Application for Blended FamiliesAugust 22, 2017
Application for Blended Families
Bob: Have you ever invited the devil to come into your home? Pastor Tim Lundy says many of us have without realizing it.
Tim: You know the greatest doorway into your home for the devil is not Hollywood, and it’s not the media, and it’s not the internet; and it’s not all of the social connections that we are on-guard against. You know what I think the greatest doorway into the home for the devil is? It’s angry people who won’t release it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How can we keep from giving the devil an opportunity in our home? We’ll explore that today as we hear a message from Tim Lundy. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.
I’ve been thinking about what you've shared about being on that—what was it? Bear Creek-in Southern Missouri?
Dennis: It was Highway 65, before it became a four-lane highway to that famous tourist destination of —
Bob and Dennis, in unison: Branson, Missouri!
Dennis: I got stuck in it when I was a teenager. I just made some foolish choices.
Bob: I was thinking about the sign you used to talk about that was on the Alaskan Highway.
Dennis: Yes, I’ve shared that: “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next 200 miles.”
Bob: [Laughing] Some people find themselves stuck in a rut that got dug out for them in the past, and they don’t know how to get out of the rut. They’re stuck, and they don’t know what to do.
Dennis: And it you’re looking for a biblical wrecker—one that comes alongside you spiritually, latches hold, and gently, but firmly pulls you out of the mud hole—I’m not going to promise you you’re not going to face any more mud holes and that you’re not going to get stuck again for the rest of your life.
But you’ll know where there are biblical solutions based upon the message we’re going to hear today.
Bob: We’re going to hear a message from Pastor Tim Lundy. Tim is pastor at Christ Community Church in Little Rock. He spoke at our Blended and Blessed livestream event that was attended by thousands of couples all around the country back in April. He was speaking primarily to an audience of husbands and wives who are in blended marriages, but this applies to any of us who find ourselves controlled by events from the past that are continuing to influence our lives in the present.
Dennis: And you don’t have to be in a blended family to get help and hope on today’s broadcast. You can be single; you can be in a nuclear family; you can be divorced; you can be empty nesters.
Let me tell you, our guest on the broadcast today, in a message he gave, is going to deal with telling the truth, how to deal with anger, not letting corrupting talk proceed from your mouth, and putting away all bitterness and wrath.
Who doesn’t need an exhortation to forgive? It’s one of the most important messages we can hear in all of our lifetime!
Bob: All of this starts off with what Tim has already talked about in Part One of this message: he has talked about the need for us to put off the past and to put on Christ, and then to continue to do that day-in and day-out, because it’s a process that never ends. Here’s Tim Lundy:
[Begin Audio Recording]
Tim: This is a lifetime process. It will never end. There will never be a day that you look up and you say, ‘Nothing more to put off here!” The only time this process ends is when you actually stand in front of Jesus, because then you’ll be like Jesus. Until then, for the rest of your life, here’s what’s true: You’re not stuck! You can change because of Christ. And the way that you change, and the way that you experience that change, is always going to be a putting off and putting on.
So let’s put it in practice. For the rest of the passage, here’s all Paul does. He says, “Alright! Let’s talk about some subjects that you need to put off and put on.” And we’re going to apply them to blended families. We’re going to apply them to your home.
Look at the very first one. He tells us we’ve got to stop, what we’ve got to start, and then the reason why.
The first one—you see it in Ephesians 4: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” A really easy one! Stop lying. Stop lying. Start telling the truth, always.
Here’s the truth about lying: lying desensitizes the brain. They can track the brain, and when you lie, your amygdala flashes in your brain. The more you lie—like any other drug, the more you lie—the less it flashes. You get desensitized.
As they’ve studied it, there are really two kinds of liars. There’s the self-centered liar, and then there’s the others-centered liar: “I’m going to lie to protect you; I’m going to lie to protect your feelings.” Here’s what I know about growing up in a broken home. Lying becomes almost a survival mechanism, where you can stop really telling the truth.
