Heart Strings Pt 3: Blending

Pastor Ron Macciola & Pastor Jonathan Macciola

5-26-13

 

Pastor Ron's Sermon Notes:

Last Sunday, Pastor preached on the need of the Holy Spirit to maintain Godly relationships.  Today Jonathan & I will be preaching on sustaining Godly relationships from within our primary families. 

On July 4, 1996, my life took a drastic change…actually it was more like a train wreck.  That morning, I learned that my marriage of 18 years was coming to an end! 2 years latter, it was decreed dissolved by the Superior Court of Alameda County, 20 years to the month. 

Psalms 91:5 became real to me as it read: You shall not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flies by day.”  I remember waking up in the middle of the night and thinking,” Lord, what am I going to do?”  My heart was beating uncontrollably in my chest…a panic attack just hit me!  This verse came to my remembrance by the Holy Spirit and I latter copied it and taped it to the mirror at the end of my bed.  Each morning, when I awoke, I would repeat the words of scripture,” You shall not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flies by day.”

I knew I would need the Holy Spirit to me care for Joshua, Jonathan and Jason.  I need to continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit!!!!! It wasn’t easy…some days I walked in the Spirit…other days I walked in the flesh. 

Ephesians 5:17 says: ‘Therefore, do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.” (AMP) 

Three years latter, God brought Robin into my life, as well as Adam and Justin, Today, our blending family is celebrating Mother’s Day for Robin. 

The scriptures are true, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” Lets be real, I wouldn’t wish divorce on my worst enemy…divorce wounds and hurts and divides and rips apart (what God has put together)!  But God brought good out of my brokenness and God will bring good out of your brokenness as you stay close to HIM and let His word work richly in your life. Remember…God hates divorce…NOT THE DIVORCED! 

So….what is God’s will for us in our family relationships?  One of my favorite  passages is found in the Book of Romans, Chapter 12 verses 10 and 12;  “Love one another with Brotherly affection{as members of one family} giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Verse 12: “Rejoice and exult in hope, be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation, be constant in prayer.” 

POINT ONE: LOVE YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AS IF THEY WERE YOUR FAMILY! 

You may be saying to yourself,” Pastor Ron, have you lost it?  Sometimes we treat outsiders better that we do our own. The word “with brotherly affection” comes from the Greek word ‘PHILADELPHIA’…TO HAVE AN AFFECTION FOR,TO BE FOND OF.’ So if the admonition is to love the Body of Christ as if they were our our…HOW THEN SHOULD WE LOVE OUR OWN? 

I suggest you view your children as individuals and not compare them to each other.  For example, while raising Joshua, all I had to do was look at him and he would cry…while raising Jonathan, welllllllllllllllllllllllllllll that was a whole new experience…if I said the line was here, he would say,” Hey Dad, why can’t we move the line? 

Dr. Charles Swindoll , in his book, YOU AND YOUR CHILD, says of Proverbs 22:6,” Train up a child in the way he should go…the word “Train” in Hebrew means to create a thirst in, build into the child the experience of submission,(as you would train a horse that has been wild).The word child covers all the years the child is under the roof of the parent, every age from infancy to adulthood.. The entire time is called the period of being “trained up” “in” means “in cooperation with” in accordance to the ‘way he should go” “If you want your training to be godly and wise, observe your child, be sensitive and alert so as to discover his way and adapt your training accordingly.” 

“Way” suggests the idea of ‘characteristic, manner, mode.’’ “In every child God places in our arms, there is a bent, a set of characteristics already established.  The bent is fixed and determined before he is given over to our care.  The child is not in fact a pliable piece of clay.  He has been set, he has been bent.  And the parents who want to train this child correctly will discover that bent.”  THANK YOU DR. SWINDOLL…WHERE WERE YOU THIRTY YEARS AGO?  

POINT TWO: REJOICE IN HOPE AND BE PATIENT

Wuest Greek Studies says of “rejoice in hope” when earthly prospects are dark, the Christians rejoicing should be in the sphere of hope that the Lord will send deliverance, and in the meantime take care of his afflicted child.  Robin and I have walked with and thru each of our sons, some pretty difficult times, times when you pray, and pray; and then pray some more, times when you cry and cry and cry, times when you bite your tongue and are glad you really didn’t say what you were thinking.  I have a plaque in my office that reads, “LORD, PLEASE KEEP YOUR ARM AROUND MY SHOULDER…AND YOUR HAND OVER MY MOUTH.  AMEN!”

“PATIENCE IS A DIRTY WORD. A TOUGH WORD A DIFFICULT WORD, here it means “to remain under, that is to remain  under the test in a God-honoring manner, not seeking to escape, but eager to learn the lessons it was sent to teach. That is patience.”  My children have taught me to PERSEVERE, TAKE RISKS, FORGIVE, CRY, HAVE RIGHTEOUS ANGER, PREACH THE WORD, AND OHHHH YES….MANGE, MANGE, MANGE-EAT,EAT,EAT!!!!!!!!!!

The word “tribulation” means “a pressing together, pressure, oppression, affliction, distress.  Have you and your loved ones experienced any pressures, oppression and affliction?  Robin and I have!  And we have learned that no matter what we as a blending (because we still are learning to blend) family go through, God will give us the Spiritual Super Glue to make it through!! God is for Families, it is His will that we heal and grow strong through the seasons of life.  No weapon formed against a family will prosper, if God is for a family, who can be against it?  What can separate us from the Love of God? Death cant, life cant, the angels cant, the demons cant, our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep Gods love away!!! LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF THE GREAT HYMN BY FANNY CROSBY: ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS.

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Pastor Jonathan's Sermon Notes:

Good morning.  I will be continuing to talk about relationships in our primary family.

