Category Archives: Christian Leadership Principles

Teaching What Is Right

1 TIMOTHY 6:3-5

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

I often don’t understand this world of ours. I don’t understand how people can twist and turn words so that they fit their own agenda. I don’t understand how good can become bad and bad can become good. I don’t understand how the church can go after things that are not Biblical. It baffles me often, but then I read the scriptures and I am reminded that these things are all signs of the end times. Then I smile, knowing that the true believers will rise to meet Him in the air. What a glorious day that will be!

There are so many wolves clothed as sheep today and a deceptive gospel is preached everywhere you turn. It sound so good, so right, so on target that even the very elect are being deceived. Some would say it is not them but me who is deceived. Who is right? Only God knows this, but from what I have learned in my 40 plus years of following Christ tells me that this other gospel that is being taught lures people away from the lives God truly wants us to live. Lives of servanthood, not ruling. Lives of need, not full of worldly things. Lives of humility, not thinking God is at our beck and call. Lives of suffering, not of pleasure and all good things. Lives of continuous faith, not ask once and it’s yours. Lies of hunger, not of fullness.

I think of Proverbs 27:7 “The full soul loathes a honeycomb but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” The depth of these simple words cannot be overlooked, but it is so often today in the church. We want things to be easy. We want to be uplifted every time we hear the preacher speak. We don’t want to hear about our sin and our need for correction in our lives. We want to hear God is good and he will answer our prayers. We don’t want to hear God judges sin and we are sinners that need redemption. We are surrounded by troubles, just like the honeycomb is surrounded by bees that can sting and kill depending on the type. It is sweet to the taste, and I desire that sweetness but do not want that repentance, the humility it takes to lay down my pride and allow God to transform me into His child. The sweet things of God are the most difficult for us to handle because they change us. They cause friction in our souls. They divide our soul like the piercing sword of Hebrews 4:12. Yet we turn from the sweetness of God’s call to humility and a life of servanthood. We despise the taste of those sweet words that were the picture of Christ on this earth. He was not rich. He did not have many possessions. He gave everything He had to touch others and reach out to them. He served the masses. He was not served by them. Yet the Pharisees despised the sweet words He spoke and taught. They despised the honeycomb of His wonderful teaching because it lured people away from them. Their pride got in their way.

You see, the honeycomb is not the sweet words of grace and love that are spoken by preachers like Joel Osteen and John Hagie. Oh, they preach sweet words, but their words come from a belief that God is at our command. God will do what we want Him to do. God empowers us to become rulers on this earth, people who have all they desire and live lives of blessing and fullness. They preach a message of love and grace that comes without sacrifice and suffering. Simply have the right words in your mouth and you will be free of struggles and wants in this world of ours. God must answer your prayers because His word says He will. He must do this, and He must do that. We simply have to ask and all fullness will come to us.

These words are sweet to our ears because they satisfy our fleshly desires on this earth. They are not surrounded by the stings of the bees like the honeycomb is. There is not a preaching of the struggles, the storms, the tribulation that we will go through. Jesus promised us this, Paul emphasized it. Both of them lived it. But those who are caught up in the name-it-claim-it gospel don’t want to hear the sweet words of suffering and sacrifice. They loathe it. They will tell you that you are dead wrong. That we are overcomers. They will say our prayers must be answered because God says if we ask, He will do it. They think God is a vending machine that takes prayers instead of coins. Put your prayers in and answers will flow out. And many of them experience this prayer answering machine type existence. They are being blessed in all ways as they walk in this faith. They are reaping worldly benefits by claiming the promises of scripture. The deception is rampant. Is God answering those prayers, or is the enemy coming alongside and fulfilling the prayers to bring these believers of a new gospel to a place of unknown deception. Are they despising the real message of Christ while living a life contrary to scripture even though it seems so right.

The full soul loathes the honeycomb. Full of themselves. Full of what appears to be Godliness only to see underneath dead men’s bones. Looking all adorned and ready to be fruitful only without fruit, like the fig tree that Jesus withered away because it appeared to have fruit and did not (Matthew 21:19). So many appear to have fruit and do not. Do these two preachers, and so many others who teach this prosperity gospel, have large churches? Of course they do. The preach a message that appeals to the flesh. Just pray and it’s yours. Believe and you shall have it. God loves you and will do whatever you ask. Just come to Him and ask Him to take you as His child. You don’t need to repent or change your life. Just know He loves you and that’s enough. It sounds like honey, but it is deception. A life that comes to Christ and does not change is not His! The preaching of Christ and John before Him does not change today. Repent was their cry. Turn away from the world and it’s trappings. Give yourself to serve others. Forgive all men their trespasses. The sweet words of repentance are loathsome to them.

