Where are the Mentors?

I’ll admit it: I need mentors. The culture here in America celebrates internal motivation over outside mentors, afterall we’re the birthplace of Nike® and its slogan-mantra, Just Do It®. As a product of my culture, I can see many areas of my life where I’m sufficiently self-motivated and don’t need a helpful nudge. That may be fine for day-to-day pursuits, but as a born again Christian I believe the church is severely lacking in mentors, particularly for men.

I lean heavily on mentors who left me with their writings–Matthew Henry, Spurgeon, Thomas Watson and other Puritans, and a few from recent years, like RC Sproul. I know my wife has been greatly served by Elisabeth Elliott (and so have I). But who of us couldn’t benefit from an older, wiser saint (or two, or three) here, with us, a warm body walking with us on a regular basis to offer their insights and godly counsel?

Mentoring and discipleship look very different across the sexes in the church. The women’s discipleship in my local church is vibrant. Those women have done an amazing job at both mentoring and having a godly heart open to being mentored. And what I observe locally matches up with what I’ve seen historically at other churches. Us men? Not so much.

Mentoring is Investing

Christian mentoring is an investment with compounding interest that continues into eternity. Even if we see no earthly results in the short-term, the Lord sees, and promises to generously reward a mentor’s faithfulness. Let me tell you about some of the mentors who have been faithful in my life (even when I was not).

If you know my testimony, you know I was a nominal Christian for two decades before I was genuinely converted at the age of 34. In the providence of God, He was kind during those unconverted years to put men in my life who were there at key times, leaving a godly impression that lasted through wasted years of doubt and sin.

For just a few years of my late teens, from about 16-18, I attended a Calvary Chapel church. There were many individuals and families who were the stable spiritual family I needed when my own earthly family was torn apart by my parents’ separation and divorce.

Jeff & Joni

Jeff and Joni were a couple who were probably in their late 20s/early 30s who would regularly pick me up for church before I could drive. This was the mid-1980s. They both had Pontiac Trans Ams, his light blue and her’s white. They were only Christians for a couple years, saved when my previous pastor had witnessed to Jeff in the tire shop Jeff worked at. They were the first young Christian marrieds I’d ever known. When God saved them He really saved them; what a joy-filled and godly couple! I have many fond memories of that sweet couple and their influence in my life.

Frank

I’m also forever grateful for a brother there, Frank. Frank was also in his mid-to-late 20s. (To my teenage self, these people were older!) We had a lot in common: We were both from New Jersey, both Italian and former Roman Catholics, and we cracked each other up.

Most churches have their mid-week service on Wednesday nights, but since Calvary Chapel was renting from another church, theirs was on Thursday nights. Every Thursday night, after the Bible study, Frank would corral me to a quiet corner, usually waving me over and calling out, Annnnnthonyyyyyyy, mimicking the old Prince Spaghetti commercial on TV about a little Italian boy in New York getting called home for his Prince Spaghetti dinner by his mother from a tenement window. We’d huddle and he’d ask about my week, how things were at home, maybe share a Scripture, and then he would pray with me. Not a long prayer, maybe 5 minutes or so, but as I remember, he did that faithfully every week.

Earl Wittmer

Almost two decades later, around 2004, (when I still not genuinely a believer but thought I was), I was going through the throes of an unwanted divorce. During those agonizing months I remember once sitting in a diner in a suburb of Atlanta with Earl Wittmer. Earl was about 80 then, and had lived a lifetime of service to the Lord. When I met him he was heading up the Bibles-for-Missions Thrift Store and serving as an elder in his PCA church. He met with me and listened as I chronicled how my life was turned upside-down, and did his best to point me to the level horizon of fixing my eyes on Jesus.

The Need for Mentors Continues

Last week I heard a rebroadcast of an RC Sproul message on prayer. In it he told the story of how, as a young seminary student in Pennsylvania, he was mentored in prayer by a retired missionary doctor, Dr Jamison. When that saint could no longer physically work as a doctor, he decided to “change careers” and work 8-hours a day in prayer. RC Sproul humbly mentioned that it was Dr Jamison’s example that led him to also know eight hours in prayer on a few occasions.

It’s not the quantity of prayer I wished I’d had a mentor like Dr Jamison for, but the quality. I have many questions. Practical questions. I want to know details–how does one spend hours and hours in prayer? Do you run out of things to pray about? Do you get tired? Move around? Kneel? Sit? Walk the floor? All three? What do you do when you have to go the bathroom–do you get up, go, and return? I’m serious. But where are the prayer mentors to ask?

The Church Needs More Than Mentors

It’s not just prayer. Where are the mentors who will teach men go evangelize? Where are the mentors who will teach men to preach? I don’t mean the professional academics who teach students to orate from A-grade outline from homiletics class. I mean to speak with the unction of the Spirit of God to call sinners to repentance and Christians to greater Christ-likeness. Where are the mentors to help younger men wrestle through the trials and temptations as they grow in Christ?

Here’s what I know: I could use a few godly mentors, and I’m not alone.

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John Owen on When God Hides His Face and Waiting

I stumbled upon this excellent sermon from Puritan John Owen recently. It’s a sermon about the reasons God hides His face from His Church or individuals at times, what that means, how it manifests, reasons why, and what to do in the meantime.

