In Secret

 secret 

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, Matthew 6:3

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with doing things in secret.  As humans, we are wired to be affirmed at what we do.  It’s positive reinforcement and sometimes it lets us know that what we are doing for the kingdom is valuable. But it can also be a subtle hindrance.

Perhaps the best story I know about doing something “in secret” comes from my wife’s childhood.  She was a gifted athlete, both then and now.  As a teenager, she loved to play baseball, but because she was a girl, she couldn’t play on a boys’ team even though she was quite capable of holding her own.

She grew up in Shelby, a small rural town in the western part of North Carolina. In those days, textiles were a big part of the local economy.  The town had five different mills that produced lots of textile products.  The mills all had women softball teams, so my wife, started to play on a team that was close to her home.

Her mother, a teacher, did not approve, partly because she was young, and partly because the women who played were often a little rough around the edges. As in all small towns, the local newspaper was always searching for local news stories.  Every game was covered in the paper giving all the names of the players.

She invited her mother to come and watch a game hoping that she might relent and let her play. It was a disaster.  When she came to bat, she hit a hard ground ball that hit the pitcher in the shin, and the pitcher reacted by swearing at her and throwing the ball at her.  Her brief career at women’s softball was over.

Maybe not.  Her Dad loved her participation in sports, so he went to the newspaper and told the reporters that his daughter’s name was never to be used in any article. Instead, they were to use the name “Sally O’Conner”.

For years afterwards, Sally O’Conner was a star of the local mill leagues. My wife’s aunts collected the many newspaper clippings of Sally O’Conner’s exploits and made a scrapbook out of it. My wife never told her mother about her “secret” until her mother was in her last year of life dealing with terminal cancer some 30 years later.

Then, and only then, did she show her the scrapbook of her secret career to her mother.  That’s what living a life “in secret” looks like. Even now, some 50+ years later, she is a little embarrassed by her athletic exploits.

One of the lessons of the above story is that it is entirely possible to live a life “in secret”.  In my wife’s case, she kept her secret from her mother for decades. There are two uses of being “in secret”. One is positive and the other not so much.

The term “in secret” is used frequently by Jesus, often in context with the Pharisees who made a show of everything so that others could observe their actions. That’s a positive use where Jesus says to pray and give in secret.

What God desires is to have an “secret” relationship with us.  He does not want us to play to the expectations of others. That’s harder said than done, I admit. Only when we are tuned in to Him can we find the courage to act in our ministry.

The other use of “in secret” is on the dark side.  It’s what we do in secret. Ephesians 5:12 puts it this way:  It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  In this day and time, digital access to pornography and “dating” sites that are nothing more than arranging hookups are commonplace.

How does one combat our propensity to do things in secret?  Not an easy question, I’ll admit. The first step is, of course, recognizing that you have a chink in your armor and are willing to try and get it fixed with God’s help.  It’s a little like alcoholism:  there is no cure until you admit you have a problem.

Step two can take several routes. Depending on the severity of your issues, you might need counseling. But for most of us, developing a relationship with another – either a mentor or a friend – who can and will hold you accountable.

This is biblical – sharing our sins with another is in 1 Timothy 5:12(a).  This is often overlooked because the second part of the 1 Timothy passage is quoted more frequently. The passage starts with the admonition: “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another…”

As mentors, our role is to help our mentees address their weaknesses, first by helping them identify them and then giving them counsel on ways to help them.  That’s what integrity is. A simple definition of integrity is what you do when no one is watching.  In other words, integrity is what you do in secret.

Everyone’s challenge is to have integrity in all aspects of our life so that what we do in secret matches who we are.  We fool ourselves into thinking we can do this on our own. Christianity was and is a team sport – we need each other to maintain a high moral character.  That’s what mentors are for.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can be a powerful influence for others by helping them identify their weaknesses that might not have exposed before.  You can also help your mentee to learn to avoid playing to other’s expectations in their actions.

WORSHIP: Amy Grant sings “Better than a Hallelujah” where the lyrics say, “Beautiful the mess we are.”

