Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Keeping Bees and Following Jesus {aka: Why You Need a Godly Woman in Your Life}

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Though I have an important meeting this morning and really would like to be sleeping right now, I'm not.

I'm thinking of bees.  And Jesus.

Actually, it all started a couple of hours ago when I woke up wondering if I'd made a colossal mistake in moving forward on a decade's old desire to keep bees.  God and I have been talking about this for days - mostly with me asking Him to make it clear to me if this is a bad idea.

See, keeping bees isn't as simple as I had once thought.  In fact, the more I learn about them, the more overwhelmed I begin to feel.  Once upon a time, we had lots of wild honey bees in the United States. Today, that population is almost decimated by disease, widespread use of pesticides, and mites.  Because of these same issues, beekeeping has also become more complex.

Every decent beekeeping source will tell new beekeepers to read, read, read...so read I have.  And I've learned that you don't just get a hive and bees, slap them on your property, and return later in the year to take the honey.

Bees swarm (leave the hive) under certain conditions.

Bees die unless monitored and cared for well.   


Even then, bees can die.  


They can die in the spring.  They can die in the summer.  Many die in the fall.  Even more die in the winter.


And, of course, bees sting.  More so under certain situations.


If you know me at all, you know that this has caused me to wonder whether or not this is a good idea.

And then wonder some more.

So as God and I were discussing this, I remembered something that gave me great peace: I have resources.

For instance, there is a very decent beekeeping association where I live.  Best of all, they have willing mentors!

See, it's one thing to read about cracking a hive.  It is great to see pictures of capped brood, queen bees, and wax moth damage in the hive.  However, how much better to have a real, live person whose done this numerous times before right there with me.  Someone to show me a better way, tell me stories about having done it wrong, and explain to me what I'm looking for in the hive.

The same is so very true for the Christian.

God Provides for Mentors

I became a Christian in perhaps the most outstanding congregation I've ever known.  (Our current one is pretty awesome, so it's a tough call!)   As far as mentoring, they are the best I've ever seen.  And because of that, they've always stood out in my mind as an anomaly among congregations.  What is most frustrating and discouraging about that is that "mentoring" is part and parcel of life in Christ.

One thing that was, at first, very overwhelming to me as I started educating myself on beekeeping was the lingo.

Brood, capped brood, queen bee, worker bee, drone, drawing comb, foundation, nucs, colonies, packages...

Beekeepers have a lingo all their own and often those speaking it seem oblivious to the fact that the hearers might not have the slightest clue as to what they're talking about.

Often older Christians are the same way with babes in Christ fresh out of the world.

Loving your enemies, picking up your cross and following Jesus, having all things in common, praying without ceasing, walking in newness of life, giving as you have been prospered, walking in the light, worshiping in spirit and in truth...

Christians have a lingo.  If you were raised "in the church" you may or may not know what these things mean, but to those who grew up living in the world, these words - and what they mean - might be as foreign as beekeeping terms.

We can read about them in the Bible and have a very good idea of what it should look like in our life, but (praise God) He planned, from the outset, and provides for us even more resources: mentors!

I imagine many of us recognize that Godly older women are to mentor the younger women:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

And that parents are to mentor their children:


Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

All of the older generation is to mentor the younger generations in the Lord:

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)


In fact, we are all to mentor one another:


Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)


And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Notice that these are not just words of wisdom, but they are commands: we are to lead one another not just to Christ, but in Godliness.


God actually provides for this in how He set up His Kingdom on Earth:


23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 ot forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  (Hebrews 10). 



While the latter verse in this passage is often used to teach the importance of attending church, in context we can see that it is so very much more than that.  


God's design for Christians is that we come together, certainly for regular worship, but even more often than that, for the purpose of encouraging one another and stimulating each other to love and good deeds - in order to hold on to our faith without wavering.  This is God's prescription for remaining strong in the Lord.

Let me reiterate, hopefully without being obnoxious.  This is not a prescription to attend worship, engage in pleasant conversation about how great the kids are and who won the Super Bowl, and go to lunch.  


