Many believe the goal of life is happiness. Others think success. Those who consider themselves spiritual might say going to church, reading their Bible, doing good deeds, giving more to the church, or praying more. But what should the goal of life be for a believer?
And in our reading in Revelation, we meet the Two Witnesses. With fire to devour their enemies, the power to shut heaven, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plagues, they will warn, preach, and prophesy during the first half of the Tribulation. But what happens after their death is even more shocking. Continue reading →
What a group these Israelites were! Once again they turn on Moses. Even though they were being led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, instead of turning to God in prayer, they blame Moses for their thirst. His response is to go straight to God and again God meets their need supernaturally.
What do you do when faced with difficult people? Do you go straight to God or start talking to your girlfriend, your buddy, your co-worker, or someone else?
I wonder how many times God has been ready to help us, but we failed to acknowledge our dependence on Him by going to Him in prayer and asking for His wisdom and favor.
Strong Willed Children
Sometimes you have to wonder why God chose the Israelites as His covenant people. But these were the “children” God had chosen and asked Moses to shepherd. Whom has he asked you to shepherd? A strong willed child? A dawdler? A talker? Several unruly boys? An alien who inhabits your teenage daughter’s body? Or maybe it’s a class of rowdy 6th graders or a group of high school students? Continue reading →
Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words
We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we’re going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one … favoritism. We’ll also look at the need to view the blended family as one and how to avoid having a child-centered home.
In the last blog, I said the overarching goal of blending a family and for all of life is to please God (2 Cor. 5.9)—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God.
I also discussed the importance of biblically loving one another, rather than merely getting along or even liking each other (Blended Families Part 3). And last week I started discussing the priority of the husband and wife relationship (Blended Families Part 4). Today we’ll look at some specific ways we can strengthen the marriage relationship, even while handling tough parenting issues.
Joe’s & Liz’s Story
Do you remember Joe and Liz (Blended Families Part 4)? Week-ends were rough with the added dynamic of Joe’s son from his previous marriage. How might they plan to have a better week-end the next time Joe’s son is with them?
Praying Together for God’s Wisdom
James 1.2-8 says:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
God promises to give wisdom to those who ask in faith and have a heart that’s willing to obey. And later in his epistle James added, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (Jas. 4.2). Parents in blended families need wisdom and, yet, how often do we actually stop and ask?
Failure to ask for God’s help and wisdom is foolishness, at best, and more often a form of pride, since we’re really saying, “Lord, I don’t need Your help. I can figure this out for myself!” It’s so easy to think the way that seems right to us is the right way. But Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14.12). Whether we’re faced with a stressful, potentially mine-filled week-end or just day-to-day events, we should be praying regularly for God’s wisdom.
It’s important to see your family as one and your children as yours jointly and to prayerfully make decisions as a team. Practice taking time to talk over issues, in advance, considering the needs of all the children and your family as a whole. It’s especially important not to make special rules for children who aren’t in the household full time or to favor your biological children over your step-children.
Favoritism … The Other F-Word
Favoritism is quite possibly the biggest destroyer of the blended family. It weakens the husband and wife relationship, hinders the step-parent’s relationship with the other children, and leads to anger and bitterness. And, ironically, it often hurts the favored child as much as anyone else. Trust me on this one; it will create chaos and can drive a wedge between family members faster than you can imagine. Continue reading →
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.
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.”