But to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet. Everything that brings us to humility is sweet. Everything that tears me away from my flesh so I live more in the Spirit is sweet. It may not be pleasant, but it is sweet. These are the words I need to hear to fully follow Christ. They do not make me proud or boastful about what God is doing in my life. They do not make me have a need to tell everyone how God is blessing me. In fact, most of what Jesus taught on the greatest sermon ever preached is not satisfying at all to our flesh. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are those that hunger, blessed are they that mourn, forgive others, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, seek forgiveness from those you have wronged. He did not preach a message of worldly gain, but of giving our lives away! The hungry soul heeds His every word and follows it as closely as he can. We do not become the proud, boastful ones who God is seemingly blessing at every turn. The bitter things in life are sweet because we know God is working to perfect us through the trials.

As you navigate this life, look at the entire message of the gospels and of Paul and see what they emphasize more. You will find that they talk of a suffering life, one that is filled with opportunities to serve, not to be served. A life filled wit hope, not with the riches of this world. A life of sacrifice, not of prosperity. A life of submission, not domination. A life of humility, not boasting. It is not a popular message in today’s church, but it is the truth. It can be bitter to our ears, but it tastes good to our spirit if we are in Christ. Please do not be deceived! Ask God to open your eyes to the true Scripture meaning. Ask God to show you what the calling of God on our lives truly means. Look at all the people God used in the Bible and see if you find any rich, demanding and proud people. You will not find them. God uses ordinary people like you and me. People who love His word, even when it is bitter to the ears. Come, sit at His table. He’s waiting for you.

Honoring Your Masters

1 Timothy 6:1-2

6 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort

Paul now turns his attention to servants and their masters. One could read this and wonder how it applies to today’s world. One of the things we have to realize is that, in Paul’s time, there were not companies who hired employees to work for them. Each man worked at his own trade or they were apprentices or servants of others. From what I read the word employee is from the French word “employé” and started to be used in the US around 1850 to describe one who works for another. But isn’t a servant one who works for another? I would say that today’s employee is similar to Paul’s servant in these verses, and thus the admonition he gives here is very relevant, and also very ignored!

I have worked for many different “masters” or bosses and supervisors over the years. I have also been in that position myself. One of the things that always drove me crazy was the number of employees who would put down, disparage, mock and ridicule their bosses behind their backs. I saw a never ending stream of this at one company where I worked for twenty years, I have to admit I was even guilty occasionally. I would put my boss down for always being late om everything. I remember times we didn’t even leave the office until after the meeting we had 30 minutes away was supposed to start. She was impossible when it came to timetables. She was also a wild driver. She would have the phone in one hand, a pencil in the other taking notes and her leg on the steering wheel. Oh my, it was a wild ride on occasion.

No matter what she was like, the word of God says I should honor her. Do you have a boss that is hard to honor? I gave honor to her because she was my boss (and a part owner of the company) and because she deserved it most of the timer. Sure she had her quirks, but don’t we all? What gives me the right to disobey God’s word and hold back the honor that my supervisor deserves? There is no justification for dishonoring a master, or boss, or supervisor, or in my case a coordinator. I sell Aflac insurance. I am an independent agent. I am not employed and assigned tasks on a day to day basis. I make my own business happen. But I do have a Coordinator who helps guide me if I have questions. I am supposed to report numbers to her on a weekly, and sometimes daily, frequency. If I do not give these numbers to her, I am dishonoring her. I am refusing to do what she has asked me to do.

Paul then shares that if the person who is our master, (boss, supervisor, coordinator) is a believer in Christ then this principal of honor should be carried out without any hostility or anger toward them. He says “do not despise” which means do not get angry at their ways or resentful of their position. We should never be seen saying “I could do a better job then them” or “What a rotten decision that was.” Instead, we should be lifting them up and making them feel like our master, not just some other employee.. The reason for all this honor is simple. If we are showing dishonor to our supervisor by saying unkind things, that ruins our Christians testimony. It shows people that we are no better the world in the way we treat our superiors. We grumble and complain just as good as everyone else, even though the Bible tells us we should not grumble and complain (Philippians 2:14)! This is something the Christian community needs to work on – big time!

I see people who have gone to my church, or those I know are committed Christians, showing a lack of honor to their masters every day it seems. How can we be so naïve to think that God would look the other way? Doesn’t the word say in one place that when we do something to the least of those around us, it is the same as doing it for Christ (Matthew 25:40)? If that be the case, would you so talk about Jesus that way, or do such things behind His back? I hardly think so. I hope that you would show Jesus extreme honor as our Savior and Lord. And we should do the same to those we serve. God has put me in the role I am in. he has put those people in authority over me whom he thinks will help me be successful and who will teach me the lessons I need to learn. Why would I ever even think of showing dishonor to this one who guides my career?

How do we show honor to these masters of ours? There are several ways to show honor and most of them are right in the Bible! God doesn’t leave us single handed to try and figure this out ourselves. Let me share a few of the ways we can show honor.

1) Pray for those in authority over us (1 Timothy 1:2-3) We discussed this verse a few months ago (I have been slow in writing this blog). I know a lot of people hate Donald Trump, and a lot of people hated Barak Obama before him. Completely different crowd of haters. I wonder how many stopped complaining and started praying under either one. True, they are not our masters. But they are our leaders, whether we like them or not. They deserve honor and respect no matter what side of the aisle you are on. Our masters at work are the same way. They need our prayers every day. Maybe then we would change so that we would give them the honor God asks us to give to them.

