christian faith to two girls who were bullying her at school. My granddaughter was the one  called out, not the other two girls.

Her teacher told her not to talk about Jesus again at school, and I told my granddaughter that teacher was out of line and together we looked at the Scriptures:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

“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.” 1 Peter 3:15

As we focus on January as National Mentoring Month, are your children, grandchildren, and mentees ready to defend their faith or will they succumb to teachers or other kids’ taunts? I pray my book encourages parents, grandparents, and mentors to equip their children to stand for their faith when under attack. Are your kids, grandkids, mentees ready? Are you ready?

What a Difference a College Class Makes in a Christian Kid’s Life

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

This dreaded conversation took place in the home of a friend of mine, but it’s happening throughout the United States today. It’s no wonder, with kids from Christian homes hearing the following statements almost as soon as they reach the college campus:

“There is no good reason to believe in Christ.”

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

It should be no secret to any Christian family today that colleges and universities have become a bastion of secularism and atheism. The atheist movement in academia is trying at every turn to move students away from a firm faith in Christ.

God’s Not Dead may be a movie with fictional characters such as a bitter atheist professor and few students with the courage to stand against him, but it is based on real-life events.

Make no mistake. Christian parents and grandparents are doing their children a great disservice by telling them that Christianity is just “because the Bible says so” or “because the pastor says so” or “because I say so.” It’s like sending them straight from grade school to college. It simply doesn’t hold any water in today’s culture.

1 Peter 3:15 says: “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.” (NIV). We don’t show respect for nonbelievers, or ourselves, when we haven’t researched the reasons for our faith. Having “blind faith” may be good inside churched walls, but it won’t be understood by outsiders: it’s foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Josh McDowell, a foremost expert comparing Christian with secular youth, says in The Last Christian Generation: “The majority of our churched young people do not believe Christ is the Son of God, do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity, and think ‘doing good’ earns them a place in Heaven.”

What do we expect when they get one hour of Sunday school or youth group, and eight hours in school where they’re taught “there’s no absolute truth” and the Bible isn’t acceptable?

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

No. Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. For example, in David Kinnaman’s 2011 book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, he cites research showing nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15. That’s nearly 70 percent.

The increasing number of atheist professors on college campuses is a direct connection to students losing faith. A study at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent of college professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God.”

We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians forbidden to mention God, and football teams not allowed to have student-led prayer. Many school districts do not understand – or choose to ignore – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment on school property, especially when it comes to Christianity. Christian students and faculty are having their rights and viewpoints trampled.

“Political correctness” isn’t limited to public education. Many private schools, even some in Christian denominations, now support the “valuing diversity” theme that makes allowances for those who do not hold to biblical principles.

Let’s hear it from the young people – how do they feel?

I [Sheryl Young] work with a ministry called Ratio Christi, and I thank Janet Thompson for letting me write here about this issue. Ratio Christi (“Reason of Christ” in Latin) is a nonprofit international campus ministry with over 150 chapters, which exist to encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian students through the use of intellectual investigation called “Christian apologetics” – learning the historical, scientific and philosophical evidence that gives logic, reason and credibility to our Christian faith when presenting it to others.

Curtis Hrischuk, the chapter director for Ratio Christi at North Carolina State University, says: “Most of the students we get are confused when they arrive at college. They’re realizing that they don’t have a strong basis for their faith, and they’re looking for help.”

Ratio Christi’s chapter leaders often hear from their Christian students that even throughout high school they didn’t receive a strong basis of theology to prepare them to face the secular pressure once they got to college. Many felt their church youth groups were all fun and games to keep them occupied, or automatically supposed that kids who came to church were already grounded in the faith and didn’t need much help. Some felt they could speak about deep Christian issues with their parents, and others didn’t.

Grant, a student from the University of Alabama says, “My youth group studied the Bible but (the teachers) pre-supposed that we accepted it as truth.”

