Resisting Reconciliation

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Storyline – The Story of the Prodigal’s Older Brother

If you are at all familiar with the story of the prodigal son, then you understand the sharp contrast between the compassionate heart of the father and the calloused heart of the older brother. Rather than sharing in his father’s joy, the older brother became consumed with anger over the lavish homecoming celebration. Untouched by his father’s plea to join the festivities, what resulted was an outburst which revealed the depth of his frustration:

 “‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:28-30).

Sure, the older brother was unhappy about his brother’s foolishness – but why was he so angry? What prevented him from joining his father and the others from welcoming his brother back home?

While there must have been many contributing factors, it is clear that the older brother believed that he was far more worthy of the attention and affection that had been showered on his younger brother, “the prodigal.” Overcome by feelings of resentment and jealousy, the older brother couldn’t bring himself to be a part of the amazing story of reconciliation that was unfolding within his own family.

The Story of the Prodigal’s Older Brother & Your Story

Do you ever feel justified in withholding forgiveness from a family member or friend who has completely blown it – or feel conflicted when others who are close to you become reconciled with someone who has hurt you deeply? While these emotions are understandable, if allowed to take root and grow, they will stand in the way of a restored relationship.

When the prospect of reconciliation seems overwhelming, Romans 5:8 offers a profound perspective: “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In our broken, fallen, imperfect, sin-stained condition, our Heavenly Father chose to reconcile us back to Himself through the priceless gift of His one and only Son. Instead of giving us what we deserved, He extended grace. As peacemakers, let us strive to do the same.

Up Ahead on “The Path”…

Check out next week’s post where we’ll explore the difference between healthy and unhealthy tension in our relationships. As always, thanks for reading – and keep sharing the posts from The Path of a Peacemaker!

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The Father’s Heart

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Storyline – The Father of the Prodigal

When the prodigal son finally returned home, his father could have responded in a thousand different ways. He could have turned his son away, or at the very least, delegated his “problem child” to one of his hired servants, washing his hands of the pain and embarrassment caused by his wayward son. A torrent of harsh, reprimanding words could have been unleashed, or a more subtle form of anger expressed through passive-aggressive behavior were options that others in his shoes would have chosen.

Yet, this father was not motivated by a need for justice. He did not care about settling the score. Instead, his response was motivated out of a deep sense of compassion and longing to restore the relationship with his long-lost son:

“But while he [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20b)

The Father of the Prodigal’s Story & Your Story

If you feel that you have more in common with the prodigal son than with the father, rest assured. You are not alone. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s plan. Just like the father in this story, our Heavenly Father’s heart is filled with compassion for us. No matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or how much of what He’s given us that we’ve wasted, His primary goal is to restore relationship.

While it is not natural for us to demonstrate the kind of love displayed by the father in this story, as children of God and recipients of His abundant grace, Ephesians 5:1-2a offers this instruction: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”

What does this mean for you and me? As followers of Christ, if we are to be ready, willing, and equipped to walk The Path of a Peacemaker, we need to humbly ask our Father to give us hearts like His – hearts that are marked by grace and motivated by compassion.

Up Ahead on “The Path”…

Coming up next week, “The Path” will take us to another character in the story of the prodigal son – the older brother. Thanks for reading – and keep sharing the posts from The Path of a Peacemaker!

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The Prodigal

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Storyline – The Prodigal Son

He was a rebel who longed to live “the good life” without interference from anyone or anything. To fund his new lifestyle, he got an advance on the inheritance from his father which he squandered on lavish parties and the finest material goods that money could buy.

In the beginning, life was exciting and grand. Then one foolish choice after another left this young man penniless, hungry, and destitute. When he finally hit the very bottom, he found that there was no other way to restore the peace in his life than to humble himself and go back to his father. His own words were evidence of a changed heart:

“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” (Luke 15:18)

Have you ever considered that this young man could have made a different decision? Instead of choosing to humble himself, acknowledge his mistakes, and admit to his father his desperate situation, he could have remained hardened and proud. Rather than continuing to live in misery, he swallowed his pride and decided to take steps toward reconciliation with his father.

The Prodigal’s Story & Your Story

No matter the circumstances, if you’re responsible for pain that exists between you and a loved one, can you take responsibility for your actions? Rather than being encumbered by guilt and shame, can you break free from the pride or fear that prevents you from humbling yourself and restoring the relationship?

