Unapologetic

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There are two little words that we often find hard to say, yet they have the power to quell many a quarrel and end many a fight. When uttered with humility and authenticity, they offer a glimmer of hope and the possibility of change. These two little words are simple, yet strong: I’m sorry.

As tough as it can be to bring ourselves to a place of repentance, often times, it is more challenging to find capacity in our hearts to give up a grudge, overlook an offense, and forgive the one at fault – especially when there is no evidence of remorse or authentic repentance.

I would imagine that Jacob found this to be the case, too.

After leaving home, Jacob went to live with his Uncle Laban. It was there that he fell head-over-heels in love with Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachel. So deep was Jacob’s love for her, that he agreed to spend seven years working for his uncle in exchange for her hand in marriage. However, when the wedding day finally arrived, Laban deceived his future son-in-law. Under the cover of darkness, he gave his older daughter, Leah, to Jacob as his bride.

Undoubtedly stunned and angered by this egregious act of deception, Jacob confronted his uncle: “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” And Jacob did so. (Genesis 29:25b-28a)

Laban offered no apology – no evidence of contrition, humility or repentance. Yet, Jacob didn’t escalate the argument, demand his rights, or wait for a demonstration of remorse. Instead, he chose to accept the injustice, and simply moved on with life.

Not all offenses can or should be overlooked. Yet, Jacob found that there are times when it is possible to extend grace, rather than seek justice… times when it Is to “one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

Final thoughts…

As peacemakers, we are confronted with pivotal choices. When we are in the wrong, will we admit our fault or will we rationalize our actions? When we are wronged, will we fight back or will we forgive?

Whether we need to be brought to the point of repentance or to the point of forgiveness, when we go to our Father and surrender everything to Him, He can help us sort through all that is in our hearts and take the (sometimes) difficult steps to restore a broken relationship. Do you long for peace? Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Discoveries Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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There is much to be discovered in that all-too-familiar difficult place in our lives – the rock and a hard place. Sometimes when we come to this place, our less than stellar qualities are revealed, like the tendency to panic under pressure or struggle through debilitating indecision. Yet, there are other times when we find ourselves divinely empowered to face our fears, to tackle tough choices, and to overcome obstacles.

The Scripture tells of one such man who found himself between a rock and a hard place. Jacob used deceptive tactics to receive the blessing of the firstborn, but it came at a high price. It resulted in his parents instructing him to move far away from home so that he would not fall victim to the murderous intentions of his angry brother (Genesis 27:42-43).

So, under unpleasant circumstances, Jacob left home. Knowing what he’d left behind, but not sure of all that was ahead, he began his journey. Did he have questions? Doubts? Fears? Who wouldn’t? Yet, that night when he stopped to rest, “Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway,” (Genesis 28:11b:12, NIV).

As Jacob’s head rested against that rock, the Lord gently reiterated that He was the God of his father and grandfather, and that He would make good on the promise to bless him and his children. What’s more, the Lord offered assurance of His protection along the way. In that moment, Jacob was no longer between a rock and a hard place. He was between a rock and a heavenly place. A place that gave him the hope and strength to continue his journey.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had my fair share of moments between a rock and a hard place. As hard as they’ve been, I’ve made some of my most important discoveries during these difficult times. I’ve discovered my weakness and my Savior’s strength, my inadequacy and His sufficiency, my limitations and the infinite bounds of His greatness.

If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place in your relationships, you may not be able to move the rock, but perhaps the hard place can be transformed into a heavenly place – a place where your heart is touched by the Savior, comforted by His precious promises, and reminded that He will never leave or forsake you.

No matter what personal or relational challenges you may be facing, I urge you to go to Christ. As you do, may you discover – or perhaps rediscover – the strength you need to continue on your way, to do some soul searching, and to pursue a place restoration and peace. Leave behind the hard place. Embrace the heavenly place. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Much Ado About What To Do

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There are few things as simple, straightforward, or timeless as the Golden Rule: “So in all things, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12a, NIV). Even though Jesus’ words couldn’t be any clearer, the Golden Rule is probably among the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture. Many believe Jesus actually instructed us to “do to others as they do to you” – a vastly different proposition, indeed!

While there are many examples in Scripture of people who faithfully followed the guidance and example of our Savior, there are others who opted for more of a “do to others as they do to you” mentality. Such was the case for Esau, the brother of Jacob. While there’s no question that he did himself no favors with his own unwise decisions, he also suffered much as a result of the deception, lies, and misguided ambitions of his mother and brother (Genesis 25:29-34; Genesis 27:1:41).

