Pressing Pause

I don’t know about you, but if I were offered the chance to try remote-controlled living for just a day, I think I’d have to put it to the test. I would replay my happiest moments over and over again, forward through unpleasant encounters, and slow down the moments that went by too fast. But, there’s something else I think would come in pretty handy, too – the ability to pause life at the press of a button.

In the story of Cain and Abel, it occurred to me that Cain might have benefited from a nice long pause, too. We all know the story. After these two brothers offered their sacrifices to God, Abel’s offering was accepted. Cain’s was rejected. As a result, Cain became jealous and angry… very angry.

As Cain’s anger escalated, the Lord gently came to him and reasoned with him: “‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him,” (Genesis 4:6-8, NIV).

Rather than heeding the Lord’s warning, Cain turned his resentment and anger into revenge – and it seems he did so without a moment of hesitation. Cain acted both on impulse and on anger, which proved to be a destructive combination. It often is for us, too.

Final Thoughts…

Anger is a powerful emotion, and when confronted by it, we can either control it or be controlled by it. If we choose the latter, the warning from the Spirit of God is unmistakable: sin is crouching at our door.

Unfortunately, when it comes to processing our anger, we don’t have the luxury of pressing pause and stopping the madness. Whenever we face disappointment, hurt, or rejection, many of us instinctively want to lash out and hurt the one who hurt us.  Even though this is often our initial response, there is a better way.

Rather than acting on our anger or trying to suppress it, we can take it to our Father who can help us process through it. We can look deep into our own hearts, and address the issues hidden deep inside of us. When we do, by the grace of God we can come to a place where we no longer aim to hurt, but to heal – where we no longer seek revenge, but to restore the relationship. This isn’t always the easier choice, but it is the better one. Press on. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Did God Really Say…

Some questions are meant to clarify. Others are meant to confuse. If you’re looking for an example of the latter, search no further than the very first question ever asked. It is none other than the serpent’s deceptive and misleading question to Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b).

The purpose of this question was not to enlighten. It was to deceive. It wasn’t to help the first couple reflect on what God said. It was to twist God’s words and cast doubt on His credibility.

Not surprisingly, the Adversary of our souls continues to use the same tactic to this day. Hoping to drive a wedge in our relationship with God, he approaches us during moments of vulnerability and sows seeds of doubt. If he can cause us to question and disbelieve the very words of God, he can more craftily entice us to abandon our deeply held convictions and act on our impulses instead.  This only serves to invite unnecessary heartache and strife into our relationships.

Final thoughts…

Our Adversary would like nothing more than to create distance in our relationships and keep us in a constant state of conflict. As believers, we must vigilantly guard our hearts against the seeds of doubt he deliberately tries to sow, lest those difficult questions and doubts bring us to the point where our faith in God is shaky… maybe even shattered.

Perhaps you are wrestling through tough questions about God’s trustworthiness and credibility, and are beginning to wonder: “Did God really say….”  If this describes where you are in your journey, the Father desires to bridge the gap and bring you close to Himself again. Will you open your heart to Him? Will you allow Him to restore your soul? The journey to healing and renewed trust begins with a single step. Go to the Father. Walk the Path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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The Blame Game

He started it. It’s all her fault. This would have never happened if you hadn’t… If you’ve ever uttered words like these before, you’ve played the game. There are countless ways to play, and lots of ways to score big points, but no good way to win. It’s called “the blame game.”

The game made its debut on a day when life couldn’t have been better, sweeter, or more peaceful. Yet, despite the beauty of their home in the garden, the first couple was seduced by Satan and took a detrimental step into the very thing that each one of us battle every day – sin.

Adam and Eve listened to an unfamiliar voice, instead of the voice of their Maker. They trusted themselves and their own judgment, rather than trusting the One who gave them life and breath. Then, when their Creator confronted them, it was game time: “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it,’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate,”’ (Genesis 3:12, NIV).

It’s been thousands of years since this incident occurred, but little has changed. When confronted with an unpleasant or inconvenient truth, generally our default reaction is to point fingers, cry foul, or shift blame to whomever or whatever comes to mind. While some might lean toward “the-devil-made-me-do-it” argument made popular by Eve, still others, like Adam, will blame the other person, or even subtly imply that God had something to do with their failures.

 Final thoughts…

Whenever conflict enters our space, sometimes our initial tendency is to play the blame game – a game in which, sadly, no one wins. Too often, it seems our first reaction isn’t our best. Yet, if we’ll quiet our hearts and invite our Heavenly Father into the moment, it gets easier to make the counter-intuitive choice to stop the noise in our heads and manage the visceral responses.

It’s when we look to our Savior, who stood in our place and took the blame for our own sins, that we can more clearly reflect on and take responsibility for the condition of our own hearts – our own actions. After that, we can reach out to others and make things right again.

Want to live at peace with others? Then the blame game is not for you. The alternative isn’t always easy, but it is simple. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Party Protester

It was a joyous occasion, and everyone should have been celebrating. Yet, instead of sharing in the laughter, hugs, and happy tears, something altogether different was taking place in the heart of the prodigal’s older brother.

