6/20/13

Single-Focused: 9 Lessons for Singles - Part 2


In Part 1 of "Single-Focused," we learned five lessons from different authors who wrote to single Christians. In summary, we learned:

  • The key to experiencing contentment, a full life and abundant joy as a single is to discover and embrace the plan and calling of God for my life.
  • God wants me to model femininity, no matter my status or occupation, but also to learn skills for ministry.
  • I need to get radical about not "awakening" love until the appropriate time.
  • God expects me to maintain personal purity, whether I am single, married, or widowed.
  • I must accept and appreciate my desires as a means to my holiness and greater intimacy with God who loves me.
Let's continue with the next four lessons.

Lesson 6: I must embrace the potential power and influence of my femininity, not only in my ministry, but especially in my relationships with men.

For years, perhaps because of the influence of secular works I read in my youth, I looked down on femininity and saw it as weakness. The more I read about the strong women in scripture, however, the more I understood God's plan. I can be a feminine-yet-fierce Warrior Woman for the Kingdom of God. A truly feminine woman appreciates how God has designed her, and nurtures others with strength and passion.

In Leslie Ludy's book, Answering the Guy Questions, she touched on this. "As women, we have a far greater power over the course of masculinity than most of us realize," Ludy said. "We can use our femininity to influence men toward strength or toward weakness. Unfortunately, most of us don't use our feminine power correctly." (6)

Ludy (also the author of Set-Apart Femininity), pointed out some "twisted imitations of God's original design for womanhood," including arrogant femininity, nagging femininity, seductive femininity and controlling femininity.

Lesson 7: I must never settle for less than God's best regarding a potential mate. 

I almost did. Twice. But God guarded my heart until I learned to guard it better myself. He used people and circumstances, and especially the scriptures, to keep me from making serious mistakes.

Renee Fisher wrote about this principle in Not Another Dating Book. In the devotional titled "More," she wrote, "Scripture reminds us not to settle for less." She told the story of the young king Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:1-9) who was warned by a man of God not to rely on his impressive army for victory. The man of God told the king (verse 9), "The Lord is able to give you much more than this!"

Fisher expounds, "More. God had something better in mind for Amaziah, and He has the very best in mind for you." (7)

Waiting on God is never futile. Waiting for His best is never foolish. (On the other hand, while we are waiting and learning how to recognize God's best, we also need to remember that we are all frail-and-failing flesh. A perfect Prince Charming simply does not exist. The only perfect man was Jesus.) Trust God instead of leaning on your "own understanding" ... don't be "wise in your own eyes" (Proverbs 3:5-7).

Fisher's new Kindle ebook, Loves Me Not, continues her exploration into the ups and downs of singleness and relationships, and how to pursue God as the love of your life.

Lesson 8:  I must never put my life "on hold" waiting for a man to fulfill my life. My deepest needs - especially for love - are only satisfied as I focus on Jesus Christ.

Lydia Brownback explored this truth in her book, Fine China Is for Single Women Too. "... life doesn't begin when you get married," she wrote. "This is your life! You will never find contentment in living for what you hope tomorrow may hold .... Life is not a spectator sport... So start living!"

Brownback quotes Joshua Harris: "Don't do something about your singleness; do something with it." Fine china is not just for married women, she says, and neither is a purpose-filled life. Every single woman can seek God for the unique contributions He has ordained her to make for the Kingdom and to serve others.

"If you actively pursue a Christ-centered focus in all you are and do, you will find your mind and heart being transformed to desire Him above anything else..." Brownback said. "Ask God to make Christ the deepest longing, the one thing above all else that you yearn for.... This is a prayer He will surely answer. As your heart for Christ grows stronger, your contentment will deepen, because you will be receiving the desire of your heart." (8)

She quotes the scripture I embraced in my 20s, Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." His desires became mine, and it was my joy to follow Him.


Lesson 9: Get Lost in the One Who Loves You Most!

Dannah Gresh has a brand new book, Get Lost: Your Guide to Finding True Love. She tells girls to be so "lost in God" that a guy will have to seek Him to find her.

Gresh wrote, "My own unholy desires began to fade, and I was tamed by God's desires for me. I was able to approach this whole guy/girl thing with incredible certainty and joy that the God of the universe had a good plan for me, and I needed to stop messing it up with mine." (9)

Each of these authors have far more to share than I posted here, and I recommend their books. But as I read their wise insights, I realize how God protected my young heart and prepared me for the life I now share with my husband. In those early years, I learned to trust Jesus, rely on Him for everything, embrace my womanhood and femininity, keep my mind and body pure and discern ways to influence others for good.

If you are single today, you are not alone, though you may sometimes feel lonely and confused. God wants to draw you close to His heart and enlist you in the great adventure He has planned for you. All that He asks is that you are single-focused on Him.

Did you learn something new in these eight lessons? What is God teaching you, as a single Christian?
(Footnotes continued from part 1)
(6) Leslie Ludy, Answering the Guy Questions, pp. 52, 53ff.
(7) Renee Fisher, Not Another Dating Book, p. 144
(8) Lydia Brownback, Fine China is for Single Women Too, intro and pp. 75-84, 105-106

(9) Dannah Gresh, Get Lost: Your Guide to Finding True Love, Ch. 1.

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with everything that these eight authors have written, but I do agree with these statements, as presented in the eight lessons. - Dawn Wilson


6/19/13

Single-Focused: 9 Lessons for Singles - Part 1


"Single-Focused" deals with nine lessons for Single Christians - five lessons today, and four more tomorrow.

