The Single-Parent Family – Acts 16; 2 Timothy 1 – Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING] Start building the home of
your future today, Smart Home. Well, I have with me one of the
great families of our church– if you don’t mind me calling
you one of the great families of our church. But it’s what I consider you. You guys have not only
been here a long time, but you’ve served in so
many different capacities. Steve, you’ve given
announcements before. You’ve worked our radio. You just– you
guys– and Nancy you work here and do so much for us. If people only knew. But now they do– at least
those who are watching this. So what’s unique about
this interview is you guys are the parents of this
beautiful girl here, Katie. You’re Steven and Nancy Raymond,
and she is Katie Milford. And she is the mother of
four of your grandchildren, but she’s a single mother. And so Katie, welcome. Thank you. We’re glad you’re here. You’re not only a single
mother, but you’re studying to be a nurse. Yes. So this adds an
incredible texture to this that you raise for
children with help– you have help of your parents–
but you’re going to be an RN, a registered nurse. So you’re studying,
you’re having to work, go to the hospital,
and raise children, which is a crazy schedule, right. It’s a lot. So you have how many children? I have four children. Their names? Anna, Piper, Asher, and Calvin. And their ages? They are 5, 4, 2, and 2,
so we got twins in there. OK, so what are their
personalities like? Are they all sedate,
mellow, compliant. Goodness. I don’t know. You know I want to say what
their personalities are, but then they’ll change. That’s true, right. So some of them are outspoken. Some of them kind of go with the
flow more, and then it changes. Huh, interesting. So they’re developing. So boys and girls,
what’s the mix, again? Two girls and two boys. Oh, that’s, kind of, a
nice thing, isn’t it? If you don’t mind,
tell us what is a normal day in your household. When you get up, what
time do you get up? Between 4:30 and
5:30 usually I’m up, unless one of
the kiddos pitter patters in and wakes me
up earlier than that. Really? I’ve got one early riser. Really? Between 4:00 and 4:30,
he’s up, ready to go, so. Wow. Yeah, it’s hard to
fall asleep when you know a two-year-olds
awake in your house. That’s a good point. OK, so what time do
you go to bed at night? 11:00 to 2:00, sometime
between 11:00 and 2. I was up till 4:30
twice this week and then went to sleep
for about an hour. Oh my– so your sleep
is very minimal. Yes. And you’re having to study
and raise these children, so. And you’re smiling right now. Yes. This is amazing. OK, so then it’s safe to
say to answer that question, there’s really no normal day. It varies. You have a routine. You have a schedule that
is frequently broken. Yes. OK. And you’ve learned
to live– are you a hyper, kind of,
organized person. Yes, I have four calendars
on my wall with my schedule and each of their schedules
so that I don’t miss anything. Yeah, and then if there’s
a hiccup or a conflict, I’m usually
contacting my parents and trying to figure
out how I’m going to get each kid
where they need to be when they need to be there. Yeah, so you organize things. But you’ve had to learn to
be relaxed with organization, because life happens all the
time OK, so as a single mother what would you say
you’re doing the best at? I hope and I believe
that all of my children know that they are
loved, that I love them, and that the Lord loves them. How do you convey that to them? How do you convey the
Lord’s love to them? And they’re going to ask,
yeah, but I mean where’s dad and what happened and– Yeah, I’m honest with them. I tell them that they’re loved. I say your dad doesn’t
live with us anymore, but he says that he loves you. And you have a father
in Heaven who’s perfect. And I pray with them. I say sorry a lot. I say sorry to my
kids a lot, and I’m just honest that
I’m a sinner too. Sometimes my patience
is running out. And I’ll just get
in the car or– But Katie, that’s
the best thing. What I’m hearing
is that you don’t skirt questions they ask you. You’re just very
honest with them. No, I’m honest with
them, and I am real about that we all need grace. Yeah, that’s so good. That’s such a healthy lesson
for any parent, but especially a single parent to hear. So is there anything you would
say you’re not doing well at if I could be honest with
you, the other directions. Is there something that’s
a real challenge for you? I think being a single
parent, I get really insecure. So I might think that I’m doing
something well like set up a new discipline pattern
for them or something, and then I don’t have anyone
to bounce it off as much. Right, so reinforce it. Right or reinforce it. So reinforcing discipline
for them sometimes can be a challenge. Do they try to– Manipulate? Yeah. And like in a two
parent family, they’re going to find the easiest
target and manipulate that one to avoid the sterner ones. So would they do that
with grandparents? Would they say, hey– and maybe you can
all chime in here, but would they
know that mom would say no but you might say yes? Yes. And the opposite. And the opposite. And the opposite, because
I am a little more strict, I think, than she is, so. And you want to play
the grandparent role, but sometimes you
have to reinforce the parental guideline. Yeah. Right. They know when to play who. I guess that’s the best. They’re pretty intelligent. Kids are– they learn quickly. Right. So they get up a
lot in the night, and here’s a little story. I was babysitting one night. I think Katie had
one of the kids in urgent care or
the emergency room over night, so I was
there with the other kids. And one of her kids got up
in the middle of the night and looked down the hall and
