Mentoring Minutes

God’s Covenant Design – Pts 1 & 2

(Genesis 1:1)

Why is this important? We must remember that God’s design from the beginning moves from the individual to the relational (marriage and family) into the community (Church) and finally into any systems (governments and nations).

When we fail to build up strong disciples in loving relationships in our homes, the best we can do, even with the greatest of intentions, is create a façade of loving community and systems that will ultimately enslave. Even our churches then become primarily a system of programs and governance rather than a loving and united fellowship and family of believers. That’s why God began with a marriage and a family!

This Truth of His Love and Lordship have never changed. We recognize His Greatness by our loving obedience to His plan, design and will! All Glory to You!

God’s Wake Up Call for Christ’s Disciples and Church

We find ourselves still in the middle of the first and continuing global pandemic in a century as well as political and social upheaval in the USA like we’ve not seen in the last half-century. Our faith is being tested. I believe God is calling Christ’s Church to a spiritual awakening in line with His Covenant Design and Order.

That awakening is not just simply to do church services differently, serve more people and accommodate the culture thinking we will reach more. Let’s look at this call in our times…one issue at a time.  It is a call…

1) For personal and collective confession and repentance of idolatry and compromise. (1 John 1:7-10)

We have allowed the culture to convince us that the message needs to be watered down for folks to hear it…and keep coming back to church. What are they coming back for if they continue to live in the flesh and sin as so many are doing today?

As we continue with the call of Christ to His followers, we look at His encouragement and challenge in this call for…

2) Believers to make Christ Lord of every part of your life (Luke 14:25-35).

We are called to absolutely place Him first in every part of life and relationship in wholehearted devotion to Him, dying to self and taking up our cross (calling for His Kingdom) and following Him. Christ says that anything short of this means we can’t be His disciple, i.e., He’s not our Lord! That’s what He has saved us for…to be in a relationship with Him and this is the only relationship we can be in with Him.

This calling is to both salvation and Christ’s Lordship. There is no Christ simply as Savior. While there are levels of maturity from newborn believer to sold-out fully devoted disciple…our hearts must receive Him as Lord. We can be in no other relationship with Him!

Today’s portion of the calling is directed at men according to God’s Word…

3) For men to be Godly relational servant leaders, as husbands who love their marriage, spouse and family above their own success, glory and desires, just as Christ did for His Bride, The Church (Ephesians 5:21, 23-28; Philippians 2:3-8)!

Men are to lead by example in loving relational service to their wife and children.  As men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, grow as disciples of Christ, His calling continues…

4) For marriages to be a positive testimony to the Gospel of Christ so the world will see and know Him (Ephesians 5:32-33; Colossians 3:18-21)

Your marriage is a testimony to the Gospel and Love of Jesus Christ…what does your marriage tell others about Him and His Gospel?

God’s design and call for marriage is a reflection of Christ’s Gospel and His relationship with His Bride, The Church.  So, is your marriage displaying a good testimony or a bad one? If you want to know how to be sure you’re giving a good testimony, begin with the next portion of the call of God’s Word and Covenant Order. It is the call…

5) To husbands and wives to submit to one another out of reverence for and submission to Christ as Lord (Ephesians 5:21).

The foundation of every loving relationship on this planet is rooted and grounded first in our relationship with, and willing submission to, Christ. Only then can we die to self and lovingly submit to each other.

Interesting that The Holy Spirit through Paul in his letter to the Church at Ephesus makes this powerful statement in v. 21 before giving the commands to wives to submit to and respect their husbands (not a command to husbands to do anything but simply for the wife to be obedient first to The Lord and then show that to her husband) and for a husband to love his wife as Christ did His Bride, The Church (not a command at all to the wife but strictly to the husband to choose to obey or not).

