The Call to Be Different

I appreciated this short video from the late John Stott on the call to be different from the world as Christians:

It reminds me of our 2013 Peacemaker Conference next fall in Columbus, OH with the theme “Remarkably Different”. We’d love to have you join us as we explore together this great topic. And if you register between now and December 21, you can get access to the Online Version of the 2012 Conference for FREE!

HT: Z

 

 

Atop This Year’s Christmas Shopping List: Loving Your Enemies!

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There is such wisdom and power in these simple words: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 256.

Food for Thought

Did you cross anyone off your Christmas card or gift list this year because they have been “bad” to you? According to Paul’s instruction, our enemies ought to be at the top of our holiday sharing lists. In our day and age, even the pagans give Christmas gifts to their friends (to paraphrase Jesus). What makes Christians different is that we care–passionately–for our enemies. We work hard to give them good gifts. Is there one particular “enemy” who you need to add back onto your list? What can you give an enemy this season that would be particularly thoughtful? This is a tough command, but it comes with an amazing promise: if we obey, we will not be overcome by evil but instead will overcome evil with good!

SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US! We’d love to hear about your efforts to “give good gifts to your enemies” this Christmas season. Please e-mail us your experience at testimonies@peacemaker.net.

A Ugandan Prodigal Turns Towards Home

by Chip Zimmer, VP of Global Ministry

At some point in our lives, most of us will have a Prodigal Son experience. For Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, that time came recently when he publicly repented of his sins and the sins of the nation he has led for more than 25 years.

The Ugandan daily New Vision reports on its website that President Museveni spoke at the National Jubilee Prayers in Namboole recently. You can read all of the President’s remarkable prayer by clicking here. Some excerpts follow…

I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask your forgiveness…

Forgive us sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge, sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.

These sins and many others have characterized our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins…”

And toward the close…

We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33: 12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.”

We can join President Museveni and the people of Uganda in making his prayer our own, not only for Uganda, but for every land, including ours, that has strayed from the Lord. The hard work of repentance remains to be done, as one Ugandan church leader noted. Yet, all of us can thank God for the awakening he has brought to the President and for the example he has set for leaders everywhere.

Thankfulness: An Overlooked Way to Fight Sin

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6

Paul knew that we cannot just stop being anxious. Worried thoughts have a way of creeping back into our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Therefore, he instructs us to replace worrying with ‘prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.’ When you are in a dispute, it is natural to dwell on your difficult circumstances or on the wrong things that the other person has done or may do to you. The best way to overcome this negative thinking is to replace it with more constructive thoughts, such as praising God for his grace through the gospel, thanking him for the many things he has already done for you in this and other situations, and praying for assistance in dealing with your current challenges (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).

When you remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past and ally yourself with him today, you will discover that your anxiety is being steadily replaced with confidence and trust (cf. Isa 26:3). In fact, recalling God’s faithfulness and thanking him for his deliverance in the past was one of the primary ways the Israelites overcame their fears when they faced overwhelming problems (e.g. Psalms 18, 46, 68, 77, 78, 105, 106, 107, 136; Neh. 9:5-37).

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict 
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 86-87.

 

Food for Thought

Thankfulness for what God has done for us is a very important–but often overlooked–key to overcoming sin in our lives. Anxiety (as Ken discusses above) is one common area of sin. In this case, thankfulness corrects our perspective, reminding us of God’s past faithfulness and his sure promise to care for us in the future.

The apostle Paul also prescribes thankfulness as the antidote for other sins with which we struggle. In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul exhorts us to put off the sins of our flesh, replacing them with behaviors that reflect our new nature in Christ. He specifically mentions foolish talk, crude joking, sexual immorality, covetousness and debauchery as behaviors that the Christian is to replace with thanksgiving (Eph 5:3-4; 18-20). So much sin is rooted in selfishness and pride; thankfulness loosens the grip that these sins have on our hearts.

The holiday season can be a time that induces a great deal of anxiety and conflict. In the United States, we enter this season with a day of remembering the many things for which we can be thankful. As you anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving this week, take a moment to consider ways that cultivating a thankful heart can help you to overcome sins that you have been battling or conflicts that you anticipate will arise.

Quarterly Harvest Report – Q3

We recently sent our financial partners the third edition of our new publication—our Quarterly Harvest Report. It is always a joy to see this update of the ways God is using Peacemaker Ministries around the world and to give supporters a means to evaluate how we’ve stewarded the resources they’ve shared with us.

Click through the link/graphic below to see the exciting things that went on in the third quarter of this year because friends like you support Peacemaker Ministries.


Quarterly Harvest Report – Jul-Sep 2012

And as you might imagine, a generous financial gift would be timely and helpful to us as we approach the end of the year. We’d be grateful to be able to add you to the list of people who support Peacemaker Ministries.

Cultivating Peace in Times of Uncertainty

Lauren Carr, who works in our International/Development department, wrote this nice piece on the recent election that I want to share with you all:

Hope and Change.  Those buzzwords popularized by the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign continued to ring in the air as the majority of our country chose to move Forward this year.  Many writers and political analysts touted this election as the “most important one in our lifetimes.” And some considered the outcome to be so significant that it requires the removal of stars from our flag!  

