Apr 16 2014

A Faith That Forgiveness Requires

Published by under PeaceMeal

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Above all else, remember that true forgiveness depends on God’s grace. If you try to forgive others on your own, you are in for a long and frustrating battle. But if you ask God to change your heart and you continually rely on his grace, you can forgive even the most painful offenses. God’s grace was powerfully displayed in the life of Corrie ten Boom, who had been imprisoned with her family by the Nazis for giving aid to Jews early in World War II. Her elderly father and beloved sister, Betsie, died as a result of the brutal treatment they received in prison. God sustained Corrie through her time in a concentration camp, and after the war she traveled throughout the world, testifying to God’s love. Here is what she wrote about a remarkable encounter in Germany:

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there–the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, he has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendall about the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus,” I prayed, “forgive me and help me to forgive him.”

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.”

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

So I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on him. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 217-218.

 

Food for Thought

 

Why do we agonize over whether we ourselves will be able to forgive those who have sinned against us? Our forgiveness is a pale substitute of what is needed. Instead, what is necessary is just this: that we allow Christ’s forgiveness of us–the forgiveness that flows through us and brings life to us–to flow outward from us to reach the others in our lives who, like us, are equally undeserving of his mercy. For “[i]t does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Rom. 9:16).

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Apr 09 2014

Promises for You

Published by under PeaceMeal

 

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As far as the east is from the west, so far has he
removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

I once heard a joke that described a frequent failure in forgiving. A woman went to her pastor for advice on improving her marriage. When the pastor asked what her greatest complaint was, she replied, “Every time we get into a fight, my husband gets historical.” When her pastor said, “You must mean hysterical,” she responded, “I mean exactly what I said; he keeps a mental record of everything I’ve done wrong, and whenever he’s mad, I get a history lesson!”

 

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

Take a moment today to remember the Four Promises of Forgiveness:

1. I will not dwell on this incident.
2. I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
4. I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

Then take a moment to remember something else: This is the way God forgives you. It’s natural for us to read the Four Promises of Forgiveness as another set of laws to which we’re presently failing to live up; however, the gospel reminds us that they should be read first and foremost as God’s commitment to us because of the sacrifice of his son. That commitment says that he will never “get historical” in bringing up sins for which we have been forgiven!

Is there an area in life where you feel condemned even though you’ve genuinely repented before God? Take a moment to hear God speaking the Four Promises of Forgiveness to you with regard to that particular issue. As you read them again, try adding your name to the beginning of each promise as a reminder that God speaks them personally to you. Remember Romans 8:1 applies to you, not just other Christians: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

When you accept this and apply it to your own life, prepare to be pleasantly surprised how much easier it will become to apply the Four Promises of Forgiveness to others who have hurt you.

 

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Apr 02 2014

Ssshhhhh!

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He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.

—Proverbs 18:13

Waiting patiently while others talk is a key listening skill. Without this skill, you will often fail to understand the root cause of a conflict, and you may complicate matters with inappropriate reactions.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 166.

 

Food for Thought

How often are you thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person is finishing what they’re saying?

This is a hard one, right? But a little bit of discipline can go a long way in the listening department. One suggestion Ken makes is learning to be comfortable with silence. For example, the next time you jump in your car to go somewhere, resist the urge to turn on the radio. Roll down the window (unless it’s winter!) and drive in silence. Whether it’s two blocks or twenty-seven miles, drive in silence.

Silence… it’s not the absence of sound, but the absence of noise. Take the noise away and you’ll be amazed at what you can hear. It might be the song of mockingbirds. Or maybe the heart of a significant matter.

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Mar 26 2014

Please Break This Rule

Published by under PeaceMeal

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When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

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

 

Jesus tells the perfect “40/60 Rule” story in Luke 18:10-14. In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” This is the story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Next time you’re tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a “righteousness ranking” where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.

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Mar 20 2014

Conference Registration is Now Open!

Published by under Conference

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We are excited to announce that you can now register for our upcoming 2014 Peacemaker Conference, Living a Legacy of Peace, online through our conference website!

