May 20 2013
May 16 2013
Everyone who comes to the Peacemaker Ministries conference has either scabs or scars. Conflict has touched everyone’s lives, and we are all in the process of healing from it. For some of us, our scabs are raw and the injury is painful… divorce papers have been served, our home church has lost half of its members because of a dispute over bylaws, or a close friend has betrayed their commitment to love us. A scab covers a throbbing wound.
For others of us, the years have gone by and the wounds have lost their pain, but evidence of the injury remains… broken relationships never to heal on this side of heaven, lingering fears over bullying experienced at school or in the workplace, or an aching desire for a sorrow-free eternity. The scars might be nearly invisible, or they might be disfiguring.
Either way, scabs or scars, the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference holds something for you. The workshops are given by wounded peacemakers who offer comfort and encouragement, the plenaries inspire us to pursue peacemaking as an act of war against our one shared enemy, and the worship sessions lead us into a deeper communion with our Prince of Peace. For those who are ready to join the army of peacemakers, or who have already joined and desire deeper equipping for the battle, come early for the pre-conference training events.
After years of teaching at this conference and seeing people with scabs and scars changed, I cannot recommend this conference enough. I hope you will consider joining me in Columbus this year.
May 15 2013
If you’re interested in learning a bit about what we do at Peacemaker Ministries and what we’ve been up to lately, our most recent quarterly Harvest Report is now available online!
May 15 2013
All it takes is one person who hears the call of God and responds, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). Perhaps for your church, that person is you. Please pray about it and reflect on the Scriptures given above. Ask God to give you a longing to see a culture of peace in your church that reflects the love and power of his Son. If he gives you that longing, hard work awaits you, but great blessing is also in store, for Jesus’ promise in Matthew 5:9 is absolutely dependable:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande,
Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 297
Food for Thought
It just takes one.
There is a theory in the study of family systems that says if just one person begins to change, then the family changes. For example, if a passive son begins to be more assertive in his decisions and behavior, then the whole family changes. They may look the same, drive the same old Honda, and still play Monopoly every Saturday night. But since he changed, the family is no longer the same. And the courage of one member to change often inspires others to change as well.
So who will begin to change your church’s culture to one of peacemaking? Ken writes: “Perhaps…that person is you.” What? Me? Surely not! I mean, doesn’t that need to come through the pastor or the elders or the deacons or the Sunday school teachers? I’m just one person.
Exactly! That’s where change begins–always has, always will. It begins with the man or woman in the mirror. If you begin to practice biblical peacemaking in your church, your church will change. It may keep the same street address, sing the same hymns, and keep the steel-blue pew cushions, but it will be different. It all begins with the courage of one with the power of One.
May 08 2013
Overlooking offenses is appropriate under two conditions. First, the offense should not have created a wall between you and the other person or caused you to feel different toward him or her for more than a short period of time. Second, the offense should not be causing serious harm to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender.
Overlooking is not a passive process in which you simply remain silent for the moment but file away the offense for later use against someone. That is actually a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger. Instead, overlooking is an active process that is inspired by God’s mercy through the gospel. To truly overlook an offense means to deliberately decide not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness. If you cannot let go of an offense in this way, if it is too serious to overlook, or if it continues as part of a pattern in the other person’s life, then you will need to go and talk to the other person about it in a loving and constructive manner.Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 83.
Food for Thought
Overlooking an offense is deeper than we like to believe. It is so much more than giving lip service because it seems the right thing to do. It is truly a heart issue. In a society where letting people off the hook is seen as a weakness, we have great opportunity to show God’s love and forgiveness in the midst of our conflicts. Ken provides excellent criteria to help decide if it is appropriate to overlook an offense. In light of God’s mercy, is there an offense you can truly overlook today?
Proverbs 19:11 says “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” The first step to resolving a conflict is to think seriously about whether it is appropriate to overlook an offense. If it is, then put the matter to rest and commit, with God’s help, not to dwell on the issue. If not, then it is appropriate to go to your brother and discuss it between the two of you.
May 01 2013
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matt. 6:12
Forgiveness can be a costly activity. When someone sins, they create a debt, and someone must pay it. Most of this debt is owed to God. In his great mercy, he sent his Son to pay the debt on the cross for all who would trust in him (Isa. 53:4-6; I Peter 2:24-25, Col. 1:19-20).
But if someone sinned against you, part of their debt is also owed to you. This means you have a choice to make. You can either take payments on the debt or make payments.Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 207
Food for Thought
What thoughts or feelings does the word debt stir in you?
There’s a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer that you may not hear much anymore: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” You usually hear “forgive us our sins” or “forgive us our trespasses“; both are correct in translation and meaning. But many have gotten away from this word debt. Ever wonder why?
