Forget or Forego?

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

Forgiveness isn’t a matter of whether we forget, but of how we remember.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 89

Just forgive and forget – sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, though, this is hard if not impossible to do. In the same way that moments of crisis leave an indelible impression in your life, a seriously injured relationship isn’t something you are likely to forget.

While forgiveness suggests a pro-active decision to pardon an offense, forgetting implies passivity and a lack of thought or intent. Forgiveness should not be contingent upon your ability to forget. Instead, it should be tied to your deliberate choice to forego. Forego rehearsing the offense over and over again in your own mind or with others. Forego allowing the process of reconciliation to evolve into perpetual rounds of retribution. And, when appropriate, forego allowing the offense to be a barrier to a renewed relationship.

Food for Thought

The phrasing you choose to describe the progression of forgiveness is not nearly as important as being intentional about leaving the past in the past and moving forward in a spirit of grace and compassion. It won’t be easy, but it is possible with the help of the One who has so graciously forgiven you.

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Love Never Fails

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“Love never fails…” I Corinthians 13:8a

[When it comes to conflict]… Deliberate, focused love is the ultimate weapon. Instead of reacting spitefully to those who mistreat you, you can discern their deepest needs and do everything you can to meet those needs.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 106.
 

Have you ever bought a spill-proof container that started leaking like a sieve? Or, maybe you decided to try that “fool-proof” diet which turned out to be quite effective in moving the numbers on the scale… in the wrong direction! The products we buy and the plans we try don’t work perfectly every time. It’s disappointing, but not totally unexpected. It’s just life!

Even though we know that total perfection is unobtainable, there are some who have come to expect it in marriage. And while I Corinthians 13 reminds us that “love never fails,” we tend to overlook one very important fact: sometimes people do. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us to have the kind of love that reveals patience, kindness, selflessness and forgiveness.

Food for Thought

When you or your spouse most need an extension of grace and forgiveness, that tends to be the exact moment when it is least deserved. If both of you were perfect, there would be no need for the kind of love that keeps no record of wrong (I Cor. 13:5c). Extending grace to your spouse, even when it is hard, is a demonstration of love that never fails. It’s not always the easy choice, but it is the right one!

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Igniting the Spark

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“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10

 
People are different and want different things. That’s often the SPARK of conflict…
The issue isn’t that we’re different; it’s what we do with our disagreements.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict
by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 18.

 

The spark of passionate love is essential to a thriving marriage. But, there is another spark that can enter into the relationship that can be quite damaging – an ongoing obsession with pacifying the selfish desires of the heart. Once ignited, this often results in inflammatory words, inconsiderate actions, and a host of other hurtful actions.

No marriage is free from conflict. Even when both a husband and wife make conscientious efforts to live at peace with one another, the dangerous “sparks” of selfishness flare up from time to time. Quickly snuffing them out and restoring the relationship is important to fanning the flame of love in marriage and living in a harmonious home.

Food for Thought

Which kind of “sparks” do you experience most often in your marriage? What are you doing to restore relationship after selfish “sparks” ignite?

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Holy Halitosis?

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And with that he breathed on them and
said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20.22

Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 11.

 

Food for Thought

 

When it comes to the believer’s breath on others, it’s usually one of two aromas — life or death. What does your breath smell like?

Have you ever been around someone with halitosis (bad breath)? Unless you have the patience of Job, most of us back up a little and suddenly remember an urgent appointment. Those with Job’s fortitude stick it out, digging around in their pockets for a mint. Now consider the phrase, holy halitosis. Have you ever been around someone with that? Everything from their denominational wardrobe to their Christian reading list screams HOLINESS. But when they open their mouths, it’s anything but grace they breathe; in fact, it’s usually some variation on the theme of condemnation.

Halitosis, of the natural kind, is usually connected in some way to what we’re taking in. A steady diet of onions or feta cheese and voila! — bad breath. A similar principle applies to the spiritual realm. As the author above writes, we must draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ. Drawing in, or breathing in, Christ’s goodness fills our spiritual lungs with the breath of Holy Spirit filled, lifesaving grace. Then our tanks are full, so to speak, to breathe out that same grace on and in the lives of others.

