Posts Tagged ‘single moms’

Judges 4:1-24 (Part 2 of 3)
Deborah Becomes Israel’s Judge

Today, in this passage, we see a woman taking over the leadership role over Israel. It was a time when no male leader wanted to take the mantle of leadership. Deborah saw what had to be done and she did it. It makes me think over several single moms, like little sisters to me, that I am so very proud of for how they have taken the role of being both dad and mom at the same time. These ladies all were forced into these roles when they did not want single parenthood. But in this day and age where some women dump their kids off on whomever they can so that they can live the party-going, manhunting lifestyle, these ladies that I know are examples to us all of putting our personal desires aside for the benefit of their children – not too unlike Deborah in our passage for today who put her personal desires aside because her nation needed someone to step up.

These ladies that I know are each single mom and have been for a while – Karen, Kelly, Desiree, and Shelley. Each one is human and certainly not perfect but they are doing what is right by their kids. Each one is a beautiful lady so it’s not like they have a lack of options. However, the kids are the priority with these ladies. Karen has been a single mom for 20 years or so. Even though her kids are grown, she has always placed their needs over her own and it stands as an example to us in this “me” lifestyle we have in our nation now. Karen has made innumberable sacrifices for her kids and now her grandkids. So many of us have married, been betrayed, divorced and remarried and some like me married multiple times. But Karen always kept the focus on her kids and being the best parent she could be. The fact that she has been single so long, the world will say that she is a spinster (though only in her late forties) and probably just a hardass. However, I think Karen has just let the focus be raising her kids and if a man comes along that is right she will entertain the idea. She longs to be a Christian wife again and willingly submit to the right man as her husband, but God has seen fit to make her life a ministry of what a single woman can do when her mind is on her kids and not necessarily her own desires.

Kelly is another one. This lady has two adorable boys that she is very proud of and she makes them her priority above all else. She had a difficult beginning to life having to give her first child up for adoption when she was very young. But later in life she married a man that she thought was it. She was ready to have a normal life and she had two little boys with this husband. Next thing you know their life falls apart because of his issues and now she stands alone as a single parent. She is another who sees providing a normal life for her kids the most important thing. She has managed to start her own cleaning business which she has become successful at. She started this business because she wanted flexibility to be able to be with the boys when she needed to and when she wanted to. Although she could have given up on life after the circumstances of her first marriage ending, but she stepped up. She did not freak out and try to relive her lost youth. She stepped up. Those boys of hers are all-American well-rounded boys because of her. Like Karen, Kelly wants to be a wife and would love to submit to his leadership of her family. However, Kelly waits because not just any man she will allow to be around those precious boys. Their environment and their well-being is the most important thing to her.

Desiree is another. She is one of those classic beauties that almost doesn’t seem like she is a real person. But though Dez is stunning, she is a great mom. She may not be perfect but there is no doubt about her love for her one and only child, Ave Claire. Although Desiree is from our GSP area, she moved to Charlotte a couple of years ago for an opportunity to provide for her daughter better. Although her ex-husband is more participatory now, there was a time when it was all on her. She was another one that I feared that would leave the child-rearing to a parent or a grandparent while she sought out the party lifestyle and a new man. Although there are times when she does let off some steam, there is nothing more important to her than Ave Claire. Her default priority in all things is Ave Claire. She recently worked hard to pass her real estate licensing exam so she could become a real estate agent. Why? So, she could have more flexibility to meet Ave Claire’s increasingly more active social life. Desiree stepped up. Desiree is placing the needs of her child above her personal deisres.

Shelley is the final one of this group of my little sisters that I am proud of. She is the youngest of the group. She has a warped sense of humor like mine so that is how we became friends after my wife introduced her to me. Shelley struggles at times being a single mom. She did not want this. She is relatively new at the game compared to Desiree, Kelly and Karen. Shelley is honest about her struggles and I love that about her. And sometimes through her honesty, you wonder if she is going to make it. Elena invests in her. I don’t say much but just watch and observe. For all her struggles, Shelley loves her child. She can’t even think about relationships right now because just the volume of the struggle of being a single mom with a child is about as much as she can handle. She loves Bri and regardless of the struggles of life, Shelley would die for that child and if you mess with Bri, you mess with Shelley. She too like the others did not want to be in this position, but life hands us crap at time and we must make a soufflé from it. Shelley keeps her sense of humor about it all but you know she desires to be a wife again at some point and share the struggles of parenthood. But for now, it’s all about Brianna and waiting for the right one that is right for their family and not just Shelley. She didn’t want to be a single mom, but she has stepped up. She is placing Brianna’s needs above her own.

