Four Things the Single Parent Needs from the Church


Single parenting! I remember those days well! When I entered into this stage in my life I had just left the military but little did I realize I was entering into an even bigger challenge. One that would demand more physical and mental stamina than my Drill Sergeants had demanded from me.

My daily routine consisted of getting not only myself, but the kids, out of bed and ready for the day. I’d get them to the babysitter or school, then off to work I’d go. After work it was time to pick up the kids from the babysitter, arrive home, fix dinner, clean the house, help with homework, bathe the kids, then sit down to work on bills, plan meals, get up to clean the daily clutter and wash the dishes–all before collapsing in bed at night, depressed with the thought  that tomorrow would start the routine all over again. It felt like each day was a battle that left me exhausted, sometimes bloodied and bruised. I’d wake with the new sunrise, facing another battle to be won.

Chances are that within your church are many of these brave troops . Whether you are on staff or a concerned brother or sister, these brave soldiers need you and your church. They may not admit it, they may not even know it, but they need fellow believers to come alongside them in their daily battles.

Here are 4 things all singles need from the church to accomplish the goal of raising children who love and honor God.

  1.  Love: This is such a no-brainer really. We all need love, but single parents need to experience unconditional love and acceptance from the church. Single parents come in all shapes and sizes. Single parents can be widowed, divorced, or never married. They may have purposely adopted children while single. They may be taking care of nieces and nephews or grandchildren. They need to be known and loved for who they are and who they can become. Every situation, every single parent family is unique and face unique challenges but they all hold great potential and can be a great asset to your church. They just may need a little extra help to get there.
  2.  Protection: To begin with, the church must be a safe place for their kids. Your children’s ministry should be clean, safe, well-staffed and maintained. Make sure the staff knows who is allowed or not allowed to pick up the kids. A check-in system is vital in any children’s ministry. Single parents may be going through custody battles and who picks up their child could mean the difference between life and death. Additionally, I believe single parents may need protection from predators who may target their children based upon their vulnerabilities. This can be especially important for young mothers. We have all heard the horror stories of children being abused by a stepdad or mother’s boyfriend. Single parents who are left to deal with life alone may, in some cases, let their guards down because they are desperate for companionship and in real need of help in the home. The church can and should protect against this by coming alongside single parents to provide them with the very things that leave them vulnerable. Families of the church can help single parents by offering things like child care and assistance with transportation to events or sports practice. Churches can provide classes and advice about dating, what to look for in a man or woman, and how to introduce them to your children. These are only some of ways the church can provide protection for the parent and the child.
  3.  Help: This can come in many forms. Everything from outside yard work, handyman work in and outside of the house, babysitting, or providing housing. Assistance can come in many forms, but the most effective help comes from knowing the single parent personally so you can know the best ways for the church to step up. The single parent may need assistance education about handling their finances, dating advice, or classes on parenting techniques. Unless the church makes an intentional effort to get to know the parent and discover their needs those needs may never be met. The church needs to be proactive in offering assistance. Don’t wait for them to ask for it, or an incident to occur before offering help. Be intentional about connecting single parents with the church community and with leaders who can offer help and or advice.
  4.      Encouragement: For the single parent, this need is second only to love. At times, single parents become overwhelmed with their life and daily responsibilities. In the dark times it can be hard to see a way forward. To single parents It may seem as if there is little hope for their future or their children. Sometimes it is hard to see the future when you are mired in the present and haunted by the past. Single parents need to be reminded they follow a great God! One who has amazing plans for them. They need to be reminded that even if life seems challenging now, what they are experiencing is only temporary, God is doing something amazing in their life. The church should give them hope for the future. When I look back at the man I was then, compared with who I am now, I realize my time as a single parent was a period of growth. I failed many times, but no matter what life brings, God taught me He is enough.

He taught me to rely on Him alone for everything and then later He brought an amazing woman into my life. This year we celebrated 21 years of marriage. I am a pastor at a church in south Florida, and God is continuing to use my experiences as a single dad to encourage others. My hope is your church recognizes the incredible potential of single parents. Yes, they may need some extra attention, but the payoff is worth it in the end! Learn to see beyond the present and look to the future that God has in store for the single parent in your local church.

It’s ok if you’re wrong


Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance. Proverbs 11:14

What a strange place to be right now for an evangelical. There was a time when the world made sense, when everyone, at least everyone I knew, voted Republican. We voted that way because that was the party that stood for the things we cared about. Things like being pro-life, protecting religious liberty, and promoting conservative values. We could, for the most part, agree upon the issues and the candidate that most reflected our values. There was a unity, or at least a majority, in our voting.

