Listen and Learn – PeaceMeal Nov. 17, 2010

“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.

Adapted 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!

PeaceLinks – November 12, 2010

Highlights from some of the many helpful articles on the Peacemaker Ministries website for some great weekend reading.  Enjoy!

PeaceLink: Charitable Judgments: An Antidote to Judging Others

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. As we interact with other people, we must constantly make judgments about their words and actions so that we can respond to them appropriately. But the Bible warns that we are prone to look for the worst in people at times, and we judge them more critically than they deserve. In this article, Ken Sande provides practical ways to guard against this tendency and to follow Jesus’ example of making accurate and charitable judgments about others.

“Making a charitable judgment means that out of love for God, you strive to believe the best about others until you have facts to prove otherwise. In other words, if you can reasonably interpret facts in two possible ways, God calls you to embrace the positive interpretation over the negative, or at least to postpone making any judgment at all until you can acquire conclusive facts.” Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: Oprah, Rosie, and the Pastor’s Wife

by Heather Smith. The belittling remark from the pulpit cut Heather deeply — even more so since the pastor was also her husband! What is the appropriate way to handle this very public conflict?

“I had heard about pastors embarrassing their wives through humor, but I never expected to be one of them. My husband would never do that! And I was so new at this pastor’s wife thing. He should have known better!” Read more…

PeaceLink: Conflict an Opportunity? I Hate Conflict!

by Ted Kober, President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation.  A summary of the basic principles of biblical peacemaking, complete with real-life stories.

“Glorifying God happens when we take time to remember God’s role in our conflict and then respond to it His way. My self-centered approach often assumes that the dispute is between just my opponent and me. As Christians, however, we believe that God sacrificed dearly, involving himself in all our conflicts. Jesus died because of our conflict with God, and our fights with others usually involve sin. Therefore, we have the privilege and responsibility to consider God’s perspective on the issue. Conflict provides three opportunities for the child of God: to glorify God, to serve others, and to grow to be more like Christ.”  Read more…

Peace Evangelism

I recently attended a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Larry Taunton.  Christopher is a well known author and graduate from Oxford.  His English accent gave him an elegant demeanor.  As I listened, I tried to imagine a chat between him and C.S. Lewis over coffee.  Christopher bashes Lewis repeatedly in his book, God is not Great:  How religion poisons everything.  Larry is the founder of the Fixed Point Foundation, a foundation  with a mission to publicly defend Christianity.  Christopher’s arguments were winsome, as he made the comment that a great way to make a nation better would be to educate and empower women.  This is an area where he would claim that the church fails.

The arguments of each of them were interesting, but what I found most interesting wasn’t the debate but the friendship between Christopher and Larry.  They decided to come out to Montana so that they could visit Yellowstone National Park.  Christopher decided to come out to see the park as a part of his bucket list. 

Christopher made the claim that for some, belief is impossible.  As I sat with a group of five Chris followers, I began to think about how peacemaking compliments evangelism.  If you have ever stopped to listen to an agnostic speak about the hang-ups of the church, their passion is based from a vision that the church is a manipulative greedy antagonist.  But, as we think about resolving conflict and the idea of grace felt and received, perhaps what an agnostic is really looking for is grace and love?  Perhaps they are looking for someone who would be willing to gently and confidently restore without getting overly defensive or running away from the conversation? 

“Let your life shine before others, so that they may see
your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven
.” -Matthew 5:16

How can we as Christ, not Chris followers, live out a model of biblical peacemaking that would give agnostics a picture of what it means to live a life filled with grace and love?  How can we make their mouth water for a Spirit filled life?

PeaceLinks

Highlights from some of the many helpful articles on the Peacemaker Ministries website for some great weekend reading.  Enjoy!

PeaceLink: The Mediation and the Mango Tree

by Gary Friesen, Executive Vice President of Peacemaker Ministries.  Gary Friesen visited Uganda in October 2009 to meet with Dickson Ogwang, the head of Peace and Reconciliation Ministries in Africa (PRMA) and a candidate in PM’s Certification program. Gary traveled with Dickson to his hometown of Lira, in northern Uganda, to observe the mediation of a long-standing conflict. This is Gary’s report.

“Thirty years ago, members of the family that farmed the land got drunk one night and came looking for Dickson’s relatives. The two families were from different clans, and inter-clan violence is common in Uganda. Fearing trouble, his uncle put Dickson and the other children in a separate hut, and then waited with the adults at the main residence. When the neighboring family arrived things turned very ugly. Dickson’s grandmother and uncle were killed and his mother severely wounded and left for dead. Dickson, who was just 10 years old, witnessed everything from the doorway of his hut. The reason Dickson was not facilitating the mediation was that he was a party to the conflict.”  Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: It Took a Village to Restore My Marriage

by Jack B. Mills. Jack tells the story of how an amazing chain of people worked to bring his broken family back together.

“I can take absolutely no credit for any of the amazing things that led to the restoration of our marriage. It was God first, God throughout the crisis, and God alone that affected the outcome. I am still in awe of the fact that He used so many people to minister to me—always at just the right time and in the right way” Read more…

PeaceLinks: The Myths of Divorce

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. This article discusses five myths that people in the midst of divorce are often fooled into believing.

Myth #3: God led me to this divorce. I repeatedly hear people say, “I know the Bible teaches that divorce usually isn’t God’s will, but in this case God has given me a real peace that this is right.” This statement reveals an improper understanding of spiritual guidance, which elevate a sense of “inner peace” to such a level that it can overrule the clear teaching of Scripture itself. This view of guidance must be specifically exposed and refuted.” Read more…

Reflections, Veils, and God’s Glory

“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.

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

(PeaceMeal – November 3, 2010)