Husbands, look back to your specific calling to see what Christ gave up for His Bride in Philippians 2:3-8…He first gave up the glories and lifestyle of Heaven…and then His bodily life on The Cross.  If He had not given up the first then the second sacrifice would have meant nothing…they are inseparable and we are to love as He did!  This is the example of humble, submissive Love that we are called to give our wife!

We’ll continue next week with the call of Christ on our lives with Him as Lord and us as His sold-out, wholehearted disciples, as we move from our personal walk with Him and our relationships, especially in marriage into families, communities and systems! 

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – We cannot do this alone. It must begin with Christ and our walk with Him and then we learn to walk together in unity and peace with one another.

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. How is God’s Covenant Order being lived out in your life and family?
  3. What priorities in His Design are lacking or missing in your life?  Determine what you can do to change these.
  4. Find someone more mature than you in the faith to disciple you.  In time, look for those who you can disciple.

RENEWING OUR MINDS

(Romans 12:2)

Reaching a lost world begins with our own changed lives by the grace and salvation of Christ. But that’s just the beginning…that’s why we’re called infants in Christ!

He calls us to a new life with changed hearts and minds that no longer live for our own selfish flesh and desires but by His grace and for His Kingdom and glory.

This is done through real discipleship under His Lordship where He takes priority over every aspect of our lives. In order to gain our lives we must lose them for His sake (Luke 9:23-24). We also must understand that we are called to obedience as His disciples and as we mature in His Word and Spirit we take His message of new life to a lost and dying world. That’s why Jesus came and we need to share His Love and Lordship with all that we can.

I’ve said it many times but Biblically this begins and is to be done first in our families. If we are not doing the job as disciples in our homes the evidence is clear that just going to church is not getting it done. We must build up our families in The Lord that will strengthen His Church and prepare us to face a world that doesn’t even know they need Him or has outright rejected Him. This takes faith, humility, courage and Truth in Love!

Why Love & Lordship?  Authority is The Author’s Design

Lordship (Authority)–>Discipleship–>Relationship–>Sin/Issues/Problems

We must practically deal with the brokenness of our relationships and impurity of our sin and the related consequences and problems. To truly change and deal with the sin in our personal and relational lives and help those who are lost requires a heart change and there is ONLY ONE who has paid the price to change your and my heart and life. We must not only accept His free gift of salvation and Him as Savior, we must make Him Lord and walk as His disciples! (John 13:34-35)

Walking as Christ’s disciples ultimately means that we understand and mourn for those in the world around us who do not know Christ and certainly don’t know Love or how to love. Even many of those who sit in our churches do not understand His Love and Lordship (Authority). (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Colossians 2:8)  This is not a condemnation, just something we must recognize and work on as disciples of Christ.

They will likely be living by many, if not all, of the false assumptions covered in these posts. It is imperative that we understand His Word, that He reigns in our lives, and our desire is that we share it with others by word and deed. We must not make the mistake of thinking that most of the people we interact with grasp what this means in their lives and relationships.

Look around, folks. Even in many of our churches we’ve placated based on these wrong assumptions of His Love and Lordship. The evidence is overwhelming. We’re not getting it or passing it on as disciples making disciples in our homes, churches, or communities. There are a lot of converts but not a lot of disciples.  His final command and Great Commission to us is to be His disciples who make His disciples, teaching and training all who will receive His salvation to walk in obedience and grace in Truth and Love!

We can’t continue with the status quo! Christ’s prophetic warning in Matthew 7:21–23 has everything to do with a right relationship with Him that is lived out and observed by the world in our relationships, first in our families and then in His Church. We must truly receive by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10), and then strive to live out this priority relationship with Him (Philippians 2:12-13). This is what gives us His Authority in the lives of others as they will see it and invite us to have influence in their lives—His True Authority lived out in Love!

Living for Christ…or for people (Colossians 3:17, 23; John 2:24)

When we fail to place Christ above all else, as His Word commands us to do, we make many “good” things idols…good works, accomplishments, giving, success, people…even church. This is true in marriage, family, friendships, workplaces and yes, even in our churches. All of these things can and will be served and attained in His good will and for His Glory as we place him first!