2) Speak gracefully about them (Ephesians 4:29). Our mouths can be sewers, repositories for all things unclean. Way to often we allow ourselves to be overtaken by the enemies voice, who speaks to us things that are hurtful and abusive. We, in turn, bring those thoughts up from the depths of our heart to attack those around us, including our masters. All manner of corrupt communication comes out which is exactly what this verse tells us not to do. That is never God speaking. God speaks in words of grace, love and mercy. He speaks faith, not doubt. He speaks life, not death. What will you speak?

3) Be kind (Romans 12:10) Our world is running away from kindness. People want to be able to advance their agenda and they don’t care who they have to run over to do it. Etiquette has gone out the window. Please and thank you are a lost art, especially among our youth. We tell someone to do something instead of asking politely. Being kind is something that will show Christ to others about as fast as anything will. It shows others that we care about them and want what is best for them. It shows honor and respect for the other person. Be kind!

4) Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you (Matthew 7:12). The most basic of all human rules yet we miss it so much. If you were the boss how would you want to be treated? You will probably answer that question by saying I would want to be honored, respected, followed and regarded highly by my employees. If that is what you would want then why aren’t you doing that? That is the basic heart of the matter. Apply the golden rule to everything you do and say. Ask yourself constantly “Would I want someone to do or say that to me?” if your answer is not, then stop it immediately!

That’s a good list to start with. If you can accomplish those 4 things you are well on your way to bringing honor to those in authority. It does not matter how you are treated or what the boss is like. This is your responsibility. Do not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).

On Treatment of Elders

1 Timothy 5:16-21

16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”[b] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

We now end the discussion about widows with an admonition to those women who may be taking care of widows in their own homes. These women are special to me. Either their husbands have allowed them to have such a ministry, or they too are widows and have decided to give of their substance to help someone else in need. As we discussed before, widows were in trouble back in this day if they had no means passed down from their husband. They could not own land and often other possessions would go to the brothers of the deceased and not necessarily to their wife. The women who took in widows are indeed a rare breed, filled with mercy and compassion. This helped alleviate the church of the burden.

How many of us are willing to take someone in who is unrelated and in desperate need of being kept? I would guess there are not many. In today’s world, we would put ourselves in a very awkward position by taking someone in and caring for them. First of all, if things don’t work out it might be hard to get them out of our house. Second, they may take advantage of our generosity and use us, almost abuse our good intentions. Third, they could actually take over our home and kick us out – it has happened. It takes an incredible amount of courage and faith in today’s world to do something like that, and it did in those days too. If you know of someone who is caring for an unrelated person in their home, pray for them.

Next, to the elders. The word elder refers to a seasoned man who has sound judgement. I think we all would agree that elders in the church need to meet this standard. It is never recommended that a young man without much acquired wisdom should be appointed as an elder. In 1 Kings 12 we read of Rehoboams decision to follow the advice of the young men who he ran with rather than the elders that had served the country for years. The result of this split up the country to two pieces and they never got back together again until the 20th century. It was a disaster! This is a lesson we all need to heed carefully. The selection of elders is critical to the future of our churches. Make sure you are choosing men of wisdom and seasoning that will bring sound reason and spiritual understanding when a decision must be made.

This also goes true in our own lives. We all must be careful who we ask advice from when important decisions come around. Look for men with wisdom and integrity to guide you through life. Maybe a pastor, or that elder in your church who you look up to. This is one way to give the double honor to them that Paul mentions here. Trusting in them for guidance is showing them honor.

Another way to show those elders honor is to show up for church and special activities whenever possible. When services are being held, we show our Pastor and the elders honor by being there and being involved. If one of the elders happens to be a teacher also let him know how much you appreciate his commitment to the church. If he teaches your class, be involved in the discussion. This lets him know you are paying attention. Listening to someone gives honor to them. If a church workday is planned, being there to help clean and repair the things in the church shows the elders honor. These men work hard to build a spiritual foundation for the church and it is our job to make sure the physical building is in good order. The elders deserve more than lip service – they deserve our appreciation. Often, they are held to a higher standard, especially if they are teaching as well. The least we can do is show them the honor they deserve.

If someone comes up to you with an accusation against an elder, and you hear nothing else about it, then you should ignore that accusation. People are cruel, to be honest, and they will often go to great lengths to bring others down to their level. It’s not uncommon at all for someone to either make up an accusation or read into a situation something that is just not true. I was just watching an episode of “When Calls the Heart” last night with my wife (we love that show). Jack, the main character, walked into a restaurant to eat and the nurse that was taking care of his brother happened to be there going over some of her records. She motioned to Jack and he sat down at her table to discuss his brother’s situation.

Soon after, the sister of his Jacks girlfriend walked by the same restaurant and saw them sitting together. So, she came into the restaurant and Jack told introduced her to the nurse and said they were looking at his brother’s records. The sister, who did not particularly like Jack, decided to try and make an issue out of it. She made it sound like they were having a romantic dinner together, insinuating that he was being unfaithful to his girlfriend. This accusation was totally unfounded and almost cost the relationship. Fortunately, they both saw the deception of the sister eventually and made amends.

