Mar 25 2015

Amazing Grace

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 “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Acts 15:11

“When you realize that you can’t ultimately forgive in your own strength – that only God can give you the desire and ability to truly forgive other’s sins – then you will find the strength you need to give others the amazing gift of forgiveness and experience reconciled relationships.”

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 98
 

One of the most remarkable events in all of history occurred when grace came to us by way of God’s one and only son, Jesus. He made His entrance into the world as a helpless infant, exchanged the grandeur of heaven for a humble birth in a lowly stable, and left streets of gold to walk these dusty roads.

In His final days, His recognition as a “king” earned Him a crown of gnarly, twisted thorns instead one made of fine ornaments and jewels. There was no coronation for the King of Kings. Instead, He endured a crucifixion at the hands of the very people He was dying to save. In the midst of His suffering on the cross for the sins of all humanity, in agony He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Food for Thought

This kind of grace is impossible – that’s why it is so amazing. In those moments when you’re finding someone too hard to forgive, you don’t have to live out this grace on your own – the One who so generously forgave you can help you forgive.

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Mar 18 2015

Settling the Score

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“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge.” Romans 12:17-19a

“When it comes to granting forgiveness, God calls us to what feels like an outrageously high standard. Fortunately, he also gives us the grace and guidance we need to forgive others as he has forgiven us.”                                                                                                                                                                                                
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 87
 

The offense was egregious. The result was deep pain and inexplicable devastation. No explanation or extenuating circumstance could ever rise to the level of excusing what happened. It was wrong – enough said.

Perhaps you’ve been there. In just one moment, or series of moments, the unwanted intrusion of injustice, betrayal, gossip, lies, deceit, or slander enters your world, shattering hearts and devastating relationships. In those trying times, what do you do? Hold a grudge? Get even? Hurt the one that hurt you?

Food for Thought

When dealing with an offense, there’s more than one way to settle the score. You can seek retribution or choose forgiveness.

Retribution is easy. Forgiveness is hard. Just look to the cross. It is a painful, yet beautiful reminder of the price our Savior was willing to pay to reconcile us to Himself. As children of God, we are compelled to follow His example of compassion and grace.

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Mar 11 2015

Forget or Forego?

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“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Forgiveness isn’t a matter of whether we forget, but of how we remember.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 89

Just forgive and forget – sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, though, this is hard if not impossible to do. In the same way that moments of crisis leave an indelible impression in your life, a seriously injured relationship isn’t something you are likely to forget.

While forgiveness suggests a pro-active decision to pardon an offense, forgetting implies passivity and a lack of thought or intent. Forgiveness should not be contingent upon your ability to forget. Instead, it should be tied to your deliberate choice to forego. Forego rehearsing the offense over and over again in your own mind or with others. Forego allowing the process of reconciliation to evolve into perpetual rounds of retribution. And, when appropriate, forego allowing the offense to be a barrier to a renewed relationship.

Food for Thought

The phrasing you choose to describe the progression of forgiveness is not nearly as important as being intentional about leaving the past in the past and moving forward in a spirit of grace and compassion. It won’t be easy, but it is possible with the help of the One who has so graciously forgiven you.

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Mar 04 2015

Forgiveness in a Word

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“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

Forgiveness is a radical decision not to hold an offense against the offender…  forgiveness is undeserved and can’t be earned.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 89
 

If you had just one word to describe forgiveness, what would it be? In the same way that a picture can’t possibly capture the expansive greatness and wonder of the Grand Canyon, there are few if any words that on their own capture the beauty found in the extension of grace through forgiveness.

To forgive is to pardon, to set free, to be set free. It is to release another from guilt, and to be released from the heavy burden of holding a grudge. Forgiveness is extending mercy, when none is due. It is setting aside the right to be right, all the while embracing the attributes of humility, kindness, and compassion.

Food for Thought

The complications and complexities of forgiveness are hard to sum up into one word; but, it can be summed up in one example – His name is Jesus. His life was the very essence of grace and forgiveness. He is our model – and, because we have been freely forgiven, we are free to forgive.

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Feb 25 2015

Making Up is Hard to Do

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“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness is a powerful act that opens up the possibility of a relationship being fully healed from the pain of conflict. Forgiveness is how you move from merely solving a problem to repairing your relationship. It’s the means of finding lasting solutions and enduring peace.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 86-87.
 

If you’ve ever come alongside friends who have gone through the painful journey of divorce, or if you’ve been there yourself, you know that there are few things as challenging as the dissolution of a marriage. And while the road to restoring a relationship can reap lasting rewards, it can be challenging, too.

For the one who needs to right a wrong, it may be difficult to come to a place of humility and own the mistakes of the past, while the one asked to extend forgiveness must find a way to let go of the pain and allow God to perform a work of healing. This requires an act of selflessness and total surrender, which is never easy. But, when both partners are willing to walk the Biblical path of reconciliation, total forgiveness and healing in marriage is possible.

Food for Thought

Do you find yourself struggling in your relationship with your spouse? Or, do you know someone who needs help for their marriage? While making up is hard to do, there is help. Connect with Peacemaker Ministries, and we’ll do all that we can to get you on the road to reconciliation.

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Feb 18 2015

When Winning Matters

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“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

People use attack responses when they are more interested in winning a conflict than in preserving a relationship. 
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 39.
 

Some people just have to have the last word. Period. They not only want to stand their ground – they want to be the last one standing. They want to be right, and even more importantly, they want to win.