The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life. It works in this way — if we love a human being and do not love God, we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; we are demanding of a human being that which he or she cannot give. There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Our Lord is apparently so severe regarding every human relationship is because He knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no man, yet He was never suspicious, never bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God and in what His grace could do for any man, was so perfect that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we shall end in despairing of everyone.  —Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I continue with more poignant and provocative thoughts in the following quotes…

Christ’s commission to the disciples is his commission to the church and is his plan for every single believer. No one has been chosen to be just a recipient of the redemptive work of his kingdom. No, everyone who has been chosen to be a recipient has also been commissioned to be an instrument of the work of that kingdom as well…It is sad so many of God’s people spend their lives searching for some significant endeavor to give themselves to when they have been chosen to be part of the most powerfully transformative work in the history of the universe. Part of our problem is that we tend to carry around with us an unbiblical definition of ministry that allows us to live comfortably as Christian consumers. (Matthew 5:13-16; Luke 14:34-35) —Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

One of the quotes from our book, The Authority of Love, says, “When we place the body above the Head we are in idolatry.”

More from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp…

Your spiritual life is…way bigger that the surface Christianity to which it is often reduced. You could read your Bible every day and the entire Bible each year and still live for yourself. You could be faithful in your attendance at all your church’s scheduled gatherings and still live for your little kingdom. You could regularly place your hard-earned money in the plate and still not live with god’s kingdom in view. You could be an expert in the theology of the Word of God and still shrink your life down to what you want and what you tell yourself that you need. You could participate in ministries to the poor and needy and still not live for the big kingdom. You could do all these thing, and the trajectory of your life could still be more toward the kingdom of self than the Kingdom of God.  (Matthew 23:13, 23-26)  True Christianity is always a matter of the submission of the heart to God, something that only rescuing grace can produce.

One of the greatest ploys and draws of the enemy is to make us think that we must be liked and accepted in order to be effective. We must be gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15) but His Truth has always flown in the face of our sinful flesh and culture. We must be more concerned with speaking His Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:14-16) even when the world rejects that Truth and in many cases us…we are to love them and share His Gospel with them anyway.  Unless they simply reject it and we are told to move on (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Compromising His Truth leads to the following quote from The Authority of Love

Talk of civilization or society crumbling over bogus and pseudo rights is not the problem. We won’t crumble because these are not protected, rather we will crumble with the lawless, immoral and unethical continuation of so-called “rights.” Every global power that has existed and subsequently “died out” did so from moral collapse within – and every bit of it posited as something good, right, just and fair – actually to mask the indulgent, selfish and pleasurable! How stubborn or downright blind do we need to be to see that the exact same immoralities posed as moral, right and good are what is deteriorating our culture and society today? It is happening (and is evident) in every part of our culture – government, media, education, religion (church) and home/family! Who will stand for the Truth about right, good and morality? That is who will either make a difference in pointing people to Christ and making disciples or be persecuted for trying and either way in the end will be proven right!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – We need to quit playing church, doing church and even being church…we need to be Christ’s disciples and that is only done in loving relationship and fellowship…everything then follows from our relationship with Him. Let’s live for Him and be a Church the gates of Hell cannot stand against!

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Discuss the areas in your life where Christ is Lord.
  3. Now the fun part…discuss the areas in your life where Christ is not Lord?
  4. Find someone more mature than you in the faith to disciple you.  In time, look for those who you can disciple.

Who’s Discipling Our Youth?

(Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4)

Who’s discipling us and our youth?  The greatest attack on Biblical foundations and our youth today is pornography or porneia (Greek word for sexual immorality of any and all kinds). We like to think that our churches are discipling our youth but the results show something quite different…

Whoever is training our children up in the way they want them to go will have their hearts and minds. We are called to do this as Christian parents, first and foremost, and then with Godly ministers, teachers, and servant-leaders to reinforce. Remember we are commanded to be diligent in training up our children in what we provide for them and what we protect them from.