Singles make up a huge part of American society. At some point in our lives, we are all single!




According to the 2012 census, there are 102 million unmarried people in the USA, a group comprising 44.1 percent of all US residents ages 18 and older. Fifty-three percent are women and 47 percent are men. Sixty-two percent have never been married, 24 percent were divorced, and 14 percent, widowed. Seventeen million were age 65 and older.


It's been a long time since I've been a single, but I remember what it felt like and many of the challenges I faced.

I made a decision as a 20-year-old, after a young man broke my heart, to focus on the presence of God. It was a choice I will never regret, because it changed my perspective and purpose in life. Although God brought me a husband, the things He taught me as a single girl were priceless - things that still guide my life today.


So learn these lessons well ... Each author has something important to teach you.



Lessons for Single Christians

Lesson 1. The key to experiencing contentment, a full life, and abundant joy as a single is to discover and embrace the plan and calling of God for my life.


Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote about this in Singled Out for Him. "In the will of God, singleness is an incredible gift, to be received with gratitude and to be used for the glory of God... Over the years, I have come to realize that contentment is a choice.


"True joy is not the result of having everything I want, but of gratefully receiving exactly what God has given me... The fact is, if we're not content with what we have, we will never be content with what we think we want." (1)


If you are single, it is not by mistake. It is God's plan for now and it is good. Some Christians are afraid that if they tell God they are OK with their single status, He'll never let them get married! True contentment views God as sovereign and trustworthy, and believes that He knows and wants the best for us. Contentment is an act of faith.


Lesson 2. God wants me to model femininity, no matter my status or occupation, but also to learn skills for ministry.


In Single and Satisfied, Audrey Lee Sands wrote about her arrival on the mission field and trying to figure out how to function there as a single woman. She discovered that while she had to be under authority and ladylike, she was also expected to be independent and more self-sufficient than the wives at the mission compound.


She wrote, "You don't have to be masculine to know how to do a few things. Being feminine doesn't mean you are helpless and have to make a nuisance of yourself." (2)


Sands encouraged women to give men every opportunity to be manly, but don't be a wimp - good advice for me, since I have lived so much of my married life alone because of my husband's traveling ministry. I've had the opportunity to learn many skills that have proved vital in my home and ministry. 


Lesson 3: I need to get radical about not "awakening" love until the appropriate time.


In her book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, Paula Hendricks explains how crucial this is. "In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus unpacks one of the Ten Commandments in a way that will blow your mind," Hendricks said. "In Matthew 5:28–30, He's saying that even if there’s something incredibly valuable to you, if it is causing you to sin, then you should get hard core about removing it from your life. 



"While you and I have to expect temptation, we sure don’t have to feed it!" she said. (3) Hendricks' lesson is a message for all ages, but especially for younger women.

Lesson 4. God expects me to maintain personal purity, whether I am single, married, or widowed.


Joy Jacobs and Deborah Strubel wrote a book titled Single, Whole and Holy: Christian Women and Sexuality. While acknowledging the pull of the culture toward sexual immorality, the authors make it clear that sexual sin threatens the credibility of our personal walk with God and reflects on the whole of Christianity.


While acknowledging women's struggle with emotions, the battle for sexual purity "is a battle of the mind," they say. "Our thought choices determine our feeling choices and our behavior choices." (4)


I learned years ago to "guard my heart" (Proverbs 4:23) and thoughts (Romans 12:2). Don't let the enemy lie to you about sexual purity. A little bit of sex outside marriage will harm you. Everyone is not doing it, even though many people struggle with temptation. It's a big deal, and even if no one finds out - you will know. God will know. It's not a matter of self-control (human effort), but rather God's spirit controlling you as you walk with Him, as you acknowledge Him in the midst of your temptation and use the Word of God skillfully.


Lesson 5: I must accept and appreciate my desires as a means to my holiness and greater intimacy with God who loves me.


In her powerful book, Thrive: The Single Life as God Intended - probably the most insightful book I've ever read for singles - Lina Abujamra reminds readers that God wants much more for us than we dare to imagine. She writes, "Your desires are not meant to defeat you. Your desires are a gift that God as given to you to draw you into greater intimacy with Him. The road to greater intimacy with the Lord is called your sanctification process, and it is evidenced by an increasing holiness in your life."

Younger singles, especially, may view holiness as archaic or boring, Abujamra understands their mindset. "Right now, you're too cool to be a holy roller," she wrote. "Holiness gets a bad rap. Who, in their right mind, wants to be holy? Can't we settle for just normal?" Yet she assures readers that holiness, properly understood, is God's plan for every single Christian, "and it's His goal for you if you want to thrive," she said. (5)


Her no punches-pulled book will especially encourage singles caught in the trap of sexual sin. She presents an uncompromising biblical message, but then offers powerful hope.


Tomorrow ... four more lessons.

Which of the lessons, so far, is the most difficult for you to accept or practice as a single Christian?


(1) Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Singled Out for Him, pp. 11-12.
(2) Audrey Lee Sands, Single and Satisfied, p. 79
(3) Paula Hendricks, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl (Moody Publishers, releasing Sept. 1, 2013)
(4) Joy Jacobs and Deborah Strubel, Single, Whole and Holy, p. 12
 (5) Lina Abujamra, Thrive: The Single Life as God Intended, pp. 95-97