Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty Conflicts & Blended Families in the Bible + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty & Blended Families in the Bible - Today I'll talk about loyalty issues, blended families in the Bible, and then wrap things up.

Blended Families Part 17: Loyalty Conflicts & Blended Families in the Bible

 

Over the last 4½ months, we’ve looked at blended family issues of all kinds: the losses and the gains involved, how to love one another biblically, God’s goal in blending a family, favoritism, anger and how we might unintentionally provoke our children to anger. We’ve talked about step-parenting, behavior contracts, dealing with ex’s and the differences in rules between two households. We’ve also talked about the importance of taking responsibility when we’re wrong and humbly confessing our sins, even to our children. We’ve discussed the importance of overcoming evil with good and how to help our children adjust.

Last week in “Blended Families Part 16: 4 Rules of Communication,” we discussed the importance of good biblical communication and looked at 4 simple rules that can help us stay on track. I also explained something we call the “put-offs and put-ons” from Ephesians 4.22-24. We might call it God’s methodology for change.

Click here for previous posts in this in depth series.

Today I’ll talk about loyalty issues, blended families in the Bible, and then wrap things up. Next week I’ll start a new series, “Marriage Made in Heaven?”

 

Hearts: Ours & Our Children’s

 

We’ve talked a lot about heart issues and how God is always dealing with us on that level, no matter what challenges we face. He’s also working all things for good so we can become progressively more like Christ. We need to remember that and remind our children when they’re struggling. In fact, Romans 8.28-29 might be a good passage to memorize as a family.

We can also do some self-evaluation (and help our children to do the same), especially when we’re tempted to fight and quarrel, to see what we’re wanting and whether or not we might be wanting it too much.

James 1.13-15: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jas. 1).

James 4. 1-4: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?

Even good desires, obedient children, an ex-spouse who does what he (or she) says he will, step-children who respect us, a step-parent who doesn’t show favoritism, etc., can become a lust (any strongly held desire) if we want them so much that we’re willing to sin against God and others to get them.

As I said in the last post, we need to make appropriate changes, not just on the doing level, but in our attitudes and thinking, as well. That is a two-part process: both putting off unbiblical thoughts, words, and actions, and putting on godly ones.

 

Loyalty Conflicts

 

One thing we haven’t spent much time on is loyalty conflicts. Spouses can struggle with loyalty issues if one of them is constantly trying to appease an ex-spouse. This requires loving change on both their parts. The new spouse needs to understand that some contact and compromise with our ex is necessary for the sake of the children and the glory of God. But we need to remember that our loyalty is always to our current spouse. Our responsibility is not to please our ex, but to please God, see “Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life”

Parents can struggle with loyalty issues when it comes to spending time with and parenting step-children. But love shouldn’t be exclusive. Showing love to one doesn’t mean we don’t love the other. It helps if we can begin to see the blended family as a whole, instead of “yours and mine.” For more on this subject, you might want to read, “Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other.”

Children, too, can struggle with loyalty issues. As one little girl said, “On Mother’s Day I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know what I should do or could do. If I went with my stepmother, my mother would be furious. If I went with my mother, my stepmother would be upset. I couldn’t even think about it. It’s the worst situation I ever had in my life.”

We need to help our children understand that we want them to be loyal to God. That means to demonstrate biblical love for both sets of parents. And even though it’s challenging, we can do a lot to alleviate the stress our children feel, by giving them permission to treat the other parent or parents lovingly. And we need to set a good example for them by how we treat our ex and his or her new spouse.

 

Dealing with In-Laws

 

Many parents welcome their child’s new family with open arms, but others might be less accepting of a new spouse and children. Sometimes it’s because of loyalty to the former spouse. Other times it’s an unwillingness to see step-children as “theirs.”

If it continues to be an issue, you may need to prayerfully and lovingly sit down with them and let them know you need their help to do the hard work of blending a family. Let them know that you understand that they have different feelings for children who have been part of their lives before. Genuine relationships take time. But you may need to firmly let them know that you can’t allow them to come into the family situation and show favoritism to some of the children.

I’ve seen situations where grandparents came to visit and brought lavish gifts for their biological grandchildren while step siblings looked on in hurt or anger. This can be devastating to any sense of unity and acceptance.  Continue reading

“Kings, Kingdoms & Functional Gods” January 8

 

Functional GodsDo you ever find yourself trying to help God out just a little? You believe He’s going to answer some prayer, but you keep trying to figure out how, and pretty soon, you’re trying to orchestrate one of those possibilities. Abram and Sarai had been given a great promise, but years had passed with no answer in sight and they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, just as it does in our lives, it lead to all kinds of problems and revealed some things about their hearts.

Today, in “Kings, Kingdoms & Functional Gods,” we’ll talk about who or what is really “lord” at that point in time. We’ll also look at how all this relates to worry, how the only way we can stand before God is through “The Multitude of His Mercy” and “His Wisdom for the Upright.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 15 & 16
Psalm 5.1-7
Proverbs 2.6-9
Matthew 6.19-34

 

Kings, Kingdoms & Functional Gods

 

Genesis 15 & 16:

Helping God Out

 

When God called Abram to leave his homeland, He told him that He would make a great nation from his descendants, But here in chapter 15, Abram is starting to wonder:

But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”

God patiently reassured him that He would keep His promise.

4 … “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

“He believed God …” We know it was genuine faith because God “accounted it to him for righteousness.” He was saved by his faith just as we are.

So what happened next, after this great, faith-filled conversation with God?

One chapter later … God still hasn’t given them a child, so Sarai comes up with her own solution and Abram goes along with it. She gives her handmaiden Hagar to Abram as his wife so they can get the child they so desperately want. How like us they were! How many times do we complicate our lives by trying to help God out?!

polygamyOne of the questions I’ve been asked many times about this passage is, “Why did God allow this to happen? And why did He, so frequently, allow the patriarchs in the Old Testament to have multiple wives?”

“Allow” is the key word here. It wasn’t that God wanted them to do so. In fact, you can see in this story and in others, that it always leads to strife and problems of every kind. God doesn’t hide any of that. God’s word, not only reveals the truth about God, but it exposes human nature, even at its worst. God lets us see humankind with all our warts so we can see our desperate need for Him.  Continue reading