2011 Peacemaker Conference Registration is Now Open!

We are proud to announce that registration is now open for the 2011 Peacemaker Conference and Pre-Conference events in Orlando, Florida. This year’s theme is “Hope in Brokenness” and we are very excited about how the Lord is bringing this conference together.

Many of us face evidence of brokenness in our lives from our car breaking down to a family falling apart from divorce. And think about all the tragedies we’ve heard about in the news – tsunami in Japan, earthquake in Myanmar, protests in Egypt and Wisconsin, air strikes in Libya and more. It’s easy to lose hope when we look at the world around us.

But then we gaze upon the gospel of Christ where Jesus himself was broken for us so that we could be made complete. You look through the promises of Scripture and can be overwhelmed by God’s promises to us. And maybe the best news is that the Lord is not done with us yet. He uses everything in our lives for our good and His glory. Maybe this seems cliche but there is deep truth in this Scripture. It’s not only our lives who are effected. Who do you know that needs to seek the God of hope? Who only sees darkness ahead? This conference is not just for you but for your loved ones and even a world that is desperately looking for something (or someone) to hope in.

On this blog we’ll be featuring our keynote speakers: Ken Sande (President of Peacemaker Ministries), Tim Lane (Executive Director of Christian Counseling and Education Foundation), Nancy Guthrie (speaker, author, founders of Respite Retreats) and Dickson Ogwang (Director of Peace and Reconciliation Ministries in Africa, mediator and Deputy Chief of Mission for the Ugandan Embassy). We are excited for you to get to know these individuals who have a passion for sharing about the God of hope.

For all the details be sure to visit www.peacemakerconference.net

Pre-Conference will be held September 20-22 and Conference will be September 22-25. Register before April 8th to get the best pricing and we’ll see you in September! 2010 Conference Worship

People Who Breathe Grace

Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 11

Food for Thought

Have you ever been around a person who was truly filled with the peace of God? Were you drawn to her serenity—regardless of her circumstance? (For didn’t you see Christ’s peace in her the most when her trials were at their worst?) Did his confidence in God’s goodness strengthen you when you faced times of trial and doubt? (Because you knew that his faith in God was not a shallow faith—but one born of great suffering and painful perseverance through the storms of life?)

When you think about that peaceful, grace-filled person, what were her relationships like? Did she leave a legacy of hurting, offended, discouraged people in her wake? Was he known as a man who “always had the right answer” and frequently spoke words of condemnation? Probably not. People who are filled with God’s peace also tend to be at peace with others. Why?

“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace,” Ken reminds us. The peace of God transcends all understanding and it fills their hearts like fountains bubbling over with mercy, kindness, genuine care, and abiding love. They are so filled with God’s grace that they splash it onto everyone around them. They could no more stop breathing grace than a person could stop breathing air—because grace is the air that they breathe. Their prayers sound something like this:

  • Breathing grace in: The one true holy God sent his Son to die for me? I am saved from hell, from my sin; justified before this holy God; forgiven and adopted? What wondrous love is this! Thank you, God. Thank you for forgiving me all my sins and making the way for me to be at peace with you. I worship You!
  • Breathing grace out: And now, dear Lord, as I head into my day—let the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ be the heartbeat of my life. Please, God, let every word I say, every action I take, the attitude of my heart, my desires and inclinations—let my life be used by You, for Your glory and the furtherance of Your Kingdom. Please help me to treat others not as they deserve—but as You treat me. May I be your image-bearer, your representative, your ambassador. Thank You, Lord.

Dear friends, let every breath we take and every word we speak today be filled with grace!

— Tara Barthel (Billings, MT) is a former attorney and the author of our Women’s Study. She currently serves her family as a homemaker while regularly speaking at women’s events and blogging on God’s considerable grace.

Peacemaking in a World of Self

The Observer in Grand Cayman published a piece on Peacemaker Ministries yesterday and I thought it’d be worth having a little excerpt here. This part of the article goes into the reason Peacemaker Ministries was founded:

Before forming Peacemaker Ministries in the 1980s, Sande had experienced a working environment most of us can relate to: people competing to get priority for their projects, personal offences being freely given and taken, office gossip, jealousy about promotions and pay rises and so on.

