Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life - When blending a family the goal of life is always the same, not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appeciated, but to please God.

 

Blended Families Part 4: The Goal of Life

 

In previous posts (see list at bottom) we’ve looked at some of the problems that are often present in blended families. We’ve talked about taking the logs out of our own eyes so we can see clearly. We’ve looked at some of God’s promises and, in the last blog, we talked about changing our goal from liking each other to loving each other with God’s kind of love. But there’s an even bigger goal that needs to become our number one priority. Paul talked about it in 1 Corinthians 5.9:

9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.

Our primary goal individually and as a family should be to please God—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God. We please God by becoming more like His Son (Matt. 3.17; Rom. 8.29), by obeying His Word, and by making His priorities our priorities.

Psalm 128.1-4 (NLT) says:

1 How joyful are those who fear the LORD—
all who follow his ways!
2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
4 That is the LORD’s blessing
for those who fear him.

The Lord’s blessings are contingent on fearing God and walking in His way. Isaiah 43.7 says we were created for His glory. Whatever we do, including blending a family is to be done in a way that brings Him glory.

 

What is “His way” concerning the family?

 

It starts with the husband and wife relationship. Genesis 2.18, 24:

18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

The man and the woman are to leave their parents and be joined to their spouse in a covenant of companionship. The parent-child relationship is a temporary one. That means we’re not only to leave our parents, but we’re to be preparing our children to leave our home one day.

The husband and wife relationship is to be permanent and given priority. The one flesh relationship is much more than just sexual, it’s a bonding of two lives: physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and socially.

When the Apostle Paul gave instructions for the Christian family, he first addressed our relationship with God, then the husband-wife relationship, and then the parent-child relationship (Col. 3.16-21; Eph. 5.15-33, 6.1-4). The husband-wife relationship is to be second only to our relationship with God.

The husband and wife are to be a unit, functioning together as a team, making decisions and working to solve problems together.

But, sadly, in many blended families, biological parents side with their children in disputes, are more permissive with them, and grow to have an us versus him or her mentality.

A biological parent may believe the step-parent is harsh or lacks understanding. All of this can be complicated by shared custody, different parenting styles, angry or manipulative children, feelings of guilt over a divorce, or a general lack of understanding about biblical principles.

One step-mother’s experience (the names and some of the details have been changed):

“Monday through Friday things are pretty calm. But come Friday night when Joe picks up his son, Jesse, everything changes. Jesse is younger than my two children, so they’re expected to let him have his way. I’m not allowed to discipline him because his mother wouldn’t like it. He’s a picky eater, so he usually demands something special for meals, often requiring a trip to the store. The whole week-end is structured around what Jesse wants. He stays up late, is over-tired the next day, and whines when things don’t go his way. My children are hurt and angry and I usually end up taking them to the movies or out for pizza just to keep the peace. Joe and I both end the week-end exhausted. I got married so Joe and I could share the load, but I feel like I do everything I always did, plus trying to keep conflict to a minimum. On top of everything else our relationship is suffering. We don’t talk because we just end up arguing and we don’t have the energy to do anything else.”

Joe’s story:  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other -

So you met that guy or gal and you thought … “Life was going to be wonderful!” You loved each other, so you were sure everything else would just work out. You knew there would be some adjustments, but you weren’t prepared for what has happened. It seems like conflict has broken out on every front and no one seems to even like each other anymore to say nothing about love!

 

Blended Families Part 3: Loving Not Liking Each Other

 

In part 1 I talked about the losses that many members of blended families have faced. Understanding those losses can increase our understanding and patience and lead to great gains.

Blended Families Part 1: The Losses & the Gains

And in part 2 I shared that while blended families have unique problems, the root issues are the same as those we all face. I also shared an incredible promise from God’s Word that applies to blended and biological families alike.

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different


Ready-Made Families

 

This week we’ll look at the incredible opportunity we have in blended families to demonstrate God’s love, beginning right now, even in the midst of the turmoil and strife.

In some ways it’s understandable that problems surface. You see … in biological families love grows naturally over a period time. Mutual attraction, shared interests, and loving feelings draw a couple together and, hopefully, continue to grow as the marriage progresses. Children arrive and their parents fall in love with them as they hold them, care for them, and nurture them through infancy and childhood. Children’s feelings for their parents form naturally, as well.

But in a blended family, couples marry and then realize their “ready-made” family has all the problems, personality issues, and pressures of other families, plus some, without the bonds of affection and loyalty that naturally form over time.

Instead, those bonds often exist only between the husband and wife. Children are expected to welcome new siblings and another parent into their lives without any real bonding, in many cases. And step-parents may find it hard to like children who are often hostile or indifferent. Before long it can even put a strain on the husband and wife relationship.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Differednt -

Blended families are everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those individuals and all families face.

