Course Correction

When it comes to handling conflict, I can identify with the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  The problem could not be more clearly defined!  When conflict emerges, I think most of us desire to respond with compassion and grace, yet this often is not our initial reaction.

Our two most basic responses to conflict is to attack or escape. When we go on the attack, the tension almost always escalates into full-blown conflict.  This is especially true when we choose brutal honesty over speaking the truth in love, when we seek control over collaboration, or when we show disrespect to others rather than holding them in high regard. While we’ve all seen the damaging effects of these overtly hurtful actions, there is also great harm that occurs when escaping through silent disengagement.

If, like me, you struggle to make your first response your best response, the challenge is this: how can I more quickly recognize my need to go to the Father and do a personal heart check?  With the Spirit of God as our guide, He can help us to course correct and make a hasty return to The Path of a Peacemaker.

Final thoughts…                                                                                                                 .

Our peacemaking journey will be filled with ups and downs, trials and triumphs, huge strides forward and a few steps back. The Path of a Peacemaker isn’t traveled by those who are perfect, but by those who surrender their missteps to God, and with His strength and help, continue to move forward on the path. It isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Holding it Together

Why do some relationships survive – even thrive – when confronted with hardship, while others crumble and completely fall apart? That is a difficult question with no easy answers. By nature, most relationships are unique and complex, so it can be hard to put a finger on the exact reason for the success of one or the failure of another.

That said, there is one challenge that every meaningful relationship will experience at one time or another – that is tension! Whenever two people are confronted with a difference of opinion, difficult decision, or disappointment, it brings about tension – which is often tricky to navigate.

When I think of tension, I liken it to a rubber band. In order to accomplish the primary purpose of holding things together, a rubber band has to flex and stretch. Yet, if pulled too far apart, it can break and be rendered utterly useless in accomplishing the task for which it was designed.

The same holds true in relationships. Tension can hold together, even strengthen, a relationship if both parties will take great care to respond to it with grace and compassion; but an unhealthy reaction to tension can pull people apart, stretching them beyond their breaking point.

Final Thoughts…

Tension tests relationships, and when it surfaces, often times our initial reaction is not our best reaction. In those moments, we would do well to take to heart the words of the Greek philosopher Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

We all have to choose what we do with our tension, and our decisions often determine whether tension will be something that helps or hinders our relationships. As you evaluate your response to the tension in your relationships, I’d encourage you to take a moment to consider these questions: Is the tension in my relationships usually healthy or unhealthy? Is tension more likely to draw me closer to the other person or drive a deeper wedge between us?

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Snapshots, Steep Trails, and Sofas

Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to look through some old family photos and relive some of our favorite memories. In looking through mounds of pictures, I came across a photo from years ago. It was a snapshot of me with sons, Joshua and Shane, on an old sofa. Sounds like just an average photo for the family album, right? All I can say is that you may want to hold that thought until you’ve heard the rest of the story!

On one of our family dirt bike adventures, we traveled up a quiet trail in a mountainous area. The path was obscure, and much too rocky and steep for passenger vehicles. The further we traveled, the harder it was to escape the feeling that we were ascending to a place “where no man had gone before.”

When we finally arrived, the scenery was beautiful – breathtaking, really. Then, we observed something quite unexpected. Lo and behold, there was an old sofa sitting in that secluded place! How did it get there? We’ll never know, but it defied any notion that we had discovered something new or accomplished a feat no one else had achieved. To commemorate the moment, the boys and I piled on the sofa, clad in our dirt bike gear, while Terri snapped a picture for the photo album. To this day, this is one of our favorite family outings, and a memory I’ll always treasure.

As I reflect on this in the context of our peacemaking journey, I am reminded of the fact that sometimes the path we travel will be difficult. While our challenges are intensely personal, there’s no doubt that others have experienced the same kind of hurts, the same kind of challenges. Yet, somehow others have made it – and sometimes with heavier burdens in tow!

Final thoughts…

I know many of you have experienced deep conflict that has left your relationships in a state of disaster and your hearts in a state of brokenness. You’ve been traveling a difficult road to peace, and you may be worn down and tired. There may not be a sofa waiting for you along the steep trail, but there is an invitation from our compassionate Heavenly Father. He says to you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28, NIV). Take a seat at the feet of the Savior, and let Him renew your strength as you continue along The Path of a Peacemaker.

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Trusting Through Twists and Turns

Terri and I have lived in three mountain states, and have had the privilege of enjoying nature’s beauty at its very best. The big blue skies, the expansive lakes, the soaring mountains, and the shimmering aspen contrasted against the deep evergreen trees are all part of the breathtaking scenery that has become synonymous with these beautiful places we have called home.