saw me there and just went, ah. Because he knew I wasn’t
going to let him get out of bed in the
middle of the night, where she might be
more prone to do that. And he hustled his tail back
into bed when he saw it was me. And yet at the
same time, they may ask us to do something
special with him that they wouldn’t ask their mother too. Yeah, I had a
grandmother like you. Yeah. Yes, she would. When I saw her, I did that. But she– I had such
fond memories ever. She just had a loving
but a firm hand. Wouldn’t let me get
away with stuff, and I was looking for somebody
to let me get away with stuff. Yeah, pretty much
that’s how it is. And they love me. They do. OK, so Katie, how do you– do your parents help you? They do. They do a lot of
running around, a lot of loading kids in the
car and taking them to where they need to go. And then when I’m at
work, I work as an LPN now as a pediatric
licensed practical nurse, there with the kiddos. Wow. Yeah. And then what else do they– well, that’s a lot, OK. Who else? Is that your only support? I actually have a list of
people I can call in times of– Aw, that’s good. –the unexpected. And sometimes it
might be 10 people I have to call before I can, can
you pick up Anna from school? Her teacher called, and
I need to go to class. OK, let me drill down on that. You have a list. Do you recommend single
moms make a list? Absolutely. And asking people do you
mind if I put you on a– that offer to help. This is good. Yes, so a list for can I
call on you if this happens or that happens? I need your help
in this or that. What about getting stuff fixed
and done around where you live? Oh, that’s tough. I’d call on my
brothers sometimes. Sometimes things
just don’t happen. Is it the brother that
I know really well? Maybe. OK, yeah. It could be. Maybe so. Yeah, I had a mouse in my
house last week that I caught, but I couldn’t bring myself
to take out the trash can. Oh, no. Yeah, what’d you do? Let him loose. No, I had to call my
brother to come take it out. Yeah. Yeah, so I have brothers
that are supportive. And then sometimes stuff
just doesn’t get done. Sometimes the
weeds are overgrown and the car gets taken to an
oil changing place to get done, you know. But it gets done eventually. Wow. So OK, I ask this
question at the services, but I want you to
speak to churches, to the body of Christ. What can the church– have you found support from
your church and in what ways? And in what ways can the
church, churches, Christians, do better at supporting
single parents? I have found support
in the church. My daughter goes
to preschool here, and that’s been amazing
to know that she’s getting fed the word
of God daily at school. And the men’s ministry
has come and helped just with some really tangible
things, getting– they fixed our shower. They did some yard work. And knowing that my children can
go to the children’s ministry, and I can sit-in service and we
can all participate in church. One thing that was
really great when I first became a single parent was
that people were bringing us meals or asking when
they could baby sit, and then that kind of waned off. So there’s a continuous
need as a single parent. Because we forget
probably, don’t we? We’ll say, oh, yeah, I’ll
help out then, but then– Yeah, well, everybody
has their own life. Sure, but it would be
nice to know that people are thinking about you. Yes, absolutely. And one thing that I tell my
friends who don’t have children or don’t want children
is that they’re leaving a legacy when
they invest in my kids. They may not have
children of their own, but when they come and
they babysit for me or wash the dishes and
get the kids in bed so that I can study,
they’re leaving a legacy in my children. And that’s just a blessing. That’s a good way to put it. So I want to, kind of,
segue into mentoring. Later on, they’re going
to get to some rough ages. And when they do, they
do have the support. They do have your family. But what about maybe
asking somebody in spiritual leadership? And it could be– Steve could be grandpa, but
just could you speak to my son or take him under your wing. And I know that I’ve been
asked in the past to do that, and I’ve just seen
there’s some people that are either in leadership
that I’m just so proud of because they blossom. And not that I did anything. I just took them in a
different direction, make them think about
something, and just provided some strong leadership. Would that be
something you’d ever say, hey, could you do that? Oh, yeah. And I do. I’ve got– I have
friends who have children that are older than
mine, and they’ll come over. And they’re maybe six years
older than my children, and I’ll say why don’t
you go read with them. Look, here’s this
children’s Bible. Why don’t you guys
go read together. Yeah, this is–
that’s a good point. So somebody that your kid’s
going to think he’s cool. Right. He’s still a kid, but
he’s not an adult. But I can look to him. Yeah. So that’s awesome, use examples
that are just a little older. So let me let me now switch
to grandma and grandpa Steve and Nancy Raymond,
what’s the best part of being a grandparent? I mentioned it in one of
the services this weekend. For me, I think– because I was so young. We were 20 and 18 when we got
married and a second chance at parenting. Yeah. We know a lot of things
now that we didn’t know when we were younger. But you guys were great parents. I remember you
raising your kids. I thought you were
great parents. We’d come over to your house,
and our kids were friends. But so I just
wanted to say that. You really are. But you’re saying having
a second chance, you can, kind of– you have a different
perspective. Yeah, I mean, you
saw me at my best. There’s just times where
as a younger parent I think I was quick to anger,
and with the grandchildren, sometimes I laugh at things that
