#TBT with Tara Barthel

We’re taking this opportunity to do a little Throwback Thursday action (#TBT for you Twitter folk) by reposting Tara Barthel’s keynote session from our conference last year. It really is a great message and I hope you take the time to watch her explain the real source of living a remarkably different life.

2013 Peacemaker Conference – Tara Barthel – General Session from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.


We’re also excited that Tara is going to be teaching a few workshop sessions at our conference in Colorado Springs this year. She’s a great component to our stimulating and relevant workshop lineup.

If you’re interested in information about the workshops at our conference or registering to attend, visit our conference website. Also, if you’re interested in more information about Tara, Peacemaking Women, or her awesome blog, visit her website.

Fruits of Repentance

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“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Although repentance is often accompanied by sorrow, simply feeling bad does not prove that one is repentant. In fact, there is a world of difference between mere remorse and genuine repentance… Worldly sorrow means feeling sad because you got caught doing something wrong or because you must suffer the unpleasant consequences of your actions… In contrast, godly sorrow means feeling bad because you have offended God. It means sincerely regretting the fact that what you did was morally wrong, regardless of whether or not you must suffer unpleasant consequences. It involves a change of heart… Godly sorrow will not always be accompanied by intense feelings, but it implies a change in thinking, which should lead to changes in behavior.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 118-119.


Food for Thought

What does repentance usually look like for you? What role do emotions play? Have you had experiences where there was a lack of emotions?

John the Baptist was a character that would probably not make the cut these days if a church were searching for a leader; he was just too rough. Matthew’s gospel describes a man covered in camel’s hair and leather with a belly full of locusts and wild honey. His sermon was always the same–“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt.3.2). If he were to respond today to our supposed moments of repentance, it would be short and sweet–show me the fruit!

And what fruit did the wild man of the Desert of Judea possibly have in mind? Perhaps the apostle Paul helps us here as he wrote to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control ” (5.22-23).

That’s a good picture of what true repentance looks like. If tears and emotions accompany this fruit, that’s fine and many times appropriate; however, they are not the first fruits of repentance. They (the emotions) are the “secondary pickin’s,” if you will. The enemy loves to deceive us when it comes to fruit (remember Eden?), so walk wisely!

Paul’s words indicate the origins of true repentance. It’s a lot easier for tears to fall than patience to rise. Hangdog postures are much easier to assume than stances of gentleness or self-control. The true fruits of repentance are fruits of the Spirit. We couldn’t produce a crop like that on our own if we wanted to; they are a supernatural gift from the Lord’s hand. Remember, He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, there is no fruit, and we will all end up famished.

3 Rules for Troll Handling

No Trolls Allowed

Ah, internet trolls. They can be found in their natural habitat all over the world wide web from the comments sections of YouTube, Reddit, and CNN to Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition. If you’ve ever spent any time online, you’ve probably come across one which is why I found this article by Emily McFarlan Miller over at the Her.menuetics blog so helpful (and humorous!).

As a Christian, engaging (or not) with internet trolls requires us to realize that there’s a person on the other side of that keyboard and we are called to treat them as Christ would. That’s why Emily’s advice is so good.

Here’s her three tips with a little snippet of the explanation she gives for each point:

1. Thou Shalt Not Feed the Trolls

The first commandment of the Internet is this: “Don’t feed the trolls.”

The reasoning is simple. If the intent is to make people angry or otherwise disturb them, the way to shut it down is simply not to respond. And certainly, there are Proverbs that speak to the futility of answering – or not answering – a fool.

2. Thou Shalt Not Troll

Our response to trolling, Harrington suggests, begins with our own online behavior – removing the digital plank from our eyes, so to speak.

For Jones, deciding how to respond to Internet postings begins with checking herself, asking if this is somebody with whom she normally would engage. Sometimes the seminarian tries to take the interaction offline, a tactic she learned about a year and a half ago when she was shown the same grace.

3. Love Thy Trolls

But even when a person is trolling, Jones said, “they’re still a human being. They’re still a person Jesus is crazy about. … It sounds cheesy, but it really does boil down to loving that person – am I being kind to that person? And it can be real hard to do on the Internet.”

It’s the Golden rule: Treating others on the Internet the way you would want them to treat you, even on your snarkiest, most impulsive of days.

There’s a lot more explanation over at Her.menuetics, so be sure and go read the whole thing.

Peaces of Power


Here’s a note of encouragement that testifies of God’s grace that we received from a friend recently and wanted to share with you:

Dear Peacemakers-

Just some feedback to praise God about. I am doing my homework for the September Peacemaker conference. I have done the Peacemakers small group study in church. Therefore, in the homework when they said to think of someone I have a conflict with, there wasn’t anyone. But to be a good student I thought longer and realized there was “Jim,” a co-worker. We don’t have conflict, he just makes me and the rest of the staff crazy … baggage, needs Christ….

