The Nuclear Power of the Gospel in Conflict

At our conference this year, we’re excited to be offering some workshops taught by Christian Muntean, Executive Director of Beyond Borders. His friend and colleague, JP Oulette, at Conflict Resolution Center wrote a great blog article explaining how relationships can be like an atom and conflict can have a nuclear power to it. He also does a spectacular job illustrating how the Gospel is crucial:

Atomic StructureIn the picture of an atom, we see a nucleus (bound protons and neutrons) surrounded by a cloud of orbiting electrons. This is a good picture of how the gospel relates to the conflicts we face in our lives every day.

The protons and neutrons in the center are the people in relationship. The electrons swirling around them are the issues that often create a cloud of mystery and awkwardness.

These issues seem to orbit our lives so fast that even one or two issues can create the illusion of a barrier between the relationship (nucleus) and the clarity of life outside the conflict. The more issues that exist, the harder it becomes to see the possibilities for resolution.

The people in relationship are tightly or loosely bound depending upon their foundation and conflicts that exist within. When relationship is severed through unresolved conflict, it can be a weapon of mass destruction leaving an aftermath of pain and bitterness in the lives of many.

Much like the individuals in the nucleus of conflict, those on the outside of the relationship often judge the situation by the cloud of issues surrounding it. It can be hard to get a clear view of the relationship or even see the potential for reconciliation. Intimidated by the cloud, we tend to back away from the situation all together.2f7e7a014c184d17ff7c9c45b2255e7c_f34

When we understand and appreciate, however, that the power of the gospel demonstrated on the cross was found in the midst of conflict, right in the nucleus, we are compelled to press past the issues and into the relationship.

Read the rest here.

Remarkably Different: Gaining Ground in Relationships, a Message from Paul Tripp

Welcome back to another installment of our “Remarkably Different” series as we look forward to our 2013 Peacemaker Conference in Columbus, OH this September. This time we are sharing a message written by keynote speaker Paul Tripp.

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Paul has written extensively on relationships on his blog, authored several books and speaks on the topic of relationships. We are all involved in relationships but often times find ourselves disappointed with the relationships that we are in. Sometimes we wish our relationships were further along, sometimes we get stuck in the same old rut of relationships and sometimes relationships take a downward turn. How do we gain ground in our relationships instead of losing ground? Paul Tripp presents 4 ways to better the relationships that we find ourselves in. He reminds us of the key role our hearts play in our relationships. One of the points that stuck out most to me was this:

3. Determine to focus on yourself.

No, I’m not counseling you to be selfish – I’m encouraging you to be humble. Good relationships are the result of both people being committed to personal change and growth. Self-examination is a key way you demonstrate love for the other person. It’s very easy to be all-too-satisfied with yourself, while being irritated and impatient with the weaknesses of another. When you have two people who are committed to heart change, the relationship will change and grow as well.

I encourage you to read the whole blog post; it is well worth your time and will have a huge impact on your everyday relationships.

I also encourage you to join us in September to hear from Paul directly. We don’t want to have the type of relationships that you find in the world where gossip, unforgiveness, brokenness, selfishness, and pride reign. Instead we want to have “remarkably different” relationships that, though broken and fallen at times, show the redemptive power of the Gospel to remind ourselves and those that we are in relationship with that Jesus came to bring us hope and healing in this sinful world. The Gospel makes the difference in our relationships. How will you let it transform your relationships today?

A Santa Christ?

Ligonier Ministries has a great post at their blog about the nature of Christmas and who Jesus really is. It’s worth the time to read the whole thing, but I’ve attached a small snippet here.

In Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s book, In Christ Alone, he shares the sad reality that many Christians have a Christology that is more informed by Santa Claus than Scripture. For them, the message of the incarnation has been so twisted or diluted that they have in fact created for themselves a savior who is nothing more than a Santa Christ.

As you prayerfully read Dr. Ferguson’s words, ask yourself the following question this Christmas season: “Do I believe in a Santa Christ?”

He then lists three different “types” of Jesus that are Santa Christ’s and why:

1. A Pelagian Jesus
2. A Semi-Pelagian Jesus
3. A Mystical Jesus

The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil.

Read the whole thing.

What Forgiveness Can Do

There’s a very inspirational post by Mark Fox over at TakeYourVitaminZ. You should go and read the whole thing, but I’ve included the into here:

When Stakwell Yurenimo, a Samburu in northern Kenya, did well on his eighthgrade exams, the Kenyan government informed him that he had qualified to go to a high school that they would choose. They also chose his roommate, a young man named Paul, who was a member of the enemy tribe, the Turkana. Stakwell determined in his mind that there was no way he would room with a Turkana. In fact, part of his culture demanded that in order to be respected as a man, he needed to kill a Turkana.