Sande came to believe that this normal, adversarial way of operating fails to resolve issues in almost any area of human interaction; personal, professional, or even legal.

As he grew in this awareness his desire to spend a lifetime in Christian ministry began to find its focus.

That’s when he decided to start the Peacemaker Ministries organisation.

To the more hard-bitten it may sound a little naïve to talk of the failure of the adversarial system, but Sandes has lots of examples to back up his assertion.

For example, his father was a district court trial judge for 25 years and he saw that when one party emerged victorious after typically months of legal conflict, more often than not they said they wished they had never gone to court.

Legal battles played out in court are an excruciating process, Sande said.

At this point in our conversation I couldn’t help thinking he was over-simplifying and advocating an approach that would lead to getting trampled over.

After all, in cases of professional negligence, particularly in the medical world, surely the opportunity for victims to sue ensures hospitals are as rigorous and effective as they can be? Wouldn’t you be letting hospitals off the hook if they knew they would not get sued?

Apparently not.

Read the rest here

Spring Cleaning Time for Closets with Skeletons

If it is difficult for you to identify and confess your wrongs, there are two things you can do. First, ask God to help you see your sin clearly and repent of it, regardless of what others may do (Ps. 129:23-24). Then prayerfully study his Word and ask him to show you where your ways have not lined up with his ways (Heb. 4:12). Second, ask a spiritually mature friend to counsel and correct you (Prov. 12:15; 19:20). The older I get, the less I trust myself to be objective when I am involved in a conflict. Time after time I have been blessed by asking a friend to candidly critique my role in a conflict. I have not always liked what my friends have said, but as I have humbled myself and submitted to their correction, I have always seen more clearly.

Taken 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

In Psalm 32, David talks about how hidden sin eats us up. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of the summer.”

Yet as we read on in the chapter, David identifies no less than seven mighty acts God will work on our behalf as we confess our sin. He begins with the stunning promise that “surely in the rush of great waters they shall not reach him” and ends with the assurance that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord”.

Are you struggling with private or unconfessed sin? Read Psalm 32 and see if you can identify all seven of the ways God promises to intercede on your behalf as you take the difficult step of acknowledging (even publicly, if appropriate) your wrongdoing. Then read 2 Timothy 2:21 and take comfort in the knowledge that God is seeking to cleanse you from your sin to use you for noble purposes ahead.

A Prayer About Relational Messes and God’s Mercies

Thanks to Pastor Scotty Smith for this prayer:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:13-16

     Forbearing Father, thank you for documenting the relational foolishness and failures of your people. Though it must grieve your heart, these portions of your Word arrest our naiveté and keep us from idolizing Christian community. They also demonstrate how much we need the gospel every day, even every hour. Life in the Body of Christ is often messy and requires a constant supply of your never-ending mercies.

     That we indulge our sinful nature, and “bite and devour each other” is a sad fact, but it’s not our fate and it’s not something you want us to get used to. One Day we will be made perfect in love. One Day all of our relationships will reveal the beauty of life within the Godhead. Throughout eternity we will enjoy perfect society, friendship, communication, camaraderie and intimacy. Sear and seal this hope upon our hearts, and may it be the fuel for earnest reflection, repentance and change.

     Come, Holy Spirit, come. Grant us godly sorrow and deep repentance, for the ways we hide the beauty of Jesus through our pettiness, immaturity and selfishness. Let us grieve the ways we love so poorly. The gospel should make it harder, not easier for us to hurt one another. Let us weep as those who understand what is at stake. In a day when the culture is looking for reasons not to believe the gospel, forgive us for adding to their ammo and salvo.

     Forgive us, Jesus. You’ve made it clear that the world will know we are your disciples by the way we love one another. Bring the power of the gospel to bear upon our shared and broken life as your Bride—in our marriages, friendships, community groups, leadership gatherings and in our corporate worship.

     Grace doesn’t free us to love haphazardly and selectively, but generously and extravagantly—as an overflow of the way you love us, Jesus. So very Amen, we pray, in your holy and loving name.

