Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Bedtime Blessing for my Son

Heavenly father,

Thank you for Luke’s life and ministry. I pray you would make him healthy and wise, and to continue to grow in wisdom and stature and to have favor with you and with other people. Grant us the wisdom to raise him up in the way he should go so that he would not depart from it when he is older. I pray you would prepare him for his future wife as you prepare him for her.

Establish a legacy of faith in him, and in his children, and in his children’s children—that they would come to faith early in life and live lives dedicated to you. Please bless those who bless him, and watch over his friends, family, and loved ones. Grant him restful slumber and peaceful dreams tonight, and keep him safe.

I ask this by the power of your spirit, and in the name of your son, Jesus.


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Filed under Christian Education

3 Reasons for Failing Mentoring Programs

Why Mentoring Programs Fail | Blogs.

Blogger Laura Singleton wrote recently on the reasons she saw why mentoring programs fail. Essentially, she argues that they fail because they emphasis the program aspect of mentoring rather than the relational aspect of mentoring. Without disagreeing with her, the blog prompted me to consider other reasons why mentoring programs fail.

  1. Wrong purpose. Some people claim they want a mentor when they really want someone to follow. They want to be a disciple rather than a protégé. The character Mentor acted as an adviser to his protégé, sharing wisdom and insights. Similarly, in the mentor/protégé(e) relationship, the protégé may or may not adopt the viewpoint of the mentor. In contrast, in the disciple/master relationship, the disciple wishes to adopt the methods, philosophy, and ideas of his master. The disciple patterns him/herself after the master. The mentor/protégé(e) relationship is about guidance and growth; the disciple/master relationship is about imitation and duplication. A program will naturally fail when someone wishes to be a disciple rather than a protégé(e).
  2. Wrong program. Related to the reason above, some programs fail because they have the wrong programmatic elements. According to Dr. Michael Lawson of the Christian Education department at Dallas Theological Seminary, “Programs are just excuses for older Christians to get together with younger Christians.” In a mentoring relationship, the program (and any associated curriculum) needs to draw out the knowledge, values, and drives of the protégé(e); it is a student-centered approach to education. A master/disciple relationship needs to draw out the knowledge, values, and drives of the master; it is a teacher-centered approach to education. While there’s nothing wrong with studying the Bible, if the protégé(e) has needs and desires that go beyond Biblical study (perhaps they need career direction) then a curriculum exploring all 66 books of the Bible will fall short.
  3. Wrong people. Quite frankly, some people give bad advice. A mentor is an adviser, and must have the capacity to offer wisdom unattached from the need to see it adopted. In the Odyssey, Odysseus placed Mentor in charge of Telemachus, Odysseus’ son. Mentor acted as a guide and encourager rather than a father figure. It takes a particular skill-set, disposition, and personality to act in that capacity. A mentor must consider the needs of the protégé(e) and help the protégé(e) develop according to their own pattern. A master patterns his/her disciples according to the master’s way.

As you consider building a mentoring program or looking for a mentoring relationship, consider the purpose. Are you looking to make disciples, or are you trying to create opportunities to share wisdom? Are you looking for someone you can imitate, or do you want guidance on how to develop? Are you looking to be a disciple, or do you wish to be a protégé(e)?


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Filed under Christian Education, Foundations

On Bombings and Burials, Part 2

Last time, I wrote about the imago dei as a reason for Christians to step up and help bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At the time of this writing, it appears that someone else had the same idea. That said, let me put forth another reason as to why Christians (and the United States) needs to step up and bury Tsarnaev. First, a few questions:

  1. Do you believe the government acted rightly in attempting to arrest, and ultimately killing, Tsarnaev?
  2. Do you believe, assuming his guilt, the crimes Tsarnaev committed justified the actions taken against him? In other words, did he deserve death as a response to bombing the marathon, resisting arrest, and attacking the police?

