2010 Peacemaker Conference Registration Is Open

From our conference manager:

2010 Peacemaker Conference: Forgiveness (Sept 16-19, Reston, VA)

After much anticipation, registration is now open for the 2010 conference. Be sure to check out the conference website for all of the information.

If you have been to our conference before you will notice some new features and changes:

  1. Our conference now runs through Sunday with a time of worship and a keynote address on Sunday morning. Don’t worry – you can still get back with an afternoon flight that day.
  2. We have added the option of taking Conflict Coaching and Mediation or Conflict Coaching Only during the conference. This means that you can enjoy all of the general sessions of the conference but don’t have to take off as much time to attend Pre-Conference. Check out the registration page  for more details.
  3. We have a fabulous line-up of keynote speakers including Joshua Harris, Thabiti Anyabwile, Chris Brauns, Bishop Efraim Tendero, and Ken Sande. We are excited to hear their message on forgiveness; it’s going to be powerful.
  4. We are headed to DC. The host site, Hyatt Regency Reston, is located just outside the heart of DC and offers complimentary airport shuttle from Dulles International Airport, so it is a super convenient site for our conference. It is also in the midst of Reston Town Center that offers more than 20 restaurants right outside the hotel door.
  5. We are asking for your stories of forgiveness to help us all engage with the theme of the conference. Watch here on the blog for the “Because I’ve Been Forgiven..” video series that we are starting and be sure to submit your forgiveness story. You’ll even get a conference discount!

With all of these new features you won’t want to miss the 2010 Peacemaker Conference. Come experience forgiveness once again as you hear the powerful story of the gospel. We look forward to having you join us this fall!

All for Him,

Kerri Takeuchi
Annual Conference Manager

What is BIBLICAL Conflict Coaching & Mediation?

As the Training Events Coordinator at Peacemaker Ministries, I find myself answering a variety of questions on the phone every day.  When someone hears about our Foundational Skills Training:  Conflict Coaching & Mediation, the first question to be answered is:  “What is Conflict Coaching & Mediation?”

That is a great question and instead of providing a text answer, we would like to invite you to join us for a FREE live Q & A Webinar this Friday, February 26th

Perhaps you already know about our training and have even taken our training before.  We would still love for you to join us and invite a friend.

Friday February 26th from 9-10am PST,10-11am MST, 11-12pm CST,12-1pm EST, 1-2pm  by registering at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/579849730

(or)

Come join us for a free Q & A Webinar Friday, February 26th from 12-1pm PST, 1-2pm MST, 2-3pm CST, 3-4pm EST by registering at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/538168730

Grab your lunch and a friend to learn about the difference between Conflict Coaching & Mediation. Have you been considering taking our training or know people who would greatly benefit from it? Maybe you have looked into our Certification Program but you aren’t sure if it’s for you, or maybe you just want to get better at resolving conflict in your personal circle. We would love for you to come join us for one of these webinars and ask us those questions that have been brewing in your mind.

A prayer of rejoicing in the midst of conflict

On pages 84-85 of The Peacemaker, Ken Sande explores what it means to obey Paul’s command to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phi. 4:4), even when we are in the midst of conflict.  He asks, “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 joyful worship you could offer to him, even in the midst of the worst conflict:”

Oh 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 to cooperate with you in every possible way and give you the glory for what you have done and are doing.

(The Peacemaker, pages 84-85)

Peacemaking Principles for Puppies

Several months ago my roommate brought home a new addition to our household.  She rescued a neglected 7 month old puppy from a local shelter.  He is guessed to be a black lab/pit bull mix.  Over the past few months, his intelligence has heightened but his mischievousness has also.  He learned quickly that he wouldn’t fit through our cat door after getting stuck in it.  Instead he will bump his nose against it to see what is going on in the kitchen.

Last weekend I came home to find Roscoe to have made a mess of the laundry room.  He had found an old bed of his, and ripped it to shreds.  I cleaned up the mess while making him stay outside.  I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and went to plug it in, when I noticed he chewed off the plug from the cord!  I know Roscoe hates the sound the vacuum makes, but really!?

Later in the week he learned to jump over the fence and play in the neighbor’s yard.  When my roommate told him to come, he looked both ways from sitting still and leaped over the fence.  He didn’t even need a running start.  Roscoe had gone from being an obedient trustworthy puppy, to being a teenage rebel without a cause.  His behavior would cause me to even compare him to Colton Harris-Moore.

Last night we were hanging out with Roscoe in the living room, when once again he filled the room with his penetrating and deadly flatulence.  My roommate had a lavender spray to remedy this but we couldn’t find it.  Instead we decided to leave him with his own scent, and escape to the kitchen.  When we came back to the living room my Mac Book Pro laptop was sitting on the floor with a strange looking design.  Pandora was still playing worship music, and as we examined it closer noticed the screen was shattered and dented.  Roscoe must’ve hit the computer screen while playing with his bone. 

I think it was God’s divine intervention to have this happen after I had a wonderful day, had eaten delicious ice cream, and was listening to worship music.  My first reaction was not to kill Roscoe, but instead God reminded me that this was just a material item.  What had been broken was fixable. 

