Join Already!

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“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.”

James 4:13-15

Singles are great at committing to not committing to anything! As a single adult, you know it’s true! Singles are great at checking “maybe” on a Facebook invite and then waiting to see who will actually click on the “yes” box before they make that commitment. All of this and more is true when it comes to joining a local church. Single adults are transient people. Having only one opinion to consult in decisions to move to a new job, relocate for school, or move across town to a new place all result in single adults not joining a church for fear they may move again soon.

Stop the non-committing! Christ wants you to be “all in” for Him and His people. The excuses are endless, but if you are in a church that is honoring God, preaching His Word, and you are growing in your relationship with Him through that congregation, JOIN! Stand up today single adults and be where you are for however long the Lord will have you there. Join a church, get involved, give of your time, money, and resources to the church you are actively participating in.

Ask the Lord if it is His will you would join the congregation you are in now. If it is not, then you need to start looking for a place He does want you and join. For many singles, when they join a church it may be their first time ever joining a church on their own. They may have been in the church all their lives because their parents were members. Now is the time for you to grow in your faith, invest in a local church, and join in with God’s family.

Strong and Courageous

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“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:7-9

Have you ever had big change in your life? The type of change that you know nothing will be the same going forward if you do it? Joshua knew that what the Lord was calling him to do was a BIG change for him and the nation of Israel. We do not know 100% if Joshua was married from Scripture, so imagine what he as a single adult is facing when the Lord calls him to lead Israel. He is leading the Lord’s people as a single adult hearing from the Lord in Joshua 1 what his marching orders are to be.

 


 

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Reading this text as the Lord speaking to Joshua as a single adult does make sense. As a single adult it is easy to feel alone, afraid, and discouraged. But God addresses these fears and lets him know that He will be with him everywhere he goes, so Joshua should be strong and courageous. God’s promise is the same for all of us, to be strong and courageous for the Lord and He will stand by us.

I Am a Widow, But Do I Have To Be Single?

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The death of a spouse is tough. In addition to the grief, there can be the confusion of changing financial arrangements, and the assumption of household and family responsibilities that were once shared. For many, there is also the added challenge of discovering where they now “fit” among the social circles present in their local congregation.

Single adults who were once married cannot be lumped into one big “Single-again” category.  Many widows/ers do not think of themselves as single at all. They carry on living, in many ways, as if their spouse were simply away on a trip. Others, however, see a completely new chapter of life before them, and choose to seek out new friendships and opportunities.

Table for One Ministries wants all widows/ers to know you are not alone. The decision to be “single again” is yours and yours alone. We do, however, believe it can be a positive step. After the loss of such a close relationship, the void in life can seem unfillable. Many widows continue on with their current married environments only to find they have less and less in common with them as time moves forward. Widows need other widows and singles who understand their life stage and can sometimes minister to them more effectively than their previous group.

Becoming a widow is not the end of the road, but a new stage of life where bold things can be done and serving the Lord should be center stage. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” Embrace your new life stage as a widow and see where the Lord will lead you next. Your singles group will embrace you with loving arms and you will find a place to connect.

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.

Lady Porn

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Ladies, don’t think you are immune to the trap of pornography. According to XXXChurch.com, 49% of women found pornography an acceptable way of expressing sexuality. Thirteen percent of women admit to viewing pornography at work and one of every three visitors to porn websites are women. Even worse, 34% of church-going women admit to looking at pornography.

This is not a conversation about whether a novel you might have read is a version of porn. No, this is a reality that graphic erotica is gripping females just as it does males, and the stats show this issue is on the rise.

Porn is a Lie.

In Romans 7, Paul talks about the desire to do good but still falling into sin, until the power of the cross takes over your life. As a single adult, you may think that looking at pornography is okay since you are not in a relationship. We have even heard singles say it is acceptable because they may never find someone and that is an outlet for them. But, Matthew 5:28 tells us that even looking at someone in lust is committing sin in our hearts.

Hebrews 12:4 says, ”In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” It is a sin, and yes, the Lord expects you to live a life free of pornography. Have you truly resisted in your fight with pornogrphy? To the point of shedding your own blood?

As a single adult male or female, one day you may find someone and enter into a relationship. Your choices as a single regarding lust and pornography will be an issue. Marriage does not fix lust and addiction to pornography.