would have really set me off in the past. So I’ve mellowed with age. And I think I can be
stern when they need that, but then as soon as they
turn away, kind of, chuckle. Things aren’t– you pick
your battles I think a little different than you do maybe
when you’re inexperienced. What in your opinion as
parents, grandparents of multiple children,
what is she doing well? What is Katie doing
well, as a parent? I’m just so impressed. You heard about her schedule. And I just wouldn’t– I can’t imagine
having that endurance. And so many times
things will come up, and I know Katie reminds me
that the safety and investment and raising of the
kids is just primary. And they are being raised
in the love of the Lord in that His love for
us is unconditional and that He wants
the very best for us. That’s what Katie
gives to her children. So you’re giving her
straight A’s on that. That’s good. There’s obviously
times where you are unable to be there for
an incident if she calls. She has her list. You’re first on
the list or second. I don’t know what they are, but. They’re number one. OK, so there are certain
times where your work schedule or your lives, you can’t do it. So tell us about that. What’s that like? It’s, kind of, really
rough, because you want to be there for them. You want to do everything
you can to meet their need. But then you have to
recognize that you are not their provider. That the Lord is their provider. It is up to the Lord to
meet the needs that she has, and you just, kind of, have
to let yourself off the hook and trust him. And you know what? He always is faithful. It’s really great. Yeah, when I’m calling
you for things, sometimes I’ll
preface it with you can say, no, but I
need this and, kind of, remind you that there’s other
people that can help to. Katie, you’ve always
been a happy person. As long as I’ve
known you, you’ve always been that funny,
sweet, little, silly girl. And it’s not gone. I mean, having the
schedule you have, the children, the
responsibility, you still have that. You still seem buoyant. Tell us how that works. It’s just a miracle. I don’t know, because
I don’t sleep. So I don’t know how it
happens, except that I have the Holy Spirit
and the joy of the Lord. Do you ever get to a point
where you just say, oh, man? It comes crashing down on you. Well, my computer
crashed this week, and I called my mom in tears. So yeah, there’s
little things that happen that are unexpected
like your computer crashing that shouldn’t be a big
deal that, kind of– thing –that just go over the list. And that’s when it’s– It’s the straw that
breaks the camel’s back. Exactly. And then it’s nice to have
someone to call at midnight and go, oh my gosh, and
for them to pray with me or give me that extra
boost that I need. And it seems that you
have the perspective of knowing this is the season. I’m studying now, but
soon I’ll be a nurse. And my kids will grow older,
and they’ll have a lot more breathing room and space. Do you ever think that? No, I don’t. I don’t, because I don’t
know how things will change. I mean, they’re going
to get more activities. It’s just going
to get different. I don’t think it’s
going to get easier, but it’ll get different. That’s realistic. So what gets you over the hump
now when you’re in a crisis? What gives you hope and
what gets you through? Encouragement from
others I think. I think that sometimes I just
need a little encouragement from somebody else. And do you see a payoff now? I mean, you’re thinking– my kids, I’m going to
raise them in the Lord and they’re going
to love the Lord. What’s the payoff for you now? That they are loved. That they are loved now and safe
now to the best of my ability. And when they say things
like I love you, mommy. I love you, mommy, or thanks
mom, that’s a huge pay off. Just that. Yeah. You have a deep love. You love being with them. That comes out. You show that. That’s awesome. So now project 10,
15, 20 years down the road, the kids grow up. Things are different,
not any less, like you said, but different. What’s your hope for them? The same. I hope then that they
will know they are loved, and that they will be able
to say how faithful God was in this time. Beautiful. Beautiful. I love that. And they’ll all have a story
of for the last 20 years this has been my life and this
has been how God was faithful. OK, now what about you guys? You’re looking down,
your kids, grandkids? Just to see that investment
that Katie’s put into them to see how their lives– the kids, the
grandchildren will glorify the Lord and His kingdom. And just I guess that
would be a reward to Katie for her investment. She’s working so hard. So it’s fun to watch them
grow, and we’re looking forward to seeing that future. Yeah, and I think
we don’t yet know how God is causing all things
to work together for good. And I’m very excited
to see how He is. Because I know He’ll show us. I love your faith. You guys are a great
example of a godly family. Thank you. Thanks for being here. Thanks for doing
this, this weekend. Thank you. Bless you. Would you please turn
in your Bibles today to two places in
the New Testament, the book of Acts chapter
16 and the book of 2 Timothy chapter 1– Acts chapter 16 and
2 Timothy chapter 1. The series that we are doing
is called the Smart Home, but we feel we
would be dumb if we didn’t include a large segment
that makes up homes in America. That is the single
parent family. We’re going to talk
about that today. Every parent I’ve ever
met belongs to the PTA. I don’t mean the Parent
Teachers Association. I’m talking about
poor, tired, adults. It’s tiring to be a parent. It’s even more tiring
to be a single parent. Wanted, parent. Job description, long term
work in chaotic environment. Candidates must
be willing to work various hours, including