Or Bentley from the University of Mississippi: “I was missing the historical, foundation principles and background of Christianity.  I felt it was extremely important to understand who God is, why I believe what I believe, and understand how to defend my faith against those who might try to disrupt it.”

Going back to McDowell’s The Last Christian Generation, he writes of his surveys:

  • Only 33 percent of churched youth said church would be part of their lives when they leave home.
  • 63 percent of them don’t believe Jesus is the only true way to God.
  • Only 6 percent of publicly schooled children now come away with a true belief in the Bible.

It cannot continue to be a church mantra, or a mantra in Christian homes, that our blind faith is enough. Not if we want our kids to keep their faith intact and be persuasive witnesses for Christianity later in life.

 Ratio Christi Can Help

RC Large Logo.jpg Ratio Christi (RC) students learn to present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting that opportunity. RC students and leaders invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to any religion to attend sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions.

The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller, says, “Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”

A Ratio Christi club member from the University of Virginia, Caitlin says, “If it weren’t for Ratio Christi, I’m not sure I would still be a Christian.” CaitlinBentley adds, “Ratio Christi has taught me how to converse with others about Christianity. It has helped me become more comfortable about being an evangelist of Christ to others.”

Here’s a student named Blake from a Ratio Christi high school-aged group preparing for college:

“Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for apologetics, I would not be as effective a witness for Christ.”

Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels, from prayer to becoming RC mentors. Individuals and churches can “adopt a college” to help start a RC chapter if there  isn’t one at their nearest college. Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a teen comes home excited about what they are discovering.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Ratio Christi, or find a college chapter. If a student can’t find an existing chapter at a college of their choice, or wants to find out how to get involved at the high school level, Contact Us. Young people are our future. Helping them know their Lord is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi, and interviews many chapter students and leaders for RC’s national newsletter.

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Support National Mentoring Month

Januray Naitonal Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Milton Glaser

As I prepared to write this week’s blog post, I opened up my new 2016 calendar and there was my reminder that January is National Mentoring Month! I only became aware of this designation recently, even though it has been a nationally endorsed month since President George W. Bush proclaimed it in 2002. While the focus is on mentoring youth, as Christians we know we’re also to mentor those spiritually younger than us. The verses best known to motivate us to pour into someone else are Titus 2: 1-6:

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. The Message

In my new book releasing February 9, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I quote the above passage from The Message as a reminder that it is our job as Christians to reach out to the next generation and help them set a moral compass that leads straight to the throne of Christ. I often wonder how many Christians actually take this command from the Lord to heart. How many realize that the fate of our nation depends on the spiritual maturity of the next generation in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our communities, our schools . . . ? If we’re not mentoring, who will do the job? Answer: the secular world!

As much as we complain about the current administration, and I agree there is much to be concerned about, President Obama has continued to endorse National Mentoring month, as has both chambers of the United States Congress. The campaign’s media partners have included ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC; Comcast; the National Association of Broadcasters; Time Warner; and Viacom.

Shouldn’t we, the united body of Christ, also support National Mentoring Month?

Here is an excerpt from this year’s presidential proclamation recognizing January as National Mentoring Month:

At the heart of America’s promise is the belief that we all do better when everyone has a fair shot at reaching for their dreams. Throughout our Nation’s history, Americans of every background have worked to uphold this ideal, joining together in common purpose to serve as mentors and lift up our country’s youth. During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who continuously strive to provide young people with the resources and support they need and deserve, and we recommit to building a society in which all mentors and mentees can thrive in mutual learning relationships.

By sharing their own stories and offering guidance and advice, mentors can instill a sense of infinite possibility in the hearts and minds of their mentees, demonstrating that with hard work and passion, nothing is beyond their potential. Whether simply offering a compassionate ear or actively teaching and inspiring curiosity, mentors can play pivotal roles in young peoples’ lives. When given a chance to use their talents and abilities to engage in their communities and contribute to our world, our Nation’s youth rise to the challenge. They make significant impacts in their communities and shape a brighter future for coming generations.

