Is your family keeping you single?

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Is your family keeping you single-

This article is written by Match.com on Yahoo and is an interesting look on a single’s life and what is keeping singles, single. Family relationships can be hard to navigate as a single. The longer you are single, the harder it seems to get. Your vote in the family feels devalued and this is only exacerbated if you have siblings who are married with children. Also, family can be too involved in your life as a single adult. It may be time to set-up some boundaries with your parents in regards to finances and making decisions. Alternatively, those singles who don’t have parents miss out on the support structure of family. While this is hard, it should not be the reason to keep you from getting out there and finding someone.

Here is the link to the article, it is well written and worth a read. What do you think? Are Parents “crampin” your style as a single?

http://yahoo.match.com/y/article.aspx?articleid=13175&TrackingID=526103&BannerID=1381171

Did Christ have to die more for me?

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Did Christ have to die more for me-

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Hebrews 9:27-28

Did Christ have to die for certain people and certain sins more than others? For instance, did Christ suffer as much for Mother Teresa as He did for Hitler? If Hebrews 9:11-28 tells us that Christ died once for the sins of all people everywhere, why would one ask such a question?

A single adult was talking about how he struggled with same-sex attraction, even though he knows it is wrong and it is not God’s will for his life. He has trusted Christ as his savior and desires to live according to His Word. However, the way that others talk about his struggle with same-sex attraction makes him feel as though Christ had to die more for his sin than for the sins of others – that somehow, same-sex attraction is a weightier sin, requiring more blood from Christ to cover.

Some may read our site and wonder why we address those who struggle with same-sex attraction. The reason is that single adults who struggle with this need to know God loves them and Christ’s atonement for all mankind on the cross is for everyone. Notice we always say “struggle” when talking about same-sex attraction and all sins. The battle with sin should be just that, a battle. We are fighting a war on the sins of the flesh, in order to become more like Christ every second of our lives.

This idea of warring against sin is addressed by another single adult, the Apostle Paul, in Romans 7 & 8. In the Message paraphrase, he describes what the end of this struggle will look like for someone who is in Christ. “The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

If you struggle against same-sex attraction, Christ did not have to die more for you. His gift of salvation and payment for our sins is equal for all who accept Him.

Come and Follow Me

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Come and Follow Me

We live in a world of would-be leaders.  An American adult who ventures into a bookstore or spends time browsing on Amazon will find hundreds of titles that promise to unlock the hidden potential of our “inner leader”. Books claim to distill the essence of leadership by examining the lives of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and statesmen. Leaders are the ones who make headlines, who supposedly make history, and who our culture is constantly telling us we should emulate if we want to have lives worth living.  Being a follower, we are told in many ways, is for the lazy, the not-so-clever, the unoriginal, the weak.

Little wonder, then, that so few people speak, preach, or write about how to follow!

And yet…the command for anyone who would call themselves a Christian is unmistakable: we are to follow Him who had mercy on us and saved us from a life of sin and despair apart from God.  Jesus used the same words for each of his disciples: “Follow me.”

Okay, fine, says the Christian.  We know on an intellectual level that we are called to be followers of Christ, but in a culture where there is so much talk about how to lead, what are we to make of (and, more importantly, do with) Jesus’ unavoidable calling to follow Him?  Strange and somewhat morbid-sounding words and phrases such as “obey,” “lay down one’s life,” and “take up one’s cross” are used in the Bible to describe the posture Believers must have if we are to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

I would guess that when many, if not most, Christians hear phrases like these and have a vague, somewhat ominous view of a God who wants to deprive them of their every comfort and happiness in life. A God who might call on them to go live in the jungles of Africa and eat the insides of strange animals.  This fear has served to paralyze many people (myself included) from acting at times when they have sensed God speaking to them.

One of the many subtle and ingenious lies the Enemy whispers in the ears of many Christians is “following Christ” implies merely a vocation (often a change of vocation), when in fact it means something simultaneously much greater than, and also more ordinary than, a simple change of careers.