But then came 2016 and Donald Trump and all of that assuredness flew out the window! Actually, for some it may have started prior to Trump. Whenever it started, now things are complicated. Now decisions are messy and, along with it, the unity that we once had appears to be all but gone.

Never-Trump evangelicals accuse Pro-Trump and even Reluctant-Trump evangelicals of being motivated by fear and/or hatred to vote for a man who has no moral bearing. Or being idolaters who would sell out their moral credibility to push for an agenda.

Pro-Trump and Reluctant-Trump Evangelicals accuse Never-Trump evangelicals of acting like Pharisees and demonstrating hypocrisy. They argue that no one is perfect and therefore we have to vote for the platform, and besides the alternative is just too horrible to allow it to happen.

The arguments fly back and forth. Posting article after article, tweet after tweet, position, counter position. And you know what? I think that, for the most part, it’s a good thing as long as we don’t allow it to form a wedge between us. I hope that the watching world can see us an example of brothers with differing opinions. A peculiar people that don’t shrink from disagreements, but a people, who through living in community and sharing opinions, can sharpen one another.

Many people will preach that Christians should always be unified, but throughout history that has rarely been the case. Even the early church encountered disagreements on multiple occasions. The book of Acts records many of these disagreements. The leaders of the early church had a problem with the way the gospel was being spread to the Gentiles. They had some real issues with both Peter and Paul, but they worked it out through listening to each other and addressing each other’s concerns, not by censuring all opposing views. Later Paul would disagree with both Peter and Barnabas but they worked it out each time.

I know that reading opposing views and sparring with my fellow Christians has made me introspective on more than one occasion. We can’t afford to live in a world where there is only one opinion, where all think alike. How will we even know if we are correct in our thinking if no one is there to challenge us?

The culture today cries out for “safe spaces” and cringes at trigger words. We feel insulted and belittled if someone challenges our beliefs or philosophies. But we need to hear a differing view. A “safe space” may separate us from feeling uncomfortable, but it won’t help us grow, it won’t help us to refine our position or our beliefs.

Of course, the most important thing is that we don’t allow our differences to tear us apart, that we don’t take it personally that someone might have a different opinion than us. Instead we should listen to others, consider their position and evaluate it against ours. This process will make us stronger, it will sharpen our minds, it might even cause us to reevaluate or change our thoughts.
Would you rather be delusional in your rightness or actually right? Would you rather argue from a position of strength, having considered all the sides of a position, or just comfortably naive in your positions?

So, let’s state our positions with respect, love, and concern for those who disagree with us. Let’s not resort to name calling and character assassinations. Let’s listen to opposing views with a desire to understand and evaluate, not with a closed mind. It’s the only way we can grow in our perspectives and sharpen our minds.

So listen and state your opinions with honor and respect. And remember, at least we aren’t as wrong as the evangelicals who will vote for Hillary right? 😉

This is not a political post telling you who to vote for or who not to vote for!


I have been doing a lot of thinking, and some rethinking due to a clash with a dear friend, about the election lately! Who hasn’t really? But something dawned on me that was really convicting. You see I just came back from a speaking at a weekend retreat in TX. While there I used the story of the adulterous woman as an example of how Jesus operated with truth and love. Truth and Love was the theme of the weekend.

I pointed out that when the scribes and Pharisees drug the woman caught in adultery out of her bed and threw her in front of Jesus and the crowd, they cared absolutely nothing about her nor did they truly care about her sin. Their only concern was to use her to get rid of Jesus. This woman was drug out in public, her sins publicly declared and shame was heaped on her for no other reason than to try to prove themselves right, trap Jesus, and ultimately to rid themselves of his presence. She was just a convenient tool in their war against Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.

And yet she was more than that! Much more! She was one of the reasons that Jesus came, and he loved her with a sacrificial love. The kind of love that would cost him everything. Now to these men, and possibly to the crowd that Jesus was teaching, she was only trash, a woman caught up in a whirlwind of sin and carnality. But not to Jesus. To Jesus she was much more! So much more he was willing to die for her.

And this is when it occurred to me that in this election, and most elections, the candidates are often only tools to advance our causes. If they align themselves with our cause, good! If they don’t we have no use for them. We care little for the person, only the platform and the advancement of our cause be it conservative or liberal.

In this election even those, like me, that stand opposed to both candidates have probably not really given a thought to the souls of either Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton. I have made it known that I don’t believe that either Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton are fit to be President. I have posted articles listing the ways Mr. Trump is unfit, as a way to prove my point. Others have posted articles about how bad Hillary is. In a sense, I have thrown him into the middle of a crowd without thought or concern for his soul. My only desire was to prove I was right in not supporting him.