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

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#Adulting

 

adultingsunset

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.  Proverbs 27: 23-24

No, that’s not a misprint. “Adulting” drove my spell check a little crazy when I was editing this post.  Until recently, I thought the word “adult” was a noun. It describes the stage of life that an adolescent reaches by demonstrating that they have matured enough to be economically sufficient to be on their own.

“Adulting” is now a verb, and it describes things that the next generation do which they identify as being something adult.  Something as simple as paying their bills on time, or doing chores That’s considering adulting. It’s a description of doing grown up things.

A recent essay by a new senator to the US Congress, Ben Sasse, entitled “How to Raise an American Adult” amused me with this latest “fad”.  There’s a difference of playing grown up like we used to do as little kids, often with the girls even borrowing their mothers shoes and having tea parties.

No, this is something else.  This role-playing is from the next generation who have fallen into “perpetual” adolescence.  As I’ve noted many times in my posts, the millennials are remaining adolescent late into their twenties and even their 30’s. The demographics studies from Pew, Barna and other researchers bear this out.

Sasse mentions a few culprits that have caused this. While a poor economy is a contributor, so also are social and cultural factors. Among them is affluence – getting accustomed to a comfortable life style as well as not exposing our children to real work.  Millennials have been taken hostage by things digital, resulting in shortened attention spans

When it comes to short attention spans, I came across this startling comparison.  A goldfish has a 9 second attention span, but the average attention span of a millennial is only 8 seconds.   It doesn’t say much about a millennial when they are being compared poorly to goldfish.

While the next generation hasn’t learned to grow up, part of the blame goes to the parents who have forgotten how to teach them to become adults. This trend has been decades in coming going back to the 1980’s.

The urbanization of our culture over the last century has had an impact. In a rural setting, all kids had jobs to perform – often on the farm or around the house. Having jobs and learn to work was eclipsed in our catering to developing our children – getting them to soccer games, dance practice, band practice, and every other extra-curricular activity you can imagine.

There was no time for work, and even the daily ritual of having a family dinner together often got lost in the shuffle. Parents unconsciously catered to their children who grew up with little or no responsibilities.

Sasse, a former college President, goes on to give five suggestions to parents, and one to grandparents. He suggests that parents resist over-indulging their children with stuff, and teach them the difference between what they actually need and what they want.  Bottom line is that materialism is to be avoided.

He recommends that children learn the value of hard work including doing menial chores around the house. To that he adds connecting with older generations and that meaningful travel to other environments.  Finally, parents should encourage their children to read.  Sasse points out that “the average American now reads only 19 minutes a day, and the younger you are, the less you read.”

Literacy promotes creative thinking, which is another theme I have written on before and which is sorely needed by the next generation.

Secondly, let your children experience hard work, even humble jobs like chores around the house or mowing the grass. Learning to work at an early age makes an easy transition later in life. Also, to the extent possible, expose your children to the world by traveling meaningfully.

One suggestion resonated with me – “connect across generations”.  Adolescents generally hang out with other adolescents.  That is also true with those who are over 60. A 2014 study by the Boston Globe found that people over 60 rarely talked to anyone under 36 about things that were important. To me, that is so sad and almost disheartening.

Studies show that isolation (in this case of the next generation) often leads to anti-social behavior.  The next generation can learn about vital social skills from the older generation, and they gain a valuable perspective.

I liked Sasse’s essay. In reflecting on raising our own children, my wife and I managed to follow most of his suggestions.  We continue to incorporate some of them in new ways.  One example is a summer European trip with Sarah, our 11-year-old granddaughter.

We will go to 6 countries in all, and I’ve had her doing research on each destination to find things that she wants to do or see. The trip will accomplish two of the recommendations:  It will provide times for inter-generational discussions, as well as giving Sarah valuable experiences traveling to new places.