After learning about the massive party to celebrate his brother’s homecoming, “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:28-30, NIV)

As I read the story of the prodigal from the perspective of the older brother, I’ve tried to put myself in his shoes. If I were in his place, I think I would have resented my younger brother’s negligence, abandonment, immorality, and frivolous ways. But, would I have been indignant over his homecoming? Would I have refused my father’s urging to join the party? Would I have accused my father of treating me unfairly?

In order to answer those questions honestly, I have to look at this story against the backdrop of my own life. Sadly, I can point to occasions when I would have to answer “yes” to each question. Whether openly or privately, there have been times when I have been skeptical of a repentant heart. Times when I have resisted the Father’s urging to be a part of the reconciliation process. Times when I have been exclusively preoccupied with wanting what is right, just, and fair.

Final Thoughts…

While the prodigal’s father exemplifies what it is to walk The Path of a Peacemaker, the older brother illustrates what it means to take a different route. His choices reflect a truth I’ve stated many times before– our first response to conflict usually isn’t our best response.

If reconciliation is an option for a troubled relationship, yet like the older brother, you’d rather be a party protestor than choose the path to peace, please know that I don’t offer words of condemnation. Instead, I offer words of hope. The Father is still urging you to make a different choice. With His help, you can move in a new direction. Take the first step. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Defining Moments

We all have defining moments – snippets in time that determine whether the trajectory of a dream, a pursuit, a job, or a relationship will change for the better or for the worse.  Our defining moments are often accompanied by tough choices, much like the ones the prodigal’s father had to make the day his wayward son returned home.

Others in this father’s position might have chosen rejection, retaliation, retribution, or a variety of other ill-advised responses. Yet, motivated by his desire to restore the relationship with his son, this father welcomed home his long-lost son with open arms.

Just imagine the impact of that moment! Instead of a cold shoulder, the prodigal was wrapped in a warm embrace. Instead of justice, he received mercy. Instead of a lecture, he experienced love.

This defining moment between the prodigal and his father was marked by grace. The father didn’t focus on the past. He focused on the future. He didn’t dwell on what was lost. He focused on what he had gained – his dear son.

This father’s response to his son was motivated by love – the kind of love described here: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV)

Final thoughts…

Are you facing some defining moments in your relationships? Go to the Father. Examine your heart.  Then ask yourself these questions:  What do I want most?  Retribution?  Reimbursement?  Revenge? A restored relationship? 

It won’t always be easy to choose the latter, but by God’s grace, it is possible. The journey to peace may be filled with great challenges, but with even greater rewards. Together, let’s walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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A Repentant Heart

Many stories have been told, many songs have been sung, and many sermons have been preached about the prodigal son and his wayward heart (Luke 15:11-32). Regrettably, this young man abandoned his father, his brother, his home, his responsibilities, and his values. Yet, for all his mistakes and misjudgments, he eventually demonstrated a quality that is much less common – a repentant heart.

I do not aspire to this young man’s early rebellious and foolhardy choices, and I certainly hope that I never have to face the proverbial prospect of sharing slop with pigs before I repent. Still, sometimes I wonder how close I have come to a similar scenario. How many times, in my stubbornness and pride, have I been willing to do anything and everything but to right a wrong?

If you’re like me, then you know it’s not easy to admit to being the one who blew it, who overreacted, who overstepped the boundaries. It’s often harder still to make things right – first with God, and then with the brother or sister whom we have offended.

I think most of us would admit that, at one time or another, we have fallen short. We have failed. The good news is that, like the prodigal, our final journey does not have to take us far from home. Instead, we can make the choice to take the path of humility and repentance that leads us home… to the Father, to the fellowship of loved ones, to forgiveness.

Dealing with lingering relational strife? Struggling with regrets? The prodigal found the path to peace. We can too. Walk the path.

Up ahead on the Path…

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the prodigal’s father and older brother, and take time to reflect on some important questions. What motivates us to forgive? What stands in our way? As always, I hope you’ll keep reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!

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From Obscure to Obvious

If you’ve ever searched your home from top to bottom for something, there’s nothing more aggravating than finding that what you’d been desperately searching for was right in front of you the whole time. I don’t know about you, but this has happened to me – and on more occasions than I care to admit!

It’s strange, but there are times when that which should be obvious becomes oddly obscure. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been following the two men on the road to Emmaus who encountered Jesus along the way. As they reflected on His gruesome death and unusual disappearance, Jesus walked and talked with them, explaining the Scripture and expounding what the prophets had foretold concerning His own death and resurrection.

Later, Jesus and his traveling companions sat down to eat a meal. Taking the bread, “…[Jesus] gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were open and they recognized him…” (Luke 24:30b-31a), NIV.