 

Blended Families Part 2: “The Same Only Different”

 

In part 1, we talked about some of the very real losses that members of step families face and the importance of examining our own attitudes, actions and desires. Understanding those losses can help us become more understanding and asking God to help us examine our own actions is vitally important and an essential first step in the process of growth and change.

 

Charlatans & Frauds

 

Matthew 7.3-4 says:
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?(NLT)

Jesus was very descriptive in this passage, wasn’t He? My paraphrase is, “Who do you think you are, trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when you can’t see past that giant log in your own?” Then He starts the next verse with the words, “You hypocrite …!” (v. 5).

Two synonyms for the word hypocrite are charlatan and fraud. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as, “somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.”

When we preach doing right to our family members and then respond in sinful, unloving ways, we’re playing the hypocrite! We’re frauds!

 

Why is this so important?

 

James, chapter 1:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

“Deceiving yourselves.” There is delusion, spiritual blindness, that occurs when we fail to examine our hearts and actions by looking into the mirror of God’s Word with a view to obeying it. We can respond selfishly and sinfully to others while believing we’re completely justified.

We face enough challenges in blended families, why add spiritual blindness to the list? But by looking into that mirror and being a doer of it, there is blessing.

And Hebrews 5 says:
14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

We have the ability to discern good and evil; that is we have wisdom, when we practice doing what’s right. So the difference between removing our own logs and being a doer of the Word, as opposed to being a hearer and not a doer, is the difference between delusion and wisdom.

By the way, James, the writer of the book by the same name, was the half-brother of Jesus. There were other siblings, too (Mk. 6.3), and Joseph was His step-father. That makes Jesus part of a blended family. More about His earthly family and other blended Bible families later.

But there is something else we need to understand about being a hypocrite or a fraud. When we tell others, particularly our children and step-children, they must respond one way (loving, kind, accepting, patient, etc.) and we do something else, we’re completely discrediting ourselves and end up provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6.4; Col. 3.21). It’s hard to imagine anyone not resenting a fraud and children are no different.

 

Unique Yet the Same

 

In part 1, I stressed the fact that blended families face some unique challenges, and that’s certainly true. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those all individuals and all families face.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”+ LINKUP

 

Blended Families: Part 1 "The Losses & the Gains" + LINKUP - Blended families—they're everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that's been damaged by sin.

 

Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”

 

Blended families—they’re everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that’s been damaged by sin.

When couples remarry after death or divorce, one or both may bring children from previous marriages into their new family unit. Sometimes there are children from multiple marriages and, even, other relationships outside of marriage.

They also bring different parenting styles, different traditions, different levels of spiritual maturity, and different expectations. Sometimes, those expectations can be unclear, even unrealistic.

Many of us grew up watching TV shows like The Brady Bunch and Step by Step where blended family issues could be handled during a 30-minute TV show. And engaged couples who’ve been struggling with single-parent issues like loneliness, financial difficulties, and the hazards of the dating scene can view remarriage as the answer to all their problems and be blind-sided by the reality of blending a family.  Continue reading

Blended Families Series + LINKUP

 

Blended Families + LINKUP - I'll be talking about the common issues and challenges, offering some solutions, and providing resources to help. If you're not a blended family, I'm sure you know someone who is. The first post will start in the next linkup.Life has been a little hectic for me. We just finished getting the flooring redone in our whole house (a huge blessing, the carpeted areas were in terrible shape), but for all of you who have done major redo’s you know it’s a lot of work to get ready for it, and lots more to get everything back in place. Along the way you find all kinds of things that need to be updated or redone just to get things back to normal … lots of painting and patching.

Getting ready for it was a little like moving with no place to go. We packed everything we could and moved it to our garage (along with our bed). Even thought it’s finished and has air conditioning, it’s a little like sleeping in a warehouse. About as close to camping out as I like (sorry all you campers).

Now we’re cleaning up from all the tile demolition and waiting to put things back in place until the new baseboards are in.

I said all that to say … I don’t have a book review for this week. I need to spend what time I have preparing to teach DivorceCare on Sundays at my church and starting a new ladies Bible study this Thursday. So for the next few Mondays I’m rerunning a series I did a couple of years ago on “Blended Families.”  Continue reading

So What’s Wrong with Living Together? + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is one that our world, but more importantly those in the church, need to hear.

 

So Whats Wrong with Living Together?: A Biblical Response to Cohabitation by Jeffrey S. Miller

 

So What's Wrong with Living Together?

So … what is wrong with living together? Everyone is doing it! Sadly, even couples who consider themselves Christians.

Is a marriage license just a piece of paper and marriage something people created? What if we’re really committed to each other or are planning to get married eventually?

In 37 easily readable pages, Jeffrey Miller presents the loving biblical answer to those questions and many more. And he does so without being judgmental or condemning.

