Is the Light On In Your House?

candle

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Jesus said to every Christian in Matthew 5:14-16

Have you ever noticed that the Holy Spirit shining through you can either light up a room or clear it? I’ve often told my husband that I wonder if we’re not invited to certain events because of our conservative Christian beliefs. We don’t drink, swear, tell dirty jokes or laugh at them … but we’re a lot of fun, kind to people, and remember everything we said or did the night before!

Proud to be a “Right-Winger”

Recently, I had a conversation that shed some light [pun intended] on why some people might be uncomfortable around us. I was talking with a repairman who had recently done some work in a new neighbor’s house. He described them as: “They’re really nice people, but very right wing! I couldn’t get the h*** out of there fast enough.”

Seeing the shocked look on my face, he quickly interjected, “But they’re really, really, really nice people!”

I thought to myself, Of course they’re really nice … they’re Christians.

A friend recently wrote a blog about her missionary work in Brazil where their group went into homes sharing the Gospel, and experienced the same reaction as this repairman. She wrote:

“The aroma of Christ – Wow! Now I get it! Those whose hearts were open to the leading of the Holy Spirit said “Yes” to Jesus. Those who closed themselves off from the Holy Spirit could not wait for us to leave their house. Either way, God was pleased as we continued to share the awesome gift of salvation.”

Two verses come to mind:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Ephesians 4:18

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Then I wondered how many workers or guests had come into our Christian home and couldn’t wait to get out? Probably a few. Our prayer is that they would be attracted to our light and not repelled.

tealights

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10.

My Walk on the Dark Side

For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. Psalm 56:13

I remember clearly what it was like when I was walking in spiritual darkness during my backsliding days, and so I have insight into people blinded to the light of Jesus. Maybe God allowed me to experience those dark days so I would know how to reach people stumbling in the dark, who think their sin is actually fun and become defensive when someone tries to shine the Light into their evil dark world.

During my dark days, I wasn’t ready to listen to anyone, even though God tried many ways to reach me. I can remember making frequent business trips from Orange County to Bakersfield and the only radio station that would come in was a Christian station. Often, the same thing would happen at home.

I also had a Christian girlfriend who was single like me and our children were friends. She would often talk to me about the things I was doing, but I wrote her off as just a really nice friend; but I didn’t let her words penetrate my hardened heart.

Another time, I hired a Christian as an insurance agent to work in my division and he brought several others on board. I remember looking out of the high-rise office-building window and seeing them huddled together in prayer in the parking lot. I was appalled at their open display of faith. I wonder now if maybe they were praying for me. Later, after I rededicated my life to the Lord, I found myself out of a job for professing my faith!

God protected me during the many dark days when I made foolish choices, even as I would sit in church on Sunday morning and know I was going to sin that night. Only by the grace of God did my daughter and I survive my role modeling to her the dark side of a seemingly successful life. I write openly about those days in my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I was a prodigal raising a prodigal.

Children role model

We’ve All Experienced the Dark

I get so frustrated with those who are intentionally living a sinful life today … stumbling around in the dark, especially those who know better … Christians, who like me, walked out of the light back into the darkness. Satan makes sin seem alluring, just like he did with Eve. He even makes it seem fun. After all, if sin wasn’t fun, why would anyone do it? When the Light shines on that “fun,” we all look back and think how could I have thought that was fun … it was sick and depraved.

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. Psalm 89:15

Those of us who now live in the Light all came out of some kind of spiritual darkness, blinded to the truth of the Gospel. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would choose to go deeper into the dark when they’ve experienced the light, but sadly many do and many are sitting in our churches today. They show up on Sunday, maybe attend a Bible study, and even could serve in a ministry, but they’re living a lie. There’s blatant sin somewhere in their life and the Light is convicting them…but not enough to change their ways.

You know what I’m talking about, the couple that looks so perfect sitting together and smiling through a Sunday morning service and the shock the church feels when they find out the husband has been having an affair for years or is addicted to porn. Maybe that husband was your pastor. No one is above the wiles of Satan! That’s why I am such a proponent of mentoring and accountability. We all have potential to fall away … we need someone shining the light into our life and asking us hard questions.

