Peacemaker Ministries

 

Easy Does It

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

 

Gentleness is especially appropriate if the person who wronged you is experiencing unusual stress. If so, the wrong done to you may be a symptom of a deeper problem. By responding in a gentle and compassionate manner, you may minister powerfully to the other person.

 

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

Food For Thought...

A gentle answer turns away wrath and could possibly open up the door topeacemaking. Directly confronting an unusually stressed-out person rarely proves effective. The defenses go up and the door of conversation usually gets slammed shut. Consider how this happens in your own life. When you're unusually stressed, are you just wishing someone would come up and directly confront you? Even if you're the one in the wrong? Probably not.

But is an unusually stressed-out person grateful when someone treats them with gentleness? Even if they're in the wrong? Almost always. The defenses are lowered and you just might be invited in; in where the deeper issue resides that may not have anything to do with you. So think about who you might be particularly gentle with this week, and pray that instead of stirring up anger, you might minister powerfully to that person.

The next time you're about to hit "send" to fire off an e-mail missile, just say no. Hit delete. Take the "No E-mail Missiles" non-proliferation pledge. Try sending a much shorter, kinder message that reaffirms the importance of the relationship in question and that invites further communication in person or by phone--communication in which you pledge to listen to the other party and to acknowledge your own contributions to the conflict. When it comes to conflict resolution, there's simply no substitute for face-to-face or voice-to-voice.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Without Love, Your Peacemaking Gains Nothing

The love Jesus commands us to show to one another has little to do with warm feelings; in fact, he commands us to show love even when it is the last thing in the world we feel like doing (Luke 6:27-28). The love that Jesus wants us to show for one another leaves no room for unresolved conflict: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, nor is it self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 48.

Food For Thought...

Do you remember the verse that comes in 1 Corinthians right before the above quote? In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul reminds us that even the actions that seem the holiest become worthless if not performed with an attitude of love. If it is possible to “give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames” and yet “gain nothing”, as Paul indicates, then how much more is it possible for us to make peace and resolve conflict and yet have not love? Without love, peacemaking is, at best, a helpful interpersonal relationship technique and, at worst, a clever manipulation. We should never permit ourselves to rely so much on our training or techniques that we fail to examine our hearts each time we seek to reconcile others in the name of Jesus.

On the other hand, when both our attitude and actions in peacemaking are filled with love, look at how Paul’s words encourage us: Peacemaking protects. Peacemakingtrusts. Peacemaking hopes. Peacemaking always perseveres! This is only possible when the Holy Spirit works in us to enable us to truly love those from whom we are estranged, or to help others to love when they are estranged from one another.

The next time you're about to hit "send" to fire off an e-mail missile, just say no. Hit delete. Take the "No E-mail Missiles" non-proliferation pledge. Try sending a much shorter, kinder message that reaffirms the importance of the relationship in question and that invites further communication in person or by phone--communication in which you pledge to listen to the other party and to acknowledge your own contributions to the conflict. When it comes to conflict resolution, there's simply no substitute for face-to-face or voice-to-voice.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Stay Together

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:23

 

Since peace and unity are essential to an effective Christian witness, you can be sure that there is someone who will do all he can to promote conflict and division among believers. Satan, whose name means “adversary,” likes nothing better than to see us at odds with one another. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b).

 

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

Food For Thought...

Have you heard the saying, in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity?

Ken states: “Satan…likes nothing better than to see us at odds with one another.” It seems like one of the ways we as believers end up at odds with one another is by focusing on how odd one another is; in other words, by focusing on what is peculiar or distinct about us. Yes, it’s true that we’re not all the same, but it’s also true that we share much in common.

