Wounded and Dangerous

As an accompanying article to their recent interview of Ken Sande, Leadership Journal also published this first-hand account of a church that went through a messy conflict and the role Peacemaker Ministries played in helping them work through it.  A little teaser:

“Oh, you’re from the fireworks church?” people would say, smiling, to members of Court Street Church. The congregation was known throughout the community for its big July Fourth celebration, including a parade, watermelon cutting, seed-spitting contest, and Roman candles. But it wasn’t long before the fireworks weren’t only overhead; they soon moved into the board room and eventually into the sanctuary. Fireworks church, indeed.

Read the entire story of how the “fireworks church” became the peacemaking church.

Know Limits or No Limits?

When dealing with difficult people, it is also important to recognize your limits.  Even when you continue to do what is right, some people may adamantly refuse to admit you are right or to live at peace with you.  This is why Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).  In other words, do all you can to be reconciled to others, but remember that you cannot force others to do what is right.  If you have done everything within your power to resolve a conflict, you have fulfilled your responsibility to God and may stop actively trying to solve the problem.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 252

Food for Thought

It was a credit card advertisement. It had the usual assortment of young, good-looking people out pursuing young, good-looking things. Right below the name of the credit card company were these words: No limits. That was the impression they wanted to leave you with — this card allows you a life of no limits.

We all know, however, that every credit card has limits. In fact, going beyond those limits might possibly get you a personal visit from an assortment of older, not-so-good-looking debt collectors. But the advertising never mentions that. Everything has limits.  Even our peacemaking efforts. “If it is possible…live at peace,” Paul says. We go as far as we possibly can, but we are not able to change the behavior of others. That’s beyond our limits. And the deceiver, the father of lies, knows that.

His spin on the truth convinces us that surely the right thing to do is keep on knocking on the door, confronting, calling, writing, pestering, etc. In other words, he wants us to doing anything other than wait on the Lord and trust Him. But do you see what a lie that is when we become so anxious about making peace?  It takes God completely out of the picture. It attempts to make us the god of reconciliation.

But of course, just like the credit card ad, Satan never mentions that.

What is Love?

While the title of this post might spark memories of a certain 80’s song, I found this post from Justin Taylor, by the same name, very edifying:

Here is Paul Tripp’s definition of love:

“Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving” (What Did You Expect? p. 188).

In the following he unpacks the definition (pp. 188-189):


Love is willing.

Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). The decisions, words, and actions of love always grow in the soil of a willing heart. You cannot force a person to love. If you are forcing someone to love, by the very nature of the act you are demonstrating that this person doesn’t in fact love.

Love is willing self-sacrifice.

There is no such thing as love without sacrifice.

Love calls you beyond the borders of your own wants, needs, and feelings.

Love calls you to be willing to invest time, energy, money, resources, personal ability, and gifts for the good of another.

Love calls you to lay down your life in ways that are concrete and specific.

Love calls you to serve, to wait, to give, to suffer, to forgive, and to do all these things again and again.

Love calls you to be silent when you want to speak, and to speak when you would like to be silent.

Love calls you to act when you would really like to wait, and to wait when you would really like to act.

Love calls you to stop when you really want to continue, and it calls you to continue when you feel like stopping.

Love again and again calls you away from your instincts and your comfort.

Love always requires personal sacrifice.

Love calls you to give up your life.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another.

Love always has the good of another in view.

Love is motivated by the interests and needs of others.

Love is excited at the prospect of alleviating burdens and meeting needs.

Love feels poor when the loved one is poor.

Love suffers when the loved one suffers.

Love wants the best for the loved one and works to deliver it.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation.

The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. If he had waited until we were able to reciprocate, there would be no hope for us.

Love isn’t a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” bargain.

Love isn’t about placing people in our debt and waiting for them to pay off their debts.

Love isn’t a negotiation for mutual good.

Real love does not demand reciprocation, because real love isn’t motivated by the return on the investment. No, real love is motivated by the good that will result in the life of the person being loved.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not requirereciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

Christ was willing to go to the cross and carry our sin precisely because there was nothing that we could ever do to earn, achieve, or deserve the love of God. If you are interested only in loving people who are deserving, the reality is that you are not motivated by love for them but by love for yourself. Love does its best work when the other person is undeserving. It is in these moments that love is most needed. It is in these moments that love is protective and preventative. It stays the course while refusing to quit or to get down and get dirty and give way to things that are anything but love.

There is never a day in your marriage when you aren’t called to be willing.

There is never a day in your marriage when some personal sacrifice is not needed.

There is never a day when you are free from the need to consider the good of your husband or wife.

There is never a day when you aren’t called to do what is not reciprocated and to offer what has not been deserved.

There is never a day when your marriage can coast along without being infused by this kind of love.

HT: Justin Taylor

Pride v. Humility

A great hindrance to fellowship in a marriage is pride—self-confident, self-exalting, self-protecting pride. Pride is perhaps the most deceptive, pervasive, and multifaceted form of sin, and it plays a central role in virtually all sin. One way the foolishness of pride comes out in our communication is in our love for our own voice and opinions.

Consider this proverb, just one of many that ties our speech to wisdom and foolishness: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). In contrast, humility yearns to learn, because it recognizes its deficiencies (Proverbs 12:15).