Then I did the homework from Ps 37 and Ps73. As I sat before the Lord, I realized my part of the conflict … and confessed it to the Lord. The next time at work, I made efforts to be friendly, and not to stir in my own heart those other baggage things. And that was good.

This week he made a mistake. We are healthcare professionals. No one was hurt. Because I saw him differently, there was no need for gossip, rolling eyes, whispers. We all make mistakes. He felt awful. I could freely remind him we all make mistakes. Had I not done the homework, I could not have done that. Maybe someday I will be able to talk to “Jim” about the Gospel, that the Lord can and will help him unpack his baggage. He helped me unpack mine. Peacemakers and the Gospel kept me from repacking an old suitcase.

Praising God–

Introducing: Valery Shean

We wanted to take a moment on this blog to introduce one of our conference keynote speakers, Valery Shean. Dr. Val Shean Lomilo serves as a veterinary missionary in Uganda with the violent, aggressive, Karamojong tribe, together with a local Christian NGO called CLIDE Consultancy: Community Livestock Integrated Development Consultancy. Dr.Val has been there over 20 years and has been accepted into the tribe as one of their own. As a veterinarian, she has been able to help the local people to care for their livestock, which is extremely valuable to the Karamojong, who are a warring, nomadic, pastoral tribe; cattle are at the center of their lives. They have been resistant to the Gospel for many decades, but are now beginning to strongly take a hold of Christ and grow in Him.

Here’s a short video about her work in Uganda:

Dr Valery Shean
from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.

We’re very excited to have Dr. Val join us in September and are looking forward to hearing what she has to say in Colorado Springs! If you’re interested in more information about our conference or attending, visit our conference website.

The Key To Making Restitution Redemptive

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Some people argue that restitution is not a valid concept in the New Testament age. I disagree. Nothing in the New Testament explicitly repeals the concept (see Matt. 5:17-20). In fact, restitution is implicitly endorsed by Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. Moreover, restitution is a sign of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and nothing in the Bible indicates that God wants believers to be less responsible in this age than they were before the advent of Christ.

Furthermore, restitution is not inconsistent with forgiveness. Believers in Old Testament times were called to forgive others’ offenses, yet they were entitled to receive restitution (Num. 5:5-8). Forgiving another person’s wrong means you will not dwell on it, use it against that person, talk to others about it, or let it stand between you. But being forgiven does not necessarily release the offender from responsibility to repair the damage. Certainly, an injured party may exercise mercy, and in some cases it is good to waive the right to restitution (Matt. 18:22-27). But in many cases, making restitution is beneficial even for the offender. Doing so demonstrates remorse, sincerity, and a new attitude, which can help speed reconciliation (Luke 19:8-9). At the same time, it serves to ingrain lessons that will help the offender avoid similar wrongdoing in the future (see Ps. 119:67,71; Prov. 19:19).

Therefore, if you have damaged another person’s property or physically harmed someone, God expects you to do all you can to make that person whole. If he or she decides to release you from your responsibility, you should be deeply grateful for such mercy. On the other hand, if you have been harmed or your property has been damaged, you should prayerfully consider how badly you need to be made whole and whether making restitution would benefit or unduly burden the offender. As you pray about it, keep in mind that blending mercy with justice is a powerful way to restore peace and glorify God.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 277-278.


Food for Thought

The word restitution comes from the Latin “re” (again) and “statuere” (to set up). It literally means “to restore or rebuild”. Often when we think of restitution–either making it to another or receiving it for ourselves–we forget that one purpose of restitution is to restore or rebuild the relationship itself.

So if you’re involved in determining restitution in a particular situation, don’t neglect the restoration and rebuilding of the relationship that has been damaged. If you’ve been wronged by another and are considering what restitution would be appropriate for you to receive in return, prayerfully consider restitution that accounts for rebuilding the relationship in question.

Restitution is redemptive when it is coupled with forgiveness. We are called to breathe grace and redemption to everyone involved.

The Moment Before

crying babyI ran across this article over at the Huffington Post and wanted to share a bit of it here as it reminded me of a very important peacemaking principle that God continues to teach me.

The author of the article from the Post writes about an encounter with a mom and her crying baby at a pharmacy (hint: nobody was happy about the crying baby) and how thinking about the circumstances that could have preceded the encounter helped them rethink their harsh judgments of her. The author calls it thinking about the “moment before”:

In acting class, the few I’ve taken anyway, coaches constantly urged me to think about the “moment before.” Since film scenes tend to start during the middle of a conversation — i.e. skipping all the “Hello, how are you?” “Fine how are you?” moments — actors are told to think about what the person was doing or feeling right before the scene began. Did they get stuck in traffic? Are they flustered? Did their mother just die? What is the person’s state of mind?