You can get to where you are doing it so much, because you don’t want to hurt anyone; because you don’t want to deal with it; because you don’t want to “go there” again, that you don’t realize how much of a pattern it’s become in your life. If you’re going to have the kind of home that God has called you to build, you’ve got to stop lying. You’ve got to start telling the truth.
Now, a little earlier in the passage, he says, “Tell the truth in love”—not truth as a weapon, but in love. Here’s where it gets really hard, because God calls you to tell the truth, and you know telling the truth is actually going to hurt this person that you love. You know that telling the truth is actually going to bring some hurt, maybe even in your children’s lives. There’s a part of you that wants to pull back and say, “Man, let me cover that truth. Let me lie just a little bit.”
Guys, when you married a spouse, you never made a promise to them that you would never hurt them, because you can’t make that promise, but you can make a promise to them that you won’t lie to them. You know what comes out of truth? Trust. Even in the hurt, I can look at this person and know, “They always tell me the truth.” There’s trust.
And why does he say to do it? Because, he says, we’re all connected to each other. Your lies are not your lies. They impact all of us. Look at the next one; let’s put it in practice with the next verses here. He says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ooh! This is a hard one.
What does he say that we need to stop doing? Does he say that we need to stop being angry? No! He doesn’t say that. Here’s what he says—he says, “Stop letting your anger turn into sin. Stop letting your anger turn into sin.” I like this passage, because God doesn’t say that anger is sin. Folks, there are some things in life worth getting angry about. There are some things in life that should stir you. In fact, there’s kind of a new movement that wants to re-write Scripture and redefine God as a god who never gets angry.
If you never get angry, it means that you don’t love, because if you love people, there are things that happen to those you love that make you angry. And some of you have had things in your life happen; you’ve had things happen to you kids. You’ve been hurt in a way that there’s a part of you that comes out and you say, “Man! That makes me angry!” And it should, because it’s wrong! It’s wrong!
But notice what the passage says: You let your anger turn into sin when you hold onto it too long. All anger has an expiration date for humans. It’s just like the milk in your fridge. You can only keep anger for a certain amount of time before it turns rotten. It’s so powerful!
I’ve had in my own life, times when I’m angry at someone and I’ve been chewing on that anger, and it will come up. I remember one time that I was just thinking about this person, and I was angry with them.
The Holy Spirit said, “Hey, you’d better check the expiration date on that. I think it’s gone bad.” My first response was, “Oh, no! It’s not bad. I like the anger!” [Laughter] “It’s a good thing! It feels good!”
That’s when the Spirit said, “Yeah, that’s a good indicator it’s gone bad.” See, we are not designed to be able to hold anger very long. That’s why he says, “Don’t let the sun go down on it.” Just as human beings—yes!--there are things that make us angry, but you can’t let that anger turn into sin. So what do you do? You start releasing it to God. God says, “Vengeance is mine.” God has the capacity to be able to hold anger in a way without it corrupting Him. We don’t have that capacity.
So one of the key principles that you can apply, especially if you’ve come out of brokenness, or you’re still dealing with an ex-spouse, or you’re watching them hurt your children.
Man! Everything in you wells up, and you want to hold onto that anger. You want to fuel that anger. God says, “Okay, yes, you feel it. Now give it to me. Let’s make the exchange.” And it may be a daily process. It may be something that, every day, when you go to God, you say, “Okay, here it is again, because I’m angry again. I’m giving it to you, God.”
Notice why he says to do it. He says make the exchange so that you don’t give the devil the opportunity. Do you know the greatest doorway into your home for the devil is not Hollywood, and it’s not the media, and it’s not the internet; and it’s not all of the social connections that we are on-guard against. You know what I think the greatest doorway into the home for the devil is? It’s angry people who won’t release it.
It starts corrupting them, and it starts bleeding out with their kids, and it changes the whole tenor of the home.
Paul says, “Don’t do that. Don’t stay stuck in that. Man, put that off! Give it to God! Don’t give him that doorway.”
Look at the third one, and see if this one applies to a blended family: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
“Let no corrupting talk. . . “We sometimes teach our kids this verse when we don’t want them to cuss. It’s really more encompassing than that. That word corrupting just means “rotten.” Don’t let any rotten words come out. It’s like a rotten piece of fruit. Have you ever had a drawer full of fruit, and it’s all fresh. Then you look at the bottom, and it’s rotten from the bottom up? All it took was one bad piece of fruit.