Our world is falling into darkness at a faster speed than ever in history. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that:

  • The Supreme Court would change the definition of marriage to accommodate same-sex marriage, when homosexuality is abominable to our God and marriage is the sacred replication of Christ and His church?
  • A once God-fearing nation would now try to take God out of every aspect of public life?
  • Planned Parenthood would not only be murdering babies in their mother’s womb, but also be selling precious unborn baby body parts? Barbaric is the word we would have used! Detestable unbelievable!
  • Or that our government would sign a treaty with our enemy and put our ally Israel in direct danger?

And yet, every day, there’s another shocking headline that our world is submerging deeper into the depths of darkness, a mire from which we may never recover.

Where is our Hope?

How do we keep our light shining when the world wants to snuff it out?

How do we stay strong and keep the aroma of a Christ-centered home?

woman-reading-bibleNo other way, but through abiding in Jesus and the Word of God. No other way! Do you believe that? Are you in His Word EVERY day? Are you praying every day for a revival of the Light? Don’t lose hope and don’t lose courage.

If you’ve let the darkness slip back into your life, repent, ask Jesus for forgiveness, and turn from your wicked ways now. Find a mentor or a pastor to help you make the necessary changes and then walk in the Light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Flashlight-BFL-206-If you understand what I’m talking about when I say “live in the Light” then shine your spiritual flashlight into the lives of those you know who need Jesus. None of us knows when He’s coming back, but we do know that He is coming and those still in the dark will be in darkness forever. I hope that’s a sobering thought for you as you think of that relative, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who needs salvation and needs it now.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Many liberals on the left side are angry, defensive, and lashing out calling us things like “righteous” as if that’s a dirty word. “Christian” is spit out as vial. “Right wing” someone they need to avoid. They’re so angry and mean … because they’re living in a world of Satan’s darkness with no hope beyond this life. This is all they have and they have no hope for any kind of life after death … which could be right around the corner for any of them. Christians say death where is it’s sting, and they cry don’t let me get stung by death.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 15:55-57

I don’t have all the answers as to how God will let you shine your light, but God does, so ask Him. What does He want you to do? How does He want you to do it? Then listen for that still small voice and look for that bright spotlight He’s going to shine on the opportunity. You have nothing to lose, but you just might be the flashlight He will use to wake someone up to the Truth that will set them free from the grip of Satan.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

Revelation 21:23-25

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Parents of the Bible Mentor Today’s Parents

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Our guest post today is by friend and fellow The M.O.M. Initiative mentor mom, Lindsey Bell. Next week, I’ll be sharing how I set goals for the New Year for my personal, ministry, and married life. One of those goals is to read through the Bible in a year. I love to read in different translations or use different guides to change it up each year so I was eager to learn more about Lindsey’s new book and how parents of the Bible could mentor us today!

 

A Resource for Spending More Time with God in the New Year

Lindsey Bell

 

With a new year right around the corner, many of us are already thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions. One New Year’s Resolution that seems to be a favorite among Christians is to spend more time in the Word…to read the Bible every day, or pray more often, or go to church regularly.

I want to share with you today about a new resource that can help you spend more time with God.

It’s a book called Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible.

This year-long devotional is designed for busy women who want to spend time with the Lord, but don’t have a lot of time to spare.

Each week provides a new devotional, as well as simple activities to do throughout the week to help reinforce the application points.

Here’s a little bit more for moms about the book:

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past.

In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

You can read through this devotional alone or with a group of moms!

Let’s talk: what are your favorite resources to begin the year well?

This post is part of Lindsey Bell’s December blog tour. To enter to win Lindsey’s MEGA-GIVEAWAY (the winner will receive 6 books!), leave a comment on any of Lindsey’s guest posts this month (including this one).

Enter to Win Lindsey Bell's Mega-Giveaway-1

For a full list of participating blogs (and other ways to enter!) visit this post on Lindsey’s blog.

You can pick up a copy of Searching for Sanity at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

 Lindsey Bell_web format-2

About Lindsey Bell:

Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:

Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com

Her website: www.lindseymbell.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

Why We’re Better Together

Closing Keynote at Better Together Conferee

Closing Keynote at Better Together Conference

I’m back! I know that you have enjoyed our guest bloggers while I was on the road speaking. Stephanie Shott started out our guest month with telling us about her new book The Making of a Mom. Lillian Penner inspired all Grandparents to pray for their grandchildren on National Grandparents Day in Calling All Grandparents. Debbie Alsdorf’s Challenge in “90 Days to a Physical Renewal” broke all records on my website. Many of you told me how Cindi McManimen’s post on “When God’s Gift Is No” was just what you needed to hear. A big Thank You to these godly women who shared their experiences and God’s faithfulness with you.