Now this is not a call for mindless ecumenicism. We must be wise in determining what is "essential" and what is "non-essential." And though there are many "non-essentials" we differ on (you can insert your list of differences here), we still must remember that we share much common ground. Look at how much we have in common according to Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Believers that stand together on the essentials and love one another provide an effective Christian witness and create a united front against the hungry, roaring lion.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

E-mail: The Relationship Blowtorch

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." John 5:21

 

Letters can sometimes serve a useful purpose. If the other person has refused to respond positively to telephone calls or personal conversations, a brief letter may be the only way to invite further communication. If you must resort to communicating by letter, write as personally and graciously as possible. Avoid quoting numerous Bible references, or you will seem to be preaching. Also, at least during initial letters, do not try to explain or justify your conduct in writing, because it will probably be misunderstood. Use your letter to invite communication, and try to leave detailed explanations for a personal conversation. If time allows, set aside the first draft of a letter for a day or two. When you reread it, you may catch words that will do more harm than good.

 

(Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 174.

Food For Thought...

Have you ever heard the story about the serious disagreement that was brought to a happy ending when one person wrote a long, powerful e-mail to the other person? Neither have we. And that ought to give us pause. E-mail and letters (and for that matter, Facebook posts, blog comments, and texts) are great for starting fights and deepening disagreements but far worse at resolving conflicts. Why is that?

The desire to resolve conflict via the written word is usually rooted in two convictions: First, that we need to choose our words carefully (more carefully than we might in person), and second, that if we could just get the other person to listen carefully and attentively to our perspective, then the whole argument between us could be resolved. The first of those aims is laudable; the second is usually sadly mistaken at best and incredibly selfish at worst.

The next time you're about to hit "send" to fire off an e-mail missile, just say no. Hit delete. Take the "No E-mail Missiles" non-proliferation pledge. Try sending a much shorter, kinder message that reaffirms the importance of the relationship in question and that invites further communication in person or by phone--communication in which you pledge to listen to the other party and to acknowledge your own contributions to the conflict. When it comes to conflict resolution, there's simply no substitute for face-to-face or voice-to-voice.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Universal Idols

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." John 5:21

 

Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept of idolatry is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on ... in short, it is something we love and pursue more than God (see Phil. 3:19).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 104.

Food For Thought...

When was the last time you heard a pull-out-the-stops sermon on idols? How about a straight-up-tell-it-like-it-is book on personal idols? What about a conversation over coffee that kinda-sorta-talked about idols? Maybe every once in a while, but for the most part, we don't like to talk about idols. As Ken reminds us, they are always something very personal.

The Food For Thought line above usually has a question of some sort to prompt reflection. This time it has nothing but question marks -- four to be exact. Allow those four question marks to raise this question, "What are four things, besides God, that your heart is set on?" In other words, take time and identify four idols in your life. Not your spouse's life, or your co-worker's, or your neighbor's. Your life. Your idols. What are you depending on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure?


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Evil Has A Name

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

 

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. Both James and Peter were aware of this danger, and they warn us to actively resist Satan's schemes (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9). Paul gives a similar warning, reminding us that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12).

 

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...

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." -- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Who is your most dangerous enemy?

Think about it for a moment. What would you say? Odds are that among both non-Christians and Christians, most of us would answer in terms of flesh and blood; in other words, someone or some group of people. But as Ken reminds us, that's just not the case. Three scriptural authors -- Peter, James and Paul -- all echo the reality that our most dangerous enemy in this life is Satan.

There is an enemy out there and we're basically oblivious to his schemes - we're asleep at the wheel. We just keep on blaming each one another, a.k.a., flesh and blood, for everything that's going on. Ken says it well: Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts.

If we have any intention of living as peacemakers, it's imperative that we live with an awareness of our most dangerous enemy. Now it is true that most of our struggle comes through flesh and blood, but we've got to be self-controlled and alert, remembering that it's not ultimately against flesh and blood that we battle.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Indirect Approach (Football Style)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16

We should also note that Scripture provides numerous favorable examples of approaching others indirectly instead of bluntly describing their wrongs. Jesus did not directly confront the Samaritan woman at the well about living in adultery. Instead, he approached the issue indirectly by using questions and assessing her own life (John 4:1-18). Jesus frequently used parables and stories as roundabout ways to help people see their sins (see, e.g., Matt. 21:33-45; Luke 15)…As these and many similar passages indicate, we need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 145.