The words we choose to use say much about us. Words are vehicles for meaning. Ponder this for a moment. Maybe, just maybe, using the word sin or trespass helps up to keep this phrase at arm’s length. Trespass is so old fashioned, we can say it and just keep on moving. It’s not a word we use everyday, so we just recite it, robot-like, and go to the next phrase. Sin is this big category that contains so many thoughts and feelings that it’s almost overwhelming, so much so that we say it and then stick our heads in the ground, hoping it will go away. And keeping this phrase at arm’s length unfortunately keeps our hearts at arm’s length from God and others.
But debt — now that means something. We’re free of debt, we’re trying to get out of debt, or maybe we’re deep in debt. Using that word forces us to remember, as Ken writes, that forgiveness is a costly activity. Now that has specificity to it — someone or something has to pay. As a human being, you and I can decide to either take payments or make payments on the debt that comes from someone sinning against us. If we’re interested in being a peacemaker, well, then the choice is made — make the payment in light of the payment He made for your debt, pray the prayer, and live the life as He taught us — as we forgive our debtors.
Apr 24 2013
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
Have you ever been around a person who was truly filled with the peace of God? Were you drawn to her serenity—regardless of her circumstance? (For didn’t you see Christ’s peace in her the most when her trials were at their worst?) Did his confidence in God’s goodness strengthen you when you faced times of trial and doubt? (Because you knew that his faith in God was not a shallow faith—but one born of great suffering and painful perseverance through the storms of life?)
When you think about that peaceful, grace-filled person, what were her relationships like? Did she leave a legacy of hurting, offended, discouraged people in her wake? Was he known as a man who “always had the right answer” and frequently spoke words of condemnation? Probably not. People who are filled with God’s peace also tend to be at peace with others. Why?
“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace,” Ken reminds us. The peace of God transcends all understanding and it fills their hearts like fountains bubbling over with mercy, kindness, genuine care, and abiding love. They are so filled with God’s grace that they splash it onto everyone around them. They could no more stop breathing grace than a person could stop breathing air—because grace is the air that they breathe. Their prayers sound something like this:
- Breathing grace in: The one true holy God sent his Son to die for me? I am saved from hell, from my sin; justified before this holy God; forgiven and adopted? What wondrous love is this! Thank you, God. Thank you for forgiving me all my sins and making the way for me to be at peace with you. I worship You!
- Breathing grace out: And now, dear Lord, as I head into my day—let the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ be the heartbeat of my life. Please, God, let every word I say, every action I take, the attitude of my heart, my desires and inclinations—let my life be used by You, for Your glory and the furtherance of Your Kingdom. Please help me to treat others not as they deserve—but as You treat me. May I be your image-bearer, your representative, your ambassador. Thank You, Lord.
Dear friends, let every breath we take and every word we speak today be filled with grace!— Tara Barthel (Billings, MT) is a former attorney and the author of our Women’s Study. She currently serves her family as a homemaker while regularly speaking at women’s events and blogging on God’s considerable grace.
Apr 17 2013
If it is difficult for you to identify and confess your wrongs, there are two things you can do. First, ask God to help you see your sin clearly and repent of it, regardless of what others may do (Ps. 129:23-24). Then prayerfully study his Word and ask him to show you where your ways have not lined up with his ways (Heb. 4:12). Second, ask a spiritually mature friend to counsel and correct you (Prov. 12:15; 19:20). The older I get, the less I trust myself to be objective when I am involved in a conflict. Time after time I have been blessed by asking a friend to candidly critique my role in a conflict. I have not always liked what my friends have said, but as I have humbled myself and submitted to their correction, I have always seen more clearly. Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120
Food for Thought
In Psalm 32, David talks about how hidden sin eats us up. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of the summer.”
Yet as we read on in the chapter, David identifies no less than seven mighty acts God will work on our behalf as we confess our sin. He begins with the stunning promise that “surely in the rush of great waters they shall not reach him” and ends with the assurance that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord”.
Are you struggling with private or unconfessed sin? Read Psalm 32 and see if you can identify all seven of the ways God promises to intercede on your behalf as you take the difficult step of acknowledging (even publicly, if appropriate) your wrongdoing. Then read 2 Timothy 2:21 and take comfort in the knowledge that God is seeking to cleanse you from your sin to use you for noble purposes ahead.
Apr 11 2013
This is an article taken from our website that we thought would be a good thing to share with our blog readers. It’s a really touching testimony from Chip Zimmer.
I was 21 years old and a recent college graduate when I traveled outside North America for the first time. In August 1970 I flew to Nepal, where I would spend two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.
My introduction to Nepalese culture had begun two months earlier during training in Davis, California, but it wasn’t until we were on our final approach into Tribhuvan Airport that I appreciated how different Nepal was from anything I’d experienced before. There, outside my window and a few hundred feet below, stood Bodnath, one of the most famous Buddhist shrines in the Kathmandu valley. I couldn’t take my eyes off the domed temple, with its superstructure of painted eyes, prayer flags, and golden crown. This definitely was not Kansas.
I’ve often found that my most intense memories of a place are linked to sights, sounds, or smells. As vivid as these are, however, such physical stimuli can be misleading. They may tell me that a place is different, but it is not until I have been granted access into the lives of people who live there that I form an appreciation for a culture’s fundamental shape, and for how its values align with or are at odds with my own or with God’s.
