PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Approachability: The Passport to Real Ministry and Leadership

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. Many pastors have extraordinary gifts in areas of preaching and teaching, yet struggle to connect personally and gain the trust of their church members. In this article, Ken Sande unpacks the issue of approachability and how to cultivate it as a church leader.

“Craig and Jeff shared many characteristics: excellent education, solid theology, and a passion to teach and preach. But there was one major difference between them: month in and month out, Jeff’s flock had found him to be consistently approachable, while Craig’s congregation saw him as being so distant and above them that they gave up coming to him with their life concerns. Craig was a fine preacher, but he had failed to earn the relational passport needed to shepherd the flock God had entrusted to his care.”  Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: Getting Fired

Getting fired, especially in a way that seems completely unjust, can feel like the ultimate slap in the face. Retribution is the standard reaction, but this story shows how going a different route—conciliation, humility, confession, and forgiveness—honors God and often brings about true peace.

“Without meaningful communication, their frustration grew until it erupted in a heated argument at the end of a long, hot day. Tempers flared, and soon Betty said, “That’s it! I’m tired of you always telling me how to run my company. You’re fired!” Read more…

PeaceLink: Saving Face and Saving Grace

By Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries.  This article contains stories and Ken’s reflections from a trip to Taiwan in early 2007.

“She told me that she had been so excited by what she had learned about biblical peacemaking that she rushed home with a copy of the new Mandarin translation of The Peacemaker and gave it to her husband. “You’ve got to read this,” she told him.
“I don’t have time,” her husband replied, “I’m way too busy.”
Mary persisted. “But, you’ve got to,” she said, “It’s life changing.”
“I said I don’t have time,” he told her again. “Don’t bother me with it.”
At this point, Mary told me, the argument would have escalated–over peacemaking, of all things–and would have ended with each retreating to their corners, wounded, with no place to go, no way to work through the hurts they had inflicted on each other.
This time, however, Mary did something different. Remembering what she had learned at the conference, she changed course and said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed you. I can see you are busy and you don’t have time. Please forgive me.”
Mary had never expected what happened next.” Read more…

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: All I Want for Christmas… is a Peaceful Family!

by Annette Friesen. In this article, Annette discusses the misguided expectations that often accompany the holidays, and then introduces three helpful responses to conflict.

“During the holidays, especially as the children got older, the stress and pressure of trying to make things “just right”, along with home schooling, resulted in more conflict. My efforts to create peace weren’t diffusing conflict, but were causing it!” Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: A Tale of Two Confessions

What does it mean to make an adequate confession? In this story, the 7 A’s of Confession provide a useful framework for seeking true forgiveness.

“The word “if” robs a confession of any value. It shows that what we really mean is:

Obviously you’re upset about something. I don’t know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I’ll give you this token apology. And by the way, since I don’t know whether I have done anything wrong, I certainly don’t know what I should do differently in the future. Therefore, I hope you don’t expect me to change. It’s only a matter of time before I do the same thing again.Read more…

PeaceLink: A Habit of Being

by Molly Friesen, former Director of Global Educational Partnerships at Peacemaker Ministries.  Peacemaking is more than simply a tool for fixing problems: it is a reflection of the very nature of God!

“Wherever you are and however you serve God, we encourage you to begin reading your Bible with an eye for God’s peacemaking character and to imitate his character as the divine Peacemaker. Remember, peacemaking is not simply a tool for fixing problems, but it is a “habit of being,” a way of reflecting who we are in Christ in all of our relationships.” Read more…

Walking in Peace Amid Holiday Strife

The following is an an article by Tara Barthel from our website. I’m posting it because I can absolutely identify with what Tara is writing about and was struck by how timely a piece it was for me (and not just ’cause it’s 2 days till Christmas). The original can be read here.