Food For Thought...

For you football fans out there, you probably enjoyed the Super Bowl recently — an exciting game to be sure. It is an exhilarating experience to watch a finely tuned football team play. The finesse and intricacy of some plays is simply beautiful. And more importantly, effective. But compare that to the way most schoolyard football games are played — give the ball to the kid and he runs it straight up the middle. No grace here or shrewdness, this is just head-tucked-knees-high-full-steam-ahead-force. And sure, it can be pretty effective.

But sometimes this direct confrontation results in yardage gains measured in inches and a weary ball carrier. Possibly even an injured ball carrier. Would those phrases describe your peacemaking plays lately? Yardage in inches? Maybe even some yardage losses? A weariness that’s causing you to question even wanting to stay in the game? Or an injury to the heart that’s got you sidelined? OK, call a time out, catch your breath, and return to the field as innocent as a dove, but as shrewd as a snake. Stop making every peacemaking attempt a direct confrontation. Start being open to the Coach showing you ways of running plays that you’d never considered before. Wise up – the game is a full four quarters. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not lose heart. Let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. And hear the Coach say, “Well done!”


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

An Enemy of Grace

There are many conflicts that require a lot of time and effort to resolve. But there are far more that can be resolved simply by overlooking minor offenses or relinquishing rights for the sake of God’s kingdom. Therefore, before focusing on your rights, take a careful look at your responsibilities. Before you go to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, ask yourself, “Is this really worth fighting over?”

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 98.

Food For Thought...

Reflect on this last week and notice the times when a spirit of entitlement rose up in your heart. What is it you really thought you deserved?

There was once a conference leader speaking to a group of pastors. He was sharing how important it was for a church to have a spirit of grace throughout all it does. He posed this question: “What do you think is the most significant threat to that spirit of grace?” Several answers were given, all of them valid. Then someone asked him, “What do you think?” He answered, “A spirit of entitlement.”

A lot of conflicts can be resolved by relinquishing rights for the sake of God’s kingdom; in other words, setting the spirit of entitlement aside. Ken is right: before focusing on your rights, take a careful look at your responsibilities.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Gospel: "La Clave" of Biblical Peacemaking

Through the gospel, the foundational G, the Lord enables us to live out the Four G's 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. Through the gospel, God provides both the model and motivation for peacemaking!

 

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...

From The University of Salsa comes the following definition of clave: "Clave rhythm is the basis of Afro-Latin musical styles and is considered the key, the identity, the root, and the 'soul' of the music. It is the temporal key, the main organizing principle, to which every element of arrangement and improvisation in the music must be aligned. The clave rhythm pattern ('La Clave' in Spanish) is therefore embedded in all parts of a piece, from vocals to violins, whether the instrument...is actually played, or not ('implied clave'). Clave is the primary rule and the chief factor that defines all the music called 'Salsa.' Most musically connected, authentic, or culturally/traditionally trained dancers use the clave rhythm as a focus or "metronome" in salsa music to stay in time to the foundation and 'soul' of the music, allowing for a natural appearance and rhythmic, free expression of the music."

When biblical peacemaking is practiced by someone who has not drunk deeply and personally (and recently) of the grace of God, the result is a "chalky aftertaste" for everyone involved. It's like salsa dancing with someone who went to a class and learned all the steps but who doesn't feel "la clave". The key to successfulpeacemaking isn't certification through Peacemaker Ministries; it's having your heart pierced regularly by "la clave" of the gospel.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Practice Makes Peacemakers

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man… Matt. 7:24

 

As Paul warned the Philippians, we cannot change unless we put what we are learning into practice (Phil. 4:9). In other letters, he used athletic metaphors to teach that godly character qualities must be developed through disciplined practice in which we seek to overcome our weaknesses, master the proper techniques, and make a desired behavior natural and automatic (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:14; 2 Peter 1:4-8). As we have seen, conflict provides excellent opportunities for such practice. When an argument develops, give close attention to controlling your tongue. When your desires clash with another’s, recall Jesus’ example and willingly submit. Or, if you have been offended, ask God to help you resist resentment and forgive as he has forgiven you. With God’s help and faithful practice, you can develop a Christ-like character, which will demonstrate your repentance and enable you to enjoy the benefits of peace.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 135.