Deeply wounded by the betrayal of his family, the Scriptures tell us that Esau held a grudge. With a heart ripe for revenge, he seized an opportunity to retaliate against his parents in a way that was sure to cause them much heartache and pain: Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there…. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had,” (Genesis 28:6a, 8-9, NIV).

Final thoughts

It’s extraordinarily difficult to “do to others what you would have them to do to you” – to love without limits, to extend grace instead of holding a grudge, to seek reconciliation instead of retaliation. Trust me, I know. At times I have hurt others, and at times, others have hurt me. No matter my role in the conflict, there are occasions when I have either struggled or altogether failed to respond with the kindness in keeping with a committed follower of Christ.

The great news is that our Father doesn’t expect you or me to do this in our own strength. Instead He invites us to come to Him, then as our hearts are touched by His grace, He empowers us to extend and receive the same love and forgiveness that He has so freely given to us. Following in the compassionate footsteps of our Savior will take a lot of patience and resolve, but is worth the effort. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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The Fallout

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If you’ve ever made a decision that came back to bite you, you’ve known the sting of regret. If you’ve ever taken a risk that wasn’t worth the reward, you’ve known the sting of loss. If you’ve made these decisions within the context of your own family, you’ve probably known just how serious the fallout can be.

As a mother, I’m sure Rebekah would attest to this reality. Rebekah plotted with her favorite son, Jacob, to strip from Esau the all-important blessing of the firstborn – and their plan worked. Esau was angry about losing his father’s blessing… so angry that he threatened to kill his brother!

When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘“Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you.  Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran.  Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”’ (Genesis 27:42-45, NIV, emphasis mine).

When Rebekah devised her scheme to deceive her husband and pit one of her sons against the other, she was taking an enormous risk. Even so, I wonder if she ever imagined in her wildest dreams that her actions would cost so much. We may never know, but there’s no doubt that her actions underscore this one important truth: when you play with fire, you – and sometimes those around you – get burned.

Final thoughts…

The deceptive scheme Rebekah and Jacob executed in the span of one day had consequences that lasted a lifetime. The same is often true for us – but there is hope.

If your family has experienced the fallout of deception, favoritism, or the like, remember that the same God who has the power to calm the winds and the waves is mighty enough to bring peace to the storm that wages within your family. If you’ll come to Him and ask Him to search your hearts and know your thoughts, He can guide your footsteps in the way you should go (Psalm 139:23-24). The journey may be hard. The road may be steep, but the path to reconciliation is just ahead. Start today. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Whatever It Takes

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I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal. While there’s no doubt that the self-sacrifice, determination, and hard work implied by such a statement are all commendable attributes, doing “whatever it takes” isn’t always a recipe for success. It just might be a recipe for disaster.

Take for example Rebekah and Jacob’s crafty plot to deceive an old man and defraud a young man of his rightful blessing (Genesis 27:1-40). In those days, it was customary for the father to bestow a blessing on his oldest son before his departure from this earth. Sensing that his time was near, Isaac called for his oldest son, Esau, and asked him to go hunting and prepare a meal for him so that he could impart the blessing.

Overhearing this conversation, Rebekah sprang into action. She pulled aside her son, Jacob, and offered the details of her plan. It involved killing a couple of goats, preparing a meal to Isaac’s liking, and Jacob disguising himself as his brother. Jacob was worried that the plan might blow up and that his father would curse him, not bless him. Still, his mother urged him to move forward with the plan: ‘“My son, let the curse fall on me.  Just do what I say…”’ (Genesis 27:13, NIV).

Rebekah and Jacob didn’t just come up with a plot. It was a calculated and carefully contrived conspiracy. They were willing to do whatever it took to get the blessing, and they succeeded in achieving their goal. While their misguided ambition and manipulative actions may have brought them short-term success, they also set themselves up for long-term disaster.

Final thoughts…

There will always be those who are motivated to get what they want, and will do almost anything to achieve it – even if it means compromising their values or mistreating others. While these tactics may move a person closer to an immediate goal, many times it results in lasting detrimental consequences for the relationship.