That’s what Paul is saying here. He says, “Man, don’t let your home get marked by that!” So, what do you put on? He says, “Put on words that are fitting for the moment.” You could stop and ask yourself, every time you’re about to say something, “Is this going to make things better or worse? Is this going to corrupt this household? Is this going to corrupt those who hear it? Is this going to stink? Or will this actually make things better?”
Wives, you have a voice in your husband’s life to make things better like few other people. Do you say those words?
Guys, you have a voice in her life. In fact, Peter tells us, as husbands, to “live with her in an understanding way.” (in a tender way). I just tell you this, guys: if your wife is a follower of Jesus, do you realize that God’s not only your father, he’s also your father-in-law. [Laughter] Have you ever thought about that? He’s your father-in-law.
Peter says it in a way—he says, “If you don’t treat her in this understanding way, it will actually hinder your prayer life.” You think I’m going to have a lot of good conversations with my father-in-law if I’m not treating his little girl right? Guys, God’s no different. He says He actually cares how we treat each other. So much so that the passage says it “grieves the Holy Spirit” (how we treat each other). Man, as a parent, there’s nothing that brings me more joy than when my kids are loving on each other.
I’ve got to tell you that, as a parent, as well, there’s nothing that grieves me more than when I see them tearing each other down. The Holy Spirit is there all of the time. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. He never gets a day off. He’s always there!
Here’s what happens though: when he sees a household where people are constantly tearing each other down—people are constantly using words and language—it grieves Him. Scripture also says, at some point, it quenches the power in your life. You wonder why your walk and your study are not alive? It’s how we treat each other.
Look at the final one—it’s kind of a catch-all verse; just a final way of putting it into practice. And this is only one section of Scripture. You can go all through Scripture and I promise you it will teach this principle: what you stop doing and what you start doing. Look at this one: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice.”
And then, here, what do you put on? “Kindness; tender-heartedness.” Oh, here’s a hard one! “Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” Do you hear what He’s saying? He kind of does a catch-all.
In your words, in your speech, in your thoughts; in all that you’re doing, you’ve just got to put that stuff off! And here’s what you replace it with: kindness!
Wouldn’t you love it if someone were describing your household and your family and said, “Man, those people have got problems. They’re a little bit crazy, but they sure are kind, though! They’re kind in how they treat each other.”
Forgiveness! And here’s the hard part, because a lot of times I want my household to be that way. I say, “God, yes, I want a household that’s kind; I want to extend forgiveness in my house,” but I really don’t want to extend it to that crazy family I’m connected with. I don’t want to extend it to the mother of the girls, and all we deal with with her.
And God convicts me. He says, “You can’t put borders on it. If you stop out there, soon you stop in here. But if you’ll start in here, and keep extending it, man! It’s amazing the power it brings!”
And the first thing that wells up in me, especially when I think about forgiveness and people that have hurt me, in my family, is a part of me that says, “God, they don’t deserve it.” Hear me, I’m not calling for you to condone their behavior. I don’t have to condone it, but I can forgive it.
I can give to them what Christ gave to me. And one of the most powerful things that will mark your household is, as you forgive outward—and I promise you on this—your kids grow up in an environment of forgiveness. They’re going to need it, too.
You know, the hardest person for me to forgive was my brother. With all that we went through, he ended up homeless on the street. At times, I’d have to fly in; we tried to get him into recovery programs. We started spending more money on him.
We finally moved him to Little Rock, and just put him in an apartment with my mother. I was angry with the way she was enabling him, but I didn’t know what to do with it.
We went in and out of the hospital, and finally, one time, he was in the hospital, and his body was failing. I went up to see him, and my mom was kind of making over him. At this point, I was just tired. Part of me was done. He wouldn’t eat anything, and my mother said to him, “Do you want anything to eat?” He said to her, “Oh, I want a ham sandwich and some Gatorade.”