We must be careful to never jump to conclusions when we see something that seems out of place especially when it involves an elder. If we have questions about something, we should go to them first and tell them we have a concern. I have been an elder in many churches and I have always appreciated when someone comes to me with a concern about my behavior. It shows me that they care, and this is a way of showing honor. You allow me to explain what was going on instead of formulating your own conclusions. If I don’t give a sufficient answer and you have serious questions, then I would suggest you go to the pastor. Not your friend, or your neighbor, or even your spouse. An elder always deserves the benefit of the doubt and going to the pastor should keep the matter confidential. If you have a good pastor, he will know what to do in the situation.

I have been in a position of complete wrong against my pastor, my family and my employer. I was and elder in the church and the worship leader, as close to an assistant pastor as our little church would need. I did some very stupid things and wound up losing my job of 20 years over them. I told my wife and we met with our pastor. He was deeply hurt because I had been through this before with him and he had come to a place of trusting me once again. He did not go so far as to publicly reprove me, but he did insist that I should go for help or never come into his church again. It was a turning point in my life and I am grateful he took those drastic measures.

My wife decided to go back to a church we had gone to before and I went on an 8-month sabbatical to get my life straightened out. When I returned, we stayed in the church where my wife was going and are still there today, 11 years later. That pastor and I have reconciled and I have ministered in his church a few times. Our God is so awesome that he restores broken relationships. I am grateful that my pastor did what was necessary back then because if he had not, I might be still travelling down a destructive road.

Paul ends by telling Timothy how important it is to stay with the instructions we he has given. As a young man, I am sure Timothy had plenty of people who would offer him advice on certain matters. Paul wanted to make sure the first priority was to say with the truths he had shared with Timothy in this letter. Still today it is important to stick with the teachings found in this letter. Let us not wander from the truths contained here!

Worse Than and Infidel

1 Timothy 5:8

8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Before we look at what this all means, we must first look at the word “infidel”. According to Webster an infidel is “someone who does not believe in religion of adheres to a religion other than their own”. This is commonly what we think about this word when we come across this verse. We think Paul is saying this person is worse than an unbeliever, and in many ways that is true. But it is not necessarily someone who does not have any religion, or even who adheres to another religion. This same Greek word, apistos, is used when talking about Thomas doubting that Jesus was alive. It is used by Jesus when talking about Christians who reject the true faith. In other words, we are looking at a person who doubts the Gospel and the precepts outlined therein. He does not place his faith in the truth and therefore is labeled an unbeliever.

Are there things in the word that you doubt? Or do you adhere that everything in the Bible is completely accurate, without flaw. How about the creation account? Do you doubt that God created the world, the universe, and all that is therein in 6 days and then took a day off? Do you adhere to some of the different explanations of the “6 days”, like each day is a thousand years, or even a million or billion? Or is there a huge gap between Genesis 1:1-2 and verse 3? Or does the use of the word day constitute the limited understanding of Moses so he just made it up? Do you doubt creation?

Do you doubt Genesis Chapter 3 and original sin? Do you doubt that because Adam sinned, his seed was passed down to all men, and that seed was the seed of sin? Do you adhere to the wisdom of man that says everyone is born good and right with God? Do you think sin comes from each of us doing the wrong things, or saying the wrong things? Do you think some people can go through life without sin and therefor not need a Savior? Do you doubt original sin?

Do you doubt the 1o plagues that hit Egypt and the resulting Exodus? Do you doubt that manna came from heaven, or that God write on tables of stone, or that millions of quails came from nowhere to feed the children of Egypt? Do you doubt that God parted the Red Sea, thinking instead that it was some strong wind or an earthquake which is the wisdom of man? Do you doubt Abraham would have sacrificed his son, or that the walls of Jericho fell with a shout, or that Daniel escaped from the lion’s den unharmed?

What part of the Bible do you doubt? There Are So many outrageous stories in there it would be easy to doubt a few of them, wouldn’t it? I mean, after all, what fish could swallow a man? What man could aim a stone that good with a slingshot? What kind of person could kill a thousand others with the jawbone of an ass? There is so much we could doubt.

But when we start to doubt just one little thing, it is easy to doubt a second thing, and a third. It is easy to start questioning the Bible and its precepts and commands, instead deciding to just believe the promises and ignore the laws. I will take all the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 and just ignore the curses because a loving God certainly would not allow any of that to fall on me. A loving God would just take everyone to heaven, wouldn’t He? Who cares if the Bible says many will call Him Lord, Lord, but he will say depart from me. Jesus died so we would all go to heaven, right? I don’t have to do anything or say anything.

Just because God says that a man lying with a man is an abomination doesn’t make it true. God is love. He loves everyone, and we should not be against two people who love each other. Who cares that God says marriage is between a man and a woman? If two people love each other that’s all that counts. Who cares that God says he formed us in our mother’s womb and that he has known us since the day we were conceived? That fetus is not living so a woman should be able to destroy it anytime she wants. Right?

