Paying the Price

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There’s no doubt about it. Anything worth having is worth working for.

While many of us are willing to work hard in pursuit of our practical, personal or professional goals, there are those of us who find it difficult to put the same level of effort into our relationships. Yet if we desire relationships that are moving toward health and healing, it requires a huge investment of our time and energy. It takes a deeply devoted, all-in level of commitment.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see a compassionate man who came close enough to allow his heart to be touched by the pain of a beaten and broken man. We see a man who was willing to get personally involved and do all that he could to help. We see a man who was willing to give of his time, energy, and resources to restore a wounded man to health without concern for the cost.

 … Then [the Good Samaritan] put the [wounded] man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” (Luke 10:34b-35, NIV – emphasis mine).

The Good Samaritan recognized the healing process would take time, and without any conditions or guarantees, he paid the price – not just for healing to begin, but for healing to continue.

Final Thoughts

As I have reflected on the Good Samaritan over these past several weeks, I have been touched by just how far this man was willing to go, how much he was willing to do, and how much he was willing to give to help a stranger begin the journey of healing.

As I have considered his kind and unselfish ways, my own heart has been pricked as I think of my own treasured relationships. Am I unselfish in the way I care for others? Do I invest in my relationships to keep them healthy? For relationships in need of mending, am I committed – fully, deeply, completely committed – to seeing the process of healing through from beginning to end?

If you are wrestling with similar questions, I encourage you to continue to look to your Savior for wisdom and guidance. Allow Him to search your heart and guide your feet along the path of peace. Yes, it may cost you, but I urge you to follow where He leads. Pay the price. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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A Masterpiece in the Making

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It was just a plain old piece of wood. As far as I could tell, it was not extraordinary or special in any way. Yet my father would observe that same piece of wood and see something completely different. As a highly skilled wood artisan, he saw purpose. He saw potential. He saw a future piece of art.

My father had an incredible gift. He didn’t see merely what was. He saw what could be. Then, with great time, effort, and skill, he would take something ordinary and turn it into a masterpiece. All he needed was the vision for what he would create, and then used his tools and hands to create it.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man [who had been robbed and beaten] was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34, NIV).

Like my father, the Good Samaritan didn’t merely see what was. He saw what could be. He didn’t just see a man who was broken. He saw a man who could be restored. Then motivated by compassion, he used his resources to go about making it so. With his own two hands, he bandaged the wounds of this badly beaten man, lifted him on his donkey, and took him to a place where he could receive healing. Oh, that my heart and actions would continually resemble those of this kind and very good Samaritan man!

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t always get behind my father’s eyes and capture the vision for what he would create. Yet, more and more, I find myself longing to get a glimpse of my Heavenly Father’s vision for those around me – to see the potential in those with broken dreams, broken hearts, and broken relationships.

If you and I are willing, we can be extensions of God’s grace to those who are struggling with conflict and pain. Like the Good Samaritan, we may have to roll up our sleeves and be willing to get our hands dirty. Yet as our hearts are touched with compassion, we can use the tools we’ve been given to be a part of ministering to those who are masterpieces in the making. The journey may be tough, but the journey is sweet. Come with me. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Close Enough

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There are some things that are more striking when seen from a distance. Having lived in mountainous areas for many years, I know this to be true. The soaring mountains and the brilliant fall foliage have a beauty that is all their own, yet both are more exceptional and stunning when viewed together against the canvas of a brilliant blue sky.

As striking as it is to see this scenery from a distance, there are some things that take on even more beauty when you see them up close – a snowflake, a flower… a shiny new Harley Davidson!

Then there are certain things that seemingly have no charm, no brilliance, no allure from any distance. Take pain, for example. When we see it up close, we often recoil and want to move far, far away. However, when we are willing to observe and experience the pain up close, it can move us to a greater place of compassion.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead….But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him,” (Luke 10:30, 33, NIV – emphasis mine).

Like the Good Samaritan, I believe that as peacemakers, we are compelled to go where the need is. To move toward people, not away from them. To see the pain up close, not to pull away. It’s a tough thing to do, yet compassion and kindness can be ignited in the hearts of those who are willing to do just that.

Final Thoughts

Conflict. Heartache. Pain. It’s ugly. It’s messy. It’s undesirable. Many times I feel I’ve come close enough to it, yet the Spirit of God calls me to come closer still. Close enough to be moved. Close enough to care. Close enough to get involved.

The Good Samaritan came close to the man in need. Before he could act with compassion, he had to move toward the pain. If we desire to be used by God, then our calling is the same. As our hearts are connected to the Father and yielded to Him, we can move forward in compassion and be used by God to play a part of the healing process in the hearts and lives of others. When you see someone in need, don’t pull back. Come close. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Walking Away

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Living life in the fast lane? So many of us do. From the time our feet hit the floor in the morning until the moment our heads touch the pillow at night, our days are filled with places to go, people to see, commitments to fulfill, and long “to do” lists to complete. There is little time to stop and smell the roses… much less do anything else that isn’t included in our jam-packed schedule.

