Archive for Titus 2 mentoring

Getting Help {Ministry Wives Series}

We’re continuing our Ministry Wives (MW) series where I try to answer your questions about ministry life. Last week we talked about difficult friendships. This week, we’re answering a frequent question: “Where do I go for help? Who’ll mentor me when I struggle?”

I’ll tell you what I’ve done and hopefully it will give you some ideas.

It’s pretty much a universal truth that none of us feels like we completely know what we are doing. When we struggle with sin, embarrassment can keep us from getting help. See, we know the right answers, but sin has a way of deceiving and entangling everyone. We can either fake it and take the bull by the horns not knowing the damage to us or others, or we can admit we don’t know and ask for help.

finding help

We are all just all sinners at different stages of sanctification. Pretending to have all the answers or living like we are “above” getting help is not only proud, but it puts people off—the same people who can see clearly that you don’t have all the answers and the same people you try to encourage to get accountability for their struggles. Integrity and truth are your bff’s in ministry.

We are all just beggars at God’s grace table along with everyone else. We’re all dependent creatures, held together and breathing the air of our Sustainer God. Any time we take ourselves out from under that place of dependence, and place ourselves in a position where we believe we have no need, or worse, where we think we have it all together, we are in trouble.

Here’s what I’ve seen and heard from the MWs I talk to. We avoid going to people who could judge us for help. We head to self-help books or commentaries, our spouse, or our mother. Although these all have their place and can be good things, I do think they have drawbacks.

  1. Books allow us to hide. They never look you in the eye and ask heart-probing questions about our sin or blind spots. A book doesn’t gently tell you that your attitude is wrong and your spirit, sour. Books let us skirt the issues reading what we think we need. There’s no uncomfortable confrontation with a book.
  2. Spouse. Until death do us part. For better or for worse. Our spouse is safe and isn’t going anywhere and we know this, so we ask him. Our spouse is resigned to our quirks–sometimes even our sin. He may, for the sake of peace, avoid confrontation and just listen to you vent. It’s almost hard to gauge whether he can see clearly through the situation because he’s so close to it.
  3. Mother. “Mother love” blinds us to our own kids’ bad behavior, therefore, when we need help with a struggle against sin, Mother is probably going to be too soft with us.

Taking advantage of a variety of counselors helps us to see our potential, and brings us face to face with our failures so we can deal with them. Though painful, it’s good because we don’t want our testimony to be a stumbling block to others.

One of the biggest challenges is finding “the woman” to mentor us.

It’s like we’re looking for superwoman–the one person who has it all together in all areas of life. Mary Poppins would be nice. Obviously, that person doesn’t exist.

Instead, look around and notice excellence. I look for a woman who has ONE excellent quality that I want to emulate. If she also has the character qualities I mentioned in the last post, namely the ability to keep her mouth shut…keep her counsel and not gossip, I’ll ask her to help me out. :)

I’ve sought counsel for writing, bible study, counseling, organization, health, parenting, marriage, etc…

Most recently I asked for help for weight loss.

A few months back I had a physical and the doctor told me I had gained 15 pounds in the last 8 years. Disturbed, I called my friend, Toni, who is a health coach. You might remember her from this post, Missionary Wives Speak: Have We Lost Something?

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In her sweet, unassuming way, she asked me a battery of questions about my eating, sleeping, and exercise habits and I have to tell you, my eyes were opened to several glaring problems with my weight loss struggles. For one thing, I don’t get enough sleep. I also skip meals when I am busy with the kids, reeking havoc to my metabolism. Just these probing questions were enough to help me correct several issues. (If you want to contact her, her email is tonihealthcoach@gmail.com . She’s super helpful and just a lovely person!)

All this to say, don’t be afraid to ask help from the people who really can help you and won’t be too soft on you.

Side note:

I think it’s very interesting that “Life Coaching” is an exploding, trendy industry in 2016. If you’ve not heard of life coaching, it’s a wonderful blend of consulting, mentoring, and therapy that focuses on practical, everyday stuff.  The Harvard Business Review reports that Life Coaching is a $1 Billion/year industry. The three most popular reasons people hired a life coach:

  1. to develop higher potential in their personal life
  2. for a sounding board
  3. address their negative behavior/habits

In our isolated world where a blue screen frequently replaces face to face friendship and interaction, people are going back to what they know works: mentoring and discipleship in all areas of life.

This is exactly what Titus 2 prescribes! Women, helping women. The older, helping the younger. The more experienced and excellent helping those who want to learn. Walking life with others. Isn’t it great that God knows exactly what we need and tells us how we work best? Life Coaching is a Biblical concept that works!

