Dec 17 2014

For Unto Us a Child is Born

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When I resort to an escape response [in dealing with conflict], I am generally focusing on “me.” I am looking for what is easy, convenient, or non-threatening for myself. When I use an attack response, I am generally focusing on “you,” blaming you and expecting you to give in and solve the problem. When I use a peacemaking response, my focus is on “us.” I am aware of everyone’s interests in the dispute, especially God’s, and I am working toward mutual responsibility in solving a problem.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46-47.


Food for Thought

 

The great pronouncement of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah–” For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6a, emphasis ours)–takes on special meaning this time of year as we reflect on the words, above.

By definition, Christmas can never be fully celebrated by “me” as a “personal family time with loved ones.” If we celebrate in this way, we duck the piercing challenge of Christmas. We embrace the left side of the Slippery Slope and seek only that which is “easy, convenient, and non-threatening.”

But Christmas is very threatening indeed. It is good news, but it is the kind of good news that cuts through “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” like a sword. Christmas is a stubbornly “us” celebration.

Just as Jesus redefined “neighbor” in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christmas redefines “us” and insists that that definition–and the celebration of Christmas–must include those we’d rather not see around the tree on Christmas morning. In Jesus’ Christmas celebration, our enemies are there–those who slander us and curse us and steal from us. Total strangers are there, for whom we now can and must care because God has cared for us. And even those who simply hurt our feelings unknowingly are there–those against whom we may presently be harboring tiny seeds of bitterness in our heart.

How and where will you celebrate Christmas this year? Will it be an “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” celebration spent entirely with loved ones? (One can almost hear Jesus’ question in Matthew 5:47, “Do not even pagans do that?”)

Or will your Christmas celebration take you to visit a home you’d rather not visit? Will it cause you to pick up the phone and dial a number you’ve long since quit dialing? Will it draw you outward to bring good news to a modern-day “shepherd” watching flocks by night (a convenience store clerk on Christmas eve, perhaps; or on-duty police officer or fire fighter)? Will it cause you to proclaim “good tidings of great joy for all the people”–to a stranger that you might otherwise pass without a word?

If so, then you will be swept up into the great prophecy recorded in Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (emphasis ours).

Have a Merry Christmas–a dangerously beautiful, challenging, and peace-filled one–from your brothers and sisters at Peacemaker Ministries.

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Dec 10 2014

Last-Minute Coaching for Your Christmas Gatherings

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In many situations, the best way to resolve a conflict is simply to overlook the personal offenses of others. This approach is highly commended throughout Scripture:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11; cf. 12:16; 15:18; 20:3).

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Prov. 17:14; cf. 26:17).

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8; cf. Prov. 10:12; 17:9)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13; cf. Eph. 4:32).

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 82.

 

Food for Thought

 

Large, raging conflicts don’t always start as large, raging conflicts. They sometimes start as tiny annoyances that spring from small misunderstandings that come from tired mouths that speak under stressful circumstances (like holidays!). Get a great start on solving your 2015 conflicts: Don’t start any more in 2014! Re-read the verses above. Do any of them speak to you in a special way? Why not memorize that verse as a “head start” on overlooking the personal offenses that will inevitably come your way as you gather together with family, friends, and church in the days ahead?

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Dec 03 2014

Atop This Year’s Christmas Shopping List: Loving Your Enemies!

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There is such wisdom and power in these simple words: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 256.

 

Food for Thought

 

Did you cross anyone off your Christmas card or gift list this year because they have been “bad” to you? According to Paul’s instruction, our enemies ought to be at the top of our holiday sharing lists. In our day and age, even the pagans give Christmas gifts to their friends (to paraphrase Jesus). What makes Christians different is that we care–passionately–for our enemies. We work hard to give them good gifts. Is there one particular “enemy” who you need to add back onto your list? What can you give an enemy this season that would be particularly thoughtful? This is a tough command, but it comes with an amazing promise: if we obey, we will not be overcome by evil but instead will overcome evil with good!

SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US! We’d love to hear about your efforts to “give good gifts to your enemies” this Christmas season. Please e-mail us your experience at mail@peacemaker.net.

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Nov 26 2014

The Fear Diet

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There is no fear in love… perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

Denial. One way to escape from a conflict is to pretend that it does not exist. Or, if we cannot deny that the problem exists, we simply refuse to do what should be done to resolve a conflict properly. These responses bring only temporary relief and usually make matters worse (see Gen. 16:1-6; I Sam. 2:22-25).

Flight. Another way to escape from a conflict is to run away. This may include leaving the house, ending a friendship, quitting a job, filing for divorce, or changing churches. In most cases, running away only postpones a proper solution to a problem (see Gen. 16:6-8), so flight is usually a harmful way to deal with conflict.

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 23.

 

Food for Thought

 

Have you ever thought about fear as an indulgence that we as Christians can’t afford?

We often think of rich desserts as indulgences, and they certainly can be. But fear is an indulgence, too–one that Christians engage in at least as much (if not far more) than Krispy Kreme donuts.

We indulge in fear each time we deny a conflict that exists with a friend–even though we know there is a cancer-like silence between us that Satan is probably filling with his lies. We can indulge in fear when we tell ourselves, “I’ve had enough. I’m done with this.” While walking away looks like some kind of primitive strength, it’s often a fear “feast” that results in us putting on weight (in the form of concern and anxious thoughts).

When fear keeps us from addressing conflict in our lives, it hinders our intimacy with Christ. We’d rather indulge in fear than delight in the love of Christ; yet, if we’d just delight in Perfect Love, scripture says that fear would flee.

Leaving fear behind is a bit like dieting. Standing at the freezer with our hand on the door and the ice cream on the other side, sometimes we just have to say aloud, “No.” Standing in a conflict feeling sorely tempted to indulge in denial and flight (both grounded in fear), we must call to mind the lavish love of Christ, drop our hands to our side, and remind ourselves that fear is one indulgence we simply cannot afford.

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Nov 19 2014

Thankfulness: An Overlooked Way to Fight Sin

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
” Phil. 4:6

Paul knew that we cannot just stop being anxious. Worried thoughts have a way of creeping back into our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Therefore, he instructs us to replace worrying with ‘prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.’ When you are in a dispute, it is natural to dwell on your difficult circumstances or on the wrong things that the other person has done or may do to you. The best way to overcome this negative thinking is to replace it with more constructive thoughts, such as praising God for his grace through the gospel, thanking him for the many things he has already done for you in this and other situations, and praying for assistance in dealing with your current challenges (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).

When you remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past and ally yourself with him today, you will discover that your anxiety is being steadily replaced with confidence and trust (cf. Isa 26:3). In fact, recalling God’s faithfulness and thanking him for his deliverance in the past was one of the primary ways the Israelites overcame their fears when they faced overwhelming problems (e.g. Psalms 18, 46, 68, 77, 78, 105, 106, 107, 136; Neh. 9:5-37).

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 86-87.

 

Food for Thought

 

Thankfulness for what God has done for us is a very important–but often overlooked–key to overcoming sin in our lives. Anxiety (as Ken discusses above) is one common area of sin. In this case, thankfulness corrects our perspective, reminding us of God’s past faithfulness and his sure promise to care for us in the future.

The apostle Paul also prescribes thankfulness as the antidote for other sins with which we struggle. In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul exhorts us to put off the sins of our flesh, replacing them with behaviors that reflect our new nature in Christ. He specifically mentions foolish talk, crude joking, sexual immorality, covetousness and debauchery as behaviors that the Christian is to replace with thanksgiving (Eph 5:3-4; 18-20). So much sin is rooted in selfishness and pride; thankfulness loosens the grip that these sins have on our hearts.

