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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Oct 15 2014

Play Ball!

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If it’s possible… live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

There are three dimensions to the peace that God offers to us through Christ: peace with God, peace with one another, and peace within ourselves. Many people care little about their relationships with God and other people, but they still want peace within themselves. As you will see, it is impossible to know genuine internal peace unless you also pursue peace with God and others.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 44.

 

Food for Thought

 

As a peacemaker, are you covering your bases?

The batter takes his stance. The pitcher winds up and throws. The batter swings and hits the ball, and immediately runs to… that’s right — first base. Unless you’re watching a bunch of folks goofing off or a really young T-ball team, no batter is going to hit and then run to second base. That’s just not how the game is played. You run to first, then to second, and then on to third; you’ve got to cover all three bases.

Ken reminds us of the three peace bases for the followers of Christ: peace with God, peace with one another, and peace within ourselves. As believers we’ve got to cover all three bases — that’s how the Christian life is lived. Meditate for a few minutes on the following Scripture verses:

Peace with God: Rom. 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with others: 1 Thess. 5:13 “Live in peace with each other.”
Peace with self: Col. 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

And once you’ve covered the three bases, you get to run… that’s right — HOME!

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Oct 13 2014

Unintended Pharisees and Leaf Raking

Ed Stetzer has a great post over at The Exchange that really resonated with some issues that I find myself dealing with and I thought it’d be a good thing to share a bit here:

Along the way I would start a Bible study while in high school, but it sometimes seemed that no one was as committed to it as I was. By college, I was a youth pastor, and still felt more committed to the process than everyone else. This frustration continued into pastoral ministry.

As I moved into roles where I trained other pastors, I found that I was not alone in my frustration. Many pastors feel the same way.

The reality is that the Pharisaical spirit often hides in fields of high expectations, and we pastors are often the source of those expectations.

As pastors and church leaders in general, we are often disappointed with the spiritual journey of many people in our care. We don’t understand why they don’t take the faith as seriously as we do. We often get to thinking that they do not truly want to grow in Christ.

“Why? Why was no one else as committed as I was?” we utter in frustration.

At this point we must stop, look in the mirror, and ask ourselves, “Wait… Why was I putting myself above others, wondering why they weren’t measuring up to my standard of passion and intensity in discipleship?”

and later:

I wonder how Jesus dealt with the issue—seeing their lack of commitment so evident among his disciples. And, perhaps that is the answer. After all, while we are comparing ourselves to others, we need to remember that none of us measure up to Jesus.

And no one expects us to.

That’s the key—Jesus gives us grace and calls us to grace, and that’s the answer to the problem of phariseeism in my heart.

Along the way, without even recognizing it, a disciple becomes a Pharisee.
Passion is good—becoming pharisaical is not good.

As I was reading about his own progression from high expectations to bitterness and pharisaical thoughts, it reminded me of this wonderful section from The Peacemaker:

LeafPileIf you look for something bad in another person, you will usually be able to find it. On the other hand, if you look for what is good, you are likely to find that too–and then more and more that is good.

As you regain a more balanced view of the other person, you will often find it easier to overlook minor offenses. I have experienced this process many times in my marriage. One day Corlette said something that really hurt me. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember going out into the back yard a few minutes later to rake leaves. The more I dwelt on her words, the more deeply I slid into self-pity and resentment. I was steadily building up steam to go back into the house and let her know how wrong she was. But then God brought Philippians 4:8 to my mind.

Ha! I thought. There’s nothing noble, right, or lovely about the way she’s treating me! But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t give up. The verse would not go away; it kept echoing in my mind. Finally, to get God off my back, I grudgingly conceded that Corlette is a good cook. This small concession opened the door to a stream of thoughts about my wife’s good qualities. I recalled that she keeps a beautiful home and practices wonderful hospitality. She has always been kind toward my family, and she never missed an opportunity to share the gospel with my father (who eventually put his trust in Christ just two hours before he died). I realized that Corlette has always been pure and faithful, and I remembered how much she supports me through difficult times in my work. Every chance she gets, she attends the seminars I teach and sits smiling and supportive through hours of the same material (always saying she has learned something new). She is a marvelous counselor and has helped hundreds of children. And she even took up backpacking because she knew I loved it! I realized that the list of her virtues could go on and on.

While Ken is specifically applying Philippians 4:8 to conflict in this context, it can easily be applied whenever we feel that bitterness over unmet expectations (like a lack of passion) creeping in. It’s my hope that we all strive to look at the noble, right, and lovely things in one another and pay attention to the hypocrite that can live within.