We’re as much peacebreathers as we are peacemakers. There’s a rhythm there as ancient as creation itself. Inhale and exhale. Breathe in and breathe out. Grace in and grace out. Do a little spiritual diagnosis on yourself, first, and then on others around you. If you find that you rarely breathe grace, it’s a red flag that you’re not taking any in. The same goes for people around you. The only difference is that if it’s you, then some time feasting on the riches of God’s grace is in order. Take. Eat. If it’s your neighbor, then you may be the vessel that God wants to use to bring grace and peace to a troubled soul, marriage, or household. Breathe on us, breath of God!

The Maturity in Being Winsome

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If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18:15

We need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. Although that approach will be appropriate in some situations, we should never do it automatically. Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way to approach a particular person at a particular time and to open the way for genuine reconciliation.

 
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

 

When it says above, “Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way…” the author used the word winsome. Do you know what that word means?

The dictionary defines it this way: Generally pleasing and engaging, often because of a childlike charm and innocence.

Most of us are not winsome. When we grew up and put away childish things, we unfortunately put away the childlike as well. So it’s all the more important for us to ask God to guide us in the paths of winsomeness as we seek reconciliation–particularly when we are approaching others to point out their contribution to a conflict.

It’s hard to refuse the little girl selling those cookies door to door, isn’t it? Her charm and innocence is pleasing and engaging. These traits almost always guarantee someone opening the front door and listening to what she has to say. So let us pray for winsome hearts as we approach the closed doors between others and ourselves. And may those doors stay open, leading to genuine reconciliation as the Father guides us in making peace.

Reflections, Veils, and God’s Glory

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And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being
transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.” 2 Cor. 3.18

Reflecting or “paraphrasing” is the process of summarizing the other person’s main points in your own words and sending them back in a constructive way. Reflecting may deal with both the content of what the other person has said and the associated feelings …

Reflecting does not require that you agree with what the other person says; it simply reveals whether you comprehend another person’s thoughts and feelings. Reflecting shows that you are paying attention and you are trying to understand the other person. When others sense this, they are less likely to repeat themselves or use a loud voice to get their point across.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 167-168.

Food for Thought

 

Are your peacemaking efforts veiled attempts?

The apostle Paul indicates that the unveiled faces belong to those who are the Lord’s — Christians, believers, sons and daughters of God. As such, our unveiled faces are reflecting the Lord’s glory. Take those thoughts from 2 Corinthians and combine them with the insights above regarding reflection. If we truly allow his likeness to permeate our words, thoughts and feelings, then true reflection can and is taking place between us and the other person. The veil is lifted and the Lord’s glory is in the center of the situation. There is an openness present that allows us to hear and see.

However, when our own thoughts or opinions cloud the conversation, then the reflecting is anything but true. We’re not able to accurately summarize the other person’s words, much less return them constructively. The veil is back on, and our personal glory trumps everything else for the moment. Oh, we can perform a kind of robotic reflection, parroting back their words with appropriately timed gestures or sighs, but reflecting the Lord’s glory? Forget about it.

But just what does this true reflecting look like? The best example, hands down, is Jesus. The Savior walked our sod with an unveiled face. He was constantly deferring to the Father’s will, words and timing. So much so, that it led John to write: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only” (John.1.14). When you saw Jesus, you saw God.

Now consider just a couple of the ways Jesus reflected God’s glory as he went about proclaiming peace. To those burdened with sin, disease or shame, the glory of the One and Only looked like mercy and grace, always inviting the least of these to take his hand and experience his love (“Come unto me…”). However, for the Pharisees and religious leaders, the One and Only’s glory was knife-edged and stern (“Woe unto you…”). It was the same Jesus, the same glory, but different reflections. Jesus was acutely aware of who was standing, sitting, strutting or weeping in front of him; he was always paying attention. If we confuse his likeness with a sterile sameness when it comes to peacemaking, the veil returns. Then the reflections look a lot like us, but nothing like him.

Sticking With It

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If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will
keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. 2 Peter 1:8

 

Practice. 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).

 

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

 

Did you do well right out of the gates, only to lose momentum during the race?

January and February are excellent months if you’re in the health club business. People resolve to be healthier in the New Year and usually follow-up on that by joining a gym, enrolling in an exercise class, or even hiring a personal trainer. It can be quite challenging to find a parking place in January and February at many health clubs. But come April and May? It’s a different story.

