The Width of My Hand

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Honestly, I thought I had more time, more time to develop the best strategy and to muster the courage. If I would have just had more time to get my own issues figured out, my own life goals in order, THEN I’m fairly certain I would have been ready. I guess I was waiting for the perfect moment. But maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe it is worse than that. Maybe I just didn’t care enough. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter now. My high school friend is dead and I never said a word, not one word. I have no idea if she knew Christ personally or not. If she did, it was definitely not because of me.

The Bible admonishes us in Ephesians 5, “So be careful how you live…make the most of every opportunity…understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (CJB) As a foreign missionary, this is what my life is about each day. I pray for the people who exercise with me in the gym; I give a Bible to a store clerk; I ask my language students questions that will cause them to consider spiritual concepts; I explain redemption to a professional friend who doesn’t know what to do with her sin; I pray for opportunities to have Bible studies with friends who know virtually nothing about the Scriptures. How is it then I didn’t say anything to someone I went to school with for five years and have known for more than twenty?

There’s a Pink Floyd song called Time that spans the course of one life and marvels at what little impact it has had. Even before he realizes it, this man’s life has already wasted away. The lyrics say, “The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.” We do have something more to say as believers, and we need to say it before the music stops. We need to say it before ‘time ticks away’ as DC Talk reminds us. The Psalmist put it this way:

Psalm 39: 4, 5
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” (NLT)

One of the last conversations I had with my friend she asked me what I was doing overseas. I told her I worked for a non-profit religious organization. But that’s all I told her. I have the deep peace and the love a merciful Savior to guide me, and that’s all I told her.

The width of my hand is about two inches. It doesn’t leave a lot of leeway for foolish, wasteful, fearful, or selfish behavior. May we all learn to love others enough to tell the truth before time runs out.

Authority of Scripture and a Game of Telephone

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Sometimes, I like to play a little game with my students.

it’s called “telephone.”

The objective of the game is to transfer the same message from the front of the line to the end of the line. When we are ready to begin, I communicate the message to the first person, and then I let the message go!

Sometimes, when I check with the last person, the message got through…and sometimes… the message failed mid, or quarter-way through.

If I really want the message to transfer, I walk down the line and watch and make sure it passes the inattentive kid, the one who can barely hear, and the one who paraphrases things to the point of distortion. In the case of communication issues based on their tendencies, I repeat the message, louder, slower, repeatedly…by any means necessary.

This is what the Holy Spirit has done for us throughout the ages. He is the One walking from ‘person to person,’ watching over the message AND the transcriber of His message: the apostles, prophets, teachers throughout church history, biblical translations, etc. to make sure his message did not get “lost in translation.”

In the same way that I ensured that my message got through the entire line, the Holy Spirit watches over His message. If I am a human and can do this, How much more can the King of the Universe perform “telephone” in the span of human existence?

Right. Much, much more.

We can trust His message because we can trust the Messenger of all messengers.


Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. – Acts 8:30-31

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. – John 16:3

Wholehearted Devotion

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Are You All In?

Being “all in” is who I am and proud to be. I am not sure when it happened, but sometime after my ministry call hit me, I decided to be a man who made his Yes be Yes and his No be No. Like Matthew 5:37 tells us, I decided to follow God and be all in for whatever He planned for my life.

At 19, I hadn’t been on a God-directed path. My life was good, and I was a moral person, but it was not sold out for Christ. I now recognize if this life is to be one lived for Him, I need to be willing to go wherever He leads.

It’s not all roses being all in. I have moved all over the country following His path. During the journey and through several jobs, I was blessed. Each step was a learning experience. While God had me moving around, I dated some. But I mainly focused on preparing for the something great God had in store for me.

Shortly after I married, that something great lead to unemployment for six months. When I could find work, it was still not enough to pay bills. For a year I couldn’t even afford to pay housing for me and my wife. Job offers were slim and while some got close, they all fell through. In the back of my mind, I wondered if paid church ministry was ever going to happen again for me. Then, the path lit up.