If you are willing, the pathway to peace can begin right now. You can get back on your feet and return to your Heavenly Father. First, set things right with Him, and with His help, take steps to reconcile with the one you’ve hurt.

We all have been granted the opportunity to walk The Path of a Peacemaker in our relationships. It is not always an easy journey, but one that, as believers, we are called and privileged to travel. It’s good to walk this path together.

Up Ahead on “The Path”…

While we will take a deeper look at reconciliation with the Father and others in the coming weeks, first we will look at the story of the prodigal son from the perspective of the father and brother. Check back next week for the latest post!

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His Story, Our Story

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Last week, we kicked off our brand new blog, The Path of a Peacemaker.   Before stepping on the path that will guide us to Ascend (go to God), Reflect (examine our hearts), and Connect (forgive and reconcile), we need to take a deeper look at the context for your story and mine. Where does it all begin?

The Storyline – Jesus, God incarnate, is the story. He came to rescue us from the sin and depravity that had tarnished the world, and had caused deep heartache and brokenness. As He walked among us, He provided many rich examples and teachings which demonstrated how we are to live in relationship with God and others. From His first breath to His last, His life was a powerful illustration of humility, passion, wisdom, and compassion. Jesus, the preeminent peacemaker, chose to pay the price to reconcile the human race back to God when He laid down His life on the cross for us. All of this has brought us to the realization that without Him, we have nothing – we are nothing. With Him, we have “everything we need for life and holiness” (2 Peter 1:3).

Our Story – While Jesus is the story, and provides the framework for everything we encounter in life, we all have a story, too. While no two stories are the same, we do share the common experience of living in a fallen world that cannot know peace without the divine intervention of the Savior. Whether your life experience has been filled with times of blessing and tranquility, or you’ve struggled through fears and tears, God is moving you forward in your “story” and desires to transform both the beautiful and broken places of your life into a masterpiece. As you weave in and out of the lives of others, you can rest assured that He has a plan for you and is working that out in your life.

In the upcoming months we will take a closer look at the story of a loving father and his two sons, also known as the story of the “prodigal son.” Then, we will compare their story to our own. I hope you will stay the course with me, and will offer your own thoughts and perspectives as we travel, The Path of a Peacemaker.

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A New Path

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Welcome to Peacemaker Ministries’ new blog, The Path of a Peacemaker. As we journey this path together, it is my hope to share the Gospel and provide practical applications for peacemaking in such a way that every person in every nation can hear, understand, and bring peace in their circle of influence by living out the two greatest commands: love God and love others.

These commands, though easy enough to understand, have always been much harder to put into practice. Since the beginning of time, humanity has struggled in relationship with others and in relationship with God. We have to look no further than the first two human beings to see the effects of conflict and blame shifting. When God asked Adam why he ate the fruit of the tree, he blamed Eve. When God asked Eve why she ate of the fruit, Eve blamed the Serpent. It is clear they both knew not to eat the fruit of the tree (Genesis 1 and 3), yet they pointed fingers, blaming someone else for their sin.

Over the next several months we will discover together the path of a peacemaker, as exemplified by Christ. We will use three biblical principles to define this path: Ascend, Reflect, and Connect:

  • Ascend describes our privilege and responsibility to go to the Father, to “seek first His Kingdom,” to bask in His mercy and grace, and to see Him as the Creator and ourselves as His creation.  (Psalm 34:18-19)
  • Reflect describes the call to examine our hearts and motives and, to “first take the log out of our own eye” through repentance. (Matthew 7:4-5)
  • Connect describes the call to reach out to others, to seek forgiveness, to take responsibility for our actions or inaction, and then (and only then) to encourage others to take responsibility for theirs.  (Ephesians 4:32)

Throughout the course of history, the lives of men and women have intertwined with God and others – and ours do too! What is God’s story? What is your story? Join me next week for more on The Path of a Peacemaker.

May the God of Grace and Peace, shine his light down on us as we embark on this adventure together.

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The Path of a Peacemaker

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Greetings, Friends!

While Jesus walked this earth, He demonstrated the kind of selfless love and sacrifice that was required to change lives and reconcile mankind back to God.  As believers, we have this specific instruction: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do…” (Ephesians 5:1).  In order to follow Christ’s example, we, too, must be willing to lay down our rights, take up the cross, and follow Him.

As you strive to walk in the Savior’s footsteps, we want to come alongside you on that journey. With this in mind, in the coming weeks and months, the blog will offer insight and encouragement for those who are choosing to follow the path of the peacemaker.