Stakwell poured water on Paul’s bed every night, so that his roommate was forced to sleep somewhere else. Paul did not react in anger, but slept on the ground without complaint. This went on for several months. Meanwhile, there was friction on the soccer field as well. Stakwell was an excellent midfielder. Paul was the team’s star forward, a striker with considerable skill. But the team kept losing because Stakwell would not pass the ball to his roommate. The coach finally confronted Stakwell, who told the coach that there was nothing he could do. “You will just have to put one of us on another team,” he said. That’s what the coach did, and the first time the two teams played each other, Stakwell threw himself into Paul, trying his best to kill him. He broke Paul’s leg and knocked out several teeth. Because it was an intentional penalty, Stakwell was expelled from school and sent home a hero to his fellow Samburu tribesmen for injuring a hated Turkana. He did not care about being expelled, but then the school told Stakwell that he would have to repay Paul for all of his medical expenses. Stakwell, a Samburu shepherd, faced an insurmountable debt. That’s when his life changed.

Paul came to Stakwell offering forgiveness. He did not want to be paid back. Paul explained that all the time his roommate was persecuting him, he did not retaliate, “not because I am weak, but because I am a Christian. When you were pouring water on my bed and forcing me to sleep on the ground, I was praying for you,” Paul said.

Read the rest. 

 

The Gospel and Church Conflict: Tullian Tchividjian in Christianity Today

Christianity Today recently published an article containing an interview with Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft Lauderdale, FL.  In what was undoubtedly a horribly painful time for all involved, Pastor Tchividjian shares his perspective and gives this helpful conclusion:

When I speak to pastors I say, “There is only one thing that will enable you to survive, and that’s the gospel. It’s not whether your church grows or not. It’s not having the right leadership principle. All of those things might be helpful, but the gospel is the only thing that will save you in ministry.” … What I love about the freeing, liberating power of the gospel is I can stand up on a Sunday morning without fear or reservation and be able to identify my own idols in front of my people … The pressure’s off. Jesus measured up so I wouldn’t have to live under the enslaving pressure of measuring up for others. And that’s good news.

HT: Thabiti

Nancy Guthrie on DG Live

In celebration of our annual conference going on right now in Orlando, I thought I would post the following video of Nancy Guthrie, our keynote speaker for tomorrow morning. It’s the full video interview she did a while back for DG Live. If you’d like to know more about Nancy and see why we invited her to speak, this is a great video to watch.

The folks over at Crossway took a bit of time to put together the list below of  specific sections you may be interested in:

  • 8:14 Nancy shares the story of her daughter, Hope.
  • 13:18 Nancy talks about her experience dealing with devastation and finding comfort in God’s Word.
  • 46:28 Nancy explains Respite Retreats.
  • 55:58 Nancy articulates the importance of working the Word of God into one’s life and the foundational role it plays in enabling one to endure the storms of life.
  • 1:05:17 Nancy introduces her newest series: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament.
  • 1:15:26 Nancy shares how Genesis points towards what is to come from her book The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis.
  • 1:22:40 Nancy previews the next four titles in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series.

 

Meet Tim Lane: Keynote Speaker at 2011 Peacemaker Conference

The 2011 Peacemaker Conference is right around the corner. Keynote Speaker Tim Lane, Executive Director of Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), shares with us how important the theme “Hope in Brokenness” is to Christians living in this broken world. As a pastor and counselor Tim has ministered to many broken people and sees this gospel message as the key to bringing real hope in the midst of difficult situations. In this video he asks the question

How does my relationship with Jesus shape and form the way I respond to these situations?

We will be answering this question at the Peacemaker Conference. Join us September 22nd-25th in Orlando, Florida and enjoy this sneak peek into how we’ll delve into this practical theme.

 

2011 Conference – Tim Lane from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.

Good Friday Reflections

“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis added)

On this Good Friday, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the passage above. It’s appropriate on this day (and every day, for that matter) for me to consider that Christ suffered for MY sin.  For MY transgressions. For MY iniquities. And it’s appropriate for you to reflect on that, too.

But don’t forget to reflect on the results of that suffering. Isaiah points to two results here: peace and healing. So just as there’s an amazing paradox that Christ’s wounds brings us healing, it also follows that his punishment brings us peace! We were at war with God, but we were reconciled–peace with God was bought for us on the cross.  Yes, the punishment that Christ bore on the cross has brought us–God’s enemies–peace.  And only through this purchased peace with God can we ever have true peace with others.  Remembering Good Friday is at the heart of what it means to be a peacemaker. 

