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.

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www.friendsoftheheart.us

Give the Gift of Encouragement at Christmas

encouragement-daily-bread

Last week, I mentioned that I’m always wondering what God will have me share with you and often He waits until the end of the week to let me know, but He always confirms the topic in several different ways. Thursday night at our Couples Bible Study, we were talking about when “Saul,” who was persecuting Christians, had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus and became Paul the evangelist. Someone in our group mentioned how hard it must have been for the persecuted Christians to trust Paul and believe he had truly repented. I reminded the group it was Barnabas who believed Paul’s testimony and assured Christians they could believe that Paul’s conversion was genuine. Barnabas mentored Paul in his new faith.

Then Friday morning, I opened up Our Daily Bread devotional and the topic was “The Gift of Encouragement.” Who do you think they were talking about? Yes, Barnabas and the story I just told you with the added explanation that Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” So there it was . . . God wanted me to talk about encouragement at Christmas. I’ve received so many emails, comments, and social media messages of how last week’s post, Who Will Care for the Widows and Fatherless Children, was a timely reminder, so I’m trusting today’s blog post will be also.

How Was Barnabas an Encourager?

In addition to encouraging Paul in his faith, we see in Acts 4:36-37 that Barnabas sold a piece of property and donated the money to help other believers in need. Sometimes encouragement does involve tangible giving when someone is facing a lean Christmas. Some churches take food and toy boxes to families in the community and in their church who are going through hard times and those parents are so grateful and encouraged that their children will have a “normal” Christmas like all their friends.

But encouragement doesn’t always have a dollar sign attached to it. As I talked about in last week’s blog post, no matter how many gifts you give someone who has just lost a loved one, the pain and loss remains.

Or maybe you’re experiencing a difficult time yourself, but you can still be a source of encouragement to others this Christmas. Here are some ways I thought of, and I know you can add to my list.

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Letting Others Bless You

Letting others bless you might seem strange because isn’t this supposed to be a blog about encouraging others? Yes! When others want to bless you and you let them, it’s a source of encouragement to them. Let me give you an example of what I mean. I have a sweet neighbor with multiple sclerosis, now confined to a wheelchair. With the biggest smile, she said to us, “We want to have you over to dinner some time.” I responded to her dinner invitation, “That would be lovely, just let us know what we can bring.”

Can you imagine how discouraging it would have been to her if I had said something like, “Oh, no, that would be way too much work for you. We couldn’t possibly have you go to all that trouble.” I’m sure the smile would have disappeared from her face with disappointment. So often what we see as work is another person’s joy. Have you ever had to practically arm-wrestle someone to let you bless them? We need to learn how to receive kindness, hospitality, and love joyfully and graciously. When we let people use their God-given gifts to bless us, it’s a source of encouragement to them and we both get blessed.

blessings

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Letting Others Know When They Bless You

I recently received a comment from Lisa telling me how much she enjoys Monday mornings to see what I’ve written in my Monday Morning Blog posts. Wow, that encouragement will keep me writing those posts for another year. I have no idea if the posts are even being read, except for the occasional comment like Lisa’s, and then one day in church a young woman came up and gave me a hug and told me how much my blogs and Facebook posts ministered to her. Another encouragement blessing boost!

The Lord knows just when I need a jolt of encouragement to keep going.

Everyone needs the gift of encouragement . . .

  • My hairdresser says she can always count on a text from me telling her how someone loved my latest haircut. I know that encourages her and she blesses me with a fabulous hairdo.
  • Tell your pastor how his sermon blessed you. He hears complaints, but how often does he hear encouraging words?
  • Let your husband or kids know how their latest accomplishments bless you. Wow that would encourage them!
  • If you hand out Christmas gifts or bonuses to employees, how about telling them sincerely how they are a blessing to the company. Watch production soar.

What other ways in your life can you let others know how much they bless you?

Give the Gift of Encouragement with Your Words

We all know how words can tear down or build up.