The M.O.M. Initiative Better Together Conference

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of my trip to Florida to speak at The M.O.M. Initiative Better Together Conference. If you’ve been following me, you know that I am on the Mentor Mom team for this great ministry that focuses on moms mentoring moms, one mom at a time. Our first conference was July 31-August 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. I had the honor of presenting four workshops and giving the closing keynote talk.

Twenty other author/speakers came with one purpose—to equip, encourage, and engage other moms in their walk as a mom and in their relationship with Jesus. The speakers donated their time and covered their own travel costs—which gives you a window into the kind of serving ministry this is and how passionately The M.O.M. Initiative team feel about the missional ministry of mentoring moms.

Women Are Lonely

The theme of the conference was Better Together, and many of us used Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 in our messages because it says so succinctly God’s plan for all of us while here on earth—whatever our role—we’re not to be Lone Ranger Christians. I love the Message version of this Scripture passage:

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Women are lonely today. The common reason women say they join the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry is because they are lonely and they want to meet another Christian woman. They would rather be matched in a mentoring relationship with a Christian stranger then continue trying to make it on their own.

There are lonely women everywhere—even in the church.Many women who shared their story in Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? said they felt the loneliest at church. When I was a single working mom, I felt isolated and lonely. Doesn’t that just break your heart? It does mine.

What Can We Do About Loneliness?

Last week, the news carried a story of a young mom of a 9-month old and 6-year old in Oregon who committed suicide and her body was found in a remote wooded area where she went to die. I don’t know the circumstances that led her to this dark place where she felt no hope, no help, and no future, but I can only imagine how lonely she must have felt in her pain and anguish. Maybe others noticed and did reach out to help her ease her burden . . . but maybe they didn’t.

If you are that lonely, distraught, and depressed woman, I beg you to get help. Seek out a Christian counselor who will assure you of God’s love and plan and purpose for your life. Join groups of other women at your stage of life. If you have pre-school children, MOPS is a para-church organization with moms who have felt just like you do. It so helps to know you are not alone. Or maybe your church has a group for moms of all seasons. For sure, there is a Women’s Bible study—go! You will find a group of women seeking to apply God’s Word to their life and they can help you find answers in the Bible. Of course, if there is a Mentoring Ministry at your church, join it and seek out a mentor who will pray for you and help you through this tough time.

I always say the first step to healing is helping. So get involved by serving in a ministry or community or your children’s school. There you will meet other women to fellowship and serve with and relationships will develop.

If you are a woman who has had some “been-there-done-that” experiences in your life and you notice women around you and in your church who are displaying signs of loneliness, befriend them and encourage them to become involved in women’s ministry at your church. Maybe you’ll start a Mentoring Moms group and Stephanie Shott’s new book The Making of a Mom could help you in that endeavor.

It’s time that we Christian women step out, speak out, and reach out to our fellow sisters-in-Christ and those who don’t yet know Jesus as their Savior. You never know when God might be using you to save a life—both here on earth and for eternity.

Because remember that we are always—Better Together!

Here are some pictures from The M.O.M. Initiative Better Together Conference and I hope to see many of you at the next one. Stay tuned for when and where!

Just arrived at Cracker Barrell

Some team members meeting for the first time while rocking together on the porch at Cracker Barrel

Ready for Opening Night

Gathering in the hotel lobby…ready for first night!

 

Kicking Up Our Heals Ready for the First Session

Kicking Up Our Heels Ready for the First Session

cupcake tree

Yummy cupcake tower

 

Teaching a workshop on Balancing Life and Ministry

Teaching a workshop on Balancing Life and Ministry

Introducing the speaking team

Introducing the speaking team

Closing Q&A

Closing Q&A

Mentoring is Not an Option

This past weekend, I had the honor of sharing the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry with churches in Sedalia, Missouri. I’ve shared this message hundreds of times throughout the United States and Canada, and I’m as excited and passionate about encouraging and equipping women to mentor, as I was when I first heard God’s call to “feed My sheep” nineteen years ago. The passion never fades—the excitement of telling a new group of women about the blessings of following God’s instructions for mentoring never wanes.

