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Alfaro Cautions Church Family to Guard Against "Relation-slips"

Melissa Alfaro revealed how pride can lead to serious 'relation-slips' between God, colleagues, and generations.
ORLANDO, Florida — In a fiery, but compassionate call to the Assemblies of God church family to guard their hearts from "relation-slips," Melissa Alfaro’s powerful message to the General Council had the nearly 5,000 attendees in the Orange County Convention Center frequently voicing agreement and applauding.

Alfaro is the executive presbyter representing ordained under 40 ministers and is the Girls Ministries director for the Texas Louisiana Hispanic district. She and her husband, Jay, also serve as the senior pastors of El Tabernaculo in Houston.

Beginning her message with an illustration that exemplified how many people wait until their “rope” breaks before making a change in life, Alfaro applied that same dynamic to vital relationships — such as marriage, family, children, and ministry relationships.

“One by one, strand by strand [vital relationships] begin to become unraveled — and it’s too late,” she stated. “You see, relationships are a vital part of who we are and what we do as the body of Christ.”

Alfaro focused on three areas that apply strongly to the church family: stewarding their relationship with God, with one another, and with the next generation.

Using King Uzziah as the biblical example of a man walking with God and greatly blessed by God (2 Chronicles 26:5), she revealed how he sought God in such a manner that was easy for others to follow due to its frequency and earnestness.

“When our ears are connected to the heart of God, then our hands are always connected to fruitfulness and purpose,” she declared.

Alfaro described how Uzziah’s many successes and fame led him to self-reliance, pride, and his downfall (2 Chronicles 26:15-16).

“Guard your heart in seasons of busyness so they do not lead you into a relation-slip with God,” she urged, sharing that too often Christians sacrifice relationships in order to accomplish their busyness.

“Sometimes we do believe we are ministry machines that are indispensable in the kingdom of God, because God must be pleased with all the work we’re doing,” she said with clear sarcasm.

Referring to how Uzziah let his prayer life be replaced by his busyness, Alfaro stated that in order to guard your heart, private disciplines should grow in proportion to public success — the more success and busier a person is, the more one's prayer life, appetite for God’s Word, faith, love, and spiritual maturity should grow.

Alfaro then explored relational isolation as another way that causes relation-slips with God and others.

In referring to Uzziah once more, Alfaro shared how she believe his pride separated him from God and also separated him from spiritual leaders and voices of authority; he refused to listen to Azariah and 80 other priests and grew angry instead (2 Chronicles 26:16-19).

“That’s what happens when we begin to think, I don’t need anybody else; I can do ministry all by myself,” Alfaro said. Remember that you're just a part in the body of Christ, we are not our own body running our own race.

“How we respond to wise counsel is a reflection of our spiritual maturity or lack there in,” Alfaro added.

Alfaro reminded those who were dealing with relational isolation, whether it be among family, church, or district/network that God has the answer — His love is greater than any disappointment (Romans 8:9), God will walk you through your pain if you let Him (Psalm 34:18), and God will allow you to feel restoration if you surrender your pain to Him (Psalm 147:3).

“The very thing that was a wound in one season, will turn into medicine for someone else in the other season,” Alfaro stated.

Alfaro then advised for ministers and leaders to be intentional about engaging their family — the body of Christ, which would require both humility, before God and before others, and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit who very well may be asking them to forgive, allow others to sharpen them, or to step out beside someone who needs the gift of presence.

Coming to the topic of generations, Alfaro began, “Generational indifference will cause us to fall into a relation-slip with the next generation. It will always stifle our spiritual legacy.”

In quoting 2 Chronicles 26:19-26 in which Uzziah was afflicted with leprosy, Alfaro pointed out that Uzziah’s actions led to his separation from God and from other people. His premature death also kept him from being able to advise and guide his successor, his son, Jotham, who walked with God, but allowed the people to continue in their sin.

“Because of that [Uzziah’s] fall, he [Jotham] was only left to chart his own course based on what his father had built instead of who he was before God,” Alfaro said. “King Jotham may have learned how to build walls and gates, but he failed at building people.”

Jotham’s tolerance for the people’s sin led to his son, Ahaz, turning his back on God and engaging in detestable practices (2 Chronicles 28:1-3).

“[Ahaz] is the product of a proud grandfather who taught his son to build, but failed to teach him to pastor the people, and he’s a product of an indifferent father, who though he built buildings, he failed to build a spiritual climate for his son to grow up in.”

Relating Uzziah failure to today’s Christian, Alfaro said that whether it be a spiritual mother or father, a relation-slip has the potential to cast a shadow on future generations.

“We can no longer be content to just raise up successors,” she stated. “We need to raise up some sons and some daughters . . . people that we tread the path with them to the presence of God.”

Using her young and highly active son, who has opened her eyes to making better health choices, as an illustration, Alfaro said, “He fueled energy and life into me and I’m giving wisdom to him, that is generational synergy.”

Alfaro used 1 Corinthians 4:15 as a challenge to the audience, stating: “Pastoral leadership is good and has its place, but I think many shy away from spiritual fatherhood and motherhood because, as Paul writes, it takes a deeper level of responsibility to father and mother the next generation . . . it requires, above all, heart.”

Asking the older generation to commit to “treading the path” with younger generations to the presence of God, Alfaro then directed the younger generation to find a spiritual father or mother to pour into them.

“God wants to use us together,” Alfaro said. “We’re stronger together. We’re better together.

“[But] don’t allow the very areas God has called us to thrive to be the area the enemy uses for relation-slips,” she urged. “From the youngest to the oldest in this place tonight, we are family and we need each one another.”

Alfaro then called people to the altar who wanted to renew their relationship with God, people, and the next generation. Hundreds flooded the altar.

To watch the General Council Friday evening service in its entirety, including the Backstage Production, see the Assemblies of God USA Facebook page.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.