Do you start to see how much doubt there is in the world today, and even in the church? Do you start to see how we have justified holding onto man’s wisdom and putting aside God’s wisdom through His word? After all, if the Bible is not true, I don’t have to be responsible to an almighty God. Even if one part is not true, I can easily start justifying that other parts might be untrue as well. The church is starting to latch onto things that we are told are wrong by the Word of God. We have lost our fear of the truth and replaced it with our own version of truth and out own wisdom.

If Thomas was an infidel (the same word was used here), then are we not the same if we do not believe God’s word is truth? If we don’t believe, are we not unbelievers as well? I challenge you today to examine yourself. Examine your thoughts. Examine what you truly believe? I pray you find yourself believing the truth of God’s Word and not the lies of the enemy, or even of your fellow man. As Paul so wonderfully pout it in Romans 3:4 “Let God be true and every man a liar”

This verse tells us that we are to provide for our families or we are worse than someone who does not believe. Men have become so lax in our society. They produce babies and then just walk away. They are irresponsible and self-centered, having only their own interests in mind. It is a scourge on our society and is at the heart of all the violence we see in our country. It is not just about money and provision in a material way. It is about providing spiritual, emotional and mental guidance as well. If you are lacking in any of these areas, ask God to help you. Be the best father you can be. Lord knows we need good, strong men in our world, and we need Godly fathers even more!

Honoring Widows

1 Timothy 5:3-7

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day..
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

In our society today more and more children are caring for their elderly parents. Because most businesses now do not offer the pensions they used to, seniors are finding it harder to afford living on their own. The cost of living keeps rising and the social security checks just don’t rise as fast. This poses big problems for those who did not do a good job saving up during their lifetime, and that is the majority of our seniors today. Fourteen percent of adults living in someone else’s home are the parents of the homeowner, up from seven percent in 1995.

At the same time, more and more adult children are living with their parents due to various reasons. Lack of jobs, affordability of housing and coping skills are all causing young adults to move back home. And in many cases, grandparents are taking custody of their grandchildren due to a lack of social structure in the home of their children. This is the case with my wife and I. We have our fourteen year old granddaughter living with us because our daughter was in a situation that defied all sensibility and put our granddaughter at risk. We are thrilled to have her and she loves being with us but it does put a strain on our household budget.

I bring all this up because we now live in a society that doesn’t really see its widows. We rarely use that word – at least I hardly ever hear it. It seems there is a negative connotation associated with the word widow and that is so wrong. Women live much longer than men on average so it is very likely we will have a lot of widows around, But the fact that women are aging much better and looking very good well into their 80’s leads us to think of them as still vibrant and able to care for themselves. They just don’t look like widows, if you know what I mean. I know a lot of ladies who are widows that lead very god lives and seem to be doing very well in society. I know they are hurting deep inside, but they do well to rise above that and be active in the community.

In Jesus day, it was a different picture. The woman was a housekeeper and her husband provided everything for her. There was no social security or welfare she could fall back on if her husband died so she was left to fend for herself and it was very difficult. People felt sympathy for them, but most households had enough to do just to keep their own house running smoothly. It was hard for them to give of their sustenance to help someone else out. So, the widows had to trust God to provide for them.

We read a couple stories in the Bible about widows that really show God’s provision and faithfulness. In 1st Kings 17, we can read the story of Elijah coming to the widow of Zarapeth. She was fixing bread from the last bit of meal that she had. Elijah asked for the bread she was making. She felt that once this bread was eaten, her and her son would die because they were out of food. But Elijah blessed the bread and the widow found that her meal never ran out. The widow was provided for.

In 2nd Kings 4 Elisha went to a widow’s house and she was about out of oil. She just had a cruse of it left. Elisha told her to go get all the vessels she could find and bring them to the house. She did that and the cruse filled every vessel she brought into the house so she did not run out. Again, the widow was provided for.

Throughout the Bible we read that God cares for the widows. Psalm 68:5 tells us that God is the Father of the fatherless and the protector of widows. Psalm 146:9 says God upholds the fatherless and the widow. Jeremiah 49:11 says the widows should trust in God. And James 1:27 says it is pure, undefiled religion to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to stay unspotted from the world.

It is fascinating to me that widows are so often mentioned along with the fatherless. And they are both mentioned as ones whom God has a special heart for. What intrigues me is that God is our heavenly Father and he is also the bridegroom waiting for His bride. To me this is not mere word play, but a truth that we should all pay close attention to. The fatherless can be seen as those who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior, thus never becoming adopted into His family as children and heirs. And the widows can be seen as those who have not married the bridegroom after they have divorced this world. They have not come under is authority and become obedient to Him. These are people in desperate need of attention. They need provision from the word of God to help sustain them and lead them in the right path.

It would be easy for us to overlook these scriptures about widows because the landscape of our society has changed. But God always has a purpose and a vision for the future and He wants us to pay close attention to everything he has to say. We cannot ignore this charge to care for the widows. Whether they be true widows who have lost their husbands, or whether they be spiritual widows who have left this world behind and married the Bride. Both need our attention and our help.