There may be some of us who have created heartache for others by doing whatever it took to achieve our objectives, and some of us have been hurt by the manipulative or deceptive actions of others. Even though the wounds are deep and the healing process is hard, peace is possible. If those who are hurt will go to the Savior, they can surrender their pain and brokenness. Those who have caused the offense can examine their own hearts and make peace with God before doing the same with a brother or sister.  If our hearts are willing, our Father can help us move forward on the difficult – but rewarding – path to forgiveness. Take one step at a time. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Taking Advantage of Opportunities – Or Others?

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Many a success story has been the result of someone who was willing to seize the day, strike when the iron was hot, and open the door when opportunity knocked – but, are there times when passing up a chance of a lifetime is the better choice?

I think the answer to this question becomes clear in one notable interaction between Jacob and Esau. After a long day of hunting, Esau returned home weak and famished only to be greeted by the smell of the savory stew Jacob had prepared. Rather than acting with compassion, Jacob exploited the plight of his brother. Although he did offer Esau something to eat, it came with one demand: the birthright must be given as payment for the meal. ‘“Look, I am about to die,”’ Esau said. ‘“What good is the birthright to me?”’ But Jacob said, ‘“Swear to me first.”’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob,” (Genesis 25:31-33, NIV).

Jacob wasn’t simply making the most of an opportunity – he had become an opportunist. Motivated by self-serving interests, he was willing to abandon the virtue of brotherly love for his own personal gain. He pursued a goal to the detriment of his principles, which resulted in a relationship that was deeply compromised and undermined.

Final thoughts…

Aspirations are noble. Ambition is commendable. Achievements are laudable. Yet, we would do well to pursue our goals in a way that ensures we are taking advantage of opportunities – not the ones around us.

Has conflict entered your space as a result of the opportunistic choices of others? Take it to the Father. Open your heart, and surrender it all to Him – the pain, the bitterness, the fallout. When you’re ready to work on the relationship, take one step… then take another. You can do it. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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A Dangerous Game

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Games are fun… or at least they’re supposed to be. Yet, there is one universally popular game that isn’t fun at all – just dangerous. Some who play the game are blissfully unaware, while others play it with great intentionality. This divisive, destructive game has a simple name. We call it “Favorites.”

The game isn’t new. While I can’t be sure when or where it originated, there’s no question that an active game of “Favorites” was being played in the home of Isaac and Rebekah. Their son, Esau, was a skillful hunter, but their son, Jacob, was happy to stay at home…. “Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob,” (Genesis 25:27-28, NIV).

Isaac and Rebekah’s family wrestled with many complex issues (Genesis 25:19-33:20), which tends to be true for many families who find themselves in conflict. Even so, there’s no doubt in my mind that favoritism was a significant contributing factor to their internal struggles.

As we consider their story – and perhaps our own – it’s not surprising that in the game of “Favorites” there are winners – and, well… losers. Those who find themselves on the short end of the stick may feel diminished, inadequate, undervalued, and even unloved. While favoritism doesn’t always result in a full-blown conflict, over time, there’s a decent chance it can compromise the overall well-being of relationships within the family.

Final thoughts…

It’s not uncommon for those who play “Favorites” to either be unaware or in denial concerning their involvement in this dangerous game. When this is the case, the issue of favoritism becomes an even tougher problem to tackle.

Is favoritism creating division within your family? If you don’t know the answer to that question, or if the answer is “yes,” go to the Father. If you’ll come to Him with a humble heart, He can help you recognize and address the issues in a way that can bring about hope and healing in your home. It may take some time, but don’t let that deter you. Instead, look to your Savior. Trust Him to lead the way. Then, walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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When Differences Divide

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They say opposites attract. When it comes to relationships, there’s plenty of evidence to back up that theory. Often times, a saver will marry a spender, an introvert will marry an extrovert, and a procrastinator will marry a planner. As time passes, the differences that initially were appreciated – or maybe just tolerated – tend to be the very things that will lead to relational conflict.  In some cases, that which is opposite no longer attracts. It repels. While this is true in some marriages, this same issue can occur between other family members and friends, too.

That said, sometimes opposites never attract. They only repel. Take the twins, Jacob and Esau, for example. These boys were as different as night and day, and their struggle with one another apparently began before birth. So much so, that the Lord explained to their mother, Rebekah, the reason for the jostling taking place inside of her: ‘“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger,” (Genesis 25:23, NIV).  As Jacob and Esau got older, their differences became even more apparent: “The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents,” (Genesis 25:27, NIV).