Mentoring is The Job Description for Christians 

When churches call and ask for advice on how to encourage their women to become involved in a mentoring relationship, I say: Take your women to Titus 2:1-8 where the Lord is giving a command to all Christian men and women. He says for spiritually older men to teach the spiritually younger men, and the women to do the same.

Next, I suggest that they point out that there are no qualifiers in that passage. The verses don’t say: If you have time, or if you feel like it, or if you can fit it into your schedule, or if you aren’t doing another ministry, or if you don’t work, or if you feel comfortable with it, or if you feel qualified, or if you feel called…..

They simply say for Christians to just “DO IT”—no options!

In Titus 2:5 and 8, Paul emphasizes why it’s so important for spiritually older men and women to teach the spiritually younger: “so that no one will malign the word of God” (v 5) or “have nothing bad to say about us” (v 8). But today the culture is maligning the Word of God and bad-mouthing Christians because we’ve stopped following Gods instructions in this passage.

God wants the spiritually mature to help newer believers learn how to become godly role models reflecting how His people live and have relationships and marriages so others would seek Christ through us.

Christian living should help rather than hinder the spread of the gospel.

There’s A World of Hurt

Many young women today are struggling in their roles in marriage, as mothers, as friends, as employees, as women in the church. Where are the women who will selflessly reach out and “show them the ropes” of living a life in Christ?

I’ve heard the sad testimony of women who walked out of a crusade or revival meeting or the church service where they accepted Christ, and went right back into their old lifestyle. One woman told me she even went to a party with her worldly friends the very night she accepted Christ! She didn’t know any different. Many new believers backslide and go years with Christ in their heart but not in their head. Their stories have a common theme…

            I know I accepted Christ. I asked Him into my heart, but I didn’t know what that meant. My old familiar life and friends and unsaved family were all still there, and there was no one from this “new life” that would help me learn how to live it. It just seemed easier to go on as I had before. Only now I had a lot of confusion, guilt, and conviction in my life, which made me feel even worse than before I accepted Christ.

Haven’t you heard these stores yourself? We would never let our babies out on their own with no direction as soon as they could walk and talk. Yet, we let these new baby Christians go out the doors of our churches straight into the world, without a hand to hold to keep them safe until they’re ready to be spiritually on their own. This is tragic when there’s a wealth of maturity in the women of our churches. Women who have so much to offer from walking with Christ, and could help these younger Christian women mature in the Lord.

Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness

Taking the time to reach out to a spiritually younger woman is a selfless act of giving and ministry. Not to preach, but teach. To let your life—with all the wealth of good and bad experiences—be a role model that Christ was with you through it all. There are women in your church who desperately need a woman who will honor the command given to each of us in Titus 2. Women who will teach how to: study God’s Word, be a Christian wife and mother, manage a home and family, deal with temptation or crisis . . . be a “lady of the Lord.”

  • Who is assuming responsibility to transmit biblical values to these women?
  • Who is listening to their questions and their concerns and guiding them to the Book with all the answers and the One who fulfills all our needs?

Blessings of Being a Titus 2 Woman

Many of you know the blessings of accepting this Titus 2 call and command from the Lord. When we make an investment in a spiritually younger woman, it enriches our own lives, the sense of connectedness and shepherding in our church families deepens, society benefits, and we honor God’s Word.

Jesus said:  “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ, will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).

You can’t out-give God. As we share our lives with another sister-in-Christ, our own life and our church will receive immeasurable blessings.

If you’ve experienced the miracles and blessings of being in a Titus 2 mentoring relationship, please share your testimony with others who may have questions or may be hesitant to mentor. If you’ve been a mentor, please pray about making Titus 2:3-5 a permanent and ongoing part of your Christian walk.

If you’ve grown spiritually as a mentee, God will put someone in your life who is right where you once were and could use your encouragement and mentoring.