If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, then you’ll probably agree that justice was served in this case. We can define justice in many, many ways to define justice. From a legal standpoint, it seems to me that Tsarnaev’s death satisfied the principles of retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, reparation and denunciation in jurisprudence. It did not satisfy rehabilitation. The state’s response created harmony (as in Plato’s Republic), it followed divine command (see the just war theory and Augustine’s argument’s in favor), and is fairly consistent with natural law. By most common measures, Tsarnaev’s death brought justice.

And yet, we still resist the idea of granting his body a final resting place; we reject the idea of his innate human dignity, even in death. A question: if justice occurred, if we truly believed that his punishment fit his crime(s), if he received his just desserts (both here and in the hereafter) then shouldn’t we accept that satisfaction? I suspect that, for all of our lip service, we actually don’t believe that justice was served. If we did, we would respond to him as an image-bearer, not as a ‘monster’, or ‘walking garbage pile’ or ‘human fecal matter’ to use just three of the terms bandied about.

Admittedly, I believe that we will not experience true justice until the eternal state. All things will not be right until the King makes all things right. I also believe that we have a taste of justice in the form of good government and law in this present age—an appetizer for the main course to come. In that light, I believe Christians must cease our insensitive and contradictory vitriol toward criminals who received punishment for their crimes and instead, treat them as if justice has been served. This doesn’t mean a blanket open arms—God forgave Adam and Eve, but He didn’t let them back into the garden—but it does mean we should act according to what we believe.

So, Christian, do you believe that God is just and good? Do you believe that He can and does act through others to enact His will? Do you believe that He will make all things right? If so, then let that belief permeate all you do.

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Filed under Justice, Theology

On Bombings and Burials, part 1

According to some of the latest news for the Boston bombings, the funeral home who has prepped Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body cannot find a cemetery willing to bury him. Evidently, his family cannot transport him to Russia due to some complications regarding his passport and citizenship. The city refuses to take responsibility for the body citing public interest and safety. Even someone who professes to be a member of his religion (while disagreeing with his actions) wishes to distance himself from Tsarnaev’s ideologies by remaining unwilling to bury him.

This seems to be a perfect opportunity for the Church to be the Church. Christian theology recognizes that all people, regardless of their actions and whether redeemed or unredeemed, bear the image of God. In that vein, our Judeo-Christian ethic requires that we treat human beings with a certain amount of dignity and respect, even in death. Consider: do we really want to make the argument that we can circumvent that dignity “if the crime is bad enough,” and if we do, then what is the standard of “bad enough”? Is it one body? Three? Ten? Only if children are involved? Where do we draw the line of treating someone else like a human being?

Granted, it’s easy for me to be idealistic when I have no loved one either maimed or killed by Tsarnaev. I admit that. I don’t know if I would feel differently about it. I pray I never have to find out. In this moment, however, I read some of the ugly comments (such as one person who suggested that they cremate his body and flush the ashes down the toilet) and shudder. Why?

Today they’re talking about a bomber. What if tomorrow, it’s a group of people who spout hate speech against a minority group. Like, maybe their sacred text has some nasty things to say about that minority group (such as telling them that their identity and lifestyle are an abomination to God). Maybe some of that group of people use that as an excuse to harm minority groups. As such, public opinion swings to protect the minority group, and disband the “hate-mongers.” After all, we need to protect the public good, right? Jesus addressed these issues pretty clearly (and, in my opinion, in a superior manner than other religions). Do to others what you would have them do to you. If you had grossly injured someone, whether maliciously or not, how would you wish they treat you?

So what if the Church did something radical, like foot the bill to have Tsarnaev shipped home for burial? Even better, what if we chose to bury him in one of our cemeteries? What might that say about Christians? How might that demonstrate that we truly follow Christ?
As we spread the good news, may we remember that evangelism involves our relationship between God and humanity, but it also involves the dignity of the individual. When Jesus summed the law, he stated first to love God, but he reminded them of the command like it: to love your neighbor. Tamerlan Tsarnaev is your neighbor; how will you love him?


Filed under Theology