A wise man by the name of Tom McCoy once said, “life is about relationships, starting with the one you have with Jesus”.  I’ve never forgotten that quote and how true it is.  It’s through relationship with Jesus we are saved, but it’s also through relationship with others that we are wounded, and hurt, BUT God also uses relationships here on earth to heal us, guide us, and bring fullness.

Life is about relationships.  I want to focus on our relationships within our primary families.

My Father previously said: “Today Jonathan & I will be preaching on sustaining Godly relationships from within our primary families.”  And the good son I am I will honor my Father.  I have always been this obedient.

Those in our families can be the most difficult to love.

Ironically a lot of times the people most difficult to love are those within our primary family.

I’m going to say that again, a lot of times the people most difficult to love are those within our primary family.

How many of you here have that Aunt you can’t stand?  How many of you here have that brother or sister that is the black sheep of the family or perhaps the family secret.  Or maybe you are the black sheep of the family or the family secret.  The ones that are the closest to us are a lot of times the most difficult to love.  Our in-laws, our step-family, our grandparents, our parents.

I’ve thought about this and my conclusion is they are the hardest to love because they know the most about us, we know the most about them, and they are the closest to us, they have the ability to hurt us the most, and we are the most vulnerable to those in our family.

I can put on a pretty good show up here for you all but when I go home, I’m just “Jon” they know me.  You can’t hide from your family or put on a mask.  And I believe that plays a big roll into why it’s hard for us to love the ones closest to us.  Our primary family represents us.  They a lot of times share our last name.

However, God is not a God of chance but a God of ultimate purpose.  He placed us in our families for a specific reason.  And God uses relationship to refine us, to form us, and to grow us.  So, if we think running from our family or simply writing our family off than we are going to miss out on the fullness God has for us and the refinement he purposed for us.

It’s so easy for us to avoid “that family member” or consider them “gone” or “God’s project”.  Remember it works both ways, as we reach out and live intentionally to love and honor those in our family we are then refined and matured.

The verse God has given me this morning is: Romans 10:10, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Please say that with me: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Blending is the title of the sermon today and my Father spoke from our story of being blended as two families were brought together by marriage.  The reality is we are all in blending families as we all have different strengths and weaknesses; we were created for different purposes even though we are in the same primary family.

Our ministry starts in our home.  Our “In” relationships have the ability to refine us, form us, and grow us.

The Triangle – Up, In, & Out

Before we go “out” we have to go “in” and for those to happen our “up” is essential as we are empowered by the Spirit as Pastor Terry spoke about last week.

At times it’s so easy for us to want to help others.  Do “Ministry”.  Pray for others.  Intercede for others.  A lot of times we want to go “out” before we go “in”.  If our “in” is jacked up it will affect our “out”.  Our “in” relationships have the ability to refine us, form us, and grow us.  You see, there is a system to the triangle, it goes clockwise.  We have to start with our “up” to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and in alignment with God to understand our purpose and then we can focus on our “in” and our relationships that God puts in front of us and then finally we go “out” to draw others to go “up” and then they can focus on their “in” and then finally they will go “out”.  I think the “Lion King” said it the best, it’s the circle of life.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying life needs to be perfect out home in order for us to go “out”, what I’m saying is don’t avoid your issues at home and cover them up with “out and ministry”.

The relationships God has naturally put you in are there for a reason and made to refine you, form you, and grow you.  If you can operate in love and honor at home with difficult relationships than you will be equipped to go “out” and operate in “love and honor” with people you are trying to reach out to.

Romans 10:10, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Take Home

If you are struggling to connect with someone from your primary family I want you to intentionally Romans 10:10 them – “love and honor them”.  Put them above you.  Die to your own philosophies, judgments, way of thinking, and simply love and honor them.

Serve to Love.  My Step-Dad once said if you think you want a new car just wash the one you have and you’ll immediately begin to love and appreciate it more.  It’s the same with people.  The more you serve them the more you’ll begin to love them.

One of my challenging relationships for me and for others in my family has been my Grandma on my Mom’s side.  She is 80.  She has always been a very strong women and very opinionated.  She never hesitates to tell you how she thinks you should be living your life.  We never had a super-close relationship, truthfully I never really cared to have one.  It was one of those relationships you kind of right-off.

A year and a half ago I began to think about this relationship and how it had been neglected and how God had put her in my life for a reason.  I also looked at all the out I was doing, Bay Fusion, El Salvador, etc.  I began to feel convicted that I was pouring out to so many people but here was my own 80 year old grandma that lived in Pleasanton and I never talked to her or visited her, yet I would pray and reach out to elderly women in the village in El Salvador.  I also thought about what would happen when I was 80 and how I would like to be treated.

I then decided to make it a priority in my life to meet with her once a month for lunch and call her to talk a few times a month.  Since I began doing this our relationship has grown very strong and I have been able to learn so much from her because of her life experience.  I’ve also seen the amazing heart that God has given her to care for others, it’s just that her delivery some times is a little rough but her heart is in the right place.

I began to serve her and now I love her more.  I began to serve her and I am being refined and am growing because of it.

CHALLENGE

I want to challenge you Harbor Light.  Revisit that family-relationship that you’ve either written off or deemed unmanageable.  God wants to refine you, form you, and grow you through that primary family relationship.

You see, when I was preparing for this message God made it so clear to me that our struggle with our primary family relationships are to refine us, form us, and grow us so that when we go out into the world we can then minister to, relate to, and reach out to those people that are similar to those in our primary family.  We learn to communicate with and love different kinds of people through loving those God put right in our own family.

I am a firm believer of Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

I believe the relationships that we struggle with in our primary family God will use for good and it’s all according to his will.