I know you’ve probably had bad experiences with people who shared your struggles or who talked about you behind your back. Don’t let that stop you from getting help to better yourself, and don’t let a negative experience push you into a life of isolation and fear. We really need to let go of the fear of man, and instead live for an Audience of One who calls us to a holy lifestyle. Maybe your humble desire to grow and change will be the catayst for change and growth in your church? Maybe your life will encourage others to seek God more passionately.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Prov. 11:14

“A wise man will hear and will increase learning. And a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” Prov. 1:5

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Prov. 15:22

“Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” Ps. 119:24

If you are still struggling to find help, pray. I’d be happy to pray for you, too. Ask God to guide you. I know He’ll guide you to the people and resources you need.

Seeking Friendship {Ministry Wives Edition}

For the next few posts I’ll be answering a few ministry related questions I’ve received over the last few months. Hopefully, by reading someone else’s perspective, it’ll help you make sense of your situation. I know every ministry situation is different and has its own nuances. Please feel free to take what helps and leave what doesn’t. Okay, then?

friendship

I frequently get asked about friendships in ministry–specifically the lack of forming close friendships in your own congregation.

It’s no secret that friendships in ministry can be tricky.

No matter where you serve,

whether full-time, part-time, or layman, missionary, youth pastor’s wife, musician, or church planter’s wife, we all need someone to love us enough to speak truth into our lives. But we all know that sometimes transparency backfires in a leadership position. This is certainly the ministry wife’s catch-22.

“Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” Although this saying from Rachel Lynde is laughable, there’s wisdom in realizing that we are all just people walking through various stages of life at different stages of sanctification. Since we are flawed people serving with other flawed people, wisdom is necessary when sharing our heart.

You don’t share your heart with someone who gossips about others.

You don’t share your heart to someone who is critical or outspoken about every little thing.

And repeat after me:”Transparency is not spilling your gut and sharing every thought. That’s venting.”

You simply don’t share with people who have proved themselves untrustworthy.

  • I know of one friend who was co-laboring with another couple and who shared some deep troubles they were having in their marriage, desperate for help, and they were basically disciplined out of the church after a slow death of the relationship, and told they would not be recommended for another ministry because of their marriage issues. (For the record, their marriage is thriving.)
  • In another instance, a ministry friend was punished by a bitter pastor’s wife after sharing concerns about ministry practice to her.
  • In yet another instance, a pastor’s wife and family were raked over the coals for asking, through a broken heart, for prayer for a struggling teen.

So what do you do about forming close friendships as a ministry wife?

Well, the Lord initiates friendship with us and the Bible warns about how vulnerable the “loner” is, and how there is strength in numbers, so we know avoiding friendship is not the answer.

The pat answer seems to be to have friends in other ministries because sometimes you do need to “talk shop.”

There’s a problem with this, though. Friends in other ministries don’t know our “blind spots” and we’re certainly not going to tell them because–wait for it–we are completely blind to them, so our version of the “truth” might be skewed and we might not get the help we need.

And God does PUT us with people to humble us and chisel away our ungodly characteristics, so total avoidance is really short changing yourself.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my limited experience:

Be in your Bible.  God’s word is there to convict you and change you. Go into each reading assuming that God wants to humble you in some area. Then read to change. God also offers you friendship and only when you love God supremely will you actually have the ability to love others well, warts and all.

Know your church culture. If you’re in a church culture where truth is valued and transparency is safe, then by all means, feel free to share with your fellow leadership wives or trusted friends. If you’re not sure about the culture, listen, listen, listen to the way people talk about others when they fail. You can tell a lot about the humility of a leader by how well or ill they speak of others.

Accept what God gives you. You might really want a close friend and deep conversations but God keeps giving you younger moms who are really needy for advice and play dates. God always gives us what we need. He promises to. Perhaps our desire is stronger than it should be and God wants us to serve others at a play date at the park or beach.

Keep friendship in perspective. We sometimes imagine that there is that one person out there who will always be there for us, be completely loyal, never let us down, always know just what to say. There is only one person who can do all this and it’s God. That kind of pressure on any friend will kill it from the start. Friendships are good gifts, but not the ultimate thing: God is!

Pray for a wise woman. She doesn’t have to be in your congregation, but pray for an older woman to talk to. You don’t have to bear your soul. You might just really listen and learn as she talks about God’s faithfulness through years of marriage and child raising and widowhood.

Look for a woman who has these qualities:

  1. She doesn’t feel the need to gossip to gain acceptance or to seem like she’s in the know. This quality assures you she’ll keep your confidence.
  2. She speaks well of others.
  3. She’s self-controlled in her life and emotions.
  4. She’s Word-filled. Enough said.
  5. She’s faithful. Her yes means yes and her no means no.

Realize that God appoints your place and time and makes no mistakes. You don’t have to be best friends with someone in order to work with them. Your personalities don’t even have to mesh. Because in the end, love for God will smooth the way.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.