evenings, weekends, and 24 hour shifts. Some overnight travel
is required, including primitive camping
sites and endless sport tournaments in faraway cities. Travel expenses will
not be reimbursed. Extensive career duties
are also required. Responsibilities, must be
willing to be hated temporarily until somebody needs
$5 to go skating. Must be willing to
bite tongue repeatedly. Also must possess the physical
stamina of a pack mule. Must be willing to face
technical challenges like small gadget repair,
mysteriously sluggish toilets, and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls,
maintain calendars, and coordinate production of
multiple homework projects. Must handle assembly and
product safety testing of a half a million cheap plastic toys
and battery-operated devices. Responsibilities
will also include floor maintenance and janitorial
work throughout the facility. Possibility for advancement
and promotion, virtually none. Your job is to remain in
the same position for years without complaining, constantly
retraining and updating your skills. Wages and compensation, you pay
them offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment
is due when they turn 18 because
of the assumption that college will help them
become financially independent. And when you die, you give
them whatever is left. It’s hard being a parent,
but imagine doing all of that alone. Imagine trying to raise
children, balance the budget, keep a job, and remain sane. Some of you don’t
have to imagine that. That is where you live. You navigate that life
as a single parent daily. And today, I want
to focus on this one large slice of the demographic
pie in our country. The single family
home is currently the fastest growing family
form in North America. According to Pew Research, the
Pew Research Society or group, they said and I’m quoting,
“family life is changing. Two parent households are on the
decline in the United States. The share of children living
in a two parent household is at the lowest point in
more than half a century.” Today, many families
are headed by a mom. Some families are headed
by a dad, though fewer. Yet, they are
increasing in number. And others are headed
by a grandparent who are raising their grandchildren. That is the reality we face. What I want to do is look
at three aspects of it. I’m going to look at the
culture, the caretaker, and the community–
and I mean the church. And we’re going to
look at, in particular, a young man by the
name of Timothy. You know of him in
your New Testament. He became the protege
to Paul the Apostle. We’re going to look at
Timothy, Timothy’s mom and grandmother–
both of which are mentioned by name in the Bible. We’re going to
consider his father. He is mentioned in passing. And then we’re going to look
at a very important person to Timothy, which really
made him blossom beyond that, and that is his mentor
by the name of Paul. So we’re going to
begin in Act 16, and I’m going to start
with the cultural reality. Let’s look at the text. Acts 16 verse 1, “then he
came to Derby in Lystra– he being Paul and
his associates– then he came to Lystra–
or Derbe and Lystra, and behold a certain
disciple was there named Timothy, the son of
a certain Jewish woman who believed but his
father was Greek. He was well spoken
of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have
him go on with him. And he took him and
circumcised him, because of the Jews who
were in that region. For they all knew that
his father was Greek. And as they went
through the cities, they delivered to them
the decrees to keep, which were determined
by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were
strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.” We are in Paul’s second
missionary journey here. Paul has already been on
his first mission trip, and now he’s on his
second missionary journey. And he is in part going
through the same cities he was on his first,
though, adding a few more. Now here he revisits
a town called Lystra. Lystra happened to be
in South Central what is modern day Turkey. And we find that there’s
a young man named Timothy. Now Timothy is the son
of a mixed marriage. What I mean by that is
he had a Jewish mother. But this Jewish mother,
it says, believed. His mother believed. That is she was a Jewish
follower of Jesus the Messiah. She came to believe that Jesus
was indeed the Jewish messiah, and she put her faith in him. But it says that his
father was a Greek. Now I’ll get to
that in a minute. When Paul went through Lystra
on his first missionary journey, that is probably when Timothy’s
mother and grandmother– though not mentioned here– was saved, believed. It says in chapter 14 that
they made many disciples, and two of those disciples
were Timothy’s grandmother and Timothy’s mother– maybe even along with Timothy. Though, these women may have
led him to faith in Christ. So when Paul goes through the
second time through this area, that’s when he sees Timothy who
is now about maybe three years old in the Lord saved. He’s been saved three years. And he notices that he
has matured significantly. So he asked Timothy to
join his evangelistic team. Now the name Timothy, it’s
two words put together. time means to honor
and theos, God. So Timetheos that’s Timothy. It means one who honors God. It was a name probably that
his mother and/or grandmother gave to him. Now Timothy’s dad may
have left the family, but my guess is that he’s dead. And I say that because
several commentators, one in particular– and I’ll quote him said,
“the use of the imperfect tense instead of
the present tense to refer to Timothy’s father
suggests that he was dead.” So we have a
linguistic clue that leads us to believe that
Timothy was a son raised by a single mother with the help