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

A Broken Person in Need of a Savior

Good Friday is tomorrow.

In many ways it will be a day like any other – we’ll probably get out of bed and get ready for the day, eat breakfast, maybe head to work, think about our “to do” list and errands, get frustrated with the slow driver in front of us, let irritation be heard in our voice, stress about money and kids…and maybe head to a Good Friday service.

On a day that we remember how Christ endured unimaginable suffering, scorn, humiliation, injustice and abandonment to take on our punishment for sin we will do exactly what Christ came to abolish – sin. I will sin tomorrow; it’s inevitable. I will do the things I don’t want to do and I’ll ignore the things I want to do.

If anything, tomorrow will serve as a reminder that I am a broken person who still needs a Savior.

This weekend is about hope; it’s about the brokenness of Christ because of our sin and the hope of a new and powerful life. If it wasn’t for the crucifixion and resurrection we would still be lost in our sin completely without hope. The only reason I can hold on in the midst of all the pain this world has to offer is because I will never see my worst day.

Recently, my pastor reminded us that, in light of all that Jesus went through, really none of us have experienced a bad day.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that we haven’t suffered or had to endure pain or am trying to minimize our sorrows however, when you think about the days leading up to the cross, it gives you perspective. I will never have to taste eternal death because the cup of wrath has been consumed. Destruction is not my end; the best life awaits me. What better hope could I ask for?

As I look forward to our upcoming 2011 Peacemaker Conference focused on “Hope in Brokenness” I can’t help but think that this weekend is at the very heart of this theme. On that Saturday when the disciples of Christ mourned the death of their Messiah in the midst of their most broken moment, they had no idea that hope itself would raise from the dead to bring the greatest news that they would ever hear – “Your sins are forgiven! I have conquered death and sin! Come share in the resurrected life! Share this news with others!”

…When you sin tomorrow (or even today) and the days to follow, let the truth of the gospel wash over your soul:

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8-11

The Body of Believers: An Island Story

We are so grateful to our brother Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, for posting his reflections on the peacemaker event hosted by his church this past week. Even though I wasn’t actually there (though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I was there) it is easy to see how impacting this event was for Grand Cayman. Believers from various churches met for edification and encouragement around the unity of the gospel. The message may not have been new to most of these folks but the reminders were timely. I’d like to share a little portion of Thabiti’s thoughts that resonated with my soul:

The most noticeable thing for me is the evident change already at work in my people and me.  People are putting the principles into practice.  People are taking major risks to seek and make peace.  We’re seeing 4-year old grievances resolved.  We’re seeing broken relationships mended.  We’re seeing everyday acts of peacemaking take place.  We’re seeing the gospel go forth with fresh power and application.  It’s happening in the church.  It’s happening in the workplace.  It’s happening in hospitals and in correctional settings.  The work has been viral to this point.  There really are too many stories to recount.  Part of what sparked this, humanly speaking, was Ken’s visit.  We’d completed the 8-week study with some benefit.  But Ken’s visit and the conference seems to have ignited much more application.  There was perhaps something about the in-person interaction and experiencing the spirit of the teaching that made the notion of peacemaking more do-able and accessible.  The folks have had their hearts impacted and that’s been translated into real peacemaking fruit.  Of course, the Real Explanation is God the Holy Spirit at work through the gospel application.  To Him belongs all the glory.  And we’re praising God for the fruit He is producing.

But you’ll have to read the rest for yourself.

Ken Sande and Annette Friesen spent a couple of evenings ministering to the island people of Grand Cayman. They also had the opportunity to speak with pastors, youth kids, children at a Christian school and a special session with the women. Each group was reminded of the call to live in unity with other brothers and sisters in Christ as referenced in Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35:

A new command I give you: Love one another. as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

It hurts my heart to watch believers treat each other as enemies instead of fellow heirs of Christ. I know the Lord is grieved when the eye fights with the hand saying “I don’t need you” (1 Corinthians 12:21). In our human nature it is difficult to live in unity when someone has hurt me, slandered my loved ones or who I just flat out disagree with. This is why I need to be reminded – we all need to be reminded – of the gospel of peace and the power of the Holy Spirit to live out that gospel on a daily or moment-by-moment basis.

Peacemaker Ministries is proud to partner with churches like First Baptist Grand Cayman to share these principles in a practical and powerful way. If your church is interested in hosting an event like this one please contact myself at kgoss@peacemaker.net or by calling 406-256-1583 x.120.