Notice that Paul doesn’t give relationship strategies or personality profiles to help fix whatever was troubling Euodia and Synthche, two New Testament women who seemed to clash. He tells them to recognize their place “in the Lord.” He emphasizes their mutual submission to the Lord. He was saying, “Hey, girls, it’s not all about you! It’s all about the Lord!”

Realizing that we are “in the Lord” does eliminate any temptation for one-upmanship or insisting on your own way. This brings humility. Serving in unity rises and falls on our willingness to see ourselves in Him.

Initiate friendships. If God brings someone to mind, you initiate. If you’re lonely, they might be, too. Make the first call. Invite them over. Ask to meet for coffee. Contact them online. Tell them you’d like to get to know them better. This is always a blessing.

Don’t demand that friendship look a certain way. Maybe for a season, your friendships will be with older women or with women walking through a sorrowful season. You be the friend that you’d want to have.

Don’t waste your loneliness. Read good books. Do an online Bible study. Encourage others. Visit a nursing home. Babysit for a younger mom. When one of my girls struggled with loneliness in her teens, I told her that maybe God was preparing her to depend heavily on Him for some mission work in her future or season of isolation.

“Be not weary in well doing. For in due season, you will reap if you faint not.”

I’ve learned that God uses every trial to direct and lead me. When I’ve lacked close friendship, He’s used unpleasant circumstances to lead me to the people and the opportunities where He wants me to minister. And in obedience and joy, there’s so much hopeful anticipation about what God is doing and how He’ll provide for each of our needs, just like He’s promised He will.

 

 

 

 

The Grace Table

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite topics, hospitality, and the concept of stewarding our homes as grace-giving spaces where others find favor and kindness under our roof (or in our presence) whether they deserve it or not. I want us to envision our kitchen tables as little hospitals, thus hospitality, dispensing grace like medicine to anyone God sends our way.

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I know that concept of hospitality can trigger stress. I know that. We immediately begin comparing and think of Martha Stewart. Though hospitality does include meeting the needs of others through work in a physical way, I want to assure you that a hospitable spirit is not something that we conjure up on our own. Rather, it’s the result of and the out-flowing of the unmerited gift of God’s abundant grace towards us. The word grace comes from the Greek charis, hence your kitchen table can become the grace table— the chari-table place for many acts of worship and service.

Here’s how it works: 

God —->freely gives us His unmerited grace—->we receive grace—->we respond to that grace—-> by freely give grace to others.

Grace begets grace.

I found it interesting in my study that another word stems from the Greek word for grace (charis)–the word gratitude. Have you ever noticed that the more alive to grace you are, the more humble you become and the more gratitude becomes your norm?

How can you do anything but PRAISE when you deserve death and hell by choice and action and instead get joint-heir status with the perfect, beloved Son of God? Completely justified. Just as if I’d never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. Mind blowing and praise producing (gratitude!!) all wrapped up in one.

And when we forget what God has done, when we forget that we were the debtor who needed forgiveness, we set out to make our debtors pay. We set out to punish. We are blind, forgetting what kind of person we were. Complaining follows because ingratitude is always the response of someone who thinks they deserve more than they were doled out.

As Christians, God’s grace transforms our hearts, which transforms our speech, which gives us something worthwhile to say–words of gratitude to God– thanksgiving, praise, and glory-words that point others straight to Christ.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

The sacrifice of thanksgiving—gratitude—the fruit of our lips.

Obviously, we are not under the Old Testament law, but this is a reference back to the OT sacrificial system, to what were known as “thank offerings”–purely voluntary offerings that could be made to show your heart felt gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives. And this is what our praise is–voluntary acknowledgement of our great God.

Are you looking for opportunities to serve? Have you considered that you can become a conduits by which God’s grace flows through you to others who:

  • desperately need to see His goodness in an unkind world
  • don’t necessarily deserve or want our favor
  • oppose us
  • despite-fully use us
  • are unlovely and overlooked

Do you see people as sinners made in the image of God? Or do you judge them and categorize them, putting yourself on a little pedestal as you look down your nose at this different breed of sinner than you?

Do you see that heroine addict as a person made in the image of God who doesn’t know His love yet? Someone you might reach?

How about that homeless person? Do you assume all the worst about why he is where he is, or do you try to love him into the Kingdom of God, leading him by the hand?

As women, we have the unique opportunity to speak truth into the lives of other women who need hope and help. This can’t be done if God’s grace is not pulsing through your own spirit.

Our homes can have an impact, and they are one of the most underutilized tools in evangelism today. Invite someone in today.

If you have a kitchen table, or a coffee table, or a dorm room for that matter, I want to encourage you to use these things for the sake of the gospel. Your home can be a little chari-table spot, a bright light in this dark world where you can make a difference for Christ.