of a grandmother, as we’ll see. But that his dad was dead. So he grew up in
this kind of a home. I’m bringing this up because
single parenting is not as unique as you might
think to this generation. It’s been around a long time. And it was around even when
Paul and Timothy 2,000 years ago were on the pages of
the New Testament. So let me take you back
to New Testament times, and let me throw out
something that may shock you. It shocked me when I found out. Did you know that for the first
520 years of the Roman Empire there is not a single
recorded case of divorce. 520 years, not a
single recorded case of divorce in the Roman Empire. Now I’m not saying
it didn’t happen. It’s just not recorded. But the first recorded
case that we have is in 234 BC when a man
named Spurious Carvillius Ruga divorces his wife,
because she is barren. She is infertile. She cannot produce
for him an heir. That became grounds for divorce. He wrote her a bill of
divorce, and he walked out. That’s the first recorded
case in the Roman Empire. Scholars have
struggled with this to try to figure
out, why the change? Why do you go from
hundreds of years without a single
recorded case of divorce and then all of a sudden this? And after this, there is rampant
divorce that takes place. And here’s the reason
they have come up with. Rome conquered
Greece militarily, but Greece conquered
Rome morally. Rome conquers Greece,
but adopts all of the values and cultures and
immoral values and cultures that was part of Greece. So in adopting their
values and being loose morally and loose
with marriage and divorce, it got so bad that
there were even jokes around the Roman
Empire like this Roman jest– marriage brings
only two happy days, one when the
husband first clasps his wife to his
breast and the day when he lays her in the tomb. Now that’s quite a statement. To say a man only
gets two happy days, the day he marries his wife
and the day he buries his wife. That’s how they were
thinking about marriage. So this change in
Roman thinking began to create a large number
of single parent families during the latter years
of the Roman Empire. Add to that the civil wars
that were taking place that we know
historically happened, especially around the first
century, and all of that has an adverse
effect on marriage. Because you have now many
women who have had husbands die in wars, and a
lot of men have died. So there’s no
suitable replacement. So they raise their
children alone. That is what was
happening 2,000 years ago. Now let’s pivot from that,
and let’s make a comparison from that to our culture. Now single parenting is not
new, as we’ve already seen. But the extent to which it
has grown in our present day and age is unique. So according to
an article written by Susan Polat this is found
on the New York State Unified Court System website, the
amount of single parent families has tripled since 1960. Between the 60s
and the 90s, there has been a 215% increase
in single parent families and about another 15%
added to that since then. Now there’s several
factors for this. I’m not to bore you
with the research, but there are two major factors. And both of them
you are aware of. Number one, the divorce
rate is increasing, and number two, the amount
of births out of marriage, out of wedlock births
is also increasing. But now listen to this. Let this statistic
settle on you. Single parent families
raise one-fourth of our nation’s children. One-fourth of our
nation’s children are raised in single
parent families. So three out of 10 families
with children today are headed by a single parent. This makes this group one of
the largest population segments in our society, to overlook
that, to minimize that, to not deal with it as a
church would be irresponsible. Because statistically half of
all American children under 18 will live in a
single parent home at some point in their lives. Now currently, sadly, 88%
of those single parent homes are headed by whom? A woman, a mother. There’s a little bit
of an offset to that. The single parent home run
by a father is growing. That segment is growing,
but still 88% of those homes are headed by women. And that is because dads
over the last several years have been bailing
out of relationships. Fatherlessness is the most
harmful demographic trend in our culture today. David Blankenhorn wrote a book
called Fatherless America, and he wrote this, and I
quote, “the United States is becoming a fatherless society. A generation ago,
an American child could reasonably expect to
grow up with his or her father. Today an American child can
reasonably expect not to,” end quote. Now having said
that dismal news, let me quickly flip
the coin and say this. Some of the best people
I have ever known were raised in single
parent families. Some of the most
responsible, godly leaders in the church that I know have
been raised in single parent families. Some of the greatest
people in history have been raised in
single parent families. For example, Sir Isaac Newton,
great scientist and little do many people know a Christian
apologist, believed ardently in the faith, raised in
a single parent family. Economist, Alan
Greenspan, the same. Dr. Ben Carson
pediatric neurosurgeon at John Hopkins for
years now the Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development. All of these and
more were raised in single parent families. So that is the cultural reality. Now let’s turn
from that and look at the caretaker
for a moment, what the role of the caretaker,
the single parent is. So turn with me to
2 Timothy chapter 1. We’re going to introduce you now
to Timothy’s mom and grandma. Paul is writing this personal
letter to his good friend now at this point
and protege, Timothy. 2 Timothy chapter
1 verse 1, “Paul an apostle of Jesus
Christ by the will of God according to the
