Without Love, Your Peacemaking Gains Nothing

The love Jesus commands us to show to one another has little to do with warm feelings; in fact, he commands us to show love even when it is the last thing in the world we feel like doing (Luke 6:27-28). The love that Jesus wants us to show for one another leaves no room for unresolved conflict:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, nor is it self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 48.

Food for Thought

Do you remember the verse that comes in 1 Corinthians right before the above quote? In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul reminds us that even the actions that seem the holiest become worthless if not performed with an attitude of love. If it is possible to “give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames” and yet “gain nothing”, as Paul indicates, then how much more is it possible for us to make peace and resolve conflict and yet have not love? Without love, peacemaking is, at best, a helpful interpersonal relationship technique and, at worst, a clever manipulation. We should never permit ourselves to rely so much on our training or techniques that we fail to examine our hearts each time we seek to reconcile others in the name of Jesus.

On the other hand, when both our attitude and actions in peacemaking are filled with love, look at how Paul’s words encourage us: Peacemaking protects. Peacemaking trusts. Peacemaking hopes. Peacemaking always perseveres! This is only possible when the Holy Spirit works in us to enable us to truly love those from whom we are estranged, or to help others to love when they are estranged from one another.

How to Receive Criticism

I really enjoyed Ed Stetzer’s post over at The Exchange about receiving criticism (his series on giving criticism is also VERY good). I’ve listed the 3 ways to avoid feeling attacked by criticism and some summary thoughts here but please do read the whole thing over at his blog. It’s really, really good (and brutally honest).

To start off, he mentions the inevitability of facing criticism in life:

“You may not be a public figure, but if you are a leader in any capacity, you will earn critics for yourself. People won’t always be happy and sometimes they will say so.

But, that does not mean we should be afraid of criticism.”

And hilariously (or perhaps that’s just my sarcastic sense of humor coming out…):

“Simply put, you are not always right and you won’t know that if you are always offended when people point that out.”

3 Ways to Avoid Feeling Attacked by Criticism:

  1. Disagreeing with you is not the same as disagreeing with God.
  2. If no one can criticize you, you are probably too inaccessible.
  3. If you lash out at those who criticize you, you probably don’t have a teachable spirit.

    Read the Stetzer’s detailed explanation of his points here.

For a bit of a deeper look at what congregations and leaders can do in their overall approach to criticism, Ken Sande wrote up a good piece here on accountability in the church.

We also have a great article by Alfred Poirier here for everyone, not just those in leadership, about how our theology of the cross should shape our understanding of criticism and help us put it in it’s proper place. I find myself recommending and referencing this article time and time again.

Peaces of Power

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God demonstrated to me that Christian Conciliation works everywhere even without the Christian Conciliation label.

One time I mediated a major corporate employment dispute. I expected a very long day, no agreement, very little information exchange, at least four attorneys and a lot of anger management. The mediation was held at a major law firm. The night before, I prayed, “Lord how should I handle these litigators?” He answered, “My way.” I arrived early and walked through all the rooms, praying every chair and all of the materials and forms.

The employee party arrived first. She was alone. No attorney. Next, the company’s entire Human Resource and legal staffs arrived.

God did his work during each caucus. Hearts were changed. The name of Jesus never came up, Scripture was not read, but the principles of Scripture were referred to in regard to character and the importance of truth and doing the right thing.

At the end, the employee apologized for disappointing the company, and admitted her wrong. Seeing her humility, the company forgave all the debts, paid some personal expenses for her, gave her a letter of recommendation for a new opportunity, and thanked her for her service for a considerable number of years. As the agreement was signed, there was not a dry eye in the place; even the lawyers were tearful. Jesus can work anywhere. The question is, will we allow Him to? Never put limits on the power of God’s love and how He can work through anyone, anywhere, for His glory.

She is no longer an employee with the company, but in leaving a staff member said, “We will still see you at the Christmas buffet, right?” She smiled.

– Dianne Mason
(A former Certified Christian Conciliator, who is now in Heaven)

Stay Together

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May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

Since peace and unity are essential to an effective Christian witness, you can be sure that there is someone who will do all he can to promote conflict and division among believers. Satan, whose name means “adversary,” likes nothing better than to see us at odds with one another. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b).

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

Food for Thought

 

Have you heard the saying, in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity?

Ken states: “Satan…likes nothing better than to see us at odds with one another.” It seems like one of the ways we as believers end up at odds with one another is by focusing on how odd one another is; in other words, by focusing on what is peculiar or distinct about us. Yes, it’s true that we’re not all the same, but it’s also true that we share much in common.