Sometimes as I look up at the mountains, I am reminded of those times in my life that could be called “mountain top experiences.” I recall those moments when I have felt closest to God, or when I have seen His blessings or experienced tremendous victories as a result of the work He has done in my life.

Yet, for anyone who has traveled up the side of a mountain, you know the journey to the top is steep, and the narrow paths are filled with many twists and turns. The same has been true in my life and peacemaking journey. Many times, the trip to the top, while filled with great joy and blessing, has required a lot of effort and posed tremendous challenges, too.

Whether your peacemaking journey has been relatively easy, or has required much more patience and perseverance, the best way to travel it is to let the Savior lead the way: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Final thoughts…

If you feel that you’ve faithfully walked the path of peace, yet find that your relational issues are still overwhelming, don’t despair. The God who is faithful to meet your needs in every other area of life, knows the road behind you and the twists and turns on the path just ahead. So, trust Him. He’s got this – and He’s got you.

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So You’re Lost – What Now?

Through the years, I have experienced times when I’ve done my best to follow the road map to peace, yet found myself somewhere altogether different than my planned destination. In those moments when my efforts to reconcile a relationship have led me to a place other than peace, sometimes my heart has been filled with so much angst and so many questions: Where am I? How did I get here? What now?

 If ever you find yourself lost or disoriented on the path to peace, you have two basic choices – take action or do nothing at all. Sadly, when overcome by frustration or fear of continued failure, sometimes we make the latter choice.

When we find ourselves in this situation, ironically enough, the first step forward often begins with a giant step back. It means starting over at the beginning, taking time to ascend to the Father, reflect on our role in the situation, and trying to connect once more with our brother or sister. The purpose in all of this is to seek God’s heart, evaluate our situation, and strive to understand: What have I missed? What have I learned that I didn’t know before? What new healthy and unhealthy tensions have been uncovered in the peacemaking process?

 Final thoughts…

 At one time or another, most of us have allowed failure, or our fear of failure, to negatively impact our relationships and reconciliation efforts. In some cases, if at first we don’t succeed, we refuse to try again. To be sure, we will all experience some stumbling and missteps in our journey to peace. If we are wise, we won’t let these setbacks deter us from our continued pursuit of peace with God and our fellow man.

If you find yourself lost – or maybe just a little stuck – in your peacemaking journey, I urge you to not let the failures of the past define your future. Instead, follow the footsteps of the One who walked a difficult road to reconcile your heart back to His own.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Enjoying the Journey

In looking back on the past year, I have contemplated some successes and shortcomings I’ve experienced while traveling the path to which God has called me. Some moments have been enjoyable to relive, while others leave me longing for a chance to go back and make a different decision – a better choice. Perhaps you can relate.

As a peacemaker, I’ve encountered my fair share of “bumps in the road.” To be sure, there have been moments when I’ve been tempted to take short cuts or turn back. Yet, whenever I stay the course, I find that beauty and blessing often accompanies me along the path of peace.

In reflecting on my journey, I am reminded of my years as a corporate leader with Harley-Davidson. At one point in time, there were those within the leadership team who thought we needed to produce faster motorcycles to “keep up” with other brands on the market. In the midst of these discussions, a sage old motorcycle rider and business man proclaimed, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” He went on to say, “If getting there were all that mattered we would take the fastest motorcycle and ride the fastest route to get to our destination. But often times, the slower or longer route will provide more beauty, more opportunity for experience, memories, learning, and enjoyment.”

The same is true as we walk along the Path of a Peacemaker. There’s no doubt that The Path will present challenges. Yet, the richest lessons are often learned when we’ll take the time to slow down and savor the journey. While it’s tempting to focus solely on the destination (peace), if we don’t rush we’ll find that we have greater opportunities to experience the growth, fellowship, and wisdom that come from exercising humility, living out our faith, and extending and receiving grace. It is rewarding to reach a place of peace, but let’s not forget to enjoy the journey as together we walk The Path of a Peacemaker.

Final Thoughts…

Before another year slips away, I’d encourage you to take time to reflect on what God has done in your peacemaking pilgrimage. What obstacles have you faced? What lessons have you learned? Whose lives did you touch – and whose lives touched yours? What joys did you experience along the way? I urge you to share your story with a friend, and encourage one another with the blessings you’ve experienced in the peacemaking journey!

As we continue to travel The Path together, perhaps you’d consider helping to bring others along with us.Your donation to Peacemaker Ministries makes this possible. If you are willing, I ask you to prayerfully consider making a financial gift to the ministry as we move ahead in 2016.

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More Blessed to Give?

The Gospel is profound, yet amazingly simple. It demonstrates the Father’s willingness to sacrifice His Son as the price for our salvation – a decision that was incredibly costly, yet freely offered to all.