It will be held in Colorado Springs, CO with Pre-Conference Training running September 22-25 and Conference being held September 25-27.

Hope to see you there!

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Mar 19 2014

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth

Published by under PeaceMeal

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Even a fool is thought wise…and discerning if he holds his tongue.”
Proverbs 17:28

Reckless words, spoken hastily and without thinking, inflame many conflicts. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18; cf. Prov. 13:3; 17:28; 21:23; 29:20). Although we may seldom set out deliberately to hurt others with our words, sometimes we do not make much of an effort not to hurt others. We simply say what comes to mind without thinking about the consequences. In the process, we may hurt and offend others, which only aggravates conflict.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by
Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 121.

Food for Thought

 

What have you said recently without thinking?

The word “reckless” usually conjures up images of someone driving a car with no concern for the people around them. A reckless driver can cause havoc on the highway, putting his or her life, as well as the lives of others, in harm’s way. If we spot someone driving recklessly, we usually grab our cell phones and alert the police. But what about someone speaking recklessly?

Simply saying what comes to mind can be looked upon as being authentic and honest. People admire the plain-speak quality and often promote folks who can do it. But it can also be looked upon as not thinking, or reckless. The lives of the one speaking and those hearing then are caught in harm’s way. And if you’re caught in harm’s way, the result is usually some kind of harm. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.

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Mar 13 2014

The Latest Harvest Report is Here!

Published by under Ministry Updates

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It’s fascinating to use Google Earth to find your home. You click onto the internet and key in your address, then Google Earth zooms in–first to the continent, then your state, and finally your city and neighborhood until there it is: your home. Well, this Harvest Report is a zoomed-in snapshot of the impact, change, growth, significant happenings, and fruit of the work of Peacemaker Ministries throughout the world. We praise God for this work, and we praise him for you. For without your investment in this ministry, we simply could not continue to serve, educate, or train others. We could not help them address relational issues in a God-honoring, others-honoring manner.

Your investment in this work plants the gospel in relationships, producing the fruit of healthy and godly marriages, families, and churches across the country and throughout the world. I am excited about the new materials we are developing. New methods of delivering those materials will allow us to increase our witness and expand the reach and impact of the ministry in ways that are sustainable and repeatable. Consider this an open invitation to you, our friend and supporter, to connect with me personally so I can share some very exciting opportunities with you.

When we pull back and see the bigger picture, we know these moments of impact and change come because God reconciled us to himself. By his grace, we are drawn to him for redemption. When we “turn our eyes to Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” Help us as we help others to connect this story of amazing grace with their own stories and challenges. Great people like you further the work of peacemaking. Thank you for giving through your time, your teaching, your sharing, your conciliation, and your financial investment in the ministry. We are grateful.

Click through the link/graphic below to see the other exciting things that went on recently because friends like you support Peacemaker Ministries.

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Quarterly Harvest Report - February 2014

We covet your continued prayers and financial support as we seek to expand and deepen ministry to individuals, churches, and regional networks. If you are already a monthly donor, thank you! If you are not, would you consider becoming one? Monthly giving via direct deposit or automatic credit card payments is an efficient way for you to contribute and it helps the operations team manage the budget. Thank you for praying about this opportunity.

Serving Him,

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Dale Pyne
CEO

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Mar 12 2014

A Picture of Trust

Published by under PeaceMeal

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Therefore we do not lose heart.” 2 Cor. 4:16

Trusting God proved to be the pattern in Paul’s life. Even when the Lord did not immediately relieve his sufferings, Paul continued to view everything that happened to him as God’s sovereign will (2 Cor. 4:17-18). This doesn’t mean that Paul never had doubts or that he never asked God to relieve his suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-8). But when the Lord’s response did not match Paul’s request, he was willing to believe that God had something better in mind (vv. 9-10).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 67

Food for Thought

 

Think of the last time the Lord’s response did not match your request.