On the other hand, Paul writes if a widow is living in pleasure then she is dead while living. In Paul’s day, this would be looked upon as slandering her husbands name. Today we often see widows go on to remarry or lead very good lives after their husband dies. So once again the picture has changed. But if a person who has died to this world by accepting Christ and lives a life of fun and games that are not spiritual, they face the same fate. They have not come under the arm of a protective Savior, but rather have decided to turn their backs on the one who saved them. This is a very dangerous place to live. Once we turn our backs on this world, we should never return to the ways of the world. Christ calls us to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to have no part of that former life or of a life filled with gaiety. We are to become obedient to Christ and His commandments if we expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21)

Do you know any widows who are struggling in their faith? This is a call to all of us to provide the truth to them. The bread of life and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. Just as Elijah and Elisha provided for widows in their day, so we should bring the word of God to those who are trying to find their way once they have died to the world. We are not to condemn them, just as Christ did not come to condemn (John 3:17). We are to love them and nurture them, bringing them alongside so they can taste and see that the Lord is good. This is our calling!

Mentoring

1 Timothy 5:1-2

5 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

We all need mentors. Not just in spiritual matters, but in all of ways of life. Elders are any people that are older than us and younger men are just that. The same goes for both men and women. It is an essential element in our growth as human beings and as Christians, as workers and as people of commerce. The world is full of people who can be our mentors and people who we can be mentors to. All we have to do is be open to the possibilities and we will see this all around us.

To illustrate this, I am going to share some of the mentors I have had in my life and also some of the people I have mentored. None of this is being done out of a boastful heart, but rather out of a heart that desires each and every one of you to take on the role of a mentor ads well as finding a mentor, no matter how old or how young. No matter what decade in life we are living, we can still learn new things and take on new challenges. I hope I continue to learn well past 100 and that I also continue to teach just as long.

One of the first mentors I can recall is my Grandpa. He was a rugged man who worked hard and long hours. My fondest memories of him was as a farm hand in Freeport, Maine. He would rise early in the morning to call the cows in and feed them while milking them at the same time. We used to go out early with him and call in the cows when we visited on vacation. “” Come Bawsss. Come Bawsss” was his call. The call would go ringing out through the fields and they slowly but surely would make their way in. they knew his voice.

We had the wonderful honor of helping hook up the milking machines and the undignified honor of pushing the mess out from the trench behind the cows. I remember once pushing so hard I went sliding down the chute with the mess, landing in a pile of manure. It took a while to clean up after that morning. I never wanted to do that chore again, but I learned that was not an option. I was much more careful after that. We also had the hard chore of helping bale the hay. Getting up on the bale wagon was a hot chore as we piled those hay bales as high as we would. We also had the chance to help run the pasteurizing machine and see the m ilk get picked up and go to market.

We often visited during calving season and got to name the calves when we did. This was one of our favorite jobs. The little guys were so cute and we would watch them grow through the years. My brother and I loved to compare how well our cows are doing and how much milk they gave. We also enjoyed the rope swing my Grandpa had extended from high in the rafters down across the barn floor. We would swing down from the hayloft and into the hay piles on a regular basis. Summers and Grandpa’s house were always much anticipated events.

Grandpa also had a lobster boat. Just behind his farm was Casco bay, one of the best lobster fishing bays in all of North America. We would go out on the boat with him and bring in the traps. I can still see the seagulls flying around waiting for the bait to be thrown out. They would call out regularly “Mine, Mine” just like in the movie “Finding Nemo.” Most of the lobsters we caught were already sold, but every once in a while, we would get one to eat that night. I have never been able to duplicate that taste. Fresh lobster is my favorite food!

When he retired from that job, he got married and moved to a little berg near Blue Hill Maine. There he started a big garden and worked on it all the time. We would go down to the seashore and dig fresh clams out of the mud at low tide. We would then bring them back to the house and have them steamed for supper. My oh my, what a feast! Grandpa died with his boots on, taking down a tree in the front yard. My mom told me later that was the way he should have gone as he was always a hard worker.

As I look at his life, I can see the work ethic he instilled within me. Not only him, but my mom as well. My mom had my dad leave her when I was five. She was the church secretary at the Congregational church where we grew up. She worked long, hard hours as she was involved in every aspect of the church, which required some night meetings as well. She raised us three kids alone and did a great job. Later she took a job at Norton Company in the HR department and eventually I landed a job there after wandering through life for a few years. That was a great job that I stayed with until I moved to Iowa 7 years later. Her hard work ethic paved the way for a good career for me.

In lasing on the torch, my kids have also garnered a strong work ethic, as I have become a mentor for them. They work long, hard hours and are faithful to their employers, something they have learned from both me and my wife. She has worked for the same company or a subsidiary in the same building for the last 30 years. And she has worked in a local restaurant for the same amount of time. She is a hard worker as well, instilling this into her children and now our one grandchild that works.

