Unapologetic

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There are two little words that we often find hard to say, yet they have the power to quell many a quarrel and end many a fight. When uttered with humility and authenticity, they offer a glimmer of hope and the possibility of change. These two little words are simple, yet strong: I’m sorry.

As tough as it can be to bring ourselves to a place of repentance, often times, it is more challenging to find capacity in our hearts to give up a grudge, overlook an offense, and forgive the one at fault – especially when there is no evidence of remorse or authentic repentance.

I would imagine that Jacob found this to be the case, too.

After leaving home, Jacob went to live with his Uncle Laban. It was there that he fell head-over-heels in love with Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachel. So deep was Jacob’s love for her, that he agreed to spend seven years working for his uncle in exchange for her hand in marriage. However, when the wedding day finally arrived, Laban deceived his future son-in-law. Under the cover of darkness, he gave his older daughter, Leah, to Jacob as his bride.

Undoubtedly stunned and angered by this egregious act of deception, Jacob confronted his uncle: “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” And Jacob did so. (Genesis 29:25b-28a)

Laban offered no apology – no evidence of contrition, humility or repentance. Yet, Jacob didn’t escalate the argument, demand his rights, or wait for a demonstration of remorse. Instead, he chose to accept the injustice, and simply moved on with life.

Not all offenses can or should be overlooked. Yet, Jacob found that there are times when it is possible to extend grace, rather than seek justice… times when it Is to “one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

Final thoughts…

As peacemakers, we are confronted with pivotal choices. When we are in the wrong, will we admit our fault or will we rationalize our actions? When we are wronged, will we fight back or will we forgive?

Whether we need to be brought to the point of repentance or to the point of forgiveness, when we go to our Father and surrender everything to Him, He can help us sort through all that is in our hearts and take the (sometimes) difficult steps to restore a broken relationship. Do you long for peace? Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Discoveries Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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There is much to be discovered in that all-too-familiar difficult place in our lives – the rock and a hard place. Sometimes when we come to this place, our less than stellar qualities are revealed, like the tendency to panic under pressure or struggle through debilitating indecision. Yet, there are other times when we find ourselves divinely empowered to face our fears, to tackle tough choices, and to overcome obstacles.

The Scripture tells of one such man who found himself between a rock and a hard place. Jacob used deceptive tactics to receive the blessing of the firstborn, but it came at a high price. It resulted in his parents instructing him to move far away from home so that he would not fall victim to the murderous intentions of his angry brother (Genesis 27:42-43).

So, under unpleasant circumstances, Jacob left home. Knowing what he’d left behind, but not sure of all that was ahead, he began his journey. Did he have questions? Doubts? Fears? Who wouldn’t? Yet, that night when he stopped to rest, “Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway,” (Genesis 28:11b:12, NIV).

As Jacob’s head rested against that rock, the Lord gently reiterated that He was the God of his father and grandfather, and that He would make good on the promise to bless him and his children. What’s more, the Lord offered assurance of His protection along the way. In that moment, Jacob was no longer between a rock and a hard place. He was between a rock and a heavenly place. A place that gave him the hope and strength to continue his journey.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had my fair share of moments between a rock and a hard place. As hard as they’ve been, I’ve made some of my most important discoveries during these difficult times. I’ve discovered my weakness and my Savior’s strength, my inadequacy and His sufficiency, my limitations and the infinite bounds of His greatness.

If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place in your relationships, you may not be able to move the rock, but perhaps the hard place can be transformed into a heavenly place – a place where your heart is touched by the Savior, comforted by His precious promises, and reminded that He will never leave or forsake you.

No matter what personal or relational challenges you may be facing, I urge you to go to Christ. As you do, may you discover – or perhaps rediscover – the strength you need to continue on your way, to do some soul searching, and to pursue a place restoration and peace. Leave behind the hard place. Embrace the heavenly place. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Much Ado About What To Do

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There are few things as simple, straightforward, or timeless as the Golden Rule: “So in all things, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12a, NIV). Even though Jesus’ words couldn’t be any clearer, the Golden Rule is probably among the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture. Many believe Jesus actually instructed us to “do to others as they do to you” – a vastly different proposition, indeed!

While there are many examples in Scripture of people who faithfully followed the guidance and example of our Savior, there are others who opted for more of a “do to others as they do to you” mentality. Such was the case for Esau, the brother of Jacob. While there’s no question that he did himself no favors with his own unwise decisions, he also suffered much as a result of the deception, lies, and misguided ambitions of his mother and brother (Genesis 25:29-34; Genesis 27:1:41).