According to the catalogs and TV commercials, the holidays are supposed to be filled with joy, music, laughter, and love—happy people doing happy things. For many of us, however, the holiday season is often one of stress, grief, and conflict. Instead of “Thanksgiving gratitude” and “glad tidings of great joy,” we find ourselves miserable and angry over small matters (“Who spilled on the velvet tablecloth? Mrs. Critical will be here any moment—what will she think?”). And we catch ourselves pasting on a fake grin as we seethe over yet another sarcastic comment from a relative (“Oh, don’t be so sensitive! I was only kidding”).

As we walk through the clamor of the holidays, our relationships may reflect a “peace” as weak and flimsy as a sheet of thin gift-wrapping paper from the dollar store. How can we get past the façade of fake holiday happiness and truly wrap this season in a blanket of grace, joy, and love? Continue reading

Peace Initiatives

On the website of World Magazine (www.worldmag.com), there is an excellent article on peacemaking by Andrée Seu that will be in the upcoming January 1 issue of World.

In the article, she documents 5 conflicts resolved in her life over the last week.  Reflecting on them, she writes:

“I feel quite happy at the moment. Not with myself, precisely, but with the Lord. I had done things His way, and His way paid off. I have peace. Peace is nice, I like it. Please understand, I am not viewing this repentance business mechanistically, nor appreciating doctrine from a purely utilitarian point of view. Nevertheless, it is fun to see how well God’s commands “work.” I feel like I just bought a new double-flex rod “pocket fisherman,” and it practically catches trout by itself.”

Isn’t it wonderful how God commands us to do things that truly are in our best interest?  He loves us, and that is why he calls us to be peacemakers and to live at peace with Him and with those around us.

Read the whole article on the World Magazine website.

May the God of…?

While I was rummaging around my blog feed reader this week, I ran across two outstanding posts about Christ’s peace that are too good not to share with you. They both wrestle with the idea of what biblical peace looks like and how that contrasts with the way the world around us defines it.

The first post is one written by Dr. Moore. I have it excerpted here, but it’s definitely worth your time to read the whole thing:

The way we tend to think of “peace” is in terms of a tranquility, a lack of disturbance. This is perhaps all the more in focus with our contemporary notions of what Christmas is all about, reinforced constantly by the marketers all around us.

It is more than possible to have this kind of peace in a Christless life. In fact, it’s easier that way. The shepherds on the Bethlehem feeding grounds were probably experiencing a very “peaceful” night before the sky exploded with supernatural beings, beings ferocious enough to necessitate a command not to fear. The message of peace comes in the drama of disturbance.

I find that, too often, I want a satanic peace, the kind that comes with Christlessness. I just want tranquility, to be left alone with the path in which I want to go. That’s the kind of peace that comes with slavery, and it’s attractive (Gal. 4:9). After all, peace with Pharaoh simply means making more stray bricks. Peace with the flesh simply means watching out for your own tribal loyalties. Peace with Satan simply means marching in rhythm with your desires toward a bloody grave (Eph. 2:1-3).

You can have a Christless pseudo-peace, for a little while.

But true shalom doesn’t leave us alone, as though we were orphans (Heb. 12:8). Christful peace prompts us to struggle (Heb. 12:4), to scream out for deliverance (Rom. 8:15), to be nailed down in execution (Mt. 10:38).

Only in that kind of disturbance do we find the “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). In the gospel that uproots the powers of this age (including our own tranquil egos), we find “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), as our consciences are cleansed before him. We find peace with one another as we find our identity in Christ who is our peace, and the old dividing walls implode (Eph. 2:14-17).

That’s a sword-rattling kind of peace, and it’s anything but calm, anything but quiet.

Read the whole thing here.

This second article was a guest post on Desiring God’s blog from Dustin of His Peace Upon Us. He primarily tackles the way we view the calling of God to be peacemakers:

Our master, Jesus the Messiah, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Christians are called to be peacemakers. So how are we doing? Is this what we are known for? Does this describe you?

Imagine you were to tell your family that you wanted to be a peacemaker. Would they first think of the church or the UN? “Peacemaker” ought to be synonymous with Christian, especially in light of the frequent New Testament commands to be at peace with others (i. e. Romans 12:1814:192 Corinthians 13:11). Do we realize that not only does Paul give a blessing of grace at the beginning of each of his letters, but he also always includes peace?