One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

clip_image002_005-245x250To start a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry in your  church:

Woman to Woman Mentoring How To Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry

Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation

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

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

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

Mary Visits Elizabeth

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

Elizabeth Makes Time for Mary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth and Mary cover

 

Will You Be My Spiritual “Big Sis”? Guest Post By Pat Ennis

Our guest blogger today, Pat Ennis author of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook , confirms my passion and mission to encourage churches to be more intentional about applying Titus 2:3-5 in the lives of the women in their congregations. We often think of a mentor as a spiritual mom, but Pat offers the perspective of a mentors being a spiritual big sister—

 

 MM3891 Lo-Res

My commitment to mentoring comes from my early years as a young professional when there was an absence of older women who were willing to lend a helping hand. Many offered criticism, few offered help. I vowed that if I survived, I would be willing to help others on their spiritual and professional journeys. The young women whom I have mentored serve our Lord throughout the world. I love the times when I answer the phone to find one of them on the other end of the line. Their personal visits are always a blessing and their e-mails, cards, and letters often arrive to encourage and minister to me on challenging days. I am looking forward to our reunion in heaven and count it a privilege to be “the older woman” in their lives!

The strategy outlined in Titus 2:3-5 provides the biblical foundation for understanding the mentoring relationship, while the book of Ruth details an example of its application.  However, despite the fact that Titus 2:3-5 is an instruction, not a suggestion, to Christian women . . . few are willing to mentor.  Excuses range from, “I don’t have time” to “no one cares what I have to say”.

A Revealing Survey 

The “Perceptions of Homemaking Study,” which established the foundation for The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook, revealed the twenty-first-century woman’s knowledge of—and ability to perform successfully—life skills commonly associated with the management of the home. In the study, 2,315 respondents completed a 30-item survey. Each respondent could list four skills to complete this statement: The homemaking skills many Christian women lack are. . . .

The 4,599 responses revealed that many younger Christian women lack the homemaking skills of cooking, sewing, organization, time management, hospitality, and cleaning.

Women who would be considered “older women” in their churches (35 and above) comprised 62.9% (1,459) of the respondents. They overwhelmingly replied that they are confident in their homemaking skills. However, as they responded to the open-ended questions, the women expressed concern for the lack of biblical character and practical skills possessed by the younger Christian women (15-34 in age) they encounter.

A Break in the Mentoring Cycle

The results suggest a break in the circuit: he Titus 2:3-5 model is being ignored in our evangelical cycle of women’s ministry. The survey results pose a thought-provoking question: Have the younger women become less teachable or have the older women failed to teach?

Seeing answers, I spoke with the editor of the Biblical Womanhood Blog to discuss how the Titus 2:3-5 passage can be practically applied to a mentor/mentee relationship. A gifted, well-educated young woman in her mid-twenties, she provided some insight to what comprises a meaningful mentoring relationship. She commented that in her opinion a mentor is like having a “big sister” who is willing to make a life-to-life relational investment—nurturing, involved, invested, and a willingness to walk with you through “your journey”.

Probing a bit deeper I asked where the “spiritual big sis” draws the line between being interested and intrusive. I so appreciate her suggestions:

  • Ask questions rather than make demands.
  • Serve instead of control.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to mentor.
  • Be an available voice.
  • Avoid perfectionism. The scriptures challenge us toward excellence. Perfectionism is God’s responsibility. That means the mentor needs to be willing to share her “mess ups” so she doesn’t give the impression she walks on water.

Formal or Informal Mentoring

I believe that mentoring relationships can be either formal or informal and have some practical suggestions for each to share with you.

Formal Mentoring Suggestions

  • Reading and discussing a Christian women’s book together (for example, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy DeMoss, Loving God with all Your Mind by Elizabeth George, or my book with Lisa Tatlock, Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God).
  • Completing a study like Janet Thompson’s Face-to-Face Bible study series, written for mentors and mentees to do together.
  • Reading and discussing a commentary on a book of the Bible (such as Titus).
  • Memorizing Scripture or keeping a prayer journal and then spending time talking and praying together each week.

Informal Mentoring Suggestions

  • Discussing questions raised by the younger woman (regarding relationships, skills, or life experiences).
  • Working on projects together such as planning events or holidays to learn practical skills in management (set goals then work together to accomplish them).
  • Simply spending time together talking and letting the younger woman see your life and family.
  • Sharing your knowledge about practical home management (menu planning, cleaning house, or paying the bills).

Whether formal or informal, “The Seasons of Mentoring Cycle” begin when younger and older women regularly spend time together.