Within the course of three months, I was called to launch Table for One Ministries. Not to pay bills, but to do what God called me to do, to reach singles. A few months after that (and after yet  another move), I was employed again at a church. A month after, we were able to purchase our first home. Within the year, we were blessed when our daughter was born.

When it was the darkest, I cried out to God and asked to be shown His path. He made the way clear.

Through the ups and downs during these three years, I have been told countless times I should have more gray areas, and be less rigid with my choices. But James 4:13-17 is my driving force for being bold today and everyday.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”  (NIV)

Let it never be said that I was unable to follow God wherever His path lead, no matter the risk or costs. Sin should never happen as a result of us not listening to the Lord’s direction.  I want to be one who asks first to be shown the Lord’s will, and when He says go, I move.

Silent Christmas Morning

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A single parent has to live with the reality of the first Christmas without the kids. The glow of the Christmas lights from the tree is the only warmth that fills the room. What started out years ago as a joyous holiday morning filled with traditions has disintegrated into court documents dictating where kids will spend the holidays. The fridge is empty as there is no need for a great feast and delivered pizza is left over from the night before.

A silent night is full of joy, a silent morning full of sorrow.

Single parents, we understand your holidays are not Norman Rockwell paintings and yuletide cheer from singing around the fireplace. Even if you are the one with the children at the holidays, there is still something missing around the tree. Divorce is approaching 50% for America couples. This statistic means that one out of two homes on your street have this type of Christmas. Even for singles who have not experienced divorce but adopted become a parent find that missing “something” in the air on Christmas morn.

Your Church Needs to Reach Single Parents

In churches everywhere, Christmas Eve will be a candlelight service and singing to a Savior’s birth to come. But, how often do leaders stop and realize just how many people in their audience are experiencing the above-mentioned scene just hours after they leave the church? Will your Christmas Eve service have childcare provided? After all, that single parent in the pew is doing their best just to get everyone gathered to arrive that evening. What a blessing it would be if the preschool hall were open for them to have a moment with the Lord. As the kids get older they can engage in that worshipful time, but how will you minister to the younger families?

You Need to Seek Out Single Parents

Your church needs to have a plan to connect single parents into the life of the church. Singles groups are a great way to do this. Singles without children can help fill the void of a missing parent for that single mother or father that joins their singles group. Another great way to support single parents is connecting the parent to married adult families. The point is to have a way to connect single parents in every ministry in the life of your church. It is worth it! Keep in mind nearly half of the families on your street are experiencing a silent Christmas.

God Needs to be the Focus

The key to every single family is to remain focused on God. When you gather for the holidays, be cordial to one another and reflect the love of God to your children no matter how bad the situation may be with the other parent. Single parents, you know personally what it’s like to share your kids with someone else.

Treat the situation with love by remembering God sent His only Son into the world to share Him with us so that He paid the price of sin on the cross for the world. He gave His only Son through a virgin Mary. You know those emotions and need to remember and apply the love this Christmas.

Single Parents Keep Traditions Alive

A final word of encouragement–keep family traditions alive at Christmas. Even if they have to be modified or the ex may not participate, keep traditions strong. If you have adopted children, pass down your traditions and start new ones.

Everyone remembers holidays traditions growing up. Establish pleasant memories for your child. Keep the Christmas spirit alive.

Parents, we don’t promise things will be easy. Life is hard. Surround yourself in the Love of God and find His strength in those around you.

Lean On Me

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“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit He takes away and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever abides in me, He it is that will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5 ESV

There you have it. The verdict. Apart from Him- Christ- We, I, You, We can do nothing. Nada. Zilch. Nunca. What is the epitome of nothing? A fruitless life. Maybe a passing moment of excitement, maybe full of temporary thrills, but in the end, it’s sterile, like a bottle full of placebo pills. It’s striking to consider that the opposite–a full meaningful, substantial and fruitful life means a life full of reliance–not on self–but God. Full reliance–to the point of dependence. Dependent like a subordinate clause. Dependent like a poopy baby with a serious pick-me-up within three-seconds requirement. This brings Bill Withers’  “Lean on Me” to a whole new level. Not only when you’re not strong, but even when you are, and when you’re hungry and full.  Sleeping or awake.