  • As women how often do we look at another woman with a critical eye as we check out. . . her outfit, makeup, hairdo … how about switching that appraisal to looking at everyone with one encouraging sincere word to say to them.
  • Tell the person struggling to lose weight how pretty she looks or what a nice outfit she’s wearing.
  • When you ask someone what they’re doing for Christmas and they say nothing, instead of saying that’s too bad or telling them what you’re doing . . .  invite them over.
  • To the person who is struggling with an illness or surgery at Christmas, don’t try to fix it or tell them another person’s horror story, ask how you can pray for them and what can you do to help.
  • When someone cooks a nice meal for you, say “It was delicious, thank you” instead of “You shouldn’t have gone to all that work.”
  • Be as gracious and kind with the words you use with your family, as you are with the words you use with your church family.

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Telling the Christmas and the Easter Story

I cringe when I hear Christians talking negatively about Christmas. This is our time of year. This is our celebration. This is our Savior’s birth. If any time of year, Christmas and Easter is the time we should be joyfully sharing the encouraging, free gift of salvation with everyone we meet.

While many say our actions speak louder than words, we use words to tell the salvation story, the Gospel. People need to hear how Jesus lowered himself to the status of a baby born to a virgin, and lived as a humble man until he started his ministry at the age of thirty. After three years of performing miracles, teaching, preaching, casting out demons and healing the sick, he was crucified on the Cross to bear the sins of those who turned to Him for forgiveness of their sins, repented, and believed in Jesus as the Son of God who rose again in three days so every believer could have eternal life! Now that’s a “Christmas story” to tell.

Our loving actions will open the door to share the Good News story, but we must take the next step and tell the salvation story to hearts seeking forgiveness and repentance. The gift of eternal life is available to everyone, but not everyone accepts and opens it.

Can you imagine a more encouraging Gift to give someone who is not saved then to share the Christmas and the Easter story with them! Because you really can’t tell one story without the other . . . now can you.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:16-21 The Message

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Why Aren’t All Christians Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Trump?

praying-for-trump

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it means to be a saved, forgiven Christian, granted grace and mercy when I was so undeserving. Our Couples’ Group is studying Pastor Tony Evan’s Victory in Spiritual Warfare and he used a term I’d never heard before: “unsaved, saved person.” I realized that was another term for backsliding, which I did for seventeen years—saved at a youth camp at the age of eleven when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and then living an ungodly life from my late twenties until early forties, a backslidden believer. Saved but living like an unsaved person, until I rededicated my life. I write about this time in most of my books—it’s my testimony—of how God redeemed me and has used me About His Work since the day I gave my life fully back to Him.

God forgave me for my sins as a “born again” young girl on fire for the Lord, and He never withheld His love or protection, even as He watched me do things that broke His heart and were so unworthy of someone who knew better. It was as if for seventeen years, I had blinders on, until Pastor Greg Laurie asked at a Harvest Crusade if I was ready to die that night. I wasn’t. God had been gently bringing His prodigal back to Him, as I had recently turned my dating life over to God and was dating the man He had picked to become my husband.

I’m so grateful I was attending Saddleback Church, which welcomes sinners and seekers and offers restoration, hope, and forgiveness for those who are willing to repent, ask for forgiveness, turn from their wayward ways, and follow Jesus’s biblical ways. I married my godly husband Dave, blended our two families, graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary, quit my secular job, and started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry as a rededicated, divorced, remarried woman. I always was shown love, grace, mercy, support, and encouragement at seminary and Saddleback Church.

I felt so unqualified and ill equipped, but my church gave me the tools I needed, as I took a huge prayerful step of faith. I was the least likely woman to start such a ministry . . . many churches might not have let me serve. But I said, “OK” when God called me to “Feed my sheep,” and He did the rest. As a result, twenty years later, Woman to Woman Mentoring is an international ministry blessing thousands of women in Titus 2 mentoring relationships.

Dr. Charles Stanley’s wrote in “Faith Barriers,” In Touch Magazine October 13, 2016:

When we are called to serve, our strength, skill, and wisdom do not matter. Rather, it is the Lord who does the work through us. He doesn’t seek out the most qualified person for a particular job, but instead calls men and women who are willing to surrender themselves to Him. When His strength works through their weakness, it is obvious that only God could have achieved the result.