Pat Ennis is a distinguished professor of Homemaking and Director of Homemaking Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. She is a speaker and author, and her most recent release is The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook with Dorothy Patterson (Crossway, March 2013).

Christian Homemaker's Handbook

“Organic” Mentoring. . . Say What?

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

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

The first time I heard “organic” used in the same sentence with “mentoring” in the church, I was curious and cautious. I wondered: Say what? How’s that working for you? How many women in your church connect “organically” into a mentoring relationship and how does the word “organic” apply in the church?

Synonyms for “organic” in Roget’s Super Thesaurus are:  inherent, intrinsic, innate, native, natural—untouched by man. So using the term “organic” for mentoring implies that mentoring relationships will just happen naturally in the church with no outside help. Yet, when I do Woman to Woman Mentoring trainings on how to formally develop a mentoring ministry in your church and ask the audience how many see mentoring happening naturally in their churches—spiritually younger women asking spiritually older women to mentor them, or vice versa—they respond, negative.

What Does The Bible Say?

Perhaps a few mentoring relationships do develop “organically,” but the majority of women in churches do not naturally, or “organically,” live out Titus 2:3-5, where we are instructed as Christian women to:

 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.

I am sure that Paul, the author of the Book of Titus, expected that women would naturally follow his admonition, and maybe they did in that day, but today, by their own admission, most women don’t have the desire, energy, interest, or feel they have the time to apply these Scriptures “organically.” Common concerns are thinking that they don’t know enough to mentor and fear of rejection.

My passion is to help women understand the biblical mandate in Titus 2:3-5 to mentor each other and to cultivate a culture of mentoring in our churches. But this takes work—for the women’s ministry director and the women she shepherds. In today’s culture, our inherent, intrinsic, innate, natural,—organic if you will—bent is to take care of our own needs and those of our immediate families.

Organic Takes Effort

Organic certainly has a place in gardening, and my husband and I have striven to eat organically produced foods since my first diagnosis of breast cancer twelve years ago. But “man” touches organic gardens; they don’t just happen naturally or innately. Organic produce takes time, energy, and effort to grow and cultivate without chemicals, and hence, the higher price in the market. Organic gardens don’t sprout up and grow inherently or intrinsically—they need an overseer, someone who plants the seeds, waters, weeds, watches over them to make sure bugs and weather don’t destroy, harvests, nurtures, and cares for the garden.

And here’s my point: so do mentoring relationships and mentoring ministries. Very few ministries take place organically in a church—the music ministry doesn’t organically come together Sunday morning to lead worship without practice, leading, and direction. Children’s programs don’t just spring up organically on Sunday morning without preparation, planning, and supervision. The pastor doesn’t get up in the pulpit and preach whatever organically comes to his mind that morning—he has put in research, energy, effort, planning and study time to prepare his message. People don’t organically become Christians—our natural or native selves are sinful and we must intentionally be born-again.

Rather than using the buzzword “organic,” I propose we think intentional. Intentionally cultivate Titus 2:3-5 in your church, and nurture One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your might acts” Psalm 145:4. Help the women learn how to share intentionally their life experiences and God’s faithfulness and help connect and nurture them in mentoring relationships. I guarantee the women in your churches will be “organically” blessed when you have an intentional mentoring ministry—as expressed in this email I received recently from a mentee:

Hi Janet,

About 15 years ago, I attended a Woman to Woman mentoring coffee at Saddleback Church and was matched into a mentoring relationship with Ellie Swain. I just wanted you to know what a blessing that was. I moved to Arizona, and Ellie moved to Arkansas, but we visit each other and talk on the phone nearly every week to encourage each other in our walk with Jesus.

Janet, you made a difference in our lives. Thank you!

Mentoring: It’s a Beautiful Thing!

I am thrilled to introduce my guest today on the Monday Morning Blog. Stephanie Shott is the founder of  The M.O.M. Initiative, and I am on the Mentor Mom’s Team. Stephanie and I share the same heart and passion for mentoring, and we have walked many of the same journeys. When we met last March at the Mentor Moms Team Retreat, it was as if I was hearing myself speak and looking in the mirror 18 years ago when God first gave me the call to “Feed My sheep”.

Stephanie is the age I was when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring and I’ve often asked God who was going to carry on my legacy of helping women understand Titus 2:3-5 and apply it to their lives. I know it was a God-thing that put Stephanie and me together across the miles. Stephanie lives in Florida and I’m in Idaho…miles apart in distance…but oh so close in Spirit and love for Jesus! Here’s Stephanie…..