The life of an unmarried person comes with much variety. There are single and dating, single and not dating, single and engaged and single with children, (which means you’re probably never alone). The unique part of singleness for all types is that one can never put him/herself legally into a binding union with the partner. The only binding union that’s safe and legal in the eyes of God, so much so that two become one, is the marital union….which means that for the single, we must lean on the Savior.

Think about it. What happens when you get a promotion? Argue with a friend? Get into a wreck? Go to a funeral? Celebrate a new move or jive over a new cup of java? You want to tell someone! Understandable. Who do you tell? A married person might call his/her spouse. Singles may turn to a best friend? A sibling? An Aunt or Mother? Yes indeed. All of the above.

In fact, healthy singleness encourages all of the above! Lean on a large group of friends and acquaintances in this special season of life, or lifestyle God has called you to. But the best choice to celebrate a wonderful life? The more comforting way to get through a tough time? Lean on God. In Philippians 4:11, Paul encourages the church to be content, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (NLT)

In His contentment, He encourages us to give thanks. James 5:13-16: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  (ESV)

There’s always someone to lean on as a single.God is ever-present. The Lord of the universe waits with bated breath for you to lean on Him.

Same-Sex Attraction Singles are in YOUR Church

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In the Christian community we often find “super sins” that the majority of believers find to be so offensive that they are unwilling to reach out to anyone who has committed them. Homosexuals are often placed in this category of “super sin.” Many believe that the person with such an open sin against God cannot know God while struggling with or acting on that sin. Are these sins really so offensive that one cannot find God or even be a Christian and commit them or have committed them in their past? Is the same-sex attraction lifestyle one that it is not worth reaching unless a person has fully turned from that life to enter the church? Table for One Ministries asserts that church members are quick to welcome drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers, even murderers before openly welcoming homosexuals. We at Table for One could not disagree more with this attitude of focusing on one sin differently than others.

Denominations have compromised Biblical integrity, for the sake of love, in order to welcome the LGBT community in its doors. The church should not bend its moral mandates in order to be open to all styles of life and preach the Gospel of love with no refinement of becoming like Christ. Christ came so that every person may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Christ died for whoever would believe in him would have eternal life and not die (John 3:16). So, when Christ commissions the church to go and make disciples and baptize them, the church must reach out to the LGBT community for the sake of making disciples and baptizing them (Matthew 28:19-20).

But how does the church interpret those in the LGBT community who claim to have a relationship with Christ and still continue to practice homosexuality? Several Scripture passages inform followers of Christ that they are not to judge another person’s faith commitment, yet their faith commitment can be measured by their actions and keeping the Lord’s commands (1 John 5:3). We protest that a commitment to Christ is only judged by God. Every person walking through the doors of a church should be treated the same, as a sinner separated from God and that separation can only be healed through acceptance of Christ. For a church to truly embrace the LGBT community, it must embrace the idea of bringing any type of sinner into its church. Only then can a church reach out to that community and others in aspirations of the Holy Spirit changing their sinful behavior.

Lastly, it is our belief that the only way a homosexual will change their sin is with the Holy Spirit working in their lives. For that to happen, the church needs to provide a place for homosexuals to learn about the truth of God’s Word and allow the Spirit to speak into their lives for change.