The overwhelming fruit coming from the roots and teachings in our schools, media and government programs are promiscuity, porn, depression, cohabitation, abortion, STDs, teen/unwed pregnancies, divorce, broken homes, and much more. All of these are a direct affront and attack on God’s foundations and order.

For the most part, how has the modern day church countered these and how well is it working?  

The current paradigm as peddled by our culture through education, government programs and media by Planned Parenthood, SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) and AFY (Advocates for Youth) leads to broken relationships, marriages and families and to sexual immorality of all kinds.

These groups set themselves up with compassionate and expert sounding names to draw people into their lies and deceptions while preaching and teaching their brand of relationships and sexuality apart from God’s Word. The message is rooted in “free sex” and promoted and encouraged through condom promotion, porn disguised as “sex education,” and abortion, with devastation and death left in the wake.

We have conformed to the world in subtle and not-so-subtle ways and are reaping what we’ve sown… (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 6:7-8)

The proof is in the pudding and we as Christ’s followers and as His Church need to graciously and firmly stand for His Truth and against anything that tries to compromise and/or blatantly or subtly counter that Truth. Here’s the fruit of today’s teachings and our lack of resolve to stand against it…promiscuity, porn, depression, cohabitation, abortion, STDs, teen/unwed pregnancies, homosexuality, gender dysphoria, divorce, broken homes, and much more, all a direct affront and attack on God’s foundations and order.

We learned in previous posts that in Proverbs 22:6 the Hebrew word for “train up” means to “bend or shape” and it applies to whoever is doing the “discipling or teaching.” Those sowing the “seeds of destruction” here in US are “discipling” our children with this message in our schools and media, and internationally through USAIDS dollars and the free sex agenda. BEWARE!

Again, I ask the question, “Who’s discipling our youth?” Let’s BE STRONG in standing in God’s Truth and sharing His Word to remind others that God alone can take what’s wrong and make it right. (Joel 2:25)  Oswald Chambers states this as…

“Do I believe that God can deal with my ‘yesterday,’ and make it as though It had never been? I either do not believe he can, or I do not want Him to. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost God the agony of Calvary. When Jesus Christ says, ‘Sin no more,’ He conveys the power that enables a man not to sin any more, and that power comes by right of what He did on the Cross.”

Current Church Paradigm: Symptomatic Response – Conformed to the World/Reaping What Is Sown

Romans 12:2 states that we are not to conform to the world and Galatians 6:7-8 remind us that the outcome of doing so is that we will reap what we sow.

There have been some attempts in today’s churches, but for the most part they have followed the knowledge-based teaching and a symptomatic response with little positive impact. These efforts and the fruit from the programs the modern church has implemented show clearly that the culture is having a much greater impact in discipling our youth and people in general than our churches.

Many who sit in our churches today are perfectly comfortable attending while entrenched in porneia or other sin(s) and often living hidden lives with very little pushback in discipleship or accountability…”just keep coming to church, giving your money and serving and we’ll all be fine?!?”

They’re at “peace”…until they are not because each will reap what is sown even when sown in the dark. God must be faithful to expose our sins so we will hopefully come to Christ for salvation and maturity in a discipleship walk with Him.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)

Churches usually engage with a symptomatic response of some great programs – marriage prep, enrichment, mentoring, reconciliation, divorce recovery, possibly Sexual Risk Avoidance programs that teach and encourage abstinence and building healthy relationships. This results in some saved marriages and restored families, which is wonderful, but far too many are still exposed to the filth and immorality of the “free sex” programs and mandates from education, media and government and reap the consequences.

