Another Closed Door

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When my marriage of 14 years ended against my wishes, I drove to and from work, often not remembering how I got there. When I arrived home at the end of the day, I found myself staring at the television without registering what was on. I was a zombie. All I could think was, “What now? I’m alone.”

That feeling eventually dissipated but not without the comfort of Christ. I grabbed onto the promise of God stated in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When relationships end, it’s easy to have a pity party. To relive everything said or done. To grow angry or depressed. To calculate how you need to change to guarantee you will not be alone again. Yet focusing and obsessing on all of these things can take the Believer’s focus off where it needs to be.

It may take some time to pull yourself out of the doldrums, but lingering in the darkness is not where God wants us to be. We are called to walk in His light, to be a light for His kingdom.

No matter what changes your relationship status goes through, one thing remains constant. Your relationship with Christ will never end! Be Complete in Christ! Hold fast to the promise. Your earthly relationships may change or end, but not His!

You Don’t Deserve my Forgiveness

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I forgive you.

Three words that people fight to say all the time. It could be pride, jealousy, or even anger that causes us not to want to offer forgiveness but we don’t say them nearly enough. Why? How can we learn how to say “I am sorry” and offer forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it?

           But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

          Romans 5:8

 

           When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.           He forgave us all our sins.

          Colossians 2:13

 

          For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.                      Whoever believes in him is not condemned…

          John 3:17-16

God forgives us. Every single one of us. Even though, as sinners, we certainly don’t deserve loving forgiveness from Him. On the Cross hung a man who never sinned and took all the sin of the world and paid the penalty for our sins so that we may experience life. If you have followed Christ, you have been given that depth of forgiveness.

And because Christ forgave us, we must do no less. Otherwise, how do we reflect God’s love?

          Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and           knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love            among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.This is love: not that            we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God          so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives          in us and his love is made complete in us.

          1 John 4:7-12

Christ followers, we ought to say we are sorry and offer forgiveness as freely as it has been given to us. Don’t be a person of whom others say “takes a while to forgive.” Be a person who others say  “reflects God’s love.”

We will never be Christ, but we can reflect His love every time we offer forgiveness and say three simple words. I forgive you.

Single vs Married 3 Bucket List Differences

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A bucket list is a compiled list of ideas, experiences and achievements a person wants to do before “kicking the bucket” (dying). So how is that list different for a single adult versus a married adult? Here are three categories we see they are the same and three ways we see they are different.

 

How they list are the same:

 

  • Career Goals
    • Regardless of your life stage, many of us have career goals we would like to achieve in life. Be it a leadership role, working abroad, or finally finding that job that is not work because it is so much fun. Scripture is clear, we need to go and do what is the Lord’s will and seek to do good in James 4:13-17
      • 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.
  • Spiritual Goals
    • Whether single or married, our status should not affect our mandates found in Scripture. Love God, Love others (Matthew 22:36-40), Go and Tell (Acts 1:8), and to hear the word’s “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Luke 19:17). As followers of Christ, our spiritual goals are the same. We want to be more like Christ every day on this earth to see people come into a relationship with Him.
  • Vacation Goals
    • Often when people make a bucket list, it is full of destinations, locations, and activities to do. This is no different for single or married adults. Singles, you should be traveling as you feel led anywhere you want to go. Go visit those places, do those things, and share them on social media while you are at it. Smile.

 

Now, here is how they differ:

 

 

  • Relationship Goals
    • Relationships take forms in many ways. For singles, the idea of being married may not be one they are led to have or it could be an opportunity never opens for marriage to occur. Others have been married and experienced the pain of a failed marriage by divorce. There are others who expected to be with their spouse till death do they part, only to outlive them and find themselves single again. Colossians 2:9-10:
      • For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…

 

 

  • Undivided Life Goals
    • Singles have the clear advantage to live a life that is not divided as our married counterparts. Married adults have to think about their spouse and children when making decisions about, well, everything. As a single adult you have the opportunity to go where God leads anytime, anywhere. This is the advantage the apostle Paul is speaking of in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
      • I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

 

 

  • “Passing the Baton” Goals
    • Singles define family differently. Investing in the next generation may not be your direct family. Married adults see this in passing on family stories to children and having children to care on their “legacy.” For singles, defining family in the broader sense than blood-related relatives open doors and opportunities for them to share their story with others for generations to come. Just because you do not have children, does not mean you cannot pass on wisdom for the generations to come. Look to serve by sharing experiences and knowledge with others throughout all your life and let it be said of all of us in Psalm 71:18:
      • Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Marriage isn’t the Finish Line

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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.

