Why Christians Should Use Christian Conciliation to Resolve Their Disputes

By Annette Friesen, Conciliation and Training Specialist

You probably know that Peacemaker Ministries, through its division, The Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC), administers alternative dispute resolution cases through a biblically faithful process using mediation, mediation/arbitration, and arbitration—i.e., Christian Conciliation. So why does this service exist?

Peace and unity are so important to Jesus that He commands us to seek reconciliation with an offended person even ahead of public worship: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with our adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way.” (Matt. 5:23-25).

This command is not conditioned on how serious the other person’s complaint might be or whether it is even justified. Even in difficult circumstances, God wants his people to make every effort to resolve their personal differences outside of the courtroom. Why should Christians use “Christian Conciliation” rather than a secular method to resolve their conflicts? 1 Corinthians 6:1 tells us “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” And why is this important? Because our very identity is defined by how we respond to conflict. We are known as God’s children based on how well we “make peace.”

Christian conciliation does more than just provide an alternative to a secular process, it can allow conciliators to draw out the underlying reasons for a dispute, sometimes referred to as “matters of the heart.” But more importantly, Christian conciliation focuses not only on what we should do (“law”) but also on what God has done and is doing for those who trust in him (“gospel”). God has forgiven our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son (Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 3:18). And he has given us the freedom and power to turn from sin (and conflict), to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Eph. 2:1-10; Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 8:28-29), and to become ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-20).

In my role with the ICC, each and every day I have the opportunity to encourage people who are caught in the throes of conflict. But it is more than that; I myself learn to trust God more as I represent the hope of the gospel in hopeless situations. And that’s my prayer for you as well.

Do you want to learn more? If you have not yet reviewed the articles at www.peacemaker.net/ICC, I encourage you to do so. Be prepared to see that there is real hope in this conflicted world!

Universal Idols

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“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21

Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept of idolatry is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on … in short, it is something we love and pursue more than God (see Phil. 3:19).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 104.
 

Food For Thought

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When was the last time you heard a pull-out-the-stops sermon on idols? How about a straight-up-tell-it-like-it-is book on personal idols? What about a conversation over coffee that kinda-sorta-talked about idols? Maybe every once in a while, but for the most part, we don’t like to talk about idols. As Ken reminds us, they are always something very personal.

The Food For Thought line above usually has a question of some sort to prompt reflection. This time it has nothing but question marks — four to be exact. Allow those four question marks to raise this question, “What are four things, besides God, that your heart is set on?” In other words, take time and identify four idols in your life. Not your spouse’s life, or your co-worker’s, or your neighbor’s. Your life. Your idols. What are you depending on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure?

International Update: Running the Race Together in 2014

By Chip Zimmer, VP of International Ministry

Every heart longs for peace. And from the beginning, our mission—as Christians and as peacemakers—has been to respond to this longing by guiding people toward the only source of real peace. As Jesus himself tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

This message resonates globally. In one recent 30-day period, there were more than 11,000 visits to the Peacemaker website from outside the U.S., nearly 40 percent of total visits. People logged on from an astonishing 187 countries and territories, a number that has only grown since I first started following it several years ago.

It still surprises me that so many people, from so many different Christian traditions, are interested in what a small outfit like ours has to offer. I’ve come to realize that it is not Peacemaker Ministries they are after, but the hope of real, lasting, peace that grabs attention. Any ability we have to connect only reflects our commitment to Christ and to his priorities.

Peacemaking is all about real people, of course, not numbers. I’m reminded of this daily. On the walls of my office are photos of some of the men and women who have become peacemaking colleagues, as well as nametags I’ve brought home from the dozens of peacemaking events around the world they have put together. I’m reminded of their dedication and commitment each time I glance up from my computer. Here are a few…

  • Rev. Chul Lee in Korea, who co-founded Korean Peacemaker Ministries and continues to serve as Chairman of the Board. Chul has been capably assisted by Sam, Brian and Shahny.
  • Dr. Val, an American veterinarian serving in northeast Uganda whom God is using to bring peacemaking to warring clans, with the help of “wise men” from supporting churches back home. To date, more than 20,000 people have been settled in peace villages.
  • Carlos and Nina, Peruvian friends and colleagues, who have served their communities and their churches in Peru and throughout Latin America, as well as in the U.S., where Nina now teaches.
  • Bruce, Elenne, Li Ai and their amazing partners who founded PeaceWise in Australia and continue to expand and develop a vibrant national ministry down under.
  • Bishop Ef, head of the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches, and the ministry of Peacemakers Philippines that he, Maloi, and other talented Filipinos are putting together.
  • Misgana, Hana, Dawit and their many colleagues who, as part of the Ethiopian Christian Lawyers Fellowship, are creating the Shalom Center for Peace and Reconciliation in Addis Ababa. A remarkably capable and dedicated group.
  • Bishop Mouneer, whose vision for peacemaking and reconciliation in Egypt and beyond is inspiring others to join together in building real unity.

