Tag Archives: mentoring

The Domino Effect

When I was a kid, I used to play dominos. Not the game—I used to stack up the dominos one in front of the other and build an elaborate trail leading in numerous directions. Then, with one simple touch, I started a chain reaction affecting hundreds of other dominos.

Think about it: one domino affected hundreds of others. In the video above, you’ll see the power of one domino on over 4 million.

And you can do the same thing.

Please join us and learn how in our daily Bible conversation!


Jeremiah 39:1-41:18
2 Timothy 1:1-18
Psalm 90:1-91:16
Proverbs 26:1-2


Jeremiah 39:1-41:18. We step away from Jeremiah’s prophecies to read about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., which Jeremiah had prophesied. Apparently, King Nebuchadnezzar had heard about Jeremiah advice to Zedekiah to surrender without a fight, so he treated him well.

2 Timothy 1:1-18. During the reign of Roman Emperor Nero, Paul was thrown in prison. In contrast to his previous imprisonment where he stayed in a rented house (Acts 28:30), this time Paul was stuck in a cold dungeon (2 Timothy 4:13) and chained like a common criminal (2 Timothy 1:16; 2:9). Likely Paul’s last epistle, he wrote this because he was lonely and wanted to ensure that his churches were okay.

Paul also wanted to encourage Timothy to pastor his churches with confidence: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Notice those last few words, because they apply to us, too. God has already given us a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. How do we know that? Because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have made a permanent dwelling place in us! Fear doesn’t need to rule us.

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With the end of his life close at hand, Paul began reflecting on his life. Quite often as we get older, our deepest values rise to the surface. So while sitting in a dungeon with chains that limited his ability to even get comfortable, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

The Domino Effect.

Paul knew Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice well enough to identify the sincere faith that had passed from generation to generation. The word “sincere” is translated literally as “unhypocritical.” The three family members shared a common authenticity. More than a genetic trait, it was character quality that Timothy gained from spending time with his mother who spent time with her mother. This was mentoring in action.

Then at the end of the chapter Paul returns to the theme of mentoring: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). This time, Paul wasn’t referring to Timothy’s family, he was referring to himself. Paul was Timothy’s mentor, too. Timothy was the product of numerous people who invested themselves in him.

A key reason why Christianity still exists nearly two thousand years after Paul wrote these words is because men and women like Paul and Lois invested themselves in the lives of the people around them. They passed on their faith, their character, their life to younger men and women. Like a stack of dominos, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are benefitting TODAY from the influence of thousands, if not millions, of Christians who have gone before you.

The greatest investment you could ever make is to invest yourself in other people. You don’t need an instruction manual, you don’t even need an agenda to follow. Just find someone whose heart is open to you, someone with whom you can build a relationship. Then tip the domino: live life together. Meet for coffee. Play tennis. Sit together at church. Ask lots of questions. Talk about your hopes, fears, failures—in other words, be authentic. Just like Lois, Eunice, and Timothy.

Don’t think you have it together enough to be a mentor? Welcome to the club. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ who lives in you. That’s why it’s also good to find someone who can mentor you. Finding a good mentor will make you a a more sincere follow of Jesus.

Imagine what the church would be like if believers in Jesus intentionally invested in one other like Timothy experienced.

It would start a chain reaction that would change the world.

And it begins with the tip of just one domino.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Who from your past has invested in your life? What difference did those people make? What character qualities did you glean from them?
  3. If you don’t already have one, who could be a mentor to you today?
  4. Who could use a mentor like you?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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What Would Hillel Do?

Years ago, a friend gave me two tickets to a sporting event in town. Living in a family of four females, I knew interest among the most important women in my life in joining me would be pretty low. At first I thought of taking another male friend, but then my wife suggested, “Why don’t you take Josh?” (not his real name)

Josh was in the church youth group with my oldest daughter. Through a few conversations, I learned he grew up without a father. When I asked him to join me, he shrugged and said, “Okay.”