I heartily encourage you to read Stetzer’s post in it’s entirety here.

image credit: JuliaF

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Oct 10 2014

Attend Our Conference Virtually!

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Our 2014 conference is now available for enrollment!

If you purchased a pass for the virtual conference, hop on over to Peacemaker University to redeem your courses and attend the conference. If you haven’t purchased access to the conference, feel free to purchase an access code through our website here.

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Oct 08 2014

Six of Satan’s Conflict Phrases

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Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Satan promotes conflict in many ways. Among other things, he tempts us so we give in to greed and dishonesty (Acts 5:3), he deceives us and misleads us (2 Tim. 2:25-26), and he takes advantage of unresolved anger (Eph. 4:26-27). Worst of all, he uses false teachers to propagate values and philosophies that encourage selfishness and stimulate controversy (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Here are some of the expressions that often reflect the devil’s lies and influence:

“Look out for Number One.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Surely God doesn’t expect me to stay in an unhappy situation.”
“I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”
“Don’t get mad, get even.”
“I deserve better than this.”

Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts. As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 50-51.
 

Food for Thought

Read Jesus’ responses to Satan’s temptations in Matthew 4:1-11. Note that in contrast to Satan’s favorite expressions noted above, none of Jesus’ responses contain the word, “I.” What’s more, none of Jesus’ responses to Satan even contain the word, “you”–usually our second favorite word in conflict! How do we prevent Satan from getting a foothold in our conflicts? We keep our conflict responses (and our words) God-centered, remembering that if God is not at the center of our thoughts during a conflict, Satan will be altogether too happy to quietly take God’s place.

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Oct 01 2014

Time for a Time Out?

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When dealing with difficult people, it is also important to recognize your limits. Even when you continue to do what is right, some people may adamantly refuse to admit you are right or to live at peace with you. This is why Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18). In other words, do all you can to be reconciled with others, but remember that you cannot force others to do what is right. If you have done everything in your power to resolve a conflict, you have fulfilled your responsibility to God and may stop actively trying to solve the problem. If circumstances change and you have new opportunities to seek peace with an opponent, you should certainly try to do so. In the meantime, it is not necessary or wise to waste time, energy, and resources fretting about someone who stubbornly refuses to be reconciled.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 252.
 

Food for Thought

Are you in the middle of a conflict where the harder you’ve tried to make peace, the worse things have gotten? Don’t be discouraged; instead, think about taking a “time out.” Sometimes we think of a time out as giving up. But sports coaches know that time outs are as important to the game as what happens while the clock is running. It gives the players a chance to regroup, to catch their breath, and to listen to the coach’s strategy for success. In the same way, perhaps you are in a conflict that could benefit from a time out–giving you a chance to regroup and seek the Lord for direction. Pray to God for wisdom on how and when to act “as far as it depends on you”–and patience to wait on the window of opportunity He will supply.

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Sep 24 2014

Blessed are the Peace-Fakers?

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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matt. 5:9

People who use escape responses are usually intent on ‘peace-faking,’ or making things look good even then they are not. This is especially common in the church, where people are often more concerned about the appearance of peace than the reality of peace. Attack responses are used by people who are prone to ‘peace-breaking.’ They are more than willing to sacrifice peace and unity to get what they want.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 28.

Food for Thought

Being a peacemaker is difficult. There is no other way to honestly speak about it. It is hard, humbling, and sometimes humiliating work. But consider this: The peace that Christ achieved for us was hard. Jesus is described as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). It was humbling. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). And it was humiliating. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb.12:2). All this was done so that peace, not just an appearance of peace, but the reality of peace would be achieved between God and human beings.

But believe it or not, being a peace-faker is difficult too. It takes a great deal of emotional energy to smile and wave or shake hands with someone at church when your heart is hardened against that person. Continuing to function in a civil manner alongside a co-worker who has wronged you can feel like splitting rocks in a prison camp. Tip-toeing around sensitive issues in your family while a dangerous current of anger and resentment boils beneath the surface can often make you physically sick inside. And what is the result of all this? The appearance of peace, but not the reality. For all of that time, and energy, and heartache, you end up with something that is not real.

Hebrews 12:3 says, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lost heart.” Are you feeling weary? Yes, it’s hard and yes, there is hostility, but consider Jesus and don’t lose heart. With His strength and presence, it is doable. Remember, the goal is God’s peace. And while it may not always be pretty, it’s always real.