The suggestions are all common sense when you think about them.  The challenge is to incorporate them in your life and family, whether you are a parent, mentor or grandparent. I especially want to urge the older generation reading this to become involved in the lives of your grandchildren and the next generation.  Both you and they will be enriched.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   While you may not be able to travel with your mentee over long distances, even an hour in the car together will go a long way to deepening your relationship.

FURTHER STUDY:  The Wall Street Journal article by Ben Sasse on raising an American adult:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-raise-an-american-adult-1493995064

WORSHIP: Listen to Matt Redman sing “You Never Let Go”:

 

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

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MOTIVES

 

guidance

 

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

Has anyone ever challenged your motives?  Sometimes it is annoying. At other times, it is helpful for us to consider why we are doing something.  If left to our own, we usually think we act altruistically.  That’s a big word which describes a motivation which appears good for others and is applauded by our culture.

Altruism is the unselfish devoted attention to the welfare of others.  It is the opposite of egoism, which refers to the motivation to increase one’s own welfare.  There have been lengthy philosophical discussions on whether anyone can be truly altruistic.  Some argue that any action, even if primarily purposed to help others, gives one back an intangible benefit.  It makes us feel good.

Everything we do or say is motivated by something.  Motives for our actions can be good, bad, or, in many cases, mixed.  By that I mean that actions which were motivated with good intentions can also have other selfish motivations.

Jesus had a lot to say about motivations. It was his primary objection to the Pharisees and Scribes of his day. They did all the “right” things outwardly, but their motives were for self-gratification and self-aggrandizement. He called them hypocrites.

Lots of examples come to mind if how a well-motivated action, when examined closely, satisfies a subtle personal and perhaps not so good motivation.  We have an innate drive to have a sense of purpose in life.  We want our lives to matter. Often our actions are motivated by an altruistic motive to help others, yet the same action satisfies our own need to feel like we are making a difference.

In the church, we often see selfish motives being superimposed on kingdom motives. While it is a worthwhile purpose to build God’s kingdom by building their church, often we see pastors more focused on building their kingdom.

Pastors pay attention to the number of their members because it gives them satisfaction that their ministry matters. Most denominations measure church growth by those kinds of metrics – how many members you have, how many baptisms, how many confessions of faith, etc.

They even unconsciously compete – often seeing the size of their church as the proper yardstick of how “successful” they are.  There is a level of pride that can sink in, seeing that a large membership means they are more successful than a small church down the road.

In the mentoring arena, two things about motives strikes me.  First, the mentors’ motive should always be on helping the mentee succeed.  The mentee’s growth and success is paramount.

From the mentee’s standpoint, a mentor should always probe at the motivation of a mentee when he or she is facing a challenge.  Challenging your mentee’s reason for a decision often aids them at arriving at the correct path.

Recently, I have been meeting with a young man who is part of Generation Y, also known as the millennials.  One of the characteristics of the next generation is that they tend to procrastinate in making decisions about careers and life decisions. As a result, the typical Gen Y person often has extended adolescence until their late 20’s or even early 30’s.

This young man was between jobs, and searching for a meaningful career.  We spent time considering his different options.  He wrote me an email that a friend had invited him to hike the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail extends from Georgia all the way to Maine and is a wilderness trek that takes months to complete by foot. He said he always wanted to do this, and asked for my input.

I didn’t challenge his desire of wanting to hike the trail. In fact, I affirmed it since it was obvious that he was at a point where he had freedom to take time off.  But, I did challenge his motive.  I asked him the question as to whether he was using the hike to postpone deciding about a career. I challenged his motivation but in a kind way.

He opted for hiking the trail. Ironically, after he had been on the Trail for over a month, he found a computer along the way and sent me an email.  He said that he was not “loving” the hiking, and was going to end his walk early.  He said he had spent a lot of time reflecting about his next step in life.

A challenge for all is to consider your motives when making a decision. As mentors, our role is to ask probing questions.  Challenge your mentee’s thinking process, and make sure he is clear in his real motivation for an action or making a decision.

Left alone, a mentee might not challenge his own thinking and would tend to “go with the flow.”  Input from someone who has wisdom can be the guiding force that keeps him on the path.

 MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  One of the roles of a mentor is to challenge your mentee both as to his reasoning behind a decision and his motivations. An action might appear to be well motivated, yet really is based on something else.

FURTHER STUDY:  For a study on altruism which reviews published articles over the past 30 years:  http://www.vipoa.org/journals/pdf/2306389068.pdf

 WORSHIP: Listen to Matt Redman sing “Help From Heaven”

 

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abba Father

father:child

 

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15

We often think of this as a word picture of God.  But we rarely think that God would be an Abba Father for us because we don’t deserve it. We think He will only be that for good people. We’re too normal, and nothing special.  But that’s not biblical – your Abba Father has blessed you with all spiritual gifts and an eternal inheritance.

Your name is written in the Book of Life.  You are Christ’s friend and a new creation.  He has laid claim to you and won’t let you go.  You are heirs of God and a joint-heir of Christ.

You are the fragrance of Christ and being transformed into his image as an adopted son and daughter.  No one will be able to separate you from Him. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. You are not just “normal”.  You are special in God’s eyes.

You used to be average…ho hum.  But now you are God’s child, Christ’s friend and complete in Christ and lacking in nothing and seated with Christ in the heavenly family.  You’ve been bought with a price.  God has a high affection for you.

We need to not just remember our inheritance but to live like it. In his book entitled The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel writes in a letter to the reader at the beginning: “Christian Atheists are everywhere. They attend Catholic churches, Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, nondenominational churches, and even in churches where the pastor says “GAW-duh” when he’s preaching.”

His point is that Christian Atheists look like Christians, but their life style doesn’t match their beliefs. They believe in Him, but don’t really know Him. One litmus test Groeschel suggests is how you refer to God may give a clue as to how well you know Him.

I’ve been married for over 50 years. My wife knows me. She knows my thoughts, my interests, my weaknesses, my strengths.  She probably knows them better than I do.  I, in turn, know her just as well. I know what makes her tick, and what makes her crazy and what makes her laugh That’s a relationship – one based on knowing each other to the extent we know what the other are thinking.

What Groeschel suggests is how well do you know God?  Do you know him like I know my wife and she knows me?  Or, do you think of Him as some distant entity that is not involved in your day-to-day life or your decisions?  Do you know Him well enough to have a continuing conversation with Him all day long. Do you feel His love for you?

Well, I do.  I had an accident last week on my bicycle where a woman ran me down at 35 miles per hour. My body did $1,000 worth of damage to her car.  I walked away with just a couple of scratches.  I spent 5 hours in the ER where the doctor was convinced that something had to be wrong with me, and he was determined to find it.

That accident was a visible demonstration of God’s love and protection for me. I didn’t deserve it. That’s called grace. When I call him Abba Father, I do so knowing that He loves me and protected me in a supernatural way. It’s like He put me in a cocoon when I was hit by the car.

The next generation is in desperate need of people who will live out their role as sons and daughters of the living God.  When you cry out Abba Father, your heavenly Father hears you and He sends the Holy Spirit.  It is time for us, as God’s church and God’s bride, to ask for help.

Let His kingdom come, as it is on earth and in heaven.  Not because we are worthy, but because He is our Father. He wants us to demonstrate His relationship with us to others who might be skeptical. It’s all right to be skeptical, but at the end of the day, every believer should live a life that shows that they know that God loves them.

Eric Metaxas wrote an award-winning book on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I was struck by one incident In Bonhoeffer’s life which transformed him while he lived in New York City for 6 months.

He frequented the Abyssinian Church in Harlem and was struck by their joyous music. Harlem was described as a “downtrodden African American community.” He heard “the Gospel preached and its power manifested.”  The Abyssinian Church had close to 14,000 members by the mid-1930’s.  Bonhoeffer was staggered.

For the first time in his life, he “saw the gospel preached and lived out in accordance with God’s commands.” He encountered believers who lived as though God is real in their lives. He had never seen that before. It transformed him and his theology.  God is real, but we often don’t act like it.