How to Go From Pleasant to Bitter In A Decade

We all want to age gracefully, but that doesn’t just happen. In fact, in a decades time, we can go from sweet to bitter or vice versa. And although beauty is only skin deep, bitterness of soul goes straight to the bone and can poison you and everyone around you. Let me explain.

In times of trial, it’s easy to want to escape and get away from our problem. We want to make the emotional or physical pain stop. We can have many different reactions to trials:

  • We can play the Spartan and simply endure the trial–teeth gritted, keep a stiff upper lip– we grow bitter from focusing on the hardship. We end up being self-driven instead of Spirit-led.
  • We can try to escape the trial running for relief to friends, emotional outbursts, finding comforters in sleep, food, drink, spending, overindulgence or other “saviors.”
  • When we embrace the trial, we grow in grace because we know the Sender of the trial and His good intentions for us. We humbly accept good and bad from the hand of God. We know God is leading us THROUGH a trial and He’s promised to be with us.

Trials are always a wake up call and they are a good thing. It’s a mercy when we realize how much we crave self-rule in our own lives and how much we resist God’s rule when we are in the midst of something unthinkable, unplanned and unwanted. ruth I’m studying Ruth right now and it has been eye opening and refreshing. I was struck by this quote from Warren Wiersbe and have been mulling it over for days: “They exchanged famine in the land for three funerals.”

Famine is a pretty desperate situation, yet, God sent the famine as judgement for the sin of the people of Israel. (Lev. 26:14-20) He had a good purpose for the famine. However, Elimaleck, Naomi’s husband, decided that the best course of action was to leave the covenant community and go for help in the land of their enemies, the Moabites.

Matthew Henry: “It is an evidence of a discontented, distrustful, unstable spirit, to be weary of the place in which God hath set us, and to be for leaving it immediately whenever we meet with any uneasiness or inconvenience in it. It is folly to think of escaping that cross which, being laid in our way, we ought to take up. It is our wisdom to make the best of that which is, for it is seldom that changing our place is mending it.”

In a sense, they left their covenant God because they believed they needed bread and had to find it for themselves when in fact In God we live and move and have our being. (Acts. 17:28) This life–bread, food, water–the physical life– seemed so big when what they were used to was lacking.

Once in Moab, they assimilated. So much so that they let their sons marry two women of the Moabites, a practice forbidden by God. (Deut. 7:3, 23:3, 4)

Then all three men in the family died. Naomi found herself husbandless, sonless, and stuck with two Moabite women and no resources. She hears that there’s bread in Israel and decides to go back. “She was still primarily interested in food, not in fellowship with God.” says Wiersbe.

What she does next is strange and shows how far out of bounds her thinking was: She encourages her daughters-in-law to go back to their old gods and people. Oh, she prays for them and wishes them many children, but she cared so little about their souls that she encouraged them to return to false, forbidden gods. Instead of taking comfort in the God of all comfort, she’s so consumed by her own grief that her thinking is seriously off. “God has dealt bitterly with me!” was her testimony, when really God was doing something amazing and redemptive by putting her family in the lineage of Christ.

And we do that as well, when we’re not thinking right thoughts about our God or when we experience a “famine” or sorts in our own lives. When friends are sparse, money’s gone, health fades, children rebel, husband’s leave, we “charge God foolishly,” and accusations fly.

We complain that life hasn’t been fair, that God’s shortchanged us somehow. We emote that we deserved better, that people should recognize and appreciate us, that life should have worked this way instead of that way. We demote God from His place of prominence and praise on the throne of our heart. Our words condemn a perfect God, and malign His intents. Our sin proclaims that He’s not worth following. Hey, if it makes you happy, go back to your old gods as well, Ruth and  Orpah. You’ll be better off than where you are now. Really. God’s dealt so bitterly with me, you should try your luck with another god. 

Not the behavior of a woman who is fully in love with her own God.

How did Naomi, {whose name meant pleasant and sweetness} go from a sweet spirit to a sour spirit in less than a decade? What would make her announce “Just call me Mara! (bitter)” I jotted down a few ideas:

  • She focused on her trials.
  • She let her feelings rule.
  • She looked for help in places God forbid.
  • She ignored God’s clear commands.
  • She valued physical gain over spiritual gain.
  • She failed to go to God for comfort.
  • She blamed God instead of confessing their sin.

I’m wondering if she also tried to send Ruth and Orpah packing because she didn’t want the “evidence” of their sinful life back in Moab to be seen when she returned to Israel. Sometimes hiding sin is easier than confessing it and finding grace. Yet the Lord encourages us to “return to the Lord” and find mercy. It’s helpful when we are in times of trouble, to soul-search.

  • Am I wiling to trust God in my famine?
  • Am I content and thankful right now?
  • Do I believe God’s in control?
  • Where am I seeking comfort?
  • Am I doing what God has forbidden?
  • What do I love more than obedience to the word?
  • Is my life showing the fruit of the Spirit in this moment? If not, why?
  • Have I confessed my sin? Am I right with God and others? If not, why haven’t I?