Food For Thought...

Can you imagine what would happen in a game if a football team never practiced? Players would run wild, unsure of where they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to do. It would be a comedy of errors, with each player relying on his own instincts to try to succeed, but failing miserably.

Is that an apt description of what happens when you get into a conflict situation? A comedy of errors? Relying on your instincts? Failing miserably? As Ken notes, maybe you could use some disciplined practice.

The professional football season is now coming to a climax, but the hard work for today’s best teams began long ago. Champions were forged during the long hot days of summer, practicing in their training camps. They took what was written in their playbooks and worked it out on the practice field, even though their first real game would not be played for weeks. Yet the work they put in paid off later in those critical moments — with their techniques mastered, doing the right thing had become second nature.

If only Christians put that kind of disciplined effort into developing our own characters. Let us learn the “playbook” of God’s word and put it into practice in our own relationships and churches, so that when conflicts come, we’ll be ready, and our natural response will be to do the right thing — exactly what God desires.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Don't Drop Your Weapons!

Paul also understood that God has given us divine weapons to use in our quest for peace. These weapons include Scripture, prayer, truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Eph. 6:10-18; Gal. 5:22-23). To many people, these resources and qualities seem feeble and useless when dealing with "real" problems. Yet these are the very weapons Jesus used to defeat Satan and to conquer the world (e.g., Matt. 4:1-11; 11:28-30; John 14:15-17). Since Jesus chose to use these weapons instead of resorting to worldly weapons, we should do the same.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 248.

Food For Thought...

What weapons do you tend to use when you are in a conflict?

When we finally decide to reconcile with an enemy, we sometimes approach them with an attitude of "dropping our weapons". But Jesus never calls us to be unarmed or passive among our enemies. To the contrary, he calls us to lay down our ineffective worldly weapons (like defensiveness, anger, self-justification, and gossip) in order to take up the truly heavy artillery (like love, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control). Take time today to read Romans 12:14-21 and resolve to take up again the weapons for which the Lord sacrificed so much to equip you.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Right Kind of Friends

As Paul says, it is difficult to battle evil alone (Rom. 12:15-16). This is why it is important to develop relationships with people who will encourage you and give you biblically sound advice. These friends should also be willing to correct and admonish you when they see that you are in the wrong (Prov. 27:5-6).

Godly advisors are especially helpful when you are involved in a difficult conflict and are not seeing the results you desire. If a lack of noticeable progress causes you to doubt the biblical principles you are following, you may be tempted to abandon God's ways and to resort to the world's tactics. One of the best ways to avoid straying from the Lord is to surround yourself with wise and spiritually mature people who will encourage you to stay on a biblical course, even when the going is tough. 

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 250.

Food For Thought...

Some time ago, I was miserably slogging my way through a painful conflict. I knew all of the biblical peacemaking principles by heart--but here I was having to live them out after having been terribly hurt by someone. During that time, I wanted to surround myself with "yes men" who would pat me on the shoulder, tell me how "wrong" and "mean" the other person was, and basically just feed my idols, unbelief, and selfishness.

Thank God that instead, he sent me godly and wise advisors who loved me enough to tell me the truth:

"Tara, you are focusing on yourself, your circumstance and the other person. Of course you will only despair! Look to the Cross! Remember Christ! Fix your eyes on eternity!"

"Dear one, we are praying against anything or anyone that would enable you to get out of this situation." (I wanted to run far, far away--both figuratively and literally!) "Instead, we are praying for the grace for you to persevere in love. How can we help?"

"It's OK that you don't have any faith right now, Tara. Take comfort in the Lord and his Body. I'll believe for you. Trust in him. Let me serve you. Let's go to the Lord in prayer."

Even though my heart cried out, "No!", I knew they were right. I am so grateful for these godly advisors.