Want to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage?

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Singles you may or may not be married some day. At Table for One Ministries, we often include in our blogs the idea of being Complete in Christ for singles. But being Complete in Christ is not just for singles. It is for all adults. If you one day are called to marriage, remember this tip to help divorce proof your marriage:

Be Complete in Christ!

That’s right. Being Complete in Christ and not in a relationship with another person is a big key to helping your potential marriage be affair-proof for a few reasons:

Christ will be the head of your marriage

 

  • So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Col 2:10) (NIV)

 

  • Having Christ in the driver’s seat for major decisions and day-to-day tasks means your marriage will always have the right driver.

Communication will be better

 

  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Prov 10:1)(NIV)

 

  • Following God’s plan for you life will include things like prayer and devotion. You can and will apply those habits to your relationship with your spouse, resulting in conversation that is open, honest, and transparent.

Priorities will be clearer

 

  • …and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:8) (NIV)

 

  • Shared priorities in a joint marriage means everyone is going the same direction as far as finances, relationships, and life goals.

You will be drawn close together

 

  • Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Heb. 13:4) (NIV)

 

  • Keeping your completeness in Christ will keep you away from the sinful desires this world has to offer. Chase after Christ rather than finding completeness in sin.

All of these are easier said than done, however when both people enter into a union where they are a whole person prior to marriage, they are complete in the one who made them not the one who married them.

Singles, we have all seen couples who marry and still lack happiness and chase other things of the world. It is our belief that you should be Complete; no, not because it will help you be married, but because it is God’s plan for your life.

Being Mom Through Divorce

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Divorce is nasty.

Talk to anyone who is going through or has survived a divorced and unanimously they will say, even in the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. When children are involved in divorce, the stakes and emotions are even higher. From the day one spouse says the words “I want a divorce”, life and the marriage relationship will never return to the place it once was with unbroken trust.

Mothers are by nature the ones who nurture and care for others, being the solid foundation of the home for all family members. Maybe you are a mom reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a mother should take even in the challenge of a divorce.

 

Fight for Your Marriage

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Emotions overrun reality with every communication that happens with your spouse. The one who once used words to show you love, uses them to tear you down. While your marriage will be shaped by the actions taken, it can be saved by the One who has saved you. In the midst of the storm do not retaliate harsh words with even harsher ones. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you said “I do.” Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Children Hear our Words

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” – James 3:1-12

Words can be weapons. It is vital to your relationship with your children to take the high road and control conversations around your children. Let your words be ones that honor God and ones you will not regret. When the conversation becomes intense, steer your words toward love and deflect the conversation until little ears are not in hearing range. It will be hard. Nothing in divorce is easy, but you will be demonstrating to your children Christ’s love in the hardest of circumstances.

 

Your Ex-Spouses Salvation Matters

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Ask yourself this question: do I want to see my ex in heaven? To a believer, this question should be a centering moment in how you proceed in your divorce and your life. Remember the reality of your present state in this world. The emotions are high, your anger may be running over, the circumstances may be out of control. However, as a Christ follower, you should still keep the Gospel in the forefront of your conversation and mind. Don’t “Jesus juke” to be spiteful, but let your actions be ones that draw people to God rather than turn from him. Your actions a Christian applies to your ex just as much as the believers who stand beside you in difficult times.

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

A culture that hides death hides the Gospel

History lessons teach the impact of death prevalent in culture when death is removed. A look at the Middle Ages finds people lived daily with the reality of death. A look at our current culture reveals a much different story. The current American lifestyle not only doesn’t discuss death, it finds ways to minimize and remove it from our daily life.