In chapter 2 he says:

The Bible does not explicitly say “Living together is a sin.” Despite a popular misconception, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, containing endless lists of everything God says is okay and everything God says is not okay. Though we do see passages of clear “do’s and don’ts” (like the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20), the Bible often gives principles concerning our conduct.

He goes on:

Throughout the Bible, God gives clear principles on His design and intentions for sexuality and marriage. We could list all the things God is against when it comes to sexual relationships, such as homosexuality, bestiality, polygamy, etc. (and in fact the Bible does mention God’s feelings toward such things).

But, as the author points out, we love loopholes.

And when we come to the Bible, we have a tendency to do the same. Have you ever said (or thought):

“I know what the Bible says, but technically …”

“The Bible may say that, but what that really means is …”

“I know ________ is wrong, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about _________.”

When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, he started by questioning God’s Word. Nothing much has changed.

… in God’s infinite wisdom, He did something better (and easier) for us. Instead of giving us list after list of what He doesn’t want for us concerning sexuality and marriage, God instead gives us His blueprint for how he intended sexuality and marriage to be in the first place.

Mr. Miller goes on to explain God’s plan for marriage beginning in Genesis 2 and how He intends for it to be an “exclusive, inseparable relationship between the man and the woman.” He goes on:

We must also notice that God didn’t create one man, take twelve of his ribs to make twelve women, telling Adam, “Hey, try them out, sow your oats, see which one you like, or maybe you’ll decide on more than one.” Nor did God create twelve men for Eve to “play the field” until she decided which man would make her the happiest. God made one man–for one woman–for one lifetime. At creation, God deliberately set this pattern for marriage commitment with the very first couple.

The author then goes on to talk about Jesus’ teaching on marriage, beginning with his condemnation of the Pharisees and their low view of marriage (Matt. 19.3-9) and then walking us through His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4.5-26).

… Jesus was reaching out to her and offering her the better way, the first thing He pointed out to her was the fact that her life was caught up in one bad relationship after another, husband after husband, and the man she was currently living with was not her husband.

… we discover in the Bible that Jesus Christ Himself actually encountered someone who was living in that situation. And … He didn’t affirm it as a good alternative to marriage.

Jesus is proclaiming that people are missing God’s plan (and blessing) for marriage when they don’t view divorce, relationships, and cohabitation as God Himself does.

In chapter 5 the author addresses the common responses to criticism of living together:

“But we love each other…”

“We will end up getting married eventually anyways …”

“We are committed to each other …”

“We are married in God’s eyes, why does it matter if we have the license? It’s just a piece of paper! And why do we have to have a ceremony?”

“We have to do it for financial reasons …”

“Everybody is doing it these days …”

“You wouldn’t buy a care without test driving it, would you? Isn’t living together before you get married like test driving a car? You know, try it out, make sure it works …”

Finally, Mr. Miller gives the reader what he calls “the great news”:  Continue reading

The MacArthur Daily Bible + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is one that I love to recommend. It’s my personal choice as a daily Bible.

 

The MacArthur Daily Bible by John MacArthur.

 

The MacArthur Daily Bible - This is my personal choice as a daily Bible.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any time at all, you probably know that I’m a firm believer in reading through the Bible on a regular basis.

So why am I talking about reading through the Bible in August? Why not December or January? Because for most of us as moms, we are geared to think of the “back to school” season as the beginning of a new year.

Whether you homeschool or are getting kids ready to go back to the classroom, you’re establishing new habits and routines. Why not start a new one personally?

For some of you, the idea of starting a daily Bible half way through seems foreign, but all of God’s Word is profitable. It doesn’t matter where you start. In fact, most of us read isolated passages all the time as part of sermons and Bible studies. And if you start now, by the time January 1 comes around you can have a well-established routine already in place.

 

What will happen if you make that commitment?

 

First, let me tell you what won’t happen:

  • God won’t love you any more than He already does.
  • It won’t be easy. Your flesh won’t like it at times and the devil will be sure you have plenty of distractions.
  • You won’t instantly know everything the Bible has to say.
  • You won’t necessarily become more spiritual.

What will happen:  Continue reading

The Excellent Wife + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is one that has helped many women get a more biblically balanced view of our role, our responsibilities, and our blessings.

 

The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace.

 

The Excellent WifeThere are many books available today on marriage and on how to be the husband or wife that God has called you to be. I’ve read a number of them and, perhaps, so have you.

But Martha’s book is different from many of them. First of all, it’s not new. In fact, in my opinion, it’s a classic when it comes to biblical books on the wife’s role in marriage. It was first published in 1995. Martha wrote it because, as a biblical counselor seeking to help other women, she needed solid material to use in her counseling and, at that time, there was little available.