It was the experience of listening to “negro spirituals” that convinced Bonhoeffer the importance of music to worship. When he returned to Germany, he brought back recordings of the gospel music. which became his most treasured possessions.

He played them to his students in Berlin and later elsewhere. “For many of his students, they were as exotic as moon rocks.”

That’s our challenge:  living a life that reflects our beliefs. Living a life that shows we know God, and that we feel His presence in our daily lives.  Living like God is real, not just somebody who is present in a church on a Sunday morning. We also need to  worship Him as a real God, an Abba Father.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  As a mentor, reflect on your life. Does it reflect that you know God, or know about God?  The next generation is looking for authentic relationships.  They can tell if yours is real or not.

WORSHIP: Listen to the lyrics of Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father : “You are Perfect in all of your ways.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA

 COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitions

mind-the-gap-1876790_1920

 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?   Ecclesiastes 1:3

I’ve been writing these posts for a year now.  For some reason, I set a personal goal of doing two of them a week – one on Tuesday, and another on Friday.  I am still learning how to improve them even though I’ve done almost 100 of them.   Some readers want them shorter; others have suggested that I do only one a week.

As to the length, I’m trying to shorten them, although it is a struggle to fully cover a topic in fewer words. I really don’t intend them to be a daily devotional which need to be short and pithy, but I am editing the content by making them shorter where possible.

My eldest son, who is a writer by occupation, suggested that I make my paragraphs much shorter since many would be reading it on an iPhone or iPad. As he said, people get lost in long paragraphs.  Good to know.

Over time, I added some things that individualized them and made the posts more my personality, such as adding a picture at the beginning which graphically was tied to the content of the post.  Later, I added a song that was also added at the end which had, in my opinion, some connection to the topic.  The songs reflect my love of worship music.

Some posts require extensive research, so I added references under “Further Study” so readers could go deeper if they desired.  The most recent addition was something that I called “Mentor Takeaway” which was a concise aspirational statement to any mentor of how he or she might apply my theme with a mentee.

Feedback has been rare, except for a few who often don’t write comments but tell me that they enjoyed my posts.  One friend, Ralph Ennis, with whom I’ve met for close to 25 years on a regular basis, always comments on the pictures because his ministry is directed to the next generation who relate more to pictures than to words.

One of my readers, Catherine Miller, has been reading my blog for a while. She told me that these posts would make a great book to give to my grandchildren.

My grandkids call me “Landaddy” which is a compression of “Liz’s daddy” and “granddaddy” (my daughter’s name is Liz).  My eldest grandchild coined it years ago and it stuck. I’ve toyed with the book idea, and think I will pursue it.

It will be called “The Best of Landaddy” and will be a volume of my posts which will give my grandkids and their children a peek into the thoughts and mind of their grandfather. I never had that chance with my own grandfather who was a great writer. We threw away his letters years ago. I wish I had kept them.

So, getting back to the title of this post, I am going to change things up for the near term and go to a schedule of one post a week.  Hopefully, it will meet all your expectations – shorter in length with short paragraphs and pithy.

My wife and I have a full travel schedule coming up. I go to Togo in May for a ministry meeting, and I am taking John Mark with me.  Yes, that’s not a misprint.  I’ve been mentoring a young man here whose name is John Mark Hopson, and invited him to go with me. He jumped at the chance, without knowing what we would be doing. Unbeknownst to me, his uncle had been a missionary to Togo.

In July, we will be traveling to Europe with my son and his three children, and we’ll be taking a fourth grandchild (Sarah) with us on a 6-country trip.  My wife has lovingly said that it is to be a vacation with no distractions (i.e. no new posts for the month of July).

Instead, I plan to rewrite some of my early posts which newer readers may not have seen.  Some of them are long time favorites of mine – posts like “Eleven Inches” or “1,000 Marbles”. Others were original to me and I think the topic is relevant enough to be repeated.