But what is a peacemaker? Here is an intentionally peace-filled definition that I hope helps reawaken us to the prominence of peace in the Bible:

A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

I have quite a bit to chew on after reading those posts and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. Too often my image of peace and, by extension,  a peacemaker is shaped by what I read in the news and watch in movies and not by what God himself says about it in his Word.

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Turning Enemies into Friends

By Chip Zimmer, Vice President of International Ministries.  An inside look at the life and passions of Peter Kuzmic.

“His most challenging assignment, though, currently takes place behind the scenes. Peter recently returned from two and a half months in the Balkans where he spent much of his time meeting with religious and political leaders on various issues that have arisen since Kosovo’s declaration of independence, including reconciliation and the safety of religious workers and ethnic minorities.” Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: Reconciling with Mom

Our closest relationships are often the most emotionally painful and challenging to reconcile. But with the help of the concepts in The Peacemaker, a woman is compelled to seek reconciliation with her mother after years of heartache, and writes about her experience in this letter.

“I cannot describe the overwhelming peace in my heart that I obeyed God and made every effort in my relationship with mom. The happy ending to all this is that not only did my mom and I reconcile and enjoy a new depth of love for each other but mom also gave her life to Christ three weeks before she died.” Read more…

PeaceLink: Peacemaking: A Key to Socializing Children

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. How is it that children learn to get along with each other? The same way as adults—by learning to be a peacemaker!

“Conflict provides an x-ray of our children’s hearts. When others stand in the way of their desires, and they quarrel and fight, their sinful desires are exposed. This gives parents an excellent opportunity to help our children break free from worldly desires.

Instead of beating them down with condemnation, we should pray for them and use questions, instruction, and gentle confrontation to help them see that something other than God is controlling their hearts and their lives. At the same time, we should remind them of the forgiveness and freedom that God offers to them through the Gospel.”  Read more…

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Curse or Consecrate: Two Ways for Christians to View a Conflict

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. When faced with the conflicts and struggles of life, we are faced with a choice, just as the Apostle Paul was. Will we curse those struggles or consecrate them?

“To consecrate something means to declare it sacred, to devote it irrevocably to the worship of God. Paul knew that the Lord was all-loving and all-powerful, and he trusted that God would work for his good even in that miserable situation (Phil. 1:27-30; Rom. 8:28-29). Therefore, Paul could sincerely pray, “This is your situation, my Lord. Show me how I can use it to please and honor you.” Read More…

PeaceLink: True Stories: The Sister’s Tug of War

The death of a parent and subsequent resolution of the estate can bring to the surface many painful family conflicts. But a caring church can help bring healing and reconciliation to these families, as it does in this story.

“Wow!” said Pastor James when she talked to him later that afternoon. “I’ve never gotten involved in a legal dispute before. I wouldn’t know where to begin, especially since your sister goes to another church.”

“But can’t you at least try?” pleaded Maria. “There’s got to be a way to resolve this so it honors Mom’s wishes and is a better witness to my Uncle Will.” Read More…

PeaceLink: What Is Truth? The Fight Against Practical Relativism

by David V. Edling and Molly Routson. This article addresses some of the impact of postmodernism on the church today, particularly in the area of peacemaking.

“Because of the explosive proliferation of the key tenant of postmodernism, that truth is relative, even the most committed Christian finds it increasingly difficult to resist the drift toward practical relativism. Practical relativism is our term for the Christians’ slide into relativism, which is occasioned by the combination of cultural postmodern influence and the reality of our own inconsistency.” Read More…

The Gospel: Lived!

I was sitting on the front row at the Peacemaker Ministries conference when I heard it for the first time: “Unforgiveness is a symptom of gospel amnesia.”

“That’s handy”, I thought, so I wrote it down (and tweeted it).  I didn’t know how important those words really were.

