Friday, May 23, 2008

New Attitude this weekend

Starting tomorrow night I will be at the New Attitude conference. This is an annual conference for singles and young marrieds put on by Sovereign Grace Ministries. I will be exhibiting for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, so if you are there, come by and visit. I would love to meet you!

Two of my good friends from Minneapolis are here for the conference as well. They are exhibiting for Desiring God, so you should go say "hi" to Andrea and Katie, too. They have a lot of good stuff with them. I should know because it's on my living room floor right now. And speaking of living room floor...startling information on the homefront. We just saw a mouse. In my house. And this is not a lie at all. It was trying to escape from the floor boards but our screams scared him back to his hiding place.

Either way, have a good weekend if I don't see you at NA! I will try to post updates on my favorite thing about the sessions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What are you reading?

When I was in elementary school I lived for the summer reading challenge, mainly because I liked getting the big flashy button and the Pizza Hut coupon--which meant that my mom and I could go on a date. Now that I am in seminary, I have once again picked up this challenge. But there is no prize this time, just the sheer pleasure of knowing that I finished the task I set before myself. One of my professors encouraged us to make a reading list for the summer. He said that often we set really high goals for ourselves and then feel discouraged when we don't meet the desired goal. So he advised us to make a reasonable list.

Seeing with New Eyes by David Powlison: In the last couple of years I have been introduced to biblical counseling, and I have heard Dr. Powlison speak but never read his books. I bought this book at T4G and am looking forward to reading it!

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot: I am trying to read every book that she has ever written. This is my newest edition. My friend Gretchen said it is her favorite book by her.

Living Faith by Helen Roseveare: The bookstore on campus had all of her books on sale and I was only able to snag four of them. I am really looking forward to reading about her life.

Losing Our Virtue by David Wells: I read No Place for Truth last summer and am just continuing with this series (I actually don't know if I am even reading them in order).

Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray: Another book that was on sale after the T4G conference. I like reading about history.


A Room of One's Own by Viriginia Woolf: I have always wanted to read this book and I figured now was a perfect time. When I took a literary theory class in college everyone said that this book was the staple feminist novel. I figured since I am a recovering feminist it might be an interesting read. :)

The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes: I started reading this a while back and haven't finished it. Again, now is the perfect time.

There is my list. I haven't started it yet because I am just now finishing up Biblical Womanhood in the Home and Til We Have Faces. So by the looks of things I have sort of cheated. What can I say, I love books! I will let you know how it goes.

What is on your reading list for the summer?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Me, a Mentor? How We Disciple

We have now talked about the reasons why we mentor and who we mentor, and now I will conclude this brief series with how we mentor. In reality, there is no “special formula” for us to follow. There are, however, areas that older woman are to instruct the younger women. And while we are exhorted to teach in these areas, we are not told step by step how we are to go about doing so.

Older woman are to teach younger woman how to live as godly lives. Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31 are our God-ordained guidelines for biblical womanhood. Teaching a younger woman how to “love her husband” will look very different if you are a mother teaching her daughter that her response to her father now reflects how she will respond to her husband later. Or, if you are an older married woman teaching a newly married woman how to respond biblically to her husband when she feels her tendency towards Eve rising up in her.

First, teaching and mentorship is an intentional activity. Discipleship does not happen by passively living life. Rather it happens when older women move out of their comfort zones and discerningly teach and lead younger woman towards Christ. As single women we too have a responsibility to teach biblical womanhood because we are born women, we do not become women. If we are not intentionally cultivating womanhood in our own life, and then pouring it into the lives of others, we will by default become like the world around us.

Secondly, discipleship is about community. Only within a redeemed community can we see life-on-life relationships that seek to sanctify and sharpen one another. As Christians we are called out of a community of darkness and into a community of light—and that light is Christ. Discipleship happens when we realize that it is not simply a new program or system put in place to make “friends.” Rather we are redeemed sinners living for the King, who will return to make all things new. This is the basis for our relationship. If our discipleship is not serving and building up the local church, then we have missed the mark in some way.

It is important to ask ourselves if our relationships are moving us towards biblical womanhood or away from it. If they are moving us away from it, then we are not mentoring in the way that God has designed. In your efforts to disciple do not feel discouraged if your activities seem less than ideal. What is most important is that you are obeying God's command and desiring to see women grow in Christ. As we grow as the disciplers and the discipled many practical issues will fall into place. Know, dear Christian, that your efforts are not in vain.

As I conclude this short series here are some practical starters for discipleship:

  • Start a small group bible study in your home (if you do not feel that God has gifted you to teach, volunteer to host the study in your home and build relationships with women that way)
  • If you are single, invite a younger woman, or girl, to serve in the local church with you in whatever ministry you happen to be involved in. I invited a girl I mentored to serve with me in the nursery on a couple of occasions.
  • Offer to help a young mother out with her toddler and new infant.
  • Invite a young wife over and offer to cook together—you can even do this with a single woman

Helpful books:

Let Me Be a Woman
Biblical Womanhood in the Home
The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood
Girl Talk

Feminine Appeal

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Me, a Mentor? Who We Disciple

I was at a graduation brunch a week ago, and the woman who hosted the event had discipled the graduate for the last year. It was a sweet testimony of a Titus 2 relationship, and it was an encouragement I know to me, and I am sure to many who were there. As she gave a brief talk about the graduate, she encouraged every woman in the room to pour our lives into another woman even if we feel that we have nothing to offer. She encouraged us that God had made each of us is a little bit ahead of a woman in some way, and that we can walk through life in obedience to the Titus 2 call on our lives. This was immensely encouraging to me. I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I feel that I have nothing to offer to a younger woman. But as we have seen already, our ability to disciple is not based on our merit, but on the merit of Christ. If we are growing in Christlikeness and pursuing holiness we have something to offer—the Savior.