My friend Ted Kober discovered this on his first visit to India several years ago. Ted had been invited by church leaders to teach peacemaking in the southern part of the country. After one of the presentations, a pastor raised his hand to ask a question that went something like this:
“The parents of a young man in my church arranged for the marriage of their son, but the son refused to cooperate. Instead, he married a woman of his own choosing. As a result, our church excommunicated both the young man and his parents. The parents repented for not being able to control the behavior of their son and asked to come back into the church, but our elders refuse to reinstate them.”
The pastor looked at Ted and asked, “What should I do?”
The question stopped Ted in his tracks. Here was a matter that went to the heart of the intersection between Christianity and Indian culture, and he, an outsider with little understanding of the intricacies of local customs, was expected to provide the answer. All eyes were on him. How would he respond?
I know how I might have responded. I would have been tempted to blast away at arranged marriages–in fact, at the entire caste system. I had struggled during my years in Nepal with the whole notion of caste and everything that went with it. What could be more unfair than a system that allocates opportunities in life based on family of birth? As a North American, I am saturated with the belief that individuals should be free to choose for themselves whom they marry and that opportunities in life should be based on what you know, not on who your parents are. The chance to take a good swing at a system I found abhorrent would have been hard to resist.
Yet, at the same time, I think I would have been restrained by years of wrestling with peacemaking and the implications of Scripture–something about getting the log out of my own eye first. Where in my own culture could I point to a functional caste system in which opportunity had more to do with birth than with ability? More to the point, hadn’t I found it convenient to show favoritism, or say to someone in need, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed”? In my own way, hadn’t I lived what amounted to a caste system approach to life? Didn’t I try to control others, to manipulate their decisions to get what I wanted? I have to admit that the answer to these questions is “yes.” As I reflect on my own shortcomings, I am amazed and grateful that Christ died even for these sins of mine. I hope that this realization would have tempered any remarks I might have made.
Beyond being wise in speech, however, I also hope I would have come to the conclusion Ted reached as he stood before his audience. Ted resisted the temptation to try to answer the question and instead pointed his listeners to the one source he was sure would help. “What does the Bible say?” he asked. “Let’s take a look at the Scriptures.”
The wonderful thing about Ted’s response is that he recognized a boundary and refused to cross it. It is not always easy to defer when cast in the role of “expert,” but Ted wisely realized that, in the end, it was not his opinion that mattered, but God’s. Scripture is the standard by which all cultures should be assessed. Ted’s answer affirmed this reality and pointed his listeners toward taking a biblical approach to life’s problems, the very thing he had been teaching in his peacemaking seminar.
I have thought a lot about Ted’s experience in the years since he told me his story. It has shaped my own approach to teaching generally and working cross culturally in particular and more than once has helped me stay out of trouble. Along the way, I have developed a deep appreciation for the words of David, as recorded in Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
I’m not 21 anymore, but I still love the thrill of visiting someplace new, of seeing new sites and meeting new people. I try to cherish every trip and every new friendship. But, I have also learned that the true measure of a place is not primarily what I see or hear or smell. The true measure of a place–whether it is your home or mine–is what lives in the hearts of its people and whether those hearts are inclined toward God.
Written by Chip Zimmer, Vice President of Global Ministries
Apr 10 2013
Trusting God does not mean that we will never have questions, doubts, or fears. We cannot simply turn off the natural thoughts and feelings that arise when we face difficult circumstances. Trusting God means that in spite of our questions, doubts, and fears we draw on his grace and continue to believe that he is loving, that he is in control, and that he is always working for our good. Such trust helps us to continue doing what is good and right, even in difficult circumstances. Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 65
Food for Thought
I can trust God while I am feeling __________ (you fill in the blank).
How many of us can drive while talking on our cell phones (with an approved hands-free device, of course)? That’s right, everybody raise your hand. How about eating breakfast while reading the morning news? Yes, again, that goes together like peanut butter and jelly or chocolate and vanilla. Most of us can do one or more things while we’re doing something else. So why does it feel different when it comes to the life of faith?
How many times do we believe that the presence of trust means the complete absence of questions, doubts, and fears? (Don’t ask that question so much for your neighbor as for your yourself.) Ken wisely reminds us that this is just not true. It’s perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes to continue believing that he is loving while having questions about his method of showing that how that love is manifest. It doesn’t reflect a lack of faith to continue believing that he is in control while having some doubts about what control really means. And the biblical record, at least, seems to honor the person who continues to believe that he is working for our good while the flames of persecution are being fanned.
Continuing down the path that God has prepared for us even while having questions, doubts and fears is the very definition of trust. Any other definition is a half-truth. We can still pray, “Increase our faith!” but we don’t have to be discouraged every time doubts creep into our hearts. Do you mean my heart can have questions and doubts, and that doesn’t disqualify me in the faith category? Remember, as the apostle John reminds us, that “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20).