Check out the chart below on pride vs. humility in marriage (modified from Love that Lasts by Gary and Betsy Ricucci).

Pride V. Humility Chart

Pride V. Humility Chart

(Via Crossway)

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Strike the Shepherd – Losing Pastors in the Church

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. When conflicts involve the pastor, the whole church suffers. In this article, Ken Sande looks at the pressure that pastors face and how to prepare and protect them from conflict.

“Although there are times when it really is best for a pastor to step down, far too many good pastors are being driven out of ministry, leaving thousands of churches weak and vulnerable to spiritual attack. Without good leadership, factions multiply, evangelism declines, divorces proceed unrestrained, discipleship loses direction, and missionaries are forgotten on the field. As Scripture warns, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Matt. 26:31).” Read More…

PeaceLink: True Stories: Laying Down Rights

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. In our litigious society, we often hear the cry that, “My rights have been infringed!” In this story, when a man forgives his boss for hurting him, he discovers that there is something far more valuable than asserting legal rights.

“Like ripples in a pond, the effect of Ted’s decision moved slowly throughout the department. A few days after Ted dropped his lawsuit, two co-workers asked to meet with him over lunch once a week to discuss the Bible. Later, other co-workers asked him questions about his faith. For the first time since Ted’s conversion, he felt he was really helping people to learn about God’s love.” Read More…

PeaceLink: Keeping the Peace – Writing E-mail that will not Stir up Conflict

by Carolyn McCulley. Based on an interview with Ken Sande, this article gives practical advice for communicating via email in a way that is clear and that prevents conflict.

“People are much more careful in how they write a letter on paper than they are in how they communicate through e-mail,” he says. “The further you get away from a face-to-face communication, the more you lose your message-sending capabilities. It’s not good enough to communicate so that you can be understood, you must communicate so clearly that you cannot be misunderstood. There’s a huge difference.” Read More…

Can Rights Be Wrong?

Here again the concept of stewardship serves as a helpful guiding principle [in thinking about your rights]. Rights are not something you deserve and possess for your own benefit. Rather, they are privileges given to you by God, and he wants you to use them for his glory and to benefit others, especially by helping them know Christ. As a steward, it is also appropriate to consider your needs and personal responsibilities (Phil. 2:3-4). Thus, whenever there is a question about your rights, you should ask yourself questions like these:

1. “Will exercising my rights honor God by showing the power of the gospel in my life?”
2. “Will exercising my rights advance God’s kingdom–or will it advance only my interests at the expense of his kingdom?”
3. “Will exercising my rights benefit others?”
4. “Is exercising my rights essential for my own well-being?”

Adapted from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 94.

Food For Thought

Have you ever heard someone say (or have you yourself said), “I have my rights–and it wouldn’t be just to let him off so easily. He doesn’t deserve it!”

This kind of thinking–focusing on our own rights–is pretty typical in conflicts. We think in black and white terms: “I’m right. He’s wrong.” And when we’re thinking about rights, we’re usually thinking about justice. We want justice. Now.

Of course, that justice is to be meted out on the other person. See, here’s the problem. We are quick to want justice to be executed on others, but slow to seek that same justice for ourselves. In that situation (and every situation, for that matter), our only hope is the gospel. When we remember that we deserved justice but instead received abundant mercy, we are free to extend that abundant mercy to others. Praise the Lord that we do not receive what we truly deserve!

Yes, there are times to exercise rights. But there are also times to lay them down. Re-read the questions that Ken asks above. Then think about a situation you face where you are tempted to assert your rights. In doing so, can you honestly answer these questions in the affirmative? If not, then pray and consider how you might lay down your rights for God’s glory, imitating Christ, who lay down his rights (and his very life) for your sake.

PeaceLinks

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

PeaceLink: Accountability: The Mark of a Wise and Protected Leader

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. Every year hundreds of churches and ministries are thrown into turmoil when someone criticizes or raises serious questions about the conduct of a pastor or ministry executive. In this article, Ken Sande discusses the best way to provide church leaders with loving accountability.

“Both of these errors—under-protection and over-protection—can be avoided if churches and ministries replace a culture of criticism or denial with a culture of peace, where both leaders and members are equipped and encouraged to discuss differences and resolve leadership complaints as well as other conflicts in a biblical manner.” Read more…

PeaceLink: True Stories: Blessed are the Young Peacemakers

by Sue Scott. This article describes the response of a church to a senseless shooting at the local high school, contrasting the way the world tends to handle conflict with the way taught in The Young Peacemaker.

“Many thoughts tumbled through my mind. Guillermo’s puzzled concern and gentle love for his son. My own fear for my daughter who struggles with a disability causing frequent bouts of sudden, irrational anger. A friend’s son who’s fascinated with knives and violence. The Young Peacemakers class we just completed.

Our small, quiet community reeled in the horror. What could we learn from this tragedy? What could we do, facing such keening pain all around?” Read more…

PeaceLink: 9-11 Warns Us: Don’t Wait to Make Peace

by Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries. On the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Ken writes a challenging article on the danger of waiting to seek reconciliation with a loved one.

“I beg you, do not make the same mistake this woman did. Do not ignore the warning offered to all of us through the flames and smoke of September 11. Do not wait until it is too late to make peace with someone you’ve wronged or not forgiven. The opportunity may disappear in an instant.” Read more…