As the two travelers took time to share a meal with the Savior, the words of Scripture penetrated their hearts, and their eyes were open. That which had been so confounding, was now crystal clear. Jesus was the fulfillment of all the prophets had declared in Scripture. He was their Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.

Final thoughts…

So many times when our hearts and minds are encumbered by confusion or the cloud of conflict, the most apparent solutions are often hidden from our view. Yet, when we make our first priority spending time with our Savior, opening the Word, seeking the Father’s heart, and listening to the Spirit’s voice, many times we’ll find that our understanding of God’s guidance in these circumstances can move from obscure to obvious.

As you walk the path to peace in your relationships, I urge you to ask the Lord to help you move forward with your eyes wide open. Call on Him to help you see things the way He sees them – to expound His Word in your heart and to give guidance to your steps. As you do, I believe that you will gain His wisdom and insight as you walk the path.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you,” (James 1:5, NIV).

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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What Things?

If God knows the past, the present, and the future, what things do we need to tell Him?  If He knows us better than we know ourselves, why take everything to Him in prayer?

As we process through those questions, let’s go back a few thousand years and rejoin the two men who traveled that renowned road to Emmaus.  As they walked and talked, their conversation was consumed by the extraordinary events surrounding the death of Jesus and the mysterious disappearance of His body from the tomb.

When Jesus joined these men on the way, He asked them to tell Him about what they were discussing.  Confounded by Jesus’ inquiry, one replied, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:18b, NIV)

In response, Jesus offered this one simple question, “What things?” (Luke 24:19a, NIV). Jesus wasn’t after information.  He didn’t need it.  Instead, He desired relationship.  He wanted to gain their trust. He longed to help them process what was going on in their lives.

Final thoughts…

Still today, Jesus joins us in our journey. As we walk and talk with others, He is eager to be more than a spectator to what is taking place in our lives.  Instead, He wants to be invited into our conversations, to hear our questions, to speak into our circumstances.  Whether we are facing triumphs or trials, the Spirit of God gently whispers to our hearts, “What things?” 

Is there something on your heart? Don’t hold back. Tell the Lord about your troubles. Invite Him into your moments of celebration.  Allow Him to comfort your heart in your times of sorrow.

Through the conflict and chaos of life, the One who sees you at your best and loves you at your worst, is eager to make the journey with you. Instead of looking back, look up. He will be with you as you walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Where is Jesus in My Journey?

When our lives are complicated by conflict, confusion, and chaos, sometimes it can be hard to see where God is in all of it. Even though we believe that He loves us and will never leave or forsake us, sometimes we don’t sense His presence in our lives.

If you’re struggling to see Jesus in your journey, as I have at times, let me take you back to the occasion when two of Christ’s followers were walking the road to Emmaus. It was just three days after the death of Jesus, and Cleopas and his companion were discussing all that had taken place… then, “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him, (Luke 24:15-16, NIV).

Given all these men had been through, I can only imagine how distressed and distraught their hearts must have been! Yet, in the midst of some of the most challenging moments they’d ever faced, Jesus was walking right beside them, and they didn’t even know it.

Final thoughts…

As I reflect on this profound and compelling story, my mind is filled with so many questions. How many times have I failed to see Jesus walking the journey with me? How many times has He lovingly ministered to me while I was unaware?

Just as with Jesus’ followers, in the midst of the chaos and confusion, sometimes we fail to see that the Savior is walking the journey with us. When facing relational tension or conflict, we can be sure that the One who has rescued us won’t abandon us. The One who loves us, will never leave us. In our darkest hours, deepest struggles, and most difficult conflicts – we may not always see Him, but He is right beside us. Trust that He is there, dear friend. Look to Him. Then, continue to walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Holding Hope

Have you ever walked through a personal or relational struggle in which it was all you could do to put one foot in front of the other? I know I have. It’s not an easy place to be. Whether you’ve walked through the valley of death, disappointment, or discouragement, sometimes it is hard to hold onto the one very powerful thing that keeps you going – hope.

As I reflect on Christ’s followers after His crucifixion, I can only imagine how troubled their hearts must have been – how heavily they were weighed down with sorrow and despair. The One in whom they had placed all their hopes and dreams was dead… buried… gone. Hopeless and heartbroken, they grieved their loss. It seemed their journey with Christ had come to a tragic end.

Thankfully, their story didn’t end there. At the cross, they tasted defeat. At the empty tomb, they experienced the risen Savior – the One who conquered death and the grave!

Final thoughts…

Last week, I urged you to stand at the foot of the cross and gaze on the grace that was so lovingly lavished on us. Today, I urge you to pause at the empty tomb and open your heart to hope. Hope that what the enemy intends for evil, God intends for good. Hope that He can make beauty out of ashes. Hope that Christ can be our all in all.

For some of us dealing with troubled relationships, or difficulties of any kind, it may feel as though hope has died – but it can live again. As we, by God’s grace, keep putting one foot in front of the other, let’s hold on to the hope that, because He lives, we can face whatever tomorrow holds. Don’t lose heart, my friend. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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