What does trusting God look like? Ken reminds us that it doesn’t mean wearing a painted on smile when troubles come and practicing the art of denial when doubts arise. Those verses in 2 Cor. 12 show the apostle Paul “pleading” for God to take the thorn in his flesh away. So, then what does trusting God look like? “But when the Lord’s response did not match Paul’s request, he was”–what’s that next word? That’s right–”willing.”

Trusting looks like a willingness to believe in God’s goodness toward us in the middle of pleadings and tears and sufferings and doubts and questions. Trusting is choosing to believe that God desires the best for us, his children. That’s not always easy, but as Paul would attest, it’s always worth it!

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Mar 05 2014

At Least As Good As Before

Published by under PeaceMeal

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Being reconciled does not mean that the person who offended you must now become your closest friend. What it means is that your relationship will be at least as good as it was before the offense occurred. Once that happens, an even better relationship may develop. As God helps you and the other person work through your differences, you may discover a growing respect and appreciation for each other. Moreover, you may uncover common interests and goals that will add a deeper and richer dimension to your friendship.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 219

 

Food for Thought

 

When a relationship has been seriously damaged because one person violated another’s trust or deeply hurt the other person, how can that relationship be made “at least as good as it was before?”

The first step is to note that biblical reconciliation is not an effort by both parties to “make things exactly as they were before.” Clearly, things can never be the same again. However, for Christians, while the relationship will indeed be different on the other side of the offense, it can, by God’s grace, be “at least as good”–if not better.

While the repentance of the offending party is key in the reconciliation process, much of the “difference that makes better” does not come from the offending party’s repentance at all; in fact, it cannot. To look to the offending party for the fullness of reconciliation can only lead to grossly failed expectations at best and idolatry at worst (as we look for a person to do something that only God can do). Arguably, the most important move in reconciliation is when the offended party moves more deeply toward God and the cross of Christ.

When we, as offended parties, move toward the cross, our view of ourselves changes. Instead of seeing ourselves primarily as offended parties, we come to see ourselves as ones who have offended infinitely but been forgiven infinitely. Out of this identity, we find the resources to imitate God by offering rich and lavish forgiveness to those whose repentance (like ours to God) is weak, feeble, and woefully inadequate.

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Feb 27 2014

Why Christians Should Use Christian Conciliation to Resolve Their Disputes

Published by under General Peacemaking

By Annette Friesen, Conciliation and Training Specialist

You probably know that Peacemaker Ministries, through its division, The Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC), administers alternative dispute resolution cases through a biblically faithful process using mediation, mediation/arbitration, and arbitration—i.e., Christian Conciliation. So why does this service exist?

Peace and unity are so important to Jesus that He commands us to seek reconciliation with an offended person even ahead of public worship: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with our adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way.” (Matt. 5:23-25).

This command is not conditioned on how serious the other person’s complaint might be or whether it is even justified. Even in difficult circumstances, God wants his people to make every effort to resolve their personal differences outside of the courtroom. Why should Christians use “Christian Conciliation” rather than a secular method to resolve their conflicts? 1 Corinthians 6:1 tells us “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” And why is this important? Because our very identity is defined by how we respond to conflict. We are known as God’s children based on how well we “make peace.”

Christian conciliation does more than just provide an alternative to a secular process, it can allow conciliators to draw out the underlying reasons for a dispute, sometimes referred to as “matters of the heart.” But more importantly, Christian conciliation focuses not only on what we should do (“law”) but also on what God has done and is doing for those who trust in him (“gospel”). God has forgiven our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son (Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 3:18). And he has given us the freedom and power to turn from sin (and conflict), to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Eph. 2:1-10; Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 8:28-29), and to become ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-20).

In my role with the ICC, each and every day I have the opportunity to encourage people who are caught in the throes of conflict. But it is more than that; I myself learn to trust God more as I represent the hope of the gospel in hopeless situations. And that’s my prayer for you as well.

Do you want to learn more? If you have not yet reviewed the articles at www.peacemaker.net/ICC, I encourage you to do so. Be prepared to see that there is real hope in this conflicted world!

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