Nov 19 2014

Thankfulness: An Overlooked Way to Fight Sin

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
” Phil. 4:6

Paul knew that we cannot just stop being anxious. Worried thoughts have a way of creeping back into our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Therefore, he instructs us to replace worrying with ‘prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.’ When you are in a dispute, it is natural to dwell on your difficult circumstances or on the wrong things that the other person has done or may do to you. The best way to overcome this negative thinking is to replace it with more constructive thoughts, such as praising God for his grace through the gospel, thanking him for the many things he has already done for you in this and other situations, and praying for assistance in dealing with your current challenges (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).

When you remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past and ally yourself with him today, you will discover that your anxiety is being steadily replaced with confidence and trust (cf. Isa 26:3). In fact, recalling God’s faithfulness and thanking him for his deliverance in the past was one of the primary ways the Israelites overcame their fears when they faced overwhelming problems (e.g. Psalms 18, 46, 68, 77, 78, 105, 106, 107, 136; Neh. 9:5-37).

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 86-87.

 

Food for Thought

 

Thankfulness for what God has done for us is a very important–but often overlooked–key to overcoming sin in our lives. Anxiety (as Ken discusses above) is one common area of sin. In this case, thankfulness corrects our perspective, reminding us of God’s past faithfulness and his sure promise to care for us in the future.

The apostle Paul also prescribes thankfulness as the antidote for other sins with which we struggle. In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul exhorts us to put off the sins of our flesh, replacing them with behaviors that reflect our new nature in Christ. He specifically mentions foolish talk, crude joking, sexual immorality, covetousness and debauchery as behaviors that the Christian is to replace with thanksgiving (Eph 5:3-4; 18-20). So much sin is rooted in selfishness and pride; thankfulness loosens the grip that these sins have on our hearts.

The holiday season can be a time that induces a great deal of anxiety and conflict. In the United States, we enter this season with a day of remembering the many things for which we can be thankful. As you anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving next week, take a moment to consider ways that cultivating a thankful heart can help you to overcome sins that you have been battling or conflicts that you anticipate will arise.

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Nov 12 2014

Shaken, Not Stirred

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“I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let
your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14.27

Through Jesus you can also experience genuine peace within yourself. Internal peace is a sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest, and security. Although nearly everyone longs for this kind of peace, it eludes most people. Genuine internal peace cannot be directly obtained through our own efforts; it is a gift that God gives only to those who believe in his Son and obey his commands (I John 3:21-24). In other words, internal peace is a by-product of righteousness…

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46.
 

Food for Thought

When it comes to peace, whose definition are you using?

The world defines peace as the absence of conflict. No more war, no more injustice, no more ________ — you fill in the blank. Jesus defines peace as the presence of the Comforter, right in the middle of wars and rumors of wars. Remember? His peace is not as the world gives/defines.

As Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 14, notice his target: “Do not let your hearts…” He is speaking about their internals, if you will. Ken’s emphasis in this excerpt from The Peacemaker is also on an internal peace, not necessarily an external one. Miss that difference and you miss an important peace.

Jesus’ desire is that those hearts not be troubled. A little investigation into that word troubled and you’ll find that one of the primary meanings is to be stirred. Imagine a huge pitcher of sugar-induced, southern iced tea. Now picture mama’s hand coming up with a long wooden spoon, sticking it down in the middle of that pitcher, and swirling it around. That’s the image here. Jesus does not want their hearts to be stirred, as in something coming in and stirring them internally.

Jesus was well aware of what was to come, and he was trying to relay that to his friends. Phrases like, “the world will not see me anymore,” “the world will hate you,” and “anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God,” no doubt shook the disciples. It wasn’t just about to get hot in the kitchen; the whole house was about to burn down. The peace that Jesus was giving to his disciples was internal, not external. He wasn’t trying to keep them from being shaken, but rather from being stirred. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17.15). Placing our trust in him and his goodness and his righteousness allows us to “keep on keepin’ on” even when the earth’s foundations are shaking.

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Nov 05 2014

Eye Can See Clearly Now

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Jesus had much to say about resolving conflict. One of his most familiar commands is recorded in Matthew 7:3-5:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This passage is sometimes interpreted as a warning against talking with others about their faults. If you read it carefully, however, you will see that it does not forbid loving correction. Rather, it forbids premature and improper correction. Before you talk to others about their faults, Jesus wants you to face up to yours. Once you have dealt with your contribution to a conflict, you may approach others about theirs.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 79-80.

 

Food for Thought

Every couple prays for a full-term delivery; however, premature births are not an uncommon reality. In these situations, everything will be accelerated and great care will have to be exercised on the part of the parents, nurses, and doctors. Premature babies usually spend time in the intensive care unit, where constant monitoring and attention can be given, many times with a one to one ratio of nurse to child. It’s a fragile and often dangerous time. Most premature babies are fine, but some do not survive; everything took place before they were ready.

Ken’s use of the word premature in connection with Jesus’ words about conflict resolution is remarkable. Our efforts to “de-speck” our brothers or sisters before we “de-plank” ourselves create premature situations; something is happening before it should. It would be nice if there were roving spiritual-ICU teams who could help us in those moments to help carry the resolution to a healthy point, but that’s rare. It’s usually just two people, neither one seeing clearly, and both often too wounded to respond properly.

Conflict resolution always begins with the eye of the “I.” So upon reflection, how many of your attempts at conflict resolution could be described as premature? Did you ever get around to examining yourself? Did you get help from others during these delicate situations? And did these conflicts end in reconciliation, or sadly, did your relationship die due to the unfortunate complications of premature confrontation?

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Nov 04 2014

Couldn’t make it to Living a Legacy of Peace this year? Attend virtually!

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Living a Legacy of PeaceOur sessions are now available to participate in over at Peacemaker University for anyone who would like to experience our conference content but couldn’t be with us in Colorado Springs. The virtual conference experience is $199, however, we are offering financial aid for individuals who would like to attend.

Visit our conference registration page for more information about pricing and registration or email conference@peacemaker.net for information about our financial aid.

 

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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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