So the next time you are facing a conflict or broken relationship, ask yourself these questions:

• Am I surrounding myself with people who only tell me what I want to hear? Or do I have true friends, wise and godly advisors, who love me enough to tell me the truth?

• Are my "friends" just placating my complaining and whining? Or are they leading me in repentance, confession, and faith?

• What kind of advisor am I? Do I bring others the hope of the gospel and the practical help of biblical peacemaking?

--- 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.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Right Kind of Gains in the New Year

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.Proverbs 19:11

When we overlook the wrongs of others, we are imitating God’s extraordinary forgiveness toward us: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:8-10).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 82.

Food For Thought...

Want to experience some gains, fast? Well, you probably experienced some gains over the holidays as the candies, cookies, and festive meals took their toll. But that's not what we're talking about. Instead, try this no-fail exercise.

You’ve seen lists of New Year’s Resolutions, right? You’ve probably even crafted a few yourself. Have you ever seen this one on anyone’s list? “I resolve this New Year to overlook more offenses.” Yeah, that’s a rare one.

But the writer of Proverbs indicates that when we overlook an offense, it adds directly to our glory. We experience a gain. And since the only glory we will ever have is a reflection of God’s, those overlooked offenses are adding to the glory of the Most High. God experiences a "gain."

“What kind of gain?” you ask. By exercising our patience and overlooking offenses, we are increasing His Name and Fame throughout the land. We are drawing the eyes of men and women to Him. We are imitating his compassion. We are beingpeacemakers, getting in shape for the Kingdom that is coming!


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

A New Year's Resolution that Will Really Work

Paul realized that a true peacemaker is guided, motivated, and empowered by his or her identity in Christ. This identity is based on faith in the most amazing promise we could ever hear: God has forgiven all our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son. And he has given us the freedom and power to turn from sin (and conflict), to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and to be his ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-20). It is the realization of who we are in Christ that inspires us to do the unnatural work of dying to self, confessing sin, addressing others' wrongs graciously, laying down rights, and forgiving deep hurts--even with people who persist in opposing or mistreating us.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 248.

Food For Thought...

New Year's resolutions are so notorious for being broken that many of us don't even bother to make them. After all, doesn't our determination to lose weight, to get along with our co-workers, or (fill in the blank!) dissolve the minute temptation strikes?

The apostle Paul recognized that change does not happen by making resolutions to try harder. In fact, our nature is such that even when we do our best, we inevitably stumble and fall. This is because we are trying to change who we are in our own strength, rather than living out of our true identity in Christ. Real change must flow from our identity as the sons and daughters of God, who through Christ have been forgiven of our past sins and given the Holy Spirit to guide us into obedience.

What are some New Year's resolutions that you can make that result from your identity as a peacemaker? Here is a potential resolution that demonstrates the way our obedience arises out of what God has done for us in Christ (it might look familiar to you because it is the Peacemaker's Pledge):

"As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ. Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles..."

Because we are still fallen people living in a fallen world, we will stumble as we seek to live out these resolutions. But do not lose heart, because we have God's promise that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

We at Peacemaker Ministries wish you a blessed New Year, and we encourage you to go in peace and to serve the Lord, knowing that Christ has already called you and empowered you with all you need to be a true peacemaker!


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Meeting Your Enemy's Deepest Needs

The final principle for responding to a stubborn opponent is described in Romans 12:20-21: "On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Here is the ultimate weapon: deliberate, focused love (cf. Luke 6:27-28; 1 Cor. 13:4-7). Instead of reacting spitefully to those who mistreat you, Jesus wants you to discern their deepest needs and do all you can to meet those needs. Sometimes this will require going to them to show them their faults. At other times there may be a need for mercy and compassion, patience, and words of encouragement. You may even have opportunities to provide material and financial assistance to those who least deserve it or expect it from you.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 253-254.

Food For Thought...

TV, radio, newspapers--all are overflowing this week with advertisements for "the perfect gift for the one you love this holiday season." But according to Jesus, Christmas is only truly Christmas if our hearts are yearning to give the perfect gift... to our enemies:

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked" (Lk. 6:32-35).

