New Course at this year’s Conference in Reston, VA

Growing up, I was a shy introvert.  Being in front of a group of people speaking was probably one of my biggest fears.  Through the years, I have grown in this area but I still can get nervous making presentations in front of people.  I have tried different techniques on how to prepare, with a frustration in the end of things not going the way I wanted them to.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take Tim Pollard’s course:  Advanced Presentation Skills.  I was dumbfounded by all the things that I have been doing wrong with my communication.  As peacemakers, we can all get better at communication–particularly if we teach peacemaking on a regular basis.  Our words have a great impact on those that are listening to them.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”-Proverbs 25: 11

The bible often speaks of the importance of our communication.  This course will enable you to develop techniques that will allow you to design a presentation that excels in content and delivery. As a recent particpant of this class, I would recommend it to pastors, ministry leaders, bible study leaders, business leaders, or anyone who wants to hone their public speaking skills.

Tim Pollard

Tim Pollard has coached dozens of CEO’s and top executives through out the years.  It was a refreshing honor to glean from his expertise, and I hope that you will also have the same opportunity.

Watch Tim’s introductory video to get a taste of what you will receive during this training:  Oratium Intro

Register by August 13th and save!

“Tim developed an entire generation of customer-facing speakers in our firm, myself included. Beyond his own remarkable speaking abilities, his ability to coach others is simply extraordinary. It also helps that he is genuinely smart enough to grasp complex subject matter at a level that lets him guide speakers to focus on what is truly important. His work created extraordinary value for the staff involved, for the clients they served, and the firm as a whole.”

Tom Monahan, CEO,
The Corporate Executive Board

If you have questions about this course, please call:  (406) 256-1583 ext. 123

Reality TV, HD, & Social Networking

I remember visiting my great-grandmother in Minnesota as a young girl, and our favorite thing was to watch soap operas together.  By the end of the summer I knew the lives of each character as if they were a part of my family.  In the ‘90s we were presented with MTV’s The Real Word and Road Rules.  It was easy to get wrapped up in the adventures of those REAL people. 

After those creations, it seemed that every station wanted a piece of the reality scene.  In 2002 CBS came out with Survivor and now you can flip through the channels to find The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Project Runaway, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, American Idol, and The Biggest Loser. 

As if reality TV wasn’t enough; we all now think we have the need for HD TV, which has a superior resolution and sound to make TV and movies appear more real.  If we don’t think we are getting enough of reality, we can always go on YouTube and find humorous videos from REAL people.  Now, if you really want to get real, why not join a social-networking site like Facebook, My Space, or Twitter to connect with REAL people that you know and don’t know?

In a postmodern society, those around us and even we may reject objective truth, and be tempted to create our own.  Does there really need to be a right and wrong?  Can’t we all be right?  We are surrounded by those who strive to cancel out black and white, while creating their own grey.  Despite this generation that runs away from written truth (the Gospel), they chase after truth.  They want something real and genuine.  Yet they have the whisperings of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who teach we live in a world without a Father or Savior.  Instead of flipping open a bible, they flip on the TV or visit YouTube.  Their heart yearns for truth, yet is never fulfilled because they reject the Truth that continues to knock on the door of their heart.

When we enter conflict, both parties are seeking to find truth.  It is our job to help them find it.

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14: 6

Truth can’t be found without the acceptance of God’s mercy through the sending of his perfect son to die a brutal death so that we can have life, know the truth, and have a relationship with our Maker forever.

The next time you notice the world searching for truth, but coming up empty, ask yourself:

Am I doing the same thing?

“Love never fails.”

I recently posted this quote on a social-networking site, and had a reaction that I didn’t expect.   Friends without knowledge of the context of the verse in First Corinthians responded strongly:  “Obviously, you never had your heart broken!” 

This was not at all what I expected, but isn’t that how most of the world would respond?  Perhaps a man loved a wife with all his heart, yet she still decided to leave him after years of being together.  Perhaps a family adopted a child, but that child decided to live a life of crime and poor decisions.  Perhaps a pastor, who led a church well for years, ran off with a woman in the church to have an adulterous affair.  In all of these situations, love was given.  But, did love fail?

Let’s examine the context of Paul’s definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”-1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Perhaps we are the ones that fail to love when we seek the interest of ourselves and not others?  But, what if we are seeking the justice of someone else?  Imagine your child was taken and abused by someone you deeply loved and trusted.  Did your love fail? 