In contrast, there are those evangelicals who will vote for and even promote the Trump or Clinton campaign as a way to further their cause. Many of them will say “He/she is no angel but he/she is better than the other option and besides, think about the platform or the Supreme court!” This too is just a way to use the candidates for the advancement of an agenda with little to no concern for them or their souls.

I don’t know what the outcome will be in November. But I do know that when all is said and done there will be a winner and a loser, and both will deserve our love and prayers. Let’s put down our platforms and our desires to be right and begin to lift up these two in prayer. Let’s begin to change the tone of our voices. We should sound less like an angry mob and more like one that is grieved by our own sin and the knowledge that both Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton need our love and compassion, not because of what they have done or what they stand for, but just because of who they are. Remember that Jesus died for them too.

Cautious Compassion: The Syrian Refugee Crisis

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Cautious Compassion- The Syrian Refugee Crisis

He we are again. Caught in the middle of a raging debate that has quickly divided and then devolved into name calling and demonizing our opponents. On one side you have the zealots who are calling for a complete shutting down of our borders to keep out the crazies insisting that ISIS is hiding thousands of jihadist amongst the refugees bent on our destruction. On the other side you have calls for throwing open the doors in the name of Jesus and letting everyone stream in without regards to a responsibility for the personal safety of those we are called to protect. They try desperately to paint all refugees as widows and orphans driven from their homeland. And if you disagree with either side you are either and ignorant US-hating liberal or a people-hating bigot.

If ever there was a need for a middle ground this is it. And I believe this is where we would find our Christian faith. To be fair, I think that despite what we hear from either side, this is where most of us would fall. We need to find a way to show and demonstrate compassion for the hurting and displaced, not just because we are called to love everyone, but also because the US bears a huge responsibility for creating the refugee crisis in the first place. But this post is not about that.

We need to come together and find a way to aid refugees that includes allowing them to come to the US, but also looks for ways to help them stay in their home land. This is where they grew up and where they will feel most comfortable and at home. I believe that the US needs to be more aggressive in defeating ISIS so that there is no need for these poor people to leave theirs homes.
I realize that the US is a great place to live, and I am thankful to God that I live here, but I don’t believe that many people really want to leave everything they have and everything they are used to, journey tens of thousands of miles to travel to a foreign land with strange customs, where they will be looked upon with suspicion just because there is a Starbucks on every corner. If we believe that, we truly are an arrogant people.

That being said, we must show compassion and love for a people being driven from their homes. We must be a part of making sure they are cared for and given provision until we can make their homeland safe again. However, we should strive to do it in a way that sets up common sense protections for the people living in the US. We know that ISIS was successful in sending fighters to France. We can’t and shouldn’t deny that, but we also must not be ruled by fear or crippled by the complexity of the task before us. We must act, and we must act quickly. In order to find a solution, we need to come together. Stop the name-calling and senseless divisive rhetoric.

How to Give Joy to Your Children at Christmas

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - How to Give Joy to Your Children at Christmas

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Romans 12:18

For single moms or dads, Christmas brings added anxieties. You worry about getting your children something they will like while remaining within your budget. You worry the non-custodial parent will get your child something nicer than your purchase.

And then there’s the question of whom will the child spend Christmas? Will they be with you or the other parent? Will they spend time with both of you on Christmas Day? What about the hand-off? Will you be seeing former in-laws? You know, the ones who hate you and blame you for everything?

Let me begin by saying first–Christmas is about Christ. Keep the focus on Him  and let everything else fall into place. We get so wrapped up in the “what ifs” of life that they can steal our joy of the season.

How do we keep the focus on Him? Remember, Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift ever given. It is a time to focus on not just the miracle of the birth, but the entire gospel story. The greatest gift has already been given; nothing can top it, so stop trying! You will only feed yours and your child’s selfish desires. Give sensible gifts within your budget. Make Christmas a time of worship, not materialistic hedonism. You and your kids will be thankful and better off in the long-term.

Remember, after honoring God in this season, your second priority is your children. They need unconditional love and comfort. They need demonstrations of unconditional love! Remember, as a Christian, you are called to love and live in peace with everyone. Yes, even the ex. That doesn’t mean giving them a kiss or putting yourself in harm’s way. It does mean you need to show love and respect to the other parent, especially in front of your children. Bad mouthing, slinging insults, and trashing your ex or their family will only hurt your children.

Additionally, children thrive on routine and solid expectations. This means they need to know what is happening and when. If you and your ex can agree on a consistent experience for your child, then make plans and follow through. Tell your kids when they will go and return. If the other parent is undependable or does not know for sure if they can be there to pick up the child, then find a time when they can follow through.

Remember above all, we need to be pointing our children to Christ and setting good examples for them. If you do this, they will have a Happy New Year.