You have been single for a few years but recently you have been dating someone and it is getting serious, real serious. You are both casually talking about building a life together and dreaming big dreams for your future. Pause. Before you start down those roads too far, remember the step between being married and dating is being engaged. Often engagement is undervalued and seen merely as a step to get a ring and reasons to start planning a big wedding day. Engagement is an important time for you both; it’s a time to solidify the little details in your relationship before the big day. But before you get engaged, you need to ask a few questions. By this point you have hopefully asked the big questions of compatibility and feel like things are going to work out. Questions about your spiritual, physical, and emotional compatibility. Right before you get engaged, now is the time to ask the small questions. 101 of them is a good start. We recommend 101 Questions to ask BEFORE you get engaged by H. Norman Wright because it forces a couple to process fully the commitment they are about to make. These questions may seem repetitive at first, but every couple we have seen go through it has learned more about themselves and their potential future partner. Christ is the foundation of a life-long relationship. With Him, all things are possible and together you will be one before Him in marriage. Take time to work out the small details before the hustle and bustle of being engaged and planning a wedding. Your relationship will benefit tremendously by doing so.
A Single Budget: A Spiritual Revival
Money is the root of all evil, right? Not even close. Money is neither good nor bad. Money is a tool that can be used for some very good things, like feeding your family or giving to support a ministry. Money can also be a tool to do bad things like spoil children or finance terrorists groups. It’s not the money. It’s how the money is used.
How do you handle money? As singles we are blessed to get to control all of our money! We don’t have to share with a spouse–we can make 100% of the decisions about our finances. However, the curse of this is we can also easily misbehave with money and not have someone nagging about it. If you find yourself struggling with sticking to a spending plan, find someone to help you with accountability. It can’t be someone who is an enabler and will not ask you the tough questions when needed. Look for someone who is doing well with money and loves you enough to be tough with your feelings when needed regarding your money.
As Christians, we know our money is not really our own. We are money managers for what God provides for us. He is our provider.
Does your money spending reflect your values? The answer is yes. Like it or not, where we spend our money says a lot about what we value. It doesn’t mean we should give all our money away and live in a tent and eat bread and water. It is okay to enjoy some things, but Believers should also be balanced in living, giving and saving.
When we start managing money God’s way, amazing things will happen. Your debt will be under control, you’ll experience more joy of giving and you’ll move towards a greater understanding of God and His love for us. He has many good things for us and wants us to have joy. Give thanks for the things He has provided and focus on how He wants you to manage His money.
Marriage isn’t the Finish Line
The big day is here! Here comes the bride all dressed in white. The groom dressed to the nines in his rented tux stands fidgeting at the front to begin a ceremony that moves even the hardest of hearts to tears. Then comes the reception including a toast from the father of bride of just how proud he is that his little girl found a man, almost implicating that a secret achievement has been unlocked allowing the happy couple to continue in the game of life, side-by-side.
Singles. Get. It.
At the same time you are happy for another couple. Everyone is celebrating a monumental achievement in the lives of your friends. But in fact, is marriage the finish line? Singles often are looking to the next milestone or marker in life. At some point, it starts to feel like the only milestone left is marriage.
But the reality? It is not the finish line of achievement.
For married couples the next bombardment of expectation is kids. And while having a pet or three helped for a while, the next finish line of life is having a baby. Once that is crossed and no less than a day after the first child, there are questions of when the next baby will arrive. After baby two, the next quiz is will there be three. Have four, and comments of birth control fill the air. Then there is college for the kids, jobs for the young adults, and future weddings! The cycle starts all over again.
Here is the point.
The finish line is defined by a relationship, just not the one you may have thought or felt from your surrounding friends and family.
Being Complete in Christ is the only relationship that will leave you complete. All other relationships build off of that relationship and running a good race is defined by it. Keeping the faith and living for God is grounded in a relationship with Christ.
Singles, always keep in mind your life not measured by this world, but by following the One who paid our sins in full–Jesus–so we can live life more abundantly.
When I look in the mirror, what do I see? When I ask myself the question, “How am I doing as a Christian?” What measure do I use to answer?
In Western Christian circles, the term “Pharisee” is normally used, particularly in a religious context, to describe someone as mean spirited, legalistic, and hypocritical. This is a caricature of a conservative religious group presented in the New Testament. When Pharisees are mentioned in the New Testament, the text often presents them in an unfavorable light. Jesus debates the Pharisees, rebukes the Pharisees, and warns His disciples (and everyone else) not to imitate the Pharisees.
