So, What If I Messed Up?

Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be like crimson, they shall be like wool”

Questions? I get questioned all the time. Of course, I always point people back to the Bible, to prayer, meditation, fellowship…. but people ask.

” I’m divorced. Can I get married again?”

” I wasn’t a good parent. Can I be forgiven?”

” I was a bad husband. Can I be forgiven?”

” I messed up so bad even my mother cannot forgive me!”

Folks, let me tell you something. Preacher Larry or Elder John will tell you that god can’t forgive your divorce. They will talk about your “consequences”. They will advise you to never have sexual intimacy again. They will tell you to stay in an abusive marriage even if you end up in the hospital (or dead). They will take Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 out of context and make you miserable. They will tell you to be a Eunich for the Lord. They will tell you that THEY will support you and care for you in your time of need. They will LIE to you.

Am I being harsh towards our leaders? Maybe. Actually, most preachers and elders are fine people who are doing their best. Unfortunately, most have NO EXPERIENCE with what you going through. And, they would not follow the advice they give you. I know. I have observed over the years. The sister with a “unscriptural” divorce told everyone she counseled to not marry again. Guess what? She is married now. The preacher who had the affair? Yep, married again! The elder whose wife left him for “unbiblical” reasons. Worse results. Celibacy wasn’t working and he had an affair.

Who are you listening to? Men and their traditions for you? Or God who observed that “it is not good for man to be alone”?

Advertisements

What about today’s definition of Men?

Apparently, the desirability of marriage among young men has now dropped to a staggering 29%. Quite a gift we’ve given our daughters and granddaughters. Well done everyone. Well done!!! Quite an achievement for such a short span of time.

I would supply a few reasons for this, but I think that would insult the intelligence of the listeners. It’s not rocket science why men are wholeheartedly rejecting the idea of being legally and/or morally tied to a woman these days. In fact, God aside, I’d find myself questioning the sanity of those who would actively choose it in this climate.

Don’t worry though, your daughters and granddaughters will still be able to find love… well, until morning. If that! Apparently most men don’t even spend the night anymore.

Weirdly enough, it’s almost as though the more like men women have become the less desirable men have found them. Shocker!!! Who could EVER have predicted that???

SO…what is the solution? The same as always! Jesus! Teach Jesus! Live Jesus! Model Jesus!

(Ladies, Jesus wants you to be with committed believers!—– Men, Jesus wants you to be with committed believers)

What Are Your Credentials?

Amos answered Amaziah, ” I was neither a prophet not the son of a prophet, but i was a shepherd and I took care of sycamore fig trees.” Amos 7:14

Years ago I was in a discussion with “real” preachers. Men collecting a paycheck to minister. They explained that since I worked in the hospital as an RN caring for sick people, I was not a “real” minister as a singles leader. I did not have a designated meeting place, an office or “credentials”. I didn’t attend preacher school. Thus, over the last 21 years my singles ministry has struggled because of lack of support and encouragement from the “real” preachers, no budget and (mostly) no respect. Yet, we have baptized at least 100 seekers. Have contributed to building relationships, comforted the widows and divorced and mentored some children.

My niece joined the National guard last year. Is going to be an accountant. Sweet and pretty eighteen year old. Is assigned to an airbourne unit. So, she went to jump school this winter. Completed the school and made FIVE jumps. Her “creds” are her action. The hardcore soldiers have noticed and she is more to them than sweet and pretty. She is one of them.

You may have wanted to get more involved in outreach of some ministry at some point but thought ” I don’t have the right education or “credentials”. Remember that men put stock in formal education and having the right pedigree. But God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. God is interested in your heart and your willingness to use your talents and your attitude about service. I remember a new man at our congregation in Florida years ago. His first weekend with us was the weekend the men cleaned the building and the grounds. He was older so he grabbed an inside job that nobody wanted. He scrubbed the toilets and sinks. Let me tell you, the bathrooms sparkled! He took pride in his calling for the day. Turns out he was a Psychologist! A doctor with an practice, who had been a vice president of a major university and authored numerous books. His “creds” were powerful, especially to the working men.