Some in the LGBT community who attend church will be those who professed Christ at a young age and still do. It is then the Church’s place to do what Christ has instructed–make disciples of each and every person within the church. It is the hope of any minister that those in their ministry will turn from sin and draw closer to Christ. Dealing with homosexuality is no different; the same prayer should be offered–that the person will turn from their sin and follow closer to Christ. The difference in this approach is to not isolate one specific sin which would only isolate the person. Giving the same grace to every sinner, no matter the sin, allows an environment for the Holy Spirit to work in all people’s lives to draw nearer to Christ.

So what do you think? How can the church be a place where those struggling with same-sex attraction can feel welcome to walk through the doors and hear the Word of God?

Head in the Sand

I sometimes stick my head in the sand. It’s comfortable down there. Especially around the 1st and 15th of the month when I have to sit down, write checks and pay daunting companies for the services they provide out of my already low bank account. Indeed. Punching numbers and paying the Piper has lost its joy these days, but not paying the Piper brings unwanted rats into my life. As I sighed one day in annoyance at the consequences of my sand-like avoidance, I wondered why I did it. I knew that such evasion would mushroom into a big ugly stink, but I burrowed my head anyway.

How many times do we stick our head in the ground when we know there’s something unpleasant to battle or face in our lives? Whether it be a bill collector or a secret sin, avoidance only amplifies issues and prevents us from dealing with the situation at hand. As singles, avoidance is easy to do. We have a choice to invite people to hold us accountable, to call us out of the sand or to be silent and stay in it. However, when we lift our eyes and face the facts, we obtain clarity, structure, healing, teaching, encouragement and whatever else, and usually more than, we need. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 (NIV). The alternative to our heads in the sand is to keep our eyes open, our heads up and pay attention.

How many times have you made an error because you weren’t paying attention? Overpaid? Missed a deadline? Said the wrong thing? Heard the wrong thing? Undercounted? If it’s easy to miss things in our everyday visible life, how much more could our spiritual, invisible lives suffer detrimentally due to the lack of attention?  

Fortunately, our Father already knows what we need and has provided it for us in the form of His Word. Hebrews 2:1 encourages us to pay close attention to the Word: “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it” (NLT). The truth of the Word is a tidal wave washing away the sand from our lives.

Attention requires discipline, which isn’t pleasant at first. But after a while, reaps a harvest. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV) Training requires focus and attention. God’s word tells us to focus and fix our gaze upon Him and when we do that, we will reap a harvest of righteousness and peace. If we discipline ourselves and accept the discipline from our Heavenly Father, we will bear more fruit  “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2  (ESV)

If you and I lift our heads, gaze on Him as we face the discomfort, the things in our lives which threaten the status quo and require obedience and sacrifice– if we just face those, I believe our lives will be made better by He Who washes away all dirt.


Just Stop Sinning

We encounter many conversations with single adults and the issue of sin comes up often. Everyone deals with sin–we are in a broken and fallen world. Not everyone, though, deals with sin the same. This is a look at two different stories of dealing with sin.


“I can’t be expected to stop sinning”

Jared arrived at school ready to study to be a pastor. He is 31, single, and feels called to be a minister. He is very driven and well read in theology and history of the church. While speaking to one of our ministers, he starts talking about his struggles with addiction and says, “It’s not like we can be expected to stop sinning” and continues on to talk about when a friend had asked him to do just that. He argued we were all fallen people in need of grace, to stop sinning is impossible, and it should be expected that all sin is a struggle not something to be conquered.


“I can stop sinning, at least with my actions”

Allen was looking for a church home and decided to give a church down the street a try. They  had a singles ministry, and the Sunday he attended the issue was on sin and choosing to turn from sin. Allen was taken aback. He had struggled for years with addiction, admitting he had  good and bad seasons in how he dealt with it. No one had ever told him to simply stop sinning. The idea was so foreign to him, he decided to give this “not sinning thing” a try.


It really is as easy as stopping your actions of sinning.