In the years since, it has been used by countless women and countless counselors, including myself. I have read and re-read it. I’ve taught it in the classroom and I’ve used it over and over in my counseling ministry. I’ve shared it with young women and with seasoned veterans to marriage. I’ve found it to be the most comprehensive, biblical book there is. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and full of notes on every blank space.

Just Another Book about Submission?

 

Someone out there is thinking … “Oh no, another book about submission!”

Submission is in there, because it’s part of how God has called us to live, but so is how to make a biblical appeal and how to lovingly confront your husband when he’s sinning, along with when to go to your church, and when to call the authorities because of abuse.

But the bulk of the book is about how to live out biblical womanhood on a practical, day by day basis, bringing glory to God in the process.

In the first section, Martha covers God’s protective authority, His provision for wives, His pattern for relationships, His purpose for marriage, and the wife’s role.

In the second section, she covers the heart and how it can be focused on false gods instead of Christ, also, the home, the God-kind of love, respect, intimacy and submission.

In the third section, she explains how submission is the basis for God’s protection and lists His resources for a woman’s protection. She, also, talks about the key to our motivation, the control of the tongue, and the importance of a quiet and gentle spirit.

And in the last section, Martha talks about some of our struggles: impatience, anxiety, and a lack of oneness. Continue reading

“Strengthening Your Marriage” + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.

 

This week’s selection is Strengthening Your Marriage by Dr. Wayne Mack.

 

Strengthening Your Marriage - How is your marriage? Is it good? Is it great? Could it use some work or, at least, some fine tuning? Marriages, even good ones, need regular maintenance.How is your marriage? Is it good? Is it great? Could it use some work or, at least, some fine tuning? Marriages, even good ones, need regular maintenance.

Genesis 2.24 says:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

This is much more than the obvious physical union between a man and a woman. This is a unity of hearts and goals that requires good communication and a laying down of our own selfish agendas to follow God’s agenda.

Amos 3.3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”

As Christians our goals should be in line with God’s goals for marriage, but that won’t happen unless we know and understand God’s blueprint.

Dr. Wayne Mack’s book, Strengthening Your Marriage, can be a great tool for helping any couple do just that. The book is made up of 8 Units to study together as a couple or as part of a small group:

  1. God’s Purpose for Marriage
  2. The Wife’s Responsibilities
  3. The Husband’s Responsibilities
  4. Good Communication
  5. Financial Agreement
  6. Sexual Unity
  7. Raising Children
  8. Family Religion

Each unit begins with a teaching section in the form of an amplified outline. Key points are noted and all points are accompanied by Scripture references. The teaching section is followed by study questions and practical exercises to work through as a couple. Dr. Mack says: Continue reading

The God-Empowered Wife + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.

This week’s selection is The God Empowered Wife: How Strong Women Can Help Their Husbands Become Godly Leaders by K.B. (Karen) Haught.

 

The God Empowered Wife by K.B. Haught

Have you ever found yourself praying, “Dear God, please change my husband!”

You’ve tried it all: nagging, encouraging, keeping quiet … praying. You know there’s a right way to impact your marriage, but you’re too frustrated to try.

Maybe the following sounds familiar?

You’re efficient, smart, organized, and make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done. You’re physically tired, yes, but mostly just tired of being the responsible one. Your husband is a decent guy who helps when asked—but you still have to ask, which means it’s still your responsibility. Sometimes you joke that having a husband is like having another child.

Then, there’s the marriage itself. Things look fine on the outside, but they’re not really. In public, your husband is charming and cheerful. At home, he’s distant or grouchy—apparently more interested in anything else than spending quality time together. Faith, instead of being something that defines your marriage, is a private, individual matter.

You’ve bought books on how to improve a marriage, but they all require at least some degree of cooperation from your husband. You can’t make him read something he’s not interested in; and learning how to be more romantic, helpful, and communicative isn’t exactly high on his list.

On good days, being married is like having a roommate; on bad days it’s like being in prison. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s a far cry from what you dreamt it would be like. With a few adjustments you could support yourself financially, and it’s tempting to think life might be easier alone. The question, “Who needs a husband, anyway?” has crossed your mind more than once.

He’s frustrated, too. Somewhere along the way, being married became more of a burden than a joy. The way you always “help” him drives him crazy and makes him feel inadequate. “I don’t need another mother,” he says to himself.

You have the “right” answer for everything—at least you think you do—and he’s tired of being corrected, criticized, and contradicted in what he says or does. It’s easier to bury himself in television, hobbies, or work than fit into your world—a world where he’s never quite good enough. He may not have said it out loud, but he’s probably thought it: “What does she need me for a husband, anyway?”

Or maybe you just want to understand your husband better, why he does what he does, and how you can help him grow in the area of leading his family and growing as a believer in Christ.

One reviewer said:  Continue reading