______________________________

As the sun began to sneak a peek through the horizontal lines of my mini blinds, I was reminded that another hectic day awaited me. It wasn’t easy being an early bird and a night owl in the same skin, but as a single mom who was struggling to be all and do all, I didn’t have a choice.

Each day held its own basket full of burdens for a girl who wore too many hats and didn’t realize the significance of her role as a mother. I was a single mom without Christ, without a clue, and without a mentor.

As the years passed, I married, and not long after that I became a Christian. Everything changed except for the fact that I still didn’t have a mentor and I barely had a clue.

That was twenty-five years ago and as I reflect back on the seasons of my life, I can’t help but wonder where all the mentors were when I was raising my children. I remember looking up to several women in the church but was somehow unable to wiggle my way under their wing.

Occasionally, I noticed older women walking through a season of life with a younger woman and couldn’t help but think, “What a beautiful thing!”

Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough. Maybe they just didn’t notice my need – but I was definitely in need of their words of wisdom as I walked through those important days of motherhood.

But times have changed and while many women still struggle with the whole mentoring thing, there seems to be a resurgence of women who understand the Titus 2 mandate is not only a calling to fulfill but it’s packed with the purpose of leaving a legacy of faith.

The tide is turning and Titus 2 seems to be gaining ground in the hearts of women on both sides of the mentor equation. Women are not only noticing their own need for a mentor, but those who are older are rising up to make a mark on the next generation.

  • It’s a beautiful thing to see women mentor other women through various seasons of life.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to hear how one woman has helped a young college student successfully sort through the decisions that lie before her.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to see a woman be a shoulder to cry on and a heart to listen while a younger woman walks through a painful place in her life.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to hear how a single mom who was struggling to be all and do all found a friend who was older and a bit wiser, and who was willing to step in and help her through those trying times.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to see a sea of women who understand that mentors matter and are now ready and willing to take on that very important role.

When I started The M.O.M. Initiative, I wasn’t sure how women were going to respond. My experience in the 80’s left me wondering if our culture has somehow become so isolated that women wouldn’t even consider mentoring. But what I have found is the opposite is true.

Women are not only longing to be mentored, but mentors are longing to step into their God-given Titus 2 roles and make a difference for such a time as this. Seeing women mentoring others to leave a legacy of faith and change the world one life at a time…well, that truly is a beautiful thing!

Stephanie Shott is the founder of The M.O.M. Initiative

Leading Women to Live Full, Fearless and Faithful Lives
Founder of The M.O.M. Initiative
Author of: Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most

 

40 Years of Love!

“I’m sorry, but you’ll never have children.” Those were the doctor’s words to me at a post-op visit after surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst. “Your ovaries look like those of a 90 year-old woman.” I was a twenty year-old, newly engaged college student. My life was over. Or so I thought.

After three years of marriage, I was thrilled to hear another doctor congratulate me: “You’re pregnant!” My mother called it a miracle, but I just wanted to be like any normal woman who could get pregnant and have a baby.

The last week of pregnancy, when my baby was a week overdue, everyone kept calling to see if I was “still home.” I enjoyed every moment of those 9 months and one week, and even steeled myself through a natural, long delivery, but nothing could prepare me for what it would feel like to hold my baby girl—instant, unconditional love.

I was a mom at last! But I had no concept of the life-changing responsibility I was undertaking or the importance of my being an exemplary role model for her. After all, she was just an infant and I would have so many years to work out all the details of mothering.

Where did those years go? This week, February 26, my baby girl, Kimberly Michele, turns 40 and she is a mother herself of three precious children. I remember the day I turned 40 and it doesn’t seem that long ago.

Kim and I didn’t have the life journey I anticipated upon first looking into her dark brown eyes. When she was only 2 years-old, her dad and I divorced, and I would spend the next seventeen years as a single mom juggling motherhood and a career. To the outside world, I did a great job as I moved up the career ladder of success; but as I moved further into the world and father away from the Jesus I asked into my heart at eleven, I role modeled the world’s ways to Kim.