These four little sisters of mine, Karen, Kelly, Desiree, and Shelley, all demonstrate that sometimes in life, women are forced into positions of leadership because no one else is there and they must lead. That’s the thing I see in these four ladies and it is what I see in Deborah. She becomes a judge for God’s people. It is God’s plan that leadership is the man’s responsibility and his sacrifice for the good of his family and for the good of his nation. Women are made equal in God’s sight but He designed them to be nurturers and caregivers and the passion of life and the beauty of life and they are designed to be home to family. Yes, women can lead as well as men and no doubt there have been great women leaders throughout history. And no doubt that are awesome female leaders right now. Most women though think first of family and home before they think of career. They are designed that way by God. And in the Bible, when you see a woman step up and be a leader, it is because of the lack of or the spinelessness of the men of the era. Deborah stepped up because there was no one else who would. Sometimes, because of the fallen nature of man, God’s order of things gets messed up. Deborah is an example of that. She was a godly woman for sure, but she had to take on a role because no one else was there who would. Let’s read about it now:

4 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.

4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,[b] and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.

23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

Today in this passage, we will ask the question, how did Deborah command such respect? She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that she influenced the to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together and commanded the respect of even the military general, Barak. She was also a prophet, whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. The amazing thing about Deborah was that she was true leader in that she was concerned about the people themselves and not success. Success by itself is no driver but having passion for a cause or a people can lead us to do great things. All the while, Deborah was filling a role because no man would do it. Sometimes, in life, women are forced into roles that are typically reserved for men and we must pray for them when they are in those positions such as single parenthood.

What can we do when we are forced into a situation that we don’t want to be in and somehow seems unnatural to us? We pray for God to restore order in the long run but we pray for God to give us the strength to get through situations that we are not well suited for. This is true for all of us not just Deborah and not just for these four single moms of which I have spoken. We all can be in situations that we are not designed by God for because we live in a fallen world. Sometimes, circumstances are forced upon us by others that do not seem fair and we could just throw up our hands and give up. Single dads out there raising daughters and sons on your own. I see you too. You have to be a mom when the situation calls for it even though you are definitely not wired for that. All of us whether single moms or single dads have been in situations that were long-term that we are ill-equipped by our very nature to handle.

We live in a fallen world. We live in a world where people are going to dump on us. We live in a world where life is not fair to us at times. We often have to deal with the consequences of other people’s stupid decisions and there is nothing that we can do about it. I think that is where we learn dependence on God. When we do not have the innate talent to handle a situation because of what sex we are, when we do not have the innate talent to handle a situation because the talents needed are not the ones that God naturally talented us with, that’s when we learn dependence on God. Otherwise, if we could handle it, we are less likely to see God’s power in our lives. I would imagine that there are times as single moms, my friends, my little sisters, Karen, Kelly, Desiree, and Shelley, can attest to God miraculously delivering them through a situation with their kids or with life in general that they thought that they’d never make it through.

Are you in a situation that you don’t want to be in and feel as though you are not going to make it through it, hold on to the mainsail post and the storm rages. God will pull you through it. He will show you that you are strong through Him. One day you will reach the smooth waters, but for now, depend on God. Step up and don’t give up. God will never leave you or forsake you even when you are getting through the valley where you do not have the natural abilities to get through it. Depend on God to light your path. Depend on Him to make you strong through His strength.

Amen and Amen.

Luke 23:50-56 — Joseph places Jesus’ body in his brand new tomb that he had built as his family’s burial . Nicodemus brings 75 lbs of perfumed ointments and aloes (John 19:39) used first century Palestine for burial preparation. The ladies who were disciples of Jesus not only helped finance his earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3) but they saw where they had laid their Master and went home to prepare burial spices from their own resources. These people really loved Jesus a great deal. They went out of their way, some risking political disaster, to ensure that Jesus was honored properly in death. The didn’t care that it was going to cost them their own resources. They wanted to use their own resources to give glory to their Lord.

I guess that would be difference between these two men and these women and how most of us view giving of our resources to Jesus’ church. We see it as giving from what we have left over rather than giving what is from our best or from our best efforts. The people in this scene put all cares of the day aside and focus on giving Jesus their best. They focus on giving Jesus the best of their time, the best of their talents, and the best of their resources. Nothing else is more important to them than that. How many of us give the one who gave us life the leftovers of each of those things, time, talents, resources.