I smiled when I read this proclamation, both for the championing of mentoring and that the President of the United States used the word “mentee.” When I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry, many people told me mentee was not a word. I think Woman to Woman Mentoring put mentee in the dictionary!

Thank Your Mentor Day

Thank you mentor women

As part of National Mentoring Month, a day is set aside to celebrate Thank Your Mentor Day. This year, it’s January 21, 2016. A day to thank and honor mentors who have encouraged and guided you, and had a lasting, positive impact on your life.

In Forsaken God?, I encourage readers to remember spiritual mentors and the way God used these men and women to shape their lives and then to imitate those mentors by mentoring whoever God puts in their path:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

Here are some ways the National Mentoring Month Campaign suggests for honoring your mentors:

  1. Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  2. Express your gratitude on social media.
  3. Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  4. Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,
  5. Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

To add a spiritual component to National Mentoring Month, consider:

  1. Start a Mentoring Ministry in your church.
  2. Become a spiritual mentor to someone spiritually younger, not necessarily chronologically younger.
  3. If your church has a mentoring ministry, serve in the ministry.
  4. My next book is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Honor your mentor or mentee by sending me a story about your mentoring relationship to include in the book. info@womantowomanmentoring.com.
  5. Pray for God to send you a mentor.
  6. Every month in About His Work Ministries’ Newsletter, we feature a Church Mentoring Ministry. Send me something you would like to share about your mentoring ministry to help other churches. info@womantowomanmentoring.com
  7. Start 2016 being a spiritual mentor, or finding a mentor.
  8. Remember that mentoring is part of parenting.

I’m looking forward to what God will have me share with you and perhaps mentor you in 2016. My “job” in About His Work Ministries isn’t to have a following, but to point others to Jesus.

Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year

Another post you might enjoy reading is How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God.

Mentoring month men

Overcoming the Naysayers in Your Life

Live Love LaughRustic Blooms*

Hubby and I just returned home from a month in sunny Southern California. We had a great time visiting with friends and family and worshipping in Idyllwild Bible Church and Saddleback Church. Both of these churches hold dear spots in our hearts and as do the godly pastors gifted in leading their congregations to a closer relationship with God. Last week, I shared a message we heard at IBC from John Holesclaw. Many of you commented on how God has been calling you to Go Beyond the comfort and calm of your daily life as God calls you to follow a new vision.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts from Pastor Rick Warren’s message of Ignoring the Naysayers that might come out of the woodwork when you start following that vision.

As I listened to Pastor Rick preach, I was nodding my head the entire time because I had experienced every one of his naysayer points when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring. In fact, when I train churches on starting Woman to Woman Mentoring, I always warn them to beware of the naysayers and then I tell them how God helped me overcome them to push through and start a ministry that God has taken around the world for the past twenty years.

If you have a vision that’s bigger than you . . . that only God could bring to fruition . . . you’re going to experience naysayers. Here are a few points from Pastor Rick’s sermon with an example from my own experience. I would love to hear about some of your experiences.

Naysayer: “A person who says something won’t work or isn’t possible; a cynic who habitually expresses pessimistic views.”

How I Defeated the Naysayers in Starting Woman to Woman Mentoring and You Can Do the Same in Your Life.

  1. Remember That They Are Not God!

The fear of human opinion disables; but trusting in God protects you from that. Pr. 29:25, The Message

“The bigger God’s opinion in your mind, the smaller the opinions of others.”—Rick Warren

Naysayers don’t know what God has said to you so they don’t understand your dream or vision from God. It’s not their “call,” it’s yours! They are not God.

We can’t seek the approval of men over the approval of God. It doesn’t matter if others don’t agree with us. Don’t worry what other people will think; worry what God thinks.

When I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, I heard things like:

  • Somebody tried that a few years ago and it didn’t work.