The language is, of course, archaic, but don’t let that discourage you from taking up the challenge. Owen’s words are very much worth the 25 minutes or so to it will take to hike to their summit, and the view at the top is worth it. (One tip: I had to look up “froward”; basically it means willful disobedience.)

I do want to include this portion here though, about Waiting. I benefitted from Owen’s concise definition of the word and his advice on how to wait properly on God:

What is “waiting?” Waiting is a permanent continuance in the performance of duties, against all difficulties and discouragements. It is a permanent abiding, a continuance in duty, whereby we seek for the return of God unto us, against all discouragements, difficulties, temptations whatsoever. They will arise from our own hearts on many various occasions; so that if we will wait upon God we must be permanent and abiding, — we must not make an end of what we have to do this day, but we must follow it on; and then the Lord will return unto the house of Jacob, from whom he hath hid his face.

(emphasis added)
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A Friendly Reminder: Christian, The World Still Hates You

A reminder to Christians that this world is not our home, or our friend

Dear Christian,

The world still hates you. Don’t think for a second that it doesn’t. It hates you and everything you stand for. It hates the values you hold and the God you worship. And because it hates your God, it hates you. A lot.

The Culture War Invades My Breakfast

This morning I see a news article from my local newspaper recapping and discussing the insanely popular pornographic TV show, Game of Thrones. “GoT” as it is popularly abbreviated has featured (I’m told) scenes of violent rape, incest, and its sex scenes are so bad they can’t be uploaded and shared on sites like YouTube and Vimeo because they are considered too pornographic. Since when did a newspaper start talking-up porn? Anything to make a buck.

Continue reading “A Friendly Reminder: Christian, The World Still Hates You”

More than a Coffee House, a Mission Field

I’m in another insurance class this week, with the state test tomorrow (prayers appreciated). In my absence to write a full article, please take two minutes and read this short, touching blog post about the simple power of human connection and gospel ministry between two unlikely people: a coffee house barista and her elderly regular customer. It’s a sweet story. Here’s an excerpt to whet your whistle:

A pivotal way to witness in the workplace is by reacting well when people treat us poorly. I experienced this firsthand with an elderly woman who was a regular at our café. Every evening, I struggled with serving her. She would come to get her latte and always seemed to be unhappy, displaying a constant scowl on her face. She barely spoke to us when she came in but only looked down, placed her order, and walked away without making eye contact. I soon realized God had placed a great opportunity right in front of me to make a difference and do what I could to put a smile on her face.

Source: OUTWARD OPC

You can read the rest of it here.

Have a blessed week,

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Why I Don’t Celebrate Easter

I’m a Christian, but I don’t celebrate Easter. I don’t mark Good Friday or any of Holy Week. And when the time rolls around again, I don’t much celebrate Christmas either. Frankly, in some ways I wish no Christians did.

I’m not one of those “Christmas trees are bad because Babylonians worshipped trees” kind of Christians. I’m not saying a Christian who celebrates Christmas or Easter is somehow less of a Christian. I’m not saying special days are necessarily wrong (I love celebrating birthdays, for example). I’m just saying that if my church did Easter egg rolls/hunts/helicopter egg drops, I’d be finding another church faster than you could say “Peter Cottontail.” (Just like I left a church after its very blasphemous patriotic service one July 4th.)

I believe Christians are to be different than the world. Contra mundum (“against the world”) as the phrase goes in Latin. I believe it would be more of a witness to the world around us if Christians conducted themselves and their church services as usual on Easter, no special music, no special outfits, nothing special at all.

Just another Sunday…. But Sundays are for celebrating!

As believers we ought to be showing the world that we “celebrate Easter” every Sunday. If we only call-and-respond He is Risen!/He is Risen, Indeed! once a year, we’ve got it wrong. We could say that any Sunday of the year! (Or any day, for that matter.) Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, not just some annual moving-target of a Sunday each year.

I admit, my unsaved family don’t understand this. The fact that my wife and I don’t really celebrate Christmas or Easter confounds them. How can you go to church all the time and read the Bible and be religious but not celebrate Christmas or Easter? they ask. (When I try to explain, it becomes evident fairly quickly that the question was a rhetorical one.)

I’m not saying that celebrating these days is wrong or sinful. A patriotic Memorial Day or July 4th service? Now those are sinful; but I don’t believe celebrating Christmas or Easter are. I just don’t think either is necessary, and certainly not in the over-the-top way so many man-centered churches hype them as a gimmick to draw in new attendees.

From what I read here, Charles Spurgeon, for example, was against the religiosity and “purely popish origin” of Christmas, not the general sentiments of warmth and goodwill the season brings. I agree. My wife and I hang a strip of fake garland across the mantel and fill stockings with little gifts of candy, pens, journals, etc. to each other. But I disagree with focus on the “baby Jesus” if it is at the expense of forgetting His finished work, present reign, and soon return.

Spurgeon seemed to take the same approach with Easter, having this to say about it:

To set apart an Easter Sunday for special memory of the resurrection is a human device, for which there is no Scriptural command, but to make every Lord’s-day an Easter Sunday is due to him who rose early on the first day of the week.

Charles Spurgeon (source)

There’s nothing wrong with Christians celebrating Easter; I’m just not a fan of making a big deal about it when everybody else does. But if you’re one of the Christians who look forward to this time each year, and you celebrate it, than I genuinely do wish you and yours,

Happy Easter!

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