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!

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 Dad Through Divorce

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Divorce is ugly.

 

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.

Dads are by nature protective providers, and while not perfect, they strive to achieve the primal “hunter and gatherer” mindset. Maybe you are a dad reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a father 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 4:23

Defenses go up, feelings are hurt, and a once promising happily ever after might fade into a nightmare. 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 a storm is not the time to go silent and walk away. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you went engagement ring shopping. Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Be Present with Your Children

“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Divorce can be embarrassing, humiliating, and defeating. All things men hate. This often causes men to retreat away from the relationships in the situation, including your children. They did not choose this path; do not punish the ones you held in the hospital the day they were born with the present situation. Custody battles are never “won”–only compromised like the relationship that was broken. Even if you no longer want to communicate with their mother, you need to love and respect her in the way Christ loves us.

 

Your Ex-Spouse’s 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.

Four Things the Single Parent Needs from the Church

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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.

A Profile of Singles: Divorced Singles

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A Deeper look at Divorced Singles

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand that type of single adult better or in a different light. We welcome feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry to [email protected]

Characteristics of this Group

Divorced singles come from many different places and backgrounds. Some have been married a few years, while others for decades. Divorce is one of the most emotionally traumatic experiences a person goes through and when they are done with the process, they are single. While over 40% of marriages end in divorce, those who remarry have an even higher chance of divorce. Divorced singles know what it is like to live with someone and share intimate moments. When that is taken away, it becomes hard to process. Men tend to remarry sooner than women but both divorced men and women seek to fill a hole in their emotional lives after divorce.

Ministry Needs in this Group

An emotional hole is left in the life of a recently divorced adult. It does not matter if the divorce was for “good” or “bad” reasons; it is a major life change to experience divorce. Single adults in this category need a support group to help them transition back into the single life. Many do not “know how to date” anymore but more importantly, they need to realize there is no need to date unless it is in God’s plan. Divorced singles may also be single parents and require activities that are friendly for children to participate.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Divorced singles need to be encouraged with the message of being Complete in Christ.  While trying to fill their emotional hole after a divorce, they often make irrational decisions that affect them for years. The mode of communication is not as important as just communicating with them. A bridge needs to be in place from any DivorceCare ministry to the singles ministry to connect them to the larger singles group. Many of them will need a one-on-one with the primary singles leader to determine where and when they will best fit into a group.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

All divorced singles are different. Each divorce is different, and the wounds carried from that divorce will vary. DivorceCare is a great way to reach divorced adults to talk about their pain and process emotions. Through the program at DivorceCare, a single adult can then enter fully into a singles ministry. Though divorced singles should not be isolated from singles during this challenging time, it is encouraged they go through this course to consider all the aspects of being single again. Isolating divorced singles, however,  is never a good long-term strategy. While it is good for a short time like DivorceCare, when they are isolated they tend to dwell on the past more than move forward and focus on Christ.

Resources

Instone, David. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Roberts, Barbara. Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery & Desertion. Ballarat, Victoria: Maschil Press, 2008.

Smoke, Jim. Growing Through Divorce. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1995.

Missing the Kids

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A man walks into a fall festival at his church. The look on his face is weathered from the years of addiction that has cut him off from his children. Where did it all go wrong? It seems like just a few moments ago he was taking his kids trick or treating and now he’s a single parent looking for a place to feel loved. He made a decision for Christ a few months back but relationships were too far gone and seem as if they will never be healed.

There is a single parent in your church with a story just like this or close to it. He or she is looking for a place to connect, but will they find it? Singles ministry is not just for the 20-something-never-married or single moms with preschoolers; no, it’s a place where love is shown to all backgrounds and commonality in their relationship status.

Churches that do not target singles of all backgrounds miss the opportunity to minister to people like this. Single parents come in many backgrounds and ages, but where they connect is up to the local church and the opportunities they offer. Psalm 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families.”

Within an effective singles ministry, the single father described above arrives early to help with festivals and be a part of something on a day where they would have just been alone. They serve with fellow singles that have become a second family over the past few weeks since attending. They go home still remembering what was, but now with hope of what is to come.