Mothers have an especially high calling to disciple their daughters. If you are a mother, your primary sphere of influence is your children—and especially in the life of your daughter. It is through you that she will learn what it means to be a woman, and it is your responsibility to teach her how to live as the woman that God has called her to be. Married women, even without daughters, can be a tremendous blessing to younger women around them. I know that my mom was encouraged and strengthened by an older, married woman in her life when she was a young mother with two children. And now that my mom’s children are out of the house (or on their way out), she is a great source of encouragement to young mothers around her.

If you are married and do not have children yet, this does not mean that you are to wait for biological children in order to pour your life into others. Marriage is a maturing and sanctifying process that, by the grace of God, gives you tremendous opportunities to teach and train a woman who has not been given this season of life yet. Perhaps there is a college-age woman in your church who you can befriend and disciple. Or perhaps there are opportunities for you to serve the youth in your congregation by leading a small group Bible study. I have been so blessed by the married women in my life. They have taught me tremendous truths about loving their husbands and running a home—even before there were children in the picture.

Single women are called to be mentors, too. I wouldn’t be writing about it if this were not a true statement! Singleness is a wonderful season of freedom to give our lives for the building up of God’s kingdom. If we abandoned, or postponed, our calling to disciple younger women even now, we would be wasting our singleness—and doing a disservice to the Gospel. As we cultivate biblical womanhood in our own lives, we can use these times to teach other single, younger woman how to joyfully serve God even while we wait for what we desire. Maybe you have a young neighbor girl whose mother works nights. Perhaps you can invite her over to bake cookies and talk about the Gospel. Maybe you live in a college dorm with a lot of freshman. This is an amazing opportunity to be a help and encouragement to a young girl in her first year away from home.

Discipleship is for all ages and all seasons. As we grow in the Gospel, we should be seeking to impart the truth that we have received and taught. We have already seen that we do not mentor out of our own ability, but out of the strength that God provides. And we do not mentor only if we are seasoned with a long life, many experiences, and four kids. A heart of discipleship begins by cultivating it while we are young, and as we mature the Lord provides varying opportunities in different seasons of life. Discipleship looks very different as a single woman compared to a mother with many children and a husband.

And that is where we will pick up next time…

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Me, a Mentor? Why We Disciple

Despite what we might hear from feminists in the culture around us, women can be useful and fulfilled while still teaching “only” women and children. It is important to remember first in our discussion about mentoring that Paul did not command Titus to disciple the women in his congregation. Rather, he commanded the women in Titus’ congregation to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). There was nothing in Paul’s words that indicated that this divine calling on the women under Titus’ leadership was subhuman or demeaning. Instead it is portrayed as a great help and blessing considering that no one else was commanded to do it besides these women! We live in a world that sees emphasis on training women to be workers at home, loving their husbands and children, and being diligent in kindness, godliness, and purity as a complete absurdity. But this does not mean that we run from this command. In order for us to be driven towards mentoring and discipleship, it is helpful to first note why we disciple.

First, we mentor because God has commanded that we do so. Titus 2 exhorts older women to train younger women. This training is not necessarily a structured system, though structure might help for a season, rather it is a life on life friendship that aids a younger woman in her pursuit of her Savior. I will get into the practicalities of this in my third post, but for now we can leave it at the simple fact that God has commanded us to disciple younger women. In fact, Carolyn Mahaney encourages us to seek these relationships out when she says in Feminine Appeal, “younger women should consistently pursue more mature women to learn from their wisdom and experience. Older women should prayerfully consider the younger women that God has brought into their lives, in order to encourage and support them.”

Secondly, and most importantly, we mentor because of the Gospel. If we mentor a young woman, or are mentored, and all we learn or teach are helpful things to make our home more manageable, we have failed in the primary purpose of our pursuits—making Christ look attractive. Discipleship is not about creating empty moralists, in fact often times it is a lot easier to simply encourage behavior modification instead of a genuine heart transformation by the Gospel. This should not be our aim. Mahaney also says that our efforts in growing in godly womanhood are “required for the sake of unbelievers—so that those who are lost might come to know our Savior.”

This is our purpose in all things. We want people to see Christ as infinitely valuable and treasure him above all things. This is especially relevant in our Titus 2 relationships. There will be many occasions in our own lives and in the lives of the women we disciple that something other than Christ will rise up as treasure. If we are not intentionally involved in the lives of other believers we can become increasingly unaware of the glaring idol that has replaced our Christ. We disciple because God has created us to live in community with one another—as redeemed sinners living life on life for the glory of His great name.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brief Postponement

Last week I said that I was going to start a series on mentoring, and I am--next week. I am swamped in the middle of finals this week, and come Thursday night I am out of school for the summer. Which means...I will be able to post a lot more and get my bearings some!

So, I promise that by Monday I will resume posting about mentoring. And stay tuned because I have a lot of ideas for this blog over the summer...