Kim loved our life and all that I was able to provide her, even though she often cried that she missed me, as I headed off on another business trip. But we had time, right? She was still young and eighteen years is a long time…. I’ll make up to her the time we’ve been apart.

But in a blink of an eye, she was sixteen and dating. Then within moments, she was nineteen and declaring she was going off to college to live with her boyfriend, and she didn’t care what I had to say about it. I had recently rededicated my life to the Lord and was now trying to tell her this lifestyle was wrong, but she wasn’t buying it.

I mistakenly thought that when I changed my life and returned to God, she would follow right behind me. Wrong! That’s when the Lord assured me that, yes, I had let the first nineteen years of her life slip by without including Him in the parenting, but it wasn’t over yet. And so I began praying—daily, biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully—as I describe in the first seven chapters of my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

I’d like to say that she instantly changed her ways, but it would be another six years of daily praying before she returned to me and to the Lord.

The Lord graciously restored the years the locust had eaten. I had the opportunity to do what I should have done from the day she was born: mentor her in how to be a godly woman. Today, I am so proud of the woman she has become. We’re now speaking together as “Two About His Work,” and she’s giving her testimony in a few weeks at her MOPS group.

Even through the difficult years, my love for Kim never faltered. She knew I didn’t condone her behavior, but neither did I condemn her. Our relationship has endured and grown stronger in spite of divorce, single parenthood, a traveling mom, both our prodigal years, my remarriage and blending a new family, my breast cancer, her infertility, and all the trials and joys of life.

I thought I would feel terribly old the day she turned 40; but instead, I feel blessed with the 40 years God has given me to love my precious daughter, and I’m grateful that the work He has done in my life will carry on through the work He is doing in her life. She’s my legacy, and I have given her the most valuable of inheritances: belief in Jesus Christ. 40 years is nothing in light of spending eternity together.

Mentoring Words to Moms:

  • Are you the woman today you want your daughter to become?  You’re the closest role model and mentor your daughter has.
  • It’s never too early to pray daily for your children. Pray for them before you have a problem.
  • Praying personalized Scripture—God’s Word back to Him—keeps you praying God’s will and not your own.
  • Enjoy every day of your children’s lives—they never get younger and neither to do you. Make each day count.

Janet-and-Kim

My daughter Kim and I speak together as Two About His Work.

Whose Birthday Is It?

 

Who are these men?

I asked my Facebook friends if they knew which president’s birthdays we were celebrating today and when their real birthdays were. As it turned out, the only ones who knew the answer were probably 50 or older. Do you know?

I was prompted to ask “Whose birthday are we celebrating on President’s Day” when I mentioned to a 28-year old friend that my husband and I were going to see the movie Lincoln. I said I thought it was appropriate since his birthday was the previous day, February 12. She said, “Oh, really?” I knew that fact had escaped her.

Then I spoke at a MOPS group and one of the young mothers at my table admitted that she only knew whose birthday we celebrated on “President’s Day” because her young son came home from school and told her.

When I was growing up, we had two president’s birthday holidays in February, and we knew why we were out of school. Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal public holidays to honor the actual birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22). In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal public holiday, the Presidents’ Day, to be observed on the 3rd Monday of February.

So President Nixon gave America a three day weekend, instead of the two separate holidays of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays. It’s not unusual to celebrate a birthday on a different day than it actually falls, especially for children’s birthdays so they can have a Saturday party with their friends, but we never forget their actual birth date. And how would you feel if for convenience, your parents made you celebrate your birthday every year with another sibling, or maybe a distant relative, so the family would only have to come to one party? Maybe that did happen to you . . . and I wonder how you felt about it.

The fall out of “President’s Day” is that there are now generations who enjoy a three day weekend in February, but have absolutely no idea why they have the day off.

How many generations does it take to make something obsolete? The answer: One.

As has happened with honoring the birthdays of the first president of the United States and the president who emancipated the slaves, if we don’t pass down the Christian faith to the next generation, Jesus’ birthday and ministry could also become obsolete.

We see this every Christmas and Easter when the secular world tries to take Jesus out of the celebration, and it will happen in our Christian world too…families…children…generations to come. . . if we don’t continue to tell the Gospel story of Jesus and His love.

As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
     But the word of the Lord remains forever.
—1 Peter 1:24

 

 

PS: Take advantage of a preorder special on Dear God, He’s Home! until its release date 3/5!