An obsession with a youth-focused culture certainly is a major voice of today’s messaging. Another important factor? The lack of value and respect for previous generations. One example of the local church. Funerals used include more than a biographical speech. The usual funeral included presence at a cemetery and at the very least, on the way to worship, the parishioners passed a neighboring cemetery, a visual reminder of our fleeting, temporary life.

For single adults, this is a compounded issue. Not only do you have all the factors of a culture ignoring the consequences of lifestyle and morals upon death, there is the added pressure of marriage. Marriage isn’t the finish line but an expectation of an event to occur in our youth and an achievement before death. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Being complete in Christ is not related to an achievement, but rather a commitment to follow Him.

 

Choices to view death?

 

Death gives life perspective

For singles, your relationship status is momentary, not eternal. Consider when Jesus was asked who will be married in heaven.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:29-30 (NIV)

Passages, when Jesus talks about how much we are valued, do not include the marriage relationship. Knowing the end result helps us to curate the life God calls us to live.

 

Death gives the Gospel a platform

When eternity is examined, the Gospel provides light in the darkness. In a moment of self-sufficiency people rarely reflect upon things greater than themselves or things to come. When death is discussed, it is a reminder of our temporary life on Earth, a reminder that gives urgency to sharing the gospel. To share with others that all should know him as Lord and Savior and welcome the gift to spend eternity with Him, not apart from Him. The realization of this will absolutely change the daily life.

 

Death shows Love

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Eternal love is not one engulfed in a marriage relationship. True, eternal love is a God who sent his only son to die for us so we would not have to spend eternity apart from Him. It was His atonement on the cross that is love eternal. Singles, do not let culture influence the way we value eternal love. It should always be based on a Biblical foundation.

 

Jesus was single too

A life fully lived is not defined by relationship status, but by following the will of God. Not only was Jesus single but several main characters in scripture were single or single during a season of their life when God used them. Take heart, our savior was and isn’t back the same life status. Single. Regardless of relationship status, God uses everyone on Earth to bring glory to his kingdom.

 

Grasping death gives Eternal significance to your everyday life. It is our hope and desire as a Ministry that all singles would follow God every day and share the gospel with everyone. One way to ensure your passion for God’s kingdom is to keep the temporary nature of our days at the forefront of your daily life.

Why am I single?

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The question of why a person is STILL single starts with all the wrong questions and answers.

Why am I all alone? – “You’re not good enough”

Why have I not purchased a home yet? – “You need a house to be settled”

Why is dating so hard? – “Love just happens”

Why can’t I make friends? – “Everyone else is loved”

Why have I never been on a date? – “Your don’t put yourself out there”

Why am I not happy? – “You need a spouse”

Why can’t I be happy? – “You don’t have kids”

Why won’t I be happy? – “You aren’t doing enough”

Why are others happy? – “They have it all”

 

These are questions singles ask themselves and answer. The world around us has expectations of what it means to be happy, assume singles are not, and then speculates on the why they are still single. This happens in TV shows, expectations of dating and relationships in college, and the portrayal of boldness in solidarity, yet observes the emptiness of a dinner table set for one. The world will always set up measures of success and failure based on opinions and social norms rather than a solid foundation of truth.

When truth is relative, then there is no absolute truth. When there is no truth, then the definition or completeness is set by advertising campaigns and media.

 

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

  • Colossians 2:6-10 (NKJV)

 

But, questions started in the wrong context will produce the wrong answers. As followers of Christ, we walk with Christ. We are to be thankful and on guard against the philosophies of the world that don’t line up with the will of God. The totality of Scripture demonstrates the value of human life, not the stages of human life. The number of kids, house, spouse, or financial stability never indicate the way in which God used His people according to His will.

God uses everyone who seeks Him and is COMPLETE IN CHRIST.

So what is the answer to “why am I single” afterall? Your worth is not dependent on the value of an earthly relationship status, but based solely on your relationship with God. 1 John 4 reminds us that God loved us before we loved Him, and as His followers we ought to love others in the same way.