You don’t need a PHD or theology degree to be useful in the kingdom. God uses the willing, including a shepherd who cared for fig trees. We need you to help us reach singles.

-Jim

 

The Single Parent Opportunity

“A wise son heeds his Father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke” Proverbs 13:1

“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger” Proverbs 15:1

“Religion that God accepts….look after orphans and widows in their distress” James 1:27

If a “Father” is not present, who teaches the son. God has a solution but we must accept reality as it is. Can anyone deny that some of the modern day “widows” and “orphans” are single parents and their children? Add to that growing number the neglect and lack of acceptance of the “younger” widowed. If you lose a spouse and you are under the age of 65, most churches neglect you and many do not invite you into their social circles. And what of the divorced?

The population of single parents is growing. Many younger people are not marrying. Some went through the divorces and grief of their childhood when they became the children left behind. Financial decisions are made on how to get by and marriage can be more expensive than not marrying. The pool of good people who want to marry is shrinking. And, many young marriages end in divorce.

Had a great “meeting’ with a local church leadership who sees the need to do “something”. Ideas were bounced around including the idea of a few “big events” like a cook out or holiday party. The idea of a weekly coffee shop is interesting. A weekly Bible class/networking session seems needed. And a social event at monthly intervals could be offered. Food and child care could always be beneficial. We have a follow up meeting planned. Hopeful!

As I was walking out I received a call back from a minister friend in Central Florida. Opportunity to be involved with a large interdenominational outreach through planning a couple of big events annually. Curious that we already have the Equip Orlando in late June and the annual LAUNCH Singles Weekend in Mt. Dora/ Eustis in February. Amazing!

Then went to grab a salad at Wendy’s. Met a single mom  of 4 daughters. She is a nursing student. She is tired and stressed with work and school but needs to connect. We talked of the struggles of being single but having the responsibility of both parents, paying bills and not having the time or money to take the kids out. Yes, meals and child care are hard to come by. Encouraged!

“The harvest is ripe but the workers are few!” Join us in the adventure of serving!

Single Parents……….What Should the Church Do?

“Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless were crushed.” – Job 22:5, 9 (ESV)

This passage is just one of many throughout the Bible that identifies widows and the fatherless as the most vulnerable in God’s economy. It describes the height of ungodliness as sending a widow away with no help and no provision or letting harm come upon a fatherless kid. I don’t believe any church would intentionally do this. However, when so many vulnerable children in single parent homes are suffering neglect and abuse, when single parents are crying out by the thousands that they need help and feel completely overlooked by their church, and FEWER THAN ONE PERCENT of churches in America offer a substantial ministry for single parent families, how can we not be brokenhearted, repent, and agree it’s time for a massive course correction?

It is tragic, but not surprising, that when single moms fail to find protection or provision within the church, many seek it in wrong relationships with the opposite sex. At best, these relationships set poor examples of sexual integrity for our kids. At worst, they can be harmful and abusive, sometimes even life-threatening. I know moms who have three or four children, all by different fathers, none of whom have stuck around to parent or provide, let alone marry these women. One single mom confessed to me in tears that in one particularly difficult season she had a different man in bed with her every night, just trying to get money to feed her kids. In Biblical times, a woman who had been widowed (divorced, abandoned or lost a husband to death) had grim prospects. Her only options for survival were to marry another or become a prostitute. I don’t think much has really changed today. We call it by different names and turn a blind eye to it, but ultimately many single moms and kids are in extremely vulnerable positions, up for grabs to whoever will give them a break, or a place to shack up or help paying some bills.

What should the church do? Where does the church start? How can the corporate church be effective? Can the church financially and emotionally “afford” an extensive ministry to singles? Good questions! Are satisfactory answers available?