Now this is not a call for mindless ecumenicism. We must be wise in determining what is “essential” and what is “non-essential.” And though there are many “non-essentials” we differ on (you can insert your list of differences here), we still must remember that we share much common ground. Look at how much we have in common according to Ephesians 4:4-6: “There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Believers that stand together on the essentials and love one another provide an effective Christian witness and create a united front against the hungry, roaring lion.

When Did Christians Get To Be So Mean?

There’s a great article over at Relevant Magazine that builds off of what we covered in last week’s PeaceMeal about e-mail and letters (and any digital communication, really) having the potential of sparking more conflict rather than resolving it. Michael Hidalgo has some really great contributions to the topic of why Christians so often resort to mean-spirited discussion online and how to prevent it. Here’s just a few snippets:

On the role of grace in our exchanges:

If our words are to be filled with grace it demands we give a gift to others every time we speak or write words. And too many of us are not crazy about giving grace to others, because something in each of us knows grace is expensive. If we are to speak words full of grace it costs us something.

Giving the gift of grace invites us to think outside of and beyond our agenda, our opinion and ourselves. And this is where the real difficulty comes in.

On how our small/currated social circles can impact our view of others:

It may do us well to break out of these enclaves we create for ourselves. Consider Jesus. He always hung out with those who made the religious—those who insisted on being right and defending their religion—uncomfortable. Whether it was prostitutes, tax collectors or “sinners” Jesus was often in their midst.

Not us. We stay away from them too often. And whenever something or someone from the “outside” comes into our space, we attack in the name of defending our faith, our ideas and our way of life—by any means necessary. These attacks are commonplace on the Internet and email. We launch explosive words caring little about the spiritual shrapnel that harms others.

On how listening is crucial to responding in a Biblical way:

For those of us who are passionate about God’s truth, it may do us well to ask: “Are we more concerned about the truth being known or about us being right?” I say this because if we are committed to what’s true, there is a good chance our attitude and approach will change. We will experience the move from being mean to being kind.

If our deepest desire is to know the truth, then we will be open to listening—not just speaking—because there is a good chance someone else may share a thought, insight or wisdom we have yet to learn. And when our desire for the truth surpasses our desire to be right, then we will be open and always seek first to listen and learn.

The whole article is more than worth the time to read, so hop on over to Relevant’s website to check it out!

Introducing Peaces of Power!

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At St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, Montana, every time a baby is born, the Brahm’s Lullaby is softly played over the intercom to the entire hospital. People visiting the ICU, concerned about death, hear this reminder that there is new life in another part of the hospital. Here at the office we frequently receive reports of glorious restoration and we’d like to find a way to ring out this hope to the world. In the midst of life’s struggles, it is encouraging to hear about gospel-penetrating breakthroughs in tough, gridlocked estrangements.

As a way of involving you in the celebration that so often takes place when we hear about such wonderful stories, we want to begin a regular blog series, Peaces of Power, to provide an opportunity to praise God for the glorious things he has done through his message of reconciliation and peacemaking.

To kick off this series, here are some of the stories we’ve received:

  • Joe* teaches The Young Peacemaker regularly in his church and has participated in saving many marriages by teaching biblical conflict resolution.
  • David is teaching peacemaking principles to inmates in a men’s prison during the chapel service with 75 men in attendance.
  • Scott led a mediation (via international travel and the internet) with a missions team profoundly suffering from relational offenses from the past three years, which ended in glorious reconciliation and a plan for restoration.
  • Chris is now pastoring a church that suffered conflict for 12 years, ultimately needing intervention, and is helping the church build a culture of peace for long-term restoration.
  • Bailey is teaching The Young Peacemaker in French to former child soldiers and orphans in central Africa.
  • Marc is teaching African refugees how to build a story of redemption to reinterpret their history of conflict and expatriation from genocide.

We hope that you’ll enjoy this new feature! If you have any testimony of how God has used his Gospel to promote peacemaking and reconcile relationships in your life that you’d like to share, please let us know via our comments or email us at mail@peacemaker.net.

*To honor confidentiality, in this list we’ve changed the names and places. These stories originally were featured in our e-publication, Reconciled.

Special Tour at Conference Available!

Just Announced:

Peacemaker Ministries has set up a tour with Adventures Out West just for our attendees. If you want a taste of Colorado Springs then you can sign up to take the Garden of the Gods tour with us.

A van will pick up the attendees at the Antlers Hilton at 9:00am on Sunday, September 28th for a 1 hour tour through Garden of the Gods. The van will return the attendees back to the hotel. Cost is $30/person. Please call Adventures Out West at 719-578-0935 to make your reservations under the group “Peacemaker Ministries.” Space is limited to 14 people so sign up early.