To reflect the fresh and focused content, we will be changing the blog title from “PeaceMeal” to “The Path of a Peacemaker.”  To be clear – the blog isn’t going away – it’s just getting a name change!  Keep reading and sharing with your friends, and we’ll do our best to keep providing content that helps you be the peacemaker God has called you to be!

In His Grace,

Dale Pyne

CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

 

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Author of Your Story

 

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“God intends for the gospel to completely transform every area of our daily life… [The Gospel] makes us new creations with amazing new purposes and powers.”
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 28
 

For an author, a blank page isn’t intimidating. It is inviting. It beckons original thought, boundless creativity, and an imagination that is free to run wild. There is something exhilarating about the possibility of writing something deeply profound, moving, entertaining, or funny. Your life is like a story – and God wants to be the author. It takes a little courage and a lot of faith to relinquish control of the pen, especially when you have grand ideas of your own. But, it’s easier to do when you pause to remember that He has big plans for you, and is ready to fill the pages of your life with great things.

Food for Thought

While everyone would like to look forward to the future with anticipation and hope, there are some who still need to make peace with the past. Perhaps there are chapters in your life that you would rewrite or delete altogether if you could. The past can’t be rewritten, but it can be redeemed. With God as the author of your story, you can be assured that whether it’s the past, present, or future, He makes all things beautiful in His time.

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New Beginnings

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“…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” II Corinthians 5:17

“The gospel is the incredible news that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and rescue us from eternal separation from God, and that he rose from the dead to give us new life.”
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 26.
 

The sky is blue. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and the birds are happily chirping their favorite song. It’s spring. It’s the time when that which is dormant begins to awake, when the seeds once buried beneath the earth begin to sprout, and when that which has been slumbering rests no more.

Much in the same way that spring represents new life and a fresh start, so does the empty cross and the barren tomb that once held the Savior of the world. While the cross represents Christ’s sacrificial grace and forgiveness, the tomb reminds us that what is broken can be restored and what is dead can be brought back to life. There is no heart so wounded that He cannot mend it, no relationship so broken that He cannot restore it, and no sin too great that He cannot forgive it.

Food for Thought

New beginnings begin at the cross. Need a fresh start? His grace and forgiveness offer you the opportunity to begin again – and help others do the same.

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Amazing Grace

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 “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Acts 15:11

“When you realize that you can’t ultimately forgive in your own strength – that only God can give you the desire and ability to truly forgive other’s sins – then you will find the strength you need to give others the amazing gift of forgiveness and experience reconciled relationships.”

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 98
 

One of the most remarkable events in all of history occurred when grace came to us by way of God’s one and only son, Jesus. He made His entrance into the world as a helpless infant, exchanged the grandeur of heaven for a humble birth in a lowly stable, and left streets of gold to walk these dusty roads.

In His final days, His recognition as a “king” earned Him a crown of gnarly, twisted thorns instead one made of fine ornaments and jewels. There was no coronation for the King of Kings. Instead, He endured a crucifixion at the hands of the very people He was dying to save. In the midst of His suffering on the cross for the sins of all humanity, in agony He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Food for Thought

This kind of grace is impossible – that’s why it is so amazing. In those moments when you’re finding someone too hard to forgive, you don’t have to live out this grace on your own – the One who so generously forgave you can help you forgive.

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Settling the Score

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“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge.” Romans 12:17-19a

“When it comes to granting forgiveness, God calls us to what feels like an outrageously high standard. Fortunately, he also gives us the grace and guidance we need to forgive others as he has forgiven us.”                                                                                                                                                                                                
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 87
 

The offense was egregious. The result was deep pain and inexplicable devastation. No explanation or extenuating circumstance could ever rise to the level of excusing what happened. It was wrong – enough said.

Perhaps you’ve been there. In just one moment, or series of moments, the unwanted intrusion of injustice, betrayal, gossip, lies, deceit, or slander enters your world, shattering hearts and devastating relationships. In those trying times, what do you do? Hold a grudge? Get even? Hurt the one that hurt you?

Food for Thought

When dealing with an offense, there’s more than one way to settle the score. You can seek retribution or choose forgiveness.

Retribution is easy. Forgiveness is hard. Just look to the cross. It is a painful, yet beautiful reminder of the price our Savior was willing to pay to reconcile us to Himself. As children of God, we are compelled to follow His example of compassion and grace.

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