  • The first thing a local congregation (staff, leadership and members) must do is recognize the magnitude of the problem. Here are some simple statistics. About 15% of single parents attend church regularly. That means (for you math wizards) 85% of single parents and their children are not in church! Add that to the estimate that as many as 40% of children live in a single parent home.
  • You must have a beneficial and workable plan. If you want a single mother (or dad) to dress and bring (2, 3, 5, 7) kids to church services, you must assistance to make it workable. “Heaven one day”, you say? How about NOW? Child care, a meal, mentoring for the children and (hopefully) peace, quiet and acceptance for the parent.
  • You will have to be realistic and patient. For example, if you expect a large number of people to turn up for a mid week church service after work and school, you are going to be disappointed. Unless you (the institution) are on the way home, it is very difficult.
  • Offer alternatives! What about less structured classroom activities and more networking with a variety of times. Honestly, why does everybody need to go to Sunday School at the building at 9 am. Do more home church and neighborhood events.
  • Help single parents Connect! For example, if “Susie” works the night shift at the nursing home and “Sally” has a home child care business, introduce them. If “Bob” drives 3 kids to school at 8 am and has room for 2 more maybe he could take “Susie’s” kids and she could get adequate rest…..be flexible!

Ok, this is a start. I need more feedback. Tell me how to serve better!

So…………what are we fishing for?

     I tried to ask a simple question! What does your congregation do to follow up when someone visits? I had a few varying responses, ranging from a phone call or a text to nothing. Then someone asked what I (the lay person in the pew) does. I answered, “greet, be a friend, invite to lunch, give a business card, invite to check out the blog….”. Hmmm! Good question. Could I do better as a “church member”? Of course, I could. The “staff” knows I am willing. How could I be more involved? Do I have to “complain” that the “office” is too controlling? Do I show more interest in my ”demographic” (singles, single parents, the divorced, widowed and struggling families)? Yes, I do! I don’t take on prison ministry, inner city ministry and though I work for a homeless program, I let the outreach go to those who want it. Some concentration is needed to be effective in ministry also..

FISHING!
So……….next Saturday (and the next) the church (everybody) is invited to meet us for breakfast at 7:30 am at Jimmy’s Grill, 5539 Hwy 29 N., Molino, FL –then– meet at Steve’s Farm, Walnut Hill at 9 am til….. You can bring a fishing pole or rent one. Free admission for church folks. Bring a cooler! (Next Saturday, omelets and fish at our pier in Spanish Cove….same times).
What is the point? The purpose? The mission? Food? Ok. Fun? I hope! Fellowship? Yes! Church assembly? Well, we are the church…
Come one, come all!

So, what if you miss a visitor and they aren’t invited? I can’t control everything…..the office staff has the details….

What is the point? The purpose? The mission? Food? Ok. Fun? I hope! Fellowship? Yes! Church assembly? Well, we are the church…

Come one, come all!

Where are your priorities?

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these this will be given unto you” Matthew 6:33

What are you looking for (Sally, 44, from Wichita)? Ken (SWM) from Miami is 67 and looking for a SWF, 33 or younger, blonde and athletic. Millie from Parsippany likes long walks on the beach, romantic sunsets and dining out. Roger from Long Beach wants a soul mate to bicycle, work out with and watch Disney movies……hmmm. Is this the Single Mingler or Plenty of Flounder dating site? People seeking a worldly encounter? A walk through the oldies of the newspaper personals?

Sadly, this is a representation of church singles sites on facebook. OUR church (churches of Christ). One guy posted a picture of him in short shorts as he sought a “young babe”.  Another argued about how “porn isn’t adultery”.  Still another moans and groans about  how his cheating wife has ruined his life….She has been gone 15 years, married to another for 12! Thank goodness the ladies are better! Wait! “Nobody” in the Lord’s church is good enough for me…. Somebody (else) should do something!

My reminder…” Seek ye first the kingdom of God”. How about “be where you are supposed to be and do what you are supposed to do”?

Go on a mission trip! You will meet missionaries and seekers!

Feed the hungry! You will meet servants!

Visit the sick! You will encourage others AND meet other compassionate people.

It works! “Seek Ye First” was my FIRST devotional lesson in singles ministry 21 years ago. I met SEEKERS including servants and the compassionate. Oh! And my (now) wife of 19 years was there……