After all, at Christmas, God gave the perfect gift--his son, Jesus--to his enemies--namely, us! So make it a point this Christmas to imitate God by meeting your enemy's deepest need.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Empty Gifts

"…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph. 4:32

I could see the weariness in his face. "I'm sure both of you are in terrible pain, Rick. But I don't think divorce is going to end it. You'll just trade one kind of pain for another. There is a way to keep your marriage together and to truly put the past behind you. But you won't find it with the empty forgiveness you've offered Pam."

"What do you mean, 'empty forgiveness'?"

 

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...

Does your forgiveness promise a lot but deliver a little?

"Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" are both in the past, and many of us have gotten a jump on our Christmas shopping. Now that you've worked so hard to find a gift for a loved one, would you neglect to actually include it in the box when you give it to him or her?

Empty forgiveness. What if we confessed a serious sin to God and He said, "I forgive you…but I can't be close to you, ever again?" We'd probably have a very strong reaction to that, countering with something like, "Well, that's just empty forgiveness!" And it is. It's not how God acts. But that's how we act sometimes.

Consider for a moment those times this past year where it looked like you gave the gift of forgiveness; however, once the person opened it, they found the box was empty. For whatever reason(s), you've withheld intimacy or friendship, and you've just traded one kind of pain for another. As you head into the Christmas season, make sure the gift of forgiveness is more than a bright covering of wrapping and bows with nothing inside. Instead, by God's grace, make your gifts jam-packed with true forgiveness, modeling the forgiveness that you have received from God in Christ (Eph. 4:32).


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Overcome Evil with Good

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

Peacemaking does not always go as easily as we would like it to. Although some people will readily make peace, others will be stubborn and defensive and resist our efforts to be reconciled. Sometimes they will become even more antagonistic and find new ways to frustrate or mistreat us. Our natural reaction is to strike back at such people, or at least to stop doing anything good to them. However, Jesus calls us to take a remarkably different course of action: "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ... Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:27-28, 35-36).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 247.

Food For Thought...

Think about someone who could be described by one of the following:

• Your enemy
• Someone who hates you
• Someone who curses you
• Someone who mistreats you

Maybe someone pops right to mind. Or maybe it's a little hard to identify one (though "someone who mistreats you" is quite a one-size-fits-all descriptor of a person who make your life difficult). But in each case, Jesus has called us to this "remarkably different course of action." He calls us to love, do good, bless, and pray. But in our own strength, this command is impossible to obey. Pray that God would give you a special measure of grace today to overcome evil with good, even when it seems the most difficult thing in the world to actually do.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Give Thanks... for CONFLICT?

As usual, Paul [in Philippians 4:2-9] urges us to be God-centered in our approach to conflict. Moreover, he wants us to be joyfully God-centered. Realizing we may skip over this point, Paul repeats it: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” What on earth is there to rejoice about when you are involved in a dispute? If you open your eyes and think about God’s lavish goodness to you, here is the kind of worship you could offer to him, even in the midst of the worst conflict!

O Lord, you are so amazingly good to me! You sent your only Son to die for my sins, including those I have committed in this conflict. Because of Jesus I am forgiven, and my name is written in the Book of Life! You do not treat me as I deserve, but you are patient, kind, gentle, and forgiving with me. Please help me to do the same to others.

In your great mercy, you are also kind to my opponent. Although he has wronged me repeatedly, you hold out your forgiveness to him as you do to me. Even if he and I never reconcile in this life, which I still hope we will, you have already done the work to reconcile us forever in heaven. This conflict is so insignificant compared to the wonderful hope we have in you!

This conflict is so small compared to the many other things you are watching over at this moment, yet you still want to walk beside me as I seek to resolve it. Why would you stoop down to pay such attention to me? It is too wonderful for me to understand. You are extravagant in your gifts to me. You offer me the comfort of your Spirit, the wisdom of your Word, and the support of your church. Forgive me for neglecting these powerful treasures until now, and help me to use them to please and honor you.