There are thousands more we have connected with over the years, most of whom I will never meet. They labor as pastors and lay people, often in small communities where their main connection with Peacemaker Ministries is an electronic one. Their enthusiasm for peacemaking is inspiring. They are reminders that although we often dream grand plans, God builds his kingdom one at a time. Each person matters.

In a very real way, you and I are being knit together into a global peacemaking family, like the cloud of witnesses Hebrews 12 describes, scattered around the world, yet connected by our common Lord. As we run the run the race in 2014, let’s do so remembering that we are not alone and that each one plays an important role in pointing to Jesus, the source of real peace.

Evil Has A Name

 

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Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts. As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy. Both James and Peter were aware of this danger, and they warn us to actively resist Satan’s schemes (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9). Paul gives a similar warning, reminding us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 50-51

 

Food for Thought

 

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Who is your most dangerous enemy?

Think about it for a moment. What would you say? Odds are that among both non-Christians and Christians, most of us would answer in terms of flesh and blood; in other words, someone or some group of people. But as Ken reminds us, that’s just not the case. Three scriptural authors — Peter, James and Paul — all echo the reality that our most dangerous enemy in this life is Satan.

There is an enemy out there and we’re basically oblivious to his schemes – we’re asleep at the wheel. We just keep on blaming each one another, a.k.a., flesh and blood, for everything that’s going on. Ken says it well: Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflicts.

If we have any intention of living as peacemakers, it’s imperative that we live with an awareness of our most dangerous enemy. Now it is true that most of our struggle comes through flesh and blood, but we’ve got to be self-controlled and alert, remembering that it’s not ultimately against flesh and blood that we battle.

Letting Pastors Be Real

CT LogoDale Pyne was recently interviewed for an article in Christianity Today entitled “Letting Pastors Be Real,” which focused on some unique pressures that he sees on pastoral ministry. Here’s a short excerpt:

Aside from a pastor’s personal weaknesses, what cultural forces make it harder for pastors to stay true in their calls?

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

Read the rest online.

From the CEO: The Best of the Best

DalePortraitBy Dale Pyne, CEO of Peacemaker Ministries

At every year’s end, news agencies around the world create radio and television specials that bring the most significant news events of the year—the best of the best—in a countdown. How could we miss watching the most significant events of the year: wars, elections, catastrophic weather events, and the like.

I want to ask you something. Think back just one year ago. What were the most significant events our news outlets summarized for 2012? Well, if you are like me, you can’t remember a single top news event from 2012. Why do you think it was so important then and yet we can’t remember it today? As time comes and goes, the events of any given year fade away nearly as quickly as the calendar itself.

Look at our history and our future from a different perspective. Have you ever used Google Earth to find your home? You hop on the internet and key in your address on the computer. Google Earth then begins to zoom in; first to the continent and then your state and finally your city and neighborhood until there it is: your home. It may even show your car in the driveway and your neighbor frozen in motion on the sidewalk.

Well, the happenings of the year, while significant in the moment, are kind of like the car in your driveway. They are snapshots of moments in time. When you reverse that Google view from your driveway to where you see a picture of the earth, your car and home disappear, just like events over time do in our memories.

What news matters to you today? Will it matter tomorrow?

I want to share some good news with you, news that has and will stand the test of time. This news can make or break a nation, a business, a church, or a marriage. This is the best and most important news you will ever hear, and when it comes to eternal perspectives, it is the only news that will matter.

This is not a news summary of one year. Rather, it is a summary of an ongoing story, one that began before time and will end… only the Lord knows when. Here it is: Unto us a Savior was born, he walked the earth and lived in perfect obedience to the Father. He died for our sins and rose again, overcoming death itself, fully satisfying the justice of God’s wrath, and purchased reconciliation and an everlasting inheritance for his people. He ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of the Father. He left us his Word and his Spirit to reveal God’s will in the journey of our lives.

Just think of it! The very Creator of heaven and earth, the Master of the Universe loved us so much that he died so that we might live abundantly. Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (John 5:24).

That is The News. It is the Good News. God reconciled us to himself and by his grace, we are drawn to him for redemption. No other news matters for us, our families, or the world we live in. When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

In His Grace,

Dale

The Indirect Approach (Football Style)

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I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be
as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16

We should also note that Scripture provides numerous favorable examples of approaching others indirectly instead of bluntly describing their wrongs. Jesus did not directly confront the Samaritan woman at the well about living in adultery. Instead, he approached the issue indirectly by using questions and assessing her own life (John 4:1-18). Jesus frequently used parables and stories as roundabout ways to help people see their sins (see, e.g., Matt. 21:33-45; Luke 15)…As these and many similar passages indicate, we need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation.