Deeply wounded by the betrayal of his family, the Scriptures tell us that Esau held a grudge. With a heart ripe for revenge, he seized an opportunity to retaliate against his parents in a way that was sure to cause them much heartache and pain: Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there…. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had,” (Genesis 28:6a, 8-9, NIV).

Final thoughts

It’s extraordinarily difficult to “do to others what you would have them to do to you” – to love without limits, to extend grace instead of holding a grudge, to seek reconciliation instead of retaliation. Trust me, I know. At times I have hurt others, and at times, others have hurt me. No matter my role in the conflict, there are occasions when I have either struggled or altogether failed to respond with the kindness in keeping with a committed follower of Christ.

The great news is that our Father doesn’t expect you or me to do this in our own strength. Instead He invites us to come to Him, then as our hearts are touched by His grace, He empowers us to extend and receive the same love and forgiveness that He has so freely given to us. Following in the compassionate footsteps of our Savior will take a lot of patience and resolve, but is worth the effort. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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The Fallout

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If you’ve ever made a decision that came back to bite you, you’ve known the sting of regret. If you’ve ever taken a risk that wasn’t worth the reward, you’ve known the sting of loss. If you’ve made these decisions within the context of your own family, you’ve probably known just how serious the fallout can be.

As a mother, I’m sure Rebekah would attest to this reality. Rebekah plotted with her favorite son, Jacob, to strip from Esau the all-important blessing of the firstborn – and their plan worked. Esau was angry about losing his father’s blessing… so angry that he threatened to kill his brother!

When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘“Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you.  Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran.  Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”’ (Genesis 27:42-45, NIV, emphasis mine).

When Rebekah devised her scheme to deceive her husband and pit one of her sons against the other, she was taking an enormous risk. Even so, I wonder if she ever imagined in her wildest dreams that her actions would cost so much. We may never know, but there’s no doubt that her actions underscore this one important truth: when you play with fire, you – and sometimes those around you – get burned.

Final thoughts…

The deceptive scheme Rebekah and Jacob executed in the span of one day had consequences that lasted a lifetime. The same is often true for us – but there is hope.

If your family has experienced the fallout of deception, favoritism, or the like, remember that the same God who has the power to calm the winds and the waves is mighty enough to bring peace to the storm that wages within your family. If you’ll come to Him and ask Him to search your hearts and know your thoughts, He can guide your footsteps in the way you should go (Psalm 139:23-24). The journey may be hard. The road may be steep, but the path to reconciliation is just ahead. Start today. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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Whatever It Takes

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I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal. While there’s no doubt that the self-sacrifice, determination, and hard work implied by such a statement are all commendable attributes, doing “whatever it takes” isn’t always a recipe for success. It just might be a recipe for disaster.

Take for example Rebekah and Jacob’s crafty plot to deceive an old man and defraud a young man of his rightful blessing (Genesis 27:1-40). In those days, it was customary for the father to bestow a blessing on his oldest son before his departure from this earth. Sensing that his time was near, Isaac called for his oldest son, Esau, and asked him to go hunting and prepare a meal for him so that he could impart the blessing.

Overhearing this conversation, Rebekah sprang into action. She pulled aside her son, Jacob, and offered the details of her plan. It involved killing a couple of goats, preparing a meal to Isaac’s liking, and Jacob disguising himself as his brother. Jacob was worried that the plan might blow up and that his father would curse him, not bless him. Still, his mother urged him to move forward with the plan: ‘“My son, let the curse fall on me.  Just do what I say…”’ (Genesis 27:13, NIV).

Rebekah and Jacob didn’t just come up with a plot. It was a calculated and carefully contrived conspiracy. They were willing to do whatever it took to get the blessing, and they succeeded in achieving their goal. While their misguided ambition and manipulative actions may have brought them short-term success, they also set themselves up for long-term disaster.

Final thoughts…

There will always be those who are motivated to get what they want, and will do almost anything to achieve it – even if it means compromising their values or mistreating others. While these tactics may move a person closer to an immediate goal, many times it results in lasting detrimental consequences for the relationship.

There may be some of us who have created heartache for others by doing whatever it took to achieve our objectives, and some of us have been hurt by the manipulative or deceptive actions of others. Even though the wounds are deep and the healing process is hard, peace is possible. If those who are hurt will go to the Savior, they can surrender their pain and brokenness. Those who have caused the offense can examine their own hearts and make peace with God before doing the same with a brother or sister.  If our hearts are willing, our Father can help us move forward on the difficult – but rewarding – path to forgiveness. Take one step at a time. Walk the path.

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Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries

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