Thank you to all who have joined me on this journey, many of you silently. As long as I know someone is benefitting from my blog, I will continue it because I know that someone gains something from my writing.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “God of the City” where the lyrics say that “Greater things are yet to be done and greater things are yet to come ….in this City”:

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relativism

 

divorce-separation-marriage-breakup-split-39483 

This is a term that has garnered a lot of use lately.  The term relativism is a world view that has a premise, at its foundation, that there is no absolute truth.  It assumes that a truth, knowledge or morality exists in relation to culture or historical context.

“Relativism, roughly put, is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them.” This quote comes from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Put another way, if it feels good, it must be OK.  Unfortunately, that belief can lead one into some pretty dark places.

One of the attributes of the millennials – our next generation – is their view of relativism.  I have described it as an Asian outlook on life. Asians don’t often look at decisions from a value base, but look at them from a relative basis.  A decision is determined by some secondary issue such as who might be adversely affected or impacted negatively. In the Asian culture, it is called “save face”.  The decision is not based on any moral truth, which is secondary.

Given a choice between telling the truth or helping another “save face” or embarrassment, the Asian values will often fudge on truth in order not to embarrass another co-worker or someone superior to them.

As a result, their decisions often don’t reflect truth as a basic core value. If a decision will cause harm to someone – in their culture, they call this loss of face – then they will act accordingly, even if the result is dishonest.

I saw this first hand when I represented Japanese clients.  Decisions were made which made no sense to me. My Japanese clients had made investments in U.S. real estate that had turned sour, but instead of admitting it was a mistake, they would pour more money into it and keep them on life support so that no one would have to admit it was a mistake.

The reason for the decision was not obvious to me initially.  Then I realized that the original decision to make the investment was made by some manager higher in the company, and any admission that it was a bad decision would cause him to lose face. Ergo, they ignored exiting the investment, and instead kept it going to postpone what should have been an obvious solution.

The next generation, many of whom have not grown up with any Christian involvement or in a Christian environment, often make decisions or choices in the Asian way.  Since they don’t have any moral absolutes, choices about sexuality, religion or what is right and wrong is something they must figure out by themselves.

I have tried to come up with an example of how difficult this is. One analogy that I came up with was a sports analogy:  what it would look like if you played a sport without any rules. In this analogy, rules are the same as truths.  Take soccer, for example.  There would be nothing stopping you from eliminating any out-of-bounds.

Body contact with an opposing player might be justified if it helped you to gain an advantage without penalty.  Tackling the goal keeper so you could score a goal would be acceptable because you believe that winning is the most important thing so anything you do to win is acceptable.

Or, if you were unhappy with the size of the opponent’s goal, you would enlarge their goal to make it easier for you to score. Or, if you don’t think you can win with the normal 11 players, you could have 13 players if that gives you an advantage. I think you get the idea.  It could or would be chaotic.

But that’s the slippery slope that the next generation is walking on.  They really need guidance in this area. I am dismayed at the lack of the influence of the father on the next generation.  He is either absent physically, or in many cases mentally. In the latter case, they are “too busy” to be involved in their child’s life, preferring to let the schools or others do their job.

As I reflect over the past 50 years, I can see the effect of relativism which has replaced Christian morality and truth over time.  Look at our social conventions.  Marriage in the biblical context was intended to be forever.

Now, the relative view is that if your marriage is not working, it’s OK to abandon it and get a divorce. No matter that the divorce may adversely impact your children.

The important thing is that your personal life is better so if you are unhappy, divorce becomes a solution to your problem. Lest you think this is just for non-believers, the Christian divorce rate is almost identical to divorces for secular people.

Someone close to me several years ago was heading down the road to a divorce. She rationalized it (again a matter of relativism).  She said she knew that divorce was limited biblically, but she said, “those rules are for other people, not me.”

Floyd Green, a close friend of mine used to say: “If it comes to changing your lifestyle, or changing your biblical values, most people opt for the latter because “those rules didn’t take into account my personal situation.” Again, it’s all relative.

Sexuality went down this road, starting in the 1960’s.  It became OK to have sex outside of marriage because it didn’t seem to harm anyone and was fun. Which led to abortion. If you should happen to get pregnant, the solution was to get an abortion to eliminate that “inconvenience.”