Ruth is a redemptive book. It’s such a wonderful story of a loving daughter-in-law who chose to saddle herself to a bitter woman because she loved that woman and her God. And God honored Ruth, allowing her to be in the Messianic line. God was not dealing bitterly. He meant it all for good. And I’m trying to remember that today. My choices have consequences. My attitudes affect and teach others. My thoughts about God can center me or send me into despair. And whatever my thought life tells me, God’s Word is always accurate and His promises are true, whether I believe them or not.

How to Mentor Others {and Benefit from Being Mentored.}

This article, Where are all the Titus 2 Women has deeply resonated with my readers. We’re continuing this discussion today.

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A mentoring friendship is one of those relationships that needs to be handled with care.

I’ve been mentored and I’ve mentored others I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about being a good mentor to a younger woman and about finding a good mentor for yourself.

Be a Good Mentor

Emma advises Harriet to refuse Robert Martin, believing that this was the right course of action. In the end, her advice was misguided and Harriet and Robert Martin marry.

1. Know what your mentee wants. Does she want spiritual help? Accountability for a specific struggle? Does she want to read a book together? Bible study? Ask her about her expectations. Really listen.

2. Set goals and present a strategy. How long will this last? Determine what needs to be accomplished and present a strategy, providing an ending date. Perhaps you’ll meet once a week for six weeks. Maybe eight. Determine when and where you’ll meet and for how long. Be respectful of each others time. Be creative if you are busy: “Hey, lets meet for 45 minutes after church.” or “I have an hour on Wednesday. Let’s meet up for coffee to chat.” or “Want to talk as we go to the grocery store together?”

Tell her that you’ll hold her accountable to do the work and to be faithful. You’re building character and modeling good use of time by sticking to goals.

3. Be faithful to expose wrong patterns in behavior and thinking.  Wrong beliefs beget wrong behavior. Many of our own struggles are the rooted in wrong beliefs about God. For instance, we believe that God doesn’t really care if we obey halfheartedly as long as we try, so we fool ourselves into thinking that unloving behavior to one person is justified by my loving behavior to so many other people. Or that God will overlook my sin because I have an certain temperament.

As believers, we know that lasting joy comes when we agree with God and call our sin what it is, humble ourselves and get help and then change. But in our anything goes culture, submission to Jesus Christ is viewed as oppressive, archaic, or puritanical. So the messages we hear daily reinforce that belief.

We need to examine our thoughts and the voices we are listening to and test them against Scripture. We need to call our sin what it is: a willful choice to rule and run our life outside the laws of Christ.

1 Timothy 4:7 says to “Train yourself to be godly” and as a Christian woman and mentor, we need to model and encourage others to get rid of anything that sidetracks us from the pursuit of God and holiness.

We also need to lay aside any weight–those things that are not sinful, but not helping us grow spiritually.

4. Realize that the goal is for her to conquer her “sin/problem” and depend on God.

Set an ending date because the last thing you want is for anyone to become dependent on you when they should be growing in dependence to the Lord. Always point your mentee to Christ and to the Word. Celebrate His supremacy and encourage her to do the same. Remind her to renew her mind via scripture memorization.

5. Pray for wisdom. You are dealing with someone else’s life here. Don’t give pat answers or your own opinions.  Listen for what she’s struggling with right then, enter into her problem with her and offer hope. Give help from scripture. Sometimes women just need friendship and not counsel and that is okay, too. Plan to be flexible and honest and say, “Hey, ya know, it sounds like you’re just really lonely right now. Do you want to do lunch next week and coffee up?”

How do you find an effective mentor for yourself?

1. Find someone who displays integrity and faithfulness in the area you are lacking. If you are looking to tame your tongue, find the older woman who is consistently wise and kind with her words. Marital help? Find find a woman who loves and respects her husband. Weight help? Find the woman who has displayed self control in her eating and exercise habits. Spiritual direction? Find the woman that honors the Scripture by displaying godly wisdom in attitude, speech, and lifestyle, and ask for her advice.

2. Be specific and honest about your need. Don’t sugar coat the truth. Denial of or down playing will only slow down your progress. Tell her what your goals are.

3. Realize that this woman is doing you a favor. Be teachable and humble. Be open minded if she suggests things you disagree with. Don’t argue. Listen and learn. Sometimes we are blind to our own shortcomings and needs. Humility assumes that another person knows more than you do. Pride tells us that we know it all.

4. Do your homework. If it is a lesson, complete it. If you need to journal, do it.

5.  Be respectful of her time. Thank her for giving of herself to you. Consider giving her a treat when you are done. (Gift cards are great– Dunkin Donuts, Marshalls, etc..)