A Disturbing Lack of Forgiveness Among Evangelicals

Trump has always said that as a child he was a saved Presbyterian, but I think he was probably an “unsaved, saved” backsliding Christian, like I was, most of his adult life. Michael Anthony on Godfactor.com shares part of an interview with Dr. James Dobson about Trump’s recent salvation this past summer. Dr. Dobson has seen a change in Trump and only God knows the condition of his heart, which is true for all of us. Anthony also explains how we all mature in our faith at different degrees: some are like microwaves—the change is instantaneous–others are like crockpots.

Anthony and Dobson both called for prayer for the new  “baby Christian” Trump, but I’ve not seen or heard much prayer for Trump, who represents the conservative political agenda in this election. Instead, I’ve seen more stone throwing and rock slinging at him from evangelicals for his past transgression, right along with the progressive liberals. Many Christians who are so distressed when called “deplorables” and “haters” by the liberals, have called Trump–their own candidate–terrible, unkind, slanderous names.

I can only wonder how many new believers would last if we treated them all that way? And why are Christians doing that, when evangelism is all about sharing the forgiveness of sin and grace of Jesus Christ?

In a political move, tapes of vial things Trump said over eleven years ago became public and many Christians and prominent ministry leaders reacted as if he said them yesterday. I’ve seen tapes of him surrounded by the many Christians he has on staff as he prayed for forgiveness, he asked publicly for forgiveness during the debate, and yet, so many Christians are unwilling to grant him forgiveness. Why?

If he is saved, God forgave him and wiped the slate clean from all the things he did before, just like He did for each of us when we became Christians. And God forgives each of us when we mess up and ask for forgiveness, but many evangelicals pulled their support and backlashed him, refusing to show any grace or mercy.

How would any of us feel if that is how our past sins haunted us as new believers? Badmouthing Trump and not looking at the real issues in this election, is just what Satan wants us to do. Letting Trump’s past transgressions divide us, another score for Satan.

Trump is a flawed man, as has been, and will be, every president, but he’s the first one I’ve seen who actually chose a born-again Vice President who told his testimony in the VP debate. He has Christians like Ben Carson on his team mentoring him, who see the bigger picture of the Supreme Court picks that will make decisions that will affect our religious freedoms for the next thirty years! Which will determine whether we as evangelicals can voice our faith publicly in the future in a blog post like this!

With men like that surrounding him, if not saved, he’s certainly a seeker, and aren’t we as evangelicals supposed to help draw seekers to Christ?

We Need a Refresher in Forgiveness

Christians are forgiven by the grace of God, and we need to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others, including Donald Trump: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

Yes, that would apply to Hillary too, but so far, she has only made excuses for her bad behavior, justifies supporting the things God detests, and puts political spins on her lies. Her agenda is anti-Christian and anti-God. I haven’t seen her sincerely ask forgiveness for anything, but she does need prayer to repent. Wouldn’t that be a wondrous miracle of this election!

4 FORGIVENESS MYTHS

MYTH #1:  Forgiveness must be quick like God’s forgiveness

TRUTH:  Forgiveness is a process

MYTH #2: If I forgive, that means that the offense was “ok.”

TRUTH: Forgiveness doesn’t turn sin into good. Sin is always wrong.

MYTH #3:  If I forgive the person gets off the hook.

TRUTH: Sin always has consequences.

If Trump, really accepted Christ – and has asked for God’s forgiveness—it’s important to understand and apply 1 Timothy 1:12-16 and the apostle Paul’s own words about himself:

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

Let’s start showing grace, mercy, forgiveness, and pouring out prayer for Trump. He was not my first choice, but he is the candidate for the conservative platform. This election is not about a person, it is about the platform, but God cares about every person’s eternal life. Instead of helping to feed the media beast, let’s pray for a flawed man who is being:

  •  made publicly accountable for past sins
  • humiliated and humbled
  • attacked and assailed
  • refined, renewed, and reformed

He could just be the unlikely person who becomes the future leader of America and allows us to put God back in the public square for generations to come. God could do that!

If you’re not clear on the difference between the two political platforms, Franklin Graham has it available.

To check out Lance Wallnau’s Facebook Page for a Spiritual Warfare Guide to the 2016 election.

To read a passage where Jesus saw the good in someone who wanted to serve, but the religious Pharisees only saw her as a sinner read Luke 7:36-50.

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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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