How often have our classes, programs and ministries, again even with the greatest of hearts and intentions, fallen flat because we have either ignored His priorities and order or we have been blinded to them and based our success on numbers that nearly always ebb and flow. When this happens we have to come up with a new class, ministry, or program to keep the excitement rather than encourage, test, and hold accountable in loving relationships built on His Truths.

The fruit in the current paradigm remains overwhelmingly bad because of the seeds sown and ultimately the roots are bad; therefore, Scripturally, we must reap destruction as we pluck a few out of it. (Jude 1:17-23)

The roots and foundations of the horrific programs, media and messages remain the same with several hours weekly or even daily in schools and this is exponentially multiplied as they direct youth and children to their Internet presence. Contrast that with our churches combating the message with symptomatic programs that may add up to a few hours annually in youth group or a sermon or two.

Knowledge based information, evident in the programs and outcomes currently, is not discipleship. Unless we change the paradigm to obedience-based discipleship in loving relationships we will continue to win a few hearts but lose many, many more.

As stated earlier, I believe these are done with great hearts and intent, but the real question is, “Are they working?” We may “rescue” a few from the dangers and consequences of immoral relationships and sexuality, many that last a lifetime, but the enemy’s message continues to reach thousands through schools, Internet, and social media.  The destruction left in the wake is horrific and in many cases, eternal.

We must stand more strongly and faithfully on His Truth and build the relationships in loving obedience and discipleship with the expectation of living and encouraging one another to live in integrity and purity of heart, body, mind and soul to His Glory!

Proclaiming and standing boldly in God’s Truth against the corrupting and destructive tides of culture requires diligence, but it will be worth it as we see healthy marriages, homes, and families that are the building blocks of His Bride and Family, the Church. The life-infusing examples of marriages and loving, Godly relationships, others will clamor for this kind of love that they obviously are not seeing presently! This doesn’t mean there aren’t good examples and some wonderful relationships out there, but the reality is that in our churches and certainly in the larger culture there is a glaring absence of this.  (2 Peter 3:11-14)

I do not think at all that it’s because we don’t care. I think it’s because, in our desire to see people saved, we’ve “redesigned” His order to draw people in to hear the Gospel message, which is so important. However, the enemy has taken full advantage of our heartfelt but misplaced priorities when it comes to building loving relationships, making disciples and expecting obedience by the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. (John 14:15, 21; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:5; 5:2).

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22–23)

According to God’s Word there’s a better way. Obedience-based discipleship under Christ’s teaching in our families with churches stepping up to reinforce the messages and help encourage loving relationships, obedience and accountability with grace and Truth! Strengthen the family and we all win!

The “New” Old Paradigm – His Loving Discipleship in Relationships

We’ve looked at the world’s destructive messages and schemes. We’ve looked at the churches’ symptomatic responses. Now let’s look at God’s plan in line with His Covenant Order…

The solution, in line with God’s Word, is obedience-based discipleship rooted in the love of marriage and family extended to all relationships. The Church partners with parents and families as well as good programs that promote Scriptural principles and prioritizes marriage and family to work at the root cause and lay a firm foundation for Kingdom fruit.

In the current paradigm 70+% are receiving an immoral and rotten seed and foundation through our schools, media and government…and even in many churches. What kind of impact would obedience-based discipleship in this and all areas of teaching and character have in your home? In your church? What impact would your church have in your community? (Colossians 2:4-8; Hebrews 5:12-14)

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – As churches prioritize Biblical marriage and family we will see the healthy fruit of loving relationships built on His Love and Lordship and obedient discipleship. What a difference it would make if people, couples and families were built on this solid foundation…in our homes and His Church!

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Determine who/what is having the greatest impact on your children and family.  If it is not you as married parents, make the changes needed to do so.
  3. How are you placing your marriage and parenting as priorities in your family?  Is your church helping or hindering?  What will you do about it?
  4. Seek out a mature couple to help you in your marriage and training up your children in The Lord and ask them to mentor you.