She immediately turned to me and she said, “You bring your brother a ham sandwich and Gatorade when you come up here.” My first thought was, “There is no way I’m bringing a ham sandwich and Gatorade up here! I’m done. I’m done! I’m raising his girls. I’m spending this money. I’ve done all of this. I’m done!” And I wasn’t just thinking it toward her; I was thinking it to God: “I’m done!”
I went home and I ground on that all night.
The next day, I was headed up to the hospital to go see him, and I stopped in this convenience store on the way there. As soon as I was walking into the store, God prompted me, saying, “Are you going to get that ham sandwich?” I was like, “No! I’m not!” I went and got a bottle of water. I was standing in line. As I was standing there, there was a cooler right next to me. [Laughter]
I’m not lying to you! I turned and, on that shelf right there, were ham sandwiches. [Laughter] I was like, “No, God! No! No!” Then I looked down, and on this shelf was Gatorade. [Laughter]
So I grabbed it, and I was still mad. I was like, “Fine! Fine!” I went up to the hospital and I put it down next to his bed, and I just thought, “It’s going to sit there.” Then, suddenly, he kind of stirred and he reached over, and he started eating the sandwich. Then he was drinking the Gatorade. Then, for just a moment, his eyes cleared like I hadn’t seen. It was like he was himself again.
He looked up at me, and he said, “Thank you.” And he hadn’t thanked me for anything. That was the first time I had ever heard it. As we left that night, in the middle of the night, we got a phone call. I rushed up to the hospital and they said, “We are sorry to tell you, you’re brother died last night.”
You know, the last image I have of my brother is eating that sandwich and drinking the Gatorade. I realized how gracious God is to me, that I didn’t miss it. It began a journey--and it’s been a journey—of forgiveness. As Jesus forgave me, I can forgive him.
Guys, I don’t know what you’ve come out of, but you wouldn’t be here today if there weren’t some brokenness, some of which you created.
Hear me: you are not stuck in it . . . because of Jesus. You can put off what you used to do and maybe do now, because of Jesus. You can put on what He’s calling you to do because of Jesus. If you take nothing else away, guys, we can forgive as He forgave us!
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Pastor Tim Lundy giving a message that was presented a few months ago at the Blended and Blessed livestream event that was attended by thousands of couples all around the world.
It really was a great day, and we got a lot of feedback from folks who took part in the event, whether it was at the origination point or watching the livestream all across the country and around the world. This was a helpful day for couples in blended marriages.
Dennis: And a lot of blended family ministries were birthed out of that day, because we had lots of folks say, “You know what? I’d like to start a blended family ministry in our church (or in our community) and help reach out to folks who maybe aren’t stuck—maybe they’re doing okay, but they just need some encouragement to keep on keeping on so when they do hit a mud hole, they’ll know what to do if they get stuck.
Bob: Yes, we’ve got an event coming up in October that’s designed to help people help others, especially those who are part of a blended marriage or a blended family. It’s our 2017 Summit on Stepfamily Ministry. The focus at the summit this year is going to be on helping stepfamily marriages in your church. Ron Deal will be speaking, along with a great line-up of other speakers.
This takes place October 26 and 27 at Fellowship Bible Church in Franklin, Tennessee, right outside of Nashville. I’m going to be there. I hope you’ll be there as well.
You can get more information about the upcoming Summit on Stepfamily Ministries when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link you find there, or, if you have any questions, call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. I know October’s still a little way off, but there is early-bird pricing available for the summit, so if you’d like to save some money, find out more today when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, I want to talk for just a minute to those of you who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today and just ask a real simple question: Have you ever heard conversations on this program, with teaching from Dennis or from others, where you found yourself thinking, “You know what? That makes a difference. I can apply that in a marriage relationship of with my kids.”? In other words, has this program helped you do life better and do relationships better? I know for many of you that’s the case. That’s one of the reasons why you listen regularly to FamilyLife Today.
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Now, tomorrow we want you to meet a cold case detective who realized one day that when he applied the tools of his trade to an understanding of what the Bible teaches about Jesus, the conclusion was inescapable. You’ll meet Jay Warner Wallace tomorrow, along with his wife, Susie. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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