 

Regardless of your political leanings, two biblical truths hold us steady in the wake of November 6, 2012. The first is that followers of Christ are foremost citizens of a foreign land. We long for a heavenly country and wait for a city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11).  The second thing of which we can be sure is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Even when righteous men and women are at the helm, their leadership will undoubtedly pale in comparison to that of Jesus! This doesn’t mean we don’t fight to uphold godly legislation and authority in the kingdom of men, but it does mean that as citizens of heaven, we ultimately place our hope in the sovereign leadership of our King.

 

Part of being a peacemaker is cultivating peace within ourselves in times of uncertainty. After receiving the peace of being reconciled to God, our constant supply of peace comes from leaning into His sovereignty. Those in your sphere of influence watch as you react to changing times, and your steadiness as a peacemaker in your community depends on your foundation on the Rock that is higher. Let us hold fast to peace together and thereby communicate the Gospel no matter the time and season.

Shaken, Not Stirred

 

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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let
your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14.27

Through Jesus you can also experience genuine peace within yourself. Internal peace is a sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest, and security. Although nearly everyone longs for this kind of peace, it eludes most people. Genuine internal peace cannot be directly obtained through our own efforts; it is a gift that God gives only to those who believe in his Son and obey his commands (I John 3:21-24). In other words, internal peace is a by-product of righteousness…

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 46.

Food for Thought

When it comes to peace, whose definition are you using?

The world defines peace as the absence of conflict. No more war, no more injustice, no more ________ — you fill in the blank. Jesus defines peace as the presence of the Comforter, right in the middle of wars and rumors of wars. Remember? His peace is not as the world gives/defines.

As Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 14, notice his target: “Do not let your hearts…” He is speaking about their internals, if you will. Ken’s emphasis in this passage from The Peacemaker is also on an internal peace, not necessarily an external one. Miss that difference and you miss an important peace.

Jesus’ desire is that those hearts not be troubled. A little investigation into that word troubled and you’ll find that one of the primary meanings is to be stirred. Imagine a huge pitcher of sugar-induced, southern iced tea. Now picture mama’s hand coming up with a long wooden spoon, sticking it down in the middle of that pitcher, and swirling it around. That’s the image here. Jesus does not want their hearts to be stirred, as in something coming in and stirring them internally.

Jesus was well aware of what was to come, and he was trying to relay that to his friends. Phrases like, “the world will not see me anymore,” “the world will hate you,” and “anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God,” no doubt shook the disciples. It wasn’t just about to get hot in the kitchen; the whole house was about to burn down. The peace that Jesus was giving to his disciples was internal, not external. He wasn’t trying to keep them from being shaken, but rather from being stirred. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17.15). Placing our trust in him and his goodness and his righteousness allows us to “keep on keepin’ on” even when the earth’s foundations are shaking.

Eye Can See Clearly Now

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Jesus had much to say about resolving conflict. One of his most familiar commands is recorded in Matthew 7:3-5:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This passage is sometimes interpreted as a warning against talking with others about their faults. If you read it carefully, however, you will see that it does not forbid loving correction. Rather, it forbids premature and improper correction. Before you talk to others about their faults, Jesus wants you to face up to yours. Once you have dealt with your contribution to a conflict, you may approach others about theirs.

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 79-80.

Food for Thought

Every couple prays for a full-term delivery; however, premature births are not an uncommon reality. In these situations, everything will be accelerated and great care will have to be exercised on the part of the parents, nurses, and doctors. Premature babies usually spend time in the intensive care unit, where constant monitoring and attention can be given, many times with a one to one ratio of nurse to child. It’s a fragile and often dangerous time. Most premature babies are fine, but some do not survive; everything took place before they were ready.

Ken’s use of the word premature in connection with Jesus’ words about conflict resolution is remarkable. Our efforts to “de-speck” our brothers or sisters before we “de-plank” ourselves create premature situations; something is happening before it should. It would be nice if there were roving spiritual-ICU teams who could help us in those moments to help carry the resolution to a healthy point, but that’s rare. It’s usually just two people, neither one seeing clearly, and both often too wounded to respond properly.

Conflict resolution always begins with the eye of the “I.” So upon reflection, how many of your attempts at conflict resolution could be described as premature? Did you ever get around to examining yourself? Did you get help from others during these delicate situations? And did these conflicts end in reconciliation, or sadly, did your relationship die due to the unfortunate complications of premature confrontation?

A Reformation Day Post…

A great post from our friends over at Redeeming Church Conflicts in honor of Reformation Day: “495 Years and a Lot of Conflict “. Here’s a quick peek, but I encourage you to read the whole thing:

The conflict over salvation by faith alone or faith plus our works is eerily manifested in almost every church conflict case where I have been a consultant. What happens when Christians fight is that they become either legalistic legalists or legalistic antinomians. They defend their actions on the grounds of either how their faith has been more righteous (that is, that they have kept the commandments—works righteousness—better than their opponents), or how their faith has been demonstrated with more love than their opponents (that is, that they have kept the commandments—works righteousness—better than their opponents). Either way, they forget that it is not their righteousness that matters; it is Christ’s and his alone.