 

Stop letting the world answer questions to your life. Then you’ll be living for Him and not the world. Answering the questions above look different in the light of honoring His glory.

Why am I all alone? – “You are never alone in Christ”

Why have I not purchased a home yet? “This is only your temporary home”

Why is dating so hard? – “Let God direct your path, not eharmony”

Why can’t I make friends? – “You were made to live in Biblical community”

Why have I never been on a date? – “Dating is not in the Bible, mic drop :::here:::”

Why am I not happy? – “You were never promised happy, just eternity”

Why can’t I be happy? – “Your happiness is dependent on your perspective”

Why won’t I be happy? “You place value on the wrong relationships, God first”

Why are others happy? “A face is not the heart, only God knows the heart”

Mental Health and Allowing God to Use All Options

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Your friends, family, and loved ones already know. They see it on your face every day, and hear it in your voice when you speak. The struggle, once a moment, has settled into a season, and you’re not sure how to get out.

You pray. You read Scripture. You believe in a God who heals all things according to His will. You seek wise counsel. You go to small group. You ask for prayer, maybe not so specific. You go to Worship.

You still struggle.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

 

One of the worst tragedies of depression, anxiety, or any mental health situation is you feel you struggle alone. But, don’t believe this lie.

God cares for you, and with Him as your Savior and protector, you are never alone. He also uses all things for His good according to His will (Romans 8:28). Sometimes the chemical imbalance of your body inhibits your personal ability to weather the storm of a season. It is this exact moment where a decision has to be made for you or by you to accept all means of God’s given methods of treatment. Here a few things to consider when everything you have tried isn’t enough.

Seek wise counsel

It’s not a question of whether an unbeliever can be wise; it’s about seeking someone with similar values when addressing an issue. The person with whom you seek wise counsel should be the one who also shares the most important relationship in your life, Jesus. It’s not that we can’t glean information from those not following the Lord, but ultimately it’s from those who hold the same value system as you that wise counsel should be sought.

You’re not a failure for needing medication

God can absolutely use anything for His glory. The only caution is, do not medicate what you can handle, only what is no longer in your control. Just as when alcohol is addressed in Scripture, not losing control is the key. Set your pride aside and let godly wisdom and counsel decide if mental health needs should be addressed with medication.

Just a season, not a lifestyle

Maybe your mental health struggle is bigger than a season. For many it is a time where emotions spiral out of control, and it’s difficult to regain stability. When seeking help, consider it a season where God uses those in your life and the resources of our current age to help.

 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…

1 James 1:19 (ESV)

 

For those not struggling with something mentioned here, be quick to hear and slow to speak. Sometimes our words do more damage than good when conversing with a struggling person. God can do anything. He may choose to use anything in any situation to achieve His will. For singles don’t let the lie of loneliness and incompleteness drive your situation to even greater depths. You are never alone in Christ and complete in Him alone.

The question isn’t if praying, reading, and believing is enough. The question is, will you let God use those means to help you in your mental health.

Do I expose my old life to share with others?

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A single wrote into us asking “I really need to help another person thru their addiction… in order to provide inspiration, I have to expose my prior self… I am trying my best to let Christ rule my life, and I think I am surrendering to Him… my question to you is, do I expose my prior life as an example to the other person at a possible expense for me losing, in others eyes, or do I just go on with what my heart tells me to do? Please pray on this matter with me as it could affect not just his future life, but mine as well…”

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30

Dear friend, we can tell in your question that whatever the affliction you had in your past was a painful one and not an addiction you share with most people. It does seem, however, that you have connected with this person and the Lord is prompting you to share with them your pain so that God may be glorified. As Paul said above, if you are going to talk about anything, why not make it those things that expose us for what we truly are, weak and sinners.

The view of those around you should not be based on your perfection, but Christ’s perfection! While we cannot tell you what to do, we can only suggest that in sharing your past you are allowing God to use what Satan meant for destruction for His glory. Try not to hide behind the sins of your past as your future is built of those successes and missteps. We are praying for you!