In Matthew 4:19-22, Jesus calls Andrew and his brother Peter to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Verse 20 says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”  Verses 21-22 tell of Jesus calling James and John, who also “immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” It is significant that Matthew uses the word “immediately” in both cases–there was no hesitation on the part of any of these men when Jesus issued his very radical call for them to leave their families and give up their livelihoods to accompany Him on His earthly mission.

How many of us can honestly agree we would follow Christ’s command with no second-guessing or “a sober weighing of the pros and cons,” regardless of what He asks?

There is another point we often forget. Jesus’ calling for the disciples wasn’t really as much about giving up their families and changing their vocations as it was about just being with Him and spending time learning His ways–learning to love Him and absorbing His very presence. What Jesus really wanted from them, of course, is the same thing God wanted from Abraham centuries before when He called on him to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac:  an utter trust in Him which results in a willingness to immediately relinquish whatever or whomever one loves most on this earth to follow Jesus with one’s whole heart, mind, and strength.

God doesn’t want just our vocational service; He wants our hearts and our very lives.

Yes, this does sometimes involve a radical change of direction and even career path, but most of the time following Christ means following Him in the everyday, ho-hum routines of life–as we fight traffic to get to the office, eat lunch with friends and co-workers, or interact with the people we see at the gym.

 For me, at least, this constant obedience to Christ in the mundane things is usually far more difficult than a dramatic act of “sacrifice” such as giving up a career and moving to a faraway land.  I firmly believe the heroes of the faith are not necessarily those who answer the call to preach, move overseas to be missionaries, or give all their possessions to the poor, but are those who faithfully serve the Lord unnoticed, day in and day out, by being the hands and feet of Christ wherever they may be.

Any act of following Jesus requires a trust born only out of love for Him, a love that in turn can only happen on our part when we have spent so much time in His presence that we no longer believe the lie that God wants to rob us of our joy and make us do something dreadful to prove our love for Him.  It is only by obeying Him in the first place that we begin to trust Him to be who He says He is. Single or married, we all make a choice every day when we decide to either ignore God’s voice out of fear and rebelliousness, or to trust in our loving Creator, who knows us infinitely more than we can ever know ourselves.  Who will you choose today?

Dating is Way Too Serious

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - 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.

 

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.

Build Your Testimony

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - Build Your Testimony

What is a testimony? It is simply sharing how you responded to Christ call in your life. After his encounter with Christ when he spoke before King Agrippa the Apostle Paul was an example for us on how to share our testimony.

Read Acts 26 to hear Paul tell his story.

Answer the following questions to help form your salvation testimony:

  • Before: Your life before you knew Christ
    • Before you came to Christ, where were you spiritually? How did that affect your life in general?
    • Before you became a Believer, what were some ways God began drawing you to Christ?
  • How: Your conversion
    • What motivated you to invite Christ into your life as Lord and Savior?
    • Specifically, how did you come to Christ, receive His forgiveness, and submit to His Lordship?
    • If a church played a part in your conversion, how did you come in contact with that congregation? Who and what do you remember from your first visits?
  • After: Your new walk with Christ
    • What changed in your life after you accepted Jesus as your Savior?
    • How did knowing Christ change the way you define your life?

Simple right? All you have to do is share what happened in your life and how you came to Christ.

Do not be fooled by the enemy who says your story is not as cool or powerful as someone else’s. Don’t fall for the lie that you are not saved as much as another person. God meets people where they are and calls them to Him. Not everyone must have an extreme testimony of being radically saved in order to connect with another person.

Take some time and watch the testimonies of others on YouTube. It is captivating to hear how each one is so different and how God worked in each of their lives. Watch a few of these videos and notice how different each one is. Yours is just as unique and just as powerful. Share your story.

If you don’t know the Lord, start down the path of knowing Him today.