The holiday season can be a time that induces a great deal of anxiety and conflict. In the United States, we enter this season with a day of remembering the many things for which we can be thankful. As you anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving next week, take a moment to consider ways that cultivating a thankful heart can help you to overcome sins that you have been battling or conflicts that you anticipate will arise.

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Nov 12 2014

Shaken, Not Stirred

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“I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let
your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14.27

Through Jesus you can also experience genuine peace within yourself. Internal peace is a sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest, and security. Although nearly everyone longs for this kind of peace, it eludes most people. Genuine internal peace cannot be directly obtained through our own efforts; it is a gift that God gives only to those who believe in his Son and obey his commands (I John 3:21-24). In other words, internal peace is a by-product of righteousness…

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46.
 

Food for Thought

When it comes to peace, whose definition are you using?

The world defines peace as the absence of conflict. No more war, no more injustice, no more ________ — you fill in the blank. Jesus defines peace as the presence of the Comforter, right in the middle of wars and rumors of wars. Remember? His peace is not as the world gives/defines.

As Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 14, notice his target: “Do not let your hearts…” He is speaking about their internals, if you will. Ken’s emphasis in this excerpt from The Peacemaker is also on an internal peace, not necessarily an external one. Miss that difference and you miss an important peace.

Jesus’ desire is that those hearts not be troubled. A little investigation into that word troubled and you’ll find that one of the primary meanings is to be stirred. Imagine a huge pitcher of sugar-induced, southern iced tea. Now picture mama’s hand coming up with a long wooden spoon, sticking it down in the middle of that pitcher, and swirling it around. That’s the image here. Jesus does not want their hearts to be stirred, as in something coming in and stirring them internally.

Jesus was well aware of what was to come, and he was trying to relay that to his friends. Phrases like, “the world will not see me anymore,” “the world will hate you,” and “anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God,” no doubt shook the disciples. It wasn’t just about to get hot in the kitchen; the whole house was about to burn down. The peace that Jesus was giving to his disciples was internal, not external. He wasn’t trying to keep them from being shaken, but rather from being stirred. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17.15). Placing our trust in him and his goodness and his righteousness allows us to “keep on keepin’ on” even when the earth’s foundations are shaking.

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Nov 05 2014

Eye Can See Clearly Now

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Jesus had much to say about resolving conflict. One of his most familiar commands is recorded in Matthew 7:3-5:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This passage is sometimes interpreted as a warning against talking with others about their faults. If you read it carefully, however, you will see that it does not forbid loving correction. Rather, it forbids premature and improper correction. Before you talk to others about their faults, Jesus wants you to face up to yours. Once you have dealt with your contribution to a conflict, you may approach others about theirs.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 79-80.

 

Food for Thought

Every couple prays for a full-term delivery; however, premature births are not an uncommon reality. In these situations, everything will be accelerated and great care will have to be exercised on the part of the parents, nurses, and doctors. Premature babies usually spend time in the intensive care unit, where constant monitoring and attention can be given, many times with a one to one ratio of nurse to child. It’s a fragile and often dangerous time. Most premature babies are fine, but some do not survive; everything took place before they were ready.

Ken’s use of the word premature in connection with Jesus’ words about conflict resolution is remarkable. Our efforts to “de-speck” our brothers or sisters before we “de-plank” ourselves create premature situations; something is happening before it should. It would be nice if there were roving spiritual-ICU teams who could help us in those moments to help carry the resolution to a healthy point, but that’s rare. It’s usually just two people, neither one seeing clearly, and both often too wounded to respond properly.

Conflict resolution always begins with the eye of the “I.” So upon reflection, how many of your attempts at conflict resolution could be described as premature? Did you ever get around to examining yourself? Did you get help from others during these delicate situations? And did these conflicts end in reconciliation, or sadly, did your relationship die due to the unfortunate complications of premature confrontation?

