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  1. Scoti Springfield Domeij December 12, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I was propelled against my will into single parenting in 1990. I was raised a PK by first generation Christian parents , who talked about how Christ changed their lives, which is what I thought normative Christianity was. Not! My traditional values and character never changed because my minister husband chose to dishonor his marriage vows. My reception at church was no longer supportive. To add to my devastation, how those in the church viewed me changed. I was no longer welcome, my presence was just tolerated. I could attend events, but I was excluded from real community. I knew that God valued my family, but the church ‘family’ did not. The married church’s attitude toward single-parent families also divorced (Hebrew: garash, meaning to drive out, expel, cast out, drive away, divorce, put away, thrust away) my family and me. Did married church leadership think my children would not notice?

    Divorce invalidated any insight I shared: If you lose a single parent, you have not lost one generation, but you’ve lost two generations. Why would our children care to attend churches that treat(ed) their single parents with so little regard?

    In biblical times, widows were women who lost both their husbands and other males charged to support them,
    including those unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations. God’s Hebrew root word for widow, ‘alman, means, “discarded, forsaken.” Even though God warned, “You shall not afflict or oppress any widow,” (Exodus 22:22; Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10), married church leadership has failed to defend orphans or plead for justice for the widow, (Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 1:17). The promise of Deuteronomy 14:29 says your work [deeds, “work of Jehovah”] will be blessed if the widow and orphan are invited to eat and be satisfied. Married church leadership has failed to carry out the message in James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The church world bears the stains of the world — prejudice — by rejecting those who Jesus valued and embraced. And now, those you rejected, are rejecting you.

    Interestingly enough, when God gave Moses the laws and commandments, the cultural norm was for pagan kings to provide for widows and orphans. However, God gave this ministry of caring for the widows and orphans to His people. God’s economic system (third year of the tithe, don’t reap everything from the fields) provides for women and children whose male leadership either will not or cannot provide financially.

    Deuteronomy 14:28-29: 28 “And at the end of every third year you shall bring out a tithe of your produce of that year and store it within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God will bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”

    Deuteronomy 26:10-13: 10 Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God; 11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13 You shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.

    Acts 4:32-34: And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

    I find it interesting that the first church fight in Acts was about how the Greek widows were ignored. What if every third year, every church deposited the tithes into an account to care for the widows and orphans? How would that change your ministry outreach and the perception of today’s widows and orphans that you’re all moralizing, religious rhetoric and no-love-your-neighbor-as-yourself-in-action?

  2. David Tarkington December 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for the comment Jason. The call to “GO” and embrace the larger world view does not negate being God’s ambassador in one’s own family or community. I believe the command to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world is still valid (as do you) but not necessarily a command to do one, then the other, then the other. As the world shrinks due to the internet and travel options, the “go” to all these areas is to be concurrent.

    Thanks again for the comment. I really appreciate it.

  3. I enjoyed the article David. I’m a missionary based out of Texas and I often tell my friends serving the poor around the world in Christ’s name seems like a cake walk compared to being a Pastor in American today. I wouldn’t trade places for anything (outside Gods clear call to make the change).

    As a missionary who works with churches and missionaries around the world I found one of your final comments to be rather potent.
    So, while we’re here, we are called to honor God, spread the Gospel and do whatever it takes to be His uncompromising ambassadors in the community he has placed us. That focus and appropriate action will help us avoid the coming tsunami.

    I agree we need to be uncompromising ambassadors in the community He has placed us but I also think if that is where churches start and stop their efforts can become myopic. They only see what is around them and that, in part, is what causes much of what you described as the problem with aging churches who don’t want to change. Why pursue a larger world view and attitude of service (embrace the GO) when it is easier (and I am encouraged by Pastor) to just serve where I am? Perhaps just focusing on one community is a shallow, self focused understanding of the Great Commission that hurts those who embrace it?
    I always have more questions than answers!
    Thanks for the thoughts.
    Keep leaning into the good work.