Who’s Your Mentor?

Oh the infamous verse, Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (NKJV). Men’s ministries love to rally around this and declare loudly and proudly that they are now committed to accountability. Pastors preach and teach friendship principles from this particular verse. Don’t get me wrong, I think those are valuable ways to interpret and apply this verse, and if people are using this verse with a genuine heart, then their intentions are dignified. But let’s look at this Scripture from the viewpoint of the mentor – mentee relationship.

Have you ever wondered why God uses relationships to make us more like Jesus? I was pondering this concept the other day, often called discipleship by the Christian circles that most of us run in, and I had an idea come to mind that I have never thought of before. I believe that God uses mentors in all of our lives to keep us humble! Having God as my guide does keep me humble. I constantly see my need for divine wisdom and insight. But, having an earthly guide who is imperfect but also kind, loving, and willing to work with me through the difficulties that my personality presents is also very humbling. Taking instruction from my mentor calls for me to lay down my pride of thinking I know better and trusting that this individual has been there, done that, and has learned some valuable things about God that I need to learn myself.

Who are you being mentored by? I am young and immature and I know that I need older men in my life who balance out my drive (I am very internally Type A) and help me see that life is not all about accomplishing goals and living out your dreams. Likewise, my theology is still being formed and shaped, so I know I need men of great wisdom and practicality in my life that can help grow me with biblical counsel. Young people, please hear me when I plead with you to find credible people around you and soak up as much as you can from them. Your mentor will not be perfect, and they still have potential to let you down, but they also have tremendous ability to lift you up. Don’t ever sell their power of intercession and intervention short!

Lastly, to those of you who are “more advanced” in age, who are you mentoring? We young people desperately need your help! We want to learn and  know the best way to go about leading a life that honors Christ! Most of us are very eager to be taught the Lord’s precepts.

If you are already being mentored or are actively pouring into the lives of others, wonderful! Please continue to set an example within the church of leadership, love, and involvement. God bless!

Photograph taken by Jeff Sheldon

Guest Blogger – Logan Vlandis

By Logan Vlandis

The aspiration of man is to understand who the Lord is and to embrace that reality. It is a process that satisfies the soul and will continue on forever.

The chief way to understand the Lord is to know His Word. This goes beyond reading a chapter of the Bible a day; knowing the Scripture is about ruminating, meditating, and reflecting on the principles it reveals about the Lord. If this sounds irritating, check your priorities. There is no greater pursuit on this side of life than to know, love, and mimic who God is.

The book of Jonah provides wonderful knowledge about the character of God. In chapter 1, verse 9, Jonah answers the ship’s sailors when they ask him who he is, where he is from, and what he had done to cause a nightmare of a storm to torment the ship.

Jonah replied, “I am a Hebrew and I worship Yahweh, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land” (1:9).

Jonah had also told them that he was running away from Yahweh, his Lord

Jonah’s reply is completely tailored to the situation he was in, and he utilized it to reveal the Lord’s character. You would realize this only if you thought about the passages and put yourself on the deck of the ship. Jonah identifies his Lord as the one who, “made the sea and the dry land.” What was tormenting the crew? The sea. What was the most desirable thing to the crew at that time? The land.

Yahweh is the Lord of the suffering and the rest. Jonah purposefully used the surrounding circumstance that everyone was keenly aware of to describe the Lord’s authority and sovereignty. God is not a God to be admired only during the harmony; He is a God to be worshiped and clung to, regardless of the circumstance.

Jonah was experiencing discipline so that he would conform to God’s will. As New Covenant believers, we know that we, as God’s children, will also experience discipline so as to “share in His holiness” (Heb. 12:7-10).

All of reality – every detail and episode of your life – is submitted to God’s authority. We can choose the path of misery by despising hardship and neglecting relationship and intimacy with God, or we can choose the path of life by understanding that the Lord is the God of the rest and unrest. Our tangible hope is in accepting reality’s submission to God, understanding God’s character, and having our confidence placed in the rich spiritual realities of the sanctifying ability of trials and the promise of eternity.

 

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Logan Vlandis is a junior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and is studying business communications and project management. He grew up in a family professing the Christian faith and began investigating more closely how the Christian worldview answered life’s ultimate questions of origin, meaning, and morality his freshman year of college. Since then, he has studied the works of thinkers like Ravi Zacharias, David Berlinski, William Lane Craig, John Lenox, and C.S. Lewis. In his free time, Logan enjoys fitness, reading, eating meals with friends, and wondering what the difference between soup and cereal really is.

 

Photograph taken by Markus Spiske

 

 

Three Basic Actions to Re – Establish Your Prayer Life

Our world is so busy! Envision with me New York City; it is always alive. The streets are cluttered with people, the landscape is busy, and a place of solitude is nowhere to be found. Just as the bustle of people keep New York lively, the bustle of our thoughts and routines keep us engrossed and active. We are always making deals, “turning up”, getting busy at work, or taking a short second just to catch our breath. For me, college only exaggerates my busyness and lack of routine and my first priority to suffer is always my prayer life. This being true, I ask myself, “how much of a priority is my prayer life if it suffers so readily?” My grades don’t drop, my relationship with my family doesn’t wean, my friendships are actually strengthened, and I don’t forget to do the basic every day tasks like eat, sleep, and shower. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not beating up on myself. This isn’t a “woe is me”, “oh me oh my” moment. But it should be honestly addressed, both by myself and by fellow believers.