promise of life, which is in Christ
Jesus to Timothy, a beloved Son, grace, mercy,
and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve
with a pure conscience as my forefathers did. As without ceasing,
I remember you in my prayers night and day. Greatly desiring to see you,
being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy
when I call to remembrance the genuine faith
that is in you, which dwelt first in your
grandmother– here’s her name– Lois, and your mother,
Eunice and I am persuaded is in you also.” Again, you’ll notice there is
no mention of Timothy’s father, but there is the naming of
Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois. And not only that, but his
mother’s role is mentioned. What is the role? The genuine faith, Paul
says, the real deal. Your mom and grandma really
believed in their life in Jesus, and they
passed that down to you. That is their role. That’s their primary role, and
they fulfill that primary role passing faith, exemplifying
faith, living out genuine faith. They lived it, you saw
it, and now you own it. Now turn over two
chapters to chapter three. Writing again to Timothy chapter
three, go down to verse 14. “He says, but you must
continue in the things which you have learned and been
assured of knowing from whom you have learned them.” Stop there for a moment. Timothy, in part, learned
a lot about his faith from Paul the Apostle. Paul mentored him. I’ll get to that in a moment. But even though Paul
taught that to him, Paul is now going to go
back further than that. And notice the next verse,
“and that from childhood you have known the
holy scriptures, which are able to make you
wise for salvation through faith which
is in Christ Jesus.” You learn the scriptures
as a young Jewish boy. Your mom taught you
those scriptures. Your grandmother
reinforced them. You heard that in
the home, and they came to faith,
authentic, genuine faith, and they passed
that on down to you, along with learning the
scriptures in that home. So this becomes then
what I want to focus on. This is the primary role,
a spiritual heritage. If this is the only thing
you pass on to your children, you have given them everything. A spiritual heritage
is everything. If you’re getting them
to heaven, whether they got an advanced
degree in college or made straight A’s on this
or became valedictorian, that’s so– who cares? If you’re setting them on the
path to know Jesus Christ, you’ve given them everything. That’s the primary role. So every parent
needs to learn this. But single parents because
life is so stressful need to prioritize. You have a to do
list, single parents. Let’s say there’s
106 things on it. You’ll never get them all done. You’ll never get them all done. So get done the most
important thing. The apartment may
not be the cleanest, but you pray every
morning with your son. You may not get
promoted at work, but you share with your
daughter the faith of Christ. You may not have as many
friends as you’d like to have, because you’re a single
parent and life is stressful. But you take your
kids to youth group, and you are implanting in
them the most important thing and that is the
spiritual heritage. Deuteronomy chapter
6 is for all parents, but I’m thinking in
particular of single parents. It says, “you are to love
the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your
mind, all of your soul, all of your strength.” But then here’s
the responsibility, “and you shall impress
them on your children and on your
children’s children.” For years, I have quoted
from Peter Marshall. Peter Marshall is
just to remind you at one time was the chaplain
to the United States Senate. Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall,
great guy, great speaker, great author. His wife is Katherine Marshall. He died, leaving her a
single mother of a son. She wrote about that. She said, I felt lonely. I felt very frustrated. I felt helpless. And she said, I depended on God. Every morning I had quiet time. Every morning I cried out
to God on behalf of my son. And I remember reading
that and thinking God must take special
interest in those prayers. If there are prayers that
God is quick to answer, I think it’s the prayer of
a single mother crying out on behalf of her
son or daughter. Because the Bible says,
God is near to those who have a broken heart. You remember the story in
your Old Testament of a woman by the name of Hagar. You know about
Abraham and Sarah. Sarah– God said you guys
are going to have a son, and they never had
one for a long time. And so Sarah has
the bright idea of, hey, take Hagar and have
a child through her. Hagar has a child named Ishmael. One day Sarah goes, I don’t
want them around anymore. So she tells her husband Abraham
kick Hagar and Ishmael out of the house, out of the tent. So he kicks him out of the tent. They’re wandering
around in the desert. So now you have a single
mother with her child without any support
system at all. So what does she do? What would you do? She prayed. I saw that prayer. She cried out to God, and
God miraculously verbally spoke to her from heaven
saying fear not, Hagar. I will make your son
into a great nation. God, it’s as if he was
just so quick to answer the prayer of that single
mother in that case. In Psalm 68, we
are told that God is the Father of the
Fatherless, and he is the defender of widows. Is God in His holy habitation? Now again, not all single
parents are mothers. Some are dads. Some are grandparents. But the majority 86
to 88% are mothers. Single parents feel
emotionally stretched. They feel financially stretched. Life is hectic. It’s demanding. And that’s where, once
again, those priorities come into play. You can’t do it all. Don’t expect to. Give yourself a break, but zero
in on what’s most important. I have a book I found by Dennis