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Sep 17 2014

An Opportunity to Serve

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Conflict presents unique opportunities to serve other people. When others are weighed down with problems and stress, God will sometimes use us to encourage them and help carry their burdens. In other situations, we may be able to give helpful advice, provide a positive example, or suggest creative solutions to problems. Best of all, conflict can provide the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ and give witness to the gospel, even to people who are attacking us.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 143.

Food for Thought

It seems when we’ve got many problems and much stress, conflict comes at us faster than ever. Our emotions are intensified and things we may have overlooked now become full blown conflicts. No matter which way we turn, it stares us in the face. While this doesn’t provide an excuse to treat others poorly or unfairly, it does provide much opportunity for peacemaking.

The same is true for those around us. There could be circumstances in their lives causing them to respond differently than they normally would. Their burden may be too big for them to carry alone. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. God put you in their path to speak a kind word, offer forgiveness, give advice, or be a listening ear. To put it simply, to serve them. And when we’re serving others, our view of a conflict will often change.

Be on the lookout today for special God-given opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ even in the midst of conflict. When you actively model the gospel in action, you are making the most of every opportunity to serve other people.

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Sep 15 2014

A Note from Dale

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A Note From Dale

In less than two weeks, peacemakers from around the world will gather in Colorado Springs to celebrate the Lord’s ministry of reconciliation through biblical peacemaking. I am looking forward to the fellowship, corporate prayer and praise, and the testimonies of Living the Legacy of Peace that God has graciously brought to his people through the ministry of reconciliation. I am also looking forward to the teaching times—the pre-conference training events, the workshops, and the keynote speakers.

The professional biographies for our keynote speakers are listed online, but I would like to tell you a little bit more about why these particular people were invited to serve at our conference:

meyerRev. Dr. Jason Meyer is one of the most humble and gifted men I have ever met. In addition to being a seminary professor and theologian, Pastor Meyer has been entrusted with the pulpit that formerly was filled by the inimitable Rev. Dr. John Piper, which I believe is a clear testament to Rev. Meyer’s extraordinary gifts as a preacher and to his character as a faithful Christ-follower. During his keynote, Rev. Meyer will be sharing with us the tremendous story of peace and peacemaking that his church recently lived out. I’m excited to hear from Rev. Meyer’s heart and I hope you are too.

GaryHoagDr. Gary Hoag brings a message that is especially relevant to peacemakers because he identifies the way Christ-followers can fall into the “common path” (guided by their own desires and purposes and influenced by the media, celebrity and hype, numbers, dollars, and manipulative practices) and then he differentiates that common path from the radically biblical “higher road” path (guided by Kingdom outcomes). As we all know, the pull to self-centered interests is often at the heart of destructive conflict. This is just one reason why I am confident that Dr. Hoag’s New Testament scholarship will greatly benefit us all as he shares with us his insights into peace, shalom, and unity.

BradyBoydResizePastor Brady Boyd is a Texas boy who bravely came to Colorado to take on the daunting task of filling a pulpit following the moral failure of a high-visibility Christian leader. As if the conflicts associated with that desert experience weren’t challenging enough, Pastor Boyd and his church went through the unimaginable horror of a lone gunman shooting and killing several young girls (sisters) while they were attending their church service. The power of God is clearly at work in the testimony and legacy of this church that has ministered peace not only to the family of the dead victims, but also to the family of the dead gunman. This is a keynote session that you do not want to miss.

Val-SheanAnd finally, let me tell you about the treasure we have in Dr. Val Shean Lomilo, who is traveling all the way from Uganda to share with us the story of the Lord’s ministry of peace to a (formerly) warring, violent, aggressive, Karamojong tribe. Thanks to God’s grace ministered through this wise and godly woman, and the US-based team of peacemakers that she brought in to assist with the conflict, the Karamojong people have turned away from generations of revenge killings to establish a new way of life, in a new village—The Peace Village. I have no doubt that we will be on the edge of our seats as we hear more specifics about the oft’ life-threatening circumstances that Dr. Val faced as she worked alongside other peacemakers to serve the Karamojong people, and we will rejoice in how, several years later, God is continuing to transform lives among the tribal members.

DalePyneCroppedWon’t these speakers lead us well in remembering and celebrating Living a Legacy of Peace? And we have many other gifted peacemakers serving us during the workshop times too.

I hope that you will make plans now to join us in Colorado Springs September 25-27. And if you can’t join us in person, I hope to see you online through our virtual conference.

Grateful for the Legacy of Peace and for the future!

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Dale Pyne, CEO of Peacemaker Ministries

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