This past week a friend revealed to me a heartbreaking story of an affair that happened within her family.  The damage that was done was seen immediately, just like the screen that Roscoe shattered.  That family cannot easily go to a store and get it fixed.  They cannot buy a new relationship and pretend like the old one never happened.  The wounds that were created from that sin hurt many hearts.  There is only one Craftsman that can fix that damage and his name is Jehovah-Rapha.  He is our God who heals.  He is our God who calls us to forgive.  He is our God who calls us to love even when we are hurt.  He is the one who can fix what has been broken. 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” –Isaiah 53: 5

Of Churches and Rice Pots

Our rice cooker died this past week in a dramatic foul-smelling meltdown. I think it was a wedding present (that would be almost 15 years ago), so it had definitely lived a perfectly reasonable and useful life. But it still needed to be replaced. So my wife did the logical thing and went to Amazon to order a new one. 

“How ’bout this one?” she asked. “It’s only $23.95, it’s rated four stars, and 157 people have reviewed it.”  

“Sounds good. Go for it,” I said. Click. And done.

How did we ever live before Amazon? I don’t know anything about rice pots (other than that the rice always seems to stick to the pan… maybe that’s a function of my tendency to buy the $20 versions), but in a matter of seconds, I had the recommendations of 157 people right before me, giving me the confidence I needed to make a quick decision. (Though I had to discount the opinions of those 13 poor souls that gave it one star. Hmm…) All in all, it’s a consumer’s paradise.

I thought of our little rice cooker adventure when I learned about a new website that offers the ability to rate churches. Ah yes, you move to a new town and need a church (or when you burn out of your old church in a dramatic, foul-smelling meltdown), you look for a church that’s highly rated. It’s a consumer’s paradise, right?

Ugh. That’s just the problem. I can see why the Amazon mentality in each of us might think that’s a good idea. But I can’t see how it’s a good thing to reduce church choice to such a consumeristic perspective. I just don’t see it ending well. Already, you have comments such as:

This church is misogynistic. I would never take a visitor here. It is close minded and dogmatic. They do not believe in learning or educating their leaders. They are a place to “see and be seen” by Christian young people.

Yikes. Not exactly edifiying, is it? Is there even an edifying and helpful way to air complaints about a church online? I’ve yet to see it. Now I know that I prefer some types of churches over others based on my own convictions and experience. In my own mind, I’d give some churches one star and others more. (Would I ever give a church five stars? Hmm… haven’t found the perfect one yet. I love my church, but I’m not sure I’d give it five stars.) When I think back to moving to this area 10 years ago, I remember visiting several churches before we settled on our church home. Would anyone really have been helped by my views after one or two visits? Even if I went beyond the shallow assessment of Church X  “…decent preacher, music pretty boring, piano out of tune, etc.”, that’s not the kind of feedback to put online in a relatively permanent format.

And I shudder to think what others would say about my own church. I know there are those who haven’t had a particularly good experience. Maybe they caught us on a day when no one greeted them warmly (we know that’s a weakness and we’re working on it). Or maybe there was a conflict that just didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. There’d be plenty they could say about my church that wasn’t exactly flattering, and old grudges would come pouring out. Once someone starts, it’s really easy to pile on.

(I’m going to mostly sidestep the other issue with this site in that people who aren’t Christians are also doing the rating. It’s definitely a good thing to know how outsiders view your church. We should all be open to hearing that perspective. But there’s a certain sense here that, unlike the Amazon ratings for my rice pot, people who never eat rice are rating the rice cooker (and being paid to do so)! “I can’t stand rice.  I don’t understand why anyone would want to eat it.  But let me tell you what I think about this rice cooker.” )

I am somewhat relieved to see that it hasn’t gotten any traction yet (last time I checked, the most ratings a single church had was 13–my new rice cooker beats that by a mile!). And despite what may well be good intentions in getting it started, I really hope it never does.

I’m not saying there’s not a place to raise concerns about a church. (Ken Sande’s article on approachability gives some helpful thoughts on how to invite that kind of feedback as a church). I just have yet to see a way to do that online that is really helpful and God-glorifying.

HT: Challies

Cravings Underlie Conflict

“Cravings underlie conflict.”    — David Powlison

A short audio message was posted this week on CJ Mahaney’s blog based on James 4:1-3. He was talking about this passage in the context of marriage, but it holds equally true for any relationship.

It’s a great reminder of the real source of conflict–the heart. As you see that conflicts come from the desires (i.e., cravings or wants) that battle within us, you will begin to see that if you discern what it is you want, you are on your way to repentance and ultimately, reconciliation.

Cravings, Conflict, and Marriage
C.J. Mahaney
Dec. 4, 2009
7 minutes
Download here (7.9 MB)

Please Break This Rule

From this week’s PeaceMeal:

Please Break This Rule

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.

Food for Thought

Jesus tells the perfect “40/60 Rule” story in Luke 18:10-14. In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” This is the story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Next time you’re tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a “righteousness ranking” where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.