This tour will give you plenty of time to still travel home on Sunday but allow you to experience a bit of God’s creation in Colorado Springs.

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E-Mail: The Relationship Blowtorch

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Letters can sometimes serve a useful purpose. If the other person has refused to respond positively to telephone calls or personal conversations, a brief letter may be the only way to invite further communication. If you must resort to communicating by letter, write as personally and graciously as possible. Avoid quoting numerous Bible references, or you will seem to be preaching. Also, at least during initial letters, do not try to explain or justify your conduct in writing, because it will probably be misunderstood. Use your letter to invite communication, and try to leave detailed explanations for a personal conversation. If time allows, set aside the first draft of a letter for a day or two. When you reread it, you may catch words that will do more harm than good.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 174.

 

Food for Thought

 

Have you ever heard the story about the serious disagreement that was brought to a happy ending when one person wrote a long, powerful e-mail to the other person? Neither have we. And that ought to give us pause.

E-mail and letters (and for that matter, Facebook posts, blog comments, and texts) are great for starting fights and deepening disagreements but far worse at resolving conflicts. Why is that?

The desire to resolve conflict via the written word is usually rooted in two convictions: First, that we need to choose our words carefully (more carefully than we might in person), and second, that if we could just get the other person to listen carefully and attentively to our perspective, then the whole argument between us could be resolved. The first of those aims is laudable; the second is usually sadly mistaken at best and incredibly selfish at worst.

The next time you’re about to hit “send” to fire off an e-mail missile, just say no. Hit delete. Take the “No E-mail Missiles” non-proliferation pledge. Try sending a much shorter, kinder message that reaffirms the importance of the relationship in question and that invites further communication in person or by phone–communication in which you pledge to listen to the other party and to acknowledge your own contributions to the conflict. When it comes to conflict resolution, there’s simply no substitute for face-to-face or voice-to-voice.

Conference Prices Increase After June 16th

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Just a reminder that prices go up on June 17th so register today for Conference & Pre-Conference!

Register today for the best price on conference before it increases. Workshop tracks and topics now listed so you can see the workshops that are being offered at conference.

We also have our full line up of keynote speakers including Dr. Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN; Dr. Gary Hoag (author and theologian), Dr. Val Shean Lomilo (veterinarian doctor who works with peace villages in Uganda) and Pastor Brady Boyd of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.

It Takes Two to Tango (And Grant Forgiveness)

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When an offense is too serious to overlook and the offender has not yet repented, you may need to approach forgiveness as a two-stage process. The first stage requires having an attitude of forgiveness, and the second, granting forgiveness. Having an attitude of forgiveness is unconditional and is a commitment you make to God (see Mark 11:25; Luke 6:28; Acts 7:60). By his grace, you seek to maintain a loving and merciful attitude toward someone who has offended you. This requires making and living out the first promise of forgiveness, which means you will not dwell on the hurtful incident or seek vengeance or retribution in thought, word, or action. Instead, you pray for the other person and stand ready at any moment to pursue complete reconciliation as soon as he or she repents. This attitude will protect you from bitterness and resentment, even if the other person takes a long time to repent.

Granting forgiveness is conditional on the repentance of the offender and takes place between you and that person (Luke 17:34). It is a commitment to make the other three promises of forgiveness to the offender. When there has been a serious offense, it would not be appropriate to make these promises until the offender has repented. Until then, you may need to talk with the offender about his sin or seek the involvement of others to resolve the matter (Matt. 18:1620). You could not do this if you had already made the last three promises. But once the other person repents, you can make these promises, closing the matter forever, the same way God forgives you.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 210-211.

 

Food for Thought

Today’s Food for Thought is pretty simple: When it comes to granting forgiveness, don’t forget to involve the offender! Many times, forgiveness is described as “letting go” or “getting over it.” This is true and absolutely necessary, to the extent that “letting go” is, in essence, a matter of taking your eyes off the offense and the offender and putting them on the cross, where the ultimate act of reconciliation took place. But again, this only gets us to the beginning of the first stage of forgiveness. To be able to make all four promises of forgiveness (i.e., to experience complete reconciliation), however, we must involve the other person.

Now ideally, the granting of forgiveness takes place in the context of a confession by a repentant offender. When the offender can’t or won’t repent, then it is true that our only choice is to maintain an attitude of forgiveness. But when our offender hasn’t had a chance to confess, then we owe it to him (or her) to go to him and give him that chance. As we “gently restore” the offender, and God works in his heart, then we both have opportunity to experience the joy of true and complete reconciliation. Forgiveness is a gift–so let’s remember to let the offender know he received it!