Here are some of my all time favorite self-help books. They’re great for mentoring: 

Women

Young marrieds:

Mentoring Philosophy and Christian Living

Children/ Teens/ Mother Daughter

*These are my affiliate links to Amazon.

Why I Won’t Recommend the Pearl’s Books

This is my first ever negative book review.

I usually don’t waste my time telling you about books that I dislike. I’d rather emphasize the positive and move on to tell you about titles that I feel are edifying and helpful.

But, after Tim Challais review yesterday of Created To Be His Helpmeet  by Debi Pearl and a bunch of banter in favor or against this book, I decided to chime in and tell you why I cannot recommend these books.

Although I have several reasons,  ranging from poor theology to manipulation tactics that are shameful and scandalous, I will give you just one reason that you should not heed the marriage advice of the Pearls:

Their writing does not properly reflect the character of Christ.

They are not displaying the visible, singular fruit of the Spirit of God in their writing: love, joy, meekness, gentleness, etc.

Think about that for a moment.

This is a marriage book that claims to be Christian–the authors are speaking on behalf of Christ, but are sorely misrepresenting His character.

Although there might be some truth to what Debi writes, who wants to have to sift through all of the insults and harshness to find it, especially when you have known the goodness and gentleness of the Lord?

You need only read one verse in scripture to see how Christ interacted with those seeking truth:

Luke 4:22 “And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

And Christ has expectations for his follower’s speech:

Ephesians 4: 29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 4:15 “Speaking the truth in love.”

Colossians 4:6 “ Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

1 Peter 3:15 “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

We are to properly represent the God whose name we are called by. We are His ambassadors, which is an honor. We dare not misrepresent Him or bring Him shame by our own foolish choices.

Here’s a quick example from scripture of how Paul treated the people under his care:

(note: He never uses the words “Dumb Clucks” to describe the people he loves.)

 

1 Thes. 2:6-8, 10-12:

6. “Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 

But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 

11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 

12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

Paul uses familial terms: nursing mother and caring father.

When a younger sister in Christ comes to you for help, name calling, harshness, sarcasm, cutting remarks and a general lack of gentleness is not okay.

Harsh words do not flow out of a grace-filled heart.

Biblical love for a younger sister in Christ needs to be displayed in the Biblical way…the 1 Cor. 13 way: Love is patient, kind, not self-seeking, never rude.

Meekness is the polar opposite of harshness and a meek heart does not gush forth with crude, offensive, demeaning talk. (even if they think that in the end it is for their own good. The end does not justify the means.)

Even in rebuke, the goal is to heal and eventually edify–not cut down or destroy with a verbal tongue lashing.

And when you are teaching a younger sister, rebuke is rarely needed. Usually, instruction and discipleship are needed.

If you are following God, then you must also follow His prescribed methods.

“Truth without love is brutality.” (Warren Wiersbe)

I fear that Ms. Pearl is training a whole generation of women how to mistreat their Titus two mentee someday. People learn by example, even bad examples. Will they in turn name call, cut down and put into place their younger sisters in Christ, thereby harming the body, when in fact, Titus 2 mentoring is meant to edify and build up believers?

Read Tim’s second half of his book review: here

(See my Titus 2 Page for books on marriage that I DO recommend! :))

 

 

What You Can Learn from Sarah Edwards

I love observing older women and learning how to act  from them (and how not to act!). I was recently chatting with another pastor’s wife and was thanking her for being such a good example to me. Her life is characterized by a walk that fears God: humility, kindness, goodness and a life free from evil speaking and malice of any sort.

Actions always speak louder than words.  Palladius, an early church historian , wrote to a friend these words:

Words and syllables do not constitute teaching, for some teachers possess great words but live disreputable in the extreme.”

Sadly, many Christians know and profess all the right things, but live devilish lives.

So today, I want to share with you a glimpse into the character of Sarah Edwards,(1709-1758) wife of Jonathan Edwards. Her husband is the well-known preacher of the  Great Awakening and is famous for his sermon, “Sinner In The Hands of an Angry God.”

These are excerpts taken from the book Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards: 

On being a suitable helper to her husband:

She proved, also, an invaluable [support] to Mr. Edwards, in the duties of his profession, not only by her excellent example, but by her active efforts in doing good.

“She was,” says Dr. Hopkins, “eminent for her piety…religious conversation was her delight; and, as far as propriety permitted, she promoted it in all companies. Her religious conversation showed at once her clear comprehension of spiritual and divine things, and the deep impression which they had made upon her mind.”

It was not merely conversation about religion—about its truths, or duties, or its actual state—its doctrines or triumphs—or the character and conduct of its friends and ministers: it was religion itself;—that supreme love to God, to his kingdom and his glory, which, abounding in the heart, flows forth spontaneously, in the daily conversation and the daily life.

Her thought life:

Her mind appeared to attend to spiritual and divine things constantly, on all occasions, and in every condition and business of life. Secret prayer was her uniform practice, and appeared to be the source of daily enjoyment.