Early in His ministry, Jesus confronted the root problem associated with Pharisaism, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” – (Matthew 15:7-9)
In spite of these harsh words, the Pharisees continued to interact with Jesus and His disciples. This interaction, was honest enough that a significant number of this group accepted Jesus as their Messiah and became believers. We know this because Acts 15:5 mentions them by name, “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying ‘It is necessary to circumcise them [non-Jewish Christians], and to command them to keep the law of Moses’”.[emphases added]
This reality forces me to consider two implications. First, whatever feeds Pharisaism, in terms of mindset or worldview, survived the initial transition from Judaism to Christianity. This implies that Pharisaism is not restricted to unbelieving legalists, but is a real threat to believers today, even those who are painfully aware of their own need for grace. Peter, for example, falls prey to this influence, briefly requiring Gentile Christians to “Judaize”, live like Jews (Gal. 2:14).
Second, while Jesus linked Pharisaism to hypocrisy, that hypocrisy is inadvertent. Like Peter, most Pharisees (and “Judaizers”) are sincere in their desire to please God. This implies that Pharisaism is a deceptive error, not a willful rebellion, that causes us to act in ways contrary to the God we claim to serve.
The problem with Pharisaism is that it teaches cultural expectations as if they are God’s expectations. It encourages believers to evaluate themselves and others based on the vagaries of cultural expression instead of the “sure word” of God’s promises. It replaces conviction with social pressure and discipleship with social conformity.
So I ask again, when I look in the mirror, what do I see? If I am evaluating myself by how often I attend service, where or to whom I minister, or even how much I study scripture and pray, then I am looking at a Pharisee.
The Love Chapter
You roll out of bed on a Sunday morning at the last possible minute and arrive 15 minutes late to your local church small group meeting. Today’s topic is on 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter.” Great. You settle in for a morning talking about couples and love and how they can love one another. You’re not annoyed by the comment the teacher makes that one day this will apply to everyone, even singles.
But, you are just tired of feeling like you are left waiting for one more day.
Then after a time of worship the pastor comes to the pulpit and also preaches on the same passage. Already filling in the blanks in the bulletin, you hear the words, “The love in 1 Corinthians 13 is not about a wedding poem, it is about how love should be in the lives of everyone.” You perk up! The pastor continues his sermon, getting into the meat of the passage, explaining how to define love regardless of one’s life stage.
This love is the love anyone can have in Christ, single or married.
Your pastor gets it and your group leader gets half of it.
This passage is not just about a marriage love relationship, or about making a wedding ceremony sound all fluffy. It’s actually a hard passage about what it take to love as Christ has loved us.
Singles, you may not always feel like the sermon is about you. Sometimes we even are biased if it is not. But, if you are open to God’s word, regardless of the speaker, you will see a Gospel that values your life stage just as much as everyone else in the room. You are Complete in Christ and His love is more than enough.
Don’t Assume My Table for One
I love to eat out. In fact it’s one of my favorite things to do in my week. It’s not that I overeat, I just enjoy going out and tasting new things and meeting new people. I even include it in my monthly budget so I am responsible about my table for one dining experiences.
One particular night, I walked into a restaurant and ran into some church friends. They are not from my class but people whom I know fairly well. There was an extra seat at the table and then it hit me. I would really like to be invited and not have to be at a table for one this evening.
I usually embrace my table for one. I do it almost all the time and never think twice about it. But every once in awhile I don’t want to be at a table just by myself, and I want to enjoy the company of friends, family, and those in my life. It’s easy to assume a single adult is okay with their table for one, but the point is to not assume.
And that evening I felt alone more than I had in a long time because I wasn’t even given the chance to avoid my table for one.
Community is a huge part of our lives as single adults. Married adults, please hear me when I say we can be friends and there does not have to be a chasm between our lives. I know I’m at a different life stage, but let’s try and find some middle ground between isolation and the third wheel that is Biblical community.
Let’s love one another as Christ has loved us and never assume anything about one another. So, will you join me for dinner tonight?
Be An Adult
So when do you become an adult?
Is it when you get keys to your first car at age 16?
At 18 when you can make your own legal decisions?
At 21 when you can legally drink alcohol?
When you move away from home?
When you get your first job?
When you can pay all your own bills?
When you get married?
Defining adulthood is nothing short of impossible. The idea that an age, ceremony, or responsibility defines adulthood gives no target of what it means to be an adult. So we find adults of all ages acting like children and youths acting like adults. So maybe the best way to define being an adult is to say it is a mindset.
Paul, while talking about love, speaks to knowing true love by laying down the things that made him a child and acting like an adult. James reminds us that we are but a vapor in this life and time is short so we need to ask the Lord what is His will for our life. (James 1:13-17)
Maybe adulthood is what Paul asserts happened when we realize this life is a vapor as James explains. A mindset of adulthood embraces the reality of time (1 Corinthians 13:11). Time that has passed and is passing and will not always be present. One way to see this is by decision-making.