Yes, we are mentors to our children whether we realize it or not. We will instill in them virtues and bad habits as they grown and watch us. They learn from everything we do and go on in life to mimic much of it. Our children saw us working hard and being loyal to our place of work and they have done the same for the most part. Our grandchildren have seen the same and we pray they will have the same drive and ambition.

Spiritual mentors have been many for me and I am not going to point one or the other out at this time. One taught me to worship, one taught me to use my talents, one taught me to study the word, one taught me to rid myself of pride and one taught me to be a leader of men. All of them had different and meaningful impact on my life. I, on the other hand, have not been the spiritual leader I wish I had been. I was good at studying the word for myself, but not very good at letting my children see me doing so. I did not instill; in them a love for God and His word, but instead they saw someone who was inconsistent with the truths he espoused.

You see, I was a negative influence for God in their lives while I was a positive influence for others outside my home. None of my kids are now in church, although they all; confess a belief in God. They will all ask me for prayer when things are going on in their lives, and they will all ask me for advice. I wish I had been a better mentor for my kids through their growing years and realize I can still have that effect on their lives, but not with as much influence as I had in in those formative years. There are still many that I mentor in spiritual things, and I am indeed a disciple at my Pastor’s feet.

The one young man I most admire now is Bob. I met Bob as a teenager, a little wild and reckless, but with a heart for God. He would be around the tent meetings we went to, and would often attend the services during the day when I helped lead worship. Through the years I kept in touch with Bob, encouraging him in the Lord and watching him grown in his own right. Bob is one of the leading tent evangelists in the country right now, on the road 35 weeks out of the year carrying the gospel top the inner cities. I am so proud of what he has become and am humbled that I had just a little hand in that. I now learn a tremendous amount from him every time I am able to be in his services.

In business, I trained many salespeople, and had many trainers. But my very favorite trainer was Larry. He was such a good friend and such a solid influence in my life. I will never forget the many lessons on sales and persistence that he taught me and they have carried on through the years. He taught me to never burn a bridge, to keep good call records, to always follow up quickly, to send thank you cards and to be persistent all the time. We had a great friendship which was recently renewed as he came to visit me at a book signing. I cried when he walked in, so glad to see him after about 20 years apart. We reminisced for a while as he told me lessons, he had learned from me! All the while I thought of him as my mentor, and here he had learned from me as well. It can go both ways!

One of my favorite employees became a mentee of mine. Craig came straight from a factory job, never having an ounce of sales. I could teach him everything Larry taught me and he would eat it up. Craig became a top sales rep with our company and has moved on to be a leader for another company in sales. I like to think I had something to do with his success and am thrilled every time we have a chance to get back together. It is a blessing to know you helped someone start a career and become successful, and now they have moved on to greater things.

These are just a few examples. I could go on for another hundred pages of all the people who have ben mentors to me and who I have mentored. I would like you to give thought to all the people in your life that you have mentored or who have mentored you. If you feel so brave, leave a note in the comments about such people. It is good to acknowledge them and thank them. We owe our life to them in many ways. Seek out mentors and seek out people to mentor.

Jesus told us to make disciples of all men. Isn’t that what mentoring in the faith does? It teaches all men (and women of course) about the disciplines of our faith. Making disciples and mentoring someone in the things of God is the same thing. Let’s all find a way to make this happen, for these were some of Jesus last words to the disciples and to us before he finally arose to heaven to sit with His Father. Wouldn’t His last words seem to be the ones He most wants us to adhere to?

Be An Example

1 Timothy 4:12

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Here is the Lord’s heart cry to all of us. Be an example. Let others see what Christ is like by all that you do. The word example is defined two ways in Webster’s dictionary. The first is a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule. That means this example needs to be in the image of what it is trying to show to others. We need to conduct ourselves like Christ would. Remember the old saying “What Would Jesus Do?” This became very popular in the 1990’s and actually became part of pop culture. Unfortunately, it just became a popular saying, not a popular thing to do necessarily. People wearing WWJD bracelets and T-shirts would be just as sinful as the world, and that is not what Jesus would have done. Our example must be like the spotless Lamb of God.

The second definition of example is a person or thing regarded in terms of their fitness to be imitated or the likelihood of their being imitated. This means we should live a life that others could imitate in their walk with the Lord. Paul said that the things we have learned, have received, have heard and have seen in him we should do (Philippians 4:9). Paul set an example for others to follow. Are we setting this same example? Would we want others to live the same kind of life we do in a successful walk with Christ? This should be the pattern for our lives.

Paul then goes on to tell Timothy there are 6 areas of his life this applies to. The first way we should set an example is in our words. One of the first things God did when I got saved was that he took swearing out of my language. It was just gone. All those 4 letter words that I used in every sentence vanished from my vocabulary. It even amazed me that suddenly these words were no longer used. Those words have no place in a Christian’s vocabulary. They set a bad example. So does telling dirty jokes. There is no room for these either. Nor lying, dishonest statements or saying things with the wrong motives in mind. Gossip, backbiting, slandering and many more ways seem to be part of our culture today. Each of these creep into the church, and into our lives, at different times. All of the above mentioned issues with the words we speak show the church to be nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites. The church has become too much like the world in our words.