Her words:

“She made it her rule to speak well of all, so far as she could with truth and justice to herself and others. She was not wont to dwell with delight on the imperfections and failings of any; and when she heard persons speaking ill of others, she would say what she thought she could with truth and justice in their excuse, or divert the obloquy, by mentioning those things that were commend-able in them. Thus she was tender of every one’s character, even of those who injured and spoke evil of her; and carefully guarded against the too common vice of evil speaking and backbiting.”

Treatment of those who mistreated her:

She could bear injuries and reproach with great calmness, without any disposition to render evil for evil; but, on the contrary, was ready to pity and forgive those who appeared to be her enemies.”

How she dealt with her children:

She had an excellent way of governing her children: she knew how to make them regard and obey her cheerfully, without loud angry words, much less, heavy blows. She seldom punished them; and in speaking to them used gentle and pleasant words.

 If any correction was necessary, she did not administer it in a passion; and when she had occasion to reprove and rebuke, she would do it in few words and with all calmness and gentleness of mind.

In her directions and reproofs in matters of importance, she would address herself to the reason of her children, that they might not only know her inclination and will, but at the same time be convinced of the reasonableness of it. She had need to speak but once; she was cheerfully obeyed; murmuring and answering again were not known among them.

Her system of discipline was begun at a very early age, and it was her rule to resist the first, as well as every subsequent, exhibition of temper or disobedience in the child, however young, until its will was brought into submission to the will of its parents; wisely reflecting, that until a child will obey his parents, he can never be brought to obey God.

Letter to her daughter three days after the death of her husband, Jonathan, showing her trust in God.

“My very dear child,

What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives: and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.

Your ever affectionate mother,

SARAH EDWARDS”

Sarah’s marriage was anything but perfect. Her husband had severe bouts of depression, and they lived in a time of civil unrest and spiritual warfare. Although they had their “highs” in life, they survived their “lows” by anchoring their soul on the only ONE who never changes, and who is always faithful. Sarah kept her home pleasant. She was known to walk through town singing and humming quietly to herself and had the testimony of being a joyful Christian. Adjectives used for her in the memoirs included: joyful, pious, godly, holy, appropriate, kind.

I am thankful that I can read her testimony ALL these years later and still be blessed by her good life. That tells me that MY life and my testimony, if lived in a way that pleases God, can also be an encouragement for women who follow after me.

But lives lived like Sarah’s do not just happen. They require a desire for the Holy One. They are focused and  God-fearing. Not easily distracted.

 May God give us the grace to follow Him as we should.

Where Are The Titus 2 Women? – Part 2

For whatever reason, Titus 2 mentoring brings a mix of emotions.  Fear and insecurity, on the part of the older women, and frustration on the part of the younger women, who are wondering why all of the older women are MIA.

I received a lot of feedback on my article “Where Are The Titus 2 Women” and I am hoping to answer some of the questions that seem to be plaguing you.

So, several thoughts.

You are older than someone. Think of it in terms of young children. Your eight year old learns to tie their shoe and in turn teaches your five year old the same skill. They don’t know much but they teach what they know.

You don’t have to teach everything. Nobody expects you to be a walking Biblical encyclopedia or the next Martha Stewart. But you can teach them something. Whether it is to rely on Christ and point them to Him, or to  teach them to pray. When you are going through hard times, just watching a Biblical response to trials and fear is the best lesson you can pass along.  Domestically, you can teach whatever you are good at: baking, crafting, floral arranging, etc…

Teach them that God is sovereign over their life, even if it looks different than yours.  I have two teenage daughters and I am training them that God is sovereign. I am not training them to be “mommys”, or to be a wife, although those things are important. There are no guarantees that they will marry, or be able to have children. Training them to this “lesser” goal is doing them a disservice. I am training them to do whatever God puts in their path  for and to His glory and with the goal of furthering His Kingdom.  I think it is short sighted to train with any other goal in mind, and that you could actually set your child up for disappointment by training for something that is not a guarantee in this life. When I wake up in the morning, before I climb out of bed, I pray and thank God that he is in control and welcome whatever He brings into my life this day, good or bad.

Teach them what scripture teaches, and no more.  The best lesson you can teach your sister is to trust in God and to seek wisdom from Him on areas that are  “indifferent” in scripture.  Teach her to balance her liberty in Christ with self denial. What you may be able to practice without indulging your flesh (keeping your flesh at bay/self denial), your younger sister may not be able to practice.

We cannot go beyond what Titus 2 teaches, and add our own rules.  Scripture teaches that young women should to keep their homes, but it does not say by word or in example that they can never work outside the home. I have seen two opposite extremes of this view played out: on one hand to neglect your homes and to never care for it, and on the other hand to proclaim that women are “queens of their home” and that this is where they should always be.