Rainey, an excellent resource. It’s called I think Ministering
to 21st Century Families. And there’s a whole section
about the single parent family, and he writes this– I encourage single
parents to stay focused. First, their hope
must be in God. For unless the Lord builds
the house, they labor in vain build it. And he says, single parents
may be more aware of their need for God’s sustaining guidance
than those in two parent families. Second, he suggests
single parents need to pursue a relationship
with a fellow burden-bearer, someone who can support them
in their struggle raising children. A burden-bearer–
let me introduce you to Timothy’s mother’s
burden-bearer, and that’s her mother
Timothy’s grandmother, Lois. She’s mentioned in this verse. When I called to remembrance
the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first
in your grandmother, Lois. Could it be that Lois
was the first one to respond to the gospel
message and Paul’s first missionary journey? Probably. It dwelt first in her. She said, yes, Jesus
is the Messiah. I’m going to follow him. And then Eunice,
Timothy’s mother, did, and then
eventually Timothy did. Grandparents play a
key role in the support system of a single parent. Now in our modern
culture, there’s a new phenomenon
that is growing. Not just grandparents helping
children, but grandparents raising grandchildren– taking almost full custody,
because the parents of those children are
not viable, are gone, are unengaged, are unable. There’s a number of
reasons for this, but there’s even a
name for it and it’s called custodial grandparents. And custodial grandparents
are grandparents raising the children. The chief reason for this in
our culture is opioid addiction. Drug addiction so attaches
itself in some families that parents just
can’t raise children, and so grandparents raise them. In fact, there are now
2.9 million grandparents that are raising six million
children in this category. Back to Timothy,
his dad is gone. Grandmother and mother
have come to Christ. Grandmother, a mother
raising Timothy. And you’re saying,
oh, poor Timothy. Are you kidding? He had stereo evangelism going
on in his life, stereo Bible study. He had mom telling
him about Jesus and grandmother telling
him about Jesus. He had mom telling
him about Bible verse, and grandma reinforcing
the Bible verse. And I bet they had
different personalities. I bet maybe his mom was
a little bit stricter, and grandma was a
little bit softer. Somebody once said
grandmothers are mothers with lots of frosting. And maybe that was
Lois in Timothy’s life. But the grandparent,
in this case, played a very significant role
in not only having but passing on the faith to her grandchild. So that’s the cultural reality
and the caretaker’s role. Now I want to turn and look
in a different direction, and that is the community–
the community’s responsibility. And here, I’m drawing the circle
around the church, all of us. And I want you to look– same chapter, 2
Timothy, chapter 1. But notice this, verse 1, “Paul
an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
according to the promise of life, which is
in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, a beloved what?” Son. He calls him a son. He didn’t mean this literally. He obviously meant this
spiritually, figuratively. “A beloved Son, grace, mercy,
and peace from God the Father and from Christ
Jesus, the Lord.” So dad is gone. Timothy is raised by mom
and grandma, two women. Paul steps in at some point,
second missionary journey Acts 16 and becomes
a spiritual father to him, a spiritual father. In 1 Timothy, chapter 1,
don’t need to turn to it Paul says, “to Timothy,
my true son in the faith– my true son in the faith.” Timothy joins Paul, and
eventually play such a key role in Paul the apostles
life that I think it’s safe to say Timothy
became Paul’s right hand man. Joins his mission team in Acts
16, second missionary journey, goes on to Jerusalem
with the money Paul collects from
Gentile churches to help the poor
believers in Jerusalem. Eventually Paul
will send Timothy to Ephesus to pastor
the church he started, and it wasn’t an easy job. Timothy had to deal
with false teachers. Timothy had to raise up
good spiritual leadership, and Timothy was up for the job. All said, if you were
to look at all of Paul the apostles epistles, he
mentions Timothy 24 times. Do you think he played
a significant role in Paul’s life? And it’s because of
what Paul did for him. Now Paul will even
say this– and it’s the only time he ever used
this description of anybody. It was only to Timothy. It’s the word like-minded. In Philippians
chapter 2, he said, “for I have no one
else who is like-minded who will naturally care for
your need or estate as I have in Timothy.” Very unique word in Greek. Like-minded, isopsuchos, it’s
a word that means equal soul. He shares my soul. He would do what I would do. I would do what he would do. He has my values. I have his values. He thinks like I think. He’s my very soul. But here’s what I
want you to see. That didn’t just
happen magically. It happened intentionally
when Paul invited Timothy on his team and
Paul invested in Timothy and trained Timothy and mentored
Timothy and then sent Timothy. And I just want to
use all that to say that’s our responsibility
as the church. Paul was a churchman. He was an apostle in the church. He was a busy guy
doing apostolic things, but he took the time to
invite him, to mentor him, and then to send him. Here’s an article I found in a
single parent family magazine . It says a century ago, there
were almost an equal percentage of single parents. Then it was due to desertion
or death, as opposed to divorce and never been
married situations. But what they had in those
days was extended families. The culture was different. Families weren’t as