I rejoice that these same resources are available to my opponent. Please enable us to draw on them together so that we see our own sins, remember the gospel, find common ground in the light of your truth, come to one mind with you and each other, and restore peace and unity between us.

Finally, Lord, I rejoice that this conflict has not happened by accident. You are sovereign and good, so I know that you are working through this situation for your glory and my good. No matter what my opponent does, you are working to conform me to the likeness of your Son. Please help me cooperate with you in every possible way and give you glory for what you have done and are doing.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 84-85.

Food For Thought...

When you are gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table this week, instead of giving thanks in spite of the present conflicts in your life… give thanks for those conflicts! Pray the above prayer, substituting the names of those from whom you are estranged each time the prayer reads, “my opponent.” Does this change your view of the conflict? Of God’s role in it? Of your opponent? Of what it means to give thanks?


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

The Peacemaker's Harvest

When someone has wronged you, it is also helpful to remember that God is sovereign and loving. Therefore, when you are having a hard time forgiving that person, take time to note how God may be using the offense for good. Is this an unusual opportunity to glorify God? How can you serve others and help them grow in their faith? What sins and weaknesses of yours are being exposed for the sake of your growth? What character qualities are you being challenged to exercise? When you perceive that the person who has wronged you is being used as an instrument in God's hand to help you mature, serve others, and glorify him, it may be easier for you to move ahead with forgiveness.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 216.

Food For Thought...

Conflict, along with trials, suffering, loss, and other hardships, can be what God uses to bring the most good in our own lives or in the lives of those around us. It's often the most painful events of life that bring the biggest harvest.

Harvest is a prominent topic at this time of year. Here in Montana, the sugar beet and wheat harvest is taking place, and by all reports, this year will bring a good harvest. The hard work of tilling, planting, and watering through the year is finally coming to a fruitful end.

In the same way, God brings us through the times of conflict, trial, or suffering that can bring a great harvest. Yes, it's work; often it involves hours (or months) of tears, heartache, and discipline, but the ultimate reward is one of becoming more like Christ. In these situations, God gives us opportunities to glorify him, to serve others, to be a part of what he is doing, and even to receive personal reward. Yet in our stubbornness, our refusal to forgive, or our demand to be right or vindicated, we fail to seize those opportunities. We miss the very harvest for which we've toiled.

The sowing, the tending, and the harvest all depend on each other--one could not happen without the other. But we are promised that "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:18). May your harvest be a great one as you sow peace in the midst of the conflicts you face.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Sinful Desires May Be the Least of Our Worries!

It is important to emphasize the fact that idols can arise from good desires as well as wicked desires. It is often not what we want that is the problem, but that we want it too much. For example, it is not unreasonable for a man to want a passionate sexual relationship with his wife or for a mother to want to stay at home with a newborn baby. Nor is it wrong for an employer to want diligent workers or for a pastor to desire respect from his deacons. These are good desires, but if they turn into demands that must be met in order for us to be satisfied and fulfilled, they can lead to bitterness, resentment, or self-pity that can destroy a family, business, or church.

How can you discern when a good desire might be turning into a sinful demand? You can begin by prayerfully asking yourself "X-ray" questions that reveal the true condition of your heart.

• What am I preoccupied with? What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night?
• How would I answer the question: "If only ______, then I would be happy, fulfilled, and secure"?
• What do I want to preserve or to avoid at all costs?
• Where do I put my trust?
• What do I fear?
• When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?
• Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 104-5.

Food For Thought...