We are to train them to be the best help that they can be to their husbands. Sometimes this involves working to help with finances, or working to help a husband get through seminary.  It means that we care well for our family, as unto the Lord, like everything else we are to do in life,  so that God’s word will not be evil spoken of. (Examples in scripture would be Ruth, Lydia and the Prov. 31 women.)

But for the most part, just being an encouragement and listening ear is a great place to start.

If you are lacking older Christian women, pray and then start by get advice from books. (see my Titus 2 resources)

If you are looking for a younger woman to encourage, begin by asking her to come to lunch or by offering to watch her children so she can get some errands done. Be helpful and start by building a relationship. God will bless your efforts to bless her!

Where Are The Titus 2 Women?

Last night I spoke to a sweet group of home schooling moms about the topic of Keeping Your Devotional Life devotional. I was so encouraged by their desire to teach their children God’s word. We sat and chatted afterwards and as we spoke, the “topic” came up. Titus 2 mentoring. These young women are raising families and they are looking for flesh and blood women who have “been there, done that” to walk beside them and give them guidance. Unfortunately, they are coming up short.

Titus 2 mentoring is not optional. Ladies, this is part of our calling.

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It does not need to take place in a classroom. It can take place in your home, in the car, as you grab a coffee or run an errand. You just need to be available, and willing to answer questions and offer suggestions when asked. This is not rocket science. And there is a reason that this needs to be done: so that God’s word will not be maligned. Maligning someone is saying something evil about them–not necessarily a lie, just something wicked.

What do you need to be a mentor?

1. The desire to be obedient.

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.

2. A good testimony reverent in the way they live- this means you take seriously the commands of scripture and you live in a way that is Christ-like. You aren’t perfect, but you are sold out to Christ, dedicated and striving to do right. You are literally his servant, doing His will and not your own. (and by the way, when you blow it, you make restoration, for the sake of your own testimony and for the sake of Christ.)

3. Time- it takes time. Just do it.

4. Grace, humility, meekness- You don’t have all the answers and maybe you have done things wrong. Be honest and transparent with your sisters in Christ. Apart from grace, you would be nothing. And without humility, you are nothing, and God resists you. You received with meekness the engrafted word which was able to save your souls, and now you teach with meekness and instruct from the posture of humility.

Older ladies, don’t be afraid.

If God puts a younger mother in your path, help her!

For extra reading on the subject of Titus Two mentoring, may I suggest these that I have found the most helpful?

Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women by Susan Hunt.

Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

Part Two:Where Are The Titus 2 Women? 

What Have You Been Given Today?

I had a chat with my daughter this weekend about life at college, life in the ministry, making, choosing and being a friend. It was one of those talks that I wish I could bottle up and save for forever.

It is hard to tell your daughter that roommates won’t be perfect, people will let you down and that even sometimes those who should be helping you spiritually are sinfully negligent. But, unfortunately, this is the fallen world we live in.

I tried to stress to her one last time a principle that has helped me so often: God gives us our daily portion.

All things come to us from God’s hand. In other words, God allows all things, good and bad to test us. What is God’s test all about? It is all about our humility and our remembering to obey him.

In Deuteronomy 8: 2, God tells the children of Israel

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Later in the chapter he warns that they should not forget the Lord in prosperity, when they get into the Promised Land and have all they need.

In other words, in prosperity and in want, God is testing our humility and our hearts, to see whether we will obey him or not.

When life gets hard, do you tend to mumble and complain? Do you blame others for your problems? Do you think you have the right to speak your mind, settle the score or get even?

When life is easy and everything is great, do you forget God or think that your cleverness or competence has brought you where you are today? Or do you acknowledge that through God we have our breath and being and without him we are nothing.

I heard a pastor put it this way once: “The measure of our humility in adversity is usually a pretty good indicator of how our humility will be in prosperity.”

God will humble  us if  we will not humble ourselves.  He limits and disciplines those who refuse to submit to his will or think that they can make life work without God.  I have seen this played out many times. God humbles a person who is self seeking, self exalting, self promoting or self reliant. And it is for that person’s own benefit.

Limitations, deprivation, opposition from friends or family, financial need, financial gain, defeat and success are all a test to see if you will remember to obey God or not.

How are you doing today, right where you are?

Are you acknowledging God as the one who brings certain people, problems, situations, trials into your life? How are you responding? According to God’s word or in a manner that satisfies your flesh? We make choices, and they show how well we are passing the humbleness/obedience test.  We choose  gratitude or complaining? Humbleness or Arrogance?  We submit to God and surrendered or we become stiffnecked and stubborn?

What do you see today as a trial? How are you responding?

What are your blessings today? How are you responding?

The answer to both should be with humbleness, knowing that it is all from the One who loves us, and with a renewed commitment to obey him.

Linked To Courtney