Whether our calendars are overcrowded or we have room to spare, the disruptions of life can be an annoyance. Things like traffic jams and technology failures can take us off track and keep us from achieving our goals. Yet our lives aren’t always disrupted by things. Sometimes we are disrupted by something much more important – people.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side,” (Luke 10:30-32, NIV).

As I read this parable, I have to wonder why these men didn’t stop to help the battered and broken man. They saw the need…why didn’t they respond? Were they too busy to be bothered? Unwilling to be inconvenienced? Concerned about the cost of getting involved? Afraid of getting in too deep? Whatever their reasons, these men didn’t step in to help. They walked away.

Final Thoughts

As I read this story, I am convicted. I honestly don’t think I could ignore a half dead person on the side of the road. Yet sometimes I sidestep those who find themselves in a place of spiritual, emotional or relational brokenness. I try to console myself with a couple dozen excuses and absolve the guilt of walking away. I don’t have time. This might really cost me. I don’t know how to handle a situation like this. I can’t fix them all. Surely, someone else will help. Deep down I know it’s not what I should do. It’s not what a good neighbor would do. It’s not what Jesus would do.

I wish we could fix every problem and bear every burden. We can’t. But we can go to our Savior, and ask Him to guide our hearts to those whom we can effectively love and serve. As peacemakers, we have the joyous privilege of connecting them to the peace, hope and healing that comes through our Savior. Don’t walk away. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Robbed

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In this broken world, we all experience unwanted loss of some kind. Something or someone has been forcibly taken from us. We feel robbed. Sometimes the loss is intangible. It may be our peace of mind, our sense of well-being, or our state of “normal.” Other times the loss is more tangible – the loss of a job, a decline in health, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship. It hurts. Sometimes to the point that we don’t know how we can face another day.

In one of Jesus’ many teachings, he relayed an illustration that is now commonly known as the parable of The Good Samaritan. In this story, we learn of a man who was traveling, only to encounter a vicious attack: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead,” (Luke 10:30-32, NIV).

Jesus offered very few details about this man. We don’t know his name, his hobbies, his background or his profession. We do know that he was hurt – and hurt badly. He needed to be rescued. He needed to receive care. He needed to be made whole again.

Final Thoughts

I’ve experienced times of pain and brokenness. I’m sure you have too. Even as I write this, my heart weeps as I think of dear families and friends who have been robbed of something very precious to them. As I ache over their suffering, I know there are many others whose names and identities are not known to me, much like the man we read of in this parable. As a follower of Christ and one who has been commissioned to “love my neighbor as myself,” I know I am called at a deeper level to pursue wholeness and peace – not just for myself, but to also lend a hand to others who are broken and hurting, too.

I confess. I don’t know all this entails. Still I believe peace and healing is possible as I apply the principles of the Path of a Peacemaker: ascending (going to the Father), reflecting (examining my heart and role in the situation), and connecting (in God’s timing, partnering with the other person to bring about a healthy resolution to the situation). Do you want to see hearts mended and lives restored? Do you long to bring a message of hope and peace to a hurting world? Then come with me. Together let’s walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Who is My Neighbor?

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Do you ever find that some people are hard to like… harder still to love? While there are times when it may be enough to simply avoid conflict with these folks, there are other times when God calls us to do something more.

In Jesus’ day, there was a religious expert of the law who questioned Him about inheriting eternal life. As they conversed, the topic focused on the importance of loving God wholeheartedly and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The latter gave rise to a follow-up question: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 11:29b, NIV)

The Scripture tells us that the religious expert asked this question in order to “justify himself” (Luke 11:29a). If there was a loophole, he wanted to find it. If there was an exception to the rule, he wanted to know about it.

A few thousand years later we continue to ask that age-old question: Who is my neighbor? Is it the annoying driver who cuts me off during rush hour traffic? Is it the elderly lady who lives just down the street? Is it the impoverished child who lives far away?

Yes, yes, and yes!  It is this and so much more. Our neighbors are the people we do know, and the people we don’t know. They are the ones we care about, and the ones we barely tolerate. It’s the folks who live next door and the ones who live halfway across the globe.

Final Thoughts  

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, NIV). That’s a tall order and an impossible task to undertake in our own strength. Could it be that we are better equipped to succeed in loving our neighbors when we have learned to love God with all that we have and all that we are?

Loving God begins with knowing God – staying in His Word, spending time in His sweet presence, being transformed by His amazing grace. As our hearts come into alignment with His, there may still be those who are hard for us to love. However, we will be equipped with a new level of compassion minister to those in need of understanding and mercy. Walking in grace and forgiveness may still be a challenge, but with the Spirit’s empowerment, it is possible. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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When Time Stands Still

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Sometimes I manage to get through the day only to feel like it was a total loss. Where did time go? What really happened? Was anything of value accomplished? At times, one seemingly unproductive day spills over into the next, until an entire week is gone… completely, totally, utterly gone! Then as I turn the page to the next month on the calendar, what did I have to show for all those days? Sometimes not a whole lot.