mobile as they are today. Extended families
were in that area, and they helped everybody out. So we don’t have
that anymore as much. Ah, this is where
the church steps in. We are the extended family. We can be the extended family. We can find these
single parents, and we can offer that
extended family support. Again, Psalm 68, Paul– or
Paul, Paul didn’t write Psalms. The Psalmist described God as
a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows. But it goes on to say, “God
sets the solitary in families.” One of my favorite verses
and descriptions of God, god sets the lonely, the solitary,
the single, single parent in families. We are those families. The church becomes that family. And since there are so
many broken families, why not be the glue? Why not come alongside and offer
a way to mend that brokenness. You say, well,
how can I do that? I’ll give you three practical
things all believers can do at some point. Number one, assistance–
this is very practical. Can I mow your lawn? Single moms would love that. We heard an
interview with Katie, and when I interviewed
her at length, she said one of the best
things is the men’s ministry came over, fixed my
appliances, mowed my lawns, pulled my weeds,
just helped out. That’s assistance. Second, availability–
be available. You say, for what? Here’s one– adult
conversation, right. You single moms, you
have conversations all day with your kids. But an adult
conversation with someone where they can listen to you
and respond to you and and weep with you,
that’s so important. And when you’re
available, you can also be available to counsel
them about ex-spouse issues, forgiveness issues. You can help them if they
want to date again or remarry, what to look out for,
what to look for. You can help them reenter the
job market, practical skills. So assistance,
availability, and I’ll add a third because it’s
Paul’s role, a mentor. Timothy was Paul’s son in
the faith, he calls him. Paul was a spiritual father. And when you have a strong
spiritual person step in to a relationship between
a single parent and a child, it can be very beneficial
and here’s why. It didn’t happen all the
time, but it happens enough that sometimes when you
raise a child by yourself, you become so emotionally
attached to that child you start looking to that
child for the emotional fix that you would get
like in a spouse. And you’re looking for that
child to become your soul mate. So boundaries are
crossed and psychologists call that being enmeshed. It’s not a good setup. So a strong mentor
can come in and offer direction and
guidance that helps bring a little bit of necessary
separation, the needed strength of a mentoring friend. So this is in a scriptural
viewpoint single parent family. There was a mother. She’s getting ready to
deliver her second child. She’s on the way to the
hospital, and on the way, her six-year-old son gave
her some parting wisdom. He said, mom, make sure you
get a receipt just in case we have to take it back. Well, parents don’t
get that luxury, nor would they ever want it. You don’t take
back your children. You can’t return your kids, but
you can rescue your children from an unfulfilled life. And you can do that
easily by having strong ties with grandparents
but with the body of Christ making the best of the
situation with the resources God has given you. Let me just say again
don’t expect perfection from yourself. Don’t say, oh, I
could have done more. I didn’t do this today. I didn’t do that today. But just do what you can and
make sure what you can do is the very best. It’s a spiritual heritage. So do your best and
commit the rest. I’m going to close
in prayer, but I think it’s appropriate if Katie
Milford, whom I interviewed, would come out and lead us
in prayer to close and pray for single families
in our church. Thank you, Katie. Father, thank you for
your goodness, God. Thank you Lord that in our
loneliness, you are there. Thank you for your comfort,
Jesus, and your faithfulness. Thank you for the story
on the other side of this. God, I ask that
you would give us all hearts that want to be
available to one another and serve one another. That you’d give us wisdom on
how to speak to our children, Jesus. And we praise you for them. We praise you for
the joy of children, for parents and grandparents
and friends alike and the joy that your Holy Spirit brings. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen. Amen. We hope you enjoyed this message
from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths
that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at
[email protected] And just a reminder, you can
support this ministry with a financial gift at Thank you for joining us for
this teaching from Calvary Church.

Michael Martin

2 Responses

  1. We need more support for Single-parent homes. Often stereotyped. I wasn't a begger. I was a hard-working Registered Nurse . My ex husband's Mother, my married friends, and Leroy, a Seventh Day Adventist, married pastor and coworker were my "rocks!" We were so opposite. They were my immediate "Kansas network." My Grandmother and Sister were miles away in Georgia!, but would come a running if needed; parents deceased. My son's learned that we had to cooperate early on. We are very close now for all we've gone through. My church of five years, did not know how to relate to me. I try to be "that support" for others now. If I couldn't lean on Jesus, I would have crumbled.

  2. Love this! I wish every church has a single parent ministry. I’m a single mom of 4 beautiful girls
    and it’s a challenge every day. Sometimes an extra help in the house of things I can’t do goes a long way..Thank God for family they are my biggest support..

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