The picture of love that Paul paints is a colorful one of forgiveness.  We are called to be patient, kind, without envy, without pride, without rudeness and sarcasm, without selfish motives, not quick tempered without keeping records of the wrongs committed against us.  We are called to protect, trust, hope and persevere.  We are called to forgive.

Does forgiveness fail?

Andrew Peterson: “Dancing in the Minefields”

Several of us at the PM office have really been enjoying this music video for the last few days.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is very much a peacemaking song.  In marriage, or any relationship, we know that we’re going to stumble and hurt one another, but we enter into this “minefield” joyfully because of the hope we have in the Gospel.

“This is harder than I dreamed, but that’s what the Promise is for.”

HT: Justin Taylor

Forgiveness is an Investment: What it Costs

Following up on my Monday post about the dark “benefits” of unforgiveness, Paul Tripp goes on to explain that “forgiveness is an investment in your relationship with God and in your relationship with one another. As with all investments, there is cost involved. In any investment you make, your concern is that the return will be greater than the cost” (95).

So, what are the costs involved?  Tripp lists a handful of costs, along with a full paragraph of explanation for each.  I’ll include an excerpt of each explanation, but it’s certainly worth reading in full.

Forgiveness requires humility. “When we stand in the center of our own universe with nothing more important to us than ourselves, we find nothing more offensive than a sin against us … Nobody gives grace better than someone who is convinced he needs it as well.”

Forgiveness requires compassion. “Compassion is being moved by the plight of another, coupled with action to help him or her.  Husbands and wives, does compassion ever grip you when your spouse sins against you? … You forgive [him or her] because, by God’s grace, you look at [him or her] through tender, rather than judgmental, eyes.”

Forgiveness requires trust. “Forgiveness is not so much an act of faith in your spouse as it is an act of faith in God.”

Forgiveness requires self-control. “If you are going to forgive your spouse for committing a sin against you, you must say no to yourself, exercising the self-control that only God is able to give you.  To forgive, you have to say no to bitterness… to the desire to lash out with angry words and actions of vengeance … [and] to the impulse to share your anger with a relative or friend.”

Forgiveness requires sacrifice. “Forgiveness requires that we be willing to let go of our desire for safety and comfort and the surface peace of silence, and, as an act of faith, that we endure what we do not want to face in order for the other to be helped and our relationship to be reconciled.”

Forgiveness requires remembering. “Perhaps a lifestyle of unforgiveness is rooted in the sin of forgetfulness.  We forget that there is not a day in our lives that we do not need to be forgiven… When you remember, when you carry with you a deep appreciation for the grace that you have been given, you’ll have a heart that is ready to forgive.”

from What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, pages 95-97

Bluegrass & Bicycles

Last weekend I decided to hop on a bicycle after a seven year drought of non-riding.  My ceasing to ride was caused by a freak accident where I actually ran into a car with my bicycle.  I caused the car over $300 in damage.  The cost was a deterrent in my future riding.  After getting sick a couple weeks ago I came back to the office, to find a bicycle in my cubicle.  My co-workers had found me a bike at a garage sale.  I went and got the bike tuned and gear to protect me.  On Saturday I arose early prepared, but forgetting probably the most important thing I could have with me:  water.  A group of Peacemaker staff rode to Molt, MT to the Prairie Winds Café.  Every Saturday morning they serve breakfast while differing bands play blue grass. 

I wasn’t sure how the ride would go, but was thankful for the presence of grace giving sag-wagons.  I struggled with my gears and was thankful for a quick lesson by bicycle guru, Rick Friesen who also rescued me from three major hills.  He dropped me off after the hills were finished to continue my ride to the café.  I made it, a bit thirsty but alive and well.  We ate breakfast and I finally made a decision to ride back the whole distance of about 24 miles. 

As we continued back, I had less energy.  Every time I thought we would have a hill to go down, it seemed there was a mirage that leveled off and up we would go again.  Finally, we reached the first hill.  I was ready, so I thought until I looked down.  Below me was a winding path that looked like my future destruction.  Yes, I do have an abnormal fear of heights and I handled it completely rationally while yelling:

“Lord, help me!  Lord, help me!  Lord, help me!” 