While…

Trusting God does not mean that we will never have questions, doubts, or fears. We cannot simply turn off the natural thoughts and feelings that arise when we face difficult circumstances. Trusting God means that in spite of our questions, doubts, and fears we draw on his grace and continue to believe that he is loving, that he is in control, and that he is always working for our good. Such trust helps us to continue doing what is good and right, even in difficult circumstances.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 65

Food for Thought

I can trust God while I am feeling __________ (you fill in the blank).

How many of us can drive while talking on our cell phones (with an approved hands-free device, of course)? That’s right, everybody raise your hand. How about eating breakfast while reading the morning news? Yes, again, that goes together like peanut butter and jelly or chocolate and vanilla. Most of us can do one or more things while we’re doing something else. So why does it feel different when it comes to the life of faith?

How many times do we believe that the presence of trust means the complete absence of questions, doubts, and fears? (Don’t ask that question so much for your neighbor as for your yourself.) Ken wisely reminds us that this is just not true. It’s perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes to continue believing that he is loving while having questions about his method of showing that how that love is manifest. It doesn’t reflect a lack of faith to continue believing that he is in control while having some doubts about what control really means. And the biblical record, at least, seems to honor the person who continues to believe that he is working for our good while the flames of persecution are being fanned.

Continuing down the path that God has prepared for us even while having questions, doubts and fears is the very definition of trust. Any other definition is a half-truth. We can still pray, “Increase our faith!” but we don’t have to be discouraged every time doubts creep into our hearts. Do you mean my heart can have questions and doubts, and that doesn’t disqualify me in the faith category? Remember, as the apostle John reminds us, that “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20).

Rebels With a Cause

“But I tell you who hear me:  Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Even when we say, “I forgive you,” many of us have a difficult time not thinking about what others have done to hurt us… It is very difficult simply to stop thinking about an unpleasant experience.  Instead, we must replace negative thoughts and memories with positive ones… Every time you begin to dwell on or brood over what someone else has done, ask for God’s help and deliberately pray for that person or think of something about the offender that is “true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.”

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 220-221

Food for Thought

Would people describe you as rebellious?  If so, in what way?  If not, why?

Rebel is not the way most believers would describe themselves these days.  It’s just a stone’s throw from rebellious, and we surely wouldn’t want to lean in that direction.  But even a cursory reading of Jesus’ words show just how rebellious the Christian life is.  He tells us to go totally cross-grain to the way of this world — do the counterintuitive thing.  So put on your James Dean jacket, slick your hair back, re-read Jesus’ words and let’s redeem the word rebel. But remember our cause — reconciliation with God.

Ken’s encouragement to use the replacement principle is exactly what Jesus is referring to in Luke 6.  Instead of hating those who hate you — negate the hate with doing good.  When you want to curse those who are cursing you, rearrange your four-letter words so that they spell bless. And all those who mistreat you?  Replace your “I’m gonna’ gitcha'” scheme with “Lord, have mercy.”  But be warned — people don’t like rebels, and they usually want to make them go away.  This kind of godly rebelliousness may leave your James Dean jacket in shreds, your hair may lose all its slick, and it just might get you persecuted.  There’s a pretty good precedent for that.  But remember our cause — the peace of God. God’s true rebels are not necessarily the popular and successful, but the hated, cursed and mistreated; those who stay true to the cause no matter what.  And the cause is peace.  Peace has a face (and it’s not James Dean’s).  “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2.14) — Jesus himself replaces justice with mercy and condemnation with freedom.  What a rebel!

Searching for Perfect Peace

A nice post over at the Gospel Coalition blog on unity in the church. I thought this was particularly well said:

[Jesus’] prayer is what glues sinners together, and it is by design that conflicting sinners would dwell together. Why? Because Jesus uses the nagging sins of others to expose our own sins, creating opportunities to forbear, forgive, and fulfill Jesus greatest ecclesial instruction: Love one another (John 13:34-35). In this way, strife in the church that naturally leads to disunity has the possibility of refining the church when the underlying sin is confronted, confessed, and the gospel of grace is applied (Matt 18:21-35).

Read the whole thing.