Jared lives in a world where sin is not something he really tries to stop, but only fights off from time to time. Allen now lives in a reality where he may not be able to control all his thoughts, but his actions have been controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Bondage vs Freedom.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  –Hebrews 12:4

Actions speak louder than words, and that is true of our relationship with God and dealing with sin. Our actions need to reflect our repentant hearts for forgiveness and grace. There are methods and books (especially God’s Word) to help each person find their way to stop acting out on a sin. The key is that as mature believers, we seek those paths and find ways to stop acting on our sin, even if we can not control our thoughts and urges.

The payment for all sin is death. Christ paid that debt in full for everyone. However, the consequences of every sin are different. We urge you to take a stand. Make sin in your life Not an Option and experience the freedom from bondage.

Do you think it is possible to have a mindset to stop sinning in certain areas of your life, particularly with your actions?

Father to the Fatherless

At Table for One, we acknowledge that the children of a single parent often experience a feeling of emptiness for a missing parent. This void is a direct result of God’s plan for every child to have a mother and a father to raise that child in the way he or she should go. But when God’s model family does not happen, children are left missing a parent and often filling the void with worldly things.

Psalm 68:4-7 says: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” For children seeking a missing parental figure, God is the missing relationship they yearn for as the parental authority who offers advice, love, admiration, correction, and kindness.

Not only is the missing relationship filled with God, but the loneliness that comes with being in a single-parent home is lessened as well. These passages are applicable to both parent and child in that both must turn to God for strength to fill the void. In a nuclear home, this void is not often as acute if both parents are following Christ and reflecting His image. So in many ways, a single-parent home that seeks to follow the Lord can fill the void of a missing parent with God’s abundant love.

God is Father. So do you think He can be a Father to the Fatherless and how so? How can the church focus on reaching single parents and minister in this situation?

Who Pushed That Button?

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I want life to come easily.

One night I even wrote a song about it entitled, “Won’t it Come Easily” as I meowed myself to sleep like a cat licking my wounds, wishing life and love and job came with the giant Staples Easy Button.

News flash: No Easy Buttons can be found in the reality aisle of life.

A few examples of the Hard Button:

  •    Working with colleagues who don’t think, work, agree, or act like you do
  •    Overcoming sickness and family complications
  •    Enduring insults, difficulties, and hardships
  •    Pushing through lonely and uncertain seasons of singleness

Have you ever wondered what a Staples Hard Button might look like? I can imagine it covered in thorns. I can imagine Satan had access to it when he approached God’s throne asking for permission to harass Job. At the end of the dialogue, Satan pushed the Hard Button, and God allowed it!

Pause Button. What’s that about?

After Job’s first round of turmoil, God proclaimed that Job, a man with integrity, would not deny His (God’s) name. Indeed, Job did not:  “In all this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” (Job 1:22 NLT)

Later in Matthew, when Jesus contradicts accusations of him teaming with Beelzebub, He does so by first pointing out how illogical it is that the Father of light would team up with evil. After mentioning the unpardonable sin, He continues by saying that “anyone who speaks against the Son of man can be forgiven.” (Matt. 12:32) NLT

Job was considered a man of integrity because he did not speak against God even with the presence of life turbulence. He did not call God evil; and what God calls Himself in Mark 10:18, “no one is good except God alone” means that God is not the operator of the Hard Button. God did not introduce evil and sin into the world–Satan did. God is the giver of Life. Believing this is essential to recognize He is good and the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6)

When we shake our fists at God in seasons of drought and deep desire, we are calling Him the author of evil in pantomime. When we fall silent and stop praying, in our hearts perhaps we are proclaiming, “God you are doing this to me!”  If we doubt His love for us when He calls Himself love, if we say He commits evil when He says that He is the Author of only good, we show a wavering faith.

But God forgives and restores us when we falter and blame Him for being the sole proprietor of the pain in our lives and the world.

In the midst of life’s difficulties, we must remember to call God as He calls Himself: good.

Even when the Hard Button is pushed down, God is not only good, He is good TO US. He loves each of us individually, personally and intimately.  Believing this fundamental truth will carry us through life’s difficulties.