It is a heart issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. If you need help with breaking this addiction, please visit xxxchurch.com for resources and internet-accountability tools. But, remember, there is NO internet accountability tool that can keep someone from finding pornography. But there is the strength of Christ to avoid seeking it.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

Take a stand in your heart and before God, then find an accountability partner to make it “Not an Option.” Make porn “Not an Option” in your life and walk in a new light, free from the darkness of pornography.

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.

I Fell in Love with an Atheist

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There is no way to dice it or dance around it. I loved an atheist. I loved him with every fiber of my being. Had it not ended, I might have loved him more than I love God.

In total transparency, my ex still has a small piece of my heart, that tiny shoebox in the corner of a heart where first loves and tacos live. Our “relationship” was a roller coaster of poor judgment, horrible communication, brilliant times full of laughter, sweet sincerity, highs, and lows. Conversation rarely revolved around God but, when the topic arose, it was like a round of tug-o-war.

I didn’t know he was atheist when we first started dating. I thought he was simply jaded and wayward. He was a music director at a church, his family was deeply rooted and involved. Having been raised in the church, he knew the political childishness that can happen within church walls filled with sinful humans. It never crossed my mind that he didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t share the same heartbeat for Jesus that I did.

When the truth came to light, the hopeless romantic in me believed he would return to God. I was in his life to help him see the light. It was all God’s divine appointment. I believed God put me in his life to help him. Deep down inside he had to believe, right?. He HAD to. Feeling we were meant to be together, I fervently prayed for his salvation. He opened a part of my heart that had been closed for a long period. I thought we couldn’t NOT be together.

After the last round of relationship lows, I realized what was happening. I had created a false god out of this man and our “relationship” (Exodus 20:3). I had put my desires, my heart, my treasures for this man over my desire for God. I was trying to serve two masters but failing the most important one (Matthew 6:19-24). I was delivering loaded selfish prayers to God and ignoring every conviction and warning sign He laid in front of me. It became clear. I knew what I had to do.

My prayers shifted to a focus on God. I prayed for God’s will and for God to either change his heart or knowing it would break my heart, take him out of my life. And it happened. My heart shattered.

I spiraled to a lonely place, feeling worthless, and angry at God. He had put all this love and excitement in my life only to rip it away. My conversations with God consisted solely of prayers for loved ones. None for me, not for my anger and broken heart. But He was there, waiting for me to be done with my temper tantrum.

I made the choice to trust and give my heart back to God. He handled the rest. My heart softened, I grasped two important truths:

1. God shows me countless amounts of infinite selfless love every single day. Every morning I open my eyes, I’m reminded of God’s eternal love.

2. My heart will mend because it belongs to the most trusted Physician.

When my ex moved on, I reflected on God’s protection from mistakes that could have had life long consequences. With God’s love, I made it through the heartbreak stronger and wiser. I thank my ex for the good times and being the one God used to show me I have the capacity to love at a high level. It’s the reason my ex holds a small place in my heart shoebox.

Now, I focus on building my relationship with God. Like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but He’s always right there, always. He loves and guides me through every low and celebrates with me at every high. My relationship with Christ is the most important I have. Grounded in His truth, I know it is the foundation for all other relationships (Matthew 22:37-38).

-Crystal

End of the Rope with Addiction

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Do you ever feel torn between doing what you know is right, and then doing the wrong thing anyway? Choosing to continue in a sin that you should be able to be free of, yet you keep making the same mistake. We have some comforting words for you, the apostle Paul had this same struggle in Romans 7-8 regarding the Law. The Message translation Bible is not intended to be an everyday Bible, but what it is great at is expressing things in a new light with the same Biblical meaning. This could not be more true of this passage! Here are the phrases Paul uses in his struggle with sin.

  • I need something more!
  • I know the law and yet I can not keep it
  • Sin keeps sabotaging my best intentions
  • I obviously need help!
  • I have the will, but I can’t do it!
  • The moment I decide to do good, sin trips me up
  • I have tried everything and nothing helps, I am at the end of my rope

You should take time and read this entire chapter out loud and hear the urgency and distress in Paul’s voice. Go ahead, read it out loud.

Romans 7 Message Translation

Have you ever felt that way? When it comes to sin in your life like getting drunk, sex before marriage, drugs, lust, porn,and on and on? Have you been at the end of your rope with sin? Do you feel like there is nothing anyone can do for you? Well, there is great news! Romans 7:25-8:1-4.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Struggle with your addictions and then give them all to God. Make a stand in your life for sin to be “Not an Option!” Have you reached the end of your rope with sin?

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.