No matter that it was a baby’s life that got sacrificed.  Your ability to make a “choice” for your body trumped the baby’s life. If you think about it, the slogan “Pro Choice” says it all.

As parents and mentors, our role is not done unless we have equipped and educated the next generation about the importance of the biblical view in their life.  Our challenge is that the culture has now taken hold so thoroughly that it is an uphill climb.

We must articulate that God’s way of life is the best course for our mentees. The church can help, too.  Our church is now doing a series entitled “Love, Sex and Marriage.”  I suspect that a series like this some 50 years ago would have been considered unnecessary.  Not anymore.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  The next generation has grown up in cultures that has sold them lies based on relativism. You need to probe their worldviews on a number of topics to be sure they have firm grounding. Many of their values may have been influenced by a culture steeped in relativism.

FURTHER STUDY:  Relativism: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/

WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “We Fall Down

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

The Veil

lily

 

At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. Matthew 27:51,52    

This is Passion week. The time between Palm Sunday and Easter. All around the world, Christians are remembering the events from two thousand years ago. One of the things that struck me this year as I listened to the Passion story was the above passage. We often skip over it in the total context of Jesus trials, crucifixion and his resurrection.

I have often thought about the veil being torn form the top to the bottom at the moment of Jesus death on the cross. The veil was approximately 60 feet high. From Jewish tradition, it was about 4 inches wide and, according to Exodus, consisted of blue, purple and scarlet material including linen.

The veil in the temple being torn is a big deal.  It should not go unnoticed.  It happened. It is a historical fact.  It’s significance and importance should not be ignored. The veil in the temple was not just a simple cloth that separated the inner Temple – the holy of holies.

The holy of holies was the room which was initially to house the ark of the covenant which contained the tablets of the covenant. This was where God resided to the nation Israel until its destruction by the Romans in AD 70, as predicted by Jesus.

Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and then, only once a year on Yom Kippur, which was the Jewish Day of Atonement. All others were forbidden to enter, and the veil kept all other people out.  The Jews only had indirect access to God through the high priest.

This is a historical fact, yet most point to the empty tomb as the demonstration of the deity of Jesus. What surprises me is that the Disciples lost it after Jesus died. For three days, they were in disarray, having forgotten Jesus’ promise to return.  They somehow ignored what happened in the Temple other than their belief that Jesus was dead.

They forgot He said he would return three days later. They ignored the tearing of the veil which was in the temple close by Golgotha. They had obvious problems with their short-term memory, although the older I get, the more sympathetic I am to faulty memory.

Not only was the veil torn, but it was torn from the top to the bottom. If it had been torn from the bottom up, one could argue that it was torn by human hands.  But it was torn from the top down, which demonstrates that it was not torn by human intervention.

The earth quaked and the rocks were split.  Seems to me that it is kind of hard to miss all of this, but somehow, the Disciples missed it.  They thought Jesus was dead. Period. Until John saw the empty tomb three days later, they lost their faith. John had a eureka moment when he visited the empty tomb. Jesus was alive after all.

We’re like the Disciples at times, including our memories. We forget the temple veil was torn. We forget that the physical separation of us from God was removed once and for all.  We don’t have to wait for one day a year to approach God.  We have 24/7 access. The Old Covenant has passed, and the New Covenant of access to God through Jesus emerged.

Our challenge is to remember that Jesus death and resurrection was surrounded by historical events that often get overlooked. We are often like the Disciples who were so focused on the crucifixion that they lose sight of Jesus predictions from obvious evidence. Jesus died for us but was resurrected.  He is Alive!

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Be sure your mentee understands the historical facts surrounding the events of Passion week.  The tearing of the veil is a historical fact, and symbolizes our ability to know God directly.

FURTHER STUDY:  The significance of the torn veil: https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-veil-torn.html

WORSHIP: Listen to Travis Cottrell sing “In Christ Alone/On Solid Rock

 

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.