Me: Might have been wrong person or wrong time. I’ll find out what they did that didn’t work and do the opposite. I’ll also try to locate the women who were interested in mentoring at that time. God definitely wants a mentoring ministry at Saddleback now, and he’s told me I’m the one to start it.

  • Twenty years ago, Saddleback was a seeker church and the average age range was 25-45, so people said I wouldn’t find women old enough or spiritually mature enough to be mentors.

Me: Well someone who accepted the Lord six month’s ago is spiritually older than someone who is seeking and who better to relate to a seekers questions and hesitations. We wouldn’t look at Titus 2:3-5 as chronological age, but spiritual age. We might not have large age or maturity ranges, but we would have women who had walked longer with the Lord than someone else.

  • I’d never been involved in women’s ministry before so who was I to start a ministry?

Me: I won’t be influenced by how things “have always been done.” I’ll be open to listening to the Lord and taking my direction directly from Him. My personal writing and speaking ministry became About His Work Ministries.

Ask yourself: Who am I allowing to play God in my life?

  1. Don’t Get Distracted by Negativity

So I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.—Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT

“Every opportunity comes with opposition.”—Rick Warren

Billy Graham quoted Neh. 6:3-4 when he was doing crusades in London and the journalists were harassing him. He was too busy saving lives to take the time to go down and answer the journalists’ taunts.

Rick said that naysayers’ distractions come in the form of: ridicule, rumors, threats, and endless discussion to slow you down.

I experienced all four of those attacks when starting Woman to Woman Mentoring, I even had a mutiny on my original team, which later became the imputes to write The Team That Jesus Built and Face to Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community:

  • You should have teas not coffees.
  • “Mentee” is not a word.
  • Who are you to start this ministry?
  • You’re only writing about this to make money.
  • Woman to Woman Mentoring is only for our church not others, so you shouldn’t be writing resources for other churches to start the ministry.
  • You could never match M&M’s simply by prayer.
  • Women won’t come.
  • You can’t match two strangers
  • How are you going to find two women to match in such a large church?
  • And so it went . . .

Ask Yourself: How is negativity distracting you from accomplishing your goal?

  1. Never Attack Back—Leave It in God’s Hands

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.—1 Peter 2:23 NIV

“I’m most like Jesus when I stay silent under attack. Bless them instead.”—Rick Warren

The best way I found to deal with naysayers was to not engage them. Don’t waste your time and emotion trying to convince them they’re wrong, or getting into endless discussions. This is hard to do because we want to defend our position and get them to agree with us, but I learned to simply ignore them and not give fuel or energy to the negativity. A ministry was being birthed that was clearly God’s will and that’s the only opinion I valued. A successful ministry blessing the women would prove the naysayers wrong.

Ask Yourself: How am I wasting time and energy trying to defend my goal and vision?

  1. Stay Focused on God and His Promises

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?—Psalm 118:6 (NLT)

“The size of your God determines the size of your goals.Rick Warren

To do a mighty work for God, we need to remember that we don’t need the approval of others to be happy or successful; we’re only seeking a “well done” from God. I knew that I had received a Feed my Sheep call from the Lord who had revealed that the feeding meant mentoring and the sheep were women. I had said yes to that call and that was the only thing that mattered.

Somehow, someway, my Great God was going to use me to start a ministry that would change the lives of women for years to come. My role was to not be distracted or dissuaded by naysayers, listen closely to the voice of God and do what He said to do, and give Him all the glory for doing something only God could do.

Ask Yourself: What “call” has God given me that He promises to fulfill, if I let Him?

I would love to hear how God speaks to you about overcoming the naysayers in your life.

You can leave a comment below, or if you receive this by email click here.

Portions of this blog are from Pastor Rick Warren’s message “Ignoring the Naysayers” at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, November 1, 2015.

*Rustic Blooms is a new sign making venture of my daughter Kim Mancini. I’m sure she had a few naysayers along the way (not me), but she’s making beautiful creative artistic signs as the orders pour in and I’m so proud of her.

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