Our words should be loving, merciful, forgiving, forbearing, patient and reverent. They should show us to be lovers of men, ready to lay down our lives for those less fortunate than we are. Our words should give comfort, joy, peace, nurturing and grace to those we are speaking to all the time, not just some of the time. These words should be honest and truthful at all times, spoken in love to anyone we approach. There should be no hint of ungodliness or unrighteousness in the things we say. James 3 is a great chapter on taming our tongue. Basically, James says if we can bridle our tongue, we enter a realm of perfection. Let us guard our speech at all times.

The second way Paul asks Timothy to be an example is in his conversation. We can get confused if we see this word meaning the words we have between one another. In biblical terms, the word conversation means lifestyle. Our lifestyle should be one that everyone sees as pure and undefiled. We should set an example by the places we go, the choices we make and the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Do we take correction easily? Are we quickly offended? Do we forgive people if they wrong us? Do we ask for forgiveness if we have hurt our neighbor in some way? All of these things are part of our conversation.

Ephesians 4:1 tells us to walk worthy of the vocation to which we are called. It does not matter if you are a preacher or the church custodian or a clerk at Walmart or flipping burgers at McDonalds. You might be a corporate executive, or retired or maybe a CPA or an MD. Maybe you just write blogs, work on mapping, sell insurance occasionally and help out at your church (this is me in a nutshell). Whatever your vocation, whatever you do day in and day out, you should walk worthy of that calling. Our jobs are part of our calling, and we must show ourselves as an example of Christ in everything we do.

The third area Paul says we should be an example is in charity. I think we all know charity means love. I like the use of the word charity because that word means giving something without expecting a return. The word love is so misused and abused in our society that it gets a bad wrap most of the time. People don’t know what real love is. Many have never experienced a true loving relationship except with their parents, and even there a lot of people are abused by that word. When we as Christians think of the word love we should always think of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth

To translate briefly, love is patient and kind at all times. It does not become jealous or covetous and does not boast of its accomplishments but is humble. Love never portrays a non- Christian attitude and does not try to get things for itself. Love does not get angry easily and never thinks evil of someone else. Love rejoices in the good fortune of others and in the truth always being in the forefront. It bears with anything and believes in the other person with the hope that will endure to the end. Love never fails. This is the kind of love we should have at all times to set the example Paul is talking about here.

The fourth area we should be an example is in spirit. This talks about the attitude with which we live our lives. Are we positive and uplifting, or are we a sourpuss all the time. Do we speak words of grace to everyone (Eph 4:29) or are we sarcastic and cruel. Do we wake up in the morning refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the day? Or are we just trying to get through the day and bring our cloud with us as we go through our routines? All of these things reflect the spirit with which we approach life. I love the quote from Charles Swindoll, renowned Christian author, speaker and pastor.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

To me, that says it all!

The fifth area Paul tells Timothy to be an example is in faith. Do we show others that we trust God in all things, even in the most difficult of times in our lives? Do they see our faith arise as we go through those times and continue to rely on God to bring us provision, strength and guidance in the midst of the storm? Has our faith risen to the occasion when someone needs prayer and we are quick to pray with them on the spot instead of the old line “Yes I will pray for you.”

When I was going through my cancer battle for three years, people noticed how upbeat I stayed most of the time. Many would ask me how I could face such a difficult test with such a good attitude. I would tell them it is because I have an undying faith in my God! I knew he would not fail me. I knew He would use this test for my good. I knew he would sustain me and keep me even in the hardest of times. People saw my faith in action. They saw my example of faith. How often do they see yours?

The last area where we should be an example is in purity. This talks of moral and behavioral excellence. We should be above anything that seems filthy, raunchy, rowdy, or anything else that would be deemed impure. Our lives should reflect the Bible and it’s moral standard in every way. The worlds moral compass has gone haywire, and we must show what the standard should be or it will be lost to all. We leave in a world that has put purity aside for pleasure. They do not even see how they have gone wrong, or that they are even doing wrong. The low morals and impurity are out in the public eye and no one seems the least bit concerned except those who want morality brought back into our lives. If we do not keep the biblical standard it will further erode this society and Christians will be even more weird in the worlds eyes.

Christians are already being persecuted for righteousness sake, as Jesus told us we would. We should rejoice in this (Matthew 5:12) But greater persecution will come as the world drifts farther and farther away from Christian values. I am a part of Pew Research in that I take survey’s for them once a month. One of the questions on the last survey asked if I thought social media should be allowed to take off offensive material. I said no, mainly because the world is starting to see parts of the Bible as offensive and I do not want our face squashed by a social media company. Some of my own blogs would disappear! Those of us who stand up for Christian values, for pure values, must never let this world dictate what we write or preach.

With all my heart I want to be the type of example Paul asked Timothy to be. I fail often, but I must each time pick myself up and keep on going. Paul does not tell Timor=thy he has to be perfect and part of our example should be seen as a flawed human being with difficulties and challenges. If we can remember to forgive and accept forgiveness, that will go a long ay to developing us an example of what Christ would want us to be.