Holy Halitosis?

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And with that he breathed on them and
said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20.22

Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 11.

 

Food for Thought

 

When it comes to the believer’s breath on others, it’s usually one of two aromas — life or death. What does your breath smell like?

Have you ever been around someone with halitosis (bad breath)? Unless you have the patience of Job, most of us back up a little and suddenly remember an urgent appointment. Those with Job’s fortitude stick it out, digging around in their pockets for a mint. Now consider the phrase, holy halitosis. Have you ever been around someone with that? Everything from their denominational wardrobe to their Christian reading list screams HOLINESS. But when they open their mouths, it’s anything but grace they breathe; in fact, it’s usually some variation on the theme of condemnation.

Halitosis, of the natural kind, is usually connected in some way to what we’re taking in. A steady diet of onions or feta cheese and voila! — bad breath. A similar principle applies to the spiritual realm. As the author above writes, we must draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ. Drawing in, or breathing in, Christ’s goodness fills our spiritual lungs with the breath of Holy Spirit filled, lifesaving grace. Then our tanks are full, so to speak, to breathe out that same grace on and in the lives of others.

We’re as much peacebreathers as we are peacemakers. There’s a rhythm there as ancient as creation itself. Inhale and exhale. Breathe in and breathe out. Grace in and grace out. Do a little spiritual diagnosis on yourself, first, and then on others around you. If you find that you rarely breathe grace, it’s a red flag that you’re not taking any in. The same goes for people around you. The only difference is that if it’s you, then some time feasting on the riches of God’s grace is in order. Take. Eat. If it’s your neighbor, then you may be the vessel that God wants to use to bring grace and peace to a troubled soul, marriage, or household. Breathe on us, breath of God!

The Maturity in Being Winsome

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If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18:15

We need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. Although that approach will be appropriate in some situations, we should never do it automatically. Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way to approach a particular person at a particular time and to open the way for genuine reconciliation.

 
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

 

When it says above, “Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way…” the author used the word winsome. Do you know what that word means?

The dictionary defines it this way: Generally pleasing and engaging, often because of a childlike charm and innocence.

Most of us are not winsome. When we grew up and put away childish things, we unfortunately put away the childlike as well. So it’s all the more important for us to ask God to guide us in the paths of winsomeness as we seek reconciliation–particularly when we are approaching others to point out their contribution to a conflict.

It’s hard to refuse the little girl selling those cookies door to door, isn’t it? Her charm and innocence is pleasing and engaging. These traits almost always guarantee someone opening the front door and listening to what she has to say. So let us pray for winsome hearts as we approach the closed doors between others and ourselves. And may those doors stay open, leading to genuine reconciliation as the Father guides us in making peace.

Reflections, Veils, and God’s Glory

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And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being
transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.” 2 Cor. 3.18

Reflecting or “paraphrasing” is the process of summarizing the other person’s main points in your own words and sending them back in a constructive way. Reflecting may deal with both the content of what the other person has said and the associated feelings …

Reflecting does not require that you agree with what the other person says; it simply reveals whether you comprehend another person’s thoughts and feelings. Reflecting shows that you are paying attention and you are trying to understand the other person. When others sense this, they are less likely to repeat themselves or use a loud voice to get their point across.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 167-168.

Food for Thought

 

Are your peacemaking efforts veiled attempts?

The apostle Paul indicates that the unveiled faces belong to those who are the Lord’s — Christians, believers, sons and daughters of God. As such, our unveiled faces are reflecting the Lord’s glory. Take those thoughts from 2 Corinthians and combine them with the insights above regarding reflection. If we truly allow his likeness to permeate our words, thoughts and feelings, then true reflection can and is taking place between us and the other person. The veil is lifted and the Lord’s glory is in the center of the situation. There is an openness present that allows us to hear and see.

However, when our own thoughts or opinions cloud the conversation, then the reflecting is anything but true. We’re not able to accurately summarize the other person’s words, much less return them constructively. The veil is back on, and our personal glory trumps everything else for the moment. Oh, we can perform a kind of robotic reflection, parroting back their words with appropriately timed gestures or sighs, but reflecting the Lord’s glory? Forget about it.

But just what does this true reflecting look like? The best example, hands down, is Jesus. The Savior walked our sod with an unveiled face. He was constantly deferring to the Father’s will, words and timing. So much so, that it led John to write: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only” (John.1.14). When you saw Jesus, you saw God.

Now consider just a couple of the ways Jesus reflected God’s glory as he went about proclaiming peace. To those burdened with sin, disease or shame, the glory of the One and Only looked like mercy and grace, always inviting the least of these to take his hand and experience his love (“Come unto me…”). However, for the Pharisees and religious leaders, the One and Only’s glory was knife-edged and stern (“Woe unto you…”). It was the same Jesus, the same glory, but different reflections. Jesus was acutely aware of who was standing, sitting, strutting or weeping in front of him; he was always paying attention. If we confuse his likeness with a sterile sameness when it comes to peacemaking, the veil returns. Then the reflections look a lot like us, but nothing like him.

Sticking With It

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If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will
keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. 2 Peter 1:8

 

Practice. As Paul warned the Philippians, we cannot change unless we put what we are learning into practice (Phil. 4:9). In other letters he used athletic metaphors to teach that godly character qualities must be developed through disciplined practice in which we seek to overcome our weaknesses, master the proper techniques, and make a desired behavior natural and automatic (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:14; 2 Peter 1:4-8).

 

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 135.

 

Food for Thought

 

Did you do well right out of the gates, only to lose momentum during the race?

January and February are excellent months if you’re in the health club business. People resolve to be healthier in the New Year and usually follow-up on that by joining a gym, enrolling in an exercise class, or even hiring a personal trainer. It can be quite challenging to find a parking place in January and February at many health clubs. But come April and May? It’s a different story.

There is always some excitement over the initial moments of anything, be it joining a health club or your Christian life. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, many of us fizzle out when the disciplined work of training finally sets in.

As believers, we must consistently be working those peacemaking muscles — training our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to respond to the promptings of Christ and not our natural desires. Jesus needs peacemakers in January and February and March and April and all year long. So let’s all put into practice those things we’ve been learning!