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Nov 04 2014

Couldn’t make it to Living a Legacy of Peace this year? Attend virtually!

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Living a Legacy of PeaceOur sessions are now available to participate in over at Peacemaker University for anyone who would like to experience our conference content but couldn’t be with us in Colorado Springs. The virtual conference experience is $199, however, we are offering financial aid for individuals who would like to attend.

Visit our conference registration page for more information about pricing and registration or email conference@peacemaker.net for information about our financial aid.

 

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Oct 29 2014

Left Ahead

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In this world you will have trouble.” John 16.33

The fact that God is good does not mean that he will insulate us from all suffering. Rather, it means that he will be with us in our suffering and accomplish good through it (Isa. 43:2-3). J.I. Packer writes, “We see that he leaves us in a world of sin to be tried, tested, belaboured by troubles that threaten to crush us–in order that we may glorify him by our patience under suffering, and in order that he may display the riches of his grace and call forth new praises from us as he constantly upholds and delivers us.”

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 63.

 

Food for Thought

 

Imagine this scenario: Jesus is ascending back to heaven as his disciples are looking on and he tells them, “I’ve got to go now. Hang in there, and best of luck.” Sound ludicrous? It would be almost impossible to continue following someone who left you like that. Even those of us who have blood type D (duty) would eventually need a transfusion of something; something to give us hope in this broken world. If that had been the case, then Jesus would have truly left us behind. But that’s not how the story goes.

He left us ahead; he told us what it was going to be like, no surprises (John, chapters 14-16):

The world will hate you.
They will persecute you.
They will put you out of the synagogue.
They will think that killing you is a service to God.

And he told us right where he would be:

I will be with you.

As we suffer conflicts, insults, and other hardships, we must remember that Christ is our Emmanuel–God with us! We press on through those valleys of the shadow of death, but we don’t press on alone; no, we have the presence of the living Christ guiding, encouraging, refining, strengthening, and protecting us all along the way. And as our faith matures, God does more and more of what God loves to do–display the riches of his grace and call forth new praises from us as he constantly upholds and delivers us.

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Oct 22 2014

The Gospel: The Key to Peacemaking

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The principles of biblical peacemaking have proven to be universally counter cultural. No matter what race or country we come from, none of us is naturally inclined to obey Jesus’ commands to love our enemies, confess our wrongs, gently correct others, submit to our church, and forgive those who hurt us. In fact, left to our own instincts, we are disposed to do just the opposite.

Fortunately, God has provided a way for us to overcome our innate weakness as peacemakers and learn to respond to conflict constructively. His solution is the gospel, the good news that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). God sent his Son to pay the price for our sins through his death and resurrection. When we believe this and put our trust in Jesus, God forgives all our sins. Through the gospel he also enables us to learn how to resist temptation, obey his commands, and live a life that honors him.

This wonderful news can radically change the way we respond to conflict. Through the gospel, the foundational G, the Lord enables us to live out the Four Gs of peacemaking. As we stand in awe of his matchless grace, we find more joy in glorifying God than in pursuing our own selfish ends. When we realize that God has mercy on those who confess their sins, our defensiveness lifts and we are able to admit our wrongs. As we accept and benefit from the way the gospel lovingly shows us our sin, we are inspired to gently correct and restore others who have done wrong. And as we rejoice in the liberating forgiveness of God, we are empowered to go and forgive others in the same way.

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 13-14.

 

Food for Thought

In the last paragraph above, four ways the Lord uses the gospel to enable us to live out the Four Gs of peacemaking are mentioned. Remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ should give us reason to restore those broken relationships in our lives. Reflecting on the great cost of our forgiveness should cause us to pursue reconciliation with others. As believers, we have been forgiven an enormous debt.

If you are facing conflict, God provides both the model and motivation for peacemaking through the gospel. Remember and reflect on who God is, what he is like, and what he is doing in your life–then ask him to use you to show his love to others.

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