Last week, someone lovingly pointed out various ways that they saw signs of bitterness manifested in my life. You see, I had started changing the subject whenever a specific person was mentioned or would engage in the conversation with a tone of resentment. I thought I had done a good job of hiding my unforgiving heart, but my friend knew me and could tell something was going on that needed to be confronted. While this did hurt, it was done in a gracious spirit and got me to thinking, “What’s going on here? Why is it that I feel the need to hold on to these things?” Then I remembered, “Unforgiveness is a symptom of gospel amnesia.”

Ah, right.

I had forgotten the gospel (practically) and how it should shape my life. How typical of me and my nature! How insulting to my God and the sacrifice His Son has made!  Christ’s blood atonement on the cross for me means that I am no longer bound by my sins and that I am free to forgive others knowing that God will ultimately handle everything. Also, being unwilling to let go of the bitterness in my heart is open rebellion against the Holy Spirit, who calls for my soul to be a new creation.

This is when I realized that if there is no evidence of the gospel being made visible in my life, I am probably not being changed by the power gospel. As I am renewed by the gospel, I should live out the gospel.

I pray that the gospel will become more apparent in this area of my life and that the following command continues to become a reality in the church:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

(Colossians 3:12-17)

Note: If you’re interested in listening to the message by Joshua Harris that the quote originally came from, you can stream it here:  http://bit.ly/9llkBD

Broken Promises

Have you ever been upset with a friend or family member who made a promise to you and broke it?  The disappointment comes from your desire for them to come through with what they said.  Have you ever been upset with God for the same reason? 

Recently, I was sitting with a group of young teenage girls and we were talking about relationships.  I asked them if they thought that within the Bible, God promised them a husband.  One of the ladies said that she didn’t think God would give her a desire, if it wasn’t to be fulfilled. 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37: 4

Does this passage of Scripture mean that God promises to give me everything that I want, if I follow him?

The Hebrew word for desires is mish’a lot.  The root verb is sha’al, which usually means to ask.  If then we are coming to God and asking him for guidance, we are not coming to him with a list of desires that we want him to fulfill.  We are coming to him to fulfill us and send us where he wants us to go.  I would venture to say that if we chased after God with all our heart, our desires would be like his because we would be willing to completely obey and submit our lives to him.  The more time we spend time with him, the more like-minded we will become.

This doesn’t change the fact that God deeply loves us, wants to provide for us and loves to give his kids great gifts.  But, it should change within us a lie–that by doing good and following God he will reward us with everything that we crave while living on this earth. 

When we live for our desires, we live for idols and not God.  God wants us to worship him and not our desires.  He wants us to come to him for our rest, comfort, and completion. 

What does God promise us?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” -Romans 6: 23

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Walking in Peace amid Holiday Strife

by Tara Klena Barthel. This article offers practical and biblical help for ensuring that the holiday season is one filled with peace rather than filled with conflict.

“If we are to walk as people of peace during the stress of the holidays, we must first begin by remembering the greatness of God and all that he has done for us in Christ. Then we can move on to how we are to live in light of these truths. If we try to skip the first step and move to the changing of our behavior, we will probably end up frustrated both by our own failures as well as the fallenness of those around us.” Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: The Reptile Robbery

by Marilyn Fargo. The turtles are missing! Who’s responsible? In this letter, a public school teacher shares her experience of the value of teaching The Young Peacemaker in the classroom.

“A tall boy, obviously somewhat bashful, began: ‘You know your turtles, Mrs. Fargo. Well, something happened to two of the baby ones. We don’t know for sure, but we admit that two of them got taken. We are really sorry and we apologize for that person who did it. We want to ask you to forgive us.”  Read more…

PeaceLink: Spreading the Gospel of Peace

by Chip Zimmer, Vice President of International Ministries. A look at the commonalities of conflict around the world, from Peru to Croatia, and the universality of the gospel as the only true hope for peace.

“The gospel provides an enduring basis for overcoming violence and despair because of its power to transform hearts. And transformed hearts lead to transformed lives, transformed churches, and transformed societies. This, too, is something that Croatia and Peru have in common–the hope that is in Jesus Christ.” Read more…