I tried to remind myself that it wasn’t rational to envision myself flying off the hill like ET.  People ride bikes all the time and are completely okay.  We approached the second hill, and this time God reminded me of this verse: 

“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1: 7). 

As I recited the verse over and over again and looked ahead I became more calm.  I began to trust that everything would be okay.  Melodie clocked us at going 40 mph. 

As I think about conflict, I wonder if we often enter blindly, unprepared, and thirsty.  We are along for the ride of ups and downs, but things may not seem to improve until we cry out to God and we use scripture to defeat the enemy.

The Dark “Benefits” of Unforgiveness

I’ve been reading through Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect, and he has some thoughts on forgiveness that I thought were very profound.  Having laid out some of the blessings/benefits of forgiveness, Tripp asks, “Why don’t people just forgive?”  He then points out that “the sad reality is that there is short-term, relationally destructive power in refusing to forgive. Holding onto our spouse’s wrongs gives us the upper hand in our relationship” (page 90).

I think it’s worth listing the “dark benefits” that Tripp delineates so that we can examine ourselves and find where we are seeking to reap those benefits rather than taking the healthy, God-glorifying, servant-hearted approach of forgiveness.

1.  Debt is power.  There is power in having something to hold over another’s head.  There is power in using a person’s weakness and failure against him or her. In moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against our spouse as our relational trump card.

2. Debt is identity. Holding onto our spouse’s sin, weakness, and failure makes us feel superior to our spouse. It allows us to believe that we are more righteous and mature than our spouse. We fall into the pattern of getting our sense of self not by what God has called us to be and do but by comparing ourselves to our spouse. This pattern plays into the self-righteousness that is the struggle of every sinner.

3. Debt is entitlement. Because of all our spouse’s wrongs against us, he or she owes us. Carrying our spouse’s wrongs makes us feel deserving and therefore comfortable with being self-focused and demanding. ‘After all I have had to endure in relationship with you, don’t I deserve…?”

4. Debt is weaponry. The sins and failures that our spouse has done against us that we still carry around with us are like a loaded gun; it is very tempting to pull them out and use them when we are angry. When our wife has hurt us in some way, it is very tempting to hurt her back by throwing in her face just how evil and immature she is.

5. Debt puts us in God’s position. It is the one place that we must never be, but it is also a position that all of us have put ourselves in. We are not the judge of our spouse. We are not the one who should dispense consequences for our spouse’s sin. It is not our job to make sure he feels the appropriate amount of guilt for what he has done. But it is very tempting to ascend to God’s throne and to make ourselves judge. (What Did You Expect, 90-91)

Tripp concludes, “This is nasty stuff.”  I agree!

Later this week, I’ll post some of the more positive thoughts on forgiveness.

Mercy!

I’ve been listening to a little bit of Dave Harvey’s message from our 2009 Peacemaker Conference entitled “God’s Mercy and My Marriage.” The whole thing is SO worth listening to, and I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t heard it (or give it another listen if you have). You can download it for free from our website.

Here are some of Harvey’s opening comments on mercy:

[Mercy is] an amazing, unique, exceptional word that we rarely hear talked about within the culture that is a biblical theme that starts springing at us in the book of Genesis and goes all the way through Revelation. This word is one that we must understand because we are called by God to be merciful, and that calling begins with the person sitting next to you.

Mercy addresses how God relates to us as sinners; it describes his disposition of kindness, of patience, of forgiveness towards us despite the fact that we’ve rebelled against him and can be oriented to rebelling against him still. It describes how God suffered for sinners in Jesus Christ and suffers with sinners. Mercy arms the believer with a whole new language, with a whole new vocabulary of God’s love because all of a sudden when we talk about mercy, God’s longsuffering gets put into play. Words like forbearance begin to enter the discussion. Compassion is restored to our marriage.

…We talk about the mercy of God, and we find in the cross that the Father was merciful by sending the Son to die for our sins. Without the cross, “the Father is merciful” can become the sentimental actions of a tender old deity. It’s the cross that makes mercy real because it defines what it means in the reality that God did not treat us as our sins deserved.

Harvey goes on to apply that mercy in three specific areas of marriage/relationships: mercy in kindness, mercy in covering, and mercy for weakness.  The overarching theme is this: “Mercy introduces ministry as a primary goal in marriage.”

Again, here’s the link to download the whole message.