When I looked at the poor frazzled mother who was publicly chastised for not miraculously making her baby stop crying I thought about her “moment before.”

Perhaps she had been stuck in her house all day with a new baby and just wanted to get some fresh air, so she walked to CVS and, not having a real purpose to be there, she bought a couple diet sodas. Maybe it’s a treat for her? Maybe her boyfriend or husband loves them? Maybe it’s all she can afford?

Or maybe her baby had been crying all day and night and she was trying to teach him or her to stay in the stroller without throwing a fit and CVS was a trial run? Maybe she was weaning the child off of constantly being held. I don’t have a baby; I don’t know how it works.

Maybe the baby was really hungry and she knew this and she was trying to get out of the store but the CVS line was 10 minutes long. Maybe she never meant to be there for so long (she was only buying soda after all) and knew if she breastfed in public she might get chastised for that as well. Maybe this was the least bad option she had.

There are about a thousand things that could have led that diet-Root-Beer buying mother to not pick up her baby but none of us thought about that. We tried her and judged her and let her go with her punishment: public humiliation.

You can read the whole article at The Huffington Post here (Warning: there is some coarse language in the piece).

Being a young mother of a toddler and a newborn, I’ve known this scenario all too well and have sometimes wanted to explain to looking eyes what the circumstances where behind the tears. That urge to explain the “moment before” has made me increasingly appreciative of those who look on my (and countless other moms) with a bit more compassion. It’s also convicted me of ways that I’m too quick and to harsh with my judgments.

In moments where I’m quick to judge, I try to remind myself of how Ken points to scripture to show that this principle of looking at others’ situations with compassion has its root in making charitable judgments instead of critical ones and is something the Christian should do:

Although judging is a normal and necessary part of life, Scripture warns us that we have a natural tendency to judge others in a wrong way. For example, Jesus says:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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.” (Matt. 7:1-6)

As this passage teaches, when we evaluate and judge other people, our natural inclination is to ignore our own faults and to make critical judgments of others. Jesus is not forbidding critical thinking in the positive sense, which is evaluating others’ words and actions carefully so we can discriminate between truth and error, right and wrong (see Matt. 7:15-16).

What he is warning us about is our inclination to make critical judgments in the negative sense, which involves looking for others’ faults and, without valid and sufficient reason, forming unfavorable opinions of their qualities, words, actions, or motives. In simple terms, it means looking for the worst in others.

and later:

Instead of judging others critically, God commands us to judge charitably. The church has historically used the word “charitable” as a synonym for the word “loving.” This has resulted in the expression, “charitable judgments.” Making a charitable judgment means that out of love for God, you strive to believe the best about others until you have facts to prove otherwise. In other words, if you can reasonably interpret facts in two possible ways, God calls you to embrace the positive interpretation over the negative, or at least to postpone making any judgment at all until you can acquire conclusive facts.

For the whole article by Ken Sande on charitable judgments and a discussion on where it is appropriate to judge critically, check out Charitable Judgments: An Antidote to Judging Others on our website.

“But peacemaking just won’t work in this situation!”

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Unfortunately, many believers and their churches have not yet developed the commitment and ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered and biblically faithful manner. This is often because they have succumbed to the relentless pressure our secular culture exerts on us to forsake the timeless truths of Scripture and adopt the relativism of our postmodern age. Although many Christians and their churches believe they have held on to God’s Word as their standard for life, their responses to conflict, among other things, show that they have in fact surrendered much ground to the world. Instead of resolving differences in a distinctively biblical fashion, they often react to conflict with the same avoidance, manipulation, and control that characterize the world. In effect, both individually and congregationally, they have given in to the world’s postmodern standard, which is “What feels good, sounds true, and seems beneficial to me?”


Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 15-16.


Food for Thought
Biblical peacemaking should never be understood as a better way for you to win arguments where you’re “right.” It shouldn’t even be understood as a more likely way to get to the truth. One or both of those things may happen, but neither gets to the heart of why we engage in biblical peacemaking. Biblical peacemaking is at its core a recognition that even in the midst of an argument where we have a lot to lose and where our opponent may be entrenched in sin, the most important thing we can do is to bring glory to God through our conduct. It is an act of faith that out of this peacemaking witness, God can do things far beyond upholding the truth or vindicating us, though he will also do both these things eventually. The “thing far beyond” that peacemaking makes possible is redemption–especially of those trapped in sin.

Next time you find yourself tempted to say, “But peacemaking won’t work in this situation or with this person,” remember that what God and you are attempting to “work” may be two entirely different things.

3 Reasons to Go to Conference

Here’s a great video by one of our keynote speakers, Gary Hoag, with three reasons you should go to conference:

Dr. Gary Hoag from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.

If you’re interested in attending this year’s conference, visit our conference website for more information. Prices increase after August 15th so register now for the best price!