What was it that made you say “I’m an adult now”?
Single Struggles: Fear
“Only thing we to fear, is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
– Psalm 43:4
Fear can be gripping, keeping us paralyzed from taking any action because it could turn out to be the wrong move. Fear is not something we should be taken captive by as we can seek the Lord in all things and the peace of God will come over us. Philippians 4:6-7. All we have to do is humble ourselves to our God and cast our fears unto Him because He cares for us that much! 1Peter 5:6-7.
As a single adult you may fear commitment, relationships, social situations, financial stability, among many others, but praise be to God that we can cast those fears to Him and let Him handle it all! God is love, He loves you so much His Word tells us to seek Him and let it all go so that we may have a peace that goes beyond all understanding in our trials.
Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is vital to not letting fear take over your life. That is why we, at Table for One Ministries, believe that the most important relationship in your life is your relationship with Jesus Christ. All other relationships flow from that relationship and define who we are as children of the one true King. Have you made that commitment in your life to place your relationship with Christ first? Have you made the first step of trusting Him as your Lord?
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
Single Struggles: Alcohol
As a tee-totaling Southern Baptist, I feel under qualified to be writing an article about the particular struggles singles face regarding drinking alcohol. I have a bias against the stuff in this country. I don’t like the way it is marketed, and I don’t like the way our culture uses it. Alcohol has become the drug of choice which Americans use to escape life. The lie being sold here is that you need to escape life to have fun. I hate that lie, and that lie is why I don’t drink.
I want to talk about “social drinking”. It seems that just about anywhere a single person would go to hang out, meet up with friends, or meet new people, is a place where alcohol is served. Whether it is a ball game, a sports bar, a nightclub, a concert, or even bowling, there will likely be drinks offered. It is a standard business model for the American social entertainment industry. We offer inexpensive entertainment, and make up the profits selling alcohol.
As a Christian Single, I want to challenge you to find another way. Christ came that we might have abundant life. Life is to be grasped and lived, not endured or escaped or dulled by alcohol. I love coffee shops! I’ll grant you, it is a different drug, but it doesn’t encourage escaping life. Enjoy sports, skip the beer. Go dancing, lose the cocktails. In Christ, troubles are to be faced and overcome, not avoided. Life itself is a celebration! Don’t dull yourself to it, be here for it!
Dating is Way Too Serious
I attended a Christian college. I lived with a roommate attending seminary. I’ve been a part of a large singles group. Basically, I’ve been in a number of Christian circles. And within each circle I’ve noticed a common thread: Dating is way too serious.
Maybe you can relate? After a date or two, a couple is considered to be dating. After a month, it’s a serious relationship. Within a few months, it’s time to start talking about marriage. (This is a slight exaggeration–but not by much.) It’s easy to see how one or two dates leads to high expectations in a potential dating partner. Every prospective date needs to be evaluated for marriage compatibility right away.
As a result, dating within a Christian group can become stifled. Some choose to date in secret until their relationship is serious. Others choose to date someone outside of the group to avoid the high level of scrutiny. Finally, some choose to avoid dating altogether unless they think someone is the perfect match.
I would venture to guess that most of us wish Christian dating wasn’t like this. Guys are tired of being turned down. Girls are tired of not being asked out. Why can’t dating be more relaxed and transparent? How can the dating culture be changed? Let me share some advice given to me that I believe will help with this dilemma.
Guys, the advice for you is very simple. If she is available and on your mind, ask her out on a date! Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out if she is interested in you. Even if she does turn you down for a date, the rejection probably won’t be nearly as bad as you think. (And, if you are rejected in an awful way, she probably wasn’t going to be good dating material!) Don’t spend time researching every aspect of her life. You will get much better answers if you ask questions during a date. You can’t expect dating to be relaxed and transparent if you only ask out girls you’re ready to marry.
Girls, the advice for you is a little more unconventional. If he asks you out on a date, say yes! (This comes with a few caveats, of course. If he is clearly not living for Christ or you don’t trust him, it’s okay to say no. If he’s separated but married, say no.) Don’t worry about compatibility. The best way to find out if you are compatible is on a date. Even if things don’t work out, you still come away with a free meal and a boost of confidence. Also, like it or not, guys have egos. If they have been turned down several times in a row or believe you are going to say no, they may just avoid asking you out in order to avoid rejection.
Singles can’t expect dating to be relaxed and transparent if we’re only saying yes to someone we’re ready to marry.