This is about being in each other's lives.  Seriously being in each other's lives.


This is where mentoring happens.  This is where we learn what it means to be a Christian.  This is where we see the Christian walk in action - and begin to model it much like a child models his own parents.


The 1st letter to Timothy (that we have record of, anyway), begins:

"Paul, an apostle of Christ...to Timothy, my true child in the faith...as I urged you..."

We see a pattern here by one of the most renown Bible mentors: a spiritual father urging his Spiritual child to do the work of God.

We should all be living this example.  We should each be a spiritual mother.  We should each be a spiritual daughter.  We should all be encouraging one another to do the work of God - and being in each other's life to the extent that we know whether or not that's happening.


Finding (and Being) a Godly Mentor

While none of us is perfect, it is true that, for us to mentor someone, we need to be further along in our walk (at least on the issue on which we are willing to mentor another) than they.  I don't want a beekeeper as novice as myself to mentor me, I want someone whose been there.  I want someone who can tell me how to avoid getting stung!  And, if that doesn't work, what to do about it!

Jesus warned that the blind leading the blind results in both of them falling in a pit.  (Luke 6:39)  So we want to be sure that we are seeing guides...and that we choose seeing guides.


The only way to really tell that is to become very familiar with your Bible, and then become a "fruit inspector."


I have become well enough acquainted with the lingo and basic beekeeping knowledge, that I'd be able to tell if someone was as novice as myself.  I might not be able to tell if they were a master beekeeper, but I could tell they knew more than myself.  The next thing I'd check out is how their bees are doing.  Did they lose all of them over the winter?  Are their bees dying from mites?  If so, I think I'll keep shopping for my mentor.


And 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealously, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things  like these of which I forwarn you, just as I have forwarned, you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galations 5) 


If my prospective mentor is frequently at odds with others, still living a worldly life, unkind to others, or lacking in personal self-discipline, I should keep looking.  I should be looking for one who bears many of the fruits of the spirit that Paul mentions to the Galatians.  Finding women who exhibit these qualities and are working on growing them is  a true blessing and serves us well as we learn how to walk in the Lord.
{A necessary aside: Unfortunately, you cannot assume that just because a woman is a life-long Christian, or even a church leader's wife, that they are Godly women.  We must discern from their behavior, in light of God's Word, whether or not they are a suitable mentor. Jesus warned that there would be many who called Him Lord, performed miracles, prophesied, and cast out demons in His name...and, yet, He did not know them.  We have to know God's Word and Godly character to know who we should choose to help us on our way.}

Unfortunately, too often we choose ungodly mentors -without realizing we're even choosing mentors at all.  What we watch on television, what we listen to on the radio, and the advice we receive from worldly friends is not only no substitute for the example of a Godly older woman, but it is a surefire way to find yourself off of God's path.  When our churches are virtually devoid of the type of mentorship that God has designed for the Church, it is tempting to take advice and relationship where you can get it, but it always ends badly.  Many times, there are willing mentors and mentees in your congregation, but you may need to initiate the relationship.  If there are not willing mentors or mentees in your congregation, you should consider finding a new congregation - because that means that your congregation is not fulfilling one of the most basic commands of God or His design for His church.

Have you had great Godly mentors in your Christian walk?  I'd love to hear about them.   I know that it is from up-close, personal relationships with wonderful women of God that I have learned so much.  By watching their examples I have learned: great approaches to parenting, to rank Scripture above every other source of advice or wisdom, how to love through hard times, and how to persevere in Christ through challenges.  Through their encouragement I have learned: to press on and uphold my God-given responsibilities no mater what others do; to search the Word with passion, and to not lose faith in God.  Through their admonishment I've learned: that gossip hurts people and disappoints God, that just because women I look up to (even in the church) do something that doesn't mean it's right; faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6).  What have you learned from the Godly women God has blessed you with?


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4 comments:

  1. Very, very nice post! I miss chatting.

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  2. I appreciate your posts and wisdom. You are a blessing!

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    Replies
    1. And you are a blessing to me, Blog Writer! Thank you for commenting!

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