There is always some excitement over the initial moments of anything, be it joining a health club or your Christian life. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, many of us fizzle out when the disciplined work of training finally sets in.

As believers, we must consistently be working those peacemaking muscles — training our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to respond to the promptings of Christ and not our natural desires. Jesus needs peacemakers in January and February and March and April and all year long. So let’s all put into practice those things we’ve been learning!

Listen and Learn

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I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of
God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Good listening is particularly important for a peacemaker. It improves your ability to understand others, it shows that you realize you do not have all the answers, and it tells the other person that you value his or her thoughts and opinions. Even if you cannot agree with everything others say or do, your willingness to listen demonstrates respect and shows that you are trying to understand their perspective.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 165.

 

Food for Thought

 

Kids hear everything–things under their beds at night, an animal in distress blocks away, whispered conversations between Mom and Dad. There is something about childhood that invites listening. Maybe it’s a feeling that we might miss something if we don’t listen, and we surely don’t want to miss anything. But often as we grow up, we put away childish and childlike things in the same trip to the curb. And we’re not as concerned about missing something anymore; we’ve pretty much seen it all. At least we think we have.

We’ve pretty much got it all figured out, and so we make judgment calls on everything from political policy to personal motives. We never pause to consider the limits on our perspective; we just go right on in, where angels fear to tread.

But to walk humbly with our God means realizing that we don’t know everything and we don’t even want to; figuring everything out means the story is over. It also means approaching each living, breathing soul in our lives with wonder, for they have been fashioned by the hands of God himself. It means stopping and looking and listening, but maybe listening even more than looking.

A little more listening might open the door to peace between feuding spouses or church members. It could even begin the sowing of seeds of peace in the body of Christ. Open the ears of our hearts, Lord; we surely don’t want to miss your voice!

Meeting Your Enemy’s Deepest Needs

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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.

For Unto Us a Child is Born

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When I resort to an escape response [in dealing with conflict], I am generally focusing on “me.” I am looking for what is easy, convenient, or non-threatening for myself. When I use an attack response, I am generally focusing on “you,” blaming you and expecting you to give in and solve the problem. When I use a peacemaking response, my focus is on “us.” I am aware of everyone’s interests in the dispute, especially God’s, and I am working toward mutual responsibility in solving a problem.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46-47.


Food for Thought

 

The great pronouncement of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah–” For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6a, emphasis ours)–takes on special meaning this time of year as we reflect on the words, above.

By definition, Christmas can never be fully celebrated by “me” as a “personal family time with loved ones.” If we celebrate in this way, we duck the piercing challenge of Christmas. We embrace the left side of the Slippery Slope and seek only that which is “easy, convenient, and non-threatening.”

But Christmas is very threatening indeed. It is good news, but it is the kind of good news that cuts through “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” like a sword. Christmas is a stubbornly “us” celebration.

Just as Jesus redefined “neighbor” in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christmas redefines “us” and insists that that definition–and the celebration of Christmas–must include those we’d rather not see around the tree on Christmas morning. In Jesus’ Christmas celebration, our enemies are there–those who slander us and curse us and steal from us. Total strangers are there, for whom we now can and must care because God has cared for us. And even those who simply hurt our feelings unknowingly are there–those against whom we may presently be harboring tiny seeds of bitterness in our heart.

How and where will you celebrate Christmas this year? Will it be an “easy, convenient, and non-threatening” celebration spent entirely with loved ones? (One can almost hear Jesus’ question in Matthew 5:47, “Do not even pagans do that?”)

Or will your Christmas celebration take you to visit a home you’d rather not visit? Will it cause you to pick up the phone and dial a number you’ve long since quit dialing? Will it draw you outward to bring good news to a modern-day “shepherd” watching flocks by night (a convenience store clerk on Christmas eve, perhaps; or on-duty police officer or fire fighter)? Will it cause you to proclaim “good tidings of great joy for all the people”–to a stranger that you might otherwise pass without a word?

If so, then you will be swept up into the great prophecy recorded in Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (emphasis ours).

Have a Merry Christmas–a dangerously beautiful, challenging, and peace-filled one–from your brothers and sisters at Peacemaker Ministries.