When we arrived at the event, I pelted him with questions. Usually he replied with a one-word answer or a grunt. After two hours, I was fairly exhausted…and I felt defeated because we were never able to engage in any kind of deep conversation.

Days later, my daughter told me, “Dad, Josh had an awesome time with you last weekend. He won’t stop talking about you!”

Wow, I thought to myself. I didn’t think our time together went that well.

Over the next few years, we attended an assortment of events together. From my vantage point, I never broke through the surface into the inner workings of Josh. But not long ago, Josh told my daughter that I’m the closest thing he ever had to a dad.

You and I can make a difference in a child’s life—even if we don’t think we’re making a difference.

In today’s reading, we’ll take a closer look at a child who was mentored—and who later became a mentor to a group of men who changed the world.

Over the next six days, I’m going to be taking a little breather from our daily conversation. While I’m away, we’ll have some excellent guest bloggers who will offer their perspective. I’m confident you’ll find their contributions more than worthwhile.


Numbers 26:1-51
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 60:1-12
Proverbs 11:15


Numbers 26. After experiencing God’s judgment as a result of their rebellion and complaining, a census was needed to determine who was left. Israel was also preparing to enter the Promised Land, so they needed to know how many men were available to serve in the army. But most importantly, this signified a new start for the fledgling nation.

Verses 9 and 10 recount Korah’s rebellion. As we discussed about a week ago, this was an important moment in Israel’s history.

Luke 2:36-52. It might seem strange, today, for a 12 year old boy to travel apart from his parents, but the New Bible Commentary explains, “People traveled in large groups for companionship and security on the way, and it is not surprising that Mary and Joseph did not worry unduly about Jesus on the first day’s journey home.”

Already, we can see an intimate relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father. When asked about where he was while his parents searched for him, Jesus replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (verse 49)

The description of Jesus in verse 51 is nearly identical to the description of young Samuel in 1 Samuel 2:26.

Psalm 60. The New Bible Commentary provides an excellent summary of what’s happening:

“David was in trouble of his own making. According to 2 Samuel 8:3–7, he caught Hadadezer of Zobah with his back turned. Hadadezer was busy securing his frontier in the far north and David opportunistically invaded the south. But before he could savour his victory, news came that Edom had caught David with his back turned and invaded across the valley of the Dead Sea. With the king and the army miles away, it looked as if the infant kingdom of David would perish before it was well begun.”

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Up to this point in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew their son was special. Mary had become mysteriously pregnant. Angels had appeared proclaiming Jesus’ birth. Magi presented their gifts to the new king. Even the shepherds walked from the fields to commemorate the occasion.

Yet they were astonished when they discovered that young Jesus had remained in Jerusalem to spend time with the older Jewish teachers. Undoubtedly, he spent time with rabbis Hillel and Gamaliel (who later mentored Saul of Tarsus)—both of whom are well-known in Jewish circles today.

Two thoughts come to mind as I meditate on this passage:

God has endowed children with the ability to understand deep spiritual truth. While Jesus was God, he was also equally human. If Jesus discussed deep spiritual truths with his teachers, so can children today. I confess that for many years as a pastor, I regarded children as participants in the church who should be seen but not heard. Children—and not just adults—are born with a deep spiritual hunger. Television, cell phones, FaceBook, extracurricular activities, and video games will never fill that spiritual void.

We raise spiritual, godly children by bringing them to the temple. Obviously this isn’t the only solution, but bringing children to church is an important part of it. What we do with children once they arrive is equally important. Children were created for so much more than silly songs and Bible-based games. They were created for an intimate relationship with God.

Here’s where come in. Perhaps you don’t have children—but you can be a Hillel or Gamaliel to someone else’s child. You don’t need to know all the answers (I sure don’t!), but by taking an interest in a child, loving that child, and openly living your relationship with Jesus, you can be a Hillel or Gamaliel.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What children has God brought into your life with whom you can be a mentor?
  3. How can you pray for those children?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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