Many of us, myself included, struggle to find time to do the work of Jesus Christ. We say we do not have time. We say that we would love to share the gospel with others but we do not have time. We say we would love to help others who are need but we do not have time. We say would love to show others the love of Jesus Christ but we just do not have enough time. We prioritize time for the things that are important to us. I may be able to work it out where I can go to several games of my beloved Clemson Tigers this fall (football season starts in 14 weeks, woot! woot!, but I digress), but yet I may not be able to work it to work with the child of a single mom that needs male leadership. I may be able set aside time to watch a Clemson game on television but not have time to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my co-worker over a meal after work. I may have time to go to the beach for vacation but not have time to go on a mission trip to share the gospel in Japan. I may have time watch Monday night football but not have time to go a Monday night meeting of the Ironmen men’s ministry at church that same night. You get the point. We spend time. We prioritize time. We use time, the precious and limited commodity that it is, where place the greatest importance on its use. Let us analyze our time. Where are we wasting our time on things that do not matter in eternity. What is the legacy that we want to leave behind? Let us invest our time in those things that bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Many of us decide that we have other priorities for our talents as well. These ladies in this passage use their talents to create the spices necessary for a fitting burial for Jesus Christ. They gladly directed their talents toward that which would honor Jesus. They wanted to honor Him with the talents that they had. Why is it that most of us are not willing to be like these female disciples of our Lord. It is easier to simply be a consumer at church rather than one who serves. It is easier not to get to the church at 7:00am like the leader of our parking team does and make sure that parking lot is free of debris and that the sidewalks are clean. It is easier to sleep in and go to only the 11:00am service that it is to be there like the manager of all the Sunday ministry teams at 7:00 to make sure that each team leader has everything that they need for a successful Sunday morning worship service. It is easier to just sit in the crowd rather than be there for both services and run a camera, or work the sound board, or the light board, or the video switcher. It is easier to use my talents for personal pursuits rather lead a ministry team. Isn’t easier to ignore God’s call to a ministry. Isn’t easier to wear a red X on my hand or shirt to protest sex trafficking than it is to go to India and actually work with the victims of this horrible industry. It is easier to give to a church planting initiative rather than move your family to Connecticut and develop a church from scratch. It is easier to talk about how fatherless children lack direction than it is to use your talents at mentoring by being a Big Brother or a Big Sister. It is easier to complain about the destruction of our cities when riots occur than it is to use our talents to solve the problems of social injustice and lack of quality education. It is easier to not use my talents to give Jesus glory than it is to use them. It is easier not to serve that it is to serve. We prioritize the use of our talents in ways that are most important to us. Let us examine how we are using our talents to give our Lord glory. Are we pursuing the calling He has given us through the talents He has given us to make this world a better place. Are we walking by a hungry man and saying that we will pray for Him or are we stopping to feed and clothe Him as we tell Him about Jesus Christ?

In this scene in this passage, we see people giving the best of their resources to give glory to Jesus Christ. Imagine if we were really like Joseph, Nicodemus, and the ladies. What if we gave the best of our resources to give glory to Jesus Christ? It is certainly far easier to give the leftover $5 or $20 bill that we happen to have in our wallets on Sunday and feel good about having given to the church. It is easier to think that the money I make is to glorify myself than it is to see that we are given talents by our Creator through which we earn our livings. All God asks is that we are obedient to His command. We are to give Him the first fruits of our labors not the leftovers. We are to give God the best of our resources not what we can squeeze in. Everyone of us who attends LifeSong Church is honored to be a part of this body and are often amazed at the impact that our church has on the community and the world around us. However, imagine if we were not a church of leftover $20 bills. What if we were a church of people who have learned to live off of 90% or less of what we make and give the first 10% or more to God through our local body. Imagine the impact then. Instead of 2 church plants, 20. Instead of 550+ Thanksgiving meals given away, 1000. Instead of 3 mission trips per year, 15. Imagine sending missionaries out to long-term missionary assignment to far away places like Kenya, long-term missionaries in Japan, in Haiti, in Iraq or Iran. Imagine what would happen to our local ongoing ministries like LifeSong Cares where we could help more people and have to turn less away. Imagine the ministries that we could create that are actually out in our communities making a difference in people’s lives by showing them the love of Christ through uncommon acts of love and kindness. Imagine if all churches, not just LifeSong, gave obediently to the Lord. Joseph and Nicodemus didn’t think twice about giving the best of what they had to honor Jesus. Let us examine what we place our priorities financially. Let us seek to move to that place where we honor Jesus with the first fruits of our finances rather than that leftover $5 bill that you didn’t use at the monster truck event on Saturday night. Let us be a church honors Christ and empowers the spread of his Word through the use of our resources.

Father in Heaven, help us to be a people like Joseph of Arimathea, like Nicodemus, like the female disciples who have no second thoughts ever about honor Jesus Christ with the best of our time, the best of our talents, and the best of our resources. May we honor Him with the best of who we are. May we honor Him with the excellence with which we represent Him in all things that we do in His name. May we honor Him with the love that we share with the world around us without expectation of being loved in return. May we honor Him by living lives that draw people unto Him. May we honor Him by living lives that demonstrate His love of others even in the face of hateful opposition or even deadly opposition. May we honor Him with everything about our lives! Amen.