Three ways to preserve and progress my prayer life.

1.     Identify the things that vie for my attention more than prayer.

I’m good at checking the box in my Bible reading plan, but I’m poor at executing intentional conversation with the Lord. Why? Because I often use poor time management techniques during the day in a way that doesn’t allow me free time at night or in the morning. I’m either cramming in homework or sleeping in to rest up. For me, I have to be proactive and protect time designated for prayer during my day.

2.     Establish a routine, expected prayer time.

This is a lot easier to write than to practice. It is especially tough for me since I lack a lot of privacy in a college dorm with a roommate. Still, I am lying to myself if I think that I have to go to the top of Liberty Mountain every time I need to talk to God. Those around me understand prayer, the need for it, and the importance of it. Therefore, I should set aside a time when I know I’m going to pray and protect it as I would class times designated to exams.

3.     Document the Lord’s progress.

Seeing results is a great motivator. It doesn’t matter if I am studying and ace a test or working out and making “gains”, progress excites me! So, I should be documenting my prayer request, my new revelation of God’s truth from His word, and other important spiritual milestones and celebrating them. Likewise, watching God work and answer your prayers (and grow your spirit to be more compliant with His will) will soften your heart and make you tender to His presence.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? By the way, I was writing to myself in this post! I need to learn this more than anyone else! God bless and get to praying, people. God wants to hear from us!

Photograph taken by Andrew E Weber

Trusting in God’s Provisional Power

 In Exodus 4, we intersect Moses’ journey at a crucial point. He found refuge in Midian along side a compassionate and godly family after committing vengeful murder in Egypt. During this time of solitude God eventually speaks the loudest, through a burning bush, commissioning Moses to lead the Israelites to freedom.

 Does my life’s call, work, and goals reveal a void in my power that only God can fill? Am I willing to go through life trying only things I know I can accomplish? There is a particular self – proficient confidence that can be found in being certain I can do what I have been made to do. But when God challenges not only my faith in myself but also my belief in His provisional power, then I can see him moving on my behalf like never before. If you are seeking the Lord’s purpose for putting you on this earth, one day you will face your burning bush. Observe Moses’ initial response to God calling him out of routine anonymity: “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send” (Exodus 4:13). Moses’ response reveals the human disposition of self – efficacy – the illusion that we as men are capable only of certain things, and that aptitude comes from within. When commissioned by God to do whatever it is you are to do, observing the situation from a mortal perspective leads one to conclude that “I am not eloquent” (Exodus 4:10). However, when I realize that God did not call me to impact my world with eloquence, I allow the power of God to work in my simplicity. It is in my simplicity that people step back, taking my life in its entirety and marvel at the sufficient power of the Lord, and say “Only God could have done so much with so little.”

“So the people believed…then they bowed their head and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31). When I give God an opportunity to make much of himself where there is little “me” I should not be surprised when man’s response is to “bow and worship.” It’s not that I am the catalyst for worship in the heart of man; rather, I have the capacity to allow God to produce fruit through me that leads others to express adoration to God.

I don’t have a lot to offer the people and world around me. In fact, I have nothing of supernatural importance to offer them if I don’t offer them Christ. When I surrender my desire to make my difference and let the Lord make his mark in spite of me, then others will have the opportunity to bow their heads and worship.

What in your life is God asking you to do that you feel overwhelmed by? Remember, the Lord is faithful to provide when He commissions us to serve him in a particular way. Let your faith be challenged today and your spirit encouraged! Trust the Lord to provide, for He is faithful!

Photograph taken by Oday Hazeem

Why I Am Starting to Blog and How I’m Going to Do It

Two words come to mind when I think about writing my own blog: “the reader”. I’m most concerned about you. You are giving me a sliver of time in your day to share thoughts that I believe are valuable. Primarily I want to say thank you and I hope as you continue to follow and read you find it worth the investment.

I desire two things for you from my writing. First, spiritual growth, but not in a traditional teacher – student role. After all, this is just a blog and I am just a young man. I want you to grow in wisdom and understanding with me as we process thoughts together. I hope that I will be able to point out things in God’s Word that you didn’t know were there, and you do likewise in the comments. Additionally, I plan on discussing hobbies, travel, and the legitimate joy that can be derived from every day. Second, let’s have fun! I desire my writing to be uplifting, enjoyable, and full of life! I so loathe the blogs and Facebook posts that are burdensome and heavy. I am committed to “keeping it light” and sparking introspection within you.

Three Ways I’m Going to Do It

1.     In 500 words are less.

Your time is your most valuable asset. I want to honor that. You can expect to give my blog five minutes of your time (or more, but no more than five if you don’t want to). Just enough to inspire, encourage, and challenge you.

2.     Twice a week.

Expect to see my post on Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons. Subscribing will take care of the issue of keeping up, but I won’t get greedy!

3.     By focusing on your needs and wants as readers.

That means you can request that I cover a topic you find interesting (biblical or “secular”), or maybe just get really involved in the comments. Any feedback is appreciated and all ideas are respected.

That’s it! Thanks for reading this initial post. I look forward to sharing with all of you what the Lord lays on my heart. Also, be ready to hear from other people in my life who are gifted writers and thinkers. Y’all have a blessed day!

Note: This post is obviously off schedule. I will start my traditional posting schedule on Tuesday, February 23rd.

Photograph taken by Startup Stock Photos