In marriage, often times, the one who wins the argument loses more than what is gained. In some cases, the respect, affection, and trust in the relationship may be temporarily or permanently impacted – which is a pretty high price to pay for scoring big points in a fight.

Food for Thought

The next time you get caught in a conflict with your spouse, pause a moment to reflect on what is more important. Is it winning the argument or the heart of your spouse? Putting your marriage first is the best choice, and can be achieved by demonstrating the same grace and forgiveness that Christ has extended to you.

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Feb 11 2015

Love Never Fails

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“Love never fails…” I Corinthians 13:8a

[When it comes to conflict]… Deliberate, focused love is the ultimate weapon. Instead of reacting spitefully to those who mistreat you, you can discern their deepest needs and do everything you can to meet those needs.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 106.
 

Have you ever bought a spill-proof container that started leaking like a sieve? Or, maybe you decided to try that “fool-proof” diet which turned out to be quite effective in moving the numbers on the scale… in the wrong direction! The products we buy and the plans we try don’t work perfectly every time. It’s disappointing, but not totally unexpected. It’s just life!

Even though we know that total perfection is unobtainable, there are some who have come to expect it in marriage. And while I Corinthians 13 reminds us that “love never fails,” we tend to overlook one very important fact: sometimes people do. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us to have the kind of love that reveals patience, kindness, selflessness and forgiveness.

Food for Thought

When you or your spouse most need an extension of grace and forgiveness, that tends to be the exact moment when it is least deserved. If both of you were perfect, there would be no need for the kind of love that keeps no record of wrong (I Cor. 13:5c). Extending grace to your spouse, even when it is hard, is a demonstration of love that never fails. It’s not always the easy choice, but it is the right one!

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Feb 04 2015

Igniting the Spark

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“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10

 
People are different and want different things. That’s often the SPARK of conflict…
The issue isn’t that we’re different; it’s what we do with our disagreements.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict
by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 18.

 

The spark of passionate love is essential to a thriving marriage. But, there is another spark that can enter into the relationship that can be quite damaging – an ongoing obsession with pacifying the selfish desires of the heart. Once ignited, this often results in inflammatory words, inconsiderate actions, and a host of other hurtful actions.

No marriage is free from conflict. Even when both a husband and wife make conscientious efforts to live at peace with one another, the dangerous “sparks” of selfishness flare up from time to time. Quickly snuffing them out and restoring the relationship is important to fanning the flame of love in marriage and living in a harmonious home.

Food for Thought

Which kind of “sparks” do you experience most often in your marriage? What are you doing to restore relationship after selfish “sparks” ignite?

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Jan 28 2015

Holy Halitosis?

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And with that he breathed on them and
said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20.22

Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 11.

 

Food for Thought

 

When it comes to the believer’s breath on others, it’s usually one of two aromas — life or death. What does your breath smell like?

Have you ever been around someone with halitosis (bad breath)? Unless you have the patience of Job, most of us back up a little and suddenly remember an urgent appointment. Those with Job’s fortitude stick it out, digging around in their pockets for a mint. Now consider the phrase, holy halitosis. Have you ever been around someone with that? Everything from their denominational wardrobe to their Christian reading list screams HOLINESS. But when they open their mouths, it’s anything but grace they breathe; in fact, it’s usually some variation on the theme of condemnation.

Halitosis, of the natural kind, is usually connected in some way to what we’re taking in. A steady diet of onions or feta cheese and voila! — bad breath. A similar principle applies to the spiritual realm. As the author above writes, we must draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ. Drawing in, or breathing in, Christ’s goodness fills our spiritual lungs with the breath of Holy Spirit filled, lifesaving grace. Then our tanks are full, so to speak, to breathe out that same grace on and in the lives of others.

We’re as much peacebreathers as we are peacemakers. There’s a rhythm there as ancient as creation itself. Inhale and exhale. Breathe in and breathe out. Grace in and grace out. Do a little spiritual diagnosis on yourself, first, and then on others around you. If you find that you rarely breathe grace, it’s a red flag that you’re not taking any in. The same goes for people around you. The only difference is that if it’s you, then some time feasting on the riches of God’s grace is in order. Take. Eat. If it’s your neighbor, then you may be the vessel that God wants to use to bring grace and peace to a troubled soul, marriage, or household. Breathe on us, breath of God!

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Jan 21 2015

The Maturity in Being Winsome

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If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18:15

We need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. Although that approach will be appropriate in some situations, we should never do it automatically. Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way to approach a particular person at a particular time and to open the way for genuine reconciliation.

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 145.

 

Food For Thought

 

When it says above, “Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way…” the author used the word winsome. Do you know what that word means?

The dictionary defines it this way: Generally pleasing and engaging, often because of a childlike charm and innocence.

Most of us are not winsome. When we grew up and put away childish things, we unfortunately put away the childlike as well. So it’s all the more important for us to ask God to guide us in the paths of winsomeness as we seek reconciliation–particularly when we are approaching others to point out their contribution to a conflict.

It’s hard to refuse the little girl selling those cookies door to door, isn’t it? Her charm and innocence is pleasing and engaging. These traits almost always guarantee someone opening the front door and listening to what she has to say. So let us pray for winsome hearts as we approach the closed doors between others and ourselves. And may those doors stay open, leading to genuine reconciliation as the Father guides us in making peace.

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