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 145

 

Food for Thought

 

What role does shrewdness play in your peacemaking?

For you football fans out there, you probably enjoyed the Super Bowl recently — an exciting game to be sure. It is an exhilarating experience to watch a finely tuned football team play. The finesse and intricacy of some plays is simply beautiful. And more importantly, effective. But compare that to the way most schoolyard football games are played — give the ball to the kid and he runs it straight up the middle. No grace here or shrewdness, this is just head-tucked-knees-high-full-steam-ahead-force. And sure, it can be pretty effective.

But sometimes this direct confrontation results in yardage gains measured in inches and a weary ball carrier. Possibly even an injured ball carrier. Would those phrases describe your peacemaking plays lately? Yardage in inches? Maybe even some yardage losses? A weariness that’s causing you to question even wanting to stay in the game? Or an injury to the heart that’s got you sidelined? OK, call a time out, catch your breath, and return to the field as innocent as a dove, but as shrewd as a snake. Stop making every peacemaking attempt a direct confrontation. Start being open to the Coach showing you ways of running plays that you’d never considered before. Wise up – the game is a full four quarters. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not lose heart. Let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. And hear the Coach say, “Well done!”

Announcement: Dwight Schettler Transitioning to New Role at Ambassadors of Reconciliation

DwightSPicPeacemaker Ministries and Ambassadors of Reconciliation announce the appointment of Dwight Schettler to the office of Vice President of Advancement for Ambassadors of Reconciliation. While it is with mixed emotions that we bring you this news of Dwight’s departure from Peacemaker Ministries, we are confident in God’s provision for both ministries.

Peacemaker Ministries and Ambassadors of Reconciliation are allies and partners in peacemaking. Ted Kober, Dwight’s new boss, was a Peacemaker Ministries board and staff member prior to starting Ambassadors of Reconciliation, a ministry primarily focused on serving the Lutheran Church. Ted has generously provided coaching and a listening ear to our new CEO, Dale Pyne, since he began in October of 2012. Dale expressed, “I am indebted to both men for their personal ministry to me.”

Dwight has been a significant contributor to Peacemaker Ministries for over four years. He has been a rock for our staff and the leadership team during the challenging times of transition that the ministry has had in the last year. Although his title was Director of Training, Dale affectionately called him the “Director of Everything” because he has willingly and very capably absorbed additional responsibilities and leadership with a perpetually cheerful attitude. Dwight is loved, appreciated, and will be sorely missed.

We are thoroughly convinced that this is God moving in both ministries, and we are excited not only for Dwight’s new opportunities with AoR but also for the opportunities that this change provides for Peacemaker Ministries.

Please join us in our expression of gratitude to Dwight for his exemplary service and by offering a blessing to him and his family as they take the next step forward in Kingdom service.

An Enemy of Grace

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There are many conflicts that require a lot of time and effort to resolve. But there are far more that can be resolved simply by overlooking minor offenses or relinquishing rights for the sake of God’s kingdom. Therefore, before focusing on your rights, take a careful look at your responsibilities. Before you go to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, ask yourself, “Is this really worth fighting over?”

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 98

 

Food for Thought

 

Reflect on this last week and notice the times when a spirit of entitlement rose up in your heart. What is it you really thought you deserved?

There was once a conference leader speaking to a group of pastors. He was sharing how important it was for a church to have a spirit of grace throughout all it does. He posed this question: “What do you think is the most significant threat to that spirit of grace?” Several answers were given, all of them valid. Then someone asked him, “What do you think?” He answered, “A spirit of entitlement.”

A lot of conflicts can be resolved by relinquishing rights for the sake of God’s kingdom; in other words, setting the spirit of entitlement aside. Ken’s right: before focusing on your rights, take a careful look at your responsibilities.

The Forgiveness Cycle

John Piper has an excellent devotional online about forgiveness from his daily devotional, Solid Joys. Here’s an excerpt:

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation. (Luke 11:4)

Who forgives whom first?

  • “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4)
  • “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)

When Jesus teaches us to pray that God forgive us “for we ourselves forgive,” he is not saying that the first move in forgiveness was our move. Rather, it goes like this: God forgave us when we believed in Christ (Acts 10:43). Then, from this broken, joyful, grateful, hopeful, experience of being forgiven, we offer forgiveness to others.

You can read the rest here. It’s worth checking out.