When it comes to our struggling relationships, there are moments when we find ourselves dealing with similar issues. The relationship today is no better than it was yesterday…or the day before that. No progress is made. No fences are mended. No healing has occurred. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. All the while, there is no evidence that substantial progress has been made in moving a strained relationship to a stronger, healthier place.

If you’ve been following this blog over the past several weeks, you are familiar with the relational struggles that existed between the two brothers, Jacob and Esau. The tension between them climaxed when Jacob deceitfully stole the blessing of the firstborn. Esau responded to this injustice with a death threat, forcing Jacob to move away.

Many years later, God prompted Jacob that it was time to return home. Jacob experienced great angst about seeing Esau again, but when the two brothers finally met: “…Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” (Genesis 33:4, NIV)

Though Scripture does not chronicle Esau’s journey to forgiveness, eventually Esau was able to give up the grudge and offer his brother the priceless gift of grace.

Final Thoughts…  

When your heart is aching, longing for a relationship to be restored, it may seem that time is standing still. Yet even in the most hopeless situations, it could be that God is at work behind the scenes, gently chipping away at the bitterness and anger that is standing in the way of reconciliation.

So, keep your heart in a state of readiness. Go to the Father and stay in a right relationship with Him. It may not be today, tomorrow, next month, or even next year. Still, there is hope that even the most badly broken relationships can be made whole again. Don’t lose heart. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Hearts that Wrestle and Hearts that Rest

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If you could arrange a face to face meeting with God Himself, how would you spend that time with Him? Maybe you’ve pondered this possibility before, or perhaps you are considering it for the first time. Either way, there’s little doubt that an experience like this would be a pivotal moment in your life.

In Scripture, we read of Jacob’s very personal and powerful encounter with the Lord that was probably far different than anything he would have planned (Genesis 32:1-32). It took place as he was returning to his original home with his family, servants, and livestock. As he traveled, he learned that his brother, Esau, was on his way to meet him… and he wasn’t coming alone. Instead, he was being escorted by a band of four hundred men! Given the threat Esau had previously made on his life, Jacob was fearful – and with good reason.

In his moment of distress, Jacob called on the Lord. Then, he took steps to protect his family and to ease tensions with his estranged brother. Later that evening, Jacob was alone when he had an unusual encounter with someone, whom he eventually recognized to be the Lord Himself – and they wrestled… all night long.

…[Then] the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:26-28, NIV)

Before facing his brother, Jacob faced his God. He determined in his heart to work things out with his Maker, and he didn’t let go of Him until this occurred. While we may not be aware of all that took place in that long struggle between God and man, we do know that Jacob was vigilant in claiming the blessing of God.

Final Thoughts…  

When we are pursuing peace with family, friends, or foes, often times, peace with others is possible when we’ve first made peace with God. It starts with getting alone with Him, and when necessary, relentlessly wrestling through the good, the bad, and the ugly in our lives.

If you find yourself in conflict, you may wonder if the heart that wrestles inside you can become a heart that is at rest. Indeed, it can. Hold on to your Savior, and don’t let go! Peace awaits. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Landmark Moments

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There are many national monuments that powerfully commemorate significant people and events in our nation’s history – the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, and Mount Rushmore, to name a few.

Yet, you and I don’t just have national landmarks. We each have personal landmarks, too. For you it may be a childhood home, or a quiet park where you’ve sat and had precious quiet times with the Lord. That special spot where you said I do, or maybe that place where you said a final goodbye…. places where friendships ended, and places where they were mended.

As we read of Jacob and Laban, we see that their relationship had been punctuated by stress for several years (Genesis 30:25-31:55). At what appears to be the height of the tension, the Lord came to Jacob and instructed him that it was time to return home. Following the Lord’s guidance, Jacob left, but without so much as a good-bye to Laban, his father-in-law. When Laban made this discovery, his anger was stirred and he pursued Jacob to confront him about what had taken place.

When Laban finally caught up to Jacob, the two men spoke openly about their issues. While they both made mistakes in handling their differences, before going their separate ways, they vowed that they would do no harm to each other. As a reminder of their covenant, Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap…. Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today,” (Genesis 31:45-46, 48, NIV).

For Laban and Jacob, their journey to peace involved calling a truce and parting ways. If you find yourself in a similar situation, live up to your agreement. Honor it. Memorialize it. You don’t have to gather stones into a pile, but even if it is only in your heart, create your own personal remembrance of the time and the place when you resolved to live at peace with your fellow man.

Final thoughts…

As I close, I confess that there are landmarks on my path to peace that remind me of conflicts that ended well, and conflicts in which the outcome could have been, well… better. Still, with each step I take on this path, I have learned to rely on God, to realign my heart with His, and to approach others with humility and grace. Will you join me in this journey? Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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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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