The Fear Diet

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There is no fear in love… perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

Denial. One way to escape from a conflict is to pretend that it does not exist. Or, if we cannot deny that the problem exists, we simply refuse to do what should be done to resolve a conflict properly. These responses bring only temporary relief and usually make matters worse (see Gen. 16:1-6; I Sam. 2:22-25).

Flight. Another way to escape from a conflict is to run away. This may include leaving the house, ending a friendship, quitting a job, filing for divorce, or changing churches. In most cases, running away only postpones a proper solution to a problem (see Gen. 16:6-8), so flight is usually a harmful way to deal with conflict.

 
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 23.

 

Food for Thought

 

Have you ever thought about fear as an indulgence that we as Christians can’t afford?

We often think of rich desserts as indulgences, and they certainly can be. But fear is an indulgence, too–one that Christians engage in at least as much (if not far more) than Krispy Kreme donuts.

We indulge in fear each time we deny a conflict that exists with a friend–even though we know there is a cancer-like silence between us that Satan is probably filling with his lies. We can indulge in fear when we tell ourselves, “I’ve had enough. I’m done with this.” While walking away looks like some kind of primitive strength, it’s often a fear “feast” that results in us putting on weight (in the form of concern and anxious thoughts).

When fear keeps us from addressing conflict in our lives, it hinders our intimacy with Christ. We’d rather indulge in fear than delight in the love of Christ; yet, if we’d just delight in Perfect Love, scripture says that fear would flee.

Leaving fear behind is a bit like dieting. Standing at the freezer with our hand on the door and the ice cream on the other side, sometimes we just have to say aloud, “No.” Standing in a conflict feeling sorely tempted to indulge in denial and flight (both grounded in fear), we must call to mind the lavish love of Christ, drop our hands to our side, and remind ourselves that fear is one indulgence we simply cannot afford.

Thankfulness: An Overlooked Way to Fight Sin

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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).

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

Shaken, Not Stirred

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“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…

Taken 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 excerpt 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.

 

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

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