The beauty of the Father’s plan is that He not only rescues us from a path of waywardness and destruction, but He also forgives and lovingly restores us into a meaningful relationship with Him. Consider the words of Isaiah: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more,” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV – emphasis mine).

Since you and I have so much to gain from the Father’s forgiveness, it amazes me to think that He forgives us for His own benefit. Yet, He clearly delights in calling us His children, and never ceases to lavish His love on us (I John 3:1).

 Final Thoughts…

It couldn’t have been easy for the Father to send His Son to bear the weight of our sin, and still today, offering grace isn’t always a simple choice. Yet, His example reminds us that forgiveness is not just best for the one who is forgiven. It is best for the one who forgives.

Before signing off, I leave you with this question: when it comes to forgiveness, is it more blessed to give than to receive? I’ll let you decide. All I know for sure is that both the giver and the receiver are immensely blessed by this incredible gift.

Up Ahead on “The Path”

Next week, I will close out the year with some reflections about The Path we have traveled over the past several months. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!

On behalf of Peacemaker Ministries, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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Are We There Yet?

With so many families and loved ones being separated by the miles, sometimes the “season to be jolly” is also the season for a road trip. Many a weary holiday traveler, especially of the younger variety, are quick to ask – every five minutes or so – this one burning question: are we there yet?

As adults we may be much older and wiser, yet when it comes to the difficult journey to forgiveness, we wrestle with the same kinds of questions. Are we there yet? Have we really forgiven? What signs tell us that we are close?

Especially when the hurt is deep, it can be hard to go beyond the pain of the past and move forward in forgiveness. Yet, we are blessed to experience the perfect example of redemptive love extended by our Heavenly Father: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us, (Psalm 103:11-12, NIV).

Final Thoughts…

To be sure, there are times when the journey of a peacemaker is long and filled with difficulty. We may even be tempted to abandon the pursuit of our final destination – peace. In those moments, I pray that the Father will give us the grace to forgive others as He has forgiven us, removing the transgressions of others “as far as the east is from the west.” I’m not there quite yet, but I thank God for you, my traveling companions, as together we continue along The Path of a Peacemaker.

Up Ahead on “The Path”

Next week, we will continue our reflections on how the story of forgiveness unfolds in our lives. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!

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Gift Wrapped Grace

In this Advent season, the trappings of the holidays can be overwhelming. There are trees to be trimmed, lights to be hung, and gifts to be bought and wrapped. Even as we sing Christmas carols which cheerfully proclaim the birth of the newborn king, sadly, the amazing story of redemption sometimes gets lost in the hubbub of the holidays.

Lest we forget, the reality is that without the cradle, there could be no cross. Without a compassionate Father willing to sacrifice His only Son, there could be no salvation from sin. Without His Son, Jesus, being willing to carry out the Father’s plan, we could not fully know the freedom that comes through forgiveness.

May we never forget that the same gift of grace, Who came wrapped in swaddling clothes, offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice so that we could experience what it means to be truly loved and forgiven. Throughout this season, and all year long, may we offer the gift of grace to others, “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave [us],” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV).

Up Ahead on “The Path”

Next week, we will reflect on the forgiveness our Heavenly Father has extended to us. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!

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Frequent Forgiveness

As I read Scripture, I am struck by Peter’s boldness and willingness to vocalize some of the thoughts and questions that I may have expressed to Jesus if I had been numbered among His twelve disciples. In one such candid and memorable moment, Peter asked Jesus this probing question: ‘“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”’ (Matt. 18:21, NIV).

Jesus shattered Peter’s relatively low expectations with this poignant response: ‘“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matt. 18:22, NIV). Jesus wanted Peter to see the expansive nature of authentic forgiveness, which does not gain any merit in numeric quantification, but rather is an outflow of a heart transformed by the Savior.

Especially when we are deeply wounded, offering the gift of grace is a choice that may need to be made moment by moment and day by day. Rather than forgiveness being a one-time event, it may take a radical “seventy-seven times” commitment to combat any underlying resentment that threatens the ongoing process of reconciliation and peace.

Final Thoughts…

A daily commitment to love others through the extension of grace can be a challenge. To be sure, there are times when we all fall short in this endeavor. Yet, if we pursue the Lord and continuously strive toward this end, we reduce the opportunity for a painful “root of bitterness” (Heb. 12:15) to take hold in our lives.

Have you tried to forgive someone for a past offense, but find yourself still struggling to put resentment and bitterness behind you? I encourage you to seek the Father’s heart, then consider this: Have I completely surrendered to God my hurt over this situation? Am I willing to grant forgiveness daily – or as often as needed – to help me get past the resentment and bitterness that may be growing in my heart?

Up Ahead on “The Path”

Next week, we will continue to reflect on how to move forward in forgiveness. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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