What was the first thing on your mind this morning? How about the last thing on your mind last night? Is there a good desire in your life that's beginning to becoming a recurring thought pattern for you? As you consider this, remember the good news: God has ultimately satisfied that particular "good desire" through his Son. What remains is for us to trust and, through his grace, receive God's eye-opening insight into the ways in which we are beginning to trust, fear, or dwell on something other than God himself. Spend time today in prayer to ask God to reveal areas of your life where you might be elevating a good desire into a sinful demand.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

What Forgiveness is NOT

To understand what forgiveness is, we must first see what it is not. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Forgiveness involves a series of decisions, the first of which is to call on God to change our hearts. As he gives us grace, we must then decide (with our will) not to think or talk about what someone has done to hurt us. God calls us to make these decisions regardless of our feelings--but these decisions can lead to remarkable changes in our feelings.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is a passive process in which a matter fades from memory merely with the passing of time. Forgiving is an active process; it involves a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. To put it another way, when God says that he "remembers your sins no more" (Isa. 43:25), he is not saying that he cannot remember our sins. Rather, he is promising that he will not remember them. When he forgives us, he chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again. Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God's grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. This may require a lot of effort, especially when an offense is still fresh in mind. Fortunately, when we decide to forgive someone and stop dwelling on an offense, painful memories usually begin to fade.

Finally, forgiveness is not excusing. Excusing says, "That's okay," and implies, "What you did wasn't really wrong," or "You couldn't help it." Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. The very fact that forgiveness is needed and granted indicates that what someone did was wrong and inexcusable. Forgiveness says, "We both know that what you did was wrong and without excuse. But since God has forgiven me, I forgive you." Because forgiveness deals honestly with sin, it brings a freedom that no amount of excusing could ever hope to provide.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 206-207.

Food For Thought...

Praise God for his gracious gift of forgiveness to us! The Scripture says "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:32, emphasis added) You will probably have an opportunity to extend forgiveness this week. When you do, try to remember what forgiveness is not, and fix your eyes on the full and gracious forgiveness that God has given you in Jesus Christ.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Staying Grounded

God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble. James 4:6

When you need to show others their faults, do not talk down to them as though you are faultless and they are inferior to you. Instead, talk with them as though you are standing side by side at the foot of the cross. Acknowledge your present, ongoing need for the Savior. Admit ways that you have wrestled with the same or other sins or weaknesses, and give hope by describing how God has forgiven you and is currently working in you to help you change... When people see this kind of humility and common bond, they will be less inclined to react to correction with pride and defensiveness.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 172.

Food For Thought...

Count the words you and your in the paragraph above.

How many did you count? Nine? If there had been one or two uses of the words youand your, it probably wouldn't have drawn any attention. But nine? That's enough where we need to stop, look, and listen. Ken is wisely sharing a beneficial approach to use when we need to show others their faults: talk about your own.

From our peers in the office to aging parents to the children at play in the backyard, nobody likes to be talked down to--nobody! Talking down usually invites a defensiveness that's hard to overcome. Side by side talking, however, lays a common ground that you and the other person can stand on. Interestingly enough, the root word for humility is humus, from which we get our word for ground. Being grounded, or humble, in our approach to these situations provides protection from the lightning bolts of pride and defensiveness.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)

Living Out Matthew 18

When Christians think about talking to someone else about a conflict, one of the first verses that comes to mind is Matthew 18:15: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you." If this verse is read in isolation, it seems to teach that we must always use direct confrontation to force others to admit they have sinned. If the verse is read in context, however, we see that Jesus had something much more flexible and beneficial in mind than simply standing toe to toe with others and describing their sins.

Just before this passage, we find Jesus' wonderful metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found (Matt. 18:12-14). Thus, Matthew 18:15 is introduced with a theme of restoration, not condemnation. Jesus repeats this theme just after telling us to "go and show him his fault" by adding, "If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." And then he hits the restoration theme a third time in verses 21-35, where he uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to remind us to be as merciful and forgiving to others as God is to us (Matt. 18:21-35). Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 144.

Food For Thought...

Jesus is clearly calling for something much more loving and redemptive than simply confronting others with a list of their wrongs. He wants us to remember and imitate his shepherd love for us--seeking after others, helping them turn from sin, and helping them be restored to God and those they have offended. Have you ever heard others in a conflict say, "We followed the Matthew 18 process"? Have you said it yourself? Read all of Matthew 18 and ask the Lord to give you the heart of a shepherd who seeks and gently restores the lost sheep.


(Reprinted with permission from PeaceMaker Ministries)