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Jan 8 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 6, 2013 – Psalm 32

Spiritual Mentors

I ill instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Don’t be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near you. Psalm 32:8-9

INTRO: If you got to choose a spiritual mentor, that is to say, someone who would help you grow in God,

Would you prefer:
– Moses (the law-giver)? Elijah (the miracle-worker)? or Paul (the theologian and mystic)?
– why?

Christianity began as a relationship between a mentor and his mentees
– of course, Jesus was more than a mentor to disciples, he was their Savior and Lord
• but how fortunate for them, to have their Savior and Lord for their mentor
– what kind of spiritual help did he give them?
• the list is long, but he especially provided insight and guidance in response to their requests and questions
○ “Lord, teach us to pray,” “Why could we not cast it out,” “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must first come,” etc.

Keeping in step with the flow of western history, through the centuries Christian theologians put increasing emphasis on the rational side of the faith
mentors were replaced by educators, pastors became professors,
○ and in some circles, there was more information than transformation
○ the life of the mind eclipsed the life of the spirit
– but to go forward with just the mind, eventually dries up the soul
• that is why lots of Evangelical Christians are looking for spiritual mentors rather than awesome Bible teachers
• they want personal assistance in finding a richer, truer life with Christ

What we do on Sunday mornings is not spiritual mentoring

Christian leaders and pastors don’t always make good spiritual mentors
– they have an agenda
• sometimes their agenda is biblical and spiritual, but not always
• even when it is, it is still an agenda and may not coincide  with God’s agenda for a particular individual

I can provide information and instruction – explain scripture
– hopefully I occasionally  inspire you or provide encouragement or motivation
– but I can’t discern your life-situation and address it personally
• I can’t give you the insight or counsel that you need most at this moment in your spiritual journey
• I don’t know what is going on in your day-to-day experience of God
In other words, I am not walking with you as a personal guide into a deeper life in God

What does a spiritual mentor do?

Basically, a spiritual mentor helps discerns with us what is important right now (kairos)
– that is, at this particular time in these particular circumstances
– we spend a lot of our Christian life psyching up for the future
• we have it in our heart to do something big for God some day
• in the meantime, we put off serving him in ordinary activities and daily routine
○ by comparison, our everyday lives seem dull and unimportant
– but what God wants is our  complete devotion to him in our ordinary lives
• a spiritual mentor helps us discern his will for our lives right now and right here
• as many great things as we would like to do for God, we’ll only be rewarded for doing the things he asks us to do
○ and every day he asks us to surrender ourselves to his will for our ordinary activities

It’s not our job to decide what’s important now
– it’s not like choosing courses in a college handbook
• it’s not a riddle that we have to solve
• it’s not a problem we have to trouble-shoot and fix
– God may or may not reveal to you what’s important now
but he is already working on what’s important in you and in your circumstances
a spiritual mentor helps us discover God’s work in us

A spiritual mentor helps us become more aware of God
– where is God’s grace in our situation? (It is always here, somewhere)
– what is the Spirit doing in us? We want to discover this and respond to it
– what is going on in our prayers?
• am I doing all the talking?
• am I trying to use prayer to get what I want? – “My will be done”
○ sometimes, we come to God so emotionally intense, that the thing we are requesingt smothers our prayer

A spiritual mentor helps us discern our spiritual experiences
• discern the spirit behind them, which may be either God’s Spirit, the human spirit, or a diabolical spirit

A spiritual mentor helps us learn how to pray
– they do not do our work for us – they only assist our growth
• in wisdom, prayer, discernment, overcoming obstacles, resisting temptation, etc.
○ everyone has blind spots regarding their personal issues
• a mentor’s goal is to be with us until the training wheels come off
– the spiritual mentor does not do psychology
• psychology has (or looks for) answers – spirituality embraces mystery and responds to it with reverence

A time may come when you will want a spiritual mentor

That person may be here in our Reflexion community

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another (Ro. 15:14)

Another time, you may want a spiritual mentor, but won’t be able to find one
– for several years, I begged God for a spiritual mentor
• then in 1988, verses 8 and 9 from this Psalm 32 popped out as I read them
• I took them personally – God wanted to be my mentor

Gerald May, “. . . it is generally assumed that the ‘real’ director is the Holy Spirit, manifested through the relationship in a graced way.”

– Jesus wanted us to think of God in this way:

But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is you Father, He who is in heaven (Mt. 23:7-9)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mind and will disclose it to you (Jn. 16:13-14)

In my last conversation with Fr. Romuald, I said to him, “Romuald, I’ve gained so much from you and my relationship with Jesus has become deeper and more real to me. But I still have so much to learn. I just don’t see why God feels it’s alright for him to take you now.
Fr. Romuald smiled and said, “Oh Chuck, I am not your teacher. The Holy Spirit is your teacher, and he will bring what you need next.”

The Spirit of God is our spiritual mentor

Meditate on what God has to say about how he mentors us

“I will instruct you” – give insight

“and teach you in the way which you should go”
– teach: “to throw,” “send out the hand,” i.e., point at something
– point out or show you the way to go

“I will counsel you” – advise, act as consultant
Jethro to Moses, “Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you” (Ex. 18:19)

“with My eye upon you” – this is wonderful

I see you once or twice a week and I don’ have the opportunity to speak to most of you
– but God mentors you and keeps an eye on you
• he observes your progress
• he sees where you need more insight or guidance
• he knows exactly when he needs to step it and pick you up

God’s ground rules for those he mentors:

“Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding”
– I’m currently in a dilemma with Kona (our four-month-old Lab)
• I know she’s a puppy and has to be trained
○ but I also think she sometimes pretends to not understand me
• recently, she’ll pick up something in her mouth and I’ll call
○ she takes a stance like it’s a challenge
○ and when I approach her, she bolts and races around in circles at high speed, ducking under things and jumping over plants
○ and I’m still not sure if she understands that I’m trying to be serious with her
– God was pleased to give us the intelligence to understand him
• he wants us to respond to him with understanding

“Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, / Otherwise they will not come near you”
– we need to be aware of our resistence when it comes up
– our Spiritual Mentor demands our cooperation

CONC: These verses answer a question that is raised in the Psalm

How can I avoid ever getting so low again?
– first of all, he sinned – then he tried living in denial
– in two short verses, he eloquently describes the toll this took on his mind and body (vv. 3-4)

How can he make sure he never returns to this miserable state?
– God tells him, “I will instruct you . . ., etc.”

The lesson is ours – the message is for us

Can we make it both a goal and priority to seek God out as our Spiritual Mentor this year?
– not only as protection from self-inflicted misery,
– but to make progress along a path that is spiritually meaningful and leads us into greater intimacy with God?
Let’s find out

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