If you are at all familiar with the rest of Jacob and Esau’s story, then you know the conflict between them escalated for many years. Sadly, their ongoing struggle resulted in a tremendous amount of pain and heartache for both them and their family.

Final thoughts…

It’s easy to get hung up on our differences. Trust me, I know. Been there. Done that.

Relationships struggle when we allow that which divides us to overtake that which unites us. Are you struggling with a relationship that is divided by differences? I encourage you to look to the Father.  Examine your heart. Then, do all you can to make it right. It’ll take selflessness. It’ll take patience – but it’s worth it. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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When Difficult People Interrupt the Peace

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Most of us desire a life of peace and tranquility. Yet, as we diligently work to pursue that goal, we will encounter a few “interrupters” who are quick to find fault, take issue, push back, stir the pot, and ruffle feathers. When our paths cross, tension mounts as our patience is tried and our plans for peace are tested.

I think it’s safe to say that Isaac encountered a good number of “interrupters” at Gerar. In their envy, they not only made life unbearable by filling his wells with dirt, but the king actually ordered him to leave the country, too. Under these challenging circumstances, Isaac moved his family, his flocks, and all his belongings to a new location to provide for their needs.

You would think that would have put an end to the conflict, but Isaac’s troubles had just begun: Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.  But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, ‘“The water is ours!”’ So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, ‘“Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land,”’ (Genesis 26:19-22, NIV).

When someone interrupts our peace, often our first impulse is to respond in kind. Yet, when Isaac encountered such adversity, he didn’t demand his rights. He laid them down. Although this came at a great personal price, God honored his quiet perseverance. In the end, Abimilech (king of Gerar) recognized the blessings of God on Isaac, and together they forged an agreement to live at peace with one another (Genesis 26:26-31).

Final thoughts…

When difficult people interrupt the peace in our lives, we have a choice to make. While some grievances simply cannot be overlooked and elicit a need for an honest, loving response, there are other times when the better option is to look past an offense, take the hit, absorb the loss, and choose to move past the injury.

While it’s not always easy to discern which offenses merit justice and which ones call for mercy, as we seek the Father’s heart and then examine our own, He can empower us to make the kind of choices that are a clear testimony of His goodness and grace at work in our lives. Dealing with difficult people? Peace is possible. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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When Discontentment Leads To…

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It’s been said that comparison of ourselves with others breeds discontentment – and often times, this is true. When we look at those around us, it doesn’t take long to find someone more educated, accomplished, successful, or financially secure with a perfect spouse and model children. If discontentment is allowed to linger, it can morph into something vile and ugly – we call it envy.

Envy is not merely a 21st century problem, but can be traced back to the events recorded early on Scripture. A perfect example of envy is found in Genesis 26. During a time of famine, God directed Abraham’s son, Isaac, to take up residence in the land of the Philistines. God promised to bless Isaac, and while he was there, his crops yielded a hundred fold and he grew in wealth and possessions.

As you might imagine, this did not set well with the locals. “He [Isaac] had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him,” (Genesis 26:14, NIV). Jealous of Isaac’s increasing wealth and possessions, the people of Gerar retaliated against him, filling his wells with dirt. Eventually, the king even forced him to move away from their territory.

Have you ever been in Isaac’s shoes? Have you dealt with other people, who through a process of comparison, determined that you were a barrier to their success? If their discontentment turned to envy, it may have led to some form of retaliation. Perhaps they took action to undermine or harm you, your reputation, your career, or your family. If so, the offense was significant. The hurt was substantial. The pain was real.

Now, let’s look at this from another vantage point. Have you ever been in the shoes of the Philistines? Have you seen someone else prosper, and felt that their success might stand in the way of your own? Whether this only led to envious thoughts, or resulted in harmful words or actions, there’s no doubt that the other person was negatively impacted by your jealousy – and so were you.

Final thoughts…

Each of our stories are different, but I wonder how many of us have found ourselves on either side of this equation at one time or another. Whether we’ve experienced envy-induced retaliation, or we ourselves have felt diminished by the success of another, these are the kinds of things that can cause us to lose our way on the Path of Peace.

When envy rears its ugly head, it’s best to take our eyes off people, and focus on our Father – to stop fixating on what’s taking place in their hearts